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Monday, February 7, 2022

It is Monday, What are you Reading? Our First Civil War


It is Monday, What are you Reading?

Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution

By H.W. Brands

Another view of the American Revolution in one volume. I am looking forward to see how Brands treats of Loyalist viewpoint alongside the Patriot viewpoint in this book.

Amazon Description: 

“Americans tend to forget that we have always been at war with one another—even in the beginning…. Brands tells the story of the American Revolution as it really unfolded—as a civil war between colonial patriots and those loyal to the British Crown and Parliament. Division, Brands reminds us, is as American as unity.” —Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of His Truth Is Marching On

From best-selling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands comes a gripping, page-turning narrative of the American Revolution that shows it to be more than a fight against the British: it was also a violent battle among neighbors forced to choose sides, Loyalist or Patriot.


What causes people to forsake their country and take arms against it? What prompts their neighbors, hardly distinguishable in station or success, to defend that country against the rebels?  That is the question H. W. Brands answers in his powerful new history of the American Revolution.


George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were the unlikeliest of rebels. Washington in the 1770s stood at the apex of Virginia society. Franklin was more successful still, having risen from humble origins to world fame. John Adams might have seemed a more obvious candidate for rebellion, being of cantankerous temperament. Even so, he revered the law. Yet all three men became rebels against the British Empire that fostered their success.


Others in the same circle of family and friends chose differently. William Franklin might have been expected to join his father, Benjamin, in rebellion but remained loyal to the British. So did Thomas Hutchinson, a royal governor and friend of the Franklins, and Joseph Galloway, an early challenger to the Crown. They soon heard themselves denounced as traitors--for not having betrayed the country where they grew up. Native Americans and the enslaved were also forced to choose sides as civil war broke out around them.


After the Revolution, the Patriots were cast as heroes and founding fathers while the Loyalists were relegated to bit parts best forgotten. Our First Civil War reminds us that before America could win its revolution against Britain, the Patriots had to win a bitter civil war against family, neighbors, and friends.

Monday, January 31, 2022

It is Monday, What are you Reading? The American Story


It is Monday, What are you Reading?

The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians

By David M. Rubenstein

Interviews with many of my favorite authors and historians… how could I pass it up!!?

Amazon Description: 

Co-founder of The Carlyle Group and patriotic philanthropist David M. Rubenstein takes readers on a sweeping journey across the grand arc of the American story through revealing conversations with our greatest historians.

In these lively dialogues, the biggest names in American history explore the subjects they’ve come to so intimately know and understand.

David McCullough on John Adams

Jon Meacham on Thomas Jefferson

Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton

Walter Isaacson on Benjamin Franklin

Doris Kearns Goodwin on Abraham Lincoln

A. Scott Berg on Charles Lindbergh

Taylor Branch on Martin Luther King

Robert Caro on Lyndon B. Johnson

Bob Woodward on Richard Nixon

And many others, including a special conversation with Chief Justice John Roberts 

Through his popular program The David Rubenstein Show, David Rubenstein has established himself as one of our most thoughtful interviewers. Now, in The American Story, David captures the brilliance of our most esteemed historians, as well as the souls of their subjects. The book features introductions by Rubenstein as well a foreword by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead our national library. Richly illustrated with archival images from the Library of Congress, the book is destined to become a classic for serious readers of American history.

Through these captivating exchanges, these bestselling and Pulitzer Prize–winning authors offer fresh insight on pivotal moments from the Founding Era to the late 20th century.

Monday, January 24, 2022

It is Monday, What are you Reading? Boone

It is Monday, What are you Reading? Boone

Boone: An Unfinished Portrait

By Daniel Firth Griffith

A short read… and takes a very different perspective on a fascinating man.

Amazon Description: 

A wild biography of Daniel Boone that seeks to define and examine the figurehead of the American Man through a rich inspection of the complex and problematic context of American frontier history.

Acclaimed Biographer and Emergent Conservationist Daniel Firth Griffith provides a wild and engaging portrait of a great American Icon, Daniel Boone. Delivered with the challenging nuance of a historian and the arresting style of a poet, Griffith's work seeks to reignite and engage the soul of American wildness. Boone: An Unfinished Portrait is a search party to find Daniel Boone, its journey is that of his story's canvas, and its purpose is to uncover a man to unfurl a hope built in reciprocity, connection, and understanding.


We know the name, but do we know the man? Was Daniel Boone a woodsman-philosopher or American Patriot? Boone was and is still today a convenient symbol, employed by anyone who thinks they are an American. But what if he wasn't an American? And what if he doesn't want our employment?

