Hey y’all! I hope everyone’s doing well on this fine Friday morning. It’s been a crazy busy week, and I knew Wednesday was going to be a long day when I walked into the courtroom at 8:25 AM; the gallery was standing room only and the room was hot, stuffy, and stank of bad breath and body odor. Fortunately, Thursday was quiet, and I was able to get caught up enough to throw most of this post together.
I already posted these reviews on Goodreads. If y’all’re interested in reading any of the synopses, just click the linked titles below. And if you’ve already read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you think in my Comments section. You know, way down yonder at the bottom.
American Dialogue: The Founders and Us by Joseph J. Ellis. Rated 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, and shelved it as American, history, nonfiction, political issues, & scholarly on Goodreads.
I don’t have much to say about American Dialogue other than it’s good and I’m adding it to my Amazon Wish List in the hope someone will give it to me as a Christmas gift this year. The synopsis and Ellis’s long career & distinguished reputation pretty much say it all.
I particularly enjoyed the “Now” section of Chapter 3: Law, “Immaculate Misconceptions”, in which Ellis exposes the inherent hypocrisy of Constitutional Originalism and eviscerates Antonin Scalia’s reprehensible 2008 majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which overturned 200 years of legal precedent and opened the door to America’s modern epidemic of gun violence.
More than anything else, though, I enjoyed the book for demonstrating that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and their fellow Founders really were a remarkable group of leaders the likes of which probably won’t be seen again any time soon.
Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America, by Eliza Griswold, audiobook narrated by Tavia Butler. Rated 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, and shelved it as current events, nonfiction, political issues, & business on Goodreads.
I enjoyed Eliza Griswold’s reporting and writing, but I was deeply saddened by the story she tells in Amity and Prosperity. This is the story of how Big Business, elected politicians, armies of lawyers, and sometimes even the government agencies designed to protect the public from harm conspire to facilitate environmental rape and great harm to public health then aid & abet each other in avoiding culpability. It’s also a depressing tale of some of the uglier aspects of human nature. As if the victims aren’t injured enough, elements in their community subject them to blame, shaming, ostracism, and even physical attack. Listening to this audiobook, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed to be a member of the human race. Tavia Gilbert is a capable if unremarkable narrator.
If reading about or listening to accounts of grave injustice and the harm inflicted on others bothers you, you may want to skip this one. **Spoiler alert**: The conclusion of this tale was entirely unsatisfactory. The victims suffer and are only poorly compensated for their suffering, and the multiple offenders are richly rewarded.
Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls. Rated 3 of 5 stars, “liked it”, and shelved it as American, biography, history, nonfiction, & scholarly on Goodreads.
I enjoyed this dense, detailed biography of Henry David Thoreau. As with other outstanding biographies I’ve read, it’s much more than just the story of one person’s life. It’s a thorough history of a provincial and literary era and contains many historical and biographical accounts & anecdotes about a wide range of Thoreau’s peers and the prevailing cultural and political issues of America in the mid-19th century. I shudder to think of how thoroughly Laura Dassow Walls had to immerse herself in that world. Reading this book, it seemed to me at times that she must surely have known her subjects and lived among them. I know I could never spend so much of my time, will, and effort on a single subject, so I congratulate Walls for her dedication and for this worthy product of her labors.
Have y’all read or audited any of the above? If so, what did you think? What are you reading right now?