Warford

Just in time for Father’s Day, here is this year’s summer reading list.

Longtime readers may recall that, unlike most reading lists, mine does not feature light “beach reads.” I fail to see why one should read any differently just because it is summer.

This year’s list is heavy on nonfiction, particularly biography, because, as mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been listening to a lot of those works on Audible.

To this year’s list:

“Frederick Douglass” by David Blight — A Yale historian, Blight takes his readers through the long life of an American icon. Even Frederick Douglass himself used to marvel at the unlikelihood of a one-time slave rising to become arguably the greatest American rhetorician and orator of the 19th Century.

He liked telling how President Lincoln welcomed him to the White House and introduced him as “my friend Douglass.”

The book covers Douglass’s entire life, from slavery in Maryland to abolitionist to grand old man of the civil rights movement.

“Queen Victoria” by Julia Baird — If you think being a queen is all sunshine and roses, think again. Victoria, who ruled England from 1837-1901, suffered her share of heartbreak and loneliness.

Baird portrays the queen as sympathetic, and one tough customer.

“The Conservative Sensibility” by George F. Will — The longtime columnist was trained as a political philosopher, and this work lays out his political philosophical thesis.

Will believes conservatism is without a political party these days, and that both parties have strayed so far from the essential principles delineated by the Founding Fathers.

He addresses the big question: What sort of government should we have?

Will accurately pointed out the other day that the myriad Democrats running for president are spending all their time jawing about proposals that will never happen rather than talking about things that matter.

Will writes about things that matter.

“The British are Coming” by Rick Atkinson — After spending 15 years working on the Pulitzer Prize-winning trilogy on the liberation of Europe in World War II, Atkinson turns his attention to another war, the American Revolutionary War.

Atkinson relies on letters, diaries, and firsthand accounts to provide amazing detail on the first phase of the war. The book provides both sides of the conflict, British and American, making it easier to understand the perspectives of both instead of the usual Good Guys (Americans) vs. Bad Guys (British).

“Ballpark: Baseball in the American City” by Paul Goldberger — Another Pulitzer Prize-winner, for architectural criticism, Goldberger switches from reviewing buildings to examining baseball stadiums.

Going all the way back to the 1800s, Goldberger writes about parks and the roles they play in the lives of cities and their citizens.

“The Impeachers” by Brenda Wineapple — With talk of impeachment in the news every day, this book is a timely look at a past impeachment. No, not the Bill Clinton impeachment that most of us remember, but the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Of course, given how long historians must research, it’s mere coincidence that the book comes out now during talk of impeachment.

The Reconstruction Period tends to get too little attention in popular history because it tends to be such a downer following the heroic drama and then optimism coming out of the Civil War.

Here, Wineapple makes the characters come alive and helps the reader get caught up in a different kind of drama.

William P. Warford’s column appears every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

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