In this sensitive and philosophical work, we dive into the rich mythology of American literature, poetry, and history alongside Indigenous mythology and wisdom to find the man of Daniel Boone. From Whitman to Emerson, Muir to Turner, we peel back Daniel's forest - gently of course, for leaves are fragile and we don't want to disturb that beaver to your left as he creates an ecologically-rich wetland - and attempt to see him as he saw himself. Perhaps, in the naivety and purity of this place, we may also learn something about ourselves.

If history is the art of trying to know better, then this book is written for those who are ready for the task-to unveil the woods of our mythology and discover a story that we may not be entirely comfortable with. The lesson of this story is not progress, but pain, not empire, but empathy. This is the story of just a man-a great man but a man nonetheless. Perhaps, that makes it the very best kind of American story.

Monday, January 17, 2022

It is Monday, What are you Reading? The Cause

It is Monday, What are you Reading? 

The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents

By Joseph J. Ellis

The Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize was the book, many years ago, that piqued my interest in the founding stories of our country and that period in our history. This book is said to put in one volume his summation of that period. Have to read it!! ;-)

Amazon Description:

New York Times Book Review ― Editors’ Choice • Chicago Tribune ― "60 Best Reads for Right Now" • St. Louis Post-Dispatch ― "50 Fall Books You Should Consider Reading"

A culminating work on the American Founding by one of its leading historians, The Cause rethinks the American Revolution as we have known it.

In one of the most “exciting and engaging” (Gordon S. Wood) histories of the American founding in decades, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Joseph J. Ellis offers an epic account of the origins and clashing ideologies of America’s revolutionary era, recovering a war more brutal, and more disorienting, than any in our history, save perhaps the Civil War.

For more than two centuries, historians have debated the history of the American Revolution, disputing its roots, its provenance, and above all, its meaning. These questions have intrigued Ellis―one of our most celebrated scholars of American history―throughout his entire career. With this much-anticipated volume, he at last brings the story of the revolution to vivid life, with “surprising relevance” (Susan Dunn) for our modern era. Completing a trilogy of books that began with Founding Brothers, The Cause returns us to the very heart of the American founding, telling the military and political story of the war for independence from the ground up, and from all sides: British and American, loyalist and patriot, white and Black.

Taking us from the end of the Seven Years’ War to 1783, and drawing on a wealth of previously untapped sources, The Cause interweaves action-packed tales of North American military campaigns with parlor-room intrigues back in England, creating a thrilling narrative that brings together a cast of familiar and long-forgotten characters. Here Ellis recovers the stories of Catherine Littlefield Greene, wife of Major General Nathanael Greene, the sister among the “band of brothers”; Thayendanegea, a Mohawk chief known to the colonists as Joseph Brant, who led the Iroquois Confederation against the Patriots; and Harry Washington, the enslaved namesake of George Washington, who escaped Mount Vernon to join the British Army and fight against his former master.

Countering popular histories that romanticize the “Spirit of ’76,” Ellis demonstrates that the rebels fought under the mantle of “The Cause,” a mutable, conveniently ambiguous principle that afforded an umbrella under which different, and often conflicting, convictions and goals could coexist. Neither an American nation nor a viable government existed at the end of the war. In fact, one revolutionary legacy regarded the creation of such a nation, or any robust expression of government power, as the ultimate betrayal of The Cause. This legacy alone rendered any effective response to the twin tragedies of the founding―slavery and the Native American dilemma―problematic at best.

Written with the vivid and muscular prose for which Ellis is known, and with characteristically trenchant insight, The Cause marks the culmination of a lifetime of engagement with the founding era. A landmark work of narrative history, it challenges the story we have long told ourselves about our origins as a people, and as a nation.

6 illustrations; 7 maps

Monday, January 10, 2022

It is Monday, What are you Reading? First Friends

It is Monday, What are you Reading? 

First Friends: 

The Powerful, Unsung (And Unelected) People Who Shaped Our Presidents

By Gary Ginsberg

This came out last summer, and I was happy to get it for Christmas. I’m always interested, of course, in new information that informs our understanding of our Presidents, who influences them and how they relate. This promises to provide many of those answers.

Amazon Description:



In the bestselling tradition of The Presidents Club and Presidential Courage, White House history as told through the stories of the best friends and closest confidants of American presidents.

