A Quintet of Books Arrive at Christmas

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As the year draws to a close, all the presents unwrapped and the refrigerator filled with enough leftovers to get us into 2024, I once again am awash in books. This is an excellent position to find myself in, even if it means I am likely going to be purchasing another bookcase. My ambition to build a bookcase waned as the farm duties grew, and I found the perfect-sized bookcase online for less than $200. It is beginning to look like another purchase is going to be needed. The new bookcase is filled, and the built-ins behind my desk are stacked nearly completely. Christmas was indeed kind to me, to all of us.

Joining the stack of books to read, thanks to the largesse of daughter Abbie, I am ready to plow into:

  • The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination by Stuart A. Reid. It has been described as a “spellbinding work of history that reads like a Cold War spy thriller.” It tells the story of an American-sanctioned plot to kill the first democratically elected leader of Congo, which has just gained its independence from Belgium.
  • What an Owl Knows: The New Science of the World’s Most Enigmatic Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. Ackerman is a widely acclaimed science writer. Her last book, The Genius of Birds is utterly compelling and a must-read for anyone interested in these fascinating creatures. I am confident I will be equally enthralled with this book. One often hears owls out here at Three Geese Farm. It is a soothing sound.
  • UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Search for Alien Life Here — and Out There by Garret M. Graff. Ever since my 9th grade science project faking a UFO flying above the roofline of our house, which won a prize and landed me a part-time job as a newspaper photographer, I have been interested in UFOs. Graff is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a previous history of Watergate. He has a strong reputation for his reporting and research skills.
  • Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party by Jonathan Karl. The veteran political journalist covered the Trump White House for ABC, and previously wrote two books about Trump’s first (and I pray only) term as president. I recently read Liz Cheney’s Oath and Honor, which I wish every Trump supporter would read. Reading yet another book about the Orange Jesus (as one congressional member of his own party called him in Cheney’s book) might be bordering on masochism. We shall see.
  • Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow. The MSNBC star documents the failure of the legal system to prosecute a clandestine network of far-right activists before and during World War II who flooded our country “with disinformation aimed at sapping the strength of the U.S. war effort.” Maddow’s thesis is that failure has reached forward into our history for decades and has strong parallels to what is happening now politically on the right.

On a related note, thousands of classic books and plays will enter the public domain on Jan. 1, since they were published more than 95 years ago — the current length that a copyright now applies. Among the titles that anyone can copy, share or even expand upon are Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence; Peter Pan; or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, by J.M. Barrie; and Dark Princess by W.E.B. Du Bois. There are also many films and musical compositions entering the public domain, all of which can be found here.

Since I go back to work in the library next week and take my final graduate course at UNT starting in mid-January, I plan to devote some extra front-porch time this weekend to tackling this quintet of additions to the book collection. Plus start shopping for a new bookcase.

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