On the Nightstand

I love to read, and there is always an open book on my nightstand as well as several more piled underneath it.  I’m especially interested in history, biography, philosophy, and theology.  I have to force myself to read fiction, which I do every once in a while.  The book that’s on the top of this list is the one that’s currently on my nightstand.

Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (1930) – Whoa! Just whoa. Where has this book been all my life? I’m not finished reading yet; I’ll write more about it later.

Peter Collier, Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick (2012) – I was an undergraduate when I first heard the name of Jeane Kirkpatrick. The new president, Ronald Reagan, had appointed her as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations because he was impressed by an article she had written for Commentary magazine. I wasn’t particularly interested in political science, but the story of this Democrat academic who had broken with her party over its failed foreign policy was so intriguing that I went to the library and read her article. I loved it. My admiration for her increased after the poise and courage she demonstrated while being shouted down by crazed leftists at Berkeley. And then there was her knockout speech at the 1984 Republican convention. She was smart, clear, and absolutely devastating to the anti-American left.

I’m very glad this book has been written. Kirkpatrick’s story needed to be told.

Best line from the book: When asked what she had learned on the job at the U.N., Kirkpatrick replied, “That my sentences are too short and my meanings too clear. I must learn to obfuscate.”

David Baron, The Beast in the Garden (2004) – The mighty Instapundit says this book reads like a thriller.  It’s about the problem of mountain lions doing what mountain lions naturally do, only now they’re doing it in residential neighborhoods.  Nature is not benign; it’s dangerous.  How do we make peace with nature so we can live amongst its beautiful creatures?  I’m about to find out what other people learned the hard way.

Robert K. Massie, Catherine the Great (2011) – A friend who also loves to read dropped this book off at my house with a note telling me that she thought I would like this story.  She didn’t know that I already knew the story of Catherine the Great because I have a PBS documentary on her life and reign.  I’ve just started the book, and it is delightfully easy to read.  When I looked through the list of other books by this same author, I was surprised to see that he also wrote DreadnoughtDreadnought is one of my husband’s favorites.

Best line from the book:  “What have I done that God should choose to chastise me with such a feeble instrument as the king of Sweden?” — Catherine II

Andrew C. McCarthy, Willful Blindness – This book took me back to the early 1990’s and the first World Trade Center bombing.  Written by the federal prosecutor who successfully prosecuted the perpetrators, it’s a chilling look into the lessons that we should have learned and didn’t.  The criminal justice system is simply not designed to be a weapon against terrorism.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms – What can I say?  It’s fiction.  I read this because my son had to read it for school.

Robert J. Donovan, Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S Truman, 1945 – 48 (1977) – I acquired this book from a friend 25 years ago, and I just now made time to read it.  I had been reading about WWII, and it seemed appropriate to keep the story going with a look at the Truman presidency.  It was interesting, but it’s always a challenge to read a book written by a professional historian.  It was filled with more detail than I needed.


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