Friday, July 6, 2012

Three Books for Summer Reading

Here are three books that I recommend for summer reading.

The first is Museum,  (2007, the Penguin Group) a view behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This book was written by Danny Danziger, whose mother was Gigi Guggenheim Danziger.  For me, the tours, department by department, of New York's massive art museum were fascinating.   Mr. Danziger collected more than fifty interviews of museum personnel, from the director of the museum, Philleppe de Montebello, to some of the staff  " who create and maintain the Met's environment - the florist, the security guard,  and the cleaner."   In addition to the directors of various  departments and collections, you will read about some of the "philanthropists and millionaires who keep the museum's life-blood flowing." The  interviewees, give their personal picks of the most precious or interesting example under their care.  If one made a list of these artworks, a wonderful day, or week maybe, of playing scavenger hunt would result.  Something I plan to do.  Since much of what I have learned about art and antiques has come from countless visits to museums, I loved this insider's  behind the scenes look at the Met.

The next selection   The River of Doubt,  written by Candice Millard  (2005, Random House) is the chronicle of a very ambitious trip through the Amazon made by President Theodore Roosevelt after his defeat in  1912 for a third term.   Candice Millard, not only wrote an outstanding account of this trip through an historian's eye, but as a former writer an editor of the National Geographic, she gives amazing details of the natural surroundings, the plants and animals, and the culture of the uncharted areas of the Amazon jungle, through which  Roosevelt and his party  struggled.  One of the aspects of this book which grips the reader is the relationship of Roosevelt and his son, Kermit.  With Brazil's famous explorer, Candido Mariano, Teddy and Kermit,  and the adventurer's party, challenge themselves to find this  legendary river, and to chart its existence. The extreme hardships that the experienced trailblazers underwent, only adds to the folklore of one of the most dynamic  U.S.presidents. The dedication to reporting through journals, of this grueling venture, as Roosevelt and his party recount unimaginable details of larger-than-life obstacles to their quest, makes a contribution to history as well as to the legend that is Roosevelt.

My third pick for this summer is Game Change, written by John Heilmann and Mark Halperin, (2010, Harper Collins.)  In my attempt to understand the upcoming election of 2012, I was handed this book about the election of 2008. This is a third behind the scenes book of an adventure of a different sort, becoming a U.S. president.  John Heilmann, a former writer for The New Yorker,  and Mark Halperin, the political analyst for Time,  reconstruct the campaign for the 2008 election after conducting "more than three hundred interviews with more than two hundred people conducted between July 2008 and September 2009.  Almost all of the interviews took place in person."   As a contrast to the ethical and gutsy attitudes of the Roosevelts and their fellow searchers, the actors in this saga fall incredibly short.  As a woman, I was confirmed that there is yet a bias against seriously considering a female for the U.S. highest office.   Although clearly the more experienced, fearless,  and worthy candidates, both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin come out in this tale, better than their male counterparts who are consistently less admirable.  A great read for anyone who thinks that money and the press do not influence elections.

Have fun with these unusually connected books. 

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