Book Group

May 2 at 7:00 PM will be at Mike Nichols to discuss “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 6 at 7:00 PM will be at Jim Topple’s to discuss the book “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. Need I say more?

July 11 at 7:00 PM will be at Kent Leslie to discuss her book “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. 


Other books we will read but have not chosen dates for, will be:

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.

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. Years later, Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. 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. From Goodreads: “With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.”  

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