Harvard Book Club --Wednesday September 26

The next Harvard Club of Cincinnati Book Club meeting is set for Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bronte Cafe in the Joseph Beth Bookstore. The selected book is "American Pastoral," by Philip Roth.

On August 16, we had a record 15 attendees to discuss Reconstruction by award-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo. Attendees noted several ideas new to them from the book, like the North-South cultural divide in views about labor.  While the Radical Republicans were pushing for abolition based on their concept of "free labor", that is that Labor is free to charge for its services and they valued hard work as the way to success, Southerners tended to view physical work as demeaning to gentlemen, which necessitated having a slave labor class.  The author also posits that a struggle by the Judicial branch to establish itself as a force in national governance was behind Supreme Court decisions that undermined Reconstruction.  There was also a feeling that this consequential period of American history is glossed over for schoolchildren.  Although overall deemed a failure, the Reconstruction effort led to a number of accomplishments with long-term consequences for American life, among them the Civil Rights Act, the election of the first African American representatives to Congress, and the avoidance of renewed civil war.  This was a book well worth reading.

"One of Roth's most powerful novels ever...moving, generous and ambitious...a fiercely affecting work of art." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Dazzling...a wrenching, compassionate, intelligent novel...gorgeous." —Boston Globe

"At once expansive and painstakingly detailed.... The pages of American Pastoral crackle with the electricity and zest of a first-rate mind at work." —San Francisco Chronicle
From the Inside Flap
As the American century draws to an uneasy close, Philip Roth gives us a novel of unqualified greatness that is an elegy for all our century's promises of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss. Roth's protagonist is Swede Levov, a legendary athlete at his Newark high school, who grows up in the booming postwar years to marry a former Miss New Jersey, inherit his father's glove factory, and move into a stone house in the idyllic hamlet of Old Rimrock. And then one day in 1968, Swede's beautiful American luck deserts him.
For Swede's adored daughter, Merry, has grown from a loving, quick-witted girl into a sullen, fanatical teenager--a teenager capable of an outlandishly savage act of political terrorism. And overnight Swede is wrenched out of the longer-for American pastoral and into the indigenous American berserk. Compulsively readable, propelled by sorrow, rage, and a deep compassion for its characters, this is Roth's masterpiece.
About the Author
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003–2004.” Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize. He died in 2018.


Dear Book Club Members,

Summer's almost over and you still can't decide what you should be reading on the beach?
Don't worry. Let the 44th and 45th Presidents of the United States be your guides.
Barack Obama put out a short list of books he's been reading.
"This summer I've been absorbed by new novels, revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth," Obama wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.
The books Obama recommended are:
Read More
-- "Educated" by Tara Westover, a memoir about a woman who leaves her survivalist Idaho roots behind;
-- "Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje, a post-World War II novel that Obama says is "a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family;"
-- "An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones, about a newlywed black attorney wrongly convicted of rape;
-- "Factfulness" a tome by Swedish academic Hans Rosling on the "secret silent miracle of human progress," and;
-- "A House for Mr. Biswas," considered to be the first, great novel by the late V.S. Naipaul.
Obama also put out a reading list back in June, which included works such as "The New Geography of Jobs" and "Why Liberalism Failed."
Trump's list
President Trump said he doesn't have much time to read these days, but he's been making book recommendations on Twitter.
There's a common theme among the books that have Trump's approval. They either focus on the President in a positive light or have been authored by Trump supporters, friends or anchors on his favorite channel, Fox News.
The list of books Trump has recommended this year include:
-- "The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump," by Gregg Jarrett. Trump lauded this book as "hard work" from Jarrett, a Fox News legal analyst who Trump called "a brilliant guy."
-- "The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President," by Sean Spicer. "A friend of mine and a man who has truly seen politics and life as few others ever will, Sean Spicer, has written a great new book," Trump wrote, adding that the account from his former White House press secretary is a "story told with both heart and knowledge."
-- "9 Rules of Engagement," by Harris Faulkner. Trump praised this memoir by Fox News anchor Faulkner as a "terrific new book."
-- "The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left's Plot to Stop It," by Andy Puzder. Trump gave a nod to his former labor secretary nominee Puzder's new book, predicting that it will be a "big hit."
CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.

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Other Books Recently Suggested:

"Reconstruction:  Opposing Viewpoints," by Brenda Stalcup"
"Denmark Vesey's Garden:  Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy," by Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts
"Just Mercy:  A Story of Justice and Redemption," by Bryan Stevenson

"One Hundred Years of Solitude," by Gabriel Garcia Marques

"100 Things to See in the Night Sky:  From Planets to Satellites to Meteors and Constellations, Your Guide to Stargazing," by Dean Regas

"Social Science Methods for Psychodynamic Inquiry," by William R. Meyers

"Personal History," by Katharine Graham

"Homo Deus:  A brief History of Tomorrow," by Yuval Noal Harari

"Plrknib," by Alex Bernstein

"The Red Tent," by Anita Diamant

"Commander in Chief:  FDR's Battle with Churchill, 1943," by
Nigel Hamilton

"The Mantle of Command," by Nigel Hamilton



7:30PM - 9:00PM Wed 26 Sep 2018, Eastern timezone


Bronte Cafe: Joseph Beth Booksellers
2692 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45208

[ Get Directions ]


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October will be a non-fiction month.  If you have suggestions or other concerns, please contact Book Club Chair Steve Strauss, sdstrauss@earthlink.net or 321 0967.