Leather Chair Reading! Books That Celebrate The American Spirit!
I think it’s fair to say that we may all be a little weary of the grueling political process we’ve experienced in the past several months as we anticipate the election of a new president of the United States. Sometimes it seems that the very principles our founding fathers fought so hard for in establishing this great country are being compromised. The campaign rhetoric got so bad one night, that I found myself browsing my husband’s expansive library of American history books to find a few that would help restore my faith in everything I love about this great land of America. For this Leather Chair Reading journal entry, I have chosen a few of the books I love that helped me remember, more intimately, the immense sacrifices of past generations as they fought for the many freedoms we now enjoy, as well as reenergize my belief in the great American spirit!
“There is nothing so wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizen’s cannot cure!” Dwight D. Eisenhower
“1776” by David McCullough
“The eyes of all America are upon us as we play our part; posterity will bless or curse us!” Henry Knox
If you are a fan of Pulitzer prize winning author, David McCullough, like my husband is, (don’t even get him started on John Adams, McCullough’s book written just prior to this one) you know he always does extensive research. In 1776 McCullough focuses on a single momentous year in the fight for American independence, rather than any one individual, although George Washington definitely takes on a starring role. If you have ever wondered how a bunch of unruly farmers, so to speak, end up defeating the great monarchy of England, you’ll learn from this book that it was done with a great deal of suffering, determination, ingenuity…and perhaps a bit of divine intervention! McCullough details both sides of the conflict, and how England underestimated abiding hunger for victory. Besides a new respect for George Washington and his ability to garner an unwavering loyalty from those he led, you’ll also see that he had the rare gift to learn from the criticism he received from other commanders. When Washington learned that other military leaders considered him to be hopelessly indecisive, he considered their views, agreed with them and made himself more decisive. An unlikely hero in this book was Henry Knox, a small, rotund Boston bookseller, who trekked over wintry, frozen terrain to bring much needed ammunition from Fort Ticonderoga to help American soldiers be victorious in the battle at Yorktown, a pivotal turning point in winning the Revolutionary War. On the book jacket it states that 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history. In reading this book, I was in awe of all the players that, by no small coincidence, came together to help America gain its freedom!
“A More Perfect Union” by Dr. Ben Carson with Candy Carson
“Our founding fathers wrote the Constitution for ordinary men and women, in clear, precise language; they intentionally made it short enough to read in a single sitting.” Dr. Ben Carson
My husband and I picked this book up long before Dr. Carson made his bid for the 2016 presidential race. I had read his autobiography, Gifted Hands, and liked his thoughtful, determined approach to life. We read a few chapters after purchasing the book, then got busy with other projects, so it sat neglected on my nightstand. But when the constitution became such a focal point of the current presidential race, we decided it was time to become better versed on this document drawn up by our founding fathers as a fundamental directive that helps to define key points that promise to protect the rights of the citizens of the United States of America…even amid all their varying viewpoints. Dr. Carsen so profoundly states, “I wrote this book to encourage every citizen to read and think about the Constitution, and to help defend it from those who would misinterpret and undermine it in our age of political correctness…it’s so important to defend the Bill of Right, which guarantees our freedom to speak, bear arms, practice our religion and much more.”
The Preamble to the Constitution says, “The purpose of this document is to create a more perfect union of this blessed nation!”
May we all be empowered, in some small way, to protect that union and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves. I also loved the insights from Dr. Carson’s wife, Candy, as she put a female spin on the privileges we are afforded as a result of upholding the Constitution. (If you really want to treat yourselves, get the audio version of this book, Dr. Carson’s kind voice is such that listening to him read this book can’t help but restore any lacking faith you may have in the great American Spirit!)
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
I actually read this book some time ago with a neighborhood book club; and while I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a dedicated learner about World War II, I have to admit that I found I wasn’t too knowledgeable on the Japanese element of this horrific war. Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini who learns to channel his youthful defiance into being a world-class runner who eventually makes his way to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. But when World War II breaks out he finds himself enlisting as a United States airman. I found this book to be a hard read sometimes as it documents Zamperini’s perils of being lost at sea after his plane is shot down over the Pacific Ocean and the brutality he eventually faces as a Japanese prisoner of war. I loved learning that the author was able to interview Zamperini many times as she wrote the book, and was able to find out first hand that his character, even in old age, exemplified hope and humor amid his memories of the most desperate of human conditions! I later saw the movie based on the book that was produced by Angelina Jolie, who said Zamperini taught her about having faith. “There’s just something greater than all of us…and it’s uniting and beautiful!” Wonderful wisdom to keep in mind as we each face life’s challenges, whatever they may be.
(Louis Zamperini in 2014 at 97 years old.)
“When he thought of his history, what resonated with him…was not the pain he had suffered, but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him.” Laura Hillenbrand on Louis Zamperini
I hope I can learn to love deeper when facing adversity…and may we all learn to truly cherish those who have forged the way for America to exist as it does today, and honor its greatness by the way we live!
Please share what books you’d recommend about American History and its great spirit that are a “must read”?