Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quotes I Love Today...

The entire object of true education, is to make people not merely do the right thing, but to enjoy right things; not merely industrious, but to love industry; not merely learned, but to love knowledge. John Ruskin

The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit. Mark Twain

What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility and tenderness; second, their imagination, and third, their industry. Salman Rushdie

Team of Rivals...

You may have noticed the lack of a book review of late. That is not because I've given up reading. It is because this book, Team of Rivals, requires ones alert attention for over seven hundred pages. Minus one very unfortunate line, I found this book to be one of those rare and brilliant gifts that seems to part a curtain in history so that remarkable events and even thoughts unfold before the imagination. This book has been the center of conversation at our table for several weeks. We have been obsessed with this book and so it will not be possible for me to report on it in only one post. I don't think that I should even try.
The book gives a short history and background of five men, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edwin M. Stanton, Edward Bates and Abraham Lincoln. The lives of these men converge as they become bitter rivals in the contest for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Lincoln was a dark horse in a race where no one expected him to win. When he did win, and then win the Presidency, he had robbed, as they saw it, four very influential, brilliant men of their life long ambition.
This quote encapsulates the book to its essense, "This, then, is the story of Lincoln's political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into premanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates; to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his governing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidentioal prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing. His success in dealing with the strong egos of the men in his cabinet suggests that in the hand of a truly great politician the qualities we generally associate with decency and morality -- kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty, and empaty -- can also be impressive political resources."
If this book has a thesis statement... I think that was it.
When we spend the investment of our time in something, especially in learning, we want that learning to be relevent. I find that a good history is always relevant. We repeat our history every generation, what we do not learn by the example left by others, we are destined to learn by personal experience. In that way, history can be timely indeed.

A list of some histories that I love because I learned so much reading them...

Angel in the Whirlwind by Benson Bobrick
Dearest Friend by Lynne Withey
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Our Sacred Honor by William Bennett
Benjam Franklin by Walter Isaacson
When the Cheering Stopped: The Last Years of Woodrow Wilson by Gene Smith
John Adams by David McCullough
Bridge at Andau by James A. Michener
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
Peter the Great by Robert K. Massie
Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

... there are so many more, but these are all great if you haven't had a chance to read any of them yet and they are all worth your time.

What are some of your favorite histories or biographies that I might have missed?