Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation
by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
abridged by Edward E. Ericson

Solzhenitsyn's gripping epic masterpiece, the searing record of four decades of Soviet terror and oppression, in one abridged volume, authorized by the author.

After serving as a decorated captain in the Soviet Army during World War II, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was sentenced to prison for eight years for criticizing Stalin and the Soviet government in private letters. Solzhenitsyn vaulted from unknown schoolteacher to internationally famous writer in 1962 with the publication of his novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968. The writer's increasingly vocal opposition to the regime resulted in another arrest, a charge of treason, and expulsion from the USSR in 1974, the year The Gulag Archipelago, his epic history of the Soviet prison system, first appeared in the West. For eighteen years, he and his family lived in Vermont. In 1994 he returned to Russia. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died at his home in Moscow in 2008.

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee: The South's Faithful Servant
by Larry T. Russell

Although only 32 pages this basic biography is perfect for anyone wanting to know a brief biography about the South's greatest general and includes full color pages and photographs.

Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was a career United States Army officer, a combat engineer, becoming the outstanding general of the Confederate army in the American Civil War and a postwar icon of the South's "lost cause."

A top graduate of West Point, Lee distinguished himself as an exceptional soldier in the U.S. Army for thirty-two years. He is best known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War.

In early 1861, President Abraham Lincoln invited Lee to take command of the entire Union Army. Lee declined because his home state of Virginia was seceding from the Union, despite Lee's wishes. When Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861, Lee chose to follow his home state. Lee's eventual role in the newly established Confederacy was to serve as a senior military adviser to President Jefferson Davis. Lee's first field command for the Confederate States came in June 1862 when he took command of the Confederate forces in the East (which Lee himself renamed the "Army of Northern Virginia").

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson
by Mitch Albom

As a student at Brandeis University in the late 1970s, Albom was especially drawn to his sociology professor, Morris Schwartz. On graduation he vowed to keep in touch with him, which he failed to do until 1994, when he saw a segment about Schwartz on the TV program Nightline, and learned that he had just been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. By then a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press and author of six books, including Fab Five, Albom was idled by the newspaper strike in the Motor City and so had the opportunity to visit Schwartz in Boston every week until the older man died. Their dialogue is the subject of this moving book in which Schwartz discourses on life, self-pity, regrets, aging, love and death, offering aphorisms about each e.g., "After you have wept and grieved for your physical losses, cherish the functions and the life you have left." Far from being awash in sentiment, the dying man retains a firm grasp on reality. An emotionally rich book and a deeply affecting memorial to a wise mentor, who was 79 when he died in 1995.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

History of the Indies

History of the Indies
by Bartolome de las Casas
translated and abridged by Andree M. Collard

This was the first english translation of Bartolome de las casas 3 volume book Historia de Las Indias;translated and edited by Andree M. Collard. This is a really important book dealing with the history of the early spanish conquest and its colonization of the indigenous people and the Americas of which has not been fully translated in its entirety.

In 1523, Las Casas joined the Dominican order and withdrew from public events for several years. His consuming task during that period was to write the History of the Indies (published posthumously), a monumental rendition of the Spanish conquest. Part history and part prophecy, Las Casas' chronicle of Spanish misdeeds was intended for future generations to be an explanation of Spain's punishment by God, which he felt certain would happen.

"Fray Bartolome de las Casas, convertiendo a una familia azteca" by Miguel Norena

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Like Being American

I Like Being American: Treasured Traditions, Symbols, and Stories
edited by Michael Leach

A stirring celebration of a nation rich in diversity and united by an indestructible belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A feast of heartwarming true stories, thought-provoking essays, and eye-opening observations, I Like Being American captures the love, loyalty, and gratitude that inspires and sustains Americans in good times and in bad. It is about what is beautiful, true, and lasting in our country, and it is sure to lift your spirit, and encourage all of us to live up to our deepest ideals.

The contributors range from such well-known figures as novelist Anna Quindlen, who celebrates our unity in diversity, to Dinesh D’Souza who learned that in America he could write the story of his own life, to immigrants from every corner of the earth who express profound gratitude for their new homeland. Carol Moseley-Braun, the first African-American senator, and Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, share their pride in how far America has come in its brief history. The values Americans treasure come to life in the first-person stories of “ordinary people” such as Dan O’Neill, who founded Mercy Corps to help share America’s abundance with those less fortunate throughout the world. A guest list of celebrities as diverse as Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Marianne Williamson, Paul Simon, Bill O’Reilly, and Yogi Berra reveals a nation built on foundations of freedom, equality, and compassion.

The spiritual foundations of the nation come to life in historic documents and inspiring speeches–including the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from a Birmingham jail.

A book of great spirit and generosity, just like the land it portrays, I Like Being American showcases in words and pictures why 300 million people of every age, religion, ethnicity, and race are proud to say with one voice: “I like being American!”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere's Ride
by David Hackett Fischer

Paul Revere's midnight ride looms as an almost mythical event in American history—yet it has been largely ignored by scholars and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious look at the events of the night of April 18, 1775—what led up to it, what really happened, and what followed—uncovering a truth far more remarkable than the myths of tradition.

