If you happened to have read the play Inherit the Wind, and let it create your impression of the Scopes Monkey Trial, you particularly need to read thIf you happened to have read the play Inherit the Wind, and let it create your impression of the Scopes Monkey Trial, you particularly need to read this book. This is the story of how the Scopes Monkey trial REALLY happened. There are key details that the play doesn't even try to tell you.
I'll just mention the two biggest revelations:
-The events leading to the Scopes trial were a farce. The town of Dayton, Tennessee was struggling, and the town leaders, gathering in a downtown drugstore, convinced a substitute teacher named John Scopes to deliberately challenge Tennessee's law against teaching evolution so that the resulting trial would bring Dayton some publicity, boosting its economy.
-The famous part of the trial, Darrow v. Bryan, didn't have to happen. The American Civil Liberties Union wanted to defend Scopes mainly on freedom-of-speech grounds. But once the fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan joined the prosecution, Clarence Darrow--who was militantly anti-religion--immediately wanted to face down Bryan as a stand against Christianity. He came to Dayton and insinuated himself into the defense team and its strategy, despite that some members of the defense were much more interested in promoting civil liberties than in bashing religion. Essentially, Darrow probably would never have participated in the Scopes trial if Bryan hadn't....more
This book is mostly about the history and philosophy behind being a gentleman. If you're looking for practical situational advice, it's only somewhatThis book is mostly about the history and philosophy behind being a gentleman. If you're looking for practical situational advice, it's only somewhat useful. Not an etiquette manual....more
This book was obviously meant to be anti-Carter, based on the subtitle and the short length (at less than 250 pages before the index, I was disappointThis book was obviously meant to be anti-Carter, based on the subtitle and the short length (at less than 250 pages before the index, I was disappointed), but it seems to be accurate. Having been born in 1980, I am fascinated by the 1970s, and I find Jimmy Carter more interesting than Bill Clinton, whose presidency I grew up in. Carter appears to be a sincere Christian, and more principled than Bill Clinton--it's just that he has different faults. Instead of being a weak man of appetites, Carter is principled, but is also arrogant and self-righteous, to the point of interfering in the diplomatic affairs of presidents Reagan, Clinton and W. Bush; but his being principled obviously didn't help him conduct an effective presidency (for crying out loud, the author relates in this book that Carter had a bunch of average people flown to Camp David so he could ask them what to do); and the author claims that despite being Christian, Carter is generally a malicious person, and eternally bitter about losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980. This is a worthy book, but don't make it the only biography or criticism of Carter you read. If you can find it, read the out-of-print book *The President Who Failed: Carter out of Control*, by Mollenhall, written in or around 1980....more
I read this book little by little at my library, and came to admire Dennis Rodman's thoughts on basketball enough that I'm very willing to ignore hisI read this book little by little at my library, and came to admire Dennis Rodman's thoughts on basketball enough that I'm very willing to ignore his ridiculous personal life). He was a great basketball player in the eighties mold....more
Having recently read a very strange conversation between Franken and journalist Bernard Goldberg (in Goldberg's book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up AmHaving recently read a very strange conversation between Franken and journalist Bernard Goldberg (in Goldberg's book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America") I read this book, trying to understand Al Franken's humor style. I don't care about his political activities, but I basically wanted to know whether he's funny, and if so, why.
The book is occasionally funny at best, and often tasteless. There are no belly laughs here, but quite a few chuckles, and some serious giggles in Chapter 26, which contains a list of diseases caused by certain people or things as you get older. (No spoilers here.) His jokes are is often tasteless, and occasionally, utterly disgusting for no good reason. There are occasional jokes on [...:], which were all completely unfunny; one really stupid joke in Chapter 26 about a man with an extra male organ growing out of his forehead, and frequent gratuitous profanity and obscenity. (The only one of those in the entire book that made me laugh was: "'But I don't have enough time to give to my own kids, much less someone else,' they might say. Well, numbnuts, have you ever thought of giving something back with *your* children?") This is entirely an adult humor book; I wouldn't expect a kid to read it, but if you see one pick it randomly off a shelf and open it, don't let them keep reading it.
