Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

Mornings on Horseback about Theodore Roosevelt was republished  in 2001 in paperback by Simon and Schuster  (originally in 1981) 370 pages, shorter than many other McCullough books.   It is  another great read by my favorite historical  author David McCullough.  Now I have only one more of McCullough's to read before I will have fulfilled my goal to read all the books he has written.  I adore his research and writing.  The only criticism of this particular book is that it is only a snippet of the life of Teddy Roosevelt.  But once again I learned a lot about that family and about Teddy in a saga that covers  only 1869-1886.  I wished it had gone on and perhaps McCullough will come through with more yet.    

The historical information  ranges from political to geographical, NY Senator Roscoe Conkling, the 1876 Cincinnati Republican Convention where Rutherford Hayes becomes the compromise candidate, Chester Arthur's presidency after the New York Customs House corruption, the moiety system (no typo there), and of course the early years of Teddy's life, his devotion to his mother, his illnesses, his wealthy family and life of philanthropy.  So much was familiar to me from other historical readings I have enjoyed but so much was fresh and new as McCullough always presents.  I was enthralled with "Greatheart" Teddy's father and how he not only gave to the poor he worked with them leaving his  fabulous home every Sunday evening to go to the  orphanage and the home for newsboys that he established.  

 Theodore was married twice, his first wife Alice dies shortly after the birth of their daughter Alice, and soon after the death of his beloved mother, Mittie.  Mittie was a southern beauty, a confederate sympathizer who thrived in the midst of New York yankee society.  I learned that this wealthy family endured trials and tragedies and not all of them came to happy endings  reaffirming that money cannot resolve everything.  This is the  1800's  time of Eastern society where  upper class meant upper class, no mingling with lesser levels.  The Roosevelts kept to themselves and their family.  All the children were home schooled we would say today to keep them aside.  This explains some  of the intermarrying of that  clan.  I cannot say too much about this book, I loved it and wished it had gone on longer than it did but worth reading the  fascinating history and is real keeper book for me.  Five star read *****

Here is the back cover which you can read by enlarging the photo:


Cross Roads by Wm.Paul Young

Published in November 2012, by the Hatchett Book Faith Words, 290 pages by the author of "The Shack" a book I enjoyed.  I cannot say the same for this one, ho hum,  I made it through 117 pages of trite tedious reading, validating why it was 70% off at Books-a-Million this spring.  I thought maybe the author has done it again but by the  20th page, very early on I was disabused of that hope and yawned my way along waiting for the story to evolve.    By the  2nd page I detect that Anthony aka Tony, the main character is a facade, an overly successful businessman who makes friends only to manipulate them and drinks Scotch  as his "over the counter RX."  It is shades of every low budget book around, particularly those  touting  religious aspects, etc.   Tony  suffers a stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, lands in ICU and the story follows a familiar downhill well trodden trail from there as he lingers in a coma, will he live or die?  And the nether-land he experiences waiting is shades of "Saving Ararat" one of the  worst books I've ever read.  He encounters presences, people from the past and new people, and Jesus, the Holy Spirit, all that and begins to sense and see his life.  There are too many good books waiting to be read so I wasted no more time on this, tossed it onto the donate pile.  It is barely a star * and that only for publishing it, better yet for convincing people to spend money on such trivia disguised in spirituality.  A big disappointment and proof that modern authors often  have but one book to write.  *