Gone With the Wind Pulitzer Prize Fiction 1937


  • Author: Margaret Mitchell (1900 – 1949)
  • Title: Gone With the Wind
  • Published: 1936
  • Timeline:  12 years ( 1861 – 1873)
  • Table of contents: 1037 pages (Kindle book)
  • Genre: historical fiction
  • Movement: realism –  attempts to describe the Old  South realistically
  • Theme: war destroys in an hour what took a lifetime to build
  • Theme: adapt vs defeated – rich vs poor – Old South vs New South
  • Title: Line in the poem “Cynara”  Ernest Dowson.
  • “I have forgot thee. Cynara! gone with the wind, / Flung roses, roses, riotous with the throng.”
  • Trivia: This book was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for  Fiction in 1937.
  • Trivia: Film Gone With the Wind won 10 Oscars
  • Trivia: Hattie McDaniel, who plays the larger than life figure of Mammy,
  • was the first black actor to win an Oscar, that for best supporting actress

Introduction: 1861

  1. January 19: Georgia secedes
  2. February 4: Georgia and 5 other states form Confederate States of America
  3. February 18: Jefferson Davis president of Confederate States of America
  4. March 4: Lincoln inaugurated
  5. April 12:  Southern forces fire on Fort Sumter.  Civil War Begins
  6. April  16: BBQ  at Twelve Oaks plantation

Structure: Part 1:  description of  the Old South plantations, families, people, places.

  • Part 1 connects the reader to the main story by giving them the background information.
  • Gerald and Ellen’s characteristics (Irish/French) are blended into Scarlett’s  ‘complex personality’.

Strong points:

  1. Family backrounds:
  2. Gerald (Irish fiery temperament)
  3. Ellen Rouillard (French manners from Georgia ’s calm coastal shore.)
  4. Characterization: Mammy…face like a thundercloud; her dialect “ack lak a lil lady’
  5. ….Mammy  – I just loved her character and cracker-barrel, homespun wisdom!
  6. Characterization of Ellen Rouillbard  Scarlett’s  mother….
  7. She had confused her mother with the Virgin Mary…[…]
  8. she represented the utter security that only Heaven or a mother can give. (pg 60)
  9. Setting:  North Georgia full of colors and personification.
  10. Fields of fresh-cut furrows, sunsets, skies, flowers, trees, fauna.
  11. Weak point: endless inner dialogue about Scarlett’s unrequited love for Ashley.

Symbol: Georgia pines, wilderness, dark forests

On page 8   we read a threat: (foreshadowing…)

  • The pines seeming to wait with an age-old patience to threaten with soft sighs…
  • “Be careful! be careful! We had you once. We can take you back again. “
  • What does this  threat mean?
  • Scarlett sees the wilderness  encircling the lands as a destruction of all she has worked for, Tara.
  • “In another year, there will be little pines all over these fields,
  • she thought and looking toward the encircling forests, she shuddered.” (pg 495)
  • Out of a wilderness her family built a civilization.
  • ” South, the Confederacy, Cotton Kingdom,
  • it’s breaking up right under our feet.” (pg 193)
  • …and now civilization (war) is turning it all back to a wilderness.

Characters:    Atlanta –  Tara – Society – War … do they  change?

Atlanta – seat of aristocracy (1837 Terminus, 1843 Marthaville, 1847 Atlanta)
TaraOld South traditions
Society: master and slave roles are firmly in place
War: 1861 – Atlanta: “pulsing of the town’s heart pumping materials for war up the arteries of two battle fronts.” (pg 146)

Atlanta – Sherman marches on Atlanta and leaves it a smoldering ruin (1864)
Tara – Scarlett returns to ravaged Tara, blackened stones, once proud symbol of Old South.
Society: women are taking on important roles, while the men are fighting, dying.
War: 1864 – “ bitter-eyed women who looked backwards to dead times, dead men […] But Scarlett was never to look back.” (pg 428)

Atlanta – rebuilding Atlanta (1868) new industry
Tara –  Rhett offers to rebuild Tara
Society: – reconstruction  (1865-1877)
War: 1865  R.E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox (April 8th)

Strong point:  Ashley:  “like a door that had neither lock nor key” (pg 27)

  • He is an example of the voice of Margaret Mitchell.  (Part 2, ch 11)
  • This strong sentiment cannot be felt in the movie version
  • ….this is personal and best evoked in letters.
  • Letters:  (pg 210-212)  reveal the voice of MM  about war, the South and it’s future.
  • Ashley fears  the Cause was lost the minute the first shot was fired.
  • Ashley fears the old ways of the South are gone forever, win or lose the war.
  • Ashely fears he will never fit into the future.
  • Ashley fears the South had nothing with which to wage war but cotton and arrogance.

