Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Snow is setting in and the holidays are drawing nearer (in fact, Hanukkah starts this Friday), so it's getting to be a time I like to call Reading Season. With the wintry mess outside, there is nothing I like more than tackling my reading list with gusto on my favorite spot on the living room couch. I've already managed to knock out two books on my list, though ironically I listened to one as an audiobook in my car, finishing the last of it as I traversed the polar weather outside.
It was American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham, which was bit dry and preachy at parts but ultimately accomplished what it set to do: explain why Andrew Jackson is on such a prominent member of our currency as the $20 bill. It turns out that while Jackson was not able to escape the racism of his age and is extremely culpable in the misery of thousands of Indians across the Southeastern United States in the 1830's, he was nothing if not a complex man full of extreme tenacity and deep convictions. Much of what we see in subsequent presidential administrations began with Andrew Jackson, including the use of veto power as a political weapon instead of just a Constitutional balancing tool and the belief that the President was directly responsible to the People of the United States instead of just another branch of government, not to mention the creation of the Democratic party itself. Jackson's new interpretation of the Presidency single-handedly transformed the office into the heart of the United States government. Now my only question is, why the heck is Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill?
In contrast, the second book was complete eiderdown for men: Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. That being said, it meant a lot to me for two reasons: 1. it is one the last novels written by one of my favorite authors (it was found on his computer after he died) and 2. it's about pirates (and yes, it was about latitudes as well, in a manner of speaking). If someone would be looking for a well-researched historical novel of the late 17th-century Caribbean with a snappy plot, shallow-but-interesting characters, all combined with a heavy dose of unpredictability (think Errol Flynn's Captain Blood meets Scorsese's The Departed) and there you have it, a Treasure Island of the 21st century.
Next on my list is The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. What's on deck for you?