Here are the riveting histories of myriad presidential friendships, among them:

  • Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed: They shared a bed for four years during which Speed saved his friend from a crippling depression. Two decades later the friends worked together to save the Union. 
  • Harry Truman and Eddie Jacobson: When Truman wavered on whether to recognize the state of Israel in 1948, his lifelong friend and former business partner intervened at just the right moment with just the right words to steer the president’s decision. 
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Daisy Suckley: Unassuming and overlooked during her lifetime, Daisy Suckley was in reality FDR’s most trusted, constant confidant, the respite for a lonely and overworked President navigating the Great Depression and World War II
  • John Kennedy and David Ormsby-Gore: They met as young men in pre-war London and began a conversation over the meaning of leadership.  A generation later the Cuban Missile Crisis would put their ideas to test as Ormsby-Gore became the president’s unofficial, but most valued foreign policy advisor.

These and other friendships—including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Franklin Pierce and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Bill Clinton and Vernon Jordan—populate this fresh and provocative exploration of a series of seminal presidential friendships.

Publishing history teems with books by and about Presidents, First Ladies, First Pets, and even First Chefs. Now former Clinton aide Gary Ginsberg breaks new literary ground on Pennsylvania Avenue and provides fresh insights into the lives of the men who held the most powerful political office in the world by looking at the friends on whom they relied.

First Friends is an engaging, serendipitous look into the lives of Commanders-in-Chief and how their presidencies were shaped by those they held most dear.

Monday, January 3, 2022

It is Monday, What are you Reading? A History of the Ozarks, Vol. 3: The Ozarkers

It is Monday, What are you Reading?

A History of the Ozarks, Vol. 3: 

The Ozarkers

By Brooks Blevins

This is the third of the 3 books series… had to have it. It speaks to moderns times, so should be an interesting read.

Amazon Description: none

Dust Jacket blurb (partial):

Between the world wars, America embraced an image of the Ozarks as a remote land of hills and hollers. The popular imagination stereotyped Ozarkers as ridge runners, hillbillies, and pioneers - a cast of colorful throwbacks hostile to change. But the real Ozarks reflected a more complex reality.

Note: This reality is the basis for my first novel, “Back to the Homeplace,” and what has become “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fictions stories spanning the period of 1833 into the 21st Century set in this region incorporating nearly ten generations of some original settler’s families on multiple reading platforms: novels, ebooks and hundreds of short stories and compilations, in print and online. Watch for a new blog and posts on Facebook for updates on current and new content in this series.

Monday, December 13, 2021

It is Monday, What are you Reading? Midnight in Washington


It is Monday, What are you Reading?

Midnight in Washington: 

How we almost lost our democracy and still could

By Adam Schiff

I do support Adam Schiff and his efforts in Congress. Whether or not I ever actually read this book is irrelevant...  I have lived through most of it, and am hopeful, but not overly optimistic.

Amazon Description:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The vital inside account of American democracy in its darkest hour, from the rise of autocracy unleashed by Trump to the January 6 insurrection, and a warning that those forces remain as potent as ever—from the congressman who led the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump

“Engaging and informative . . . a manual for how to probe and question power, how to hold leaders accountable in a time of diminishing responsibility.”—The Washington Post

In the years leading up to the election of Donald Trump, Congressman Adam Schiff had already been sounding the alarm over the resurgence of autocracy around the world, and the threat this posed to the United States. But as he led the probe into Donald Trump’s Russia and Ukraine-related abuses of presidential power, Schiff came to the terrible conclusion that the principal threat to American democracy now came from within.


In Midnight in Washington, Schiff argues that the Trump presidency has so weakened our institutions and compromised the Republican Party that the peril will last for years, requiring unprecedented vigilance against the growing and dangerous appeal of authoritarianism. The congressman chronicles step by step just how our democracy was put at such risk, and traces his own path to meeting the crisis—from serious prosecutor, to congressman with an expertise in national security and a reputation for bipartisanship, to liberal lightning rod, scourge of the right, and archenemy of a president. Schiff takes us inside his team of impeachment managers and their desperate defense of the constitution amid the rise of a distinctly American brand of autocracy.


Deepening our understanding of prominent public moments, Schiff reveals the private struggles, the internal conflicts, and the triumphs of courage that came with defending the republic against a lawless president—but also the slow surrender of people that he had worked with and admired to the dangerous immorality of a president engaged in an historic betrayal of his office. Schiff’s fight for democracy is one of the great dramas of our time, told by the man who became the president’s principal antagonist. It is a story that began with Trump but does not end with him, taking us through the disastrous culmination of the presidency and Schiff’s account of January 6, 2021, and how the anti-democratic forces Trump unleashed continue to define his party, making the future of democracy in America more uncertain than ever.