Book Review

A Nation of Immigrants

A vigorous debate over U. S. immigration policy has been raging for the last decade during the Obama and Trump Administrations. During that period, Congress has considered but not passed any changes to our immigration laws. President Trump made immigration a major issue during his 2016 run for the White House and has kept the issue in the limelight with his repeated calls for the construction of a wall on our Southern border.

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The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

Bill Dedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Chattanooga, and Paul Clark Newell Jr. have captured a fascinating, rollicking, often unbelievable, and sometimes troubling rags-to-riches tale of W. A. Clark, one of America’s most successful businessmen in the late 1800s, and the mysterious life of his youngest daughter, Huguette Clark, who died in 2011 at the age of 104. 

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Book Review: Indianapolis

Anyone who has seen the movie Jaws will recall the scene when Robert Shaw, playing the role of Quint, delivers a monologue describing his terrifying experience with the sharks after the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. The book, Indianapolis, by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, tells the ship’s entire story.

Almost as riveting as the story of the sinking and the terrors at sea are the events before and after it sank, including the court martial of the ship’s captain, Charles McVay. Indianapolis tells the ship’s tragic and heroic story in a detailed, methodical, yet readable style.     

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Book Review: Jocie

Jocie Wurzburg is a self-confessed Southern, Jewish American Princess, Civil Rights Activist.  However, those labels only scratch the surface.  This is the story of how a Jewish homemaker in Memphis, Tennessee, stepped forward at a pivotal point in the history of the Civil Rights Movement – making all the difference.

With great candor, Jocie tells her life story, never shirking from truth, regret or self-reproach.  As the author states:  “This is not a sad story of loss and sacrifice, although there was a lot of that and death in various forms.”  What the reader will find is an entertaining voyage of discovery.  Discovery of one’s worth, the worth of others and the worth of committing ourselves to the improvement of the community in which we live.  This is the life of Jocie Wurzburg.

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Good Kids, Bad City

Three innocent men, wrongfully imprisoned for a combined 106 years — a dismal American record — walked free from a Cleveland, Ohio, courthouse in November 2014. Despite their innocence, they had been convicted of murder in 1975 based on the eyewitness testimony of a 12-year-old boy, allegedly coerced by police into fabricating his testimony.

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Hamilton the Lawyer

Ron Chernow explores Alexander Hamilton’s many sides in his best-selling biography, Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Press, 2004), which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway blockbuster: indigent adolescent immigrant orphan; Gen. George Washington’s most trusted aide during the American Revolution; post-war political leader in New York who participated in the Constitutional Convention of 1787; initiator and co-author of the Federalist Papers, which were instrumental in the success of the post-convention ratification effort; President Washington’s most trusted cabinet member as the country’s first secretary of the treasury; financial genius whose ideas got the nation’s economy off to a sustainable beginning; extortion victim in an extramarital affair with Maria Reynolds; founder of the Federalist Party and arch-enemy to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and their Republican Party; and, finally, fatality in the duel with Aaron Burr.

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My Own Words

Many of you know that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a bit of a celebrity. Her sharp wit and incredibly bright brain draw followers to her like moths to flame whether she’s sitting at the opera in Santa Fe or performing her duties on the United States Supreme Court. Given who she is and what her life experience has been, it makes sense that her book, My Own Words, which she wrote with the assistance of Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, would draw attention, interest, praise and appreciation.

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Full Court Press: How Pat Summitt, a High School Basketball Player, and a Legal Team Changed the Game

About 25 years ago when coaching my daughter’s 3rd grade basketball team, I unexpectedly was brought to tears when she got a defensive rebound, dribbled down the floor and scored. In other words, she went coast to coast … and with that hustle, she glowed.

That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to review Full Court Press, which tells the story of how Tennessee went from a six-on-six, half-court basketball game for women with rules to “protect us” to the five player full-court game for men.      

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Book Review: Edward Terry Sanford

A Tennessean on the U.S. Supreme Court

Knoxville has traditionally done a poor job of honoring its greatest citizens. James Agee’s childhood home was unceremoniously demolished.1 Similarly, Cormac McCarthy’s childhood home was left abandoned, and it eventually burned to the ground.2 A gas station now sits at the location of the childhood home of the artist Beauford Delaney.3 So it was not surprising to learn that the only Knoxvillian and University of Tennessee alumnus to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States had been largely forgotten in his hometown. Thankfully, Stephanie L. Slater’s thoroughly researched new biography recovers the memory of Justice Edward Terry Sanford from its fade into obscurity.

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Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila

By James M. Scott | W.W. Norton & Company Inc. | $32.95| 640 pages | 2018

What happens when a modern and Americanized city becomes as much a massive crime scene as the site of a vast battlefield?  The saga of the violation and obliteration of Manila and at least one-tenth of its one million occupants, and the ensuing legalities and war crimes trials, is the focus of Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila by James M. Scott.

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