I am back home after a few days on the road but I am not really back in the swing of things. In order to post something, I thought I would rely on that old trustworthy “What I Am Reading this Summer” post that is so useful as filler. In all honesty, however, I have been reading and do have a lot on my plate so I hope to have some content up in the not too distant future. Here is a taste of things to come:
– I have been on a non-fiction kick of late as my history background reasserts itself. Right now I am reading the fascinating Freedom Just Around the Corner : A New American History: 1585-1828 by Walter McDougall. Here is what Publishers Weekly had to say:
Anyone aspiring to write a multivolume history of the U.S. reckons with illustrious predecessors, especially the histories of Daniel Boorstin and Richard Hofstadter (the latter never completed). But those histories were interpretive; they had a particular slant on the past. McDougall’s is more explanatory. It provides up-to-date understanding of much that happened in our early history but without a sharply etched point of view. It’s thus a bit like a textbook, struggling to keep readers’ attention on all it packs in. Fortunately, in this regard it succeeds wonderfully well. Briskly written, deeply researched, fact-filled and satisfyingly wide in its coverage, it’s mainly a history of the public attributes of the colonies and early nationâ€”the ethnic and racial groups (including Native Americans), its states, religious denominations, political parties, wars and institutions.
– All work and no play leaves Kevin exhausted, however, so I have also been reading some lighter work. For that I have been reading the Samantha Kincaid series by Alafair Burke. I read Judgement Calls on the plane and just started the sequel Missing Justice. Burke is a former Portland, Oregon, district attorney and the daughter of award-winning crime writer James Lee Burke. Her books are a mix of traditional police thrillers with an added dash of legal insight and a quirky heroine.
– Mixing literature and non-fiction I have on my list two works from ISI Books. The first is a reissue of Myron Magnet’s Dickens and the Social Order which “argues that the liberal reformism for which Dickens is so well known rested on a surprisingly traditional view of society.” The second is Unafraid of Virginia Woolf: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell
by the prolific biographer of Catholic literary figures Joseph Pearce. Here is a teaser from the book’s back cover:
Acknowledged as one of the finest poets of his generation after the publication of his long poem The Flaming Terrapin, Campbell came to prominence in the 1920s when he captured the imagination of the English intelligentsia with his romantic background and controversial style. Pearceâ€™s vivid biography centers on Campbellâ€™s ongoing feud with the Bloomsbury group and the ideas they championed, the friendships Campbell forged with figures such as C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and the Sitwells, and Roy and his wife Maryâ€™s reception into the Catholic Church. Campbellâ€™s literary relationships and wonderfully romantic life is, thus, the context for this riveting account of Campbellâ€™s reckless life and the fascinating poetry that was left behind. That poetry, in the judgment of Pearce, was “both perplexing and challengingâ€”yet no more so than the poet himself.” Both Roy Campbell the man and his poetry richly deserve the engrossing reappraisal offered here by acclaimed biographer Joseph Pearce.
– Last but not least, and also non-fiction, I am hoping to read Defending Human Dignity: John Paul II and Political Realism. Having studied realism in foreign policy terms in graduate school and having been focusing on international relations again in my reading, this seemed like a topical and challenging work from the interesting catalogue of Brazos Press.
So that is my summer reading list although I always reserve the right to abandon it or change it at a moments notice! Look for reviews of the above (plus some backlog) as I have time.