Friday, November 27, 2009

Jim is observing the Thanksgiving holiday. He invites readers to have a look at the current edition of the online history magazine, Common-Place, where his essay "Blogging, with Pickles," describes the circumstances behind the origins and trajectory of this blog.

Jim's recent reading includes David Benioff's City of Thieves (published in paperback earlier this year), an exceptionally rich and fast-paced novel that's structured like a fable but reads like literary fiction. In the winter
of 1942, amid the Nazi siege of Leningrad, two lowly Russians are swept up by local police forces and imprisoned. A Soviet colonel offers to free them and return their confiscated ration cards -- if they can find a dozen eggs so that his daughter can have a bona fide wedding cake despite wartime deprivations. This odd, but increasingly attached, couple have a series of adventures that alternate between, and combine, comedy and tragedy. Benioff, by the way, is the author of both novel and screenplay for The 25th Hour, which was made into a very good movie starring Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2003, directed by Spike Lee in a commercially-minded moment.

Jim is currently embarked on Gordon Wood's massive An Empire for Liberty, which covers the years 1789-1815 in the Oxford History of the United States. A review will follow.

May you savor your blessings.