Powerful narrative:  pg 527 –  535  (part 4, ch 31)

  • Ashely realizes his Old South civilization was….Gone with the Wind.
  • Ashley finally admits he loves Scarlett, yet she realizes…
  • hospitality, honor, loyalty (Melanie/ Beau) meant more to Ashley than she did.
  • ” the  bleak realization came over me (Ashley)  that my own private shadow show was over.
  • My inner world was gone, invaded by people whose thoughts were not my thoughts,
  • whose actions were as alien as a Hottentot’s.”

Strong point:  Scarlett:

  • She was rather shallow, self-centered individual.
  • But she finds new depths  and strength within herself.
  • Part 2, ch 10: Scarlett mentions 2 x that she is sickened to be defended by someone she dislikes so much (Melly).
  • Part 3, ch 26: Scarlett see Melly standing with Charles’ saber at the top to the stairs ready to kill…
  • “Why she’s just like me! […] Now struggling against hatred for Ashely’s wife, there surged a feeling of admiration.”
  • Scarlett is the most important symbol in the book:  renewal.
  • Her motto resounds as clear today as it did in 1936.
  • Scarlett insists, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” (Part 5, ch 63 pg 1037)

After all, tomorrow is another day Scarlett-OHara

Rhett Butler:  Best quote:  “My dear, I don’t give a damn”.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn 7mrjcu2Dvprpinwz7gosU56so1_500

Surprises: Hollywood left out a number of characters in the movie version!

  • Wade Hampton Hamilton and Will Benteen are two  characters appearing in Margaret Mitchell’s novel,
  • but notably absent from the 1939  motion! (…or did I just not see them?)
  • Did I miss yet another child …Scarlett and Frank Kennedy’s baby girl named Ella Lorena?
  • Who is Archie, the one-legged ex-murderer?


  • This was a sweeping  historical fiction book about The Civil War.
  • Mitchell reveals through her narrative how relationships were reversed as a result 1861-1865.
  • rich and poor – penniless Rhett becomes one of the richest men ( blockade runner)
  • male and female – Scarlett becomes business woman running a saw mill
  • master and slave – Rhett is jailed for killing a freed slave who insulted a white woman.
  • Story line is driven by one of the best known love triangles:
  • Scarlett (blinded by love) – Rhett (hides his love) – Ashley (torn between two loves)
  • Last thoughts:
  • Gone with the Wind is the greatest movie ever made and my # 1 favorite film.
  • Not only is it a splendid piece of cinema, which won ten Oscars ,
  • but also recreated the Old South as a vanished civilization.
  • Point for discussion: GWTW is not commentary on today’s racial relations
  • …but the perceptions Southerners had at that time.  (150+  years ago)
  • Strong point: Mammy…face like a thundercloud; her dialect “ack lak a lil lady’
  • I just loved the character and her cracker-barrel, homespun wisdom!
  • Strong point:  swept away by the ‘love triangle’
  • Strong point:  slowly see the changes taking place in the Old South.
  • Strong point:  chapter 63..the best final chapter in a novel I have ever read!  Riveting!

Score: 5

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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


Memorable Days

Memorable Days 41wk0E4FIiL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Title:  Memorable Days
Editor: J. McIntyre
Published: 2011
Genre: Selected letters J. Salter and R. Phelps


  • I was tempted to read Memorable Days as a short  introduction to James Salter.
  • His books: The Hunters,  short stories Last Night and
  • memoir Burning the Days are on my ‘ to read list’.
  • James Salter maintained a strong friendship with
  • Robert Phelps, journalist, book reviewer and teacher.
  • As the title indicates these are ‘selected’  letters and
  • the  seismic events in the writers lives (divorce, terminal illness) were avoided.
  • This was in sharp contrast to the openheartedness (no secrets are avoided)
  • you will read in De Kooning: An American Master.
  • Last Thoughts: Not too revealing, not too intrusive but still  enough
  • for us to understand the friendship between these two men.
  • We learn about the books they are reading, people they know and deadlines they must meet.
  • All this while in a fine glass the faint cracking of ice that swims in Gordon’s gin.
  • This was an uneventful read.
  • It was meant to be atmospheric but end up being numbing.

Score:  2 

James Salter:


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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


De Kooning Pulitzer Prize biography 2005

De Kooning tumblr_mx7k3qaRNc1simy94o8_1280

  • Author: Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
  • Title: De Kooning: An American Master (1904 – 1997)
  • Table of contents: 752 pages
  • Published: 2004
  • Trivia: Abandoned ‘Dutch’ job, family, country when his future, like his past, felt inescapable.
  • Trivia:  In 2005, the book was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for  Biography.
  • Art in America  and Art News are only a few of the great Art websites available.
  • Here is  MOMA’s Exhibition 2011-2012 about De Kooning….great visuals.

