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Booknotes


United States

Type: TV, Radio, Podcasts

Web site: http://www.booknotes.org

Description: C-Span show, hosted by Brian Lamp, running from April 1989 to December 2004.

Added by: timspalding.  Contacted: Not contacted.  Venue ID: 74610

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Dec
5
Mark Edmundson (Sunday, December 5, 2004)
Mark Edmundson discusses Why Read?.

—from the publisher's website If religion continues to lose its hold on consequential parts of society, what can take its place in guiding souls? In this important book reconceiving the value and promise of reading, acclaimed author Edmundson dramatizes what the recent identity crisis of the humanities has effectively obscured: that reading can change your life for the better. Mark Edmundson’s Harper’s Magazine article “On the Uses of the Liberal Arts” is reported to be the most photocopied essay on college campuses over the last five years. Ruminating on his essay and the intense reaction to it, Edmundson exposes universities’ ever-growing consumerism at the expense of a challenging, life-altering liberal arts education. Edmundson encourages educators to teach students to read in a way that can change their lives for the better rather than just training and entertaining. He argues that questions about the uses of literature—what would it mean to live out of this book, to see it as a guide to life—are the central questions to ask in a literary education. Right now they are being ignored, even shunned. And if religion continues to lose its hold on consequential parts of society, what can take its place in guiding souls? Great writing, Edmundson argues. At once controversial and inspiring, this is a groundbreaking book written with the elegance and power to change the way we teach and read. (timspalding)… (more)
Nov
28
Peter A Wallner (Sunday, November 28, 2004)
Peter A Wallner discusses Franklin Pierce: New Hampshire's Favorite Son.

—from the publisher's website The most recent biography of Franklin Pierce was published nearly seventy-five years ago. Yet the nation’s least known president is also one of the most charming, charismatic, and interesting men to ever hold the nation’s highest office. Described by his best friend Nathaniel Hawthrone as “deep, deep, deep,” with “most of the chief elements of a great ruler,” Pierce is also the greatest trial lawyer in New Hampshire history. A master politician at the state level, Pierce ruled over the most consistently successful state Democratic Party in the Northeast, before he and his supporters devised the executed the plan to capture the national party’s presidential nomination in 1852. The first of two volumes on the life of Franklin Pierce, Wallner’s thoroughly researched, engagingly written account of Pierce’s rise to national prominence will surprise readers with accounts of the many triumphs and tragedies of Pierce’s life leading up to his presidency. (timspalding)… (more)
Nov
21
Peter Charles Hoffer (Sunday, November 21, 2004)
Peter Charles Hoffer discusses Past Imperfect: Facts, Fictions, Fraud American History from Bancroft and Parkman to Ambrose, Bellesiles, Ellis, and Goodwin.

—from the publisher's website Woodrow Wilson, a practicing academic historian before he took to politics, defined the importance of history: "A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today." He, like many men of his generation, wanted to impose a version of America's founding identity: it was a land of the free and a home of the brave. But not the braves. Or the slaves. Or the disenfranchised women. So the history of Wilson's generation omitted a significant proportion of the population in favor of a perspective that was predominantly white, male and Protestant. That flaw would become a fissure and eventually a schism. A new history arose which, written in part by radicals and liberals, had little use for the noble and the heroic, and that rankled many who wanted a celebratory rather than a critical history. To this combustible mixture of elements was added the flame of public debate. History in the 1990s was a minefield of competing passions, political views and prejudices. It was dangerous ground, and, at the end of the decade, four of the nation's most respected and popular historians were almost destroyed by it: Michael Bellesiles, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose and Joseph Ellis. This is their story, set against the wider narrative of the writing of America's history. It may be, as Flaubert put it, that "Our ignorance of history makes us libel our own times." To which he could have added: falsify, plagiarize and politicize, because that's the other story of America's history. (timspalding)… (more)
Nov
14
Stephen Greenblatt (Sunday, November 14, 2004)
Stephen Greenblatt discusses Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.

