Tommy Orange’s debut novel There There starkly reminds the reader of the certain truth, there is no going back. For American Indians “There” is no longer. Some try to make the best of circumstances, many do not.
Orange’s thirteen Native American characters who have been born into or transported themselves to city life creates a poignant and melancholy reality. Visions of their heritage, a There There, are intertwined with harsh reality. This creative story teller brings a voice from over the centuries delivering a stark message for contemporary America.
Orvil Red Feather stands in front of Opal’s bedroom mirror with his regalia on all wrong—he moved in front of the mirror and his feathers shake—-he worries suddenly that Opal might come into her room—Opal had been against any of them doing anything Indian—she treated it like it was all something they could decide for themselves when they were old enough—Indianing.
The story of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with good reason, will never fade. Mitchell Zuckoff’s current retrospective on 9/11 and its aftermath, Fall and Rise The Story of 9/11, only adds to the relevance of the recent hard fought congressional battle to extend first responder benefits.
The book is chronologically presented and easy to read, benefiting from Zuckoff’s having covered 9/11 as a reporter for the Boston Globe. The prism of passed time adds to Zuckoff’s perspective and research. It is not incidental to his resume that he was a member of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. He also wrote the NYT bestseller 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi. I recommend Fall and Rise, especially for those too young to have remembered the event as it unfolded. The book, as well as any can, presents a cohesive story of the tragedy and the impact upon those who lived and died on that day.
In his latest work Friends Divided JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON, Pulitzer Prize author Gordon Wood turns his sights on the stark contrasts in the philosophies of America’s most famous founding fathers.
Incredible research and access to the writings of both men delivers a portrait of dramatically different and often conflicting views of the formation of the of the new nation. Adams the son of a Massachusetts shoemaker and hardscrabble farmer, Jefferson born into plantations of the slave holding southern aristocracy. They were friends, malevolent enemies, then friends again. Each leaving his enduring mark on America’s formative years.
If your passion is American history Friends Divided is an important read. As you would expect it is the work of a scholar minus any whimsical passages or grand tours of the American landscape. Both Patriots receive their share of the authors scorn. If you favor one over the other be prepared for the harsh criticism of an acclaimed historian. Does Wood have a favorite. Yes he does. Enjoy.
A wonderful companion read, preferably first, is Wood’s Empire of Liberty. Search this site for my observations.
Nathaniel Philbrick’s IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE paints a definitive picture of George Washington’s 1780 victory at Yorktown, Virginia. It was the battle coordinated with the French Navy that almost didn’t occur but inexorably led to final victory in America’s Revolution.
Philbrick is masterful in combing through the myriad of detail and negotiation that finally coordinated the French naval forces and the American Continental Army to rout the British at Yorktown. Ironically, It was a naval victory without a single American ship. IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE also details the relatively unknown story of the brilliant efforts of Continental Army General Nathaniel Greene battling Lord Cornwallis to an exhausting draw in the hills of North Carolina.
Just as in his book Mayflower, Philbrick is the master story-teller , combining an enormous amount of historical data into a cohesive and human narrative. His insight into the mind of George Washington is brilliant. IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE is a most worthy addition to your American Revolution reading list. A battle waged two hundred thirty-nine years ago and still so much to learn. Philbrick makes it a great tale. Narrative non-fiction at its best.
Other volumes by Philbrick concerning the American Revolution: Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution and Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution.
I came to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings only recently.
I consider myself fortunate that my tardiness did not preclude this Memoir of Maya Angelou’s adolescence. The openness of the beautifully written narrative is welcoming to the reader. The vivid details of a black child growing up in Arkansas under her grandmother’s loving care is all-encompassing.
Don’t wait. You will thank me.
Historian Lewis Lehrman compares the leadership of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and World War II. LINCOLN & CHURCHILL STATESMEN AT WAR delves heavily into comparisons of their respective personalities, management of subordinates, personal habits and military expertise.
Much of Lehrman’s subject has been well documented by a plethora of historians and the reader will find that the emphasis of this book clearly lies with Churchill. He does draw a very insightful polemic comparison between Churchill as wartime Prime Minister and Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief. A clear commonality is that both men weaponized language as a decisive element in their ultimate victories.
Don’t look for descriptions of battles. This book is about the grand strategy of war and how individual personality and persona influences outcomes.
Mike Wallace’s sequel to GOTHAM is another enormous undertaking for both the author and the reader. GREATER GOTHAM A HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY FROM 1898 TO 1919 epic and heroic. Having completed both volumes ( search GOTHAM at gordonsgoodreads.com) I heartily recommend this new work.
Wallace advances a deep understanding of the evolution of the economic, political and social fabric of New York City as the five New York Burroughs became one. It is a fascinating look at the multi-cultural and political conflicts that impacted the growth of the city. Wallace leaves out no aspect of city life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Media, music, art, race, gender, gentrification, Tammany, titans, aristocrats, prostitutes, swells and hacks. Irish, Jews, Chinese, Greeks, Italians and the unlikely alliances among them that drove the city politic during this period of enormous growth for the manufacturing, financial and cultural capitol of America.
I look upon Wallace’s work as earning a Master’s Degree in the History of New York. At 1052 pages, not including the bibliography and index, this is not an airplane read but rather for comfortable surroundings in which to be astonished, inhaling and contemplating the complexities of the great City of New York.
Wallace is already at work on the next volume of GOTHAM which will focus of the 1920s,30s and 40s. I can’t wait.