". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, January 2, 2017

Looking This Year At Some of What I Read Last Year

     . . . . Cold light rain falling over the City

on this last day of two four-day weekends in a row.  I am feeling satisfied and content.

I'm struck by how different this day is from the one a year ago, when we flew from Miami, to Havana. So last year's January 2nd and this year's January 2nd have this in common, that they both are days that were spent primarily in airports, and thus feel as though they didn't really happen, located out of any normal space and time

     . . . . Today I'm working on my annual contribution to Da List's Best Reads of 2016, which comes to the subscribers as a pdf.  As well as el V's and my choices in this ever-longer e-publication, Da List's subscribers are all invited to invite up to three titles themselves.  I so much enjoy seeing what people most enjoyed reading over the previous year.

Due to the January and March Cuba trips, last year's pdf didn't get out until April.  That isn't going to happen this year.

The pleasure of keeping a fairly detailed Reading and Watching Journal for each month of the year (el V keeps track of what we listen to) is the ability then to go through it at the end of the year and seeing what occupied my mind over the last 12 months. It's more difficult though, to choose which books to recommend unreservedly for others to read. Recommendation doesn't necessarily mean I agree with, or even sometimes like, everything said in the work, but nevertheless solid enough to be worth dealing with.

This morning I pulled out the 2016 Journal the text I've generated about these books over the year to use as a very rough first draft -- a starting place only, not anything to consider as an essay.

     . . . . I've divided the books I'll cover into three sections. 

United States History, the first section, is divided into four parts, with the two Grant biographies showing him as the common denominator among the three parts.

United States History 

Civil War
Fergus Bordewich, Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America (20015).
Christopher Dickey, Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War (2015)
Josephy T. Glatthaar, General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse (2015)

Radicals, Impeachment and Reconstruction 
Hans Louis Trefousse, Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth Century Egalitarian (1997)
Fawn M. Brodie, Thaddeus Stevens, Scourge of the South (1959)

General and Commander-in-Chief, Grant, the Age’s the Great Denominator 
Jean Edward Smith, Grant (2001)
Ronald C. White, American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant (2016)

Capitalism: Bigots, Eugenicists, Plutocrats, Plunderers and Thieves
Eric Jay Dolin, Fur, Fortune and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America (2010).
H.W. Brand, Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865 – 1900 (2010)

The two following sections are:

Other Times, Other Places
Thomas Ackroyd, Venice: The Pure City (2009)
Derek Wilson, Charlemagne (2006)
Steven Runciman, Sicilian Vespers (1958)
Simon Sebag Montefiore, Romanovs 1613 – 1918 (2016)

The Consolation of Nature 
Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate; Discoveries from a Secret World  (2016, in U.S.)

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