Good Reads: ‘Team of Rivals’

I have been reading this book on and off for a couple of years. I normally read on the go, and lugging a 700+ pager around with me is not something that I have really done since law school. I finally finished it a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m kind of sad that it’s over. “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin is an extremely well written (obviously, since she’s got a Pulitzer), chronological account of Lincoln’s life. The focus of the book is on Lincoln’s political career, but it is obvious that his professional demeanor was shaped by certain aspects of Lincoln’s humble upbringing, also covered in this text. Before reading this book, I didn’t know the full extent of Lincoln’s true genius (not in the hyperbole way that people have used to dumb down this word) and strength of character. It is unlikely that the US will ever see another person of Lincoln’s caliber occupying its highest office. I highly recommend this book.

Good Reads: ‘Say Nothing’

It has been a while since I was so captivated by a story that I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I read this book in a weekend.  “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe, tells the true story of a widowed mother of 10 taken from her family in 1970s Belfast by the IRA and “disappeared.” I was both fascinated and disgusted by the factual basis of what I was reading. My mind was blown learning accounts of neighbors killing neighbors, and tenement houses turned war zones. Further, it all takes place in recent history/current day, in a supposedly developed western nation. In addition to telling an otherworldly story, the book helped me make sense of many U2 and Sinead O’Connor lyrics that I learned growing up. Everything from Bloody Sunday to Margaret Thatcher’s stance on the North Ireland conflict are covered in this text. The book was randomly recommended to me by none other than my barber. I was sitting in the chair getting my hairs did when he asked me “do you read?”. Apparently his reaction to this book was similar to mine. He strongly suggested that I check it out. Having now read it myself, I also highly recommend it.

Good Reads: ‘We, The Drowned’

This book was a bit of a deviation from my normal fare, in that, it’s fiction. I have a hard time reading just for entertainment’s sake. I like to be able to take away bit of new practical knowledge from every book I read, even if it is just a story about someone’s life. I was able to justify reading We, the Drowned because, while fiction, it is based on the history of Marstal Denmark from the 1840s through the end of World War II. I’m fascinated by that era generally, and because of my Danish heritage, I’m specifically interested in the history of Denmark during that era. There was added entertainment in the fact that several of the characters in the book bore the same names as my ancestors.

Prior to reading this book, I knew nothing about Marstal. Having now read the book, I actually have a pretty strong desire to visit. It is a small town in the southern part of Denmark, on the island of Ærø. The book is written from third person, but not in an omniscient voice. Instead it is written from the collective voice of the town of Marstal. As the title of the book would suggest, Marstal has a history laden with sailing. Carsten Jensen does an amazing job of telling this story, creating very detailed imagery with the text. This is true to the point that I would not suggest this book for readers who shy away from a bit of gore. It spans over two world wars, and graphically depicts the ugliness that occurs at sea during wartime.

The book was a bit slow to draw me in. But once it did, I did not want it to end. Luckily it is 675 pages, so it lasted me a little while. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about that span of history, merchant sailing, or just reading a really good story.