Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Book List~Part 1

Last year my theme was the Civil Rights Movement.  This year's theme is First Ladies, as I continue my study of them and writing their profiles on my blog.  I am reading a book on each first lady and each president, then I watch the C-span profiles on both, and then I find other information on them.

Right now, I am reading Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams by Margery Heffron.

Here are the books I've read so far:
1) Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter--Kate Clifford Larson
2) Elizabeth Kortright Monroe--James Wootten
3) Ronald Reagan (The American Presidents #40)--Jacob Weisberg
4) First Ladies--National Public Radio
5) James Monroe: America's 5th President--Andrew Santella
6) Yes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven't Told You--Kunal Nayyar
7) Why Not Me?--Mindy Kaling
8) Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics--Charles Krauthammer
9) Gateway to Freedom:The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad--Eric Foner
10) For Laci: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, and Justice--Sharon Rocha
11) Promises to Keep: Memorable Writings and Statements--Robert F. Kennedy
12) Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields--Wendy Lower
13) My Story--Elizabeth Smart
14) Alexander Hamilton--Charles A. Conant
15) Wife No. 19--Ann Eliza Young
16) Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey--Carly Fiorina
17) In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom--Yeonmi Park
18) Churchill--J. Rufus Fears (The Teaching Company)
19) The Wright Brothers--David McCullough
20) Where the Light Gets In--Kimberly Williams-Paisley
21) An American Son: A Memoir--Marco Rubio
22) Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life--Louis Zamperini
2015 Book List
2014 Book List
2013 Book List
2012 Book List
2011 Book List
2010 Book List
2008 Book List

Saturday, June 11, 2016

First Lady Profile #10~Elizabeth Monroe

Mrs. Monroe is an elegant, accomplished woman.  She possesses a charming mind and dignity of manners.~A Washington Paper in 1817

One of the guests, Auguste Levasseur, was taken by the First lady's charm, wit and beauty, despite her fifty-six years.~James E. Wootton
-I couldn't find any books written specifically about Elizabeth Monroe, the closest I got was a pamphlet written by a curator at the Ash Lawn home, James E. Wootton.  The reason:
Little is known of her personal insights into the remarkable life that she led as, according to family tradition, she burned her correspondence prior to her death.~The Papers of James Monroe
-Elizabeth was born on June 30, 1768 in New York City to a wealthy family.  She married James Monroe when she was 17 and he was 27, on February 16, 1786.
-They had 3 children, a boy named James Spence who died at age 2, and two girls--Eliza Hey and Maria Hester.  Maria would later get married in the White House.
-In 1794, President George Washington sent James Monroe to Paris to be U.S. Minister to France.  During their time there, both James and Elizabeth learned French and adopted many French customs.
-Elizabeth became a heroine when she helped get Madame de Lafayette released from a French prison.  The french gave her the name, La Belle Americaine (The American Beauty).
-In 1817, James Monroe was elected the 5th President of the United States.   His presidency was described as the "era of good feelings".
-Dolley Madison had just finished being the White House hostess for 16 years, she had been very popular and it would've been hard for anyone to follow her.
-Elizabeth refused to make excessive social calls and didn't attend public functions due to her health issues (headaches and possible epilepsy).  She also was "fiercely independent and seemingly unconcerned with conforming to public expectations."
-The public didn't know about her health issues and judged her as cold and aloof.  They were also critical of her and the President purchasing most of the White House furniture from France.  They nicknamed her "Queen Elizabeth".
It is a remark, which it would be unpardonable to withhold, that it was improbable for any female to have fulfilled all the duties of the partner of such cares, and of a wife and parent, with more attention, delicacy and propriety than she has done.~James Monroe 
-Yet, Daniel Preston says, "if she were to be compared to any contemporary first lady it would be Jackie Kennedy.  She brought a sense of style and elegance to the White House".
-Her husband valued her highly and said that she was his "partner in all things".  She was very literate and articulate and an advisor to him.
-She died in 1830 at their Oak Hill home in Virginia.