—from the publisher's website How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare A brilliant reading of Shakespeare's world yields a new understanding of the man and his genius. A young man from the provinces—a man without wealth, connections, or university education—moves to London. In a remarkably short time he becomes the greatest playwright not just of his age but of all time. His works appeal to urban sophisticates and first-time theatergoers; he turns politics into poetry; he recklessly mingles vulgar clowning and philosophical subtlety. How is such an achievement to be explained? Will in the World interweaves a searching account of Elizabethan England with a vivid narrative of the playwright's life. We see Shakespeare learning his craft, starting a family, and forging a career for himself in the wildly competitive London theater world, while at the same time grappling with dangerous religious and political forces that took less-agile figures to the scaffold. Above all, we never lose sight of the great works—A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and more—that continue after four hundred years to delight and haunt audiences everywhere. The basic biographical facts of Shakespeare's life have been known for over a century, but now Stephen Greenblatt shows how this particular life history gave rise to the world's greatest writer. 16 pages of color illustrations. (timspalding)… (more)
Nov
7
Winslow T. Wheeler (Sunday, November 7, 2004)
Winslow T. Wheeler discusses Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security.

—from the publisher's website In this damning exposé, a veteran senate defense advisor argues that since Sept. 11, 2001, the conduct of the U.S. Congress has sunk to new depths and endangered the nation’s security. Winslow Wheeler draws on three decades of work with four prominent senators to tell in lively detail how members of Congress divert money from essential warfighting accounts to pay for pork in their home states, cook the budget books to pursue personal agendas, and run for cover when confronted with tough defense issues. With meticulous documentation to support his claims, he contends that this behavior is not confined to one party or one political philosophy. He further contends that senators who sell themselves as reformers and journalists covering Capitol Hill are simply not doing their jobs. Pork is far from a new phenomenon in Washington, yet most Americans fail to understand its serious consequences. Wheeler knows the harm it does and challenges citizens to take action against lawmakers pretending to serve the public trust while sending home the bacon. Dubbed a “Hill Deep Throat” who participated in the game he now criticizes, he fills his book with evidence of Congressional wrongdoing, naming names and citing specific examples. Pointing to the extremes that have become routine in the legislative process, he focuses on defense appropriations and Congress’s willingness to load down defense bills with pork, in some cases with the Pentagon’s help. On the question of deciding war, he accuses today’s members of Congress of lacking the character of their predecessors, often positioning themselves on both sides of the question of war against Iraq without probing the administration’s justifications. Wheeler concludes with a model for reform that he calls twelve not-so-easy steps to a sober Congress. (timspalding)… (more)
Oct
31
Chris Wallace (Sunday, October 31, 2004)
Chris Wallace discusses Character: Profiles in Presidential Courage.

—from the publisher's website Throughout American history, presidents have faced difficult choices-- decisions that have had grave political and personal consequences. Will leadership prevail? Or will the office cede power to popular opinion? At these critical times, many of our presidents have chosen a path of genuine courage. They stood up for what they believed was right for the country and displayed tremendous character, which made them leaders of men. With the indispensable contributions of Richard E. Neustadt-- author of the seminal Presidential Power, former adviser to presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, and founder of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government-- Wallace has chosen nearly twenty notable acts of presidential courage in our nation's history, including: George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion, Theodore Roosevelt and the Russo-Japanese War, Harry Truman and the Berlin Airlift, and George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. How and why did these men choose the hard way? What experiences from their civilian lives came to bear on their decisions? What forces shaped them? Who influenced them? Who didn't? What gave them their inner fortitude? Using this Socratic approach, Wallace brings out the humanity of these power brokers and lets their personal histories shine through. The result is a completely involving and tremendously informative look at the presidents who've made defining choices for our nation in times of national uncertainty. Just in time for the 2004 election, Character: Profiles in Presidential Courage is a must read for every citizen who has lost his or her faith in our executive branch of government‹a captivating and informative narrative of courage and determination in our nation's presidential history. (timspalding)… (more)
Oct
24
Antony Beevor (Sunday, October 24, 2004)
Antony Beevor discusses The Mystery of Olga Chekhova.

—from the publisher's website In 1920, young Olga Chekhova, the beautiful niece of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, fled Moscow for Berlin—taking only a smuggled diamond ring. Olga quickly won both celebrity as an actress and prominence in the ranks of Germany’s Nazi party, eventually becoming Hitler’s favorite actress. But was she really a sleeper agent recruited by her brother, Lev Knipper, to spy for the Russian NKVD? Antony Beevor’s The Mystery of Olga Chekhova tells the extraordinary tale of how one family survived the Russian revolution, the civil war, the rise of Hitler, the Stalinist terror, and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. In putting together this amazing story, Antony Beevor demonstrates how people survived under the terrible pressures of a totalitarian age. He reveals a confusion of courage, idealism, fear, self-sacrifice, opportunism, and betrayal. The most astonishing part of this truly epic tale is that both Olga and Lev would live through this most murderous era in modern history. (timspalding)… (more)
Oct
17
John McCaslin (Sunday, October 17, 2004)
John McCaslin discusses Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital.

