Revolutions and Writing

  It’s been said that the best creative writing comes from periods when political and social revolutions are happening. I suppose the drama of a revolution is a part of that, and the intellectualizing or rationale for the revolution generates situations and characters that writers can easily work with. But a quick survey of modern revolutions and […]

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The Revolution that Almost Was

Witness to the Revolution – Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul, by Clara Bingham We Americans tend to ignore the social and political discomforts our nation has experienced from time to time, particularly in our examinations of national history, and that’s why Clara Bingham’s book seems so important. […]

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Dreams of a Better World

Most Blessed of the Patriarchs – Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf   I’ve been fascinated for years by Jefferson, and have read most of what’s out there on this sometimes eccentric man. But this book takes a new tack. Rather than focus on his politics, […]

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The Dawn of Barzun’s Decadence

I came across Jacques Barzun (see link below) in the late nineties as his book, From Dawn to Decadence – 1500 to the Present – 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, began to gain traction. I was still bogged down in an engineering career then, had divorced my first wife and 2.4 kids, and was […]

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Crossing the Border

End of the year magazine issues tend to be retrospectives, or the content seems more strained than usual. The January 2012 issue of Harper's Magazine seem to fall in line with the latter. However, there's one curious juxtaposition: A piece of first person reportage by Cecelia Balli, "Calderon's War," exposes the way the war on […]

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Iron Souls, Fragile Bodies

Age of Iron, by J.M. Coetzee   An early novel in Coetzee’s list of achievements, Age of Iron, depicts the author’s distaste for apartheid, the revolution against it, and gives prescient hints as to what was to come of South Africa after Mandela. Coetzee has always seemed to this reader an idealist, harping eloquently against […]

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