First Lady Links:
-National First Ladies Library
-C-Span Series on First Ladies

My Elizabeth Monroe Books:
-First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women--Susan Swain C-Span
-America's First Ladies--Diana Dixon Healy
-First Ladies--Betty Boyd Caroli
-First Ladies of the White House--Nancy J. Skarmeas
-Elizabeth Kortright Monroe--James E. Wootton

Reference Material that I checked out from the library:
-First Ladies: A Biographical Dictionary--Dorothy Schneider
-NPR American Chronicles: First Ladies--Cokie Roberts
-Faith of the First Ladies--Jerry MacGregor

Previous Profiles:
-Martha Washington
-Abigail Adams 
-Dolley Madison
-Louisa Adams
-Julia Grant
-Lucretia Garfield
-Frances Cleveland
-Edith Roosevelt
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

A Review of An American Son

This wasn't about the Senate.  It wasn't about politics.  God didn't endorse candidates.  He wanted me to trust Him, to rely on Him, to lean on Him.  He didn't want me to believe He would make me a senator.  He wanted me to believe that whatever happened He loved me and would give me the strength and peace of mind to endure it.~pg. 200
My Review in Quotes~~

His Grandfather's Influence...
I had an invaluable living research guide in my home, who encouraged my amateur scholarship.  My grandfather loved history and politics as much as I did, and was far more knowledgeable about them.  He became my tutor, my companion and close friend and one of the great influences in my life.  But for his encouragement, I think my life would have turned out very differently than it has.~pg. 41

He taught me many things, but none more important than the conviction that I must not waste the opportunities my parents had sacrificed to give us and our country made available to us.  I've always believed, even when I was an inattentive and undisciplined student, that the time would arrive for me to become serious and do something important with my life, and I would be ready for it.  I believed it because Papa taught me to believe it.  And that, more than the wealth of knowledge he shared with me, more than the epics of history he evoked so powerfully for me, more than his opinions and passions and eccentricities, has made all the difference in the world to me.~pg. 47
Who truly deserves the credit...
I would receive public acclaim for my success, but I knew who truly deserved the credit.  I am the son of immigrants, exiles from a troubled country.  They gave me everything it was in their power to give.  And I am proof their lives mattered, their existence had a purpose.

In the last night of a long campaign, I remembered where my journey began.  It began long ago, in the hardships and struggles of ordinary people with extraordinary strength and courage and love, on an island I have never seen.~pg. 283
Reagan's election and my grandfather's allegiance to him were defining influences on me politically.  I've been a Republican ever since.  More than just help me develop a political identity, my grandfather instilled in me the importance of strong leadership and conviction.  He urged me to study and learn but, more important, to do something useful with the knowledge I acquired.~pg. 45
Jeb Bush...
The story included several flattering quotes from Jeb Bush.  "He's got all the right tools," Jeb said.  "He's charismatic and has the 'right principles.'"~pg. 205
I had rarely discussed my faith in public.  I hadn't hidden it, but I hadn't emphasized it, either.  But, time and again, throughout my thirty-six years, God had made His visible in my life.  I had had opportunities to do things that the people who loved me had never had...I had been blessed with parents who encouraged me to dream and a wife who helped me achieve my dreams.  I had been blessed to be born an American.

I should have given the speech (his farewell address to the Florida House) long before, but I had been conditioned by political correctness, by the prevailing notion that a discussion of one's faith didn't belong in the public realm.  No matter how hard we try, though, we cannot keep God out of our lives, out of every moment, every aspiration, every failure and every success.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, He inhabits our lives completely.  It had taken me too long, but I was determined not to leave the house without paying public tribute to God, for the blessings He had bestowed on me and on our country.~pg.160
So Much More...
But the campaign had become so much more to me than that--so much more than politics.  I had discovered so much about myself, about the people I loved and who loved me, about the community I was raised in, about my country and my faith.  I didn't have the words or time to give voice to all the thoughts that filled my heart and mind that night as I struggled to express my gratitude.~pg. 8
Not politics, not power, but people...
I wanted to use the story to achieve two objectives.  The first was to remind the members we had an obligation to use our time in public office to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we served.  The second was to emphasize the importance of empowerment and upward mobility, and make that the purpose of our work.

We hung up pictures in my office of Florida's "Unsung Heroes", ordinary people throughout our state who were making positive differences in others' lives.  They were a reminder to us, and to anyone who entered our office, that our obligation was to the people of Florida-not to politics, not to power, but to people.~pg. 143
Why I admire him...
After every speech, people would tell me they had been waiting to hear someone articulate a conservative message without apology or obfuscation.  They told me they were tired of settling for the least bad alternative, tired of being told to vote for less conservative candidates because they were more electable.  They wanted to vote for someone who wasn't embarrassed to think and talk like a conservative, and they hoped it would be me.~pg. 178
--I have never been as excited about a candidate for president as I was about Marco Rubio.  Even though he didn't win the nomination this time around, I am convinced he will in the near future.

--This book confirmed everything I had already seen in him: his strong, conservative convictions and principles, his love for family, his love for this country, his strong Christian faith, and his humility and charisma that would enable him to be an amazing president.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Review of Ronald Reagan (The American Presidents Series #40)

In one way, Reagan isn't hard to understand at all: he knew what he believed, meant what he said, and made clear what he intended to do.  He didn't suffer from anxiety or self-doubt.~Jacob Weisberg
Ronald Reagan by Jacob Weisberg is the 4th book on Reagan that I've read so far.  I was offered a free copy of the book if I would review it.  Since, I love to read biographies on the presidents and first ladies, I was more than happy to review the book.

It is part of The American Presidents series, which says, "It is the aim of the American Presidents series to present the grand panorama of our chief executives in volumes compact enough for the busy reader, lucid enough for the student, authoritative enough for the scholar."  

I think this book definitely accomplishes the above objectives.  It does a fairly good job of giving a concise view of Reagan as a person and as a president.

I did a 3 part series on this blog entitled, Why I Love Ronald Reagan, so I will admit that I'm a little biased in his favor.  That said, I felt like Weisberg's liberal bias did come through at times.

While giving Reagan credit for some things, he seems to hold the elitist view that many have had for him that he wasn't overly smart and was lacking depth.  The following quote is a perfect example, "Reagan's televised address, which he rewrote heavily himself, displayed both his limitations as a thinker and his tremendous gifts as a communicator."

This wouldn't be the first book on Ronald Reagan that I would recommend, but I would recommend it for those who want a nice, short biography that gives a good overview of his life.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A Review of Raven and My Study of Jonestown

-The Jonestown massacre on November 18,1978 has always been a topic of interest to me.  I have watched documentaries and read books on it over the years.

-After I read Leslie Wagner-Wilson's book, Slavery of Faith, I knew I needed to read a comprehensive book about Jonestown.

-Tim Reiterman's book is described as, "the seminal book on the story of Jonestown."  To say it is the seminal book is an understatement.  Everything you'd ever want to know about Jim Jones, The People's Temple and Jonestown are in the 600 plus pages.

-Tim Reiterman was a journalist who wrote about Jim Jones and The People's Temple.  He wanted to visit Jonestown to write about it, but didn't get a chance until Congressman Leo Ryan's trip in November of 1978.

-When leaving Jonestown, Congressman Ryan and 3 others were shot and killed on the airstrip by Larry Layton and other Jones loyalists.  Reiterman was one of many who were shot, but only injured.  They had to wait till the next morning for rescue.

-Reiterman not only reported on Jonestown, but he became a part of its demise.

In his eloquent and almost biblical prose, Jones disguised his agnosticism--or atheism--and hid the fact that he was using religion for social goals.--pg. 50

While he pursued the conventional goals of an aggressive fundamentalist preacher--money and members--he also moved in new directions: toward cultlike control of his people and toward communism under the guise of Christian Communalism.--pg. 57

Step by step Jones was leading his people to the conclusion that he was a prophet.  The people trusted him and stood in awe of him; they compromised themselves by accepting his destruction of the Bible.--pg. 93 of Raven
-Jones has sometimes been described as an "evangelical preacher".  When I researched Jones, that doesn't describe him at all.  He didn't even really believe in God or Jesus, he thought he was god.  He believed in socialism and in getting people to worship him.  While still in the U.S., he supported both Democrats and Republicans so he could have power.  But he definitely allied himself with liberals who believed in socialism.

-Jones did fake healings, and all kinds of bizarre things even before he left the U.S. for Guyana.  His closest advisors and confidants knew that he was a fraud, but thought the ends justified the means when it came to their socialistic goals.

-Amazingly, once Jones had people following him, they put up with inconceivable things.  He was not only a serial adulterer, but bragged from the pulpit that he was sleeping with many different women and men.  Many of these people didn't want to voluntarily sleep with him, but felt that they had no choice because of who he was.

-He manipulated people, and got away with it, until some people started to defect.  When that happened and the media got wind of it, he moved over 1,000 of his people to the socialist country of Guyana in South America.

-When people arrived, their passports were immediately confiscated and many of them realized quickly that they had made a huge mistake in giving up their freedom.  Jones required everyone to work long hours, there wasn't much food, and they were often denied sleep.  Jonestown was an armed encampment where people weren't free to leave.

-By the time the "concerned relatives" (of some Jonestown inhabitants), Congressman Ryan and the journalists came to Jonestown, Jones had already conditioned and rehearsed mass suicide events with his people.  So when people started leaving Jonestown, and Jones realized he was losing control, he initiated the mass suicide.

-If people didn't comply, they were forced to drink the cyanide.  In the recording of the event you can hear children screaming and crying and Jones urging everyone to die with dignity.

-It is incomprehensible how brainwashed the people had to have been to comply.  Ironically, a sign at Jonestown read, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Jones dead body was found right underneath it.

Slavery of Faith by Leslie Wagner-Wilson
Raven by Tim Reiterman & John Jacobs
Escape from Jonestown
Jonestown: Paradise Lost
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple