Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rome - Louisville - Chicago

November 11, 2021 Peace and Good, I am on the move again, and will be in the States until December 10th, travelling here and there. International travel is getting marginally easier. One still has to have Covid tests and fill out form after form, but other than the mask wearing while one is in flight, it is really not all that bad. I was at a three day meeting of Our Lady of Consolation Province (Midwest and Southwest) at Mt. St. Francis, a site just outside of Louisville. The meeting went very well. The frias spoke of the present situation of the province and its dreams. Yesterday we drove to Chicago, about 5 hours of travel. I will be here next week to give a workshop to our postulants (postulancy is the year before novitiate). The weather here is changing, rain today and snow tomorrow. This is to be expected in Chicago at this time of year. I have been working on a new book in my mind. These days I hope to get an initial outline completed and we will see what comes of it. I finished some books: Samuel Adams: a Life by Ira Stoll This is a good portrait of the revolutionary Samuel Adams, and cousin of the second president John Adams. He was one of the most responsible for stirring up revolutionary spirit first in Massachusetts, and eventually throughout the colonies through his committees of correspondence which shared news about what was happening. Stoll is not afraid to show the flaws in Adams’ personality, the most troubling of all being his rabid anti-Catholicism. Adams served on countless commissions during the Second Continental Congress, and later helped write the Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Constitution and served as the second governor of the state. Lawrence Welk by Charles River Editors This is not exactly a scholarly production, but it is an interesting note on popular culture during the 50’s and 60’s. I remember how my parents turned on the Lawrence Welk show every Saturday evening. The book goes through Welk’s career, and the interesting note is how good a businessman he was, dying incredibly rich. The Seven Days: The Emergence of Robert E. Lee and the Dawn of a Legend by Clifford Dowdey This book deals with the beginning of Robert E. Lee’s career as the general in charge of the Army of Virginia which was protecting Richmond. The book is an honest evaluation of the characters and the successes and failures of all of the major characters in this drama. McClennan comes across as a great organizer but a terrible general. Lee is seen as something who is taking over a massive operation in mid-stream due to the injury of the commanding general Johnston. The surprise is the failure of Stonewall Jackson who had performed so brilliantly during the valley campaign, but who seemed out of sorts during this particular battle (possibly a victim of exhaustion). The book is well done. Van Gogh by Peter Russell This is one of the Delphi Masters of Art series. It deals with Van Gogh’s life, and his art. Then there is a massive appendix of his correspondence with his father, with his brother, and with others. The correspondence well shows the development of Van Gogh’s emotive difficulties that eventually led to his genius in art but also his collapse and probable suicide as a person. The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik This is a brilliant series of stories about three of the major players in the late 18th century and how revolution changed them. The author, whose works I have previously read, deals with the American, French and Russian revolutions. The Americans managed to find a balance between authority and change, the French failed terribly in this attempt due to a series of factors, and the Russians under Catherine the Great drifted from being the darling of the enlightenment to an autocratic empire. Winik is able to show how these three movements influenced each other for the positive and the negative. Nigeria and West Africa by Wendy McElroy This book gives a history of the area in Africa that eventually became Nigeria. It is not all that exhaustive, but it does give an outline to the history of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Nigeria. I would recommend it as a primer on the topic. The Forgotten Tudor Women by Sylvia Soberton This is an outline of the lives and careers of various women in the Tudor circles. The book deals with court politics and the explosive personalities of Henry VIII, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth. It is the kind of book that would be appreciated by Tudor fans, but for those who are not, it is filled with unfamiliar names and titles and is honestly not all that well written. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment