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The Dust Bunny Collectionaka: Unread Books Still at my Bedside


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#16 b1

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:06 PM

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves", by Lynne Truss. It's a small book, but after a while each chapter is the same. Trying to get through it.

Also just bought the first Harry Potter book "The Socerer's Stone". My 4(almost 5) y.o. and I are going to read it together. Should be interesting :)

The new Better Homes and Gardens magazine just came so I have to escape to my dream home and garden for a while before hitting the Harry Potter book tomorrow (thinking it is not best to be read before bed, lol)

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#17 vagansmom

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:05 PM

I found "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" repetitive also, b1 although I, too, loved it at first. I think I may have finished it only because, as a tutor, it's my job to read books like that! :)

#18 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:07 PM

Is there a better alternative?


Burr by Gore Vidal :)

Oh, OK, not really, but it’s a terrific read nonetheless!

I did enjoy Chernow’s biography; since I am a finance professional I appreciated the focus on Hamilton’s tenure as Treasury Secretary and the financial system he put in place, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it struck some as just Too Much Information. There were a couple of things that I found problematic: Chernow, like many biographers, adores his subject and while he is certainly willing to acknowledge Hamilton’s flaws, he sometimes bends over backwards to excuse them away, to cast them as the obverse of a sterling character trait, or to highlight the deficiencies of his adversaries by way of invidious comparison. (He definitely does not adore Aaron Burr and barely tolerates Jefferson.) I found this particularly annoying in the chapter dealing with the famous and fatal duel with Burr. No amount of self possession, attention to duty, thoughtful attentions as a host etc really ameliorates the astounding willingness of a father of seven to be provoked into a duel that could easily have been avoided. There’s a bit more armchair psychoanlysis than I’m generally comfortable with as well.

Hamilton’s own writing is pretty terrific too, by the way, if you’ve got that theory-of-government monkey on your back. The Library of America put out a nice collection of his writings not long ago, and there’s always The Federalist, which I adored during a particularly geeky phase of my otherwise misspent youth.

#19 b1

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:09 PM

vagansmom,

I felt like it was just one big rant/vent regarding poor punctuation usage. She would give examples of bad grammar and punctuation, and then never give the proper usage. I agree with her that the influence of the internet has produced some horrible writing. So many kids today really don't know proper punctuation. I was struggling because as I wrote the title in my post, I couldn't figure out how to underline it! I guess you can't do that with the modern computer (or can you?). :)

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#20 dirac

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:27 PM

b1, we actually had a discussion about Eats, Shoots and Leaves awhile back (started by the invaluable vagansmom). The link is below if you'd like to take a look. Quite a few people agreed with you!



http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=17150

#21 dirac

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:39 PM

Is there a better alternative?


Not really, IMO, if you're looking for a thorough biography in one volume. I do like Richard Brookhiser's "Alexander Hamilton, American" a cogent appreciation and introduction that you can't use as a doorstop.

Kathleen, I love Burr. It’s one of my all time favorites. And it sticks very close to the facts, although you can disagree about interpretation.

I agree with you about Chernow’s partisanship. He’s not alone in that --many biographers of the FFs seem to be engaged in a kind of My Founding Father Is Better Than Your Founding Father debate. But that may come with the territory, it was a highly partisan era, after all. (I also agree about Chernow’s habit of explaining away unpleasantness. I recall offhand that, after a recital of the difficulties in the Hamiltons’ marriage, he says something like, “it was an ideal union.” Uh, let’s see – chronic infidelity, what looks very like an affair with his sister in law, money problems, apparent intellectual incompatibility.....truly, a marriage to be envied!


The Library of America put out a nice collection of his writings not long ago, and there’s always The Federalist, which I adored during a particularly geeky phase of my otherwise misspent youth.


The Library of America books are handy if you want to go right to the source. My big beef with LofA is the lack of notes and context for much of the material.

#22 carbro

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:41 PM

You can underline, b1. When you're in "Add Reply" (but not in "Fast Reply"), you'll see a two rows of "tags" above the box you're typing in. Click the U, type the title (or whatever text you like), and when you've done with whatever you wanted to underline, click again. It will show up as a [/u] at the end, and a [u] at the beginning.

#23 dirac

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:42 PM

Thanks for the explanation, carbro.

#24 Helene

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:57 PM

Kathleen, I love Burr.  It’s one of my all time favorites.  And it sticks very close to the facts, although you can disagree about interpretation. 

I loved Burr as well.

I agree with you about Chernow’s partisanship.  He’s not alone in that --many biographers of the FFs seem to be engaged in a kind of My Founding Father Is Better Than Your Founding Father debate.  But that may come with the territory, it was a highly partisan era, after all.

