Friday, September 30, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 12


Bonfire of the Vanities. Tom Wolfe. Theme of the Justice System in big cities in America. Don’t do what’s right; do what is going to make you look good in the media.

Ragtime. EL Doctorow. In this novel, Doctorow presents an impression of the ragtime era, the period before WWI. These were the “good old days.” With vivid prose and facts, Doctorow paints a picture of a raw society divided into few very rich and many poor. It was the era of immigrants, slavery in the coal mines, women without equal rights and child labor. In this novel, you will gain a realistic view of just how “good” the “old days” were.

End Zone. Don DeLillo. Novel. End Zone is a fictionalized view of a college football program: robots orchestrated by coaches to go through the motions.

Underworld. Don DeLillo. Novel. Another in the “Depressing School of Literature.” And yet,  it affirms life. It defines the people in the “Underworld,” the bottom of the social ladder, as depressed, helpless, hopeless and having no control of their lives. In other words, it’s an attitude that puts people into the dregs of society.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 11


East of Eden. John Steinbeck. Parallel to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. Steinbeck’s philosophical musings are interesting. Vivid portrait of California farming.

Lolita. Vladimir Nabokov. Novel. Ah Ha! A dirty book. Right? The basic plot certainly seems so. Nabokov says it is actually a celebration of the American language and culture.

The Magus. John Fowles. Novel. For a while, in the early 1970s, this novel became a cult classic. Many high school and college students were reading it. No one could figure it out. But they couldn’t stop reading.

On the Road. Jack Kerouac. Novel. A portrait of America in the 1950s, the view of the ‘50s generation and the aimless desire for experience.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 10


The Way of All Flesh. Samuel Butler. Novel. Through three generations, sons in the family Pontifex lived in fear of their fathers and then treated their sons in the same way. Ernest breaks the chain.

Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain. Novel. A combination of hilarious scenes and a deep, deep understanding of the tragedy of slavery.

 Mr. Blue. Myles Connolly. Novel. Mr. Blue is an unusual character. He is a Christian who loves life, who can sacrifice his own personal interests to help others with no promise of reward other than alleviating the plight of others. He is, in short, a replication of Christ in the modern world.

Memento Mori. Muriel Spark. If, as a young person, you think old people (over 70) live out their old age serenely, reflecting comfortably on their positive experiences over the years, this novel depicts a very different existence—fretful, self-absorbed, worried about trivial circumstances, hyper-critical of other old people, noting their mental instability, reflecting on affairs and embarrassments during the years, using their wills to retain influence over people looking for an inheritance, problems with their bladders, taking pills, no longer valued for their knowledge or viewed as important individuals, wildly suspicious and swiftly dying off because of medical and other causes, including violence and car collisions. Spark writes with a dead-pan, blank expression as she states matter-of-factly what the characters think, say and do. The result is hilarious—and irreverent—and true to life.

The Once and Future King. TH White. Delightful story of the education for leadership of King Arthur by Merlyn. Part of his training was in learning to live with the animals and gain their perspective. His purpose in founding the Round Table was to channel the natural aggressiveness of men into fighting for good causes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 09


Don Quixote of La Mancha. Miguel de Cervantes. If you read Don Quixote for no other reason, read it for the abundance of proverbs uttered by Sancho Panza and by many others. Alonso Quinjano is a gaunt country gentleman whose mind is so crazed by reading romances of chivalry that he believes himself called upon to redress the wrongs of the whole world and sets out on his horse with his page, Sancho Panza, to do so.

The Pickwick Papers. Charles Dickens. Novel. The history of the Nimrod Club, the members of which go out shooting, fishing, etc., and get themselves into difficulty because of their lack of dexterity. In short, a club of klutzes. A mixture of wit and wisdom; the introduction of Sam Weller and his widow-hating father. The sheer joy in using language. Simply hilarious.

The Brothers Karamazov. Fyodor Dostoevski. Novel. Who killed Fyodor Karamazov? Each of his sons feels complicity in the murder.