—from the publisher's website Washington Times columnist, John McCaslin, brings his unique and successful column to a full-length format in this collection of Washington’s funniest, strangest, and most touching stories. For more than a decade, John McCaslin has covered the Beltway beat for the Washington Times, in his extremely popular, widely quoted, award-winning column. Now, in his new book, McCaslin explores a vast array of little-known political tidbits, using humor, touching stories, and exclusive inside details to show readers exactly how the political game is played, revealing the humanity (for better or worse) of today’s biggest politicos. With his characteristic blend of humor and warmth, McCaslin relates exclusive stories that will make readers laugh, leave them outraged, and touch their hearts about politicians on both sides of party lines and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. (timspalding)… (more)
Oct
10
Hendrik Hertzberg (Sunday, October 10, 2004)
Hendrik Hertzberg discusses Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004.

—from the publisher's website Cause for jubilation: At last, one of America's wisest and most necessary voices has distilled what he knows about politics, broadly speaking, into one magnificent volume. Imagine if the Rolling Stones were just now releasing its first greatest hits album, and you'll have some idea of how long overdue, and highly anticipated, Politics is. Here are Hendrik Hertzberg's most significant and hilarious and devastating and infuriating dispatches from the American scene-a scene he has chronicled for four decades with an uncanny blend of moral seriousness, high spirits, and perfect rhetorical pitch. Politics is at once the story of American life from LBJ to GWB and a testament to the power of the written word in the right hands. In those hands, everything seems like politics, and politics has never seemed more interesting. Hertzberg breaks down American politics into component parts-campaigns, debates, rhetoric, the media, wars (cultural, countercultural, and real), high crimes and misdemeanors, the right, and more-and draws the choicest, most telling pieces from his body of work to illuminate each, beginning each section with a new piece of writing framing the subject at hand. Politics 101 from the master, Politics is also an immensely rich and entertaining mosaic of American life from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s-a ride through recent American history with one of the most insightful and engaging guides imaginable. (timspalding)… (more)
Oct
3
John Ferling (Sunday, October 3, 2004)
John Ferling discusses Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800.

—from the publisher's website It was a contest of titans: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two heroes of the Revolutionary era, once intimate friends, now icy antagonists locked in a fierce battle for the future of the United States. The election of 1800 was a thunderous clash of a campaign that climaxed in a deadlock in the Electoral College and led to a crisis in which the young republic teetered on the edge of collapse. Adams vs. Jefferson is a gripping account of a true turning point in American history, a dramatic struggle between two parties with profoundly different visions of how the nation should be governed. Adams led the Federalists, conservatives who favored a strong central government, and Jefferson led the Republicans, egalitarians who felt the Federalists had betrayed the Revolution of 1776 and were backsliding toward monarchy. The campaign itself was a barroom brawl every bit as ruthless as any modern contest, with mud-slinging--Federalists called Jefferson "a howling atheist"--scare tactics, and backstabbing. The low point came when Alexander Hamilton printed a devastating attack on Adams, the head of his own party, in "fifty-four pages of unremitting vilification." The election ended in a stalemate in the Electoral College that dragged on for days and nights and through dozens of ballots. Tensions ran so high that the Republicans threatened civil war if the Federalists denied Jefferson the presidency. Finally a secret deal that changed a single vote gave Jefferson the White House. A devastated Adams left Washington before dawn on Inauguration Day, too embittered even to shake his rival's hand. Jefferson's election, John Ferling concludes, consummated the American Revolution, assuring the democratization of the United States and its true separation from Britain. With magisterial command, Ferling brings to life both the outsize personalities and the hotly contested political questions at stake. He shows not just why this moment was a milestone in U.S. history, but how strongly the issues--and the passions--of 1800 resonate with our own time. (timspalding)… (more)
Sep
26
Jack Matlock (Sunday, September 26, 2004)
Jack Matlock discusses Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended.

