Well, gentle readers, July’s halfway marks the conclusion of my American Independence series, at least for another year. What ground did I cover this year?
- Revolutionary Summer, Joseph Ellis; a history of the summer of 1776, in which the States declared their independence, and the British fleet arrived to squash the rebellion.
- Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet, Bill Kauffman; a biography of Luther Martin which is principally about the Constitutional debates. Martin was the most prominent republican (‘anti-federalist”) in attendance
- The Lost Continent: Bill Bryson travels the United States to revisit childhood trips through small-town America, regaling the reader with memories and reflections. Though Bryson pines for an image of small-town America, whenever he arrives in a small town he complains about the lack of restaurants and the presence of locals.
- A Place in Time, Wendell Berry. Stories about the Port William membership, a ready remembrance of the America that was.
- East of Eden, John Steinbeck; a family epic set in the Salinas Valley of California that revisits the story of Cain and Abel.
- Passionate Sage, Joseph Ellis; on the character and beliefs of John Adams.
- Unsettled America, Wendell Berry. Berry’s first and most famous defense of agrarian America, doubling as a condemnation of the thing that replaced it.
I’d also been reading Founding Federalist, on the life of Oliver Ellsworth, but halfway in realized I am very tired of reading about the Constitutional convention. It’s time to move along, and resume this year’s study series: the Discovery of Asia. I’ve eased myself back into the waters with Japan: A Cultural History, which is presumably dated given its early-1980s publication,but contains some outstanding photography. The author takes readers briefly through a sketch of Japanese history that mostly serves to provide context for the art that is commented on; the era of the pre-Shogunate civil wars is covered in the chapter on castles, for instance. Architecture is the chief focus here, but there are also sections on laquerware and prints. A favorite of mine features two Japanese women and a bicycle.
This isn’t the print…I am still scouring the web for any digital reproduction of the one I saw.
Earlier in the week I also finished India: A New History, so the Discovery is on the move!