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Continuing a venerable tradition, I offer the following for your canicular reading pleasure:
John Hay spent decades at the center of American public life as Lincoln’s secretary and biographer, a Republican political operative, an accomplished diplomat, and Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary of state. And what’s not to like about someone who replied to Andrew Carnegie’s gift of Scotland’s finest in these terms: “I thank you kindly for the ‘corpse reviver.’ If a man could only drink enough of it, he would either never die, or wouldn’t care whether he did or not.” John Taliaferro’s biography is terrific: All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt (Simon and Schuster).
Notre - Dame - Light - US - Catholic
Two distinguished Notre Dame historians shed light on U.S. Catholic history with two fine books. Father Wilson Miscamble’s American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh (Image) is a fair-minded portrait of a good but complex man too often turned by propaganda into a superhero. In A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American (University of North Carolina Press), Kathleen Sprows Cummings explores how the changing fortunes of the canonization causes of Elizabeth Anne Seton, Frances Xavier Cabrini, and John Neumann illustrate the shifting tides of U.S. Catholic self-understanding—and the quirks of the Roman saint-making process before John Paul II’s reforms.
The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World, by Robert Kagan (Knopf): I’ve got my quarrels with my friend Kagan’s understanding of the Enlightenment and its role in shaping political modernity (and thus America), but his dissection of various forms of isolationism, and his analysis of contemporary threats to a decent world order, are required reading for serious citizens.
Bob - Kagan - Others - Time - Summer
Bob Kagan and many others should spend some time this summer with Robert Louis...
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