Thursday, April 13, 2006

A New C.S. Monitor Review:
Meacham's 'American Gospel'

My second book review for The Christian Science Monitor is now in print and online (
here). The book is American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation, by Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham, a name some of you will recognize as an occasional talking head on MSNBC. All in all, it's a pretty good book, I thought, despite the absurd overkill of 130 pages of appendices, source notes and bibliography in the back. That's fine for a dry academic book intended only for an audience of a few hundred fellow specialists, but in this context it comes across a bit like the kid who's trying too hard to impress his teacher that he's done more homework than anyone else. The book itself was convincing enough. I suppose I'd chalk it up to an offshoot of the Newsweek syndrome: he works for a magazine once considered among the front ranks of serious journalism, but which increasingly feels it must dumb itself down just a bit in order to stay relevant (earlier, I wrote a little about that here).

Next up for the Monitor is a book I'm looking forward to reading: Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution, by Cambridge historian Simon Schama. He was a favorite of fellow Brit Tina Brown, who helped him become a celebrity by publishing dozens of his dazzling, learned pieces in the New Yorker during the '90s. Schama has since gone on to write a massive history of Britain, which was adapted for a BBC television series.


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