Sunday, August 2, 2020

Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World by Chris Wallace

Countdown 1945:  The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed The World by Chris Wallace, New York: Avid Reader Press, 2020.

This month, August 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  Scholars and moralists are still arguing about whether President Harry S. Truman made the right decision.  Chris Wallace pulls no punches in detailing what went on in the 116 days leading up to August 6, 1945, the day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

There are three primary characters in Countdown 1945:

  President Harry S. Truman, who made the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

  J. Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the Manhattan Project, America's secret program to develop an atomic bomb.

  Col. Paul W. Tibbets, who commanded the 509th Composite Group, the unit charged with developing a method to deliver an atomic bomb on either Germany or Japan.  Tibbets was the pilot of  the Enola Gay, the name of the B-29 superfortress that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

Throughout the book, Wallace paints human portraits of other members of the flight crew of the Enola Gay:  the copilot; Theodore Van Kirk,  the navigator; Jacob Besar, the radar countermeasures officer; and George Caron, tail gunner.

Wallace brilliantly includes several other characters in Countdown 1945 to enhance the human side of the story:

  Ruth Sisson, a cubicle operator of one of the 1152 calutrons at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Calutrons were machines used to enrich uranium.  Ruth's fiancĂ© was a medic in the U. S. Army; she was afraid he would not survive the war;

  Draper Kaufman, the leader of the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams.  Kaufman/s demolition teams were responsible for removing underwater obstacles, including mines, stakes and bombs, prior to the launching of amphibious beach assaults.

  Hideko Tamura,  a Japanese school child who returned to Hiroshima the day before the bomb was dropped.

Moi Recommends!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Defining Madeline Kripke: A Remembrance by Jerry Morris

Every now and then, while I'm on the web, I'll check the news just to see what's going on in the world. I yelled out a loud No when I read a New York Times article that Madeline Kripke died.

I never met Madeline.  But we corresponded on and off intermittently since 2004.  She had so many bookish treasures.  And she was a treasure herself.  A week's worth of email correspondence between Madeline and me in March 2018 will tell you a little bit of what she was all about.


                                                                        Mar 15, 2018 8:03 PM
Dear Madeline,

I hope you're doing well.

I'm writing a blog post this month that mentions the 1918 edition of Strunk's Elements of Style that you bought in 2003. Is it okay to mention that you were the buyer?

The post will be on My Sentimental Library blog this month. And the tentative title is "Another One That Got Away, One I Gave Away, and One That Headed My Way.; Or, the Adventures and Misadventures of Moibibliomaniac."

The first part pertains to the 1918 editions of Strunk's Elements of Style. Besides the copy you bought....

Jerry Morris

                                                                         Mar 15, 2018 11:22 PM
Dear Jerry,

It's good to hear from you.

I'd love to see the blog post when it's finished. What's the url (containing moibibliomaniac, I assume)?

Before I give you the OK ?I want to check my group of collected Elements. Tonight I was only able to pull three editions out of a book pile without upsetting it. I had hoped to verify for myself--and of course for you--what I have. I bought all the editions some years ago, and I've become more rigorous since then in assessing what I have.

Of the three books I pulled out, two were later editions and one was the 1918 Thrift Press. I doubt (somewhat) that I have the 1918 Privately Printed edition, which I would think is the true first. But I have galleys.

I'll have to pull out any other versions I have tomorrow, and I'll then check to see the imprint on the galleys. I'll email you again with the results of my search. I'm sorry to gum up the works, but I want to ensure the accuracy of any information about my holdings that will be widely available online.



                                                                     Mar 16, 2018 9:51 AM
Dear Madeline,

If you bought the copy of the 1918 edition I was referring to, you would have bought it from Bob Riedel, a bookseller from Rochester, New York. He bought it at a book fair in Rochester for $185 and listed it for $5,000. It was a proof copy with additions and corrections for the publication of the 1919 edition–and probably worth $5,000.

My post will appear on

Your Thrift Press edition is a circa 1940 edition. I expound upon the date in this blog post:

And here's my Elements of Style Collection.

Have to run for now. will be back online tonight.


                                                                         Mar 16, 2018 11:41 PM
Dear Jerry,

Of course you're right about both the Thrift Press edition and the Riedel proof copy I bought.

Incidently, Bob Riedel was an exceptionally lovely man. He died very young a few years ago as the result of a brain tumor. In his last days I met and talked with his mother, who accompanied him to a book show.

As for the books I wanted to uncover, I had a project going on today that took much more time than I'd anticipated; so I didn't get to the pile of books. I'll try to tackle the pile tomorrow.

That said, I haven't been actively collecting editions of Elements, so I don't expect there will be much in the pile, and I don't expect there will be any surprises.

I admire the vigor and the thoroughness of your literary sleuthing--as exmplified by your tracking down the informtion you were looking for about the Thrift Ptrss edition.

