Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What to Read Next?

 The forum is once again open to suggestions.  Quite a few books referenced as of late.  What would be your choice?


  1. Books I've recently picked up per mention here:

    Wood, Empire of Liberty (BIG but the bits I've read are very good)

    Bradley, Imperial Cruise (to counter Brinkley)

    Egnal, Class of Extremes, Economic Origins of the Civil War

    Holton, Unruly Americans

    Bo mentioned Blood and Thunder, which would be a real change of direction.

    Goetzmann has a "new" book Beyond the Revolution on intellectual history.

    Or, there's the book Rick is reading -- The Metaphysical Club, which I'd happily reread. It is fascinating.

    I'm always up for Kevin Phillips, but my guess is most of those mentioned recently reflect more on the Bush administration (not that that's a bad thing since apparently there are those who actually _miss_ him). I think I read most of those mentioned here at one point or another but would enjoy a discussion of them. He also wrote a book on "The Cousins' War."

    Otherwise, I'm pretty open to whatever. Hopefully others will chime in.

    I have my hands full this spring but will try to keep up!

  2. Or for something totally different --

    I just noticed Emerson among the Eccentrics propping up my clock radio.....


  3. Due to the unrealiability of my memory, I cannot recall reading "Emerson Among Eccentrics" though it sounds like something that would have caught my attention a long time ago. I did read "Peabody Sisters" & "Mind On Fire" and enjoyed both.

    Since that particular period and subject are among my very favorites, I'm all for reading it.

    And, as always, I'd love to know how RW is feeling and if he could chime in.

  4. I've exchanged a couple e-mails with Robert and he seems to be getting better, but apparently not well enough to get into the flow of the forum. He was reading Madison, so he still may have a few things to say before all is said and done in that reading group.

  5. I have a copy of "Emerson Among the Eccentrics" but haven't read it. I've always planned to, though.

    As for "The Metaphysical Club," in my opinion it ebbs and flows. The writing is excellent throughout, but I'm just not all that taken by everything Menand spends time on. It really isn't a book I can see myself recommending to others.

  6. Several ways to go with Emerson, as Trippler noted, including The Peabody Sisters,


    There is also American Bloomsbury,


  7. American Bloomsbury is a real dog... Very thin effort, although I did learn about all the relationships between these people I only knew of as individuals.

    The Peabody book sounds so familiar, I wonder if I've read it already. (My poor brain is a shadow of its former self)

    There's also the Richardson bio of Emerson (the mind on fire) which is supposed to be excellent. He also wrote one on Thoreau. Richardson has the reputation of being an excellent biographer.

    But like Rick, I've had Emerson and the Eccentrics forever, and have never gotten around to it. And it got rave reviews in its day. I think I first learned of it at the old meander forum.

    (Sorry you weren't as taken with Menand, Rick. I loved that book.)

  8. good to hear that Robert is on the mend.

  9. In the past couple of weeks I have read via audio book Alyn Brodsky's "Benjamin Rush: Patriot & Physician".

    In our past readings we have come across this extraordinary figure quite a few times. He signed the Declaration of Independence, attended the Continental Congress, worked as surgeon for American patriots during the Revolutionary war, opposed slavery and capital punishment, advocated education rights for girls, pioneered studies in certain forms of chemistry and pharmaceuticals, also pioneered studies in psychiatry, established Dickinson liberals arts college in Pennsylvania, and worked for Native American rights.

    There was a considerable amount of controversy as well in that he thought bloodletting and purgation were universal cures for illness. He was attacked as causing more deaths than saving lives in his medical career because of this belief. Another controversy was his insistence that greater emphasis was to be put on the Bible and religion in education. He was very dogmatic in his religious fervor. But his greatest contribution to medicine was his pioneering in preventive medicine by emphasizing the need for greater sanitation and hygenic practices both in the military and in general practice.

  10. Perhaps ultra right wing D!ck Armey should join our history book club?

    He is now one of the biggest spokesmen for the Tea Baggers and says that Democrats are out of touch because they haven't read the Federalist Papers. He also said those papers tell you what we need in society today: small government.

    Someone in the audience pointed out that one of the writers of the FP was Alexander Hamilton who,

    'How can the Federalist Papers be an inspiration for the tea party, when their principal author, Alexander Hamilton, "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government"?

    Historian Armey was flummoxed by this new information. "Widely regarded by whom?" he challenged, suspiciously. "Today's modern ill-informed political science professors? . . . I just doubt that was the case in fact about Hamilton."

    Alas, for Armey, it was the case. Hamilton favored a national bank, presidents and senators who served for life and state governors appointed by the president.

    As a historian, Armey was all hat and no cattle. '


    How about it, D!ck -- care to join us?

  11. Great story. Interestingly, Hamilton was recently the darling of the neo-right.
    Remember Chernow's bio that came out awhile back?

    Armey, by the way, is the one who started the "grass roots" protests against health care that became the tea baggers. Rachel Maddow had a great show on him and where these grass roots protesters were really coming from.

    I couldn't find her story, but here's a timeline:


  12. A few years ago I was in Philadelphia and went to the graveyard where Ben Franklin was buried. Walking through I came across Rush's grave, which I found much more moving for some reason.

  13. Great piece on Dick Armey, trippler. Of course, the pap these guys read for "history" tells a great deal about their level of insight into the Constitution, which they claim to uphold. Dick and his army of Teabaggers would be much more comfortable with the Articles of Confederation.

  14. And according to the front page of the Times this a.m. they are calling it all States Rights, so it's all of one piece. Where were they when Bush was overthrowing the government?