William Lee Miller’s complementary books, Lincoln’s Virtues and The President: The Duty of a Statesman, are a rare combination of historical investigation and moral reflection presented in comfortable prose filled with real world insight. The Publisher’s Review excerpt from the Amazon site is right on: Margaret Whalen Turner’s Attolia series makes a great gift for those who know nothing can replace the role of family reading in the formation of imagination and culture. I discovered them through reading an unusual application essay; our family delighted in them for many months. Witty, romantic, adventurous, silly, serious, with a strong flavor of ancient Greece and reminiscent of Lewis’s Till We Have Faces. I wrote a review of it for Love2Learn.net.
Miller’s project to chronicle man rather than myth is explicitly concerned with the evolution of Lincoln’s character, motivations and ideals. Chronicling his rise from an Appalachian boyhood to the corridors of power, the author makes a host of wise observations about this “ungainly westerner” that are informed as much by Miller’s considerable knowledge of human nature as by his study of Lincoln’s utterances over the years.
We are all tempted to judge great men abstractly; Miller’s works are a model of how one can come to understand and judge someone great concretely.
The 1981 Granada Television production of Brideshead Revisited is not only one of the great productions of all time, but one of the most faithful screen presentations of a novel. Over 11 hours, Evelyn Waugh’s novel comes to life, which was not only a delight (I devoured the production at one sitting the first time I saw it) but a necessity for American suburbanites like me who could never imagine the 1920s life of the British aristocracy described in the novel. In a stroke of brilliance that will delight book lovers, portions of the novel that could not readily be converted to image and dialogue are read by Jeremy Irons. Brideshead represents a coming of age experience in our household – you know you are there when Papa invites you to watch it with him.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.