I'll let you know whatever I find, if anything, once I unearth the proofs.



                                                                          Mar 17, 2018 9:42 AM
Dear Madeline,

I've seen images of your rows and rows of books. And it might be dangerous moving them. Since you recall buying the 1918 proof copy from Bob Riedel, there's no need to locate it–unless you have another reason for finding it.

I know Bob Riedel listed the book for $5,000 but I don't know what you paid for it. So I can say, "Madeline Kripke, the Dictionary Lady, bought the proof copy for an undisclosed amount." Do you approve of that statement? I don't have to mention your name, but it does add credence to my retelling of the events.

I've already started writing my post, and I'll be publishing it this week.

Did you ever do any writing about the Merriam-Webster archive you bought? I wrote about their nemesis, Joseph E. Worcester. In fact I'm slowly cataloguing his library on Library Thing.


                                                                       Mar 17, 2018 6:37 PM
Dear Jerry,

What follows is some of my catalog entry for the pages proofs (you're right again: not galleys). I pulled this information from my database, probably eliminating the necessity of unearthing the actual copy. (I know exactly where the proofs are; it would just take work to dig them up). I bought the proofs in 2004 (for $3,000). The date could account at least partially, I suppose, for the vagueness of my memory.

__________________________________________________________________ Bought from Bob Reidel of Print Matters (Dansville, NY), who bought the proofs from a Rochester bookseller who first bought the proofs from Frank Aydelotte's son William Osgood Aydelotte.

Printer's page proofs of privately printed true 1st ed.

•Manuscript note, dated 25 September 1918, on Cornell University Department of English stationery, pasted to inside front cover: "Dear Aydelotte / Many greetings and good wishes. I am sending you Strunk's Elements of Style (in page proof). Book to be out this week. It seems to me to give the essentials more compactly than does any book I know. Possible use for S.A.T.C. English and for Engl. comp. in connection with War Aims Course? Retails at 25 cents. Yours always cordially / Martin W. Sampson/ Incidentally Chairman Cornell Com. on War Aims Course"

•"Aydelotte" named in note is Frank Aydelotte, then faculty member at MIT, later president of Swarthmore College, and author of Elizabethan Rogues and Vagabonds.

•43 leaves (complete), printed rectos only, title and last leaf taped in, the remainder bound with eyelets and laid in.

•There are a number of proofreader's corrections in pencil, possibly Strunk's own.

•The earliest known state of the book, Strunk's original manuscript having been lost.

__________________________________________________________________ If you want, of course, you could disclose in your blog the actual sum I paid for the proofs.

Where did you write about Joseph Worcester? Please send me the URL, since I'd love to see what you said.

Also, who holds Worcester's library? I'm eager to look at your cataloging of it. I'll try to get to that ASAP.

(I assume you know the bit about Worcester's buying Longfellow's house, yes?)

As to the Webster collection, I've been transcribing it and organizing it (and print-outs of the original documents or correspondence) into discrete personal or topical folders. It's a gargantuan task, which has been ongoing for four or five years.

The archive came to me in batches over a few years. Most of it was unsorted, and of course it required me to learn who was who, what was what, and a chronology. The folders are alphabetically housed and individually sorted by their chronologically. Some of the folders are labelled by persons, booksellers, publishers, and other protagonists; and other folders are sorted by topic.

Among the archives I found a very early letter by Walt Whitman in a gracious handwriting and manner in pursuit of a dictionary. The letter was preserved in the archive sent to me only because Whitman was only a fairly unknown newspaper editor at that point. (Other "celebrities" had been removed by the previous owners, who were direct heirs to the archive.) Other letters by Harriet Beecher Stowe's husband--with references to her--sneaked through. I also think there are files on--very roughly--125? 150? publishers, some voluminous.

I had long been thinking of writing a book of what the archive revealed (for instance, the backstory to the War of Dictionaries, the fights in the legislatures, some outright skulduggery, etc.). But someone has recently asked me to write an article for a publication she oversees, and I like the idea.

Last, I forgot to say to you earlier that your collection of Elements is wonderful!

Well, all for now.



                                                                        Mar 17, 2018 6:55 PM
Dear Madeline,

Thanks. I was not aware that your copy is a proof of the 1918 edition "before" it was published. I was under the impression that it was a proof corrected copy for the 1919 edition. I will mention how much you paid for it and also a portion of the manuscript note. I'd like to quote from part of the manuscript note. I'll send you the paragraphs for your approval before publishing it.

Keep me posted on when your article about the Merriam-Webster archives appears. Last weekend, I finally acquired a facsimile copy of Webster's 1828 dictionary–for $5.95 and in excellent condition!

I'll post about Worcester in a separate email so we don't get the topics entangled.

Thanks again!


