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Amazon Book Reviews
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Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Tue May 01, 2018 8:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

One of my methods is to look at the blurbs. I don't care what they say (who's going to print a blurb that says, "I found this book wretchedly drab and awful"?). But if the blurbs come from writers whose work I like, the odds are good that I will like this book too.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
One of my methods is to look at the blurbs. I don't care what they say (who's going to print a blurb that says, "I found this book wretchedly drab and awful"?). But if the blurbs come from writers whose work I like, the odds are good that I will like this book too.



The problem with that is that you're assuming the people who make the blurbs have actually read the book in question. This is often not the case.

It reminds me of a story Dr. Laura Schlessinger told on her radio show about 20 years ago. Some author, it might have been Dennis Prager, asked her to write a blurb for his latest book, and she said that she didn't think she could do that, he asked why, and she said 'well, on such and such a page you say such and such and I'm not sure I agree with that', and he laughed and said that in all of his years of writing she was the first person he asked to write a blurb who have any indication of having actually read it. In the end, he explained the passage she had reservations about more fully and she was satisfied with his explanation and wrote the blurb.

I think very few 'professional' blurb writers (and some people do seem to do it almost for a living, for example, I can't even count the number of science fiction books I have seen that have a blurb from Harlan Ellison) are as conscientious about honesty as Dr. Laura.

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Tue May 01, 2018 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

I make no such assumption. Rather, I assume that the publisher thought, "Hey! This is the sort of book that Author X might like!" And sometimes it is.

Author:  Highlander [ Tue May 01, 2018 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Because of my penchant for acquiring new-ish books, I have run out of bookshelf space. My goal is to have a space on the shelf for each of my books. Combined with the realization that I have several hundreds of books I will never read or reference again, I must cull. Yesterday, I culled about 40 books from my second densest bookshelf cluster. About half related to the American Civil War, some classics. Others were new, never read, that seemed interesting at the time, but no longer have that cachet. Such as several on the Ottoman Empire.

Some must absolutely remain ... such as my complete Peanuts collection. But others are now targets ... my next project is my astronomy books.

Rather than fighting a losing battle, as some I know do, to regain control over the number of books that infest my house, I am emphasizing using a filter before adding yet another dozen to my stash. So I do read the reviews more consistently and in greater detail. And they do influence my purchases. For example, I am looking for a biography of Gen Mark Clark of WWII, but am not encouraged by the reviews.

At one time, I too devoured anything published by an author I had enjoyed. However, I discriminate more now. Orson Scott Card is an example. I find the first book in his series is often rewarding, but the subsequent volumes usually nose dive. The Homecoming Series, for example. As is the Alvin Maker series. Although I now have Pathfinder in hand. So, back to the reviews.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Highlander wrote:
For example, I am looking for a biography of Gen Mark Clark of WWII, but am not encouraged by the reviews.



I've looked for one for years and found absolutely nothing. If I ever do find one, I'll bet dollars to donuts that it won't cover the one topic that I am most interested in, namely his appointment by Truman in late 1951 as ambassador to the Holy See and the history of the controversy. This is one of those incidents which is referred to obliquely in about a dozen different books I own, including the most recent book I read that mentions the incident Frances Fitzgerald's 'The Evangelicals', but I've never been able to find a history of the event that treats it in full.

Author:  GKC [ Tue May 01, 2018 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Doom wrote:
Highlander wrote:
For example, I am looking for a biography of Gen Mark Clark of WWII, but am not encouraged by the reviews.



I've looked for one for years and found absolutely nothing. If I ever do find one, I'll bet dollars to donuts that it won't cover the one topic that I am most interested in, namely his appointment by Truman in late 1951 as ambassador to the Holy See and the history of the controversy. This is one of those incidents which is referred to obliquely in about a dozen different books I own, including the most recent book I read that mentions the incident Frances Fitzgerald's 'The Evangelicals', but I've never been able to find a history of the event that treats it in full.


I have a Clark bio. Never heard of the appointment to the Holy See, until I googled it. Nothing in the bio about it. In 1951, real world, and until his retirement at the end of Oct 1953, he was still on active duty.

So, no help. Not the worst thing I found (or didn't find) though. I have a typed letter, hand signed that he wrote, that I had laid into the book. Not there. Maybe I have another Clark bio.

Author:  GKC [ Tue May 01, 2018 10:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Highlander wrote:
Because of my penchant for acquiring new-ish books, I have run out of bookshelf space. My goal is to have a space on the shelf for each of my books. Combined with the realization that I have several hundreds of books I will never read or reference again, I must cull. Yesterday, I culled about 40 books from my second densest bookshelf cluster. About half related to the American Civil War, some classics. Others were new, never read, that seemed interesting at the time, but no longer have that cachet. Such as several on the Ottoman Empire.

Some must absolutely remain ... such as my complete Peanuts collection. But others are now targets ... my next project is my astronomy books.

Rather than fighting a losing battle, as some I know do, to regain control over the number of books that infest my house, I am emphasizing using a filter before adding yet another dozen to my stash. So I do read the reviews more consistently and in greater detail. And they do influence my purchases. For example, I am looking for a biography of Gen Mark Clark of WWII, but am not encouraged by the reviews.

At one time, I too devoured anything published by an author I had enjoyed. However, I discriminate more now. Orson Scott Card is an example. I find the first book in his series is often rewarding, but the subsequent volumes usually nose dive. The Homecoming Series, for example. As is the Alvin Maker series. Although I now have Pathfinder in hand. So, back to the reviews.


:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(


:cry:

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 1:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

GKC wrote:

I have a Clark bio. Never heard of the appointment to the Holy See, until I googled it. Nothing in the bio about it. In 1951, real world, and until his retirement at the end of Oct 1953, he was still on active duty.

So, no help. Not the worst thing I found (or didn't find) though. I have a typed letter, hand signed that he wrote, that I had laid into the book. Not there. Maybe I have another Clark bio.


I have the general outline of what happened. The US and the Holy See had informal diplomatic relations as early as the Washington administration, but nothing 'official'.

When Pope Pius VI wanted to appoint a bishop of the United States, he wrote to Washington and asked for advice on whom to appoint, and Washington told him that under the Constitution the federal government has no say in such matters, but recommended James Carroll.

With the election of Pius IX, diplomatic relations became more official, but with the fall of the Papal States in 1870, and the rise of anti-Catholic sentiment, Congress passed a law forbidding the use of federal money to pay for a diplomatