Friday, December 28, 2007



While the immediate emotional responses to the events in New York on September 11, 2001 were understandable, subsequent hysteria and particularly the actions taken because of it seemed to me even at the time as more than excessive. Perhaps cowardly, particularly in light of the response of the British people to the events that only began on September 7, 1940—the relentless bombing campaign by German planes and missiles known as the Blitz. Stansky contends that the British response in just the first 12 hours of that day transformed its social and political context, and set the attitudes that would result in winning the war. But he also shows that the British were more prepared than the conventional wisdom says. In this relatively short book, the descriptions of that first day are often absorbing and a real contribution to history, as are his conclusions. But I would have liked a few additional chapters on the Blitz as a whole, for it seems to me that the British response over time (as well as that of allies and adversaries) has important lessons for us today as well.

THE GREAT AWAKENING: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America by Thomas S. Kidd. Yale.

This is a solid contribution to the historical understanding of an important contemporary force in America. Since it ends with the American Revolution (though Kidd provides some subsequent overview) it doesn’t yet cover the crucial relationship of evangelical Christianity with science and technology, or its political impact on the nation, but this background can help in the understanding of that essential confrontation.

AUTO MANIA: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment by Tom McCarthy. Yale.
A well-researched source book on these important subjects.

THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF EUROPE by Jack D. Forbes. Illinois University Press.

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