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Top Five: An eminent historian's favorite books

squire
Valinor


Feb 28 2007, 12:06am


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Top Five: An eminent historian's favorite books Can't Post

Perhaps you know of Eric Foner, the eminent historian from Columbia University? He wrote the book, as the saying goes, on the Reconstruction era -- a book that opened my eyes when I read it, since it contradicted everything I'd been taught in high school American history class.

He also plays the idealistic historian to John Sayles' cynical filmmaker, in a fascinating dialogue that prefaces the excellent book Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, ed. Carnes, 1996.

He is notably left in his sympathies, and specializes in African-American and working-class social history. He's no fanatic, though, and I would love to have time to read whatever books he might recommend.

Oh! No problem with that. Turns out he is featured in the "Periscope" feature of this week's Newsweek (3/5/07 issue, p. 16, available in doctors' offices everywhere) where he lists

"My Five Most Important Books":



1. The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson: "shows how history can be great, passionate writing."

2. Black Reconstruction in America, W. E. B. DuBois: "makes the emancipated slaves the central factor."

3. Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetze: "makes us wonder if we are the barbarians."

4. A History of the Siege of Lisbon, Jose Saramago: "a novel about how we distort history."

5. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien: "for its underlying message that the struggle to destroy the evil also destroys the good."

Ha ha! Didn't expect that zinger at the end? I sure didn't. Nice company the Prof keeps these days, eh?

Do you agree with Foner's take on LotR's "underlying message"?

What "good" and "evil" might this historian of Reconstruction be thinking of?

Will this high-brow plug in Newsweek boost LotR sales even further, if that is even possible?




squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

Subject User Time
Top Five: An eminent historian's favorite books squire Send a private message to squire Feb 28 2007, 12:06am
    I'd say it's more a case of Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Feb 28 2007, 12:46am
    interesting Annael Send a private message to Annael Feb 28 2007, 4:25am
        True, if evil ceases to exist... Foe Send a private message to Foe Feb 28 2007, 6:21am
            wholeness Annael Send a private message to Annael Feb 28 2007, 3:37pm
            How do you know? /nt N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 28 2007, 6:01pm
            Paradise. We would be left with Arda Unmarred. a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Feb 28 2007, 10:30pm
                well said, a.s. and Idril. Annael Send a private message to Annael Feb 28 2007, 11:49pm
                Good and evil defined. RosieLass Send a private message to RosieLass Mar 1 2007, 12:16am
    It seems to me Aerin Send a private message to Aerin Feb 28 2007, 4:41am
        I also read it that way. dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Feb 28 2007, 2:37pm
        Not to mention Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 1 2007, 12:01am
    That's too simplistic. RosieLass Send a private message to RosieLass Feb 28 2007, 5:25am
        re FingonOfPittsburgh Send a private message to FingonOfPittsburgh Feb 28 2007, 12:40pm
    Such a brief notice won't affect much. Atlas Send a private message to Atlas Feb 28 2007, 7:45am
        Is it Marxist to give LotR a pessimistic reading? squire Send a private message to squire Feb 28 2007, 1:20pm
            If destroying evil Adanedhel Send a private message to Adanedhel Feb 28 2007, 1:50pm
                "much that was fair and wonderful shall pass for ever" N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 28 2007, 5:56pm
            Not at all. Atlas Send a private message to Atlas Feb 28 2007, 4:43pm
        Have you read the longer explanation below? I think he has a point. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 28 2007, 8:37pm
            *mods up* / Aerin Send a private message to Aerin Feb 28 2007, 11:26pm
    Tolkien's letter about 'orcs' in Britain Penthe Send a private message to Penthe Feb 28 2007, 10:01am
    This is exactly how LotR can win critical acceptance. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 28 2007, 10:54am
    *knits eyebrows* Kinda simplistic, aint' it? grammaboodawg Send a private message to grammaboodawg Feb 28 2007, 11:00am
    Destroying evil will eventually destroy the good ... River Woman Send a private message to River Woman Feb 28 2007, 11:05am
        not Tolkien a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Feb 28 2007, 12:00pm
    one modifier and one more sentence needed a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Feb 28 2007, 11:45am
    re FingonOfPittsburgh Send a private message to FingonOfPittsburgh Feb 28 2007, 12:56pm
        Very true Annael Send a private message to Annael Feb 28 2007, 4:02pm
    Here's a longer explanation Wynnie Send a private message to Wynnie Feb 28 2007, 3:19pm
        And that totally ties into the applicability of the text Owlyross Send a private message to Owlyross Feb 28 2007, 4:03pm
            *laughs* Annael Send a private message to Annael Feb 28 2007, 4:13pm
                I work as a copy-editor/writer Owlyross Send a private message to Owlyross Feb 28 2007, 4:16pm
                I read this thread on Wednesday Finding Frodo Send a private message to Finding Frodo Mar 3 2007, 1:40am
        *mods up* Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 28 2007, 5:13pm
        Ties in with Tolkien's underlying theme Idril Celebrindal Send a private message to Idril Celebrindal Feb 28 2007, 5:37pm
            Brava, Idril entmaiden Send a private message to entmaiden Feb 28 2007, 11:22pm
            Very well said! /nt Aerin Send a private message to Aerin Feb 28 2007, 11:27pm
            Excellent! / Radhruin Send a private message to Radhruin Feb 28 2007, 11:59pm

 
 
 

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