Our country finally makes sense. The facts haven't changed, and even the history we were taught in high school and college retains its basic outlines....moreOur country finally makes sense. The facts haven't changed, and even the history we were taught in high school and college retains its basic outlines. But why we are the way we are, with all the frustrations we suffer because of our politics, our religions, our battling/baffling cultural wars: now I begin to understand.
Of course we all knew that the parts of North America were settled by people with different - wildly different, as it turns out - origins. But because American history as it's usually taught so heavily emphasizes what began with the Mayflower, all the other beginners are dismissed as outliers. What Colin Woodard does is begin with _all_ the founding groups, taking them at their face value. Each group - he names them Yankeedom, Midlands, Deep South, El Norte, Greater Appalachia, New France, The Far West, The Left Coast, New Netherland, Tidewater, and First Nation - bore cultural expectations and political/cultural desires, with (in most cases) an expectation of hegemony and control. As the Nations expanded, they clashed. Those clashes shine in today's political world, and they are likely to continue as long as North America is populated, for the nations do not blend easily.
My own family comes mostly from Yankeedom, which probably explains why I wrote my doctoral dissertation on John Milton. But I have lived in Midlands, Tidewater, El Norte, and Deep South. This book helps explain what I experienced.
Woodard pulls you quickly into his story, and each of his Nations becomes a character fighting its way into the future. He makes you understand their strengths and, especially, their failings. You will be captivated by his story, written with such skill that you may find it hard to put down. (less)
I live in Tangerine. Well, at least near it. The real town of Tangerine is in Orange County, Florida, about ten miles south of where I live in Lake Co...moreI live in Tangerine. Well, at least near it. The real town of Tangerine is in Orange County, Florida, about ten miles south of where I live in Lake County, and the resemblances between the fictional town and the real one are close. That's what drew me to the book, but its story kept me going. There are two boys in this family, who have just moved to a large cookiecutter house in Lake Windsor, a swanky subdivision in this town northwest of Orlando. Older son Erik: football hero, egotistical, nasty. Archetypal older brother. Younger son, Paul, our hero: introspective, alert, insightful, analytical, and - oh, yeah - a fierce soccer player, a strength ignored by the football-crazy father and tolerated by the social climbing mother. He wears thick glasses, and there's a mystery here: something in his past caused his eye problems, but no one talks about it and he can't remember. Tangerine the town is a character in the story, too, because it was the heart of the tangerine business in Florida, and its original residents are Latino families of a different social class. They go to Tangerine Middle and High Schools, and Paul and Erik are at Lake Windsor Middle and High Schools. Paul discovers that the soccer team at Tangerine is better - and meaner - than the one at Lake Windsor, and he asks for a transfer. As the story develops, we see Paul generate deep relationships with Tangerine and its students as Erik demonstrates his truly evil nature. Erik almost becomes a football star, but falls in a stunning ending. Paul learns about true friendship and leadership - and discovers why he has eye trouble.