In Paul Revere's Ride, David Hackett Fischer fashions an exciting narrative that offers deep insight into the outbreak of revolution and the emergence of the American republic. Beginning in the years before the eruption of war, Fischer illuminates the figure of Paul Revere, a man far more complex than the simple artisan and messenger of tradition. Revere ranged widely through the complex world of Boston's revolutionary movement—from organizing local mechanics to mingling with the likes of John Hancock and Samuel Adams. When the fateful night arrived, more than sixty men and women joined him on his task of alarm—an operation Revere himself helped to organize and set in motion. Fischer recreates Revere's capture that night, showing how it had an important impact on the events that followed. He had an uncanny gift for being at the center of events, and the author follows him to Lexington Green—setting the stage for a fresh interpretation of the battle that began the war. Drawing on intensive new research, Fischer reveals a clash very different from both patriotic and iconoclastic myths. The local militia were elaborately organized and intelligently led, in a manner that had deep roots in New England. On the morning of April 19, theyfought in fixed positions and close formation, twice breaking the British regulars. In the afternoon, the American officers switched tactics, forging a ring of fire around the retreating enemy which they maintained for several hours—an extraordinary feat of combat leadership. In the days that followed, Paul Revere led a new battle— for public opinion—which proved even more decisive than the fighting itself.

When the alarm-riders of April 18 took to the streets, they did not cry, "the British are coming," for most of them still believed they were British. Within a day, many began to think differently. For George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, the news of Lexington was their revolutionary Rubicon. Paul Revere's Ride returns Paul Revere to center stage in these critical events, capturing both the drama and the underlying developments in a triumphant return to narrative history at its finest.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This is Holy Ground

This is Holy Ground: A History of the Gettysburg Battlefield, 1863-2009
by Barbara L. Platt

A history of the preservation, exploitation, upkeep, and expansion of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The book begins just after the battle ends and continues upto 2009 after the new Visitor Center was opened, and documents the opinions of local citizens, National Park employees, politicians, and esteemed historians with regards to the amazing winding road of obstacles that this park has had to endure to maintain its presence of being all things to all people.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

King Richard II

The Tragedy of King Richard II
by William Shakespeare

King Richard the Second is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to be written in approximately 1595. It is based on the life of King Richard II of England (ruled 1377–1399) and is the first part of a tetralogy, referred to by some scholars as the Henriad, followed by three plays concerning Richard's successors: Henry IV, part 1, Henry IV, part 2, and Henry V. It may not have been written as a stand-alone work.

Richard II is the main character of the play. The first Act begins with King Richard sitting majestically on his throne in full state. We learn that Henry Bolingbroke, Richard's cousin, is having a dispute with Thomas Mowbray, and they both want the king to act as judge. The subject of the quarrel is Bolingbroke's accusation that Mowbray had squandered monies given to him by Richard for the King's soldiers. Bolingbroke also accuses Mowbray of the recent murder of Duke of Gloucester, although John of Gaunt—Gloucester's brother and Bolingbroke's father—believes that Richard himself was responsible for the murder. After several attempts to calm both men, Richard acquiesces and Bolingbroke and Mowbray challenge each other to a duel, over the objections of both Richard and Gaunt.

The tournament scene is very formal with a long, ceremonial introduction. But Richard interrupts the duel at the very beginning and sentences both men to banishment from England. Bolingbroke has to leave for six years, whereas Mowbray is banished forever. The king's decision can be seen as the first mistake in a series that will lead eventually to his overthrow and death. Indeed, Mowbray predicts that the king will fall sooner or later.

John of Gaunt dies and Richard II seizes all of his land and money. This angers the nobility, who accuse Richard of wasting England's money, of taking Gaunt's money to fund a war with Ireland, of taxing the commoners, and of fining the nobles for crimes their ancestors committed. Next, they help Bolingbroke secretly to return to England and plan to overthrow Richard II. However, there remain some subjects faithful to Richard, among them Bushy, Bagot, Green and the Duke of Aumerle, cousin to both Richard and Bolingbroke. King Richard leaves England to administer the war in Ireland, and Bolingbroke takes the opportunity to assemble an army and invade the north coast of England. When Richard returns, Bolingbroke first claims his land back but then additionally claims the throne. He crowns himself King Henry IV and Richard is taken into prison to the castle of Pomfret. After interpreting King Henry's "living fear" as a reference to the still-living Richard, an ambitious nobleman (Exton) goes to the prison and murders the former king. King Henry repudiates the murderer and vows to journey to Jerusalem to cleanse himself of his part in Richard's death.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letters Home III

Letters Home III: Camp Life & Battles
edited by Alan Sessarego

A collection of original Civil War Soldiers' letters and photographs.