Friday, July 9, 2010

Quick Review--Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers

While I am working on finishing the biography on Woodrow Wilson, I thought I would write a quick review of a book I have recently read.

, by author Dave Eggers, is the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family during Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun is the owner of a successful construction company in New Orleans who stays behind to keep watch of his house and other properties while his family flees the city before Hurricane Katrina hits. His wife and kids initially go north, but eventually head to Arizona with a family friend. The real drama begins after the hurricane hits the town, as Zeitoun uses a canoe he had bought years earlier to help stranded locals to safety. However, one day he is arrested in a most peculiar way, and endures a month-long detention that most of us would think could not occur in America.

I loved this book for several reasons. First, it is an incredible story. Zeitoun's trials during Katrina were more the average person could bear. Second, Eggers does a great job of making his point without blatantly saying how he feels. The proof is in the pudding, Zeitoun's story is all that needs to be said about the government response to Hurricane Katrina. And lastly, all author proceeds from the book go to the Zeitoun Foundation, whose purpose "is to aid in the rebuilding of New Orleans and to promote respect for human rights in the United States and around the world."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history." --Friedrich Hegel

I think what the world needs is another blog. So here I am to supply you with just that. What is this blog about? It's something else the world is in short supply of--a book review blog.

I am what I like to call a history nerd, and most of what I read are history books. My focus is on United States history, though there will probably be no shortage of reviews on other topics, as well as the occasional non-history book. My goal is to review a book approximately every two weeks, depending on when I finish whatever book it is that I am reading.

My first review will be of Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, by John Milton Cooper, Jr. Cooper is an expert on Wilson, having wrote several books on the 28th president. Wilson is one of the more controversial presidents in United States history, having presided over one of the most reform-minded administrations and American involvement in World War I. Wilson is probably best known for the League of Nations, an organization whose purpose was to maintain peace in the years after the war. However, the United States never joined the League due to opposition in the U.S. Senate.

Wilson has been controversial for several reasons. First, many have viewed his failure to convince the public and the Senate in the League of Nations debate as a first step towards the Second World War. The general idea is that a League of Nations without the United States as the major player during the 1920s and 1930s was too weak to act as a counterweight to the Nazi regime in Germany. Not sure I buy that though.

Second, Wilson has become a target of conservatives in more recent times. Specifically, Wilson's progressive record in his first term has been a prime target in this era of the Tea Party, especially the creation of the Federal Reserve, in effect a Third National Bank. Also, Glenn Beck consistently uses Wilson's policies as an example of the downfall of American values and the rise of big government.

I will have to reserve judgement on Woodrow Wilson until a later date, hopefully by the end of next week, as I am still reading the book. See ya then.