Don’s Latest Book Haul

(I originally posted this on The American Catholic and I thought the book mavens of Almost Chosen People might find it enjoyable.)

My wife and I were out and about last Saturday and hit two book stores:  Babbitt’s Books in Normal, a fantastic used book store with thousands of fairly off beat volumes and a black cat as a charming guard cat for the establishment, and the Barnes and Noble in Bloomington.  As faithful readers of this blog know my wife and I are dedicated book packrats.  Here are the books I purchased yesterday:

From Babbitt’s:

1.  Thaddeus Stevens by Ralph Korngold-A 1955 biography of the great abolitionist Congressman from Pennsylvania, who was usually an adversary of Lincoln, sometimes an ally, who reshaped Reconstruction in a punitive direction after Lincoln’s death and came close to unseating his successor.  A great man, but one whose impact on the country ran contrary to the goal he wished to accomplish:  full equality for blacks.  A Greek tragedy of a life in many ways.

2.  The Racial Attitudes of American Presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt by George Sinkler-A 1971 study of how these presidents viewed racial minorities, particularly blacks.  Considering how much is written about race in this country, I believe this is the only book I can recall on this aspect of the topic.  I have begun to read it and it looks fascinating.

3.  A History of Apologetics by Avery Cardinal Dulles-A 1999 reprint of the 1971 book by Dulles.  I have never read anything by the late Cardinal Dulles without coming away dazzled by his intellect, and I doubt that this will be any different.

On to Barnes and Noble:

4.  Strategy by Lawrence Freedman-I am always excited when I come across a new book that I was not aware of.  This 2013 history of strategy looks like a 751 page gem.

5.  Old Mars-A new science fiction anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardiner Dozois which has stories about the colonization of the Red Planet, but not the Red Planet as it exists in fact, but as it existed in the minds of science fiction authors in the 40s and 50s when it was assumed that it would be suitable for humans to live on without terraforming.

6.  The Cave and the Light-Arthur Herman’s just published study on the impact of Plato and Aristotle on Western society down through the centuries.

7.  The Greatest Brigade-A prize from the marked-down books.  Thomas Craughwell’s first rate study published in 2012 on the Irish Brigade.  Over 7,000 men served in the Irish Brigade during the War, almost all of them immigrants, and some 4000 of them were killed and wounded, the Irish Brigade sustaining one of the highest level of battlefield casualties during the War of any brigade.  To an American public often hostile to the Irish, they demonstrated a heroism and love for their new land that only the most bigoted could not cheer.

In the comboxes please tell me about your recent book purchases.  Our books tell much about ourselves, so let the revelations proceed!

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  


  1. The last couple of months have been quite hairy as far as our ministry here in Guatemala goes. We are coming back down to normal activity. I have started a blog for book reviews I have read. My vein of interest is issues of faith and pastoral counseling as you would be able to recognize. I will get Killing Jesus by O’Reilly for Christmas I am certain.
    In Christ,
    Dennis McCutcheon

    • Fascinating Dennis.

  2. It’s been raining books on the Barbieri hobbithole of late, as I have converted the results of a long-fought-for refund from the British state into, among other things, paper and ink. Most of what I bought has to do with my own research – a commented edition of the laws of the ancient Longobards which frees me from having to rely on the old and untranslated Monumenta Germaniae Historica version; a full translation (into modern French) of the gigantic French Arthurian text called the Prose Lancelot, or the Vulgate, or the Lancelot-Graal, with the original text on facing pages; and “The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World”, a vast text featuring, apart from all the linguistics, practically every PIE word that can be recovered – giving an overall pictures of the things the PIE knew, classified, and thought about. This and a few other things still on the way from Amazon will keep me out of mischief for years. ON the lighter side, I have bought again (I used to have them long ago and lost them in one of my umpteen house moves) most of Harry Kellerman’s Rabbi Small stories, which I enjoy a lot, and JK Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, which I have no hesitation in calling superb. The only real problem I have with it is that it is rather a great writer writing a detective story, than a great detective story writer writing. JKR does not quite have the native talent for misdirection and crashing revelations that make the best stories of the likes of Agatha Christie so unforgettable, and even though her final revelation is striking enough, she does not quite manage to build up to it well enough to horrify us. On the other hand, the characters are superb, the character-building especially good – there is always an extra layer even to people who have been shows to us as shallow or empty – and the setting could hardly be better. Although JKR is no Londoner, London as it is now is a living character in her story; I have worked in tiny offices at the end of long Victorian staircases such as the one she sends her heroine up to start the story. If you like detective stories I recommend this.

    • A worthy expenditure of a portion of your tax refund Fabio! Bravo!

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