—from the publisher's website In Reagan and Gorbachev, Jack F. Matlock, Jr., gives an eyewitness account of how the Cold War ended, with humankind declared the winner. As Reagan’s principal adviser on Soviet and European affairs, and later as the U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R., Matlock lived history: He was the point person for Reagan’s evolving policy of conciliation toward the Soviet Union. Working from his own papers, recent interviews with major figures, and archival sources both here and abroad, Matlock offers an insider’s perspective on a diplomatic campaign far more sophisticated than previously thought, led by two men of surpassing vision. Matlock details how, from the start of his term, Reagan privately pursued improved U.S.—U.S.S.R. relations, while rebuilding America’s military and fighting will in order to confront the Soviet Union while providing bargaining chips. When Gorbachev assumed leadership, however, Reagan and his advisers found a potential partner in the enterprise of peace. At first the two leaders sparred, agreeing on little. Gradually a form of trust emerged, with Gorbachev taking politically risky steps that bore long-term benefits, like the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the U.S.S.R.’s significant unilateral troop reductions in 1988. Through his recollections and unparalleled access to the best and latest sources, Matlock describes Reagan’s and Gorbachev’s initial views of each other. We learn how the two prepared for their meetings; we discover that Reagan occasionally wrote to Gorbachev in his own hand, both to personalize the correspondence and to prevent nit-picking by hard-liners in his administration. We also see how the two men were pushed closer together by the unlikeliest characters (Senator Ted Kennedy and François Mitterrand among them) and by the two leaders’ remarkable foreign ministers, George Shultz and Eduard Shevardnadze. The end of the Cold War is a key event in modern history, one that demanded bold individuals and decisive action. Both epic and intimate, Reagan and Gorbachev will be the standard reference, a work that is critical to our understanding of the present and the past. (timspalding)… (more)
Sep
19
Bryan Burrough (Sunday, September 19, 2004)
Bryan Burrough discusses Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34.

—from the publisher's website In 1933, police jurisdictions ended at state lines, the FBI was in its infancy, the highway system was spreading, fast cars and machine guns were easily available, and a good number of the thirteen million Americans who were out of work blamed the Great Depression on the banks. In short, it was a wonderful time to be a bank robber. On hand to take full advantage was a motley assortment of criminal masterminds, sociopaths, romantics, and cretins, some of whom, with a little help from J. Edgar Hoover, were to become some of the most famous criminals in American history. Bryan Burrough's grandfather once set up roadblocks in Alma, Arkansas, to capture Bonnie and Clyde. He didn't catch them. Burrough was suckled on stories of the crime wave, and now, after years of work, he succeeds where his grandfather failed, capturing the stories of Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and the rest of the FBI's nemeses, weaving them into a single enthralling account. For more than forty years, the great John Toland's Dillinger Days has stood as the only book that provides the entire big picture of this fabled moment in American history. But an extraordinary amount of new material has come to light during those forty years, a good deal of it unearthed by Burrough in the course of his own research, and Public Enemies reveals the extent to which Toland and others were fed the story the FBI wanted them to tell. The circles in which the "public enemies" moved overlapped in countless fascinating ways, large and small, as Burrough details. The actual connections are one thing; but quite another is the sense of connectedness Hoover created in the American public's mind for his own purposes. Using the tools of an increasingly powerful mass media, Hoover waged an unprecedented propaganda campaign, working the press, creating "America's Most Wanted" list, and marketing the mystique of the heroic "G-men" that successfully obscured an appalling catalog of professional ineptitude. When the FBI gunned down John Dillinger outside a Chicago movie theater in the summer of 1934, Hoover's ascent to unchecked power was largely complete. Both a hugely satisfying entertainment and a groundbreaking work with powerful echoes in today's news, Public Enemies is the definitive history of America's first War on Crime. (timspalding)… (more)
Sep
12
George McGovern (Sunday, September 12, 2004)
George McGovern discusses The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition.

