Officially, the “dog days” of summer ended a week ago (you didn’t notice?), but there’s still time to put your feet up and read those books that have been beckoning from the corner table.
I used to call this wonderful interlude “hammock days.” At the Lyman County farm house, my hammock stretched from an old elm tree to a large hook on the outdoor garage. I’m pondering a similar spot here but compromise has found a comfortable alternative in a reclining lawn chair beneath some tall pines.
So far, I can recommend the following trifecta for your reading pleasure:
“The Earth is Weeping” — If you have sought a balanced account of the Indian Wars in the American West, this is it. Peter Cozzens has done a remarkable job of telling of the many conflicts over three decades after the Civil War when America was expanding west. The storytelling is graphic, sparing no detail in describing some of the worst massacres in our nation’s history. While most of us are well acquainted with the atrocities at Wounded Knee, Cozzens also recounts Indian raids that were “replete with rape and butchery,” many perpetrated by a Cheyenne band called the Dog Soldiers, which was responsible for the infamous “Kidder Massacre.”
Reviews of Cozzens’ book confirm its accuracy, including this from Newsday: “Veteran historian Cozzens brings verve and a mastery of the era as he chronicles the personalities, politics and bloody clashes ... Does full justice to the complexities of this history.”
In today’s time of strained relations between whites and American Indians, the book is especially relevant.
“Unfreedom of the Press” — Even if you are a confirmed liberal, you’ll find this book by Mark Levin stimulating. It’s no secret that conservatives and a majority of the public believe that the mainstream media leans left and has unfairly covered the presidency of Donald Trump.
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For example, the author cites a recent Gallup Poll showing just 21 percent of Republicans trust the media compared with 76 percent of Democrats. The conclusion is that Republicans believe the media is unfair and slanted in coverage and most Democrats do not. He also quotes Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times. “We would do, I don’t know, dozens of stories about Trump every single day and every single one of them was negative. We have become the anti-Trump paper of record.”
Levin’s underlying theme is that when a large proportion of the media sides with one party on most of the issues, it destroys the media’s purpose and credibility, not to mention the dire impact on our republic.
“Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is about the resistance to Nazism during WWII. Based on a true story, it tells of Pino Lella, an Italian boy whose interests are thoroughly normal: girls, food, music and having a good time.
When his community comes under attack, however, he wants to help the cause but his parents persuade him to join the German Army as a way to stay alive. Shortly thereafter, he becomes the personal driver for a powerful general, Hans Leyers, who serves as Hitler’s chief commander in Italy. In his position, Pino is able to pass along valuable information to the resistance.
There’s danger, patriotism and romance in this book, and as a spy novel, it is far more poignant than, say, James Bond, because thanks to author Mark Sullivan’s exquisite writing, we feel what Pino feels, as well as other characters in the story.
Thank goodness summer is not quite over. So much to read, so little time.