The First Ladies of the United States, by Nicola Gillies

The First Ladies of the United States by Nicola Gillies: Book CoverFinished 12-31-09, rating 3/5, history, pub. 1997

To date, there have been thirty-eight First Ladies, each different, but all possessing to various degrees the values of loyalty, compassion, strength, courage, and faith.

from the Foreword

I have a fascination with politics and people in power.  It is interesting to me to see where they came from, how they got to where they are, and what happens to them once they gain power, whether they sought it or not.  Some of these women were born for the role of First Lady and others did not want the job at all.  A surprising number had health issues that diminished their public role and some even died while in the White House.

This is a small book, with a picture of each woman and a small bio on her life, by small I mean a page for most and two pages for a few.  This book is a great overview for teens or a nice, slight book for the casual reader.  Obviously, its 63 pages do not lead to depth, but it does have some very interesting facts about each of the ladies.  Some Presidents did not have a wife and some had two during their term(s) in office.  On Tuesday, my first quiz of the year will be on the 38 women in the book (Clinton was the last one included) and there is a possibility of one lucky reader to win the book!  So, come back Tuesday for more detailed info on each of the First Ladies.

I chose this book from my personal library because I needed to finish one more book before 2010 to reach my goal of 130 books for 2009 🙂

Who’s that Prez Quiz?

CONGRATS MARK!  Have you been studying?

In honor of the the new President  this week’s quiz is full of quotes from past Presidents (of the United States!) and one from our new President.

Here’s how to play…Identify the President and leave a comment with the # and the name and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun! 

Possible Presidents left-Wilson, Eisenhower,  Truman, Washington, Nixon, Clinton, CArter,  Kennedy

1.” A man is not finished when he is defeated.  He is finished when he quits.”–RICHARD NIXON

2.” We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war.”–JIMMY CARTER

3. “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”  RONALD REAGAN, Mark

4. “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”  ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Mark

5. “You can’t know too much, but you can say too much.”  CALVIN COOLIDGE,  Janet

6. “Do not pray for easy lives.  Pray to be stronger men.”–JOHN F KENNEDY

7. “Success is not the measure of a man but a triumph over those who choose to hold him back.”–BILL CLINTON

8. “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”–WOODROW WILSON

9. “I despise people who go to the gutter on either the right or the left and hurl rocks at those in the center.” —DWIGHT D EISENHOWER

10. “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’  liberty’s teeth.”–GEORGE WASHINGTON

11. “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make.  Either you are with us, or are you with the terrorists.”  GEORGE W BUSH, Elena

12. “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”     FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT, Jason

13. “I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances…This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.”  GERALD FORD, Kathy

14. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”–HARRY S TRUMAN

15. Americans…still believe in America where anything’s possible-they just don’t think their leaders do.”  BARACK OBAMA, Mark

Odds & Ends Quiz

Here’s how to play… Leave a comment with the # and the answer and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun! If you know them all, please don’t guess every one, maybe five max?  GUESSES ARE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGED 🙂

1. What Herman Hesse book gave its name to a rock group?  STEPPENWOLF, rock on Donstuff

2. What book was Mark David Chapman carrying with him when he killed John Lennon on 12/8/1980?  THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, the wild and crazy guy, Donstuff

3. Who is the woman on the cover of Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter? TAN”S GRANDMOTHER

4. The book Peter Pan was responsible for the creation of what name(s)? 

WENDY- first time Wendy was used as a girl’s name

TINKER BELL, pretty fairy dust for Bermudaonion.

5. What renowned Irish writer wore an eye patch? JAMES JOYCE

6. What writer was expelled from West Point for showing up for a public parade wearing only a belt & gloves? EDGAR ALLAN POE

7. What Irish-born playwright was sentenced to two years at hard labor for homosexuality?  OSCAR WILDE, two cheers to Elena Margo Gould

8. What game, played by Alice while in Wonderland, was banned in Boston in the 19th century as being too “immoral”?  CROQUET, kudos to the morally correct Elena Margo Gould


10. What Watergate figure was the author of numerous spy novels?  E HOWARD HUNT

How the States Got Their Shapes on CSPAN2

I don’t know how many people watch cspan2 on the weekends, but if the tv is on and I’m aimlessly clicking I always see what’s on.  For those who aren’t familiar, it is Book TV on the weekends and has a series of  one hour book talks with various non-fiction authors.  The hour takes place in a bookstore and the author talks about his book and then takes questions from the small audience.  Many of them are political and if they lean too much either way I usually skip them, but sometimes you’ll find an hour of fun learning, like l did today. 

Mark Stein wrote How the States Got Their Shapes and it was published in May.  I’ve always looked at the map and accepted the way the states were shaped because I assumed there was a good reason for it and now that I’ve heard from Stein I find that there are a multitude of reasons behind the funny shapes.  Some of the larger influences were water, mountains, railroads, and slavery.  There was also the time tested power of bribery (Montana, Missouri), some religious mistrust (Utah), and voluntary ceding of land for political purpose (Kansas) involved in the decisions.  It really was fascinating.

Stein said that he wrote the book for a family on vacation and not a true scholar and that is the appeal I think.  I have a new way of looking at a US map and although I have not read the book I have to recommend at least watching the cspan segment.  There is a Watch Now option on this cspan2 link and also a schedule of upcoming book talks.

I really enjoyed the hour (except for 5 minutes one man in the audience wasted with his question) and plan on checking out the book to learn a little more about the lines of Ohio, which he barely touched on at all during this hour.  If you’ve read the book let me know what you thought.

You Learn by Living, by Eleanor Roosevelt

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling LifeYou Learn by Living:Eleven Keys for a More Fulfulling Life

Finished 7-12-08, rating 4/5, non-fiction, pub. 1960

“It is a brave thing to have courage to be an individual; it is also, perhaps, a lonely thing.  But it is better than not being an individual, which is to be nobody at all.”                  Chapter 7

“What counts, in the long run, is not what you read; it is what you sift through your own mind; it is the ideas and impressions that are aroused in you by your reading.  It is the ideas stirred in your own mind, the ideas which are a reflection of your own thinking, which make you an interesting person.”         Chapter 1

I knew and still, in many ways, know very little about Eleanor Roosevelt.  She wrote this book only a few years before she died and in it she chronicles what the many years of her life taught her.  She covers a variety of topics: learning, fear, using your time, maturity, readjustments, usefulness, individuality, getting the best out of people, responsibility, politics participation, and being a public servant.  This book holds up remarkably well and many of the affairs of the world are eeerily relevant today.

Eleanor was born to priveledge and the book makes that evident.  Some of the advice, while coming from a good place, seems somewhat elitist.  On the other hand, she is a woman who has seen the people of the world at their best and worst and has come away with a passion for life and making the world a better place.  Her antedotes about some of the important men of the day, her lunch with Calvin Coolidge and conversation with Mr. Krushchev are two that come to mind, make the book that much more interesting.  I found the book enlightening, inspiring, and educational.

She talks a lot about raising children and I think this would be a wonderful gift for a mom-to-be or new mother who has an interest in history or even the empowerment of women.  I think you’ll be better off for having read this book.