Summer beach reading: Articles and book chapters

Memorial Day Weekend requires selection of the summer’s reading list. Books are shelved this year for essays and articles from the past and present; all are easily accessed on the web. Pick and choose as you will. You are relieved of worry about Attention Deficit Disorder; but comprehension and retention could still be a challenge.

Michael Sandel teaches philosophy at Harvard College; he has become something of an academic rock-star with his YouTube video lectures. A recent Atlantic essay, “What Isn’t for Sale?” is worthwhile, if you occasionally feel more like a commodity than a person.

We hear a great deal about “The Federalist;” but truth be told, are uncertain about “it.” Pulitzer prize-winning historian, Garry Wills characterizes James Madison’s Federalist No. 10 as the most consequential political document in United States’ history. The good news is it is not very lengthy and Madison is a superb writer. 

Healthcare is on everyone minds. Dr. Atul Gawande, MD, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, wrote “The Cost Conundrum” for the June 1, 2009, issue of The New Yorker. Dr. Gawande uses McAllen, Texas, to stitch together stories of healing and 35 years of Medicare treatment data to guide you on a trip down the healthcare rabbit hole.

The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice published its “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department” on the shooting of Michael Brown; it is available online. The five-page “Report Summary” contains conclusions about Ferguson’s municipal government; there are lessons here for towns and counties, including our own.

For conspiracy buffs of all persuasions, Bruno Latour’s feature “The New Climate” in the May issue of Harpers is a jewel. The conspiracy you believe most threatening probably depends on your place in the food chain. Try this one.

Adam Smith was an 18th century Scottish moral philosopher; in 1759 he published “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” Grab a copy before they get gone and read the first two short chapters of Part 1. Smith begins his work with a discourse on “sympathy”.

Ever wonder why the US doesn’t win wars? Read “A Letter to Paul Wolfowitz” by Andrew Bacevich in the March, 2013 issue of Harpers. A commissioned officer in the United States Army for 23 years, Colonel Bacevich graduated from West Point, fought in Vietnam, took a PhD in Diplomatic History at Princeton University, taught at Johns Hopkins, and lost his only son in Iraq. 

Never heard of Dorothy Thompson? Read the famous journalist’s “Who Goes Nazi?” in the August 1941 issue of Harpers. Want a great people-watching game? Dorothy Thompson gives it to you.

Frederick Douglass, contemporary of Lincoln and abolitionist leader, speaks to 21st century America from the late 19th century. You may be surprised by its relevance and nuance when you read “The Color Line.”

Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president during WWII, was a gentleman chicken farmer, geneticist, and humanitarian. In 1944, the New York Times requested an article on these questions: What is a fascist?; How many fascists have we?; How dangerous are they? Wallace’s response was published in the April 9, 1944, edition of the Times. You decide if Henry Wallace was clairvoyant.

You will be rewarded for reading George Washington’s “Farewell Address 1796.” Its substance and tone sets the standard for statesmanship and patriotism.

Michael Reynolds, a Rome resident retired from Georgia Tech, is a graduate of the School of Theology at Boston University. He writes for the website MOVE GEORGIA FORWARD and may be reached at

Leave a Reply


content top