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Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Revolutionaries

It's Monday, What are You Reading?

This is the twelfth entry for this meme, suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books.

My latest read is Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America by Jack Rakove. Review:
Product Description
In the early 1770s, the men who invented America were living quiet, provincial lives in the rustic backwaters of the New World, devoted primarily to family, craft, and the private pursuit of wealth and happiness. None set out to become "revolutionary" by ambition, but when events in Boston escalated, they found themselves thrust into a crisis that moved, in a matter of months, from protest to war.

In this remarkable book, the historian Jack Rakove shows how the private lives of these men were suddenly transformed into public careers--how Washington became a strategist, Franklin a pioneering cultural diplomat, Madison a sophisticated constitutional thinker, and Hamilton a brilliant policymaker. Rakove shakes off accepted notions of these men as godlike visionaries, focusing instead on the evolution of their ideas and the crystallizing of their purpose. In Revolutionaries, we see the founders before they were fully formed leaders, as individuals whose lives were radically altered by the explosive events of the mid-1770s. They were ordinary men who became extraordinary--a transformation that finally has the literary treatment it deserves.

Spanning the two crucial decades of the country's birth, from 1773 to 1792, Revolutionaries uses little-known stories of these famous (and not so famous) men to capture--in a way no single biography ever could--the intensely creative period of the republic's founding. From the Boston Tea Party to the First Continental Congress, from Trenton to Valley Forge, from the ratification of the Constitution to the disputes that led to our two-party system, Rakove explores the competing views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society that shaped our nation.

Thoughtful, clear-minded, and persuasive, Revolutionaries is a majestic blend of narrative and intellectual history, one of those rare books that makes us think afresh about how the country came to be, and why the idea of America endures.

Happy Reading!  ;-)

Bill  ;-)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Calculated Risk: Adventures in Book Publishing

Calculated Risk: Adventures in Book Publishing

For those of you seriously interested in the future of book publishing (either as author or publisher), I recommend the following video (a speech - at the link on article, below) - it is not a "quick watch" - one that takes some concentration and reflection, but may change the way you see the world. This is not unlike the first time you were exposed to "The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson (and I certainly hope that you were!) regarding the impact of the Internet. I want to thank Dan Curtis - Professional Personal Historian for suggesting this source on his July 12 Monday's Link Roundup!

Article: The speech Chris Anderson of Wired says is the best he's ever seen on book publishing...Richard Eoin Nash - The Blog

The video runs a little over 35 minutes, and may be hard to get through; however, the last five minutes are especially useful IF YOU STUCK THROUGH THE FIRST 30 minutes.

What you want to get to is what he is suggesting about the content a writer writes versus the connection the writer really seeks - to achieve happiness.

Nash's current venture is: Cursor - assume this is to follow up on this speech.

In joining the mailing list, they ask What brought you here? Here was my reply:
"Saw the video by Nash, encouraged by Anderson; recommended by Dan Curtis' blog - Monday's Link Roundup"

Interesting path - building connections - leads to true happiness... ! ? !

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: An Artist in Treason

Book Review: An Artist in Treason

This is my review of "An Artist in Treason" by Andro Linklater with a subtitle that may set a modern day record: 'The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army and Agent 13 in the Spanish Secret Service.'

The subtitle really tells it all. Though he betrayed (some of) America's strategic secrets, sought to keep the new country from expanding beyond the Mississippi, and almost delivered Lewis and Clark's expedition into Spanish hands, four presidents {some might say the most important four, since they were the first four} - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison - all turned a blind eye to his treachery. In the end, in the crucial test in 1806, Wilkinson did, at the last minute, turn the army against Aaron Burr and foiled his conspiracy to break up the Union.

Linklater adds documentation from Spanish archives unseen by prior historians further illuminate this distinctive character in American history.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. Wilkinson was born in Maryland, the state of one of my ancestors lines that I have studied the most. He has been a side character in many, many of the books I have read in recent years - portrayed in many different lights. Each of these angles was explored well by Linklater in this book. I felt that his treatment was very evenhanded. Although I certainly cannot condone many of his actions, this book provided me with a much better understanding of the circumstances he faced as he made the decisions he made - usually under very difficult and trying decisions. As a military man, he was often put in lose-lose situations, sometimes on purpose, by either his military or civilian superiors, even both, on occasion. As with a number of his contemporaries among the founding and next generation, personal vanity often did play an over-sized role in his decision making - leading to many, if not most, of his many problems - personal and professional. This story also sheds illuminating light on many of the other 'historical' characters with whom he interacted through his career.

Happy Reading!  ;-)

Bill  ;-)