R & L Attic

September 2009

Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn, Evan S. Connell
Sitting Bull: “They tell me I murdered Custer. It is a lie…He was a fool and rode to his death.” The whole bloody, miserable stupid story. Not for the fainthearted.

Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack: The Legendary Sessions, Vol. 2
A man and his piano, simultaneously smooth and earthy, “cool breeze and heartache.” One of a kind, and so fine.

January 2009

At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Cash the outlaw, among outlaws. “I shot a man in Reno, Just to watch him die.”  Mean… and gorgeous!

Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik, Chester E. Finn, Jr.
A history of educational policy and politics, from the 60’s to the present, by “Checker” Finn, who was right in the middle of it.

December 2008

King’s Record Shop, Roseanne Cash
Her best effort. June’s daughter asserts herself in a mean world.  She’s her own mystery.

Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine, Jasper Becker
The story of the horrific 1960-1962 Chinese famine, caused by forced collectivization and lunatic notions of agronomy, which resulted in 30 million deaths.

October 2008

Sleepless, Kate Rusby
A unique and gorgeous voice, to music close enough to ‘traditional’ to fool most, filled with sailors seven years gone and crafty wenches.

Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, Elizabeth D. Samet
The education of young officers is more interesting and more heartbreaking than one might expect.  Grant said it more than a hundred years ago:  We send out the best minds in the world.

September 2008

The Legendary Small Groups, Benny Goodman
“Found” music, discovered rather than composed. It’s the only plausible explanation for the beautiful swinging perfection of these sessions. Even if you don’t “like jazz,” you’ll find a thrill here.

Lincoln at Gettysburg, Garry Wills
Wills argues that Lincoln recast the Constitution — through the lens of the Declaration — to remake the country, a revolution in 271 well-chosen words. A fascinating argument and a marvelous example of close reading.

August 2008

Love and Theft, Bob Dylan
Released, by coincidence, on September 11, 2001, this is the best of modern Bob — high energy, dry wit, and the dark moods of a person of a certain age.

Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 (Library of America)
“The thick pair of volumes of the Personal Memoirs used to stand, like a solid attestation of the victory of the Union forces, on the shelves of every pro-Union home. Today, like Uncle Tom they are seldom read by anyone save students of the Civil War; yet this record of Grant’s campaigns may well rank, as Mark Twain believed, as the most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar. It is also, in its way — like Herndon’s Lincoln or like Walden or Leaves of Grass — a unique expression of the national character.” — Edmund Wilson, Patriotic Gore.