Utopia. Sir Thomas More. One of the seminal books in the history of literature. “Utopia” is from the Greek, ou, “not,” and topos, “a place,” or “nowhere.” Written in two books in Latin. Book One presents analysis of contemporary social, economic, penal and moral ills in England. Book Two is a narrative describing Utopia, a country run according to the ideals of the English humanists, where poverty, crime injustice and other ills do not exist.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 08


The Eighth Day. Thornton Wilder. Novel. God’s Creation ended with the Seventh Day. Man’s creation continues with the eighth day. And the key to that creation is the many Messiahs who build within families to a high point of humanity. Christ is only one Messiah from only one family. There are many more to come.

 The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Thornton Wilder. In 1714, a bridge over a canyon in Peru breaks, precipitating five travelers into the gorge. A Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, attempts to learn why the tragedy happened to these particular five people. Does God have a plan?

Watch and Ward. Henry James. Novel. Why read Henry James? For many reasons. His subtle expression of the intricacies of relationships is revealing of how people think and feel in relation to others. His character studies reveal the complexity of personality. He throws off ideas and memorable words almost as afterthoughts. One will find many a mot juste in his novels. And he works mainly with the relationships of unsubtle, honest and straightforward Americans against the subtle, devious, cultured Europeans. However, Watch and Ward deals only with America and is an early novel. The idea behind the novel is bizarre. Roger Lawrence adopts a little girl and brings her up to be his perfect wife—without telling her.

Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. Novel. Henry James studies the relationships between the American character and the character of aristocratic Europeans.

The American. Henry James. Novel. The clash of cultures between the American character—honest, na├»ve, member of a classless society—vs. European aristocratic belief in the primacy of social class based on heritage, honor and manners.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 07


Giants in the Earth. OE Rolvaag. Novel. Per Hansa, who had a vision of the settled prairie with full wheat harvests, faces the isolation of a desolate, endless, malevolent landscape with a wife, Beret, who does not share his vision, who is fearful of the environment, depressed and certain that humans living in this environment will turn into beasts.

My An'toni'a. Willa Cather. Novel. Helps the reader understand the experience of opening the American prairie to society. The joys and sorrows and burdens of being pioneers in America’s westward movement.

 Main Street. Sinclair Lewis. Novel. Lewis captures the “spirit” of small-town America—its tediousness; self-importance; endless repetition of activities, jokes and stories; conformity; and intolerance of anything that does not conform to its expectations.

Babbitt. Sinclair Lewis. Novel. Presents a portrait of George Follensbee Babbitt, a middle-aged realtor, booster, and joiner in Zenith, the Zip City.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 06


War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. Novel. In War and Peace, Tolstoy alternated literary forms, using fiction to tell the story of the maturing of Pierre Bezukov, Andre Bolkonsky and Natasha Rostova during the Napoleonic campaigns in Russia, and essays in which he discusses the ironies and absurdity of war.

The Red Badge of Courage. Stephen Crane. Novel. A realistic, impressionistic description of confusion and fear and death in the Civil War, written by an author who had never seen a real battle, but so vivid that “you are there.”

 The Naked and the Dead. Norman Mailer. Novel. About the complex inner workings of people who engage in war, their interactions with others, and the effects of authority on individuals who are under their command.

Tales of the South Pacific. James Michener. Series of short stories based on incidents experienced by the author when he served in the South Pacific during WWII. The theme is waiting, the endless waiting, to see action. The waiting occurred because the islands leading toward the Japanese mainland had to be staffed and prepared for the string of attacks on islands nearer the Japanese mainland. In fact, the planning, including the medical planning in anticipation of certain types of wounds, is absolutely amazing. It made me think that what won WWII was superior planning and organizing.

Catch-22. Heller. By pleading insanity, Yossarian hopes to find a way out until the doctor quotes the notorious Catch-22: A man would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t but if he was sane, -he had to fly them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 05


A Country Doctor. Sarah Orne Jewett. Novel. Nan could not be a doctor and married at the same time. That was the way it was in her day. She chose to be a doctor against everybody’s wishes and advice.

Deephaven. Sarah Orne Jewett. Two young women make a summer visit in a reunion of their childhood vacations to Deephaven, once a thriving Maine seaport town, now left to its memories. Its population consists of poor fishermen, farmers and retired sea captains and their families.