—from the publisher's website Liberalism is the oldest and most enduring American tradition, a philosophy and way of life we inherited from the Founding Fathers. This is the central idea of The Essential America by George McGovern, America's best-known (and most consistent) liberal. Referring us to our moral and spiritual foundations, McGovern not only presents a resounding defense of liberalism as "the most practical and hopeful compass to guide the American ship of state" but offers specific proposals for keeping the tradition vibrant. The Essential America proposes programs for feeding the world's malnourished children. Rather than sending our armies abroad, McGovern spells out policies that confront the causes of terrorism. He proposes cutting our military budget (echoing Dwight D. Eisenhower's powerful warning about the military-industrial complex). He condemns preemptive war, criticizes tax cuts for the rich, and warns against government for the powerful minority. Americans have traditionally stood for progress, generosity, tolerance, and protection of the needy, McGovern states -- as well as for multi- lateralism in foreign policy and "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." He reminds us that while creative tension between liberalism and conservatism is the genius of American politics, it is the liberals who have been responsible for every forward step in our national history. They built "the Essential America." (timspalding)… (more)
Sep
5
Richard A. Viguerie (Sunday, September 5, 2004)
Richard A. Viguerie discusses America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power.

—from the publisher's website Liberal media activists beware! Richard A. Viguerie, venture capitalist of the conservative movement (described as the “funding father of the right”) and David Franke, a founder of the conservative movement, detail how conservatives—shut out by the liberal mass media of the 1950s and ’60s—came to power by utilizing new and alternative media, and then created their own mass media. Viguerie and Franke give a first-hand account of how the right took power by using direct mail, talk radio, cable news TV, and later the Internet. Can liberals do the same? This is the first “insider” book to expose the link between the conservative political revolution and the alternative media revolution. Viguerie, Chairman of American Target Advertising Inc., pioneered political ideological direct mail in the 1960s and 1970s, and is credited with helping to build the conservative movement that elected President Reagan in 1980. Franke served on the editorial staffs of Human Events and National Review, and was Senior Editor of Arlington House Publishers and the Conservative Book Club. Since 1997 he has been editorial director of the New Media News Corp., working with Viguerie on newsletter and Internet projects. (timspalding)… (more)
Aug
29
James Chace (Sunday, August 29, 2004)
James Chace discusses 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs--The Election that Changed the Country.

—from the publisher's website Four extraordinary men sought the presidency in 1912. Theodore Roosevelt was the charismatic and still wildly popular former president who sought to redirect the Republican Party toward a more nationalistic, less materialistic brand of conservatism and the cause of social justice. His handpicked successor and close friend, William Howard Taft, was a reluctant politician whose sole ambition was to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Amiable and easygoing, Taft was the very opposite of the restless Roosevelt. After Taft failed to carry forward his predecessor's reformist policies, an embittered Roosevelt decided to challenge Taft for the party's nomination. Thwarted by a convention controlled by Taft, Roosevelt abandoned the GOP and ran in the general election as the candidate of a third party of his own creation, the Bull Moose Progressives. Woodrow Wilson, the former president of Princeton University, astonished everyone by seizing the Democratic nomination from the party bosses who had made him New Jersey's governor. A noted political theorist, he was a relative newcomer to the practice of governing, torn between his fear of radical reform and his belief in limited government. The fourth candidate, labor leader Eugene V. Debs, had run for president on the Socialist ticket twice before. A fervent warrior in the cause of economic justice for the laboring class, he was a force to be reckoned with in the great debate over how to mitigate the excesses of industrial capitalism that was at the heart of the 1912 election. Chace recounts all the excitement and pathos of a singular moment in American history: the crucial primaries, the Republicans' bitter nominating convention that forever split the party, Wilson's stunning victory on the forty-sixth ballot at the Democratic convention, Roosevelt's spectacular coast-to-coast whistle-stop electioneering, Taft's stubborn refusal to fight back against his former mentor, Debs's electrifying campaign appearances, and Wilson's "accidental election" by less than a majority of the popular vote. Had Roosevelt received the Republican nomination, he almost surely would have been elected president once again and the Republicans would likely have become a party of reform. Instead, the GOP passed into the hands of a conservative ascendancy that reached its fullness with Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and the party remains to this day riven by the struggle between reform and reaction, isolationism and internationalism. The 1912 presidential contest was the first since the days of Jefferson and Hamilton in which the great question of America's exceptional destiny was debated. 1912 changed America. (timspalding)… (more)
Aug
22
Dorie McCullough Lawson (Sunday, August 22, 2004)
Dorie McCullough Lawson discusses Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children.

