3 Books

During Spring Break, Laura and I were fortunate to spend a glorious week in St. Barths where, among other things, we engaged in the luxury of reading for fun.  While we both had multiple books and magazines going at once, three books really stood out for me.

A Special Relationship is a captivating novel by Douglas Kennedy, a college classmate and author of several best sellers. Like his last four or five, this one features his unique approach of writing from a female point of view.  (i.e., The “I” is a “She,” only written by a “He.”)  Like most of his books, this one takes you for a ride.  Raised in NYC, Doug now lives a trifurcated existence in London, Paris, and Maine.  All four locales are likely to wind up in his novels, including frequent references to Bath and environs.  Among Doug’s other can’t-put-down novels are The Job, The Big Picture, Pursuit of Happiness, and Leaving the World.  Definitely check him out.

Although I’m late getting around to The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I can now see why it’s currently so hot.  As a history teacher, I know that fiction must be a staple of the historian’s inquiry.  (e.g., When future generations want to understand the 1980s, Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities will be as indispensible as any text book.)  With a plot set in Mississippi in the early 1960s featuring the interplay of relationships involving a recent female college graduate, her contemporaries, and their maids (i.e. The Help), the book presents a “no holds barred” look at race relations both then and now.  Not only does Stockett, a young woman, nail so many cultural references and nuances unique to the time period, it was hard for me to believe that this is her first novel.  Can’t wait for her second.      

In his 30th book, Warren Bennis offers Still Surprised – A Memoir of Life in Leadership as a personal exploration of his experiences trying to exhibit, understand, and teach leadership.  Beginning with his experiences commanding a WW2 combat battalion in Germany, Warren takes the reader through his fascinating journey through his time as a GI Bill student at Antioch College, his PhD studies at MIT, his experiences as a college administrator (including his presidency at U. Cincinnati), his tenure as a Distinguished Professor at USC, and a wide range of fascinating consultative experiences with the greatest business leaders of our time.  Warren is also a Hyde alumni parent (Will ’87) I was fortunate to meet with on a recent trip to California.  I’ll have more to say…er, write…about that visit and Warren’s new book in forthcoming blog entries.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld