I am about to start reading, The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, which was studied by the book club, ‘A Moveable Feast,' during the month of March. Member Sheila McCray graciously loaned me her copy. Admittedly, not my usual genre, a nonfiction book about the 1893 World's Fair and the sadistic murderer who was loose in the city of Chicago. I am more interested in the history of that era rather than the murders but looking forward to reading the book after the high recommendation by this book club which has been meeting for 15 years.
I also would like to find other book clubs in Stephens County and what they are reading or have read and recommend a few to our readers. Do get in touch.
The next recommendation I have is from the baseball world with a third book by George Will on baseball. We know him better as a political critic and commentator on a regular Sunday morning round table discussion, with his very own perspicacity. However, Will has written previously about his love of baseball in 1990, Men At Work: Craft of Baseball and in 1997, Bunts: Pete Rose, Curt Flood, Camden Yards and Other Reflections on Baseball.
Now, Will brings his third book out about baseball with a tribute to Wrigley Field as it turns 100 years old and his hapless Chicago Cubs in, A Nice Little Place on the Northside. But Will being Will, the book also makes room for his favorite topic, politics, with his own brand of acumen he explains, ‘How the Cubs won the Cold War.'
Will gave this elucidation to radio host Hugh Hewitt recently. “In 1919, William Wrigley, after whom the ballpark is named, bought Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. In 1921, he sent his team out there for their spring training. In 1934-35, a radio broadcaster who announced the Cubs games asked to cover their spring training and his name was Dutch Reagan. While covering the Cubs spring training, he finagled a screen test and became the movie star, Ronald Reagan, and the rest was history.”
If you love history in the 1930s and a good mystery, this book may be of interest with references to speakeasies, bootleggers, chorus girls, Tammany Hall, corruption, Al Capone and his clan of gangsters. The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress, by Ariel Lawhon. She delves into the disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater, who was a New York State Supreme Court Judge and was known to wear snappy suits, had questionable ethics and had the face of Golda Mier.
On the night he disappeared, he went out to dinner with his lawyer and a show girl and was supposed to go to a play but never showed up. His body never appeared either. The case became a national tabloid sensation and the author peppers her story with both fictional and real-life personalities of the time that are all shady. His wife Stella scrambles to protect her assets and his mistress, Ritzi, stays under the thumb of a notorious gangster. Crater's maid is married to one of the detectives investigating the judge's disappearance but doesn't share what she knows. If each of the women could have shared their part of the puzzle, the disappearance could have been solved.
The author choreographs the actions of all the characters and bit by bit clues accumulate even with each telling their own lies. This is one book that a second read would help pick up the clues along the way unless you are a careful reader the first time through.
As a reader of history, I was very fortunate to obtain a set of Will and Ariel Durant's 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization, published between 1935 and 1975. I know this would most likely only be in libraries but it just happens to be a part of my library. When I want to look up something in ancient history, I can go right to my own reference library. Now, 33 years after the Durant's died in 1981, the publishers, Simon and Schuster, will bring out Will Durant's lost final book, Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War and God.
Durant mentioned the manuscript in interviews in the 1970s but the whereabouts of the it was unknown until it was found in a box in his granddaughter's attic just last year. In their heyday, the Durants were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1968 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, winning praise for their sweeping, highly readable distillation of 110 centuries of human thought and endeavor, even as some academic historians dismissed them as presenting a simplified, overly sunny view of history. The Story of Civilization, remains in print only in e-book form. Senior editor at Simon and Schuster, Simon LeBein, said in an interview, “that Fallen Leaves offered the same pleasures he recalled as a child when he browsed through those volumes. Durant remains relevant precisely because history as a guide to past and present remains as relevant as ever.” Admittedly, this isn't for everyone but I will enjoy the final contribution by the Durant's and it will complete my set.
Now, I'm ready to hear from other readers about what is on their list of books to be read or have read. It also might be interesting to hear what was the first book or books that you purchased for your very own pleasure?
Let me hear from others about your adventure with books or the first one you purchased. Send an e-mail to Life Editor, Jean Hayworth, email@example.com or call at 254-559-5412. Better yet, come by for a visit and share your book story or the latest one your reading or have read. Also, let me hear from other book clubs about how long you have been meeting and what is on the agenda to read this year. English teachers could also share what the class is reading or some juvenile literature that they are aware of and are reading, This column is for all genres across the spectrum. The success of this column is dependent on others sharing what they are reading. Catch me on Facebook as well. Have fun continuing to read.