Yes, we can read

and write about it!

Great thing about my book club (aside from admitting the likes of me) is members won’t stand for massive tomes. Which probably rules out the Head Groundskeeper’s current read, which totals 758 pages. That would be the Last King of America; the misunderstood reign of George III, by Andrew Roberts. (We’ll review it later.)

What We're Reading

Hey, if Warren Harding can be rehabilitated (and a book is out that promises to try) so could and should George III. We’re convinced the USA would have fought for independence against Mahatma Ghandi. George III was a pretty decent king. Even had good things to say about General Washington.

In addition to Last King, these are the books the Head Groundskeeper borrowed from the Stately Manor’s Dan Quayle Memorial Lending Library during 2021, best we can remember. They’re listed in rough order of their impact on an impressionable blogguer:

A Brilliant Solution: inventing the American Constitution, by Carol Berkin, 320 pages. Readable exploration of the passions, divergent interests, personalities, and political concessions that created a document that may well withstand A.O.C. and Donald Trump. (Rhode Island never did sign the Constitution and only one delegate from populous New York, a certain Hamilton.)

Woke Racism; How a new religion has betrayed black America, by John McWhorter, 201 pages. We reviewed it here. A reader donated a copy to Mayor Satya.

Pacific Crucible; war at sea in the Pacific 1941-42, by Ian W. Toll, 544 pages. Riveting, seat of the pants stuff. You don’t know Pearl Harbor until you read this book. (First of a trilogy.)

Twilight of the Gods: war in the western Pacific, 1944-1945, Ian W. Toll, 864 pages (Third of a trilogy.) Defeated Japanese generals entertain while bleeding to death from seppeku (ritual hara kiri).

Maximilian and Carlota: Europe’s last empire in Mexico, by M.M. McAllen, 544 pages. France’s attempt to take over Mexico with an inconveniently enlightened Habsburg prince while the U.S. was busy with its own civil war.

Madison’s Gift; five partnerships that built America, by David O. Stewart, 432 pages. The Founder accomplished more than Vel Phillips.

The Fall of France: the Nazi invasion of 1940, by Julian Jackson, 274 pages. What could go wrong, did. Mainly, lack of coordination and communication — plus the fatigue of the first world war.

The Heir Apparent: a life of Edward VII, the playboy prince, by Jane Ridley, 752 pages. But a pretty decent king.

Born Standing Up; a comic’s life, by Steve Martin, 209 pages. A wild and intelligent guy.

Churchill & Son, by Josh Ireland, 464 pages. Winston, at least, could hold his likker.

Hillbilly Elegy: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis, by J.D.Vance, 272 pages. More Jerry Springer Show than social commentary.

American Nations: a history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America, by Colin Woodard, 384 pages. Purports that America remains heir to colonial patterns.

The Long Weekend: life in the English country house, 1918-1939, by Adrian Tinniswood, 344 pages. Downtown Abbey real estate and manners guide.

The American Country House, by Roger W. Moss, 343 pages. The American version.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: We don’t read fiction (truth is stranger) or self-help (we’re beyond help). Nor do we read front to back. (We like to skip ahead and see how they died.) Special interest in U.S. presidents, architecture, the Churchills, British monarchy, and British history.

What’s on YOUR nightstand? 


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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13 Responses to Yes, we can read

  1. “What’s on YOUR nightstand?”

    A light, a phone and an alarm clock.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sentient7 says:

    Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey by David Horowitz
    Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
    Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal is Worse Than You Think by Marc Morano
    Why We Bite the Invisible Hand by Peter Foster
    The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn Loury


  3. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    A fine companion piece to “The Heir Apparent,” also by Jane Ridley, is the biography of Edward VIII’s father, entitled “George V: Never a Dull Moment” published just this year. The title is a nod to the legendary dullness of that monarch, which Ridley is keen to debunk.

    Allow me to protest your “no fiction” rule. Nowadays, the best-selling titles are those addressing the issue of race/racism in America, usually penned by historians, journalists, sociologists, anthropologists, black studies professors, race hustlers, etc. If you want to understand this issue, by all means read as many of these esteemed works as you wish, but then take a few minutes to read the story “That Evening Sun” by William Faulkner, and you’ll realize you’ve understood racism on a level you’ve never imagined, after only a dozen or so pages, Faulkner allows his readers to see racism in the Jim Crow South from the inside as we follow the (mis)fortunes of a black woman in a small Southern town as she navigates the hell into which she was born–and all without the slightest trace of pandering or sentimentality. Yes, by definition fiction is not the “truth” but it is a way of revealing the truth unavailable to non-fiction since it requires us to meet the imagination of a great writer with our own. Unfortunately, nowadays the notion of a privileged white male Southern author writing about a black woman is anathema in some circles (mostly academic), but of course this view discounts–indeed vilifies–the power of a great writer’s imagination, one which transcends race, gender, and class. (If you like “That Evening Sun,” try “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by another great Southern short story writer, Flannery O’Connor.”)


  4. georgessson says:

    While I typically have a mix between history, (especially WW2), mystery and the odd biography, swapped out every week or so, the book I’m currently most intrigued with is: The Age of Decadence, A history of Britain: 1880 – 1914. 826 pages of tiny font and since it’s copyrighted 2021, I expect some answers to some old, old questions…


  5. Balboa says:

    The stand, stephen king unabridged and uncut. Bible revelations. Right hand or forehead. The end is nigh


  6. fritzderkat says:

    “The Second World Wars,” Victor Davis Hanson, will complement several of your readings nicely.


  7. Sheppy says:

    Currently reading “The forgotten man – the new history of the Great Depression”.

    “Who is the forgotten man? He works, he votes, he generally prays but he always pays, above all he pays”.


  8. A Voice in the Wilderness says:

    “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson: Novelistic history based on the true experiences of an American diplomatic family stationed in 1930s Berlin during the the rise of the Nazi party. They were witness to cruelty and decadence and the death of a free press. The father was U.S. ambassador to Hitler’s Germany.


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