Recommended Reading for July 8–14

This week, we feature an insider’s look at the Nixon administration and a heartwarming story that sheds light on the horrors of the Soviet regime.

Storytelling

A Study in Provincial Life

‘Middlemarch’
By George Eliot

“Middlemarch” (1871–72) is considered Eliot’s greatest work. Set in the early 19th century, the novel explores ideas about art, religion, science, and politics. Beautiful pictures are painted of images about stymied love, and ideal goals and their loss.

Wordsworth Editions, 1998, 736 pages

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A story about dying thoughts

‘A Postcard From the Volcano: A Story of Pre-War Germany’
By Lucy Beckett

Here, we follow the young Prussian aristocrat Max von Hofmannswaldau, his family, and his friends between the world wars as they encounter the ideas that permeate this era. We see the consequences of the horrors of war, concentration camps, and totalitarianism that killed tens of millions of people. Professor of literature Lucy Beckett brings all her talents to bear in this intelligent and profound account of the devastating effects of these conflicts on countries and personal lives.

Ignatius Press, 2009, 520 pages

Artistic expression

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Yawk is a New Language State

‘Are you talking to me? The Unruly History of New York English’
By EJ White

You know New York English when you hear it. It is unique and has become a cultural symbol. A study of New York linguistics, told by linguistics expert EJ White, “Talkin’ to Me” is not a dry and intelligent document. It tells the story of New York English—about why and how New Yorkers speak the way they do. As lively as Brooklynese, told with Bugs Bunny’s insouciance and Archie Bunker’s confidence, it’s interesting and captures the spirit of New York while looking at the North American.

Oxford University Press, 2020, 320 pages

History

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How Firearms Are Reinventing America

‘Gun Barons: The Guns That Changed America and the Men Who Made Them’
By John Bainbridge Jr.

“They say God made all men, but Samuel Colt made them equal.” This phrase originated in the American West and represents the end of the American firearms revolution in the 19th century. Along with Colt, the names Smith & Wesson, Winchester, and Remington still resonate. . This is an honest and interesting history of the gun industry; eccentric and colorful men who brought their innovations to market; and the companies they started.

St. Martin’s Press, 2022, 352 pages

Memoir

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A clear view of Nixon

‘The President’s Man: Memoirs of a Nixon Trustee’
By Dwight Chapin

Dwight Chapin, longtime aide to President Richard Nixon, takes an in-depth look at Nixon and his leadership, detailing some of the most notable moments, including the president’s visit to China, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), and, of course, Watergate. Chapin offers a simple, but sympathetic view of the Nixon years.

William Morrow, 2022, 480 pages

Ancient

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The Dream of Totalitarianism

‘Dark at Noon’
By Arthur Koestler

Set in the late 1930s, this historical novel takes place in an unnamed country, but it is clearly Soviet Russia. Nikolai Rubashov is a former Bolshevik imprisoned and tried for treason. As we learn about his hard work and sacrifices for the Communist Party, we also learn about his life in prison and the torture tests that were common at the time. To undermine Soviet communism, Koestler wrote his story in part to show that in totalitarian regimes, each individual has no value except to submit to the party’s agenda.

Scribner Reprint, 2019, 272 pages

For children

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Don’t be a Goop!

‘Goops and how to lose them’
By Gelett Burgess

First published in 1900, the Goop book is popular with preschoolers today. There are simple illustrations and instructions on topics from the cute to the brave on every page of this children’s classic. Highly recommended.

Independent printing, 2019, 90 pages

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A Residential Application

‘The Old Tree’
By Ruth Brown

People who live in an old tree (a rabbit, an owl, a squirrel, a crow, etc.) hope to save their home from being cut down. Detailed illustrations, including a pop-up surprise at the end, bring this fun and loving story to life.

Candlewick, 2007, 32 pages

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