This book suggested to me that Al Franken is a mildly amusing second-rate comedian who wouldn't be so popular if not for his political activities. He can't resist injecting a *little* politics into this book, but generally, he does a good job of keeping it apolitical, so if you're either annoyed by political tangents or don't share Franken's ideology, Oh, The Things I Know won't annoy you much....more
In Blinded by Might, authors Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson--both of whom worked in Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority organization in the eighties--argue very In Blinded by Might, authors Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson--both of whom worked in Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority organization in the eighties--argue very convincingly that organized Christian political action, with the goal of electing godly politicians and getting Christian or Christian-friendly legislation passed, didn't work very well and was doomed to failure. They believe Christians need to concentrate more on living godly lives themselves and giving good witness. If you believed the now-defunct Moral Majority and its also-defunct successor, the Christian Coalition, must have been great things, please read this book. Really, read it anyway. Cal Thomas is my favorite conservative, because he is calm, rational and polite; and if Ed Dobson pastored a church in my area, I'd want to attend. [I was sorry to hear that he now has Lou Gehrig's Disease.) Their book has greatly influenced me.
This book doesn't say much about Pat Robertson, one of the leaders of the "Christian right," until he appears in the interviews section; so I get the impression that Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson just haven't dealt as much with Robertson as with some other Christian political figures. The Christian leader whom this book depicts in a bad light is Dr. James Dobson (no relation to Ed Dobson) of Focus on the Family: Dobson's behavior in disagreeing with Thomas makes him look stupid and churlish. According to Thomas, what happened vis-a-vis Dr. Dobson is this: sometime before the writing of this book, Thomas wrote a column saying that Dobson "was putting too much faith in the Republican Party to bring revival to America," and Dr. Dobson claimed Thomas misinterpreted his views. Later, Thomas invited Dobson to clear the air by being interviewed for this book. Dobson sent a response which, besides being crudely scribbled on Thomas's typewritten letter, had some embarrassing grammatical errors. "Dear Cal, this kind note took me back [he meant "aback"] a bit. After attacking me nationally, misrepresenting my views, and trying to make it look like I think revival can come from the Republican party--it seems wierd [sic] for you to ask me to help write your book... It's a strange request." Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and the liberal icon Norman Lear, all agreed to be interviewed....more
This is an interesting and useful book, just not what I expected. I thought it was full of advanced techniques for detecting obscure, subtle and diffiThis is an interesting and useful book, just not what I expected. I thought it was full of advanced techniques for detecting obscure, subtle and difficult symbols in literature. No, it's mostly about recognizing themes and what those themes often mean: specifically how literature draws on older literature and on myth, repeating and reconsidering common themes.
In the chapter about Christ-figures in literature, the author's tone suggests that he's probably approaching the subject from a Christian worldview....more
I read this around my sixteenth birthday. It's constantly compared to The Catcher in the Rye, but is darker and somewhat better-written. I still likeI read this around my sixteenth birthday. It's constantly compared to The Catcher in the Rye, but is darker and somewhat better-written. I still like it, but for some reason, not as much as I once did.
Apparently this novel is on the Goodreads "best LGBT books" list, and John Knowles once stated that Gene and Phineas are supposed to be in love, although it isn't obvious. Who knew?--it really isn't. Although I wasn't looking for one anyway, I saw no homoerotic subtext in the relationship between Gene and Phineas, especially considering the jealousy and hatred Gene feels toward Phineas and the violent action they lead Gene to commit....more
Complaints about various people, from an obviously decent human being. I was disappointed to see conservative writer Richard Brookhiser call it "puppeComplaints about various people, from an obviously decent human being. I was disappointed to see conservative writer Richard Brookhiser call it "puppet theater"; that was snobbish of him. Pay special attention to Goldberg's conversation with Al Franken--it's bizarre, if only from Franken's end of the conversation....more
This is a helpful book on creating character and one of the more helpful writing books I've read overall. As a writer, for some regrettable reason I hThis is a helpful book on creating character and one of the more helpful writing books I've read overall. As a writer, for some regrettable reason I have a hard time absorbing the lessons in writing books; this one actually reaches me somewhat. Excellent exercises. Writers should read it unless they've already read many books on character....more
The goal of this play's authors was to use the 1925 Scopes Trial to dramatize the 1950s "McCarthy hearings," so historical accuracy was not their mainThe goal of this play's authors was to use the 1925 Scopes Trial to dramatize the 1950s "McCarthy hearings," so historical accuracy was not their main goal. For the real story of what happened, read the much more recent book Summer For the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion.
