5 Most Popular Posts: September 2021
- October 4, 2021
We here at the Independent love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are September’s winners.
- Kitty Kelley’s review of Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions). “So far, this lovely little book is bright, courteous, and informative, even lady-like, but then Renkl ventures into territory that more timid Southerners would avoid: sex, religion, and politics. Here, she shows her soul as she lambasts the Tennessee legislature for its misbegotten attempts to amend the state constitution to prevent same-sex marriage, for denying birth certificates to babies born to undocumented parents, and for outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is, Renkl writes, frequently before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.”
- David O. Stewart’s review of The Strategy of Victory: How George Washington Won the American Revolution by Thomas Fleming (Da Capo Press). “Fleming doesn’t develop the thesis with particular care, and it’s slightly odd that the general who seemed to follow the strategy best was not Washington (who always ached for a slam-bang final battle with the British), but his protégé, Nathanael Greene, who utterly thwarted the enemy in the key Southern campaign in 1780 and 1781 while never winning even a skirmish. It was Greene’s work that drove the British into the mistakes that resulted in the capitulation at Yorktown in September 1781. In fact, Washington disappears from the narrative for significant portions of the story. But it’s no matter. Fleming’s prose shines when he’s got a tale to tell about fighting and sacrifice by men in frayed and tattered clothes who were rarely paid and usually hungry.”
- Eugene L. Meyer’s review of Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson (William Morrow). “Through there are many supporting actors, author Bruce Henderson has wisely focused on the stories of six men, weaving them together into a gripping narrative of wartime life, love, loss, and death. Idyllic childhoods shift into lives of fear and desperation as a civilized nation descends deeply, even abruptly, into a nightmarish state led by a demagogic dictator dedicated to the destruction of an entire class of its own people, loyal Germans who happened to be Jews.”
- Michael Maiello’s review of Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury by Evan Osnos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). “Ultimately, though, Osnos reveals that the U.S. is not just a population misled by manipulative internet memes or podcast idealogues. He is at his best when he captures the frustrations of Americans who have good ideas but no standing to implement them or even to make them heard. At its best, Wildland is as revealing of the American psyche as Arthur Miller’s 1949 play, Death of a Salesman, when Linda Loman laments that ‘attention must be paid’ to the life of her late and imperfect husband.”
- Holly Smith’s review of Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from within on Modern Democracy by Tom Nichols (Oxford University Press). “If you’re an American, you may be depressed, alarmed, or even outraged about the increasingly dire state of our democracy, but you shouldn’t be confused over who’s to blame for it. As Tom Nichols makes clear in Our Own Worst Enemy, we all are. Part lament over what we’ve become — an unserious, childish electorate that wants its lollipop and wants it now — and part plea to stop the bleeding before it’s too late, this short, conversational book feels like a well-intentioned lecture from Dad to stand up straight, tuck in your shirt, and get a job for Chrissake. By the end, I felt nothing but despair.”