The Country of the Pointed Firs. Sarah Orne Jewett. Novel Stories of the people of the rural seacoast of Maine. To appreciate this novel, you have to be in the mood to listen—to the people themselves—to let them tell their stories in their own way and at their own pace. You can’t hurry them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 04

The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Novel.  All people have secret sins. Many people use or manipulate others to gain something for themselves. Both characteristics are exemplified in this novel, an American classic.

The House of the Seven Gables. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Romance/Novel If readers can savor the experience, become a part of the times, feel the mood and see the architecture of mid-nineteenth-century New England, identify with the feelings and motives of the characters, they will have enriched their spirits with what today is called a “virtual experience.”

Blithedale Romance. Hawthorne. Novel. As close to a novel as Hawthorne gets. Miles Coverdale, the narrator, is a coldly inquisitive observer. In revealing his knowledge of the other members of the community, he reveals himself.

The Marble Faun. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Novel. Theme: humans need to experience sin in order to become truly human.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Annotated Table of Contebts: Novels 03


Silas Marner. George Eliot. Novel. Bitter, miserly weaver who has no friends in the village, has come there after having been accused of a crime committed by a friend, has his hoard of gold stolen, but takes in a little yellow-haired baby girl, Eppie. Gradually, as she grows older, she brings him back to a more normal view of life.

Middlemarch. George Eliot. Novel. The theme of this novel is the loss of idealism, first by Dorothea, who is disillusioned to find that her husband is a desiccated scholar, a scholar whose work is a waste of time. The second loss of idealism occurs with Dr. Lydgate, a physician. The lost idealism of Dr. Lydgate is probably true of many physicians today.

The Mayor of Casterbridge. Thomas Hardy. Novel. A man gets drunk at a fair and sells his wife and daughter to another man. He repents. Bt he cannot overcome the consequences of his evil act.

 Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. Thomas Hardy. Novel. Part of the charm of this novel, in spite of its tragic story of a good girl ruined, is Hardy’s description of the local villages, farms, and nature in the changing seasons and the customs of the rural people.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 02


Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen. Novel. Satirizes the genre of Gothic mansions with mysterious goings on.

The Jane Austen Book Club. Karen Joy Fowler. Presents an interesting contrast between the life styles of Jane Austen and the characters in her novels and 21st-century liberated American women. A thoughtful look at the role of women in society—then and now.

Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte. Somewhere I read that Emily Bronte disliked the controlled emotion and manners of Jane Austen’s novels, and set out to show that life is about passion. Wuthering Heights is about raw emotion, anger, cruelty, and vengeance. But it is also about a love that is passionate and unforgettable.

This Side of Paradise. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Novel. Contrast between the superficial college kid whose main interest was flirting with girls as he attends Princeton and world-weary, cynical, regretful, not -yet-thirty-year-old after serving as an officer in France during WWI. The novel is remarkable for  its honest and detailed descriptions of the early “Jazz Age,” the “Lost Generation.”

The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Novel. Nick Carraway, a young Midwesterner who sells bonds in New York, lives at West Egg, Long Island and narrates the story of his neighbor, mysterious Jay Gatsby, whose mansion and fabulous entertainment are financed by bootlegging and other criminal activities. But in his love for Daisy, it’s the story of a failed American dream.

Tender Is the Night. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Novel. The theme is dependence. Nicole is a wealthy mental patient who is desperately in love with and dependent on her young psychiatrist, Dick Diver, whom she marries. As she achieves mental stability and emotional independence, Dick deteriorates because he has become dependent on her. She leaves him for a man who will be her lover and her caretaker, and Dick begins an irreversible decline into alcoholism and dissolution.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Novels 01


Mansfield Park. Jane Austen. Novel. Example of life at a different time (early 19th century) in a different society (British). Austen tells a good story.

Persuasion. Jane Austen. Note Jane Austen’s humorous observation of the people in her social circle and her keen sense of the place of women in her society. Austen’s impressions of the people around her are delightful.

Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. Novel. Two sisters with dramatically different personalities. Elinor is cool in crisis, objective, keeps emotion in check, sees and accepts the world as it is. Marianne is emotional, uncontrolled, blows apart in crisis. The two are jilted. How do they handle this disappointing turn in their lives?

Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen. Quite a few people say that Pride and Prejudice is their favorite novel. It begins with a major domestic problem: Mrs. Bennet’s goal is to marry off her five daughters.  Mr. Bennet’s goal is to read his books in peace and to comment wryly on the people he encounters, including his wife and daughters, except for Jane Bennet who is sweet and Elizabeth Bennet who is intelligent and accepts life as it is. Elizabeth is prejudiced toward Darcy whom she perceives as proud (her family is beneath him socially) and arrogant. But he can’t help himself. He loves Elizabeth.

Emma. Jane Austen. Emma is an amateur matchmaker who makes some serious mistakes in judgments about people who want to do what they want to do, not what she wants to direct them to do—and almost loses the love of her life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Nature 02


Watchers at the Pond. Franklin Russell. This book describes the changes in the pond during the cycle of the seasons.

Fox at the Wood’s Edge: Loren Eiseley. Gail Christianson. Biography of a scientist, a paleontologist, who wrote essays on nature and its relationship to the far-distant, prehistoric past. His style is haunting and melancholy and memorable.

 Notes from Turtle Creek. Ted Browning. Essays. Makes a convincing argument for man’s learning to live with nature, not exterminating it. A naturalist helps us to see the world of nature with a fresh view.

The Outermost House. Henry Beston. Like Thoreau at Walden, Beston took up a solitary residence in a cottage on the beach where he could observe the life of the sand and the dunes and the moods of the ocean.

Twelve Moons of the Year. Hal Borland. Each Sunday, Hal Borland published essays in the New York Times on the seasons in Connecticut where he lived. He wanted to show New Yorkers that there was life outside of New York City. These essays are beautifully written, short gems with not a word wasted, describing the changing seasons in rural New England. His essays, one for each day of the year, are “sheer celebrations of life.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Nature 01


Adirondack Country. Wm. C. White. The history of the Adirondacks, the names, the lakes, the peaks, the guides and impressions of the seasons.

American Seasons. Edwin Way Teale. The seasons take different forms in different parts of America.

Best Nature Writing of Joseph Wood Krutch. Nature and living are unpredictable and therefore mysterious.

The Years of the Forest. Helen Hoover. Wife and husband, writer and illustrator, live in the Minnesota woods. It was not a vacation. The conditions were primitive. But she and her husband were able to be independent, to work out their destiny without being dependent on anyone. They knew the animals with whom they had a close relationship as individuals, not just as wildlife. They learned to live with nature, not to control it.

Who Wakes the Groundhog? Ronald Rood. This book is packed with interesting facts about insects, birds and animal life.

Walden. Henry David Thoreau. Want a period of solitude in your life? Read Walden. You not only read about Thoreau’s living alone in a cabin at Walden Pond, outside Concord, Massachusetts, from 1845 to 1847. You live it with him. You actually feel the sense of solitude experienced by Thoreau.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Mythology


The Wonder Book for Boys and Girls. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne displays the story teller’s art. While his style is ornate, his tales of the ancient myths sound as if they have been told in a summer meadow with the children gathered round and in other comfortable settings.

 The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. Joseph Campbell. The author tries to show that our lives are controlled by mythological beliefs, both conscious and unconscious.

 The New Golden Bough. Sir James George Frazer. Contains a thorough discussion of primitive superstitions. Readers will learn just how much our thoughts are controlled by ideas that go back to primitive people.

Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys: Being a Second Wonder Book. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sit back, settle in, it’s time for a story. Hawthorne tells stories to children about the ancient classical myths.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Miscellaneous 03


Humor. American Humor. Constance Rourke. Two types of American humor: the Yankee and the backwoodsman.

Speaking. How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking. Dale Carnegie. Some interesting and practical points on successful public speaking.

 Sports. For the Glory. Ken Denlinger. The story of a Penn State collegiate football recruiting class. In telling the stories of these players, Ken Denlinger is telling the story of all football players in major college football programs.

