The book title says it all! Maggie Haberman’s CONFIDENCE MAN THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP AND THE BREAKING OF AMERICA is another outstanding example of excellent journalism from this Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist.
CONFIDENCE MAN is exactly what one would expect from Haberman, thorough unbiased reporting. Very little drama, all facts. Another piece of scholarly reporting. She tells the story better than anyone so I will not make an attempt to do so.
The title THIS IS HAPPINESSspeaks for itself. The title of Niall Williams‘ book aptly describes a wonderful GOOD READ.
The author transports the reader to the smallest of villages in Ireland and quickly the characters and imagery flow from the pages to create a page turning narrative. A tentative seventeen year old studying for the priesthood returns home and circumstances there cause great reflection. Add to the story the coming of electricity to this forgotten outpost bringing with it a search for a long lost love and a cross generational endearing friendship.
Clear the decks for this great novel. It will indeed bring happiness.
A fabulous scholarly work by Pulitzer Prize Author Stacy Schiff. At last Samuel Adams is catapulted into his proper and deserved Revolutionary Role! Step aside Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere and make way for the the person who with brilliance of action and pen united the Colonies and made them ready for the Declaration of Independence.
“Why would a people living in the finest climate under the mildest government blessed with land and religious liberty, protected by the greatest power on earth, viscously defy a parent state that had “nursed their tender years”? Samuel Adams blamed that “ancient republican spirit” which the first settlers had planted and which had flourished in the New England soil. ” Samuel Adams had at his disposal a single weapon: the word : liberty.”
When I finished reading The Revolutionary Samuel AdamsBroadway’s Hamilton flashed in my mind. Lin Manuel Miranda might find an equal or better subject in Samuel Adams.
WASTELANDS could have been a John Grisham novel. No, it is a true story of the industrial pork industry that remains in existence in Eastern North Carolina.
Wastelands is not about the horrible treatment of industrially raised pork ( that is another horror subject) but rather a story of the historical havoc raised upon the environment by giant corporations. Author John Addison focuses his research on exactly how huge industrial pork farms on the Eastern Shore of North Carolina have made living conditions for neighbors literally intolerable. It is the story of how a small group of black citizens said “enough is enough” and took the giant Smithfield Corporation and its surrogates to the court house.
Addison is by profession a novelist. A walk Across the Sun, The Garden of Burning Sand, The Tears of Dark Water, A Harvest of Thorns. WASTELANDS reads like a novel but every word is true.
” Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up.” -Abraham Lincoln.
INFANTICIDE. A black mother suffering human bondage for her lifetime says, “Not for this daughter, this Beloved, no life for her.” Sethe felt the last breath drain from her infant daughter. Her spirit returns.
Toni Morrison captures the depth of America’s Slave narrative in Beloved, her eleventh novel. So worthy of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. There are libraries filled with works on this subject but Belovedis complete, deep, emotional an overwhelming accomplishment by a brilliant storyteller. The book stands alone. Do you believe in ghosts, spirits? You will. Beloved is a careful, considered, committed read but the library of slavery is not complete without these emotionally crafted pages by Morrison. The author, who also wrote The Bluest Eye died in 2019 at the age of eighty eight. I almost feel that an apology is necessary for not having read Morrison sooner in my personal quest for understanding the depth of slavery.
Hear the words that rang out for years after the Emancipation Proclamation. “They had a single piece of paper directing them to a preacher on DeVore Street. The war had been over four or five years then, but nobody white or black seemed to know it.”
” Eighteen seventy-four and whitefolks were still on the loose. Whole towns wiped clean of Negroes, eighty-seven lynchings in one year alone in Kentucky, four colored schools burned to the ground, men whipped like children, children whipped like adults, black women raped by the crew.”
If you think you have read enough of this story. You have not. Beloved has much to say. Read on.
It is amazing to me that HORSE by Geraldine Brooks is not high on the New York Times Best Seller List! I place it among the two best novels I have read this year and yes the Boston Globe, ( Brooks lives in Massachusetts), lists it as number #1.
HORSE, weaves its central characters across two centuries. By definition Horse is a novel but the storytelling is so well researched for me it falls into the historical novel category.
