Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Very Claremont Christmas

A holiday reading list from The Claremont Institute. As an added bonus, the man contributed. Consider it a little update to the comps reading list, if that doesn't cause too many nightmares.

They did forget Derek's book though, which is a mistake, because I just finished Freedom's Main Line a few weeks ago, and it really is a wonderful read about a remarkable story. I only have two critiques of the book, and they are minor. First, DC's a little hard on Eisenhower for my taste, which is not a major part of the book by any means and takes nothing away from the central story. Still, Ike killed waaay more Naatzis than Brad Pitt, so dammit that should count for something even in a book about an entirely different subject. Second, I'm a knuckle dragger and the imagery of the Freedom Rides were so important that the book really could have used some more pictures. I know the difficulty Derek ran into on this issue, and I could look online or at the Taylor Branch book to get the pictures, so I recommend that all you other readers out there do the same.

Seriously, Derek's book is really good. Buy it, read it, buy another copy or two for friends and family, etc.

On another note, I'll forgive the folks at Claremont for leaving A Nation Forged in War off the list, since no one has read it yet. (Yes, I know, it's getting obnoxious. This is just the beginning.)


dcat said...

Yo --
First, thanks for the very nice plug. You overstate the case slightly, but I appreciate the nice words. The reviews from the journals are starting to roll in and on the whole they ahve been wonderful, so i am pleased to add your voice to the chorus.

Let me address the two modest criticisms not to dispite but rather to contextualize.

1) Eisenhower: We've had this debate here before and none of us want to revisit it. I have a harsher view of Eisenhower, a more charitable view of Truman, on civil rights than some of the Big Tenters do. A while ago (I think it appeared in January 2008) I had a lengthy article appear that addressed many of these issues: “The Civil Rights Movement and the Presidency in the Hot Years of the Cold War: A Historical and Historiographical Assessment,” The History Compass, Vol. 6, January 2008, pp. 314-344.

So let me reiterate the one salient aspect of this argument to place any of these disputes in context: With the exception of LBJ, none of the presidents were especially great on civil rights in the post-WWII era. Truman's "To secure These Rights" and subsequent failures in enacting most of its suggestions led him to leave civil rights alone in his second term. Eisenhower was Eisenhower. And JFK? Well, let's just say that JFK is not one of the heroes in Freedom's Main Line. I buy into and largely pout forward the argument that JFK was growing into civil rights just as he was growing into other facets of the world he inhabited, but at least with regard to the Freedom Rides he was not there yet, though the Freedom Rides were essential in pushing him to get there.

2) Pictures: Let me just tell those of you working on books dealing with the post-1960 period: Corbis-Bettman and a few other smaller companies ruined your life and you don't even realize it. Unless you are with a trade press with limitless pockets you are largely restricted to the public domain, from which almost all of the really good historical pictures have been swept up by Corbis-Bettman. Even pictures in the Library of Congress are not LOC permissions in many, many cases. And pictures are really, really expensive to use for books. Really expensive. And 1960 is basically the magic break point, though many pre-1960 pictures are being bought up by the major companies too. To quote Rick Pitino from his ill-fated Celtics era, it sucks and it stinks and it sucks. But that's the way it is. Hopefully I'll be more resourceful for the paperback. But don't hold your breath.

In any case, thanks again. Amazon has FML on a deep discount right now, and there are new and used copies available even cheaper from some of their partner sellers. It would make a great Christmas gift . . .

Best --

Tom said...

Stick it pal, I didn't overstate anything. Your book is very good. Nine out of ten Eisenhower fans agree. Deal with it.

dcat said...

I can't handle the truth!!!