Book Group

February 7 at 7:00 PM will be at Roger Duvall’s to discuss “A Bend in the River”, by V.S. Naipaul (1979, pages 278)  In the “brilliant novel” (The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man—an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isolated town at the bend of a great river in a newly independent African nation. Naipaul gives us the most convincing and disturbing vision yet of what happens in a place caught between the dangerously alluring modern world and its own tenacious past and traditions.  In 1998, the Modern Library ranked this book as #83 on the list of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th Century.

March 7 at 7:00 PM will be at Kip Duchon’s to discuss “The Devils of Cardona” by Matthew Carr, (2016, 464 pages).   In March of 1584, the local priest of Belamar de la Sierra, a small village in Aragon near the French border is murdered in his own church, his body flung on the altar and words in Arabic scrawled in the priest’s blood across the church walls.  Most of the town’s inhabitants are Moriscos, former Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism and they fear for their lives as hostility toward them grows.  Anxious to avert a violent backlash in the region as Aragon prepares for a royal wedding, an adviser to King Philip II appoints a local judge, Bernardo de Mendoza, to investigate the priest’s murder and bring the killer to justice.

April 4 at 7:00 PM will be at Joe Sandifer’s to discuss “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind ”  by Yuval Noah Hararii  A brief 464 pages, Harari’s work situates its account of human history within a framework provided by the natural sciences, particularly evolutionary biology: he sees biology as setting the limits of possibility for human activity, and sees culture as shaping what happens within those bounds. The academic discipline of History is the account of cultural change.

Harari surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on our own species of human, Homo sapiens. He divides the history of Sapiens into four major parts 

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.” 

May 2 at 7:00 PM will be at Mike Nichols to discuss “Fascism – A Warning,” by Madeleine Albright, 2018. 288 pp. From New York Times Book Review: “A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state. A Fascist, observes Madeleine Albright, “is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.”  In Fascism – A Warning, Madeleine Albright draws on her experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.

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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