Sports. Bill Campbell: Voice of Philadelphia Sports. Bill Campbell, a sportscaster, was as much a part of Philadelphia sports as booing.

Travel. The Innocents Abroad or the New Pilgrims’ Progress. Mark Twain. Twain looked at hallowed European landmarks from a fresh and humorous point of view without reverence for the past and poked fun at both American and European prejudices and manners. A very entertaining look at tourism.

Travel. Roughing It. Mark Twain. Twain records a journey in the 1800s from St. Louis across the plains to Nevada, a visit to the Mormons,  and life and adventures in Virginia City, San Francisco, and the Sandwich Islands. Twain describes pioneering in the West: riding a stage coach; the Pony Express; the Mormon Bible (“chloroform in print”); James Fenimore Cooper’s the “scholarly” Indians in The Last of the Mohicans; characters’ use of language; a landslide; a character who knows everyone he meets; the colorful idiomatic language of the West; lawyers; the belief that everything that happens is good; the missionaries who converted the natives of Hawaii to Christianity and made them permanently miserable; and Brigham Young and polygamy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Miscellaneous 02


Horse Racing. Seabiscuit. Laura Hillenbrand. You will have a hard time putting this book down. My first impression is that the people who know horses treat them as individuals. Treating horses as individuals was important to the success of Seabiscuit, who would have resisted working for anyone who did not recognize his personal traits, his toughness, his heart, his rebelliousness, his determination and the absolute need never to use the whip.

Philosophy. The Story of Philosophy. Will Durant. A collection of philosophical ideas made manageable for a public hungry for the wisdom of philosophy. The author says in the introduction to his book that modern knowledge has become too complex for ordinary human beings and he seeks to make the ideas not only intelligible, but interesting. He succeeds in both goals. If you long for a book that makes you think, this is the book for you.

Reading. A History of Reading. Alberto Manguel. As an educator for thirty-five years, I thought I knew all there was to know about reading until I came across this book. Manguel’s ideas gave me plenty to think about. One of my favorite quotes:”Accumulating books is not knowledge. Many use books not for study but for decoration.”

Reading. How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education. Mortimer J. Adler. Books must be read in three ways: to understand, to question the author and to criticize the work.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Miscellaneous 01

Books. Book on the Bookshelf. Henry Petroski. The author described the growing problem through the centuries of finding enough shelf space for books.

Business. Up the Organization. Robert Townsend. A common-sense (to me) book about how to help organizations succeed by treating employees as people, not “personnel.” Townsend’s theme is getting things done through organizations. The best leader is the one who, when people are successful, the people say, “We did it” and not know they have been led. The model for organization is a round table. Stop using the organizational system of the Catholic Church and the Roman legions.

Creativity. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, graham and Gandhi.  Howard Gardner. Distinguishes between creative thinking which is diverse and convergent thinking that uncovers the right answer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Literature 02


The Greek Way. Edith Hamilton. In the dark days after the assassination of John Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy read this book at the insistence of JFK’s wife, Jackie. He said it helped him to accept the reality of what had happened and he began to move on to his own presidential bid. The ancient Greeks faced the ugliest matters with candor.

Jane Austen. Carol Shields. One of the finest writers of English novels, often rated with Shakespeare. Shakespeare lived in a man’s world and wrote about a wide range of characters and action. Austen lived in a man’s world and was forced to write about a limited number of characters and situations. Shakespeare and Austen never judged their characters, but made them come alive so that they live for today’s readers.

Nathaniel Hawthorne In His Times. James R. Mellow. You are going to learn why Hawthorne is one of America’s greatest writers.

The Ordeal of Mark Twain. Van Wyck Brooks. According to the author, Twain was a writer who could have made a significant contribution to the world’s literature, but became sidetracked by his success and popularity as a humorist. Possibly explains his extreme bitterness in the latter part of his life. He never fulfilled his destiny. Desired wealth and prestige as well as fulfillment of his creative instinct. He couldn’t have both. “The poet, the artist in him consequently…withered into the cynic and the whole man had become a spiritual invalid.”

