America’s Historian Evokes The National Spirit, Its Lessons and Promise

Book review: The American Spirit, by David McCullough History, I like to think, is a larger way of looking at life. It is a source of strength, of inspiration. It is about who we are and what we stand for and is essential to our understanding of what our own role should be in our time. History, as can’t be said too often, is human. … Continue reading America’s Historian Evokes The National Spirit, Its Lessons and Promise

Eight Years of Power, Pain, and Ultimately Turning From Progress

Book review: We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates Ta-Nehisi Coates’ latest, garnering buzz for being among the year’s best, was a very hard book to read, but why wouldn’t it be? History is ugly and current events surely aren’t much better to look at. The book is structured chronologically by eight essays, one previously published every year of the Obama presidency at The … Continue reading Eight Years of Power, Pain, and Ultimately Turning From Progress

Ladies of Cryptography: The Women Who Broke War’s Codes

Book review: Code Girls, by Liza Mundy Amazon I’m in some kind of hush, hush business. Somewhere in Wash. D.C. If I say anything I’ll get hung for sure. I guess I signed my life away. But I don’t mind it. Code Girls, author Liza Mundy’s history of the women who worked tirelessly cracking codes to aid the American Army and Navy in World War II, opens … Continue reading Ladies of Cryptography: The Women Who Broke War’s Codes

The Minutes of An American Tragedy

Image of World Trade Center fog, November 1998. By Flickr user Beija (http://www.flickr.com/photos/beija/243997357) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons   Book review: 102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn Amazon From the moment the first hijacked plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, 102 minutes passed before both towers ultimately collapsed. As we know all too … Continue reading The Minutes of An American Tragedy

What’s Behind Each Trump Cabinet Door

Book review: Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse, by John Nichols “Presidents can often be inconsequential – or foolish, or erratic, or incomprehensible. But presidencies are never any of those things. They are powerful, overarching, definitional.  They shape more than policies; they shape our sense of what the United States can be…Donald Trump’s presidency will make America something different than it has ever been – something darker if his autocratic agendas … Continue reading What’s Behind Each Trump Cabinet Door

Snakes in the Church

Book review: Salvation on Sand Mountain, by Dennis Covington “Snake handling didn’t originate back in the hills somewhere. It started when people came down from the hills to discover they were surrounded by a hostile and spiritually dead culture.” At some point last year, I read an article, I think either about a preacher getting arrested or else bitten and killed, and I learned about the Southern Pentecostal groups that … Continue reading Snakes in the Church

Breaking Down the Clinton Campaign, Mistake by Mistake

Book review: Shattered, by Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes (Amazon / Book Depository) “The absurdities of the election – Russian cyberattacks, a rogue FBI director, and an orange-hued reality-TV star winning the Republican nomination – intensified the sense of grief for Hillary, Bill, and their inner circle.” As they did for all of us, really. Reporters Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes interviewed top aides, movers and shakers … Continue reading Breaking Down the Clinton Campaign, Mistake by Mistake

Simpler Times: When Bill Met Monica

Book review: A Vast Conspiracy, by Jeffrey Toobin I was too young to understand much about, or grasp the gravity of what an impeachment was when it happened. What I remember most vividly of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky saga was the edition of the newspaper where the lurid details appeared (maybe it was excerpts of the Starr report, I’m not sure). It carried a parental advisory warning … Continue reading Simpler Times: When Bill Met Monica

True Solace is Finding None

Book review: The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich (Amazon / Book Depository) “I came here four years ago. I had not planned to stay, but I couldn’t make myself leave.” Achingly beautiful, emotionally charged prose essays with a distinctly lyrical style, written by a young woman as she initially pursues a work project on the ranches of the Wyoming plains, then can’t seem to … Continue reading True Solace is Finding None

America’s Most Fragile

Book review: Glass House, by Brian Alexander Journalist Brian Alexander is a native of Lancaster, Ohio, a city highlighted by Forbes in 1947 with the shining, post-war pride declaration, “This is America.” Now it’s one of many towns in America’s Rust Belt that’s fallen victim to plagues of misfortune in recent decades – the restructuring and eventual closures of big companies, leading to economic bust and rampant opiate abuse. These towns … Continue reading America’s Most Fragile

Touring and Celebrating America’s History of Immigration, Spice by Spice

Book Review: Eight Flavors, by Sarah Lohman (Amazon / Book Depository) For a crash course in American trade and immigration, read this book. Sarah Lohman is a gastronomist with a deep interest in the flavors and recipes that shaped American cuisine. According to her website, she “recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past.” She begins the book by showing … Continue reading Touring and Celebrating America’s History of Immigration, Spice by Spice