Because it's a political play telling a historically inaccurate story, I regret having read this book, and have no interest in reading it ever again. It's worthless to me....more
Reading this book, how did I react? Honestly, with envy. The Underground Church members' persecution forces them to stay in their Lord's protecting arReading this book, how did I react? Honestly, with envy. The Underground Church members' persecution forces them to stay in their Lord's protecting arms all the time with all possible distractions, worldly interests, taken away. Their devotion to Him is enormous.
The copyright says this book was published in 1967 or 1969. I wonder what the state of Christianity in Russia and former Soviet states is now, since it probably doesn't have to stay underground....more
I admire Patricia McKillip's dialogue style in this trilogy. It's somber, cerebral, and quiet. (Note that I didn't say the narration; McKillip doesn'tI admire Patricia McKillip's dialogue style in this trilogy. It's somber, cerebral, and quiet. (Note that I didn't say the narration; McKillip doesn't sound like Ernest Hemingway.) I have studied it, even, because as an aspiring novelist, I would like my characters to sound somewhat like McKillip's if possible and if appropriate.
I think the Riddle-Master Trilogy is stronger in characterization than in plot. There was always a quality of limited detail about the events, the antagonists, McKillip's fictional world. I mean that as a neutral observation; I don't necessarily dislike it. But the characterization is always more vivid than any aspect of the plot or setting. It's the opposite of Lord of the Rings, really, and creates a sense of mystery that trilogy lacks.
I liked the plot well enough, but how complex and original is it? Without reading many more fantasy classics, I'm not sure; but I'll say this: about halfway through the series, I correctly guessed how it would end, based only on details provided on the back covers of the three books....more
This book contains useful practical advice on writing, in short chapters. Most of it is not in-depth theory on writing technique. The book does not saThis book contains useful practical advice on writing, in short chapters. Most of it is not in-depth theory on writing technique. The book does not say author Jack Bickham is or has been an editor, but he tends to have the viewpoint and attitude of one, and to be concerned with how the writer can make a work appealing to the reader. Some of the advice is: -Don't think you're smarter than the reader, and don't let your writing patronize. The reader (and the editor) can tell, and will be annoyed. -Also, don't show off your writing skills, such as by being unnecessarily verbose. -Patience. -Don't give much static description that stops plot events from occurring simultaneously. Most modern readers demand movement. -Don't use living real people, especially with their real names. It's not just that they could sue you; Bickham says characters should be constructed, not copied from life. -Passive, wimpy characters are uninteresting. -Plot events should happen for a reason. -Keep the story's intended viewpoint in mind. -Avoid using dialects unless you know what you're doing. -Look up any words or anything else you don't exactly know; don't assume you know. -Observe everything around you in life, and take notes. -Don't make irrelevant disasters happen to characters just for shock value or unexpected plot twists. -Allow time in which your characters can think after events. -Making characters or plot development obvious, easy to understand, is not only acceptable but good. Don't try to be too subtle. [I didn't necessarily agree.:] -Don't spend too much time being your own critic. -Let your characters feel as well as think. -Don't share your work with writers' clubs, especially if you have to read your story out loud. Most writers' clubs members are not trained editors and don't know what they're doing, and even if they do, can give conflicting opinions that confuse you. For the same reason, don't show your work with friends or family for opinions. -Don't "chase the market," i.e. look for what sells and write that. -Take maximum advantage of your existing plot ideas by looking for new ways they can serve plot development. -Don't annoy your editor by using improper manuscript format or submission methods. ...more
Points out the hypocritical flaws of many intellectuals you've probably heard of, and some you probably haven't heard of: -Jean-Jacques Rousseau -PercPoints out the hypocritical flaws of many intellectuals you've probably heard of, and some you probably haven't heard of: -Jean-Jacques Rousseau -Percy Shelley -Henrik Ibsen -Karl Marx -Leo Tolstoy -Ernest Hemingway -Bertolt Brecht -Jean-Paul Sartre -Edmund Wilson -Victor Gollancz -Lillian Hellman -Norman Mailer -James Baldwin -Noam Chomsky -Kenneth Tynan -Cyril Connolly -Werner Fassbinder (The first ten of the above figures get one chapter apiece; the last five share a chapter. I may have forgotten a few.)...more