You will be enthralled with a story set in both the 19th and 21st centuries. Brookes ties her characters and the story line across generations and social issues of the time. Lexington, the greatest thoroughbred that ever lived. The Black Slave horse groom Jarret, generations of bondage, racism, wealthy southern dandies, the Civil War, Quantrell, Jim Crow, 21st century police violence against Black men, the world of equine art and a love story between a Smithsonian scientist from Australia and a Nigerian American art historian. The storyline blend is simply perfect. Indeed a page turner in every good sense of the term.
Whether or not you love horses this novel tells a story wherein every word, scent, event, every social issue and injustice could very well be non-fiction.
And yes, with all of the wonderful major roles in HORSE, watch for Clancy. You’ll see.
I think there is much of Geraldine Brooks in this book.
Also by Geraldine Brooks The Secret Chord and Caleb’s Crossing. ( Search gordonsgoodreads.com)
Another great addition by Colson Whitehead. HARLEM Shuffle by the author of Pulitzer and American Book Award winners THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD and THE NICKEL BOYS, is a great add to Colson’s collection.
This work by Whitehead reminds me of the of the people and places of New York written by the great Pete Hamill. This entertaining novel is a trip through the topography and Harlem Society of the 1960s. Shuffle is a crime story and so much more because like Hamill’s writing of Downtown in Shuffle you see and smell the vivid sights of the city. ” No new frontier stretched before him, endless and beautiful-that was for white folks-but this new land was a few blocks at least and in Harlem a few blocks was everything. A few blocks was the difference between strivers and crooks, between opportunity and hard scrabble. ” In Colson’s book some characters often merged into a fixating combination.
Shuffle is well worth the trip. Great humor and a crime story fit for Carl Hiaasen’s library. Lucky You comes to mind. Summer isn’t over. Shuffle is a good fun read by one of America’s great writers.
The historical novel genre trumps non-fiction in Honoree Fanonne Jeffers‘ incredible work, THE LOVE SONGS of W.E.B. DuBOIS.
From slave ship to the 20th Century, a family story that evokes memories of Alex Haley’s ROOTS. However, the impeccably researched detail, characters and story telling in LOVE SONGS goes beyond that classic work.
In reading LOVE SONGS I was called to events reported in iconoclastic The 1619 Project. However in LOVE SONGS, storyteller Jeffers is supreme. Like ROOTS, the events are personified and the story line captures the reader not just through the extraordinary events but for generations. Jeffers does not miss a single important issue that has faced African Americans both within society and individual familial generations. Her protagonists carry indelible images of the individuality within her race. Sub-themes tell stories of differing shades of black skin, and there is a strong feminist substance throughout her work that is deeply personal and often explicit. The W.E.B. Dubois connection will unfold but reading his The Soul of Black Folks will add great depth.
At seven hundred ninety pages LOVE SONGS is no quick read but Jeffers’ story telling, dialogue and imagery flows beautifully through every turn of the page. If I had a vote LOVE SONGS would warrant a Pulitzer and an American Book Award.
Jeffrey Frank takes a critical and objective look at the presidency of Harry Truman. By no means a love affair, the title, The Trials of Harry S. Truman, and subtitle, The Extraordinary Presidency of an Ordinary Man, 1945-1953, establish the tenor of the book.
Frank is quick to objectively microscope Truman proclamations and interpretations but always willing to credit the president with the most difficult decisions of his place and time. The Atomic Bomb, Potsdam, Stalin, the Marshall Plan, The Berlin Airlift, the desegregation of the U.S. Military and the Federal workforce , MacArthur, Korea, NATO, Strom Thurmond, the election of 1948. Frank condenses this broad landscape into a concisely focused 380 pages.
The author chose a direct quote from Truman’s last press conference which I think goes a long way to putting Harry S. Truman and his place in history into perspective:
It ended with the traditional ” Mr. President-thank you!” But this time it was followed by affectionate applause for this child of rural Missouri- this self educated striver, a man determined to overcome the prejudices, ethnic and religious, of that time and place-letting him know that he was, as Lippman put it, in his sentimental moment, someone who ” has the good nature of a good man.” In mid century America, it was hard to imagine a future when those qualities could be extinguished.
If you are a fan of presidential history, add THE TRIALS OF HARRY S. TRUMAN to your reading list.