                                                                        Mar 17, 2018 7:36 PM
Dear Madeline,

Joseph E. Worcester bequested 255 dictionaries and other works to Harvard University Library. Harvard received the books on 2 July, 1866:

I discovered the bequest bookplate in my research of the two reviews of Worcester's edition of Johnson's dictionary (2nd blog below). And the good people at Harvard located the 1866 Donation Ledger, and sent photos of the listings of all the 255 books that Worcester donated to Harvard. I included the photos of the ledger in the third blog post below, "121 Words or More About the Library of an American Lexicographer."

The Cunningham Library, Indiana State University, has a letter from Worcester's brother that contains an autograph catalogue of 1395 volumes of Joseph E. Worcester's library, listed by short title only. The books given to Harvard are not listed in this catalogue:

I've catalogued 185 of Worcester's books on Library Thing so far:

Here are my three blogs about Worcester and his library:

Sep 10, 2015: Some Worcester Sources and Other Discourses concerning the Dictionary Wars

Sep 10, 2015: A Preliminary Examination of a Pamphlet Containing Two Review's of Worcester's Edition of Johnson's Dictionary

July 7, 2016: 121 Words or More About the Library of an American Lexicographer



                                                                      Mar 18, 2018 2:59 PM
Dear Jerry,

What I sent you was only part of my catalog entry. So I think you should change the relevant sentence to add the word "partial." Or, I could send you all the names of the fields and the information with which they're populated. My database won't let me export records unless I go through a tedious, complex process. So I'd have to copy out that information by hand. (Alas, I don't have a scanner installed on this particular computer.)

Probably inserting the word "partial" is the most expeditious way to handle this. {The full fields are: Author, Title, Edition, Publication Date, Place, Publisher, Descriptors, Language, Physical Description, Binding, Typography/Design, Condition, Notes (Public), OCLC Number, Provenance, Acquisition Date, Purchase Price, Label Information [a name I made up myself as a sort of shorthand about the book], and Date Cataloged.)

I sent you (without the field names) what I thought was the most important information about my copy of the proof pages.

I'm on the run at the moment, so I won't comment any further. But you can tell me what you'd prefer about the catalog entry and the fields.

I'll probably respond again as my day progresses.

I have yet to read your Worcester material, which I've intended for today's activity. Oh, one more thing, briefly: I should have known it was Harvard who had Worcester's books. I have a copy of Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. with a Harvard bookplate stating the book was from the Worcester collection. At the time I purchased it, I wondered how I could have come to have this. I still wonder. I'll see if I have the seller's name in the database. And I'll try to put my hands on the book itself.

More soon.



Subject: (return to) ALL ABOUT JOSEPH E. WORCESTER

                                                                     Mar 18, 2018 8:00 PM
Dear Jerry,


I read through your Worcester-related post this afternoon. What a fabulous undertaking! And your Library Thing catalog of Johnson's library! And--the terrific pamphlet with the two reviews of Worcester's edition of Johnson.

I've been reading all this, unfortunately, on a small-screened dinky laptop computer, so I'll have to look over the Harvard scans when my regular computer is not in use. Incidentally, this small sceen makes me somewhat prone to typos; I can barely see the print.

In my library I have the original publication of Pickering's Vocabulary in the 1815 Memoirs of the Academy of Arts and Sciences (Vol.3; two copies) and six copies of the book form proper. Of the book copies, one is a presentation copy by Pickering to Caleb Cushing. Another is a copy presented by Benjamin Tappan to his brother in the text --both noted abolitionists--in which Lewis makes marginal "x"-marks next to words for which he identifies himself as the source (in the text called "an obliging correspondent ") and makes a separate list of these contributions by page number ("my contribs") on the rear pastedown. Two are interleaved copies, one of which has some annotations. I have another copy (not interleaved) with some annotations. Two copis are in the original boards, one of them rebacked to style, with the original label affixed.

I also have two three-ring binders copiously filled with Dictionary War pamphlets from both sides of the battle, presented chronologically.

I had mentioned that the Merriam archives provide the backstories to the pamphets. By that I mean that the authors of all the Merriam-side pamphlets wrote to the Merriams, sometimes several letters, projecting what they were planning to say, and what strategies and angles they were proposing to put forward. Sometimes the Merriams sent the writers' letter back to them with the Merriams' scrawled reactions.

On a personal note, let me say that I'm sorry you had to go through all that stenting.

Back to the work you're doing: You're a great sleuth, you're dogged, and you're very enterprising. Hats off!.

All for now once again.




                                                                      Mar 19, 2018 10:51 AM
Dear Madeline,

Here's some easier viewing for you. I remembered that I had created a folder of the Worcester Bequest donation Ledger Entries. Once you open the link, click on the image and use the + sign to enlarge the image:



                                                                      Mar 20, 2018 8:16 PM
Dear Madeline,

Here's my post:

Thanks again for letting my [sic] post a portion of your listing.


