History 2 - Food 1

The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days that Changed the Nation by Howard Means. Harcourt, 2006. 304 pages

Americans are often of two minds in regard to history. Henry Ford once famously proclaimed that “History is bunk,” a sentiment with which many of his fellow citizens apparently agree.

Snowed in and booked up

“I never trusted happiness,” Robert Duvall says in “Tender Mercies.” I have begun to feel the same way about vacations.

Steps towards manhood

I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan. Gotham, 2006. 208 pages.

Dear Chris,

Your questions about manhood and manliness following your first semester at the university, questions raised in the light of discussions both inside and outside the classroom, intrigued me. You asked particularly about recent books that might address this subject.

Frankly eye-opening

Militant Islam in America by Marshall Frank. Fortis Books, 2006. 198 pages.

This morning (Dec. 9), I sat down to write my next review for this paper. Before writing, I often scout out several familiar Web sites while I think about what I want to say in the review.

Christmas stories aloud

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Penguin - 6th edition, 2006. 432 pages

Of course, we cannot all read aloud with the same success as Charles Dickens, who brought not only Macready but entire audiences to outbursts of tears and laughter.

Crucial issues facing America

Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad by Lorenzo Vidino. Prometheus Books, 2005. 403 pages.

The Democrats now own the Congress.

Occupational reading

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers by Amy Stewart. Algonquin Books, 2006. 320 pages.

Beginning a new occupation — whether as a grocery store cashier or a police officer, a teacher or a house painter — exposes us to a different world, a world with its own special codes, techniques, and jargon.

Sifting through the stack

For many people, autumn means more than colorful leaves and blue, crisp days. For them fall is, like spring, a time for cleaning, a time for putting the house in order for the winter. Homeowners clean the dead grass off the mower before storing it; they repair the storm windows; they clean out the gutters; they break out blankets and winter coats — and wistfully put away the swimming suits and shorts until next year.

Evolution in Europe

While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West From Within by Bruce Bawer. Doubleday, 2006. 256 pages — $23.95

"If every young European could spend a year living with an American family and attending an American school, all the journalists and politicians in the world wouldn’t be able to twist their awareness of the reality of America — and of American liberal democracy — into an ugly cartoon. And the more America-friendly Europeans are, the more inclined they’ll be to behave like Americans in the ways that count — that is, to eschew appeasement and stand up for freedom. But it may already be too late for such remedies. Europe is steadily committing suicide, and perhaps all we can do is look on in horror."

— Bruce Bawer in While Europe Slept

Family ties, past and present

The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne. Algonquin Books, 2006.

All of us bring ghosts to our table.

Whether we dine alone in a lovely restaurant or take our supper at home with our spouse and children. Whether we pick over our holiday meal in the solitude of a nursing-home bed or feast in some great familial hall with a ravenous horde of nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, and aunts.

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