The Spectacle Blog

What We’re Reading: February Edition

By on 2.14.14 | 12:39PM

Matthew Walther, Assistant Editor and Book Reviewer

Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Wartime Journals.

The Wartime Journals reveal the voice and experiences of Trevor-Roper, a war-time "backroom boy" who spent most of the war engaged in highly confidential intelligence work in England—including breaking the cipher code of the German secret service, the Abwehr. He became an expert in German resistance plots and after the war, interrogated many of Hitler's immediate circle, investigated Hitler's death in the Berlin bunker, and personally retrieved Hitler's will from its secret hiding place.

Nigel Hamilton, How to Do a Biography.

Award-winning biographer and teacher Nigel Hamilton tackles the practicalities of doing biography in this first succinct primer to elucidate the tools of the biographer’s craft.

James Walton (editor), The Faber Book of Smoking.

The story of one of mankind's most peculiar habits. 

Paul de Man, The Rhetoric of Romanticism.

Patrick Ryan, New Media Assistant

George R.R. Martin, Dances with Dragons

George R.R. Martin's latest installation in the fantasy/medieval series that inspired the HBO show. Fans waited years for this book and Martin didn't let them down, achieving the level of violence, intrigue, and drama that his readers are used to. 

Benjamin Brophy, New Media and Visual Communications Director

Ian Murray, Jonathan Edwards, A New Biography

Iain Murray was Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones's right-hand man. For those who don't know, Lloyd-Jones was one of the most influential evangelical leaders in Great Britain in the 20th century. Somewhat surprisingly, the theologian who inspired him was an American, Jonathan Edwards from New England. Edwards is best known for his association with the first Great Awakening and his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. However, his written work has and continues to inspire Protestants across the globe. He was also one of the first presidents of what is now Princeton University and the grandfather of Aaron Burr. 

Anne Hobson, New Media Associate

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Hemingway wrote this memoir about his time in Paris as a young writer at the end of his life. Unsurprisingly, he paints an extraordinarily warm picture of his time as a poor writer learning his craft amongst giants like Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Dos Passos. The work is Hemingway at his best: a simple, "true" representation of the story with no waste. For those who are interested in the lives of the "Lost Generation" and enjoy Hemingway's work, it doesn't get much better than this. 

Aaron Goldstein, Contributor

Alyn Shipton, Nilsson, The Life of a Singer-Songwriter 

Although Harry Nilsson was one of the most original and influential singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s, this marks the first time his life has been the subject of a full-length biography. Shipton traces Nilsson from his unstable childhood in Brooklyn through his seven long years working at a bank in Los Angeles before finding success and a record deal with RCA. Before long, Nilsson is being feted by The Beatles and is enjoying all the trappings of a life of luxury. Shipton documents how Nilsson pursued a good time and how those good times eventually caught up with him. Along the way, Nilsson manages to make some incredible music. I made reference to this book in my recent article commemorating the 20th anniversary of Nilsson's death.

Phyllis Schlafly, A Choice Not an Echo 

Self-published 50 years ago, this endorsement of Barry Goldwater and indictment of the Republican establishment put Schlafly on the conservative map where she remains to this day. While some of her arguments are debatable, Schlafly's book is a reminder that tensions in the Republican Party are not a new thing.

James Chace, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs – The Election That Changed the Country 

Published shortly after his death in 2004, Chace, who taught at Bard College, provides a scintillating account of the 1912 presidential election. Particularly interesting is the deteriorating friendship between President William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt when the former president challenged Taft for the GOP nomination before running against him on the Progressive Party ticket.

Michael Ignatieff, Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics 

After a successful career as a writer and a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Ignatieff is recruited to return to his native Canada to run for Parliament under the Liberal Party banner with a plan to steer him to the party leadership and the Prime Minister's office. Only things don't go as planned. I discuss in my most recent article.

Bob Costas, Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball

This is mostly a lament for so-called small market teams and for revenue sharing. However, he did adroitly predict the Houston Astros would move to the American League. This is probably the last book in which Alex Rodriguez was described as "precocious." 

 Natalie deMacedo, Editorial Intern

Carl Von Clausewitz, On War

Von Clausewitz is a name that has become synomymous with war theory. This classic investigates military theory as a result of Von Clausewitz's experience as a Prussian soldier.

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