Occasionally you realize this book was written 15 years ago (the tech stuff gives it away), but the story is timeless, so that makes no difference. No "social problems" creep in - no drugs, no pregnancies, no hint of sexuality. The story is about how kids get along, and about soccer. It's well constructed, well written, worth a read.(less)
Lively and gripping, Lady Fiona presents a detailed picture of life above and below stairs at Highclere during the period of Downton Abbey. Not a scho...moreLively and gripping, Lady Fiona presents a detailed picture of life above and below stairs at Highclere during the period of Downton Abbey. Not a scholarly history, it is still full of telling details and warm and realistic descriptions, showing how one world - stable, unquestioned, fulfilling what seemed to be the natural order - morphed quickly into another, full of pain, loss, uncertainty, and doubt. Hard to put down.(less)
I have lived in Lake County in three states - Indiana, Illinois, and Florida. In Indiana, Lake County was an outlier - largely industrial and unionize...moreI have lived in Lake County in three states - Indiana, Illinois, and Florida. In Indiana, Lake County was an outlier - largely industrial and unionized, more like Chicago than like the rest of the state - and my Republican family was part of a distinct minority. In Illinois, Lake County was largely plutocratic, stocked with rich and very rich people on Chicago's North Shore, with lots of horse farms out beyond the gilded towns. In Florida, Lake County is still largely rural, with lots of lakes, still some orange groves, remnants of cracker culture in the northern extremities - and a history of racism and murder. Gilbert King describes part of that history in Devil in the Grove, well written, complex, and illuminating. It starts in 1946 with a rape, or so most thought, with perpetrators who were or were not on the scene, with savagery and intimidation and beatings, and with the growing reach of the NAACP. Thurgood Marshall led the NAACP's legal team headquartered in New York, strategizing ways to wear down the nation's embrace of segregation and helping to prevent legalized lynching of blacks unfairly accused of violent crimes, mostly rapes of white women. His involvement in the case of the Groveland Boys increased national awareness of Marshall's impact and led to his place on the U.S. Supreme Court, but it was not enough to prevent two murders of accused teenagers or to free the other two Groveland Boys from long prison terms. Still, he kept them from the electric chair - his major goal - and he increased awareness of the evils inherent in the culture of Central Florida. (Florida had more lynchings than any other state at the time.) This is also the story of Willis McCall, the cruel and powerful sheriff who remained in power until 1972; of a system of unrecognized peonage that allowed citrus ranchers to amass wealth because they had such power over their black workers; of a region almost entirely isolated from cultural developments elsewhere in the country.
This books gradually takes hold of you, like a great thriller, as you become aware of the deep currents of history and culture that intersect to create a story that is much more than a tale of crime and passion. It's a book that will benefit from a second reading.(less)
Pearson's story continues, this time mostly on the Disney Dream but ending in a Mexican jungle. The characters are growing more mature, with hints of...morePearson's story continues, this time mostly on the Disney Dream but ending in a Mexican jungle. The characters are growing more mature, with hints of pending love stories, but the enemy is maturing too, becoming more complex and more dangerous - and hinting at complexities that can lead to further adventures. I think I need to reread the whole series to comprehend all the machinations of this volume.(less)
Gennawey tours us through the Disneyland we know, the one we may have known at different times in its history, and the ones that never were. Here we s...moreGennawey tours us through the Disneyland we know, the one we may have known at different times in its history, and the ones that never were. Here we see the way Walt's mind worked, how he interacted with his Imagineers, how the physical constraints of the property within the berm (and, later, outside it) shaped what was possible. This tangle of events, facts, and stories has no plot, but it enables the reader to understand better an enormously complex and culture-changing enterprise, one that continues to change and grow. (less)
Plan to spend some time with this short book: the content is fascinating, but the prose is supreme. Belleville writes with grace, precision, melody, a...morePlan to spend some time with this short book: the content is fascinating, but the prose is supreme. Belleville writes with grace, precision, melody, and rhythm, and you just can't read him fast. I haven't read his other works, so maybe he always write with such rhapsodic cadence, but I choose to think that his writing here reflects his subject. The St. Johns River is the longest in Florida, and like the rest of the state it's unlike its peers elsewhere in the United States. This river rises out of swamps and springs, collecting filtered rainfall and adding millions and millions of gallons from dozens of springs throughout central Florida. It meanders and backtracks, hosting plentiful and often unique animals and lush plants found nowhere else in the States. It shaped the state's early culture, both the crackers who lived off the river and on it, as well as the Northern rich who came down to enjoy the climate that enveloped it.
Birds and gators populate this book, and so do humans, those of today and those of historic Florida and of prehistoric too. Belleville weaves a melodious fascinating story of interconnectedness between man and nature, often rapacious, portraying a Florida much different from the state we think we know.
