Monday, June 09, 2008

One good thing about moving

... is coming across books that I haven't handled in a really long time and enjoying them again. There are the books I love that I return to time and again, like Rhys Isaac's Transformation of Virginia and David Davis' Problem of Slavery in Western Culture; and I carried with me two books that I particularly love--Angela Miller's Empire of the Eye and Michael O'Brien's Conjectures of Order. But then there are the books that I haven't opened in a while, which really repay reading again--like Mark Steiner's An Honest Calling: Lincoln as Lawyer and Edmund Morgan's American Slavery--American Freedom and Stamp Act Crisis (what a beautifully, beautifully written book).

And while I'm talking about beautifully written and important books: when I arrived in my office on Wednesday I was pleasantly surprised to see the advance sheets of Mary Dudziak's Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey. Now, I'm really partial to books with Dream in the title--particularly if they're about race. Mary's book has a great first paragraph (I'm partial to first lines and here):
It was January 1960, but it was summer. An American lawyer arrived in a new land, but he called it his home.
The whole book reads like a novel. It's a fabulous history of civil rights in the United States that runs parallel to Marshall's work to create a constitution for Kenya. I absolutely love it.

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