Yesterday a friend of mine gave me a kindle so now I have no excuse about reading e-books and diversifying the sort of library I have to make it a little less dependent on my questionable ability to have enough space for the kind of books I love to read so much. So, being the sort of person who likes free books a lot , I managed to download a bunch of books to my kindle device, and will probably continue to do so on a periodic basis. Of course, I managed to find three “books” that were so short that any full-length review of mine would likely be longer than the books themselves, but I still wished to comment on them. So, this is the start of a new (and probably only occasional) series of blogs I will call “Fragmented Book Reviews,” where I look at reviewing fragments that are not long enough for my full review treatment by giving them a paragraph commentary. That said, here are the fragmentary book reviews of three of the books I have read so far from my new collection.
“Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln
The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln is 200 words long, in ten sentences, and is one of the masterpieces of American political speech in defending the universality of human rights and the legitimacy of republican government. It is also available for free for those who want to read it from time on their e-readers. Seriously, downloading this document should be a no-brainer. Students used to have to memorize this task, and it is one of those writings that deserves to be read and reflected on over and over again. Given its recognized greatness, I am aware that what I say about this document is entirely redundant, but all the same it’s an excellent and worthwhile and very short document to read, and one that deserves its fame.
“The Mayflower Compact” by the Pilgrim Fathers
The Mayflower Compact is a short document that was written in a difficult position in order to build a legitimate social order in a place and time where anarchy was a real threat. In large part thanks to this little document and the seriousness of which signing a compact was taken not only by the Pilgrim fathers themselves but by the many outsiders who joined along with them in setting up the Plymouth colony, the potential of destructive civil conflict in the absence of a legitimate framework of government in what became New England was avoided. We can all be thankful for the way in which this exceedingly little document helped lay the framework for free government in what became the United States. Again, this is a short enough document that it deserves to be read frequently and thoughtfully, not merely as rote but as a reflection of the sort of craft and care that went into documents that were short enough to memorize for generations of schoolchildren.
“Abraham Lincoln’s Hidden Speech-“The Cover Up”” by T.M. Sparks
This book consists of two parts. The first is a fragmentary set of remarks that Abraham Lincoln gave during 1848 in Niagara Falls, presumably seeking to help in the election campaign of Zachary Taylor (as he was a loyal Whig in seeking to drum up support for Whig candidates as long as that party lasted). This particular speech is thoughtful, and contains religious ruminations familiar with other much better known works, like his “Meditation On The Divine Will” . This particular fragment contains a reference to the biblical nephilim, which are commonly thought to be giants. As an obscure Abraham Lincoln speech, something I am always interested in, this is a minor gem, short and filled with profound reflection on Creation. Nevertheless, the author of this particular book uses the Abraham Lincoln speech as an entrance into the theory that evidence about giants has been suppressed, much in a similar fashion as that archeological evidence that would appear to confirm biblical truth tends not to be thought of very highly. This is a legitimate complaint, but the book itself only makes assertions and does not provide the evidence that would be necessary to support this claim, as plausible a claim as it is.
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