February 6 at 7:00 PM at Kip Duchon’s home to discuss “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives. 2018 426 pp.
March 5 at 7:00 PM at Roger Duvall’s to discuss “Beloved”, by Tony Morrison, Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. 2004, 324 pp
April 2 at 7:00 PM at Gordon French’s to discuss ”Heavy- An American Memoir” by Kiese Laymon The story of an African American boy raised by a single mother in Jackson, Mississippi who copes with the twin issues of having a black body and an overweight body. Heavy is a fueled by candor yet freighted with ambivalence. It’s full of devotion and betrayal, euphoria and anguish, tender embraces and rough abuse. This generous, searching book explores all the forces that can stop even the most buoyant hopes from ever leaving the ground. 2018 pp 256
May 7 at 7:00 PM at Bob Goggin’s to discuss “The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way we Think, Live, and Die” by Kieth Paye. Tells the story about the many ways inequality affects all of us — e.g., how it is a better predictor of health outcomes than amount of income. The conclusions are illustrated by lots of charts, bar graphs, and the results of lots of behavioral science experiments. It’s fun to read; everyone will like it. 2017, 256 pp
June 4 at 7:00 PM at John Hollender’s to disuss “The Tubman Command” by Elizabeth Cobbs. An escaped slave and an abolitionist who lectured and raised funds for the abolitionist cause and assisted about 100 slaves to escape to Canada. She personally led an armed raid by northern black soldiers on several riverside South Carolina cotton plantations, burning the crops and the slave holders’ mansion. 2019, 336 pp
Old Books we have read:
May 2019 – “Queen of the Desert”, by Georgiana Howell, 2006, 453 pages. “Archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, poet, photographer, mountaineer and nation builder, Gertrude Bell was born in 1868 into a world of privilege and plenty. But she turned her back on all that for her passion for the Arab peoples, becoming the architect of the independent kingdom of Iraq and seeing its first king Faisal safely onto the throne in 1921.” Mike offers “Gertrude Bell is mentioned a number of times in other books we have read. She was a remarkable person who traveled extensively in the Middle East in the early 1900s, fluent in six languages, interested in Bedouin tribal culture, and always an explorer. There are interesting insights from her life regarding the difficulties of the working class in industrial Britain, the tribal nature of Arab peoples and her experiences traveling, the strategic need of the British Navy for petroleum from Persia, and Britain’s strategic struggles with interests in Cairo, Delhi, and Basra (some of which is most amusing). Gertrude was at the center of the formation of modern Arab states and appears to be one of the few who anticipated some of the problems we have today.”
June 2019 – “Fear, Trump in the White House” by Bob Woodward is a non-fiction book about the presidency of Donald Trump. The book was released on September 11, 2018. Woodward based the book on hundreds of hours of interviews with members of the Trump administration.
July 2019 – “Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickerson, 1849-1893” by Kent Anderson Leslie (1995, 133 pages). YES our very own Kent Leslie, a member of NDPC, will be leading a discussion on her book. Amanda America Dickson, born the privileged daughter of a white planter and a consenting slave in antebellum Georgia, shows how strong-willed individuals defied racial strictures for the sake of family. Kent Anderson Leslie uses the events of Dickson’s life to explore the forces driving southern race and gender relations from the days of King Cotton through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and New South eras. Although legally a slave herself well into her adolescence, Dickson was much favored by her father and lived comfortably in his house, receiving a genteel upbringing and education. After her father died in 1885 Dickson inherited most of his half-million dollar estate, sparking off two years of legal battles with white relatives. When the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the will, Dickson became the largest landowner in Hancock County, Georgia, and the wealthiest black woman in the post-Civil War South.
September 2019 – “Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893” by Kent Anderson Leslie (1995, 133 pages). YES our very own Kent Leslie, a member of NDPC, will be leading a discussion on her book. Amanda America Dickson, born the daughter of a white planter and a slave in antebellum Georgia, shows how strong-willed individuals defied racial strictures for the sake of family. Kent Anderson Leslie uses the events of Dickson’s life to explore the forces driving southern race and gender relations from the days of King Cotton through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and New South eras. Although legally a slave herself well into her adolescence, Dickson was much favored by her father and lived comfortably in his house, receiving a genteel upbringing and education. After her father died in 1885 Dickson inherited most of his half-million dollar estate, sparking off two years of legal battles with white relatives. When the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the will, Dickson became the largest landowner in Hancock County, Georgia, and the wealthiest black woman in the post-Civil War South.
October 2019 – Mike Nichols “Manhattan Beach”, by Jennifer Eagan (2017, pages 438) “Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished. A historical novel, takes place in the 1930s and 1940s, with multiple plot lines – you know they will intersect at some future point in time, but when and how? This novel also explores the impact of WW2 on opportunities and challenges for women in the work place.
November 7 at 7:00 PM at Kip Duchon “The New Geography of Jobs” by Enrico Moretti (2013, 304 pages) An unprecedented redistribution of jobs, population, and wealth is underway and this summary of economists’ research explains why highly skilled workers tend to be attracted to cities, and why some cities become “innovation hubs” that make everyone who works there wealthier — not just the best-compensated people — compared with workers in cities with fewer knowledge-intensive jobs. Moretti raises his concerns about “The Great Divergence,” his term for the fact that people’s incomes, educational attainment, and even health are better in prosperous cities than in those that are falling behind. Among his proposals are increasing federal subsidies for basic research, which can lead to high-tech jobs years later, and improving public transportation to allow more workers to commute to jobs in expensive but especially productive cities such as San Francisco and New York.
December 5 at 7:00 PM at Kip Duchon to discuss “To the Bright Edge of the World” by Eowyn Ivey. The book is written as a series of diary reflections by the military officer leading an expeditionary scouting party up an unexplored river, and his wife waiting for his return. They both have adventures, but mixed in is the letters between a decedent decades later corresponding with a museum archivist about these historical accounts of a now populated area. 2016, 417 pp
January 9 at 7:00 PM at Joe Sandifer’s to discuss “We Are All Good People Here” by Susan Rebecca White Susan White’s new book explores the complex relationship between two very different women and the secrets they bequeath to their daughters. 2019, 304 pp