                                                                      Mar 20, 2018 10:03 PM
Dear Jerry,

Thanks for sending me your post. I enjoyed all of it.

But I realized I'd made a mistake. When I said Bob Reidel bought the page proofs "from a Rochester bookseller," I should have written "from a bookseller in Rochester" or "in a Rochester bookfair." I have no certainty that he was a dealer who sold books in Rochester. I only know that Bob Reidel bought the page proofs in a Rochester bookfair. I'm sorry this realization comes after you released the post, not before.

Would you want to change the wording? Or leave it as it is? I'll leave it up to you.

Again, I'm apologize for my breach of the standards of accuracy that I believe you adhere to.



                                                                        Mar 20, 2018 11:48 PM

Accuracy? I found four typos after I published my post! And I proof read it twice before publishing! :-)

I amended the post the way you suggested. The person that Bob Reidel bought the book from was a "bookseller," although not a very good one. In his Abebooks listing he did not even mention that what he was selling was a proof copy. He did email me and tell me that he sold the book at the Rochester Book Fair. And Bob mentions that in a 2003 article he wrote for IOBA, which you probably already have in your files:

Dealers do their best business among each other on setup night, and I suspect that's when Bob Riedel acquired the book.


                                                                       Mar 21, 2018 12:06 AM

Thanks for Bob Riedel's post on the bookfair he attended.

I spotted three typos just in my reply to you (including--to my everlasting shame--Bob Riedel's surname twice).

Thanks, too, for correcting the for correcting my error in your post about the bookfair.



P.S. I'm too often scandalized these days by how many typos I make (even after proofreading) just in carrying on regular email correspondence. This error-proneness hasn't been a thorn in my side till this year.... (But I still don't want to be 18 again.) --MK

                                                                            Mar 21, 2018 12:56 AM

I just "enlarged" the size of the type from your database; it was too small to read.

My fingers and my mind are not in coordination with each other anymore. I have to look at everything I type ot amke suer I'm ptuting the lteters in the correct oredr.


                                                                           Mar 21, 2018 1:06 AM

For the win!



                                                                            Mar 21, 2018 10:55 AM
Dear Medelina,

I just viewed Daniel Kreiger's Narratively article about you again before sending it to a friend who wanted to know more about you.

I don't think I sent you a view of my library. The slideshow is two years old and I've added another 200 books (at least), another book lamp (different than the one in this photo), and a two-tier rotating bookcase:

Here's the slideshow. And it has music!


                                                                        Mar 21, 2018 8:48 PM
Dear Jerry,

I forgot to email you earlier today. i happened to have been sleep-deprived today (much more than the usual very mildly so) and my assistant was out sick, so i took to my bed with unaccustomed leisure this afternoon. I'm just now slurping down what I normally have for breakfast.

I watched your library slideshow and enjoyed the musical background. I can only say that your library--such as it was two years ago--looked quite inviting. It's a bracing tribute to your curiosity, taste, and industry.

Thanks for sending me a glimpse of it. I think I'll watch the slideshow again once I'm more clear-eyed.



Sunday, September 22, 2019

De Lolme, Cassius, and Publius on Impeachment

     With the current interest and yes, disinterest, in the topic of impeachment, I decided to open the pages of three books on Constitutions in my library.  I wanted to see what our forefathers might have been thinking regarding impeachment when the Constitution of the United States was being discussed in 1787 and 1788.

     The Constitution of England by J. L. De Lolme was first published in Amsterdam in French in 1771.  De Lolme was born in Geneva, but had to emigrate to England because one of his political writings upset the leaders of Geneva.  An enlarged English edition of his book was first published in London in 1775, with new editions in 1777, 1781, 1784, 1800 and several more afterwards.  Elbridge Gerry, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson had copies of De Lolme's book on the Constituion.  Elbridge Gerry was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but refused to sign the United States Constitution because it did not contain a Bill of Rights.

     The following paragraphs were extracted from the 1800 edition of The Constitution of England.  The words in each paragraph were identical to those printed in the 1777, 1781, and 1784 editions.

