I am a loyal fan of Booknotes; to have this volume of seventy-plus presentations is a real treat. Not only that, my Christmas shopping just got much easier; all I needed to do was make notes as I read each section. My own wish list doubled in length before I was halfway through.
In his presentation concerning the teaching of American history, James W. Loewen reminds us of the need to present our heroes and past in a balanced light
- the dark times along with the moments of glory, the warts along with virtues. Booknotes does just that. Michael Paterniti's book, Driving Mr Albert: A Road Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain, allows us a peek into bizarre behavior generally attributed the pulp papers located at the grocery checkout stand. It's hard to believe that the doctor entrusted to perform Einstein's autopsy actually stole his brain and managed to keep custody of it for a good many years. Paterniti also mentions that Napoleon's penis came up for auction a few years ago but was withdrawn due to controversy. My initial thoughts were, how does one authenticate such an object; how exactly does such a display fit into a Feng Shui method of home decorating; and that I wouldn't be surprised to see this auctioned off on Ebay some day.
Each section brings its intrigue and new knowledge about household names. Helen Keller's affiliation as a Socialist made me realize how little I knew about her life after she graduated from Radcliff. Norman Rockwell in his twenties was known as a playboy and lived in an open marriage. Stephen Crane damaged his literary career by defending a prostitute to the police. Moments in history that fascinated me, made me laugh, broke my heart to read, and some that made me very proud of Americans in general.
The pieces do not take the place of watching the author's presentations on Booknotes, nor do I believe that is Lamb's intent. They are a wonderful reminder of books that have been featured on that program and is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to add to their historical library. Five stars for this volume.