Friday, March 9, 2012

Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas

Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas

Kantor is fascinated by ambition, power, gender and by the interplay of public and private lives, and these themes suffuse this brutal, unflinching summary of the Obamas’ first 2 ½ years in the White House. As an avid Obama supporter since I finished his memoir, Dreams from My Father, I come away even more admiring of this man and his amazing wife. They have worked so hard all their lives—like Condi Rice and others—to succeed in our white world, and they have remained idealistic to the core in spite of their challenges in the Presidency. It is astonishing that they have done as well as they have in today’s sleazy politics.

I hope Kantor wins significant recognition for this remarkable book—in spite of her gender. It seems to me that the media has dismissed it and that it is not on the best seller list has more to do with her gender than with the quality of this fine book.

I hope Obama’s enemies read it literally as I did and don’t pounce on it for ammunition in their never-ending efforts to discredit him. He is not perfect but he and his wife deserve our support for the work they are doing on our behalf.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Brother Gardeners

Andrea Wulf's The Brother Gardeners: 
Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession

In the 18th century a number of wealthy men raced to collect plants new to England. Andrea Wulf has chosen to focus on one Peter Collinson and his Pennsylvania collector John Bartram and on Joseph Banks and his botanist Daniel Solander who was a protege of Carl Linnaeus in Sweden. These men and their many colleagues created a nation of gardeners and a style of landscaping that remains with us today. Wulf does their stories justice. A great book.