—from the publisher's website An elegantly designed, beautifully composed volume of personal letters from famous American men and women that celebrates the American Experience and illuminates the rich history of some of America’s most storied families. Posterity is at once an epistolary chronicle of America and a fascinating glimpse into the hearts and minds of some of history’s most admired figures. Spanning more than three centuries, these letters contain enduring lessons in life and love, character and compassion that will surprise and enlighten. Included here are letters from Thomas Jefferson to his daughter, warning her of the evils of debt; General Patton on D-Day to his son, a cadet at West Point, about what it means to be a good soldier; W.E.B. DuBois to his daughter about character beneath the color of skin; Oscar Hammerstein about why, after all his success, he doesn’t stop working; Woody Guthrie from a New Jersey asylum to nine-year-old Arlo about universal human frailty; sixty-five-year-old Laura Ingalls Wilder’s train of thought about her pioneer childhood; Eleanor Roosevelt chastising her grown son for his Christmas plans; and Groucho Marx as a dog to his twenty-five-year-old son. With letters that span more than three centuries of American history, Posterity is a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, wisdom, and family lives of those whose public accomplishments have touched us all. Here are renowned Americans in their own words and in their own times, seen as they were seen by their children. Here are our great Americans as mothers and fathers. (timspalding)… (more)
Aug
15
Dennis Hastert (Sunday, August 15, 2004)
Dennis Hastert discusses Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics.

—from the publisher's website Mr. Speaker! Denny Hastert is one of the most powerful men in America—and yet chances are you know little or nothing about him. And Denny Hastert likes it that way. Not because he has anything to hide, but because he doesn’t care about who gets the credit, he just wants to get the job done for the American people. In Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years of Coaching and Politics, Denny Hastert breaks his silence to tell a remarkable American story: of how he grew up among the fields of Northern Illinois, made a name for himself as a high school and collegiate wrestler, became a high school wrestling and football coach and civics teacher…and eventually found himself teaching, and learning about, civics in the most important forum in the world: in the United States Congress as Speaker of the House, the third most powerful man in government. Speaker is a true Mr. Smith Goes to Washington story, full of lived-in wisdom, funny anecdotes, and straight talk about what goes on in the “smoke-filled” rooms of congressional power. Along the way, you’ll learn: · The secret of winning in politics: under-promise and over-produce (the reverse of what most politicians do) ·The Hastert formula: Build a team, leave the spotlight to others, be honest, be fair, and stick to your objectives as tenaciously as a fullback hammering at the goal line · Lessons from wrestling: there’s no one to blame but yourself if you get pinned · The shock of September 11—or actually, the non-shock: how Speaker Hastert kept Congress running smoothly during the crisis · How the Vatican could never find time to receive the Congressional Medal of Freedom that was voted for the pope—until it became clear that then-President Clinton would not be awarding it · Speaker Hastert’s agenda for the next Congress (timspalding)… (more)
Aug
8
Maureen Dowd (Sunday, August 8, 2004)
Maureen Dowd discusses Bushworld.

—from the publisher's website From Washington to Kennebunkport to Texas to old Europe and new Europe, during the past two decades Maureen Dowd has trained her binoculars on the Bush dynasty, putting them, as both 41 and 43 have complained to her, "on the couch." Here she wittily dissects the Oedipal loop-de-loop between father and son and the Orwellian logic of the rush to war in Iraq. It's a turbulent odyssey charting how a Shakespearean cast of regents, courtiers, and neo-con Cabalists-all with their own subterranean agendas-hijack King George II's war on terror and upend the senior Bush's cherished internationalist foreign policy and Persian Gulf coalition. As she's written about Bushworld, "It's their reality. We just live and die in it.'" For thirty years, Maureen Dowd has written about Washington-and America-in a voice that is acerbic, passionate, outraged, and incisive. But nothing has engaged her as powerfully as the extraordinary agendas, absurdities, and obsessions of George the Younger. Drawing upon her celebrated columns, with a new introductory essay, she probes the topsy-turvy alternative universe of a group she has made recognizable by their first names, middle initials, nicknames, or numbers-41, the Boy Emperor, Rummy, Condi, Wolfie, Uncle Dick of the Underworld, General Karl, Prince of Darkness (Richard Perle), and her own nickname from W., the Cobra-as they seek an extreme makeover of the country and the world. Bushworld is a book that any reader who cares about the real world won't want to miss. (timspalding)… (more)
Aug
1
John McCain (Sunday, August 1, 2004)
John McCain discusses Why Courage Matters.

