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Ron Chernow’s Grant

Ron Chernow’s Grant (Book Image from Amazon.com)

I listened to the audiobook version of Ron Chernow’s Grant, which is a full account of Grant’s life.   He gives deep into who Grant was, his faults, his strengths and a lot more.   I  knew a little before listening to the book.  I did know he was a failed business person, but he thrived in the military.   After listening to Chernow’s book, there is so much more to know about Grant.   Here are a few things I learned. I did not realize his father, Jessie Grant, was a prosperous business man and that a few of Grant’s siblings followed in his footsteps.  Nor did I realize his father asked a Congressional representative to get a reluctant Grant into West Point.  However, once Grant was in, although he did not excel in his studies, his horseman ship won praise from his fellow students and instructors.   Nor did I realize Grant, as president, would send Federal troops several times into the South not only to fight the Ku Klux Klan, but also to protect African Americans so they could vote and practice other rights they gained after the Civil War, which many in the South did not want them to do.   

Ron Chernow’s book goes beyond telling the facts about Grant and instead is a thorough examination, commentary on who this important military man and later President is to our American history.  

Review of Ron Chernow’s Grant
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Jon Meacham’s His Truth is Marching on: John Lewis and the Power of Hope

Book Cover Image from Amazon.com Prior to John Lewis’s death, Jon Meacham began writing a book on Lewis’ life and part in the Civil Rights Movement.  He went through past interview notes and he spoke with Lewis in more current conversations with the now late House Representative.   The result is His Truth is Marching…

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Waiting no more on that special project…

Image Courtesy of Kevin Phillips and publicdomainpictures.net A few years ago, I thought my Mom was going to die.  So I requested copies of my Mom’s lay speaker sermons from my Dad. I thought looking at them on the disk and reading them would be soothing.  He gave me the disk and a portal drive…

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Review of the audio book: A Slave No More

A Slave No More by David W. Blight – book cover image from Amazon.com

A Slave No More tells the narrative of two men born, Wallace Turnage and John Washington, slaves who ran away and gained their freedom upon reaching Union troop lines during the Civil War.  The first part of the book, by author David W. Blight, expands on these narratives by telling their life stories and those of their wives and children after the Civil War has long ended.   Then the book shifts to the reading of the actual narratives word for word.  

The two halves of the book come together for a powerful and moving book.   I believe it is important to keep going back to reading or listening to different eras of history. And also to not cut these difficult parts of our nation’s history from being taught to students in school.  Racism and discrimination still take place today, which makes it all the more important to learn about the past, so hopefully, the cycle is broken once and for all.

Review of the audio book A Slave No More
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Review of the audio book Midnight Rising

Midnight Rising by Tony Horwitz book image from Amazon.com

Years ago in school, I learned about John Brown and the raid on Harper’s Ferry.   I thought it was a quick fight with Federal forces taking Brown and his men down quickly.  Now, more than two decades later, I realize my memory is fuzzy and, in a few places, wrong.  In Horwitz’s book I relearn this piece of history; one of many different events that led to the Civil War.   First, Harper’s Ferry did not happen in one day.   It really took place over many days with the raider facing off against stationed troops at the Ferry and troops led by Robert E. Lee who took them down.

Also, the Federal government did not try the raiders for treason but Virginia itself did and did so in a hurry.   It did not take but a week or a bit less to try the raiders who still lived. Only a small number of them managed to escape capture and remain in freedom.

Although Horwitz’s book is not comprehensive nor long,  it is still very informative and grabbed my attention.   Also, I enjoyed the narrator Dan Oreskes’s reading of the book as well.   I plan to find other books by Horwitz either to purchase online or check out from my local library.  

Review of the audio book Midnight Rising
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Review of the audio book America Aflame

America Aflame by David Goldfield book image from Amazon.com In America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, author David R. Goldfield writes that the infusion of evangelical religion into the public arena caused rifts in America.  In the North, preachers said slavery is wrong and goes against what is in the Bible, while…

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Review of Audio Book: The Bastard Brigade

The Bastard Brigade by Sam Kean – Book Image from Amazon.com Sam Kean’s The Bastard Brigade tells the true story of American scientists recruited by the government (Allies) in WWII to help them in two ways.  One group would develop and build the atomic bomb and the second group would try to sabotage German (Axis…

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Review of Eric Foner’s Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Gateway to Freedom by Eric Foner Image from Amazon.com In the pages of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, Eric Foner tells the story of three antislavery activists in New York  who helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom. They include Sydney Howard Gray, an abolitionist newspaper editor, Louis Napoleon, a furniture…

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Review of The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden

The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden Image from Amazon.com

Author Dorothy Wickenden tells the story of three women who helped fight for women’s rights and to bring about the end of slavery in the United States. She did research did into the lives of these women and those they worked alongside.

Harriet Tubman rescued about seventy slaves from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, bringing them along the underground railroad to the homes of abolitionists who gave them shelter until they reached their final destination – Canada. (Slavery ended in Canada on August 1, 1834) One of the places Tubman stopped at was Auburn, New York, where she entrusted slaves to Martha Coffin Wright, a Quaker and mother of seven, and Frances Seward, the wife of William H Seward, future Secretary of State in the Lincoln Administration. Later, during the Civil War, Tubman worked as a spy and nurse for the Union and took part in raids that liberated about 750 slaves from various plantations.

Martha Coffin Wright, not only took in freed slaves as they traveled on the underground railroad, she also worked with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She contributed to several women’s abolition and antislavery conventions as well as given speeches.  

However, unlike Tubman and Wright, Frances Seward did not openly show her racialism.  Instead, she chose to act as a political advisor to her husband and pressed him to do all he could to end slavery through every political post he held.   

Together these women fought hard to bring about change in the laws toward women and African Americans in America.  The battle was not easy, yet they pressed on their whole lives to make this goal happen and passed the mantle to younger generations to continue where they left off. 

​Wickenden’s book is both riveting and rich in history about the struggle for the women’s and African American right to vote, own property, obtain an education, to keep and care for their children and other rights that are still fought for (although in a different form) today. 

Review of The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden
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Review of the Audio book – Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life and Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland

A Man of Iron by Troy Senik Image from Amazon.com

In his early adult years, Grover Cleveland became a lawyer and it was not expected he would go much further than that.  However, in a short time, he felt the pull of politics. Within fifteen years, Cleveland would become a sheriff, mayor, governor and then President of the United States.  In all these positions, he held firm to doing what he told the people he would do and holding himself and others to being honest and act principled toward the people. 

 As a politician, Cleveland felt government must be limited, yet an economic depression, labor unrest, and the forces of American imperialism would force him to push his presidential powers to the limit.   As he did, he alienated many in government, including his own Democratic party.   Cleveland would go on to lose his second nomination for the presidency but would capture it in his third.   He is the only president to accomplish this. 

Cleveland reshaped the civil service in government, turning it from patronage to one that was earned by merit, reshaped monetary policy, regulated the railroad, and attempted to reduce tariffs.  The chapters on this are easy to understand and do not bog down the reader in technical words or terms. Overall, the book is enjoyable and can easily be heard or read in a day or less.

Review of A Man of Iron by Troy Senik
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