Harrison (Buzz) Price found the sites for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but he did more: he crunched the numbers that created the theme park indus...moreHarrison (Buzz) Price found the sites for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but he did more: he crunched the numbers that created the theme park industry, both while he worked for SRI and then in his own firms. He quickly became a master at asking the questions that would shape both individual projects and the whole industry (as well as others, making a fortune in commercial real estate along the way). Price shows how Walt and Roy thought and how he helped them become successful in a business that hadn't existed before, and then goes on to talk about other developments in the theme park industry, revealing its importance as a factor in American culture. He shares his insight into using numbers (stats and projections) to assess business potential, but he also reveals both his own human qualities and the qualities that will make others successful in this much-more-quantified world. Price worked well into his 80s, and he recently received his posthumous window on Main Street at Disneyland, in recognition of his importance to Disney - the men and the company.(less)
A fascinating time-bending story of interlocking lives in the mining west. As the past story and the present story encroach on each other, the former...moreA fascinating time-bending story of interlocking lives in the mining west. As the past story and the present story encroach on each other, the former becomes less mysterious and the latter more so - with each exploring greed, love, and hatred and their powerful impact on men and women in tight confines. Colorful and detailed, salted with language from the Old West that even the Kindle dictionary doesn't recognize. The characters become familiar, real in their motivations even though we don't know them well, and the author builds your curiosity and your involvement steadily, fooling you into thinking the end is near, then sweeping you forward once again.(less)
This very short biography hits the main points and seems judiciously balanced in its description of FDR's life, times, political activity, and war-tim...moreThis very short biography hits the main points and seems judiciously balanced in its description of FDR's life, times, political activity, and war-time leadership. Leaves you wanting to tackle some of the Big Books on Roosevelt but tells the story well enough to let you wait a while to do so . . . .(less)
TV journalism, we discover, focuses on sex and innuendo and enervates its brightest practitioners. This rapidly moving story takes place in Chicago an...moreTV journalism, we discover, focuses on sex and innuendo and enervates its brightest practitioners. This rapidly moving story takes place in Chicago and its tony northern suburbs, carried by the TV reporter (but not newscaster, he would have you know) whose distaste for broadcast journalism deepens as he develops a story bound to affect everyone in Illinois. A good read.(less)
Good sci-fi thriller, with good guys battling scientific types who fear that Malthus was right. Just as you finish turning pages - with increasingly r...moreGood sci-fi thriller, with good guys battling scientific types who fear that Malthus was right. Just as you finish turning pages - with increasingly rapid fervor - and think you're about to reach a satisfying conclusion, you discover that there are more books in this series. Bring them on!(less)
Life in Florida, shortly after the Civil War: what a distinguished Christian New England author experienced. The author is Harriet Beecher Stowe, she...moreLife in Florida, shortly after the Civil War: what a distinguished Christian New England author experienced. The author is Harriet Beecher Stowe, she of Uncle Tom's Cabin fame, here quietly asserting the virtues of her new discovery, a state largely traversed by steamboat, yacht, and mule-drawn wagon. While tourists had begun to winter here (never voyaging much south of Mellonville, now Sanford), the railroads built by Flagler et al. hadn't arrived in 1873, and life here was much more exotic than in the Old South. Stowe describes idyllic landscapes, wondrously lush and burgeoning with strange fruit and flowers. The series of essays that make up this volume were first published in The Christian Union, which handled most of Stowe's writings, and they were read by much of educated New England - thus comprising the first series of travelogues drawing Northerners to Florida. She gives practical advice on clothing, food, travel, buying land, and raising citrus, as well as describing daily winter life for those who can afford to escape winter. She shows that Florida is not Massachusetts without snow - she depicts a land and a life whose shape and substance must be recognized as different and legitimate, not a new land waiting to be transformed into a warm Puritan paradise. Her final chapter, on the potential future for the black population in Florida - now nearly all uneducated, mostly former slaves little used to democratic ideas - show her realistic and hopeful vision for a different life for those around her. (less)
Sean O'Brien is a noble ex-cop who tries to pluck from death row a guy he convicted of murder 11 years ago. The lively plot includes cryptographic puz...moreSean O'Brien is a noble ex-cop who tries to pluck from death row a guy he convicted of murder 11 years ago. The lively plot includes cryptographic puzzles, ancient Greek numerology, and Hieronymus Bosch and enough near-death experiences to keep you going. Set in Central Florida, with one high-speed chase into Lake County, where I live.(less)