If I had all the time in the world...

...I would read these books.  Instead I read book reviews, which is a nice, air-conditioned job I'm very grateful to have on summer Saturdays.  Plus, I get to use a big yellow highlighter on slick magazine paper, a sensory thrill no matter how old I get!

  • Lincoln and the Border States:  Preserving the Union, by William C. Harris, University of Kansas Press.  ISBN 9780700618040  "Harris’s probing work brings the border states back to center stage and demonstrates how and why Lincoln mastered the art of balancing competing interests without yielding on the essential priority—an insightful lesson on leadership that speaks to our own day. Highly recommended.
  • State vs. Defense: The Battle To Define America’s Empire, by Stephen Glain.  ISBN 9780307408419 Since the early years of the Cold War, the U.S. State and Defense Departments have been locked in a bitter fight over making foreign policy—a battle in which Defense has dominated to the extent that the national security budget is now 20 percent of the total federal budget (i.e., rather than there being a greater percentage for diplomacy or foreign aid). So writes journalist Glain (Wall Street Journal;Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants: The Economic Collapse of the Arab World) in his fascinating account of the making of modern foreign policy. This is not a comprehensive Cold War history, but it skillfully investigates each presidential administration since Truman’s to show how militarists—often wealthy corporation heads and elected officials—have created the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against. Readers will be familiar with many of the militarists and diplomatists who fill these pages but will likely be angered about the extent to which the former went to distort the truth about the former Soviet Union and, later, Asian and Muslim nations’ strength and intentions toward the United States. 
  • I love diaries and letters of women in the Old West, so I want to read (or listen to a CD of Dorothy Wickenden's) Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the WestISBN 9781439176580 ...These rich and well-educated young society women, tired of social conventions and frustrated by suffrage work, came face to face with another America in the years before World War I—one that was poor, diverse, remote, lacking in modern conveniences, occasionally violent, and yet spectacularly beautiful and “new.” ... adds to our understanding of the complexity of women’s experiences in presuffrage America....Their lovingly preserved letters richly demonstrate how in seeking to assist others they also changed themselves. 
My current reads:

  • "Reads like fiction" is quite true about Howard Blum's The Floor of Heaven: A True Saga of the Old West and the Yukon Gold Rush.  ISBN 9780307461728. I'm loving it.  Give me Pinkerton detectives and cowboy outlaws and I'm pulled in.  
  • Alas, I was unable to stomach Allison Pearson's novel, I Think I Love You past about page 75.  Perhaps that is a back-handed compliment, as the return to Seventies junior high and The Partridge Family was too painful.
The preschoolers are loving these books:
  • Big Cat, Small Cat, by Ami Rubinger.  This predictive book of opposites with strangely pinkish cat illustrations has been a huge hit. 
  • Nina Crews' Neighborhood Mother Goose.  Connects current kids with the timeless joys of these rhymes.   

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I was able to read only two half-books on vacation this past week! I'm not sure if that counts as one or not. Maybe I should have packed a yellow highlighter!


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