Starr Gazing
   


Dr. Dan Starr
Retired Director of Athletics and Professor Emeritus of American History at Canisius College.
starr@canisius.edu

   

Who’s reading what?

Does anyone read anymore? Surveys indicate that books and newspapers still have many readers, though it appears that the over 60 age group do much more of that reading than the younger group. The latter get most of their news, gossip and other information from the internet and social media. The problem with the news items on the internet is that it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. A huge amount of material that comes via social media is of questionable value.

I decided, kind of a summertime thing, to solicit book information from many friends, and contacts. Some responded. So how do I make a suitable column out of the responses. Did I bite off more than I could chew? Should I just acknowledge those who e mailed me or list what I was given with occasional comments?

Here goes.

A couple chaps mentioned “the Baseball 100” by Joe Posnanski. It received glowing reviews including highly favorable comments from rabid fans Frank Dinan and Paul Synor. Bob Dickerson is part of that crew, he and friends are Yankee fanatics.

Obviously they are senior citizens; younger guys would have listed any sport but baseball.

Ann McL liked “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari. It’s an excellent treatise about the misguided war on drugs. Donna B. thought “A long Walk to Water “ was poignant as it depicts the struggle to survive in South Sudan. It makes one appreciate living in the US. “The Diamond Eye” by Kate Quinn, Is based on a Russian female sniper in WW II. Deonna Marsh calls it fantastic.

Bob Wunsch did not disappoint. Bob has camped in the Adirondacks countless times so it’s natural that “A History of the Adirondack Great Camps” would be a must read for Bob. And Tony McElroy is reading “The Coming Anarchy” indicating his strong interest in tyranny. Tony also delves into such subjects as: Bolshevism, the Luddites, Mao Tse Tung, Ivan the Terrible, and Mother Theresa.

Dr Richard Munsch , long known as a leading authority on English royalty is now into Edward I, “A Great and Terrible King”. But he managed to squeeze in “a Hero of Two Worlds”. That’s a history about the legendary Marquis de Lafayette.

John Maddock read “Miracles on the Hardwood” He finds it very worthwhile especially the profiles of the stars of long ago notably Elgin Baylor, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and others. The book suffers from a glaring omission, no mention of Little Three Basketball in its prime in the Aud. Otherwise, it’s a fine treatise.

Dean Joe Bieron , a voracious reader, recommends ex Attorney General Bill Barr’s “One Damn Thing After Another”. Whether you are a Trumper or an anti one, I think you would find this a worthwhile read. Although if you like Hillary, forget it.

Bieron also recommends “Lincoln - Fight for Peace” by John Avlon. There are only 4 Million or more books on Lincoln, but they keep coming. This fairly brief volume focuses on Lincoln’s final weeks as he tries to arrange for a just peace . You’ve heard Lincoln’s legendary phrase many times “With Malice Toward None”. That’s the essence of this book. Bieron shows his diversity by reading and recommending “Gun Barons” it’s about the inventions of Colt, Remington and more in the mid 19th century.

Among others, in the popular category are: The trials of Harry S Truman, by Jeffrey Frank. Truman is or continues to be a popular subject. P. J. O’Rourke, who died recently, was eulogized in the NYTimes as one of greatest satirist/humorist authors. I read his “Holidays in Hell” it was okay. Bieron and I prefer Joseph Epstein, who has written some great books commenting humorously on American life. Unfortunately Northwestern University, that Ivy type bastion of Liberalism in the Midwest, unceremoniously dumped Epstein.

U S Grant, Civil War General, and 18th president is being rehabilitated. His stature as a great general remains intact. But for years, his presidency was derided especially for the scandals, monetary primarily, that seemed to engulf it. But recent scholarship has placed Grant Administration in a more favorable light.

A work by Bret Baier “To Rescue The Republic”. does a fine job in rescuing Grant. Baier a Fox newsman, cites retired Mississippi State professor John Marzalek, who now is Director of the Grant papers at Miss. State. Marzalek was once a colleague at Canisius.

He has authored several excellent histories.

Grant’s stature is in the ascendancy. In ratings of US presidents , there is often some movement. Not at the top: George, Abe and FDR, are firmly fixed there. And not at the bottom where Buchanan, Nixon?, Wm Henry Harrison, are permanent dwellers. But in between is where one finds change. Grant is the best example of a president achieving more favorable recognition. Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson are classic cases of how “the mighty” have fallen. Both Andy and Woodrow were in the top ten for generations, but recently, the monument pulverizes have had a field day.

Looking ahead - Fall publishing may include a brief book dealing with rating fast food places in the Batavia/Darien area by Slugger Klug. Tony Illos, a well known area tax accountant, has put together his 60 years of “doing taxes” in a classic entitled “Meet Tony, Avoid The Strong Arm Of The IRS”.

Here is a personal note. For many years I thought the New York Times book review section that came each Sunday as part of the Times was the best place to read a review of a newly published book. In the past few years, the Wall Street Journal in the Saturday edition does a much better job, to wit, better books with more sensible reviews.

We conclude with kudos

Dennis DePerro, served as St Bona President for only Three years. He left his mark, an indelible one. One can do a lot in three years - check JFK.

Tops Markets

For unprecedented efforts to reopen and rebuild the Tops market on Jefferson Ave.

Japan? Or the Japanese people. Last year in Japan there were 10 shootings, 1 death.

Just incredible.

Chris Jacobs and if u wonder why? Read the News, one of its few good columns recently.

Hakuna matata

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