—from the publisher's website “Courage,” Winston Churchill explained, is “the ?rst of human qualities . . . because it guarantees all the others.” As a naval officer, P.O.W., and one of America’s most admired political leaders, John McCain has seen countless acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. Now, in this inspiring meditation on courage, he shares his most cherished stories of ordinary individuals who have risked everything to defend the people and principles they hold most dear. “We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity for action despite our fears,” McCain reminds us, as a way of introducing the stories of ?gures both famous and obscure that he ?nds most compelling—from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Sgt. Roy Benavidez, who ignored his own well-being to rescue eight of his men from an ambush in the Vietnam jungle; from 1960s civil rights leader John Lewis, who wrote, “When I care about something, I’m prepared to take the long, hard road,” to Hannah Senesh, who, in protecting her comrades in the Hungarian resistance against Hitler’s SS, chose a martyr’s death over a despot’s mercy. These are some of the examples McCain turns to for inspiration and offers to others to help them summon the resolve to be both good and great. He explains the value of courage in both everyday actions and extraordinary feats. We learn why moral principles and physical courage are often not distinct quantities but two sides of the same coin. Most of all, readers discover how sometimes simply setting the right example can be the ultimate act of courage. Written by one of our most respected public ?gures, Why Courage Matters is that rare book with a message both timely and timeless. This is a work for anyone seeking to understand how the mystery and gift of courage can empower us and change our lives. (timspalding)… (more)
Jul
25
Mario M. Cuomo (Sunday, July 25, 2004)
Mario M. Cuomo discusses Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever.

—from the publisher's website Abraham Lincoln, long the most resonant voice of American political values, was a founding member of the Republican Party. In today's charged political climate, he would be hard-pressed to recognize the issues in the contemporary GOP, argues Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York and a gifted political philosopher. Challenged by slavery, secession, and war, Lincoln was able to forcefully articulate the values and ideals that have sustained our country since its inception. His speeches, writings, and actions melded the Constitution, the Bible, and his own experience into an American scripture that inspires faith in the future Mario Cuomo shows how the big issues - equality, the role of government, war and peace, the responsibilities of the fortunate few - resonate in today's political climate as he brings to life the contemporary relevance of Lincoln's message for today's hot-button issues. Today's political discourse often lacks depth and wisdom, but Mario Cuomo's analysis of Abraham Lincoln will inspire readers to believe that government can still be a force for greater good in American society. (timspalding)… (more)
Jul
18
Mark Perry (Sunday, July 18, 2004)
Mark Perry discusses Grant and Twain: The Story of a Friendship That Changed America.

—from the publisher's website In the spring of 1884 Ulysses S. Grant heeded the advice of Mark Twain and finally agreed to write his memoirs. Little did Grant or Twain realize that this seemingly straightforward decision would profoundly alter not only both their lives but the course of American literature. Over the next fifteen months, as the two men became close friends and intimate collaborators, Grant raced against the spread of cancer to compose a triumphant account of his life and times—while Twain struggled to complete and publish his greatest novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.In this deeply moving and meticulously researched book, veteran writer Mark Perry reconstructs the heady months when Grant and Twain inspired and cajoled each other to create two quintessentially American masterpieces. In a bold and colorful narrative, Perry recounts the early careers of these two giants, traces their quest for fame and elusive fortunes, and then follows the series of events that brought them together as friends. The reason Grant let Twain talk him into writing his memoirs was simple: He was bankrupt and needed the money. Twain promised Grant princely returns in exchange for the right to edit and publish the book—and though the writer’s own finances were tottering, he kept his word to the general and his family. Mortally ill and battling debts, magazine editors, and a constant crush of reporters, Grant fought bravely to get the story of his life and his Civil War victories down on paper. Twain, meanwhile, staked all his hopes, both financial and literary, on the tale of a ragged boy and a runaway slave that he had been unable to finish for decades. As Perry delves into the story of the men’s deepening friendship and mutual influence, he arrives at the startling discovery of the true model for the character of Huckleberry Finn. With a cast of fascinating characters, including General William T. Sherman, William Dean Howells, William Henry Vanderbilt, and Abraham Lincoln, Perry’s narrative takes in the whole sweep of a glittering, unscrupulous age. A story of friendship and history, inspiration and desperation, genius and ruin, Grant and Twain captures a pivotal moment in the lives of two towering Americans and the age they epitomized. (timspalding)… (more)
Jul
4
Alyn Brodsky (Sunday, July 4, 2004)
Alyn Brodsky discusses Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician.