Quick Facts

  • Date of Birth: April 24, 1904
  • Place of Birth: Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Occupation: Painter and sculptor
  • Movement: Abstract Expressionism
  • Education: Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques
  • See His Work At: Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • Date of Death: March 19, 1997

Obsession:   female form

  • Women fascinated the artist and he painted them intermittently in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • His mother was a formidable influence on De Kooning due to his abusive childhood.
  • His vulgar and almost violent portrayal of women…
  • …with slashed bodies and sadistic grins is reminiscent of her.
  • He created six paintings in the ‘Woman’ series.
  • ‘Woman III’ is the most expensive de Kooning painting ever sold.
  • It fetched $137 million at a 2006 auction….making it one of the most expensive paintings of the world.

Private life:    Tumultuous.

  1. De Kooning resented any hold on him.
  2. He liked the feeling of being in love but felt a clinging vine is more charming
  3. in the early rather than the late stages of a love affair.
  4. He thought  women came with unwelcome strings attached.
  5. His marriage to Elaine Fried was difficult and not helped by
  6. alcohol and infidelity on both their parts.
  7. De Kooning had a string of lovers  all wanting to get close to the flame…
  8. …only to have their wings scorched.
  9. By 1980s, De Kooning  was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
  10. He died in 1997, aged 92.

De Kooning’s masterpiece:  EXCAVATION

EXCAVATION 120994_2290579

  1. Excavation, Willem de Kooning’s largest painting up to 1950.
  2. This picture does not do it justice.
  3. It exemplifies the artist’s innovative style of expressive brushwork and distinctive organization of space.
  4. Subject: an image of women working in a rice field from Bitter Rice, a 1949 Italian Neorealist film.
  5. Calligraphic lines define  bird and fish shapes, human noses, eyes, teeth, necks, and jaws.
  6. De Kooning’s theme: tension between abstraction and a actual figure or shape.
  7. Title refers to the  technically masterful painting process.
  8. intensive building up of the surface and scraping down of its paint layers,
  9.  This often took months to achieve the desired effect.
  10. De Kooning painted a ‘door’ lower middle of painting.
  11. This symbolized his ability to leave the art piece behind…and begin the next one.


  • De Kooning was constantly troubled  and that was the tension in the book.
  • An ever changing art world was nipping at his heels.
  • His dependence on chance and  deep emotional surges to make his ‘action painting’
  • was being pushed aside by new young artists like
  • …Frank Stella (1936) who thought art was a canvas and paint on it and nothing else.
  • Art as a representation  vs    Art as an object.


  1. This Pulitzer Prize 2005  winning  biography De Kooning: An American Master
  2. opened my eyes to De Kooning´s talent.
  3. The art world is not only filled with painters but also
  4. muses eager to cash in on De Kooning’s fame,
  5. gallery dealers ogling the latest paintings while dreaming of commissions  $$
  6. backstabbing art critics who can make or break a career.
  7. Strong point:  excellent writing, great storytelling by M. Stevens and A. Swan.
  8. This was not a dry or boring biography!
  9. The book taught me about Abstract Expressionism, De Kooning´s Dutch backround,
  10. …his artistic struggles and reveals his tormented private life.

Last thoughts:

  • The book is firstly about the artist, Willem de Kooning,
  • but on another level it is about the human heart.
  • De Kooning’s life was hard and it started in his childhood never got any easier.
  • Yes, he achieved fame, relative fortune but never peace of mind.
  • This was an exhaustive study of one the 20th C greatest abstract expressionists.
  • Yet I read it effortlessly… the hours flew by!
  • This is the best biography I´ve read this year!

Score: 5



Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


Le Cas Eduard Einstien Longlist Prix Goncourt 2013


  • Author: Laurent Seksik (1962, physician and novelist)
  • GenreDifficult to pinpoint exactly what genre this book is.
  • Not a historical novel, not a roman à clef  but…
  • a novel  about a news item (E. Einstein mental problems)
  • and enhancing the story with journalism and biographical information.
  • Title: Le Cas Eduard Einstein
  • Table of contents: 8 parts;  316 pages
  • Published:  2013
  • Trivia: Einstein admitted his son was the only problem for which he had no solution
  • Trivia: “Mon fils est le seul problème qui demeure sans solution.”
  • Triiva:  Selected for longlist Prix Goncourt 2013.

Albert Einstein’s (1879 – 1955)  family situation:

  • Spouse:   Mileva Marić    1875-1948
  • Marriage with A. Einstien – 1903 -1919 (separated in 1914)
  • Children:
  • Lieserl – 1902 -1903 – born in Novi Sad (now Serbia)
  • Hans – 1904 – 1973
  • Eduard – 1910 -1965
  • At age 20 he was diagnosed with  schizophrenia  and two years later was committed to an asylum.
  • Spouse: Elsa Löwenthal  – marriage 1919 – 1936. They had no children.

