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Showing posts from April, 2010

Reading Journal: "The God of the Hive"

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Laurie R. King, The God of the Hive.  Bantam 2010.  $25.  I read the novel in Advance Uncorrected Proofs, through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994), Laurie R. King introduces readers to Mary Russell, a fifteen year old girl walking the Sussex downs with her nose in a text of Vergil.  On her walk, she stumbles upon "a gaunt, graying man in his fifties" who mistakes her for a boy.  The man is Sherlock Holmes, who has retired from detection to become a beekeeper.  Inevitably, Russell and Holmes are drawn into an adventure together, and a new detective partnership—and a new detective series—is born.  In the course of ten books, Russell and Holmes solve crimes, escape death, engage in espionage, revisit the scenes of canonical Holmes adventures (such as Dartmoor), develop a close intellectual affinity, and get married.That marriage, between partners separated by nearly forty years, is one of the improbable elements in the Russell-Holmes series …

Reading Journal: "Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts"

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Carl J. Richard, Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Paperback. 202 pp. (with index). $16.95.
Dr. Willard entered largely into the field of ancient history, and deduced therefrom arguments to prove that where power had been trusted to men, whether in great of small bodies, they had always abused it, and that thus republics had soon degenerated into aristocracies. He instanced Sparta, Athens, and Rome. The Amphictyonic league, he said, resembled the Confederation of the United States; while thus united, they defeated Xerxes, but were subdued by the gold of Philip, who brought the council to betray the interest of their country...

Mr. Randall said [that] the quoting of ancient history was no more to the purpose than to tell how our forefathers dug clams at Plymouth; he feared a consolidation of the thirteen states.

(from the minutes of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, January 1788)
For a brief period…

Rice County Wilderness Area (East Side), April 2010

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To Whom It May Concern

Note: It's been a while since I published any original poetry here. Since it's National Poetry Month, here's the poem I wrote when R— F— asked me for a letter of recommendation.

To Whom It May Concern:

Imagine, sir or madam,
the world you would create
if you could people it
from your imagination.
What fantastics
your friends could be!
What impossibilities!
How you would love
and envy them for being
what you could only imagine!
But sometimes the world as it is
brings forth such prodigies
(although prodigy is a word
she might herself disclaim)
that any madman such as myself
would be proud
to claim them as figments:
as soon as you meet her,
you feel a piece of the imaginary world
falling into place, becoming real.


© 2010 Rob Hardy

Reading Journal: "Empire of Liberty"

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Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic 1789-1815.  Oxford University Press, 2009.  778 pp. (including index). Hardcover.  $35.00.
In a recent revision of the state standards in social studies, the Texas Board of Education removed Thomas Jefferson from "a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th and 19th century."  As the New York Times reported, "Jefferson is not well-liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term 'separation between church and state.'" If the conservative members of the board had read Gordon S. Wood's remarkably thorough and balanced history of the early Republic, Empire of Liberty, they would have known that in the early nineteenth century, Jefferson's notion of "a wall of separation between church and state" was popular among the growing evangelical denominations, such as the Baptists and Methodists, because it severed the connection between the t…

Reading Journal: "When Everything Changed"

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Gail Collins, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present (Little Brown 2009).  471 pp.  (including notes and index).  Hardcover.  $27.99.
Gail Collins is one of the most consistently thoughtful and entertaining op-ed columnists at the New York Times, and she brings those qualities, along with an impressive amount of research, to the story of the women's movement from 1960 until the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century.  I was born in 1964, a few months after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which included an amendment prohibiting discrimination on the basis of a person's sex.  Although I had lived through much of the history covered in Collins' book, I found that I really knew very little of it.  I knew about Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, of course, but I new nothing about many of the "ordinary" women whose persistence and courage helped to bring about such remarkable change in American society ov…