Handful of Books for Summer Reading
One of the features of Park Remark that some of you may be aware of, is the existence of an ad-hoc book club. I have typically tried to select one book each month that you and I could read together and then discuss at the end of the month. We've had five books so far, all of which relate directly in one form or another to our National Parks. So many current issues in the parks are too complex to convey in a simple blog post, which is part of the reason I have enjoyed the deeper analysis that these books provide. During the summer months though, I find I enjoy reading lighter material. For instance, at the urging of my wife, I have recently read 'The Da Vinci Code'. And I am now half-way through a new book by John McPhee, a series of essays on the transportation industry called 'Uncommon Carriers', which I am enjoying very much. This is not to say that park books have been removed from my reading list, not a chance! I have included my next "park" read in the list below. If park books are on your mind this summer, the following list may contain a book or two that you'll enjoy reading while the Park Remark book club is on hiatus.
Wildfire and Americans : How to Save Lives, Property, and Your Tax Dollars : Roger Kennedy. Every summer wildfires burn somewhere in our parks, and burn somebody's property. Wildfires are not new, but the scale of property damage grows with each year. This book examines some of the people management issues that have led to this ongoing problem. I am looking forward to this read.
A Sand County Almanac : And Sketches Here and There : Aldo Leopold. More than 50 years after it was published, this book is still very readable and the ideas within just as significant. Leopold was one of the originators of the idea for areas of designated wilderness within our federal lands.
April 1865: The Month That Saved America : Jay Winik. April 1865 was a big month in American history. It was the month that Lincoln was assassinated, and it was also the month that Robert E. Lee surrendered to the north. But what if Lee hadn't surrendered? What if he had told his troops to scatter to the hills and fight a prolonged guerrilla war? I learned more about the Civil War, war strategies, and some of its key personalities reading this book than I have with any other.
Encounters with the Archdruid : John McPhee. Who is the archdruid? According to this book, it is a fellow named David Brower. Brower was the key personality behind turning the Sierra Club from an outings group to one focused instead on environmental activism. Brower was also a key personality behind the creation of the North Cascades National Park. McPhee is a staff writer at the 'New Yorker' and has written quite a library of books related to the great outdoors. The personal touch that McPhee gives to his subjects makes his books so much more readable and enjoyable.
Summertime Sudoku : Will Shortz. OK, I have to tell you that I'm totally addicted to these puzzles! Have you tried them yet? If your brain works anything like mine, you'll soon find that you've got a stack of completed puzzle books littering your house. (Well, nearly complete. I still can't figure out the 'most difficult' puzzles.)
Enjoy your summer of reading. I promise to bring back the semi-organized book club again in the fall.
One month in 1865 witnessed the frenzied fall of Richmond, a daring last-ditch Southern plan for guerrilla warfare, Lee's harrowing retreat, and then, Appomattox. It saw Lincoln's assassination just five days later and a near-successful plot to decapitate the Union government, followed by chaos and coup fears in the North, collapsed negotiations and continued bloodshed in the South, and finally, the start of national reconciliation.
In the end, April 1865 emerged as not just the tale of the war's denouement, but the story of the making of our nation.
Jay Winik offers a brilliant new look at the Civil War's final days that will forever change the way we see the war's end and the nation's new beginning. Uniquely set within the larger sweep of history and filled with rich profiles of outsize figures, fresh iconoclastic scholarship, and a gripping narrative, this is a masterful account of the thirty most pivotal days in the life of the United States.