The great originator

manLeonard da Vinci’s  ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences,  made him history’s most creative genius.  In this new biography, Walter Isaacson (Einstein, Steve Jobs) probes the roots of his genius.   Focusing on Leonardo’s notebooks, author Isaacson finds a relentless curiosity and capacity for careful observation that united Leonardo’s artistic and scientific pursuits.  A  misfit in many ways (illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, heretical), “his life should remind us of the importance  not just of received knowledge but a willingness to question it” (Goodreads).

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More history: orign stories

indiIn “Inventing the Individual”, Larry Siedentop shows how the concept of individualism broke through from the ancient world’s emphasis on family.  He argues that the underlying assumptions of liberal thought were the offspring of the Church, where notions about equality and human agency were first formulated.    “The Origins of Creativity” by Edward O. Wilson offers an explanation for the emergence of this distinctly human trait;  in The Kingdom of Speech, Tom Wolfe argues that language was the causing of it all.  “The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve” by Stephen Greenblatt examines the Biblical story about human origins and destiny.

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Grant by Ron Chernow

usgHiram Ulysses Grant was described by poet Walt Whitman as “nothing heroic… and yet the greatest hero.”  Undistinguished before the Civil War, he emerged as one of the Union’s most effective generals.  Self-effacing, he went about his business with quiet determination and a sure hand.   As president, he sought to secure the fruits won by that war. Grant’s reputation has been on the rise in recent years, but “this is a good time for this fine biography.    If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever” (New York Times Book Review).

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More history lessons: Civil War

forgedOver a hundred and fifty years have gone by since the Civil War was fought, but it generates headlines and controversy to this day.  “The War That Forged a Nation:  why the Civil War Still Matters” by James McPherson explores the wars causes and consequences in this brief but meaty volume.  “Fateful Lightning” by Allen Guelzo (Gettysburg) offers a succinct one volume history of the war for beginners; Shelby Foote’s 3-volume narrative could keep you busy all winter (but the rewards are great).  Grant by Rod Chernow profiles one of the major actors in that conflict.

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History lessons

jaxThe Battle of New Orleans, where Andrew Jackson’s misfit army of frontiersman, regulars, militiamen and pirates defeated a crack British force, has always held a place in the American imagination.   Although it was fought after the peace had been made, it put an exclamation point on a war that was not entirely successful. It also made a hero of Old Hickory and put him on track for the presidency.   “Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans” by Brian Kilmeade recounts the battle at a breathtaking pace. “Killing England” by Bill O’Reilly treats our war for independence in a similar manner.  In “The storm before the Storm”, popular podcaster Michael Duncan walks readers through the fall of the Roman Republic.

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CH vital records now online!

CH_family Genealogical researchers can use the web to browse records of Center Harbor marriages, births and deaths.  Data from our index card file was entered on a spread sheet and uploaded into a searchable database, with the help of the NH State Library.   The present database covers 1800-1905.  To use the database, browse the top menu of this web page under Center Harbor for Town History Resources and click on Vital Records.

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Just in: fiction

mignightThe Midnight Line” by Lee Child. Jack Reacher spots a West Point ring is a pawn shop window, the first step of a journey from the wars in Afghanistan to the opioid crisis in America. “In the Midst of Winter” by Isabel Allende. a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Hardcare Twenty-four by JanetEvEvanovich. Presents the further adventures of Stephanie Plum, bounty huntress. In the Shadow of Alabama by Judy Reene Singer. When a stranger at a funeral delivers an odd gift and an apology, a daughter learns the epic story of her father s World War II experience. “Before we were Yours” by Lisa Wingate.  A breakout novel based on a true story about children who were sold to orphan homes.

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