Monday, March 23, 2009

A little Lincoln anyone?

The Obama presidency along with the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth have again brought the 16th president to the forefront of the American mind.  The tall, often sad looking, care-worn lawyer from Illinois was perhaps America's greatest President. 
Lincoln's Gettysburg address held in such reverence today for it's simple eloquence and memorized by school children across the US was not the keynote address for the dedication of the cemetary at the Pennsylvania battlefield. The President was given two minutes following the main speaker who gave a two hour oration. Lincoln's brief words, less than two minutes,  have echoed through the years thanks to newspapers printing the remarks following 
the dedication. While his actual speech may not have been stirring or memorable, the words themselves in printed form became a part of America's historical memory and social conscience. Few school children have not learned a portion of the piece that begins..."Four score and seven years ago..". 

It seems appropriate that during this bicentennial year so many new Lincoln related books should make their debut (and be added to the hundreds already in print).  There seems to be one for every type of reader from the youngest of children to the most esoteric non-fiction fan. 
Here are a few  recommendations:
for children if you've ever seen a book illustrated by Kadir Nelson you'll understand why this one is a top choice :
Abe's Honest Words: The Life Of Abraham Lincoln
Written by Doreen Rappaport (remember her wonderful MLK  book  Martin's Big Words?) Well this one captures Lincoln's thirst for knowledge, his conscience, his struggle to gain an education and his will to succeed through many hardships. 

If youngsters around your house ask if a president ever reads letters they  
 write to the occupant of the Oval Office, then an older book called Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers, based on a true story will reassure them that indeed someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is paying attention to America's children.   Eleven year old Grace Bedell wrote to the president and suggested that he grow a beard - the beard that is now part of his historic image. The original letter is included with the book by Karen Winnick that so beautifully tells the story of Grace and her Mr. Lincoln. A must read for kids and parents alike.

If you enjoy poetry and would like to discover some of Lincoln's own poems as well as ones written about him such as Walt Whitman's O' Captain My Captain," or Vachel Lindsays' "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight," check out this link.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If you like:

Ready to find a new author? Looking for a great read but want to stick with the same genre? Here are a few ideas that may get you started.
If you like: Brad Thor  or Vince Flynn  try Brian Haig 
  While you don't need to start with his first book SECRET SANCTION, you should because 
all his books are well worth the time. 

If you like:   Jeff Shaara,
 Steven Pressfield, Robin Maxwell try: Conn Iggulden
His Genghis Khan series is great reading not 
just entertaining but also fasci
nating for its historical content.

and if you like James Rollins try : Steve Berry 
 And if you are
 fascinated by Templar lore don't miss Berry's book...

Other Templar related series 
or books I recommend are: Jack Whyte, Robyn Young
 and Raymond Khoury

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2009 Recommendations: Two to Buy

If you need a chick lit fix try THE LOST RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS... it's about finding your way when tragedy has so profoundly shaped your life that ghosts from your past travel with you to the future. This book uses great cooking, a delightful chef, a Hollywood movie writer/producer/restaurant owning romantic interest, a lovable dog, Aspen settings and some universal truths that make it readable and bring the characters into your heart.

While I am a true Red Sox Nation supporter, I had to read Joe Torre's book 
THE YANKEE YEARS. Baseball fans will enjoy his stories from the club house and even some of us who dislike Jeter will respect the shortstop after reading about his leadership and professionalism as outlined by Torre. Too bad the same couldn't be said about Torre's treatment at the hands of Yankee management. The Torre years in NYC included many great ones and it is all here, the players, the pennants, the good, the bad, the suspicions, the steroids, the hype and the forgotten players. A fascinating look at major league baseball by one of the all time greats.

Scaling Mt. Everest

I picked up this Jeffrey Archer book having no idea of the content but because I like his writing. I could not put it down and spent the afternoon reading the story of Englishman and mountaineer George Mallory, who dreamed of being the first to scale Mt. Everest. In the early to mid 1920's he along with other climbers funded by the Royal Geographical Society attempted and perhaps reached the summit (the real mystery is if he did or not.)

The story, however, is not so much if he reached the peak but about his love of climbing, his zest for life, his enthusiasm and courage for trying not once but several times in the face of daunting odds, the tug of family ties and his code of honor. It's not about Mallory the climber so much as Mallory the man. Archer does such a wonderful job of making Mallory live in these pages that the reader feels the Englishman’s passion for admission to Cambridge, his need to stand for Britain in the Great War, and even the cold harsh wind he encounters on Mt. Everest. It is the closest most of us will ever come to scaling a mountain and Archer makes sure we understand the commitment, dedication and sheer joy of the trek. What a way to spend the afternoon. I have absolutely no interest in rock climbing or mountaineering but this book is about finding your talent and doing what you love. Romantics will appreciate the letters he writes to his wife and anyone who appreciates good writing will be pleased with this book.