Genre:  news item + journalism and biographical information

  • Seksik explores notable historical figures in authentic settings.
  • Most of the figures in the book did exist…but I did find an exception.
  • Part 4, chapter 1: Trivia:  John Sturcon is mentioned as Sec. of State in this chapter.
  • Actually  Cordell Hull (1933 – 1944) held that position in US Government in 1938.
  • Seksik tries to give the reader a
  • ‘speculative’ understanding  how these individuals, especially Eduard,
  • would have responded to their environments and
  • situations (committed to a mental asylum).

Albert Einstein:

  • The great physicist, pacifist, freethinker and internationalist was a…
  • dictatorial, insulting, selfish, a curmudgeon with a misanthropic streak, adulterous, misogynist
  • This all falls short  of his image as a secular saint.
  • He is faulted for shrinking from some of his children’s and his own problems.

Story introduction:

  1. Seksik blends history (rise of Nazism and Hitler in Germany)
  2. with his intriguing story about Einstein and his son.
  3. I read the book while frequently referring to Wikipedia.
  • Eduard  (20 yr) attacks his mother.
  • He is whisked off to Burghölzli Asylum.
  • Mileva calls Albert and he will be in Zurich the next day.
  • Einstein’s second wife ask him how long will you be…
  • ….consecrating your time with this episode?
  • Einstein answers: “Une vie entière sans doute.”  ( A lifetime, without doubt)
  • One day Eduard escapes his nurse and feels he can fly.
  • He climbs onto the balcony, spreads his arms an then feels a hand on his ankle.
  • He is pulled to the floor.
  • Now, only his dreams will soar into the sky.

Point of view:

  • It took me some time to  adjust to Seksik’s style of narration.
  • It is  third person reliable omniscience  vs  first person unreliable narration.
  • I say unreliable because perhaps we cannot trust  what Eduard Einstein (insane) tells us.
  • Gunter Grass used  an unreliable narrator in his book The Tin Drum.
  • And there is << dialogue >> with other personages that  glide  in and out of the story.

Strong point: Repetition

  • Anaphoras create not only emphasis, but also a certain rhythm.
  • They make a strong impression on  my ears and memory.
  • Seksik emphasizes the individual by starting sentences  with a personal pronoun:
  • Elle sait,  elle sent,  elle se revoit,    elle connaît,    elle a pensé,  elle a froid…..
  • This repetition goes on and on, but it doesn’t start to wear on my nerves or seem gimmicky.
  • It feel comforting in a strange way.

Strong point:    powerful final sentence

  1. Seksik ends the chapters with a flourish.
  2. His concluding lines contain ‘punch’ for greater emotional impact.

Three endings are questions Eduard asks:

  • What am I being punished for?
  • You believe me, don’t  you?  (emphasizes feeling of unreliable narrator!)
  • And while standing on  a balcony with his white knuckled hands grasping the railing.
  • What can I do if the void (drop) draws me to it?

Eduard does not mince words and  describes himself  with style and vigor:

  • I will be the comet of Zurich!
  • Each has a right to be lucky!
  • Eduard will be the first man to fly on his own wings.
  • The howling wolves are keeping me awake.
  • And with just four words he gives his father a ‘verbal’ slap in the face:
  • Go with you? I’d rather die. (T’ accompagner? Plutôt crever.)
    • Je suis aussi célèbre qu mon père. ( I’m as famous as my father!)
    • Le E de l’équation, c’est le E d’Eduard.” ( The E in E = mc2 is for Eduard!)
    • Strong message  from Eduard:
    • I don’t exist.
    • There is no place in the world for a second Einstien.

Strong point:  bursts of beautiful prose surprise the reader…just breathtaking.

  • Strong point: Eduard’s voice (Seksik’s writing) is vivid, humorous, cynical.
  • This  insane young man  seems to be the only one who tells Einstien the truth! 
  • ” The famous  father returns.
  • He wants to teach me morals, teach me how to live.
  • Too late Papa.
  • You should have worried about me earlier.” (Part 2, chapter 3)

Strong point:  internal dialogue

  • Seksik wants us to see things through Eduard’s eyes and language.
  • He wants the reader to live inside his confusion and insanity.
  • Eduard describes being watched and what a straight jacket feels like.
  • With childish innocence he describes also  the adults that hover around him, guards, doctors, mother.