     ... But who shall be the judges to decide in such a cause?  What tribunal will flatter itself that it can give an impartial decision, when it shall see, appearing at its bar, the government itself is the accused, and the representatives of the people are the accusers?
     It is before the house of peers that the law has directed the commons to carry their accusation; that is, before judges, whose dignity, on one hand, renders them independent, and who, on the other, have a great honour to support in that awful function, where they have all the nation for spectators of their conduct.
     When the impeachment is brought to the lords, they commonly order the person accused to be imprisoned.  On the day appointed, the deputies of the house of commons, with the person impeached, make their appearance: the impeachment is read in his presence; counsel are allowed him, as well as time to prepare for his defence; and at the expiration of this term, the trial goes on from day to day, with open doors, and every thing is communicated in print to the public.
     But whatever advantage the law grants to the person impeached for his justification, it is from the intrinsic merits of his conduct that he must draw his arguments and proofs.  It would be of no service to him, in order to justify a criminal conduct, to allege the commands of the sovereign; or, pleading guilty, to produce the royal pardon*.  It is against the administration itself that the impeachment is carried on; it should therefore by no means interfere: the king can neither stop not suspend its course, but is forced to behold, as an inactive spectator, the discovery of the share which he himself have had in the illegal proceedings of his servants, and to hear his own sentence in the condemnation of his ministers.
     An admirable expedient!  which, by removing and punishing corrupt ministers, affords the immediate remedy for the evils of the state, and strongly marks out the bounds within which power ought to be confined: which takes away the scandal of guilt and authority united, and calms the people by a great and awful act of justice: an expedient, in this respect, so highly useful, that it is to the want of the like that Machiavel attributes the ruin of his republic (92-94)....
*In a note De Lolme recalled that the Earl of Danby pleaded the king's pardon during his impeachment in 1678.  It caused such a ruckus that parliament was dissolved.  A law was since  enacted which said "that no pardon under the great seal can be pleaded in bar to an impeachment by the house of commons."

     In 1888 Paul Leicester Ford's Historical Printing Club published a collection of Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States Published During its Discussion by the People 1787-1788.  The reception the book received proved that the writings were only neglected because they were unknown.  In 1892, his Historical Printing Club published Essays on the Constitution of the United States Published During its Discussion by the People 1787-1788.  Ford reasoned that since the Federalist made the essays that were published in the newspapers of New York City popular, his book would make the essays that were published in the newspapers of other cities popular as well.

     One of the essays in Ford's book was written by a lawyer and politician who wrote under the pseudonym of Cassius.



Friday, December 21, 1787

For the Massachusetts Gazette.

To the Inhabitants of this State.

(Continued from our last)
     Section 1 of article II. further provides, That the president shall, previous to his entering upon the duties of his office, take the following oath or affirmation: I do solemnly swear ( or affirm) That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States. Thus we see that instead of the president's being vested with all the powers of a monarch, as has been asserted, that he is under the immediate controul of the constitution, which if he should presume to deviate from, he would be immediately arrested in his career and summoned to answer for his conduct before a federal court, where strict justice and equity would undoubtedly preside....
     Section 4, of article II. says, The president, vice-president, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of reason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.––Thus we see that no office, however exalted, can protect the miscreant, who dares invade the liberties of his country, or countenance in his crimes the impious villain who sacrilegiously attempts to trample upon the rights of freemen.
     Who will be absurd enough to affirm, that the section alluded to, does not sufficiently prove that the federal convention have formed a government which provides that we shall be ruled by laws and not men? No, surely but an anti-federalist (38,39)....
     Cassius, it turns out, was James Sullivan (1744-1808).  Sullivan shared John Hancock's political views, and Hancock rewarded him  by appointing him the Attorney General of Massachusetts in 1790.  Sullivan would later succeed Hancock as Governor.  On a side note, Elbridge Gerry unsuccessfully ran against both Hancock and Sullivan, but finally became governor in 1810.

     The Federalist was first published in 1788 in New York by J. and A. McLean.  It is No. 519 of Everyman's Library series, was first published in the series in 1911, and was reprinted twelve times.  My copy was reprinted in 1917.  The Federalist contains 85 essays, most of which first appeared in the newspapers of New York City.   Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison all wrote under the pseudonym Publius, and sought to persuade the people of the State of New York to adopt the Constitution.  Alexander Hamilton was the author of Federalist No. LXV.


From the New York Packet, Friday, March 7, 1788


To the People of the State of New York:

     The remaining powers which the plan of the convention allots to the Senate, in a distinct capacity, are comprised in their participation with the executive in the appointment to office, and in their judicial character as a court for the trial of impeachments. As in the business of appointments the executive will be the principal agent, the provisions relating to it will most properly be discussed in the examination of that department. We will, therefore, conclude this head with a view of the judicial character fo the Senate.
     A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions , and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
     The delicacy and magnitude of a trust so deeply concerns the political reputation of every man engaged in the administration of public affairs, speak for themselves. The difficulty of placing it rightly, in a government resting entirely on the basis of periodical elections, will be as readily perceived, when it is considered that the most conspicuous characters in it will, from that circumstance, be too often the leaders or the tools of the most cunning or the most numerous faction, and on this account can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny.
     The convention, it appears, thought the Senate the most fit depositary of this important trust. Those who can best discern the intrinsic difficulty of the thing, will be least hasty in condemning that opinion, and will be most inclined to allow due weight to the arguments which may be supposed to have produced it (332,333)....
     On a side note, which is an end note as well, Alexander Hamilton cites De Lolme in The Federalist  LXX.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

I read and reviewed this book over three years ago, but somehow never posted it to my Contemplations of MoiBibliomaniac blog until now....

