The things that keep you awake…..

I had a friend growing up who always told me she did not believe in the concept of Hell perpetrated by Christian theology because she believed hell already existed here on Earth. Craig Russell jumps on this idea.

After reading The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell, I will be in line if they make a movie out of it. Be ready for a roller coaster ride through the minds of several different people. There are Easter eggs and teasers and clues throughout and by the time you get to the end, who cares if it is after dark and the hairs are standing up on the back of your neck?

581 Reasons

Jane Leavy’s biography The Big Fella is 581 page a tour-de-force about the life of Babe Ruth. Don’t let the number of pages or size of the book scare you. Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down and the hours fly by.

Ms. Leavy not only brings Ruth to life but the people and the world around him. Unlike most biographies, Ms. Leavy includes the stories of the people who are in the pictures and film clips who met him. Ms. Leavy also isn’t afraid to tackle the tough parts about his personal life.

When you read this book, it is as if Babe Ruth is walking right alongside you telling his story. Additionally, you experience the people that he came into contact with and how his legacy in many different forms continues to reverberate even until today.

Reading from the end.

Edward O. Wilson’s small work Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies can be summed up nicely if you read from the last chapter to the beginning. Wilson argues that social interaction is related to the size of a species’ brain size.

I don’t know if I agree with this or not. Wilson provides a sketch of evolutionary biology, beginning with cells and ending with homo sapiens.

A nice, easy read for an introduction to evolution and biology.

Three Red Dots

On page 189 of Gerri Chanel’s work Saving Mona Lisa, there is a picture of an older man with a mustache standing next to a wooden container with three large dots on its’ side. Something in the man’s posture and the look on his face catches your eye. His left hand is placed gently on the wooden container. There is a proud smile on his face.

Almost 7 decades after this picture was taken, this unnamed gentleman holds his place in history as being one of the many people who watched over DaVinci’s Mona Lisa during her journey out of Paris before and after World War II.

Chanel provides an excellent overview of the journeys that were undertaken to protect the works of art that were in the Louvre before and after World War II. The many people who worked to make sure the treasures were safe and the people who lost their lives are highlighted in her work.

A must read.

These Shallow Graves

by Jennifer Donnelly

I was at a retirement party for a local teen librarian and this book was propped up in the display area.

I can be a sucker for a great New York story.

I love this story and it was a page turner from beginning to end. This video sums it up nicely:

Love simply is.

It took me a while to read Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portbello. The story is a murder mystery with mystical interweavings. The Witch asks the question: what truly is a witch? Is someone a witch because of another person or because they feel more of something than everyone else?

There are questions about identity, how we create identity, how we change our identity and our identity is different to each person we have in our lives. The main protagonist, Athena, means different things to different people. Athena inspires crowds who must be dispersed.

How do people see us?

Why be a traitor?

So maybe I’ve walked or driven over the location of the house where Benedict Arnold owned in New Haven, CT. Maybe I did the same of the house where he lived before New Haven. Why would people mark the location of a house of a man who is the most vilified of the American Revolution?

Why did Benedict Arnold become a traitor? History tends to gloss over this question. I had a client who was telling me about learning about Arnold in class. After they told me what he had been learning, I asked if they had discussed Arnold living in New Haven and what he did for the Continental Army before his betrayal?

Guess what answer I got?

Betrayal doesn’t happen overnight. Keep that in mind.

Read The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold by Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Thomas Hickey

Have you ever heard this name before? I hadn’t until a few days ago.

Perhaps because, unlike John Wilkes Booth, his plan (or was it?) didn’t succeed to kill George Washington.

The plot Hickey was involved in happened even before the Declaration of Independence was written. There were many others who were involved, some of whom were Washington’s own Life Guards, yet Hickey has the notoriety of being the person hung in the first public execution for treason against America.

Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch walk through the timeline of the plot to assinate George Washington step-by-step in their book The First Conspiracy.

What history has recorded and left behind, Hickey was the fall guy, the example. Washington made the call for a swift execution and Hickey was the most named and thereby became the example.

I know I’ve walked near, or maybe on, the spot where Hickey was executed. So have millions of others. Another piece of American history brought to light.

Spit like a Tommy Gun

Dear Eunice Hunton Carter,

I wish I had a chance to meet you and I want to get a copy of the picture from the cover of the book your grandson, Stephen, wrote about you.

The picture of you standing and holding the floor at a Republican convention, refusing to yield, is awesome. The picture is what drew me to the book. You stand out with the white ruffled collar and as you look closer, the dignity and poise become clear. I especially love the finger pointing down, showing that either you aren’t going anywhere or are calling someone to come and speak directly to you. Again, I would have loved to witness that confrontation.

Stephen’s book really struck a chord with me in a way that few books, especially biographies, ever really have. I may not have been there on your level, I don’t foresee myself ever working for a federal prosecutor, but I can only imagine the frustration, disappointment, and criticism you received and experienced. You made your choices. I just wish that you had left more of a personal record like journals and letters. Did you have them and throw them out, burn them, or chose not to keep them? I would love to know what you thought about what happened in your life.

What you thought would be such an inspiration. For women the word “ambition” can still be a dirty word for many different reasons, even among other women . You had it and never hid it and no matter how imperfect you were, I admire that. You never stopped and I admire that as well.

You obtained a position that many would envy to have yet were left with the “women’s issues” that ironically brought down a gangster that seemed not only untouchable, but invincible. This is something not even the best script writers can come up with.

I can only begin to imagine the sense of mourning and disappointment to want so much and even after giving up so much in time, family, and energy to be passed over it. Again, the reasons for this can only be guessed at. Stephen does an awesome job framing this and working through the possible reasons and rationale behind certain decisions. Yet we will never know the real reasons.

I’ve had my share of working tirelessly for people only to be publicly humiliated and shunted aside. For me this has led to showdowns in parking lots, nasty social media exchanges, nasty phone calls, etc. The story about the tea party made me laugh as I have been in similar situations. How did you handle this? On to Plan B? I know that’s what I would do. Onwards and upwards.

By the way, I went on the Internet and saw pictures of your house on Jumel Terrace. Gorgeous.

Wherever you are, I thank you for the inspiration.

Sincerely,

Angela

Josiah Henson

Growing up in an area where certain people are famous sometimes you forget there’s more to the story than you have heard repeated a million times over. And then you forget you only have so little time in history classes where again, the professors are trying to get in as much as possible.

Harriet Beecher Stowe is well known in Connecticut. Her house in Hartford is right across from Mark Twain’s. Stowe has always been “the little woman who started the great war”.

I’ve tried reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin several times but could never get into it. I think I’ve read almost everything else and then I find the book The Road to Dawn by Jared Brock and my reaction is…..not yet, you haven’t.

Until reading The Road to Dawn, I had never heard about The Key to Uncle Tom. My reaction was: what? There’s more? Lincoln read it as well? When do I get to read it? Stowe is one of my literary and political idols as she was very prolific and stood up for her beliefs. Stowe took her power of words and created ways to reach people and help change the world. It makes sense have would have had a compendium of sources.

I’ve been near, or maybe even passed, where Josiah lived in Maryland and quite possibly Kentucky as well. You go by history all of the time and don’t even realize it. Next time I go, it will be with different eyes.

Josiah never gave up. Dawn always comes.