When I gave thought to beginning posting again, it occurred to me I could post here and cross post to Facebook. But I can just as well post to Facebook and cross post here. So here we go: an item I put up at FB a couple of days ago. As i say, I love these lists: kind of a mark-to-market self-assessment.
Oooh, I love these book lists. The question was: can you name 10 books that made a direct and immediate difference in how you think? Sure can. In chronological order:
Arthur Schlesinger, Crisis of the Old Order. Explained the unspoken political and social presuppositions of the world I was born into.
Mark Sullivan, Our Times. Helped me to understand the Ohio of Warreen G. Harding, under whose shadow I was living at the moment.
Bertram Wolf, Three Who Made a Revolution. Thrilling. Showed me what it was to have a political and social imagination.
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War.* I wasn't all that much of a reader when I was a kid, so I didn't have a basis comparison. Imagine my surprise, in later life, to realize that I had started at the top. Read it in time to be wary of the Viet Nam War.
Harry Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberland. Helped me to understand Kentucky during my time there as a reporter. By a country lawyer who nailed it better than any journalist I know.
Grant Gilmore, Secured Transactions, First few chapters--on the history of chattel security--taught me more about how the law works than any other book, ever.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace. Too short.
John Dos Passos, USA. Why have I never been able to sell the people I care about on this marvelous tapestry of American life?
George Eliot, Middlemarch, I had a girlfriend in my early 40s who told me that no one was fully adult until they understood Middlemarch. She was right,
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time. I finally got round to Prousf in my 50s. Reassuring to know that, however much longer I may live, I will never be short of ideas to chew on.
*Spelling error corrected. Cripes, can't any of you guys out there read proof?