This book was the May 2016 nonfiction pick for a local book club my wife and I belonged to. It was written by the mother of one of the Columbine High School shooters. I read this book in April 2016. Only four months earlier, right after the San Bernardino shooting, I had read Gone Boy, written by a father whose son was murdered in a school shooting in Massachusetts in 1992. That book was a page turner; but I found that I was unable, for the longest time, to write a review of the book. It was just too uncomfortable a subject for me. A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, on the other hand, was a harder read, not because of the circumstances of the shooting, but because it seemed that Sue Klebold kept apologizing for her son's actions.

Sue Klebold bares her soul in documenting the before and after of the Columbine shooting. She divides the book into two parts, the first of which she is still in denial, and the second in which she begins to understand how her son became a killer. The other shooter, Eric Harris, wanted to kill people. While her son Dylan wanted to take his own life. Dylan's parents were unaware of his depressed state of mind. Both sets of parents were unaware of their sons' preparations for the shooting. What surprised me was that Eric had seen a psychiatrist and was on medication while both he and Dylan were attending a Diversion Program in lieu of jail after being arrested for theft 15 months prior to the shooting.

Looking back, Sue Klebold saw signs that her son was in trouble emotionally. But she did not notice them at the time. Another thing that somehow stayed below the radar was a school paper that her son wrote about a man dressed in black who kills the popular kids at school. The teacher did mention at a parent's conference that she was disturbed with the subject of the paper and referred it to the guidance counselor, but said the matter was under control. Sue Klebold asked her son to show her the paper, and he said he would that night. He didn't and the matter was forgotten. I mention this because bullying was a factor in the shooting. Sue Klebold believed that the arrest, the paper, and her son's mental state, when combined together, might have given cause for a threat assessment of her son by authorities.

There was a lively discussion of this book at our local book club. We came away with the opinion that it could have happened to any parent. But that every parent needs to be on the lookout for signs of mental or emotional problems of their children.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

If the Los Angeles Public Library were a living, breathing thing, then Susan Orlean, a staff writer at The New Yorker, has written a can't-put-it-down biography of its life and the people who worked there.  Interspersed throughout the book, beginning on the front pastedown, is the author's true-crime account of the library fire,  the disposition of the 700,000 books that were either wet or smoky or both, and the subsequent arson investigation into the cause of the fire, and its prime suspect Harry Peak.

With her pen, Susan Orlean seems to bring past city librarians back to life to tell their stories about the history and the  rebuilding of the Los Angeles Public Library.  She interviews library staff members, and we learn what they're doing at the library.  But most of all, we learn that they love being librarians.

I mentioned that the author begins her writing on the front pastedown with an account of the fire on April 29, 1986.  She has chapters but doesn't identify the chapters by title.  Instead, she uses the titles of books listed on library catalog cards to identify the subject matter of the chapter:

Timing is everything.  I read Chapter 25 a few weeks after The New York Times documented Donald Trump's ten-year billion-dollar losses in the real estate market.  So I had to chuckle when I read the title of the first book she uses to infer that part of the chapter is about the real estate market:

I like the book checkout information the author recorded on the library card that is displayed on the rear pastedown:

Ray Bradbury: author of Fahrenheit 451
Edith Gross: her mother
Austin Gillespie: her husband
 Her own name, Susan Orlean, with the date of the fire 4-29-86

Earlier, I mentioned something about the library being a living thing.  I'll close with the author's words as she roamed around the Los Angeles Public Library:
....The silence was more soothing than solemn.  A library is a good place to soften solitude; a place where you feel part of a conversation that has gone on for hundreds and hundreds of years even when you're all alone.  The library is a whispering post.  You don't need to take a book off a shelf to know there is a voice inside that is waiting to speak to you, and behind that was someone who truly believed that if he or she spoke, someone would listen....

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Grammarian in the Bedroom, Or, A Whole New Dimension to the Elements of Style

I am still actively collecting early editions of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.  And I still don't have a copy of the 1918 edition.   But I'm still looking. Here's what the cover of a 1918 edition looks like in case you ever find one for me:

And here is what  the cover of any edition of The Elements of Style is not supposed to look like:

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform has been publishing this book since 2015.  I have to tell you though: reading this book will not improve your sexual prowess in the bedroom.  The cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the contents of the book.  I did, however, verify that this book is a reprint of the 1918 edition of The Elements of Style.  And William Strunk Jr. was the author of this book.  But I believe he would turn in his grave if he got a peek of this cover.

This particular book has received six reviews on Amazon:

1.  Four Stars:
I bought this book as a reference book and it works just fine that way.  I found its "plot" predictable, its "mood" thoughtful, its "pace" steady, and its "characters" developed.  It lacks suspense.  But it does have STYLE.
3 people found this helpful

2.  Five Stars:
Well written and excellent exlplanations. (sic) 

3.  Five Stars:
The book looked new.  The price was right.
One person found this helpful 
4.  Five Stars:
One person found this helpful

5.  Five Stars:
Get this, sit down, read it.  No don't study it, just read it, all 50 pages in one sitting. 
4 people found this helpful 
Note: There are 55 pages in this book.