World of Washington Irving. Van Wyck Brooks. This book reminds Americans of the struggle to define America, whether it would become just another imitation of a European state, or a country in which the people are responsible for their government. This book reminds Americans of the foundation for the American way of life. The period just beyond the “Declaration of Independence,” the Revolutionary War and the Constitution, 1800 to 1840. A new kind of history. Its title is deceptive, yet literal. The book is really about the WORLD of Washington Irving, rather than focusing on Irving himself. This book is about many people of Irving’s time—writers, statesmen, naturalists, explorers, and painters—who helped to open the American continent and define the government of America.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Literature 01


Criticism: The Major Texts. Ed. Walter Jackson Bate. Contains the original statements on literary and artistic criticism from Plato to Edmund Wilson.

The Future of the Novel: Essays on the Art of Fiction. Henry James. A series of essays on the novel and its practitioners in James’s time—Dickens, George Eliot, Zola, Balzac, Flaubert, de Maupassant, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Trollope, HG Wells, Arnold Bennett and Joseph Conrad.

The Western Canon. Harold Bloom. Bloom suggests that the goal in our schools and colleges today is no longer intellectual excellence, but achieving social harmony and remedying historical injustice. Bloom explores the problem of no longer reading serious books, the books enumerated in the Western Canon, “what has been preserved out of what has been written.”

The Flowering of New England. Van Wyck Brooks. Tells the story of the New England Renaissance in the period between the Revolution and the Civil War. It was a springtime surge of energy and intellect, a revolution against theology which had crushed the human spirit and confidence.

The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Volume One. James Boswell. The most famous biography in English literature of one of the most quoted people in the English language—other than Shakespeare, of course. Samuel Johnson was “bigger than life” because James Boswell, his biographer, kept voluminous and meticulous notes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: Language


What’s in a Word? Mario Pei. Pei gives the reader a basic course in the history of the English language.

Dictionary of Foreign Terms. A compendium of short, pithy, thought-provoking statements.

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms. A collection of aphorisms listed by topics. Perhaps the best advice for reading books of aphorisms is the aphorism on page 2: “The only way to read a book of aphorisms without being bored is to open it at random and having found something that interests you, close the book and meditate.” Prince DeLigne, 1796.

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions. I bet you think reading dictionaries is a nerdish activity. Maybe so, but if you love language, you have to enjoy reading books that talk about words. In this review of allusions, you will find a rich assortment of indirect references, references assumed by writers to be understood by their  readers and therefore unexplained. Spot an allusion you don’t understand? Look it up in this book.

Strictly Speaking: Will America Be the Death of English? Edwin Newman.  If you love a good “rant,” this book is one of the better ones on a topic that everyone loves to rant on—the American language. “Newman’s wry eye focuses on the sorry state of the English language as a reflection of the sorry state of society. If words are devalued, he argues, so are ideas and so are human beings. He rejoices in language that is lucid, graceful, direct, civilized.” He points out the gobbledygook that passes for public language in the media and the business world.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Annotated Table of Contents: History 02


The German Dictatorship. Karl Bracher. This book attempts to answer the following questions: Why did the Weimar Republic fail? How did Hitler succeed in taking power? Has National Socialism been truly defeated or does it survive in Germany today?

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. Robert S. McNamara. There were eleven major causes for our disaster in Vietnam.

Justice at Nuremberg. Robert E. Conot. Why read it? To understand the enormity of the Nazi atrocities. But the trial was all about vengeance.

Only Yesterday. Frederick Lewis Allen. Remember the 1920s? You will while reading this book, even though you did not live in the 1920s. Allen vividly re-creates the time that I think marks the beginning of modern society in the United States.

Not So Wild a Dream. Eric Sevareid. Autobiography. To those who heard and watched him on TV or read him in his newspaper columns, Eric Sevareid expressed himself concisely and memorably. Most of this book describes his experiences as a correspondent in WWII.

Notre Dame of Paris. Allan Temko. To read this book is to engage actively in the construction of one of the world’s great monuments to faith and an outstanding work of art.