Page 20 - Boca Club News - January '22
P. 20

Page 20, Boca Club News

               The Arts

      Book Review...“On This Date: From the Pilgrims to

      Today, Discovering America One Day at a Time”

      By Nils A, Shapiro                                of the United States” from                         he failed to secure the rights—held before a test audience
         I am a book fanatic. Not only do I             a 12-year-old boy is certain                       the first screening of his newly created character, Mortimer
      admit it; I am proud of it!                       to start a buzz among your                         Mouse...later re-named Mickey.
         Whenever I am out shopping, no                 guests when they realize                              Of the 366 true historical events related in these pages,
      matter what kind of store I’m in—it               the name of the young                              many are much more serious than the ones above, and all are
      doesn’t have to be a bookshop—I am                writer from his signature                          interesting and described concisely but in sufficient detail to
      always on the alert to see if by chance           at the end: Fidel Castro!                          be meaningful. Among them:
      there are some special books being                   This month’s selection,                            On March 21st, 2006, a young soon-to-be-billionaire
      offered for sale. I have been rewarded            “On this Date,” is another                         Jack Dorsey pecked out “just setting up my twttr” as the first
      more than once by such curiosity, and my home library is all   “dipper”—one that                     message of what would become his new, world-changing
      the richer for it—with a number of volumes that I refer to as   will  surely  provide  as            Twitter technology.
      a category of “dippers.”                          much entertainment as                                 On August 10th, 1846, President James K. Polk signed
         A “dipper” is a book that can be on any subject, and which   education. And if you are            into law the Smithsonian Institution Act that established what
      does not have to be read from beginning to end. Instead, it   anything like me  I can                is clearly our nation’s leading museum and repository of
      can be opened (“dipped into”) to any page, any time, to find   pretty much guarantee                 thousands of historical and scientific documents and artifacts,
      interesting, worthwhile information. Very often, though not   exactly how you are going              including the original Declaration of Independence signed by
      always, such books are presented in oversized, lavish formats   to approach this book the moment you have it in your hands!  our Founding Fathers and, hanging on a large wall, the actual
      with many full-color photos of art, flowers, jewelry, fashion      For each day of the year—from January 1st through   Stars and Stripes—the very flag that inspired Francis Scott
      or other beautiful objects, and are known in the publishing   December 31st including February 29th for a 366-day Leap   Key to write our national anthem when he saw it still flying
      industry as “coffee table books” because they are displayed   Year—award-winning author Carl M. Cannon relates an often   on the flagpole above Fort McHenry. Yet the man whose
      conspicuously by their owners as examples of their own   little-known but fascinating event in American history that   funding made the Smithsonian possible, James Smithson,
      elegant taste.                                    happened on that day during one of the years from Pilgrim   never set foot in the United States! Born in France in 1765,
         Apart from your personal enjoyment of such books, they   times to the present day.                Jacques-Louis Macie (who later moved to England and
      serve as wonderful conversation starters when you have      That is the concept of this book, a unique idea and an   changed his name to Smithson) was born to an unwed mother,
      guests in your home for dinner or any other occasion. For   enormous challenge of research that only an author of   never married nor had children of his own, but received a
      example, I have in the past reviewed several such books in   Cannon’s experience could have accomplished so brilliantly.   large inheritance which eventually—after several odd twists
      this column.                                      He is the Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics   of fate and coincidences of his last Will—became the basis
         One of them is “Wise Trees,” which presents stunning   and past recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize   for the Smithsonian’s funding.
      photographs and stories of 80 historic trees from around   for Distinguished Reporting and the Aldo Beckman Award,      It was on September 21st, 1776 that Nathan Hale, a
      the world. Imagine turning to page 20 and pointing out   the two highest awards for White House coverage. He was   Connecticut schoolteacher who had joined the Colonial
      Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree, the Flower of Kent Apple still   formerly a fellow-in-residence at Harvard University’s   army at the start of the Revolution, was hanged by order of
      producing fruit in this famous man’s descendants’ orchard   Institute of Politics and a past president of the White House   British General Howe after being sent by General George
      at Lincolnshire, England, 500 years after he came up with   Correspondents’ Association.             Washington to spy on the enemy’s troop movements and then
      his theory of gravity when an apple fell on his head as he sat      Just as I believe you will do, I turned first to my birthday,   been captured. Hale’s famous last words, “I only regret that
      under that very same tree! I found this book in a furniture   May 18th, and read what, to me, is a riotous one-page   I have but one life to lose for my country,” has come down
      store whose owner was using it as a “decoration” until I   section, “Sister Act,” relating the day in 1926 when—after   through the centuries as the epitome of patriotism.
      convinced him to sell it to me.                   nationally famous, charismatic Pentecostal preacher Aimee      I found “On This Date” in one of those giant membership
         Another “dipper” I have reviewed in this column is   Semple McPherson had gone mysteriously missing in Los   warehouse  stores  that  sell  everything  from  barbecued
      “Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence   Angeles—while grieving parishioners scoured the beach   chickens and big screen TVs to vitamins and
      Deserving of a Wider Audience”–a big, heavy hard-cover   fearing she had waded into the Pacific and been lost, two of   two tables stacked with books for people like me.
      collection  of  340  reproductions  of  mostly  handwritten   them were reported that mid-May day as having drowned      With these and hundreds more such stories, this collection
      personal correspondences by such historic figures as Albert   in the rescue effort. The “religious” leader was then spotted   of American history is a real treat, and you can bet that it
      Einstein, Mick Jagger, Charles Darwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald,   weeks later some miles south of L.A. enjoying herself in the   will be as much a conversation starter as the more lavish
      Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, Ronald Reagan, Benjamin   company of a handsome married man!          volumes—with each of your guests wondering about a
      Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, John F. Kennedy, Iggy Pop,      For fun, I next turned to my wife, Linda’s, birthday, May   significant date of his or her birthday, anniversary or other
      Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jackie Robinson...and many others, often   15th, and discovered that it was the day in 1928 that Walt   important day. All the more reason to look for special books
      at critical moments in their lives. The handwritten note dated   Disney—after having been furious that his original animated   everywhere you go.
      Nov. 6, 1940 addressed to “Mr. Franklin Roosevelt, President   character, Oswald the Rabbit, was stolen from him because

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