Shopping for Christmas already, and looking for something special for someone special? National Review Online asked some of our friends what might make a welcome holiday addition to the libraries of our readers’ loved ones this year. (Check in tomorrow for more cyber shopping suggestions.)
Pops, by Terry Teachout. NRO’s deadline is such that I haven’t read it yet. But I have known Terry for ages; he has been thinking about Louis Armstrong for years. Armstrong is a great genius, with an all-American life. I expect the best.
Golden-oldie: John Randolph of Roanoke, by Henry Adams. Put a goblin in your stocking for Christmas. In fact, put two! Go ahead, be immoral: enjoy this.
– Rick Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and author, most recently, of Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement.
I would recommend Enemies of the People, by Kati Marton, for anyone who never learned, has forgotten, or needs a refresher course in the true horrors of Soviet oppression. It is about her parents, who were AP and UPI correspondents in Communist Hungary and were imprisoned by the regime. After reading the secret police’s massive files on her mother and father, Marton understood far more about her parents’ complex story. It is a cool, thoughtful memoir about family secrets and family love.
For pre-teen and teenage girls besotted by vampires, I’d suggest some books with gutsy heroines. Nowadays, girls’ tastes too often seem to run to novels where the heroines are passive, vapid, and love-sick — either that, or shopaholic mean girls. I’d start with Pride and Prejudice, of course, and Little Women, maybe even Anne of Green Gables and some Nancy Drew mysteries. Elizabeth Bennet and Jo March should entertain them and help them realize there is more to life for girls than wanting someone to suck your blood.
Although it is very, very late in the game and doesn’t provide 75,000 apps, I’d still suggest the ruby-red Blackberry Curve. For someone who may not be all that tech savvy, it is easy to use. And if you give it in a bright little carrying case, it is very easy to find in one’s handbag.
— Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.
My 2009 recommendations include one book about an iconic children’s story and another about an iconic president. In Finding Oz, Evan Schwartz explores the life and times of Frank Baum, who published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, nearly 40 years before Judy Garland played Dorothy on the silver screen. In The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan, James Mann offers an insightful and provocative analysis of Reagan’s role in ending the Cold War.
As for older books, I always urge sports fans to read Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger’s famous account of Permian High School’s 1988 football season, which was later made into a movie and subsequently inspired a fictional TV series. If you know someone who loved The Departed, give him or her Black Mass, the shocking tale of Boston-Irish gangster Whitey Bulger (who has spent years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list) and his corrupt relationship with law-enforcement officials. For a Lincoln obsessive, I would suggest Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, a collection of fascinating essays by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian James McPherson.
In the DVD category, go with Seasons One and Two of Mad Men. It may be overhyped by the chattering classes, but it’s still the best show on television.
– Duncan Currie is deputy managing editor of National Review Online.