What I’m Reading: June 3, 2018

By Penny Smith Both of these pieces are printed in the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine. The first one is the cover story, has gotten a little play around on the web and goes a long way toward explaining resentment about “the elite.” The second is a casual essay...

What I’m Reading 5-27-18

By Penny Smith James Comey, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. New York, 2018.  The number of Americans who, as children, heard the phrase “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am” surely outnumbers those who managed to avoid one of...

What I’m Reading 5-14-18

By Penny Smith Daniel S. Pierce, Hazel Creek: The Life and Death of an Iconic Mountain Community. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Association, 2017.  When I first moved to western North Carolina I naively thought that I could compile a definitive...

What I’m Reading 5-6-18

By Penny Smith David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. New York: Vintage, 2017. David Grann is a staff writer for the New Yorker as well as the author of several well-received books (The Lost City of Z, The Devil and...

What I’m Reading, 4-30-18

By Penny Smith Edward Bernays, Propaganda. New York, 1928. Yep, that’s right, this is a book originally published in 1928, but it continues to be in print, because the message is so prescient. I had heard about it, read summaries, but hadn’t read the whole thing until...

What I’m Reading, 4-22-18

By Penny Smith Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die. New York: Crown Books, 2018. This is a long review, but it’s an important book.  I started this book several weeks ago, when it first came out, and put it aside, because it was a tad too...

What I’m Reading 4-15-18

By Penny Smith  Dan Cruickshank, Bridges: Heroic Designs that Changed the World. London: Collins, 2010.  I confess to being a book bargain bin diver. I rarely pass up an opportunity to cruise literal bargain bins in bookstores, mail order options like Daedalus Books,...

What I’m Reading, 4-9-18

By Penny Smith Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. New York, 2018.  Michael Isikiff and David Corn are long-time Washington DC reporters and frequent cable news analysts. Most...

What I’m Reading, 4-1-18

By the Fooler on the Hill If you are currently omitted from the exposé, there is always next year. After all, there was limited space, but not unlimited stories. See the 2019 edition.  Jane Koenig, Communications Made Easy. San Francisco, 2018.  Koenig’s book is an...

What I’m Reading, 3-26-18

By Penny Smith Joe Bageant, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. Melbourne, Australia: 2010.  I read Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus recently (See “What I’m Reading” for February 11, 2018) and compared it to the currently popular Hillbilly Elegy. As luck would have it,...

What I’m Reading, 3-19-18

By Penny Smith Jane Mayer, “The Man Behind the Dossier: How Christopher Steele Compiled His Secret Report on Trump’s ties with Russia,” The New Yorker (March 12, 2018): 48-65.  In many ways Jane Mayer is a national treasure. A staff writer for The New Yorker, she...

This Week in the Blog 3-12-18

There are another three wonderful reads in the Blog this week.  Penny has read another book by David Kay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump, which peels back whatever facade is left on the president to reveal the real person.  However, the best reason to read this...

What I’m Reading — 3-12-18

By Penny Smith David Cay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump. New York, 2016.  See the article about Donald Trump posted on this same blog date.    Theda Skocpol, “Can Marches Become a Movement?: Lessons the Tea Party holds for the left today.” Democracy (on...

What I’m Reading, 3-5-18

By Penny Smith David Cay Johnston, It’s Even Worse than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018.  David Cay Johnson is a prolific writer of books, essays and newspaper articles. Recently, he has become one of...

What I’m Reading, 2-26-18

By Penny Smith A History of Fake News. A Lapham’s Quarterly Special Issue. (Available at most book stores; I got mine at a Barnes and Noble)  I admire Lewis Lapham’s essays. Lapham, long-time editor of Harper’s Magazine, would usually pen one for that magazine. He...

What I’m Reading 2-19-18

By Penny Smith Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. New York: Soiegel & Grau, 2016.  One of my favorite Presidential books was written way before the man won an eight-year gig at the White House. Dreams of My Father is a coming of age...

What I’m Reading, February 12, 2018

By Penny Smith J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Harper, 2016.  Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy came on the market at the best of all possible times. With the rise of Donald Trump, Trumplandia populism, and the normalization of bullying,...

What I’m Reading, February 5, 2018

By Penny Smith Kevin Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America. New York: Basic Books, 2015. Education and factory work have always been connected in the American story. In the first textile mills in New England, women often...

What I’m Reading 1-28-18

By Penny Smith Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018. Yes, indeed, my copy came last week and I sat down to a day of shock and awe with Mr. Wolff’s latest book. The basic criticisms that one sees in the...

What I’m Reading 1-22-18

By Penny Smith Lillian Smith, Killers of the dream. Originally published n 1949. I reread the 1994  reprint put out by Norton Press. If you don’t know the work of Lillian Smith (no relative), you should. Born in Florida, she spent much of her life outside Clayton,...

What I’m Reading (January 14, 2017)

By Penny Smith David Neiwert, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump (Verso, 2017). Neiwert is an independent writer and blogger, currently living in Seattle. Early in his career he was associated with MSNBC as a writer and producer, leaving to...

What I’m Reading

By Penny Smith — January 10, 2018 Elizabeth Gillespie McRae, “White Women Overwhelmingly Supported Roy Moore. We Shouldn’t be Surprised.” Google that and you can get a copy. McRae works at WCU; her essay was published in the December 20, 2017 edition of the...