Friday, June 15, 2012

What is Samuel Walker reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Samuel Walker, author of Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians.

His entry begins:
How many books send you running to your collection of old LPs? Greil Marcus, Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll has done that to me lately. First published in 1975 and now in its 5th edition (2008), the book is a rich and imaginative exploration of American history and culture through our popular music: rock, blues, folk, gospel, jazz, and just about everything else. It is as fascinating and provocative today as it was 37 years ago when I devoured the 1st edition.

You might have heard about Robert Johnson, and you may have some CDs by The Band, Randy Newman, and of course Elvis. But you probably haven’t heard about Harmonica Frank, and the section on him that opens the book covers Melville’s Ahab, Huck Finn, Lyndon Johnson, Chuck Berry, Norman Mailer, and, oh yes, America. It’s that kind of a book.

As a record collector, with about 9,000 LPs at the moment, Marcus’s “Notes and Discographies” section is especially...[read on]
About Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama, from the publisher:
This book is a history of the civil liberties records of American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It examines the full range of civil liberties issues: First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press, and assembly; due process; equal protection, including racial justice, women's rights, and lesbian and gay rights; privacy rights, including reproductive freedom; and national security issues. The book argues that presidents have not protected or advanced civil liberties, and that several have perpetrated some of worst violations. Some Democratic presidents (Wilson and Roosevelt), moreover, have violated civil liberties as badly as some Republican presidents (Nixon and Bush). This is the first book to examine the full civil liberties records of each president (thus, placing a president's record on civil rights with his record on national security issues), and also to compare the performance on particular issues of all the presidents covered.
Learn more about the book and author at Samuel Walker's website.

Writers Read: Samuel Walker.

--Marshal Zeringue