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The July List

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Well, it’s that time again, and the list for July looks like this:

40) Meyer Schapiro. Late Antiquity, Early Christian, and Medieval Art: Selected Papers.

41) Dorothy L. Sayers. Have His Carcase. (rr)

42) Ernest Hemingway. A Moveable Feast. (rr)

          l) Ernest Hemingway.  “Out of Season.” (rr)

43) Daniel C. Dennett. Breaking the Spell.

         m) Xenophon. “Apology: Socrates’ Defense to the Jury.”

44) Mark David Hall. Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic.

45) Keith Windschuttle. The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past.

           n) Aldous Huxley. “The Best Picture.”

          o) John Pope-Hennessy. “The Piero della Francesca Trail.”

 46) Arthur Conan Doyle. The Valley of Fear.

47) Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, Jeffrey M. Lohr, eds. Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology.

I have absolutely no idea why I read so  much more on some months than others. 

Considering what’s been going on this month, I’d have expected to have ended up with much less, but there we are.

I’ve commented on a number of these titles already, but here are a few notes.

1) The Conan Doyle is truly awful.  It’s bad enough that it’s one of his most contrived mysteries–and when Doyle gets contrived, he REALLY gets contrived–but it’s essentially two different stories from two different genres sort of glued together.  First we get the short one, with the murder, which is classic Holmes detection.  Then we get the story that is supposed to be the background to the murder, which is Boys Own Adventure. 

The one saving grace is that this did not turn out to be one more example of Doyle’s obsession with the evils of Mormonism.  It turned out, instead, to be one more example of Doyle’s obsession with the evils of Freemasonry, although the Brotherhood and the Lodge are given a (barely) disguised name.

This book presented a sort of procedural problem for me.  I have tried to be very careful to  list the books here by number and the short stories or articles by letter.

The Valley of Fear appears in the second volume of the Sherlock Holmes collection from Barnes and Noble, and it would  have ordinarily appeared here as a short story.  But it’s as long as a book, and apparently appeared originally on its own, so I’ve listed it as a book here.

2) The Mark David Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic, is an odd little book in many ways.

It came out this year and has been one of the most highly praised books on American history in a decade. 

Conservatives liked it because it provides an alternative narrative for what the Founders meant by separation of church and state. Liberals liked it, I think, because in doing so it largely undercut itself.

I don’t really know what to say about this book.  It reads like a doctoral dissertation, and a doctoral dissertation written by somebody who got all the way to the end of his project before he realized that he couldn’t prove his thesis.

At the same time,  it provides a lot of new information in good order, and especially a lot of information about those among the Founders who were not Deists or Rational Christians.

It’s information that’s good to have, and it fills in some gaps and confusions I never knew how to interpret before, but in the end I found myself thinking that the traditional emphasis on Jefferson, Madison, Adams and company was probably the right way to go.

Sherman seems to  have been a diligent and distinguished  man, but there’s nothing  here to indicate that he had a first rate mind or that he was more influential in establishing the Constitution or the Bill of Rights than he was ever thought to be.

For better or for worse, the country at its start was blessed with a pack of geniuses.  The other player, no  matter how interesting in their own right or how necessary to the success of the project as a whole, weren’t quite playing in the same league.

3) The Keith Windschuttle is the first full-length book I’ve read by the man, although I’ve read lots and lots of articles, and always liked them.

In this book he goes through the works of a number of different people, both historians and literary theorists, and writes lucidly and trenchantly about just about everything.

My favorite chapter here was the one taking on an Australian historian named Carter, who claims to be giving voice to the voiceless–all those illiterate convicts who were transported and forced to live out their misery mute, because they could neither read nor write.

Unfortunately for Mr. Carter, the convicts turn out not to have been so mute after all.  A number of them were transported for political crimes, and their problems were often caused by the fact that not only were they not mute, they couldn’t shut up.

And, of course, the first book ever published in Australia turns out to have been by a convict, too.

It’s very rare that anybody, anywhere, gets that clear a whack at his political or philosophical opponents, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Anyway, that’s the month, and I got a lot of work done, too.

If I could figure out  how to do this every month, I’d bottle it and make a fortune.



Written by janeh

August 1st, 2013 at 7:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'The July List'

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  1. Glad you enjoyed the Windschuttle, Jane. I love him, and a measure of his quality is that he is detested by the lumpen left who simply cannot deal with him at all without a barrage of ad hominem. I’m anxiously awaiting the next volume in his planned four-volume major work “the Fabrication of Aboriginal History” in which he destroys the myth-making of the mainstream “historians” who have invented or grossly exaggerated much of the worst aspects of Aboriginal history since white settlement.


    1 Aug 13 at 8:22 am

  2. Yes, Windshuttle was a real pleasure.

    I think you’re right about VALLEY OF FEAR. Otherwise omnibus editions would drive you nuts. Short story collections too, are troublesome. I’d just count short stories individually and be done. If I remember correctly, Holmes as initially printed was four novels and four short story collections, and each of the novels has the same puzzle and flashback structure, with the evil beginning outside Britain, at least twice in America. It helps in appreciating those portions of Conan Doyle’s work if you don’t know anything about American history and geography, which may account for their lasting appeal.

    As regards the count, you’re averaging just under seven books a month. An eight-book month doesn’t look that far out of the norm from here. Nor could you make a fortune selling it. The world, alas, is not filled with people who want to read a book every three or four days but can’t. It’s filled with people who will die in front of the television, their hands still clutching the remote. If you could find them a way to watch two programs at once–or watch a program while playing a video game–you’d be in serious money.


    1 Aug 13 at 9:30 am

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