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Give Me Liberty by Richard Brookhiser

One of the myriad reasons for the near-death of this blog is that I simply don’t have the time, focus or energy to put into serious reviews of serious books. I read a decent amount of non-fiction but review very little of it. I feel caught in a catch-22, if I could write serious reviews of non-fiction I could get paid to do it and yet I rarely get around to posting quick reviews of the same books because I want to do the book justice.

Well, if this whole #StayHomeAndRead thing is going to work I am going to have to post some short blog reviews of non-fiction books. So let’s start with one of my favorite authors, Richard Brookhiser, and his latest book Give Me Liberty.

There are two things happening in this book: one is a simple history of America through the lens of our pursuits of liberty, the second is an argument about American nationalism.

The first thread creates the structure of the book

This book focuses instead on thirteen documents, from 1619 to 1987, that represent shots from the album of our long marriage to liberty. They say what liberty is. They show who asked for it, when, and why. Since no marriage is ever simple, they track its ups and downs. These thirteen liberty documents define America as the country that it is, different from all others

Brookhiser on Bob Dole’s Salute & Custom

But we have customs that train us in how to behave, curbing our emotions and memories. Every conservative writes about them: Don’t tear down the great English oak unless you know why it was built, etc. etc.

Sometimes the customs go wrong, sometimes very wrong. Then people stir, wise men think, demagogues shout “Drain the swamp!” But often customs help us do and think the right thing.

So the 95 year old man was hoisted out of his wheelchair, flicked away the hand supporting his usable left arm, and raised its fingers in a salute to the casket of the 94 year old man.

At ease.

Richard Brookhiser

Brookhiser on Potemra

Richard Brookhiser on Mike Potemra “Mike was a pilgrim, the wandering Christian, the walking American. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light.”

A Happy Marriage Across Party Lines

Living together so long has taught us that it is possible to tolerate our opposition on serious issues because we agree on what matters most, which is that the camaraderie we have created in every other sphere is more basic, and far more precious, than ideology. Nobody makes me think and laugh, or comforts me when I cry, the way he does. The things that bring us together are deeper than the things that could have torn us apart; we can finish each other’s sentences on every subject but politics. He loves me for what I am, which includes the ways I am maddeningly different from him.

The wife of one of my favorite authors, Richard Brookhiser, discusses marriage with someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Source: A Happy Marriage Across Party Lines

Three non-fiction books I'm looking forward to reading

Photo credit: Read It Forward


Despite my love-hate relationship with non-fiction, I constantly coming across books I want to read. In an attempt to impose some discipline on my reading I thought I would publicly commit and comment on the next couple of books in the queue.

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin

At over five hundred pages, this book is a little larger than I normally take on but it is so fascinating and potentially useful that I had to dive in.  I have just started reading but am going to try to tackle this in bigger chunks so I can 1) finish it and 2) get more out of it.

The System Has a Soul: Essays on Christianity, Liberty, and Political Life by Hunter Baker

This collection of essays by my friend Hunter Baker tackle an important subject and one with great relevance today.  I always enjoy reading Hunter’s take on meaty subject so I can’t wait to be able to finish this collection. Thankfully it is much shorter than the first book in this list!

Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Richard Brookhiser

Last, but certainly not least, comes the latest from Richard Brookhiser. I have a simple rule: Brookhiser writes a book, I read it.  He is a master of popular, engaging and insightful history; razor sharp biographies that flush out impact and meaning not just a collection of dates and facts.  This is a must read.

So there you have it, cognitive science and self-help, political philosophy and cultural engagement; and historical biography top my TBR list.

What books are you looking forward to?

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