Tag Archives: American Studies

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

Synopsis: The story of Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims and journeyed to England. Review: I read Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, aloud to my almost 5-year-old, and I have to say I’m a little obsessed. First of all, I was prepared to stop if it veered into anything offensive, like a noble savage stereotype, and that never happened. All I felt like I needed to explain was that we don’t say “Indian” anymore, we say “Native American.” Bulla does give Squanto a…

Read More »

The End of Men and The Rise of Women by Hanna Rosin

Synopsis: A sociological look at the transformation of gender roles in 21st century America and beyond. Review: While there was a lot of fascinating research in The End of Men, I couldn’t help but wonder what she was leaving out. I think her claims make for a media-ready argument, but she’s hardly described the totality of the world. People are way more complicated than she’s giving them credit for–particularly the working class types she patronizes by larding their dialogue with colloquialisms. I really don’t like…

Read More »

Considering the Lilies by Harold Hanson

Synopsis: A reflection in words and photos of the wild lilies flowering in the Shenandoah Valley. Review: I loved this Considering the Lilies. It’s heartfelt and well-observed. I don’t live in this area of the US, so it’s not all that useful as a reference, but it’s a great inspiration for some Charlotte Mason-inspired nature study. Share on Facebook

Read More »

The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell

Synopsis: A sociologic look at the increase of narcissism in American culture. Review: In The Narcissim Epidemic, as Dr. Jean Twenge’s previous book, the authors parsed similar data from psychological studies over the decades to see that overall Americans are scoring more highly on narcissistic traits than before. It’s a little sad to see that there’s empirical data to show that yes, we really are a nation of self-obsessed assholes. But I’m writing this while watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and the humility…

Read More »

Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge

Synopsis: Subtitled: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Review: I picked up Generation Me after hearing Dr. Jean M. Twenge interviewed on The White Horse Inn, a favorite podcast of mine. While I really appreciated the depth and breadth of her research, and agree with many of her conclusions (particularly the importance of teaching self-control instead of self-esteem), I lost her when she began interpolating her own opinions on child rearing. Her derision (as a childless person)…

Read More »

Why We Are Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Synopsis: An overview of the emerging church movement from two critics, a pastor and a sportswriter. Review: I have been a fan of Kevin DeYoung for a while based on his appearances on the White Horse Inn, a favorite podcast of mine. And my interest in the emergent movement stems from my days as Managing Editor for a now defunct webzine covering Christianity and culture. I was there when Relevant Magazine launched and when The Ooze had only a few members. We were one of…

Read More »

Big Machine by Victor LaValle

Synopsis: A brokedown junkie, ex-cultist and mass murder survivor gets a mysterious invitation to become an Unlikely Scholar investigating odd phenomena across America. Review: Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Big Machine rocked my world. Stylistically, it’s a mash-up of Haruki Murakami and Stephen King, with a bit of Ralph Ellison for good measure. When junkie Ricky Rice becomes an Unlikely Scholar under way mysterious circumstances, he finds himself scouring newspapers for stories that give evidence to The Voice. His journey grows ever more wild, and…

Read More »

In Cheap We Trust by Lauren Weber

Synopsis: A history of thrift in American culture. Review: While the history that comprises most of In Cheap We Trust was well-researched and presented, I really wanted a lot more present-day analysis. I really appreciated the chapter on the greenwashing of consumption, and how buying secondhand is, in many ways, a lot more eco friendly than buying something brand new even if it’s made sustainably. I was also hoping for a lot more practical suggestions for being thriftier, but I was just mistaken about what…

Read More »

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Synopsis: A collection of essays written by Gladwell and published in the New Yorker. Review: Bite-sized is how I like Malcolm Gladwell, and What the Dog Saw contains some of Gladwell’s most memorable essays. His profile of Ron Popeil, creator of the Showtime Rotisserie, stands as one of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered, and this past spring I assigned it to my writing students, who were suitably enthralled. Gladwell gives you the greatness behind the showman veneer, as well as some of…

Read More »

Jesus and Justice by Peter Goodwin Hetzel

Synopsis: Subtitled “Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics,” an overview of the history of 20th-21st century evangelicalism as it moved from ignoring race to embracing the Christology of Martin Luther King, Jr. Review: In Jesus and Justice, author Peter Goodwin Hetzel writes an incredibly detailed history of Focus on the Family, Sojourners, and the National Association of Evangelicals, among others. He also presents a thorough examination of Martin Luther King Jr.’s theology, which was a topic I’d never really explored before. I knew that King was…

Read More »