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         Book Reviews
Cash, W. J.  
Greenblatt, Stephen  
Hedges, Chris and Joe Sacco  
Hitchens, Christopher  
Marlantes, Karl  
Stallings, A. E.  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

Cash, W. J. The Mind of the South, Vintage Books edition, September 1991, New York, copyright Alfred P. Knopf, Inc.1941.

Ever since its publication in 1941, The Mind of the South had been recognized as a path-breaking work of scholarship and as a literary achievement of enormous eloquence and insight in its own right. From its investigation of the Southern class system to its pioneering assessments of the region's legacy of racism, religiosity, and romanticism, W. J. Cash's book defined the way in which millions of readers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line would see the South for decades to come.  This new fiftieth-anniversary edition of The Mind of the South, includes an incisive analysis of Cash himself and of his crucial place in the history of modern Southern Letters.

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Greenblatt, Stephen, The Swerve, How the World Became Modern, W. Norton and Company, Inc.  599 Fifth AVenue, New York, New York 10110, copyright 2011, Stephen Greenblatt.

This is a riveting tale of the great cultural "swerve" known as the Renaissance. In the winter of 1417, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties plucked a veery old manuscript off a very dusty shelf in a remote monestary saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied.  He was Poggio Bracciolini, the greatest book hunter of the Renaissance.  His discovery, Lucretius' ancient poem on the Nature of Things, had been almost entirely lost to history for more than a thousand years. 

It was a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas, that the universe functions without the aid of gods, that religious fear is damaging to human life, that pleasure and virtue are not opposites, but intertwined, and that matter is made up of very small material particles in eternal motion, randomly colliding and swerving in new directions.

It's return to circulation changed the course of history.  The poems vision would shape the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein and in the hands of Thomas Jefferson. leave its trace on the Declaration of Independence.

From the gardens of the ancient philosophers to the chambers of monastic scriptoria during the Middle Ages to the cynical competitive court of a corrupt and dangerous pope, Stephen Greenblatt brings Poggio's search and discovery to life in a ay that revolutionizes our understanding of the world we live in today.

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Hitchens, Christopher,  Mortality, Twelve Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Ave, NY, Ny, 10017, copyright Christopher Hitchens, 2012.

Christopher Hitchens was a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and other magazines, and author of many books and international best sellers.  In Mortality, he chronicles his own journey as he grapples with esophageal cancer and death.   His story is of one man's refusal to cower in the face of the unknown, as well as a searching look at the human predicament.  Crisp and vivid, veined throughout with penetrating intelligence, his testament is a courageous and lucid work of literature, an affirmation of the dignity and worth of man.


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Marlantes, Karl, What It Is Like To Go To War, Atlantic Monthly Press, 841 Broadway, New York, NY, 10003, copyright 2011 Karl Marlantes.

This is a beautiful book on combat, what it feels like, what the consequences are, and above all, what society must do to understand it. He is a preeminent literary voice on war of our generation.  As a natural storyteller and a profound thinker, he not only illuminated war for civilians but also offers a kind of spiritual guidance for veterans themselves.  This book will hit home in your heart.

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Stallings, A. E., translator, Lucretius, The Nature of Things, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, copyright A.E. Stallings 2007.

This is a new nearly line by line translation of rhyming couplets and uses modern technology to reflect the impact of the original poem.  Lucretius was a Roman  philosopher and poet of the first century about 50 B.C. It is a didactic poem of six books that expounds Lucretius' philosophical beliefs.  He followed Epicurean ideas believing the world to be made up of tiny atoms moving in a void. He viewed life in terms of pain and pleasure representing good and bad. A profound exploration of man's relation to the earth, to the world and to the Gods, The Nature of Things was to have a huge influence and affect the course of world literature as a whole.

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Hedges, Chris and Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction Days of Revolt, Nation Books, 116 East 16th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10003, copyright Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco 2012.

"The devastation on Pine Ridge, in Camden, in southern West Virginia, and in the Florida produce fields has worked its way upward.  The corporate leviathan has migrated with the steady and ominous thud of destruction from the outer sacrifice zones to devour what remains.  The vaunted American dream, the idea that life will get better, that progress is inevitable if we obey the rules and work hard, that material prosperity is assured, has been replaced by a hard and bitter truth.  The American dream, we now know, is a lie.  We will all be sacrificed.  The virus of corporate abuse--the perverted belief that only corporate profit matters--has spread to outsource our jobs, cut the budgets of our schools, close our libraries, and plague our communities with foreclosures and unemployment.  This virus has brought with it a security and surveillance state that seeks to keep us all on a reservation.  No one is immune.  The suffering of the other, of the Native American, the African American in the inner city, the unemployed coal miner, or the Hispanic produce picker is universal.  They went first.  We are next.  The indifference we showed to the plight of the underclass, in Biblical terms our 'neighbor,' haunts us.  We failed them, and in doing so we failed ourselves.  We were accomplices in our own demise.  Revolt is all we have left.  It is the only hope."

 

 

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