Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fit for the Presidency? Winners Losers, What-If's, and Also-Rans

Fit for the Presidency? Winners Losers, What-If's, and Also-Rans

By Seymour Morris

The premise of this book is quite interesting: What might we learn by examining, exclusively, the resumes and references of various candidates for the presidency? Forget the crazy media train, here we're just looking at qualifications and how their peers felt about them. Each chapter lays out the candidates essentials, their resume, an overview of how they are viewed by the media and their contemporaries, and a conclusion relating what actually ended up happening to them. Some became President, some weren't even nominated, and some are just a footnote as an "also ran".

Morris takes a look at both winners and losers of the Presidency in an effort to be as well-rounded as possible. He covers the usual suspects of Washington and Lincoln, though I wouldn't say there are any new revelations there. William Henry Harrison was thrown in as well, and I always enjoy reading about Old Tippecanoe. Morris even delves into Jefferson Davis, the first (and only) President of the Confederacy, as well as General Marshall who was never even chosen for a ticket but was highly considered. I loved that Morris went off the beaten path in order to discuss candidates you might know nothing about. The chapter on DeWitt Clinton had me looking for his biography when I realized I didn't know anything about this amazing man.

The only issue I had with this book was formatting. Reading the resumes backwards was confusing. I understand it since this is the standard format of real-world resumes, but here it was just confusing to keep up with each mans accomplishments since you were reading them in descending order. Also, as a personal aside, I wish Morris had covered President Buchanan since he was arguably the most well qualified person to ever run and win the presidency, which made it even more sad that he wasn't up to the job itself.

While I don't think I learned much about the candidates who became Presidents, I certainly discovered more about those who didn't. I love discovering things I never knew about, and this book as definitely made me look up books on other related people and topics. On the whole, I don't know that I am walking away knowing who was more qualified then anyone else, but I am thinking more about how important the "also-rans" are to history and that they have a story outside their candidacy.

Copy courtesy of University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

by Sonny Seals; George S. Hart

Having lived in the Deep South/Bible Belt all my life I've been inside a fair number of historic churches. Though I'm not personally Christian, I've always been attracted to the sense of peace and joy that emanates from these places that isn't present (for me at least) in their modern cousins. There's something to be said about a place of worship that has been standing for longer than you can trace your ancestry back.

This book is published by the University of Georgia Press, and was created by the founders of the Historic Rural Churches of Georgia non-profit. There is a deep love you can feel throughout the pages as you see the incredible preservations as well as the devastating ruins. The authors do an incredible job of providing history specific not just to GA generally, but also to these specific churches and the communities that worship there, or in some cases left the area and disbanded.

It took me quite a while to finish this book because I was trying to savor the stories and images from each church. The authors give a truly beautiful look at these rural churches that were so important to their communities. Buildings don't just spring out of the ground, people need a reason to build them and they also need a reason to preserve them. Even though many of the examples no longer have active congregations they have been restored. One can only hope that the few sad examples of near-ruin will also have a happy ending.

And with that, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite images from this incredible collection.

The author doesn't specify but considering the time period I would guess the galley was for slaves. You can also see the separation in the pews for women to sit on one side and men on the other. How far we've come... (Penfield Baptist - Greene Co - 1839)

Natural baptismal pool. (Powelton Baptist - Hancock Co - 1786)

In desperate need of love and restoration. (Ezekiel New Congregational Methodist, Ware County, 1899)

This is an amazing example of restoration potential. Before picture, then After. (Barnett Methodist, Warren County, 1876)

Copy courtesy of University of Georgia Press, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.