6.  Four Stars:
Informative. Dry. For scholarly individuals. Not sure I'd recommend this to anyone except for high school or early college students. You should definitely know what's in the book, but I'd rather stick to the internet because I think I'd find many more references and examples. The book is a bit limiting.
Two people found this helpful 

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller by Carol Baxter


 I am slowly forming my second Sentimental Airman Collection.  So when I saw The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller listed in the February batch of Early Reviewer books on Library Thing, I requested it, won it, and received my copy in March.
     This book is about an Australian woman, Mrs Chubbie Miller, who meets a Royal Air Force Reservist, William "Bill" Newton Lancaster at a party in London in the late 1920s. He intends to be the first aviator to fly a light aircraft from Great Britain to Australia, but lacks the funds required for the trip.  Chubbie offers to help pay for the trip if she can fly as a passenger with him to Australia.  The trip is fraught with bad weather and mishaps, and another aviator becomes the first to complete the trip from Great Britain to Australia.  Chubbie, however, becomes the first woman to fly as a passenger from Great Britain to Australia.
     After spending a few months flying around in Australia, Chubbie and Bill decide to try their luck in America.  Chubbie learns to fly, and enters women's cross-country derby races, making a name for herself.
     The Great Depression happens and jobs are scarce.  Chubbie is hired to fly from Pittsburgh to Havana and back again.  The purpose of the her trip was to promote Pittsburgh as an air centre.  The weather deteriorates rapidly after Chubbie departs from Havana, and Chubbie never reaches Miami.  Search planes are sent out but no one can find her.  On the fourth day, everyone learns she is still alive.  Chubbie over-accounted for the strong winds of the storm that were pulling her off course.  Instead of running out of fuel over the Gulf, she ran out of fuel and landed in a remote marsh in Andros Island, Bahamas.
     In the last third of the book, Chubbie becomes involved in a love triangle in Miami.  While Bill is out of state looking for work, Chubbie has a romantic tryst with her ghostwriter, and then tells Bill of her ongoing affair in a letter.  Bill, still in love with Chubbie, rushes back to Miami and the ghostwriter dies that very night.  Bill either kills him or the ghostwriter commits suicide by gun.  The book now becomes a murder mystery with Bill on trial for murder and Chubbie as one of the witnesses.  And here is where I stop, because you will enjoy reading the true tale the author weaves of how the trial plays out.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Another Glorious Day of Toodling!

Yesterday was a glorious day of toodling. My wife Linda added two finds to her collection of Danish dinnerware:

Our friend Eve found a gift for a family member––Sorry! Can't show you––and Linda found a gift for me:  another Viking ship to help protect my set of the Oxford English Dictionary.

On second thought, are those Viking ships really protecting my OED, or are they protecting the M &Ms in the dispensing jar?

I found nine books yesterday; eight for my library, and one for Linda's Obama Collection. Here is Linda's book.  I found it at 321 Books.

Barack Obama:  The Story by David Maraniss, New York:  Simon & Schuster 2012.

I was impressed this time when we visited 321 Books located in Tyrone Mall.  We visited it shortly after it opened in 2017, and all they had at the time were new books––I like old books!  This time they had old books too! And all the books were either $3, $2, or $1.  And that was before the senior discount they gave me!  I bought two other books at 321 Books:

Submission of Recorded Presidential Conversations to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives by Richard M. Nixon, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1974.

The Most Dangerous Book:  The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham, New York:  Penguin Press, 2014.

My best find, however, was in Knot on Main Street in Dunedin.

The Columbian Orator:  Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces Together with Rules; Calculated to Improve Youth and Others in the Art of Eloquence by Caleb Bingham, Boston:  J. H. A. Frost, 1827.

This work was first published in 1797 and was widely used to promote oratory and reading among the youth of America.  I found it in Knot on Main Antique Store on the bookshelves belonging to Mike Slicker, proprietor of Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg.  Now that I think about it, I believe I have bought more of Mike's books at Knot on Main Street than at his bookstore!

One of our favorite thrift stores is the Kimberly Home Thrift Shoppe in Clearwater, which supports pregnant women.

On Fridays, books are 50% off (they're 99 cents for hardbacks and 79 cents for paperbacks every other day of the week).  I bought one of each, which came to 88 cents, and told them to keep the change.

Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, Granada:  Padre Suarez, 1963.

The Klutz Yo-Yo Book by the Editors of Klutz, Palo Alto: Klutz Press, 1998.

Now all I need for a Christmas present for one of the grandkids is a decent yo-yo.

