13 November 2012

History Reviewlets (Part 2)



Although Boyfriend’s exams (written and oral) have come and gone (and he passed by the way, because he is so smart), I’m still working my way at leisure through his list of books. I thought I’d do another one of these fun little updates today.

Over Here: The First World War and American Society by David M. Kennedy: I don’t have a whole lot of memory of this one to be honest. I think I was attempting to read it while I was on vacation in Arizona. And if you are surrounded with gorgeous sun and scenery and have access to a beautiful sparkling pool, it’s hard to settle down to a book about the home front during World War I. I do know it went over some of the propaganda used to sell the war to Americans, and there was a long and tedious chapter about the economics of war. Are you recognizing a pattern here? Heather’s brain sees “economics” and groans inwardly.

Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America by Sarah M. Evans: I liked reading this one! Whenever women’s history comes up, I find myself insatiably curious and terribly skeptical. I guess I’ve heard too much of the gospel of “Women were trampled on and degraded and generally lived in darkness, until one day, like a light from heaven, birth control descended among us, and the salvation of all womankind was revealed.” Ok, so it’s not that bad, but it’s odd to me that there is an unquestioning acceptance of certain things in women’s history that I personally don’t agree with. Ms. Evans wasn’t really any different in that way, but I did enjoy reading this book quite a bit. What really struck my fancy was probably not the most scholarly thing one could get out of this, but it was the old war related advertisement. I have a strange collection of Life magazines that I’ve picked up at various antique shops when I am forced by my female acquaintances to enter an antique shop. I have this innate fascination with the advertisements in the magazines. I’m not even sure if I could explain it, but it’s just there. Anyway, this example from Born for Liberty just made me laugh. From a well known corset-designer and stylist: "Right now with the country embarking on its gigantic task of self-preservation it is essential that the women of America do not let down their men. Women must keep up the moral of their men and still continue to be their guiding star. To this end they must be their trim and shapely selves." Ladies, stay shapely. It improves morale. Anyway, while reading this I again found myself in the uncomfortable position I usually find myself in of not agreeing with anyone, but I did enjoy the dialogue.

Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture by Grant Wacker: I was really impressed by Mr. Wacker’s ability to talk about a touchy subject like religion and go into an even touchier subject, like speaking in tongues and handle it with respect and indifference.  The book outlines the birth and growth of the Pentecostal movement, particularly in America, because as Mr. Wacker explains it’s a very American movement. He attributes the success of the movement to the leadership’s ability to walk the line between primitivism (the movement back to a pure relationship with God) and pragmatism (the need to work with society and the world). I know very little about the Pentecostals and it was a helpful overview of their history and beliefs and how that fit into the early 1900s.

That will be all for now. I've got more...oh SO much more.

1 comment:

bekahcubed said...

Yay for reviewlets! I've been waiting for your thoughts on a few of these.

My thoughts on your thoughts:
1) I love that you are reading along with John, but I don't know how far I could go in emulating your example. Daniel's currently getting an MBA--and he's interested in economics. Groan. (Thankfully, we have a great deal of other topics we enjoy learning about together.)
2) Laughing out loud about "Stay shapely, it improves morale." Darn right, it does.
3) Indifference? I'm even more intrigued by Heaven Below than I was earlier