Friday, April 09, 2010

The bookshelf

Between spring break in Vermont and Easter in NOLA, I think I can safely refrain from buying any more books for the rest of the year.

Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic. For some reason, this is not in every history section of every general-interest bookstore in America. (Though B&N has plenty of Mein Kampf.) A classic I'd been meaning to get to, and Jacob Levy's mention of it put me over the edge.

Henry James, The Wings of the Dove. Late James is my favorite James, but I've probably read The Golden Bowl thrice for one time through this superb novel. The great opening chapter is so dramatic, you can see why James thought he could write for the stage; but the drama's 95% in the narration, not the dialogue. The only great book I can think of offhand where the "villain" is the protagonist.

Elizabeth Longford, Wellington: Pillar of State. The post-Waterloo career of the great general and less great statesman, sympathetically told by Longford, who turns out not only to've been a socialist, but also Antonia Fraser's mother.

Richard Reeves, John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand. I had avoided this because, rightly or not, I've thought of Reeves as a rather loose biographer (perhaps that's my assumption about anyone who writes about JFK); but I picked up Mill's Autobiography and was so struck by the omissions, I had to turn to Reeves's book. Quite competent-seeming thus far, though since the same subtitle's been used for a life of Thorstein Veblen by a different author, I hope it will now be retired.


  1. There are two Richard Reeves.One is British (Mill);one American (JFK). Neither loose.

  2. Good. Thank you so much.
    I need to get its (Henry James, The Wings of the Dove. and last book)