Unforgettable image:   joyeux  ballet

  • In part 5, chapter 1 I read a touching scene.
  • Seksik compares the embracing, kissing and falling into each other’s arms at a train station
  • (reunions/departures)  as  graceful movements in a ballet.
  • This unexpected comparison will always stay with me…..
  • while I glance around the platforms at the train station in the future!


  1. After writing about all the strong points ….
  2. ….I am at a loss for more superlatives.
  3. I can only add that the French is very easy to read and an excellent book for
  4. improving your French reading skills.
  5. The vocabulary feels contemporary and the narrative will keep you enthralled.
  6. I am looking forward to my next Laurent Seksik book  Les derniers jours de Stefan Zweig.

Score: 4

SEKSIK seksik

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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Under a Wild Sky Pulitzer finalist biography 2005

AUDEBON auj233-113

  • Author: William Souder
  • Genre: Biography
  • Title: Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon
  • Table of contents: 16 chapters, 384 pages
  • part 1: Audubon and Wilson – Part 2: The Birds of America
  • Publisher:  2005
  • TriviaFinalist for  Pulitzer Prize for Biography 2005.
  • Trivia: Birds of America is one of the most admired books of American  art.

Basic Facts:

  • John James Audubon:
  • Arriving in New York City in 1803, the 18-year-old native John  was born in  Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).
  • He was the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and  a chambermaid.
  • Needing some eye-opening credentials Audubon passed himself off as the Louisiana born son of a  French admiral.
  • He claimed to have studied painting with the European master Jaques-Louis David.
  • He was a charming liar.
  • He had a limited education but was  a natural talent with watercolors, pastel chalks and drawing pencils.
  • Alexander Wilson:
    1. Audubon was not the FIRST person to illustrate American birds.
    2. He is the most famous one I know, but was inspired by  Alexander Wilson.
    3. Wilson was a young Scot who abandoned his dreams of writing poetry like Robert Burns.
    4. He used his sharp powers of observation, lyrical, sensitive style to write the first American Ornithology.
    5. Wilson drew the birds realistically and in poses that would help to identify them.
    6. If you look at the illustration on the Canvas Back Duck you can see the beak from 3 different angles!
    7. Souder explains that Wilson’s writing was superb but not his drawings.
    8. “Wilson allowed his writing to soar, but not his birds.” (chapter 4)
    9. Audubon, with his natural talent for illustrations would take Wilson’s work one step further.
    10. Souder treats Alexander Wilson fairly and with the full appreciation he deserves.
    11. Bravo!

Weak Points:    none of Audubon’s famous color  illustrations!

  • The most essential part of Audubon’s legacy, his famous color  illustrations, not one is in the book.
  • Probably this is a copyright issue with the Audubon society…
  • …but it would have  been nice to add a couple of his works.
  • I used the link to the Audubon Society to glance at the illustrations while reading the book.


  • Audubon was asked by his friend John Vanderlyn to sit in as a
  • body double for Vanderlyn’s full length portrait of Andrew Jackson.
  • Jackson, who was to become president in two years, had only time to sit for  Vanderlyn’s work on his face.
  • As a favor in return for his friend’s help, Vanderlyn put Audubon’s face on the soldier in the portrait behind Jackson’s shoulder.

jackson 3a-gr05-jackson

Audubon: His favorite bird was the turkey. He thought goldfinches were the smartest birds. The nighthawk ironically spends most of its time aloft during the day and roosts early in the evening. Audubon stated no other bird could rival the nighthawk for aerial stunts.

G. Washington: The interest for fossils remained high during the Revolutionary War, Washington took time to dig up ancient bones at several battlefield sites.

Thomas Jefferson:  He was so enthralled by the song on an ‘elusive’ bird, he offered a reward to anyone who could shoot one and bring it to him as a specimen. It was the wood thrush.

wood thrush 2 plate-73-wood-thrush-final

Mark Catsbey (1683 – 1749)  was an English naturalist that Wilson studied extensively.

Impressive are the saturating colors of the Blue Jay:

CATESBY BLUE JAY CAT006 - Mark Catesby - Crested Jay - NHCFBI


  1. This was a history – biography of Alexander Wilson and John James Audubon.
  2. It traces both men’s ambitions to capture the natural beauty of the New World.
  3. Nothing about the New World  was familiar, even the air was different.
  4. This was a captivating book I would have missed had it not been for my Pulitzer Challenge.
  5. Audubon was one of the first naturalists to draw…
  6. …sketches of ‘birds’  bringing them to life with accuracy.
  7. In his book Birds of America he depicted the birds in ways to suggest their personalities.
  8. Strong points: Every chapter starts with a bird.
  9. I would always click the Audubon Society link
  10. …to compare the illustration with the lyrical description. Beautiful!
  11. Strong points:
  • Written in an interesting narrative
  • Not dense or dry as a history textbook
  • Filled with entertaining details.

