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April 2019

May 2019

What Hath God Wrought

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815 - 1848What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815 - 1848 by Daniel Walker Howe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I greatly enjoyed Howe's history and learned a lot, mostly details of topics I only had surface knowledge of, such as the Mexican War.

I'm very intrigued by his overall interpretation of the period. The heroes are John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, standing for a vision of America that challenged the white supremacy of the Jacksonian Democrats. He feels that Abraham Lincoln fulfilled the Adams-Clay vision for America and that that vision ultimately triumphed over the other. He closes with Seneca Falls as the 1848 event that most heralded America's (and the globe's) future.

Which is interesting to read now, more than a decade after he published the book. For Jacksonian populist nationalist white supremacy has reared its ugly head. Is the great history of America a battle between Jacksonian Democrats (now the GOP) and Whigs?

His treatment of religion is very well done and one of the reasons the book was on my list.

The closing chapter, centered on Seneca Falls, never mentions Sojourner Truth, which I found both odd and deeply disturbing. Especially because Sojourner Truth was one of the characters introduced early in the book, so I assumed it would circle back around to her once I realized the great women's rights covention was the closing scene. In a rather exhaustive tome, it is a noticeable absence that mars the whole.

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The Red Wheelbarrow and Other Poems

The Red Wheelbarrow and Other PoemsThe Red Wheelbarrow and Other Poems by William Carlos Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 2015 at the Yale Writer's Conference in my Memoir Intensive group, Williams's granddaughter was also a member, working on a memoir of her grandfather. So I feel a more intimate connection with the great poet. One evening our group went to the beach house on the Sound of another member of the group, and it was pointed out that Williams had lived nearby.

This fine little book selects highlights from his works. He had a keen sense of attention to the world around him and a joyful use of words, most obvious in the title poem, which I remember discussing at length in some college class.

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