The book is organized into five summer months, each with a theme that was prevalent in the news. Lindbergh jump-started American aviation, the Babe waThe book is organized into five summer months, each with a theme that was prevalent in the news. Lindbergh jump-started American aviation, the Babe was slugging, President Coolidge was rusticating in South Dakota in full cowboy regalia, and Sacco & Vanzetti were executed.
These seem like five momentous months, partly because they describe a news-obsessed American public who could not get enough of seeing things as they happened. They swarmed Lindbergh's landings, stood in the street in front of newspaper offices to watch boys re-enact the baseball play by play as transmitted by telegraph, and were on the way to adopting radio faster than they had any prior consumer product.
Despite the general affluence of the time, there was more then enough hate to go around. It was the "Age of Loathing...Bigotry was casual, reflexive, and well nigh universal." There were 5 spates of domestic terrorist bombings during the summer. The KKK was pervasive. The Indiana Klan was convinced that "Catholics had poisoned President Harding" and "the pope planned to move his base of operations from the Vatican City to Indiana. According to several accounts, when the residents of the town of North Manchester heard that the pope was on a particular train, 1,500 of them boarded it with a view to seizing the pontiff and breaking up his conspiracy. Finding no one recognizably papal, the mob turned itself to a traveling corset salesman..." He survived.
It is sobering to read about the eugenics movement and the bad science and prejudice that prevailed among intellectual leaders of great universities, government agencies, and the courts. How wrong we can be.
The parallels between the politics of 1927 and the today are pretty disheartening. This book shows that a hateful and foolish American public is nothing new.
The book is a bit of a mishmash but an entertaining one - sufficient to get my nose out of my iPad subscriptions and back into a full length book....more
I loved learning about a completely unfamiliar bird, the goshawk, and the culture of falconry in this beautifully written book.
"Trained hawks have aI loved learning about a completely unfamiliar bird, the goshawk, and the culture of falconry in this beautifully written book.
"Trained hawks have a peculiar ability to conjure history because they are in a sense immortal. While individual hawks of different species die, the species themselves remain unchanged. There are no breeds or varieties, because hawks were never domesticated. The birds we fly today are identical to those of five thousand years ago. Civilizations rise and fall, but the hawks stay the same."
Creance, jesses, bating - all new vocabulary to me. Macdonald is terrific at describing what it feels like to have a hawk on your fist. "There is a scratch of talons on wood, a flowering of feathers, one deep downstroke, the brief, heavy swing of talons brought up and into play and the dull thud as she hits my glove."
I liked the facts that MacDonald, a historian, brings into the story. "Long walks in the English countryside, often at night, were astonishingly popular in the 1930s. Rambling clubs published calendars of full moons, train companies laid on mystery trains to rural destinations, and when in 1932 the Southern Railway offered an excursion to a moonlit walk along the South Downs, expecting to sell forty or so tickets, one and a half thousand people turned up."
T.E. White, author of Sword in the Stone and other books that celebrated the misty, magic-infused tradition of England, was also a falconer and figures largely in the story. ...more
Started, but didn't finish, this very dark book about life after the Big One where dogs eat men and men eat dogs, and people labor with simple machineStarted, but didn't finish, this very dark book about life after the Big One where dogs eat men and men eat dogs, and people labor with simple machines to excavate Industrial artifacts whose purpose no one understands.
Life in London in the 19th century was the street - almost all commerce took place there; shops and stores were only beginning to come into existence.Life in London in the 19th century was the street - almost all commerce took place there; shops and stores were only beginning to come into existence. I knew that damp tea leaves were repurposed to clean carpets; did not know that they were then resold to the poor to make another cuppa.
The similarity between Victorian and modern attitudes toward chronic destitution was one of the sad take-aways of this book....more