At one time, the Park Street Antique Center may have been located on Park Street in St. Petersburg, but it has been located on Bay Pines Blvd in St. Pete for as long as I can remember.  I'll have to ask Mike Slicker if he has books there too!  I bought three books there yesterday.  And that's were my wife found her  B&G dish.

Staying on Alone:  Letters of Alice B; Toklas, New York:  Liveright, c.1973.

I wanted this pamphlet for my Leigh Hunt Collection. It has an article by Edmund Blunden titled "On a Portrait by Mrs. Leigh Hunt."  The article contains two of her silhouettes: one of Leigh Hunt and one of Lord Byron.

From Baseball to Boches by H. C. Witwer, New York:  Grosset & Dunlap, Eighth Printing, December, 1918.

I picked this book up, read a few pages, and almost bought it the last three times we visited this antique store.  This time I decided to buy it.

At the end of the day, we ended up at Glory Days Grill in Palm Harbor for drinks and then dinner.

 My Root Beer Float is on the left.  Linda's little glass of Sangria is on the right!

I did not mention it before, but we all received a tornado warning on our phones while we were in 321 Books in the Tyrone Mall.  And we stayed in the mall for the duration of the warning.  There were four tornados reported in the Tampa Bay area yesterday.  This was one of them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward is the third book about Donald Trump that I have read this year.  Fire and Fury was an account of the infighting inside the Trump White House during Trump's first 100 days.   House of Putin, House of Trump was a roadmap of Trump's business ties with the Russian Mafia going back 40 years.  Fear is a record of events and conversations that confirm that Americans have reason to fear while Donald Trump is still in the White House.

Woodward figured he would be writing a book about President Hillary Clinton.  But two weeks before the election, he gave a speech in Fort Worth, Texas to 400 mostly white executives of a software company who were from all over the country.  Woodward asked for a show of hands for whom they would vote for in the Presidential election: ten pairs of hands went up for Hillary; over 200 pairs of hands went up for Donald Trump.  Woodward didn't know why, but he figured the polls had to be skewed.  Two weeks later, Donald Trump was elected the President of the United States of America.

"Real Power is––I don't even want to use the word––fear."  Donald Trump made that statement to Bob Woodward and Bob Costa in an interview on March 31, 2016.  Woodward uses Trump's statement as the epigraph of this book.  And he uses it again as a Trump quote on the back cover, with an image of Trump doing a fist pump.  Moreover, Woodward uses Trump's words, "Real power is fear," on three different occasions in the book.

On page 175, Trump was giving advice to a friend who had admitted bad behavior towards women.  Real power is fear.  Trump told him that it was all about strength.  Never show weakness.  Never admit.  "You've got to deny, deny, deny and push back hard on these women."

On pages 274 and 275, Woodward provided an insight into Trump's philosophy regarding tariffs and trade deals.  Trump wanted to impose a 25 percent steel tariff and Gary Cohn was trying to talk him out of it.  Trump said,"we'll try it.  If it doesn't work, we'll undo it."  Cohn said "You do something when you're 100 percent certain it will work, and then you pray like hell that you're right.  You don't do 50/50s with the U.S. economy."

Still on pages 274 and 275,  Woodward said that Trump wanted to blow up the NAFTA deal and renegotiate it.  Trump's philosophy was "to get yes, you first had to say no."  Cohn warned that it was too risky: "That either works or you go bankrupt."  To Trump, Cohn thought, bankruptcy was just another business strategy.  And Trump had gone bankrupt six times. Real power is fear.

On page 300  Woodward wrote about Trump's foreign policy, which Trump believed he was winning.  Iran was under intense pressure, Pakistan was afraid that it might lose our aid, and South Korea was going to bow to Trump's demands for new trade talks.  Then there was North Korea.  Woodward writes that Trump's tweets about who had the biggest Button "may have come close to starting a war with North Korea in 2018."  Woodward continues, "The public never learned the full story of the risks that Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took as they engaged in a public battle of words."  Real power is fear.  

On the next page, Woodward repeats a tweet from Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Obama:
Folks aren't freaking out about a literal button.  They are freaking out about the mental instability of a man who can kill millions without permission from anybody.
Throughout the book, Woodward matter of factly reports certain actions the White House staff took to prevent Trump from causing  harm to our country.   And Woodward repeats their opinions of what they think of Trump, from calling him an idiot, to having the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader.

Woodward ends the book with Trump's lawyer John Dowd still believing that Trump did not collude with the Russians or obstruct justice, but resigning because Trump would not follow his legal advice about talking to Mueller.  The last paragraph of Woodward's book is worth repeating:
But in the man and his presidency Dowd had seen the tragic flaw.  In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying "Fake News," the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew  but could not bring himself to say to the president:  "You're a fucking liar."

Yes, real power is fear.  And I am afraid.
                        Jerry Morris