Last thoughts:

  1. Life was not easy for Audubon.
  2. “his moods were like the rising and falling flight of a bird that beats its wings at intervals
  3. …traveling forward on an undulating line.” (chapter 4)
  4. Whatever hardships he encountered
  5. ….he pulled himself up by his boot straps and kept painting.
  6. He remained amazingly resilient.
  7. Audubon’s  story is truly inspirational.

Score: 5

William Souder

audubon souder

John James Audubon: (1785 – 1851)

JJA John_James_Audubon_1826


Alexander Wilson ( 1766 – 1813)

(c) Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire Council Collections, Including Collections Associated with the Paisley Art Institute; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire Council Collections, Including Collections Associated with the Paisley Art Institute; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation




Posted by on August 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


Authors I dislike – Authors I devour



  • No  Top-Ten list at A Shropshire Girl Reviews​ during her vacation.
  • She always  surprises met with her lists!
  • This time I have compiled  a list for her!

Authors I’ve read the most books …and  DISLIKE …but  must read for school:

Jane Austen (5)

  • Northanger  Abbey
  • Persuasion
  • Emma
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Sense and Sensibility

Thomas Hardy (2)


Authors I’ve read the most books…..and LOVE,  read for sheer enjoyment!

Zola (20) Rougon-Macquart Series

Edgar Allan Poe (10) tales and poems

(Lenore, Annabel Lee, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Balloon Hoax, The Unparalleled Adventure of One  Hans Pfaall, The Gold Bug)

John Steinbeck (6)

  • Cannery Row
  • The Winter of our Discontent
  • Mice and Men
  • Grapes of Wrath
  • The Pearl
  • Travels with Charley

Joseph Conrad (3)

 William-Shakespeare​ (3)

Charles Dickens (4)

– Lemaitre (5)

Vasily Grossman (2)


Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


Advise and Consent Pulitzer Prize 1960


Advise and Consent (audio book) 33 hrs 17 mins.
Author: Allen Drury  (1918 – 1998)
Published: 1959 (author was  41 yrs)
Genre: political novel
Pulitzer Prize Fiction: 1960
Movie: 1962 – director Otto Preminger
Title: The title comes from Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
That section gives the Senate the responsibility to advise the president on cabinet nominees,and the authority to consent to (approve or reject) those nominations.
Trivia:  Advise and Consent and its sequels had been out of print for almost 15 years until WordFire Press reissued them in paperback and e-book format in 2014.


  • Before House of Cards, before The West Wing, there was Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent.
  • This is a masterpiece of fiction considered by many to be the greatest political novel ever written.
  1. In 1954 Drury was hired as a reporter for The New York Times.
  2. In his spare time wrote the novel which would become 1959’s Advise and Consent.
  3. The book is partly inspired by the suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester C. Hunt.
  4. The novel spent 102 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.
  5. The book explored Washington politics through a controversial cabinet nomination against  background of the Cold War.


  • The timeline is supposed to be in the near future.
  • The Russian’s are landing on the moon and  all the plot elements are dereived from the recent past.


  • Chapter 1 – introduction about the nomination Sec.of State:  Robert Leffingwell.
  • Why is this nomination SO CONTROVERSIAL?
  • Drury uses subtle descriptions giving the readers small clues..
  • …the President is  terminally ill, but this is a well kept secret.
  • President trying to preserve his foreign policy agenda by appointing a Secretary of State Leffingwell.
  • Chapter 2 – introduction of  several senators + descriptions, quirks.
  • Chapters 3- 38
    • It is between NOW  and THEN …
    • Senators are jockeying for power and maneuvering for position.
    • Each is aware that the senate is to enter a battle of a lifetime.
    • Each is wondering what it will mean to him in terms of:
    • power reputation, advantage, political fortune, national responsibility and
    • integrity of soul

Best Chapter:  Chapter 2 in book: ‘Brig” (his personal story)

Best character: Senator Seabright Cooley

  • South Carolina – Senator Seabright Cooley (75 yr) – Charles Laughton played the part in the movie.
  • Crafty old crumbled face
  • Thick old voice roared sardonic amusement
  • Sneaky smile that  crept over his pugnacious  mouth
  • Goal: he was mustering the troops against the nomination of Robert Leffingwell.

Best character: – Senator Brig Anderson (37 yr)

  • Drury dorps a  little clue in the beginning of the book about Brig Anderson…
  • …that kept spinning around in my brain.
  • What does this mean?
  • “…the ghost of a wartime summer goes back to rest until the next time in the senator’s heart.” 
  • Later in  book 3 “Brig”  we read:
  • There was an underlying feeling of incompleteness in him.
  • Women came easy, friends were plentiful…
  • …but always was there a was restlessness nothing could appease.
  • Responsibility, he preferred  it to be a one way street.
  • He would give of himself for others…
  • …but he did not enjoy being managed.
  • This all adds up to a suspense, curiosity  that keeps the reader turning the pages!