I think it's interesting that Jefferson was, for a long time, the FF poster boy, but he's getting his comeuppance in a series of Federalist biographies, as he's portrayed to be rather two-faced and non-committal, as well as an apologist for the excesses of the French Revolution long after the murders and bloodshed were known to him.

(I also agree about Chernow’s habit of explaining away unpleasantness.  I recall offhand that, after a recital of the difficulties in the Hamiltons’ marriage,  he says something like, “it was an ideal union.”  Uh, let’s see – chronic infidelity, what looks very like an affair with his sister in law, money problems, apparent intellectual incompatibility.....truly, a marriage to be envied!

Not my idea of a fun marriage, but it sounded like she adored him and their children and tried to establish his reputation until the very end. The incompatibility seemed to me less intellectual than temperamental.

#25 bart

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:51 PM

Burr by Gore Vidal    :)
Oh, OK, not really, but it’s a terrific read nonetheless!

We're getting pretty close to my original profession here, and I ALSO like and admire the Vidal novel, which is based on quite a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of the period and is (IMO) by far his best history-based work.

Vidal, made it possible for historical novelists to tell complex truths about the past through focusing on intelligently drawn characters. He also paved the way for academic historians to go deeper into the personalities, quirks and warts, too, and to be more questioning and skeptical about inherited pieties about the Founding Fathers.

Of course that was the end of the Nixon and Vietnam War era, when we were all more than ready for a new approach.

#26 dirac

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:23 PM

Yes, exactly. I can remember how refreshing it was to read about the period in an account that wasn't cloaked in reverence.

It is his best historical novel, although I am partial to "Julian" out of an attachment to the subject matter.

Jefferson was, for a long time, the FF poster boy, but he's getting his comeuppance in a series of Federalist biographies.


Our times are unsympathetic to Jefferson. (Further developments in the Sally Hemings matter didn't help, either.) But he'll be back.

#27 carbro

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 07:45 PM

No amount of self possession, attention to duty, thoughtful attentions as a host etc really ameliorates the astounding willingness of a father of seven to be provoked into a duel that could easily have been avoided.  There’s a bit more armchair psychoanlysis than I’m generally comfortable with as well.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:) I visited the recent Hamilton exhibition at the New-York Historical Society (now touring the country). It was fascinating for many reasons, including the display of the two pistols, one of which changed American history, but no one knows which one.

Richard Brookhiser, author of a brief bio of Hamilton (I've read neither his nor Chernow's [the Chernow now having become home to a colony of dust bunnies]) and curator of the exhibition, participated in a panel at N-YHS. He speculated why Hamilton agreed to the duel: if he lost, he'd go out in a blaze of glory, but better, it would end Burr's public career.

#28 vagansmom

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 09:30 PM

Another computer advice to b1: If you're like me, and use "fast reply" nearly every time (such as right this moment :D , you still can underline by clicking on "More Options' underneath your fast reply window. From there, you can follow carbro's advice.

#29 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 11:30 AM

He speculated why Hamilton agreed to the duel: if he lost, he'd go out in a blaze of glory, but better, it would end Burr's public career.


Hmmm … He may have ended Burr’s political career, but seems to have guaranteed Burr’s immortality instead. If Burr hadn’t shot Hamilton he might have spent the rest of his days as a has-been slugging it out in Albany politics, ending up as a trivia question (“Who was Vice President during Thomas Jefferson’s first administration?’’) rather than the subject of Gore Vidal’s best novel (IMO) and the best Got Milk ad ever! It seems almost impossible to mention Alexander Hamilton without eventually invoking Aaron Burr. Moral: don’t handcuff yourself to the person you most loathe when you dive off into eternity.

dirac: At your suggestion, I’m moving Cryptonomicon up in the rotation! I did enjoy what I'd gotten through, but lost momentum when I couldn’t fit it into my carry-on during my last trip.

:shake: Now I know how to underline!

#30 dirac

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Posted 22 July 2005 - 11:23 AM

It’s off topic, but I think it unlikely that Burr would have tried again in New York. His defeat in the gubernatorial race was conclusive, and he was under attack from all sides. I suspect it was depression and anger over his circumstances that caused Burr to take greater umbrage at Hamilton than was usual for him. He could have gone West and returned as a senator from one of the new states, but he had bigger fish to fry, or so he thought. ‘A man of much wit, and very little judgment.’ I don’t know if that statement applied truly to Thomas Seymour, but it was certainly true of Burr.


I’m glad to hear the Historical Society’s exhibition is a good one. Its subtitle, “The Man Who Made Modern America,” seemed ahistorical and inflated to me, and not a good omen.


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