—from the publisher's website The only full biography of Benjamin Rush, an extraordinary Founding Father and America's leading physician of the Colonial era While Benjamin Rush appears often and meaningfully in biographies about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, this legendary man is presented as little more than a historical footnote. Yet, he was a propelling force in what culminated in the Declaration of Independence, to which he was a cosigner. Rush was an early agitator for independence, a member of the First Continental Congress, and one of the leading surgeons of the Continental Army during the early phase of the American Revolution. He was an constant and indefatigable adviser to the foremost figures of the American Revolution, notably George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Even if he had not played a major role in our country's creation, Rush would have left his mark in history as an eminent physician and a foremost social reformer in such areas as medical teaching, treatment of the mentally ill (he is considered the Father of American Psychiatry), international prevention of yellow fever, establishment of public schools, implementation of improved education for women, and much more. For readers of well-written biographies, Brodsky has illuminated the life of one of America's great and overlooked revolutionaries. (timspalding)… (more)
Jun
27
Simon Sebag Montefiore (Sunday, June 27, 2004)
Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.

—from the publisher's website Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes–as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag–has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin’s reign are well known, this remarkable biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation–human, psychological and physical–that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him. In a seamless meshing of exhaustive research, brilliant synthesis and narrative élan, Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the life and lives of Stalin’s court from the time of his acclamation as “leader” in 1929, five years after Lenin’s death, until his own death in 1953 at the age of seventy-three. Through the lens of personality–Stalin’s as well as those of his most notorious henchmen, Molotov, Beria and Yezhov among them–the author sheds new light on the oligarchy that attempted to create a new world by exterminating the old. He gives us the details of their quotidian and monstrous lives: Stalin’s favorites in music, movies, literature (Hemmingway, The Forsyte Saga and The Last of the Mohicans were at the top of his list), food and history (he took Ivan the Terrible as his role model and swore by Lenin’s dictum, “A revolution without firing squads is meaningless”). We see him among his courtiers, his informal but deadly game of power played out at dinners and parties at Black Sea villas and in the apartments of the Kremlin. We see the debauchery, paranoia and cravenness that ruled the lives of Stalin’s inner court, and we see how the dictator played them one against the other in order to hone the awful efficiency of his killing machine. With stunning attention to detail, Montefiore documents the crimes, small and large, of all the members of Stalin’s court. And he traces the intricate and shifting web of their relationships as the relative warmth of Stalin’s rule in the early 1930s gives way to the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the upheaval of World War II (there has never been as acute an account of Stalin’s meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt) and the horrific postwar years when he terrorized his closest associates as unrelentingly as he did the rest of his country. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar gives an unprecedented understanding of Stalin’s dictatorship, and, as well, a Stalin as human and complicated as he is brutal. It is a galvanizing portrait: razor-sharp, sensitive and unforgiving. (timspalding)… (more)
Jun
20
Simon Sebag Montefiore (Sunday, June 20, 2004)
Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.

From Publisher's Website - Fifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes–as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag–has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin’s reign are well known, this remarkable biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation–human, psychological and physical–that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him. (timspalding)… (more)
Jun
13
Samuel P. Huntington (Sunday, June 13, 2004)
Samuel P. Huntington discusses Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity.

—from the publisher's website In his seminal work The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington argued provocatively and presciently that with the end of the cold war, "civilizations" were replacing ideologies as the new fault lines in international politics. His astute analysis has proven correct. Now Professor Huntington turns his attention from international affairs to our domestic cultural rifts as he examines the impact other civilizations and their values are having on our own country. America was founded by British settlers who brought with them a distinct culture including the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religious commitment, and respect for law. The waves of immigrants that later came to the United States gradually accepted these values and assimilated into America's Anglo-Protestant culture. More recently, however, national identity has been eroded by the problems of assimilating massive numbers of primarily Hispanic immigrants, bilingualism, multiculturalism, the devaluation of citizenship, and the "denationalization" of American elites. September 11 brought a revival of American patriotism and a renewal of American identity. But already there are signs that this revival is fading, even though in the post-September 11 world, Americans face unprecedented challenges to our security. Who Are We? shows the need for us to reassert the core values that make us Americans. Nothing less than our national identity is at stake. Once again Samuel Huntington has written an important book that is certain to provoke a lively debate and to shape our national conversation about who we are. (timspalding)… (more)
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