Lester Hunt: (inspiration for this book)

  • Senator Lester Hunt had come to the Senate in 1949.
  • He was a liberal Democrat from a traditionally Republican state of Wyoming.
  • Hunt  crossed swords with Wisconsin’s Joe McCarthy.
  • Disgusted with McCarthy’s witch-hunting, Hunt branded him an opportunist, liar, and a drunk.
  • McCarthy privately vowed to get even.
  • On June 8, 1954, Lester Hunt  announced that he would not seek a second Senate term.
  • Behind his decision was one of the foulest attempts at blackmail in modern political history concerning his son’s past.
  • Hunt feared a vicious contest that would add to his son’s torments.
  • Days later, he entered the Russell Building  with a .22 caliber Winchester rifle partially obscured under his coat.
  • He exchanged small talk with a Capitol police officer and went to his third-floor office.
  • Minutes later, alone, Hunt pulled the trigger.

Weak point:

  • I listened to the audio book  Advise and Consent.
  • There are many references to at least 50 Senators.
  • it was impossible to remember their names or political viewpoint.
  • had  to make a list* of senators (see end of review*)….
  • …so I could understand the ‘wheeling and dealing’ in the story.

Strong point:

  • The message written 56 years ago seemed  to describe America 2015:
  • A universal guilt enshrouded the middle years (1950’s)  in America
    1. empty headed liberals  – who had made it so easy for the Russians by yielding  them so much.
    2. embittered conservatives  – who had closed the doors on human love
    3. military –  too jealous of one another and too slow
    4. scientists  – too self-righteous, irresponsible and smug about pushing the implications about what they did on someone else.
    5. press –  too lazy and too compliant  in the face of about evils foreign and domestic.
    6. politicians  – not true enough to the destiny of the land they had in keeping.
    7. citizens  – didn’t give quite enough of a damn about what became of the country in spite of their self congratulatory airs about how patriotic they were

What did  I learn from  Advise and Consent? –  who is who ?

  1. President  – Vice President (J. Biden) is the president of the Senate
  2. Majority leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell
  3. Minority leader of the Senate – Harry Ried (retiring 2016)
  4. WHIPS: (assistant Senate floor managers – majority and minority) J. Cornyn – R. Durbin
  5. The term “whip” comes from a fox-hunting referring to the member of  hunting team
  6. responsible for keeping the dogs from straying from the team during a chase.
  7. Speaker of the House of Representatives  – J. Boehner
  8. J. Boehner  is second in the  US pres. line of succession after the  VP.
  9. House majority party  leader – Kevin McCarthy
  10. House minority party leader – Nancy Pelosi

Nice to know:

  • Nearly every character is based on a real person.
  • Lafe  Smith is based on John F. Kennedy (ladies man)
  • Haunting quote in the book when you know Lafe = JFK:
  • ” Lafe Smith stopped smiling…morals are a professional matter in Washington and I’m good at my profession.
  • Of course I wanted something better, but it is too late for me.
  • I started to early and it came too easy.”
  • Orrin Knox is based on Robert Taft (conservative Senator from Ohio)
  • Fred Van Ackerman  is based on  Joseph McCarthy (Rep. Senator of Wisconsin)
  • President is modeled on Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Blackmailing Brig Anderson and how it’s resolved, is based on a real incident. (Lester Hunt)
  • Robert Leffingwell’s  nomination for  Sec. of State is based on
  • ….the House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of  Alger Hiss (accused as a Soviet spy)


  • Strong point:
  • The writing is crisp and fresh. It is an example of the beauty of  journalistic style.
  • Drury  was  a congressional correspondent for The New York Times during the 1950s.
  • He reveals the wheeling and dealing of Washington politics.
  • Drury  interjects his narrative with razor-sharp analyses of the ‘Cold War Era’.
  • The choice was in those times: fight and die now or compromise and die later.

Super strong point:

  1. If you close your eyes and listen to chapter 7 describing the rise of S. Cooley…
  2. …from humble a working class background in the South to a prominent political office in Washington…
  3. …there is only one name on your lips  BILL CLINTON!  The resemblance is uncanny!
  4. Drury was able to describe ‘Clinton’ even though Bill was only 13 at the time of the book’s publication!
  5. Both Cooley and Clinton were  fiery orators, intelligent, ambitious and most important  an instinct for the juggler!
  • Drury’s books would be a great suggestion  as an introduction
  • high-school level students to read about the intricacies of American government.
  • Shade of Difference – politics of the United Nations – (1962)
  • Capable of Honor  – role of journalists during a presidential campaign- (1966).
  • Last thought:  I have to see the movie!
  • When it was released JFK was President (1962).
  • How do you  think he felt seeing his ‘profile   projected on the big screen as LAFE SMITH?


  1. If your are interested in politics…the best novels about American politics are:
  2. Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men (1946)
  3. Edwin O’Connor’s All in the Family (1966)
  4. The Last Hurrah (1956)
  5. …but they are not about Washington D.C.

Score: 5

DRURY index

Exhausting  information… this can make listening to the audio book easier!

Arkansas –  Sen. McCafferty  – old man – gnarled and withered hand
Alabama –   Sen. Clarke
Connecticut – Sen. Stanley Danta  (Crystal – daughter) majority whip
California – Sen. Victor Ennis –  Sen. Raymond Smith
Colorado – Sen. Sam Eastwood
Delaware – Sen. Clement Johnson
Florida – Sen. Leo P. Richardson- round and earnest  face
Florida – Sen. Whiteside –  He chortled like a cynical old Santa Claus.
Georgia – Sen. Jack McGlaughan  – Sen. Wilson
Iowa – Sen. Lafe W. Smit (ladies man) = JFK; Sen Boden
Idaho – Sen. Warren  Strickland  – minority leader; Sen. Dick McIntyre
Indiana – Senator Tom Trommel;  Sen Paul Hendershot
Illinois – Sen. Nelson Lloyd
Illinois  – Sen. Orrin Knox  – grey eyes getting its stubborn look and grey head its argumentative angle
Kentucky – Sen.  Rhett Jackson – Murphy Andrews
Kansas  – Senator Elizabeth (Bessie) Adams
Louisiana Sen. Chabeau – impeccable kept hands and expensive suit
Massachusetts – Sen. John Winthrop
Maine – Sen. Frank Curtis
Montana – Sen. Porter Owens
Minnesota  – Sen. Lief Ericsson; Tom August
Michigan – Sen. Bob Munson  Majority leader Senate, dour, sullen ‘go-between’
Missouri – Sen. Henry H Cahill desperately wanting to be friends with everybody
New Mexico – Sen. Luis Velquez
Nebraska – Sen. Marshall Seymour – acerbic, dry chuckle
New York  – Sen Irving Steinman
New York – Sen Taylor Ryan- he has no doubts he will that can bull his way through the ‘fly-paper’ aruguments
North Dakota – Sen Powell Hanson
New Hampshire – Sen. Charles Abbot
Nevada – Sen. Ed Parrish
New Jersey – Sen. James H. Larue
New Mexico – Sen. Hugh B. Root – chewing cellophane wrapped cigar
Ohio – Sen. Albert Cockroll
Oregon – Sen. Royce Blair – arrogance, pomposity, intelligence
Oregon – Sen. George Heinz (crafty)
Rhode Island  – Sen. Lloyd Cavanaugh
Pennsylvania – Sen.  Schoenveld
South Carolina – Sen. H. Harper Graham
South Carolina – Senator Seabright Cooley – (75 yr)
South Dakota – Sen. Vern Kramer
Texas – Sen. Blair Sykes
Utah – Senator Walter Calloway – tall thin guy – vapid (dull) – all American boy
Utah – Sen. Brigham Anderson
Virginia – Sen. Courtney Robinson
Vermont  – Sen. Archibald Johnson; Sen John de Wilton
West Virginia – Sen. Newell Albertson; Sen. Harold Frye
Wyoming – Sen. Fred van Akerman – strange unbalance, ruthless spirit, forbidding
Wisconsin – Sen. Kenneth Hackket
Washington – Sen. Julius Welch

President  US:  –  “The voice”  ( just once in the story he is referred to as “Russ”.)
Secretary of State: Howard Shepherd.
President  – Vice President Harley Harrison  is the president of the Senate
Majority leader of the Senate – Bob Munson
Minority leader of the Senate – Sen Warren Strickland
WHIPS: (assistant Senate floor managers – majority and minority)
majority – Sen Stanley Danta
minority –  not mentioned

Ambassador England (can’t remember his name…)  – Kitty (wife) – calls Sen Hal Frye
Ambassador France  Raoul Barre –  Celestine (wife) –  never says anything…she just smiles.
Indian Ambassador  (KK) – Krishna Kahlil
Russian Ambassador Vasily Tashikoff
Assistant of the Supreme Court   Justice Thomas B. Davis
Dolly Harrison –  DC hostess,  Bob Munson’s love interest – (Mrs. Phelps Harrison)
Nominee Sec. of State  – Robert Leffingwell to replace  current Sec. of State Howard Shephard.

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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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