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Friday, September 23, 2016

Salem Falls

History, Biography, and Historical fiction  are my reading favorites but then I occasionally find a fiction author I really like.  Jodi Picoult is one of those whose themes and writing style have totally won me over. She published her first book in 1992 and has come up with a new one just about every year since then. I’ve just finished my fifth one so have a ways to go…J

Salem Falls published in 2007 caught my eye because it’s about a teacher. As a retired teacher, I knew personally both men and women who abused their position of authority in both sexual and non-sexual ways. I also knew several others who were falsely accused of abuse.   Picoult's books usually deal with ethical issues and are told from a variety of viewpoints, with each chapter written in a different character's voice. Picoult uses this technique to show multiple sides of a situation and underscore areas of moral ambiguity.
Jack St. Bride was once a beloved teacher and soccer coach at a girls' prep school - until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his career and reputation. Now, after a devastatingly public ordeal that left him with an eight-month jail sentence and no job, Jack resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. He takes a job washing dishes at Addie Peabody's diner and slowly starts to form a relationship with her in the quiet New England village of Salem Falls. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets -- and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation.  Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Historical Photography Quiz

After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I’d been reading for some time now about the huge Broadway musical hit…. Hamilton. “Huh?”, I thought. Not one of the most well-known nor beloved of the Founding Fathers. Hoping to learn more, I’d realized my chances of seeing the play on Broadway were slim and none…..   I also knew that most of the high school texts had written him off as a wannabe monarchist and conniver at best.. It was time to get Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton to read. Maybe it was also time to broaden my view of the man.


Put quite simply, Ron Chernow argues that Hamilton’s early death at age 49 left his record to be reinterpreted and even re-written by his more long-lived enemies, among them: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe.  Hamilton’s achievements starting with his role as Washington’s aide during the Revolution, soldier, and later member of the Constitutional Convention, co-author of The Federalist Papers and   first Secretary of the Treasury, were clouded after his death by strident claims that he was an arrogant, self-serving monarchist..

 To  Hamilton’s credit he had a very modern view of the future of the fledgling nation.  Hamilton was "the prophet of the capitalist revolution" in which American would become an industrial giant of cities and modernization. As Treasury secretary he created the modern financial and economic systems that are the basis for American might today.

The writing of American history and biography has reached a very high  peak in recent decades in both research, brilliance and accessibility. Ron Chernow's masterly Alexander Hamilton clearly reaches that high level.

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@Barrie Summy

Friday, September 2, 2016

Historic Photography Quiz

At the instigation of the Soviet Union, the East German government begins the construction of the Berlin Wall.  It is intended to prevent the exodus of thousands more East Germans fleeing the "workers paradise" to the West.