books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
Christy
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents


Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 150 Books

Saturday, April 26, 2008

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of AmericaAn Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America by Henry Wiencek

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought this biography of George Washington was excellent. Too often we think of famous people, especially statesmen, as having a set of ideals which are static and consistent throughout their lives. Wiencek has explored Washington's changing attitudes concerning slavery. He was raised with the instution of slavery and accepted it as the way his society operated, but Wiencek believes that as he commanded black regiments in the Revolution he began to see them as human beings and began to see the gross inequity of slavery. He was unable to see the instution abolished in the new constitution, but succeeded in freeing his own slaves and making restitution where he could.

I appreciated the scholarship and lack of agenda in this book. I felt like Wiencek had true admiration for Washington and all he accomplished in his lifetime and yet was able to admit his less admirable attributes that were a part of the time period in which he lived. In fact, I believe that he showed Washington to be an even greater person because he was able to review his own attitudes and to change in a time and place where it was not easy. Washington did not free all of his slaves the moment he became aware of the injustice, but he did begin to prepare them for freedom indicating that he still was conscious of the responsibility of a slave owner to provide for his "people" and to consider their welfare.


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Friday, April 25, 2008

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the classic tale of a young man, Hank Morgan, who gets hit on the head and wakes up in King Arthur's court. He is able to save himself from being executed first by doing "miraculous" things which make the people consider him a sorcerer and raise the ire of Merlin. As he travels through the countryside, he sees ills and inequalities which he tries to eradicate, but which, given the time period, only get him in to more trouble and bring trouble to the people who have befriended him.

The sophisticated social commentary is as interesting as is the humorous plot. Many of his attempts to right some wrong end up bringing trouble on the people he tries to help and serve to show the reader more clearly that progress involves a change of thinking as well as a change of situations. As with any of Mark Twain's novels, the book is full of humor and adventure as well the social commentary.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ghostwalk

GhostwalkGhostwalk by Rebecca Stott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with this book. The characters were dry and unappealing and the plot seemed to take too long to develop and then veered off into tangents that really didn't lead anywhere. Lydia Brooke, was hired by her former married lover to go through his murdered mother's notes and to finish the book on Isaac Newton and other 17th century alchemists that she had started.

As Lydia continues the research she begins to see an association between several murders in the 17th century which seem to be connected to events in the present. She also resumes her self destructive affair with Cameron who is involved with a fanatical animal-rights organization. While the author makes a connection between all the events, it appears to me to be contrived and doesn't really make sense. Her research on Isaac Newton was fascinating, but never seemed to fit.


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