BOOKS

What Karl's reading

After three years preparing The Triumph of William McKinley by reading very little but books, letters, articles and newspapers from the Gilded Age, I’m trying to get back into my regular routine, which I’ll chronicle here with an occasional review of what I’ve read.

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You may be impressed with Bill Gates who has a net worth of nearly $80 billion and is Forbes’ richest man in the world, but Gates has a smaller share of the world’s wealth today than Jacob Fugger had at the end of the 15th century and the start of the 16th.  'The Richest Man Who Ever Lived' is a fascinating tale of the man who helped provoke Martin Luther into rebellion.  

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After a long stretch of reading plenty about the Gilded Age in preparing my forth-coming book, The Triumph of William McKinley: Why The Election of 1896 Matters, I just finished a delightful book on how Shakespeare’s plays were rescued from oblivion by the playwrights, friends, and fellow actors who collected what scripts they could find and published them seven years after the Bard’s death. 

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In a particularly vivid work, Doris Kearns Goodwin tells a rollicking tale about two presidents - their friendship, its destruction, and their subsequent rivalry - in a rapidly changing country with even more rapidly evolving media and politics.  Goodwin has a gifted eye for detail and insight.  

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In his new book, 'Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream -- and How We Can Do It Again,' National Review Editor Rich Lowry provides a masterful account of Abraham Lincoln's climb to the presidency from humble frontier beginnings.  It is a fantastic take on the sixteenth president's convictions, discipline, and ambition which allowed him to live the American Dream and be in a position where he was able to make it possible for others to do so as well.  


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