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review 2017-04-16 13:25
JFK - Why He Continues to Mean So Much as a Great & Inspirational Leader
ALL HIS BRIGHT LIGHT GONE: The Death of John F. Kennedy and the Decline of America - Peter McKenna

The title of this book comes from the remarks made by Jacqueline Kennedy in a March 1964 newsreel in which she thanked the nation for its expression of sympathy to her in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. She spoke of her husband in the following way: "All his bright light gone from the world."

The author goes on to share with the reader how he, who had been a wayward youth in high school during Kennedy's tenure in the White House, had been inspired by JFK to become more engaged in study and public affairs, and to lead a more purposeful life. He then provides a brief biography of JFK, showing what factors in his background helped to make him a statesman of substance and a wise, charismatic, discerning, and dedicated President of the United States. In doing so, the author does not shy away from touching upon President Kennedy's weaknesses (e.g. his affairs). After all, JFK was human and subject like all human beings to err from time to time. But McKenna looks at the totality of President Kennedy and seeks to explain why, more than 50 years after his death, he continues to inspire millions of people across the world.

The author contends that President Kennedy - who had been well-traveled and a voracious reader and student of history, government, and economics all his life - understood, unlike some of the presidents who followed him, that the United States, from its inception, was a democratic republic, "the most enlightened form of government" devised by humanity. Given that understanding of the country, Kennedy "knew it was based on trust in government and the belief that the common good is more important than the enrichment of individuals or special interests." Therefore, President Kennedy made it his focus to govern wisely in the best interests of all Americans while encouraging its citizens to "embrace [their] civic responsibilities" and "to believe that politics is a noble profession." Nowhere perhaps does President Kennedy explain this position better than in the address he made to students at Vanderbilt University on May 18th, 1963.

"I speak to you today, ... not of your rights as Americans, but of your responsibilities. They are many in number and different in nature. They do not rest with equal weight upon the shoulders of all. Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of responsibility. All Americans must be responsible citizens, but some must be more responsible than others by virtue of their public or their private position, their role in the family or community, their prospects for the future, or their legacy from the past. Increased responsibility goes with increased ability. For those to whom much is given, much is required.

"Of the many special obligations incumbent upon an educated citizen, I would cite three as outstanding: Your obligation to the pursuit of learning; your obligation to serve the public; your obligation to uphold the law. If the pursuit of learning is not defended by the educated citizen, it will not be defended at all.

"For there will always be those who scoff at intellectuals, who cry out against research, who seek to limit our educational system. Modern cynics and skeptics see no more reason for landing a man on the moon -- which we shall do -- than the cynics and skeptics of half a millennium ago saw for the discovery of this country. They see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.

"But the educated citizen knows how much more there is to know. He knows that knowledge is power -- more so today than ever before. He knows that only an educated and informed people will be a free people; that the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all; and that if we can, as Jefferson put it, 'enlighten the people generally,' 'tyranny and the oppressions of mind and body will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.' And, therefore, the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry, to support the advancement of research, and to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans -- from grade school to graduate school.

"Secondly, the educated citizen has an obligation to serve the public. ... He may be a civil servant or a senator, a candidate or a campaign worker, a winner or a loser. But he must be a participant and not a spectator. At the Olympic Games, Aristotle wrote, 'It is not the finest and strongest men who are crowned, but they who enter the lists. For out of these the prize-men are selected. ' So, too, in life," he said, 'of the honorable and the good, it is they who act who rightly win the prize.'

"I urge all of you today, especially those who are students, to act -- to enter the lists of public service and rightly win (or lose) the prize. For we can have only one form of aristocracy in this country. As Jefferson wrote long ago in rejecting John Adams's suggestion of an artificial aristocracy of wealth and birth, 'It is,' he wrote, 'the natural aristocracy of character and talent.' 'And the best form of government,' he added, 'was that which selected these men for positions of responsibility.' I would hope that all educated citizens would fulfill this obligation, in politics, in government, here in Nashville, here in this State, in the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service, in the government service, in the Tennessee Valley, in the world! You will find the pressures greater than the pay. You may endure more public attacks than support. But you will have the unequaled satisfaction of knowing that your character and talent are contributing to the direction and success of this free society.

"Third and finally, the educated citizen has an obligation to uphold the law. This is the obligation of every citizen in a free and peaceful society. But the educated citizen has a special responsibility by the virtue of his greater understanding. For whether he has ever studied history or current events, ethics or civics, the rules of the profession or the tools of the trade, he knows that only a respect for the law makes it possible for free men to dwell together in peace and progress. He knows that law is the adhesive force of the cement of society, creating order out of chaos, and coherence in place of anarchy. He knows that for one man to defy a law or court order he does not like is to invite others to defy those which they do not like -- leading to a breakdown of all justice and all order. He knows, too, that every fellow man is entitled to be regarded with decency and treated with dignity. Any educated citizen who seeks to subvert the law to suppress freedom, or to subject other human beings to acts that are less than human degrades his inheritance, ignores his learning, and betrays his obligations. Certain other societies may respect the rule of force. We respect the rule of law."

And sadly, as the author sets out to show the reader, President Kennedy's death had "a far more profoundly negative impact on the United States than is commonly realized" or appreciated.

 

This is demonstrated through the administrations of the some of the presidents that followed Kennedy (e.g. LBJ in his support of the Vietnam War and his failure, in certain respects, to be fully honest with the public; Richard Nixon; and Ronald Reagan who promoted the belief among the public of government as enemy of the people, de-emphasized the value and importance of civic virtue and public service in a democratic republic, and extolled the virtues of corporatism in creating a strong economy and society.)

Despite some editing errors I discerned in some of its pages (hence the 4 stars), this is a book I would strongly urge anyone to read who is deeply concerned about the present state of the nation, the levels of corruption in Congress from which its leadership profits at the expense of the public good, and wishes to become more constructively and purposefully engaged as a citizen to help reverse the tide of perversion that has overtaken the republic for the past 50 years. Furthermore, study the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy and take inspiration from a man who possessed rare gifts of brilliance, wit, and compassion.

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review 2017-04-02 01:38
Prairie Boy
Prairie boy: An artist tells of his growing-up days on the Canadian prairies - Harry J. Baerg

The life on the Canadian prairie a hundred years ago was one of adventure and hard work for a boy growing up, even without school to worry about.  In Prairie Boy by artist -author Harry Baerg writes about events over 9 years of his life on and around his family farm in central Saskatchewan in an engaging autobiography geared towards young adults.

 

Beginning with purchase of his family’s farm outside the town of Waldheim in 1917 when he was 8, Baerg writes about many features of life over the next 9 years until his family left for British Columbia.  As an avid nature writer, Baerg’s descriptions of the wildlife around his farm and his family’s farm animals are very well done as well as chores surrounding the latter.  His descriptive illustrations, in both words and images, of various activities brought to life how farmers a century ago dealt with daily life without the technological developments that would occur over the course of the rest of the century.  Baerg spends time on both his schooling and how modern inventions slowly started coming into town and into their family’s life, making one realize that even the faintest resemblance to our world today was barely visible a century ago.

 

Coming in under 130 pages, Prairie Boy is a very quick read but very informative and entertaining.  Although intended for a young adult audience, Harry Baerg’s autobiography of his time growing up is something adults looking for an relaxing read would find interesting.

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text 2017-03-31 18:15
March 2017 Round Up!
Knottspeed: A Love Story - Jeff Johnson
The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett
All Souls' Night - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Sir Hugh Walpole
Wallflower - Chad Lutzke
The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 3 (Walking Dead Compendium Tp) - Charlie Adlard,Charlie Adlard,Robert Kirkman
The Dark Tower, Volume 1: The Gunslinger Born - Richard Isanove,Jae Lee,Robin Furth,Peter David,Stephen King
Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton
20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden
Lucky Supreme: A Novel of Many Crimes - Jeff Johnson

 

I've read a bunch 'o books this month in all kinds of genres!

 

Graphic Novels

The Walking Dead Compendium 3

The Dark Tower Volume 1: The Gunslinger Born

The Dark Tower Volume 2:The Long Road Home

Batman (Rebirth) Volume 2: I am Suicide

The Dark Tower Volume 3: Treachery

 

Total: 5

 

Audio Books

All Souls' Night by Hugh Walpole

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

 

Total: 2

 

E-Arcs

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

Knottspeed by Jeff Johnson

Wallflower by Chad Lutzke

Lucky Supreme by Jeff Johnson

 

Total: 4

 

Random Books

The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett

Man & Monster by Michael Jensen

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Allen Kirch

 

Total Books Read in March: 15

 

Reading Challenges:

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

(Horror Aficionados Group on GR)

Goal: Read 40 books that I already own during 2017

 

January count: 1-Dominoes by John Boden

February count: 2 Hometown by Luke Walker, Disembodied by Anthony Hains

March count: 0

Running count: 3

 

Coolthulhu Crew 2017 Challenge: 

Goal: Read Horror Books!

 

January Books: 5

February Books Read for Challenge: 3

March Books Read for Challenge: 4

Running Count: 12

 

Graphic Novel Challenge: 

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017  

 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

Running count: 12

 

Keep Calm and Read On!

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-03-29 01:20
I would have been a runaway
Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding-Schools, 1939-1979 (Slightly Foxed Editions) - Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding Schools, 1939-1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Graham is exactly what I was looking for this week. As the title suggests, this is a non-fiction book about what it was like to attend a boarding school for girls from the years of 1939-79 (in the United Kingdom obviously). The author conducted numerous interviews of women who attended these school who recalled startlingly vivid memories (both ill and pleasant) of their time there. From what it was like to be separated from family at a young age (some incredibly young) to the traumatic recollections of the horrible food they were forced to eat to what really went on when a bunch of hormonal girls were kept sequestered without any boys in sight this is a book that is both informative and interesting. (It's also super funny.) I've read some fanciful stories about what it's like to live in a boarding school but never true accounts from the girls themselves about what actually went on behind those austere facades. (Seriously a ton of them were in manor houses and castles which makes me super jealous.) There are many similarities between the institutions and also some gargantuan differences. For instance, some of the places (Cheltenham for instance) were strict, highly academic, and the girls that left there were more likely to continue into higher education. Others were more practically minded (or obsessed with horses and sports) and the girls that left there were generally encouraged to go to secretarial college and then look for a husband almost immediately after entering the workforce. It's an eye-opening read about what it was like for these upper-crust girls who were sent away by their families and then suppressed by these same people into wanting less for themselves. I highly recommend this not only because it's extremely well-written and researched but also because it's so fascinating comparing it to the way young women of today are educated and their expectations after leaving school. 10/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-03-26 15:42
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden

My favorite stories were:

 

Pop Art

20th Century Ghost

Better Than Home

My Father's Mask

Voluntary Committal

 

My thoughts on this collection cannot possibly make a dent in all of reviews already written about this book. Suffice it to say: I loved it and it gets my highest recommendation!

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