Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Court-Martial of Paul Revere

Every American probably knows about the midnight ride of Paul Revere.  But how many Americans know about Paul Revere's actions – or rather, his inaction – during the Penobscot Expedition? I didn't.  And Michael M. Greenburg's book changed my opinion of Paul Revere.

Paul Revere was many things:  a patriot, a silversmith, an engraver, and a dentist.  But what he was not was a good soldier.  Several officers, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth, sought to bring charges up against Paul Revere, the most damning being Revere's refusal to obey orders during the Penobscot Fiasco.

I won't tell you about the Penobscot Expedition, what led to Paul Revere's court-martial, or how the court-martial ends.   Mr. Greenburg does an excellent job of detailing all of that. You'll just have to read his book to find out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Johnny Evers
A Baseball Life
by Dennis Snelling.
Reviewed by Jerry Morris

Read this book and you will get to know the man in the middle of the most famous double play combination in baseball history: Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Begin reading about a boy from Troy who became the man who can: the man who helped his teams win the World Series, not once, not twice, but three times.  And twice it was the Chicago Cubs who won the World Series.  And hell did not freeze over.

One of the best baseball books I've read this century!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Second Book of Booksellers:
Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade
by Sheila Markham.
Reviewed by Jerry Morris

I don't claim to be a connoisseur of books about books. But I am a collector of them, having over 1000 books about books in my library. And I enjoy reading and writing about them in my blogs. I also love recommending the very good ones. And Sheila Markham's book, A Second Book of Booksellers:  Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade, is second to none.

 If the title sounds familiar, it's because A Second Book of Booksellers is a sequel  to Sheila Markham's first book, A Book of Booksellers:  Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade,  first published in 2004 and reprinted in 2007.

The first book contains interviews of 50 booksellers conducted between 1991 and 2003.  These interviews first appeared in the Bookdealer.  Barry Shaw, the editor of the Bookdealer, wrote the Foreword to the first book.  The second book contains interviews of 31 booksellers conducted between 2007 and 2013.  The last ten interviews appeared in the Book Collector.  And Nicolas Barker, the editor of the Book Collector, wrote the Introduction to the second book.

Most of the booksellers interviewed in the two books are English, with two Americans and at least one Canadian also interviewed.   One of the English booksellers interviewed in the first book started his career with a book stall in the Portobello Road Market and ended up on Bond Street.   Another bookseller found Winston Churchill's manuscript notes for his World War II books on Portobello Road, yet kept his own military books in the basement of his bookstore with the rats.  One bookseller in the second book spent twenty years amassing the greatest Charles Darwin Collection ever.  Another bookseller was blind.  But that did not prevent him from buying and selling books — I love the title of that interview: "A Feeling for Books."  What I found most fascinating about all the interviews is that I learned first hand, from the horse's mouth,  so to speak, what effect the internet has had on the book trade in the last twenty years.  I like the viewpoint of one bookseller who said, "I cannot imagine a time when one of my clients will start to tremble and perspire holding in his hands a first electronic version of Don Quijote de la Mancha.  Rare and beautiful books will disappear only if beauty itself disappears from our existence."

Now I enjoyed reading both books.   And I recommend you buy both of them.  But don't just take my word for it.  Go to her website,, and click on "The Interviews."  While there, you can read over forty interviews online that were not printed in her two books.  By then, you will want to read more.  But I would not wait too long. . . .

A Second Book of Booksellers  is available from either or from Sheila Markham's website. And Sheila says PayPal is fine!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Are Libraries Obsolete?
An Argument For Relevance in the Digital Age

Are Libraries Obsolete?  An Argument for Relevance in the Digital Age
by Mark Y. Herring
Reviewed by Jerry Morris

Terrific title. Terrible format.

By the title alone, I thought this book would serve as a wake-up call for librarians, educators, and leaders of our country to save our libraries. But I had a hard time staying awake while reading the first 122 pages.

In 2001, the author wrote a piece titled, "10 Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute For a Library." And he spends the first 122 pages of this book "ferreting out" whether what he said in 2001 is still true. Who cares what he said about libraries in the past? Readers want to know what he says about the future of libraries.

The very last chapter of this book, Chapter 14, beginning on page 187, is titled, "Are Libraries Obsolete After All? Two Scenarios." In this chapter, the author looks into the future, and shows us two worlds: one where libraries are obsolete, and librarians are as extinct as dinosaurs; and another where libraries are still around, and librarians find ways to use the information highway as a tool to provide knowledge for their students and customers. 

The very last chapter of this book, Chapter 14, should have been the first chapter of the book.  And I recommend readers begin reading this book on page 187, "Are Libraries Obsolete After All?  Two Scenarios." Only then can the rest of the book make sense. If one chooses to begin reading on page 1, I fear the reader will find the first 122 pages to be "too much information." But if one chooses to begin reading on page 187, the reader will find the first 122 pages to be "well-found knowledge."