Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Titles Collected from the Trip

Among many other things on our just completed vacation, I picked up some book titles that seem interesting:

Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Glenn and Helen interviewed the author in a pod-cast from last December, which we finally listened to in the I-95 traffic around DC. The cover illustration I find to be off-putting, and in the interview Goldberg notes his lack of enthusiasm for it, although he will concede it probably helped sales. He said that the art department at Random House put it on the book.

Stephen Potter, The Art and Practice of Gamesmanship without Actually Cheating. I heard this book discussed by a group in front of us in line waiting to get into Independence Hall. Also by the same author, One-Upmanship: Being Some Account of the Activities and Teachings of the Lifemanship Correspondence College of One-Upness and Games Lifemastery and Lifemanship:Some Notes on Lifemanship with a Summary of Recent Research in Gamesmanship.

Rogers and Kostigen, The Green Book. I saw this title in the gift shop in the National Park Service's welcome center in the Historic District in Philadelphia. I had heard of this book but had not had a chance to browse in it.

One might ask why the NPS would have a book like this in the gift shop of its welcome center that celebrates the birth of our country. I would speculate that it reflects the same politically correct point of view that I saw in the Liberty Bell Center. There, chattel slavery in the US, abuses in our country of the civil rights of women, people of color, and native Americans are highlighted, and fair enough. As to overseas, the exhibit features as an example of [white?] man's inhumanity to [non-white?] man, apartheid in South Africa (including a large portrait of Nelson Mandela, may God bless the man). Nothing on abortion here or elsewhere. Nothing on the religious persecution in Muslim countries, Russia, and China, a particularly irksome omission; after all, the idea of "liberty" as the colonists first conceived it concerned mainly the matter of religious freedom. See also the First Amendment. As to the First Amendment, may I point out that the Establishment Clause portion of that amendment (the portion dealing with religious freedom) is the first of a series of freedoms to be protected, followed, not preceded by freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble peaceably, and and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.) But I digress: recycling is good, and the book is worth a look.

Ooops, another digression. There was an wall section in this gift shop dedicated to the movie, "Rocky". You could get books on the film series, shirts and towels. Somebody please tell me just why this gets a spot on hallowed ground?

Also, Lori Baird's Don't Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew and Reuse to Make Things Last See the discussion above concerning relevance. But in the defense of the NPS, there was not a word about Global Warming, or at least I didn't see any reference to that great issue of our time.

Continuing with the NPS gift shop, there was Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin, an American Life. Franklin's relationship with John Adams had some rough spots, to say the least, according to the McCullough biography of Adams that I am in the midst of. So I would like to read Ben's side of the story. I don't know if this is the bio to read. Isaacson has apparently written other biographies. Has anyone read any of him?

Hogan and Taylor, editors. My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams. I worry whether these editors can be trusted. Who are they? As to reading the letters, the McCullough biography really whets the appetite. Did John and Abigail have any idea that for centuries 100s of thousands, perhaps millions, would be reading through their correspondence, either directly by means of a book such as this or indirectly through such bios as McCullough's?

Alf J. Mapp. Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim (The Presidency, the Founding of the University, and the Private Battle). When I was at Duke as a history major, it was the Dumas Malone biography that was the standard reference. What you get in a gift shop, even one run or franchised by the NPS, is a little problematical, one might think. I don't know who Mapp is. He apparently wrote a shorter volume entitled Thomas Jefferson: America's Paradoxical Patriot, and, frankly, maybe it was this one that was in the shop; I really don't recall.

As to the Malone work, see Jefferson the Virginian - Volume I (Jefferson and His Time, Vol 1), and start reading. There are six volumes.

Donald Ritchie, Our Constitution. I don't know anything about Ritchie, either. And one would think that a lawyer should already be deeply involved in the Constitution. But the visit to Philadelphia and the reading of the Adams biography and the length of time since law school all point to the need to get back into this document.

There was, of course, a big section on George Washington, trumping even Rocky. But none of the titles much interested me. What Dumas Malone is to Jefferson, James Thomas Flexner is to Washington, at least according to my recollection. Flexner published a four volume biography, beginning with George Washington: The Forge of Experience 1732 - 1775 - Volume I (Force of Experience, 1732-1775). But for those of you who aren't ready to tackle a four volume set, there is Flexner's Washington: the Indispensable Man. This is not a "Reader Digest" abridgment by any measure, but a complete and wonderfully written one volume biography of George Washington. Of all the books I have mentioned, I would say read this one if you will read no other.

Now if I could only get a vacation that would actually give me time to do some reading . . .

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