Grant by Ron Chernow (Biography) – Sobbed when I finished it the first time. Sobbed again even harder this third time. It only took me a full month to get through it this time. 🙂 I know it’s a long book, but I think Section 3 which covers post-Civil War Reconstruction should be required reading. I’m certain this will be made into a movie or mini-series and I will be the first one to line up to see it. Meanwhile, this has officially surpassed Les Miserables by Victor Hugo as my all-time favorite book. I’m obsessed with Grant’s legacy, how it was tarnished by racist revisionists and how it is making a comeback much in part thanks to Chernow. A very, very thorough and riveting read.
You All Grow Up and Leave Me: : A Memoir of Teenage Obsession by Piper Weiss (Memoir/True Crime) – A quick read about an obsessive middle-aged man who coached tennis to young girls attending various prestigious Manhattan prep schools in the early 90s. The author was one of those students and this is her coming-of-age story which coincides with the coach’s failed attempt to kidnap one of his teenage students. It’s about the trust we put in the institutions and adults that mentor our children
BlacKKKlansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth (Memoir) – I saw and thoroughly enjoyed the movie directed by Spike Lee and so wanted to support the author by reading his story in the original form. I’m particularly interested because, of course, I hope my own memoir will be turned into a movie one day.
Anyway, the author, the first black officer and detective on the Colorado Springs police force. He oversaw an undercover operation to expose KKK activity even becoming a member and having lengthy phone conversations with the then Grand Wizard David Duke. It’s all wild and fantastically improbable the way real life often is. After so much history about the Civil War and Reconstruction, it was nice to have some deeper understanding about the roots of modern racism and the historical references made.
Spike Lee’s version is very true to the book so there was a part of me that felt like reading the book was a little bit of a waste of my time. Eep! I hate typing that but there are so many books, movies and shows to read and enjoy that in the future I will pick one version, enjoy it and move on. That said, the book was great. The movie was great. I enjoyed both thoroughly and am so glad his story was told.
Sullivan County’s Borscht Belt (NY) (Images of America) by Irwin Richman – A collection of old picture postcards that is fun to flip through with little notes here and there about each area but lacking in genuine historical research or text. It makes me think I could easily turn my little vintage postcard project into a book, too.
American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer – Well. It’s a dark hole I climb into when I contemplate the prison system and what it does to people. I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. This book is two in one. First, it’s a deep dive into the history of the modern prison labor system and how it is the ugly offspring of slavery. Second, Bauer went undercover at a private prison in Louisiana and this is an unsettling exposé of his experience. Chapters alternate between present day and past and they are equally disturbing and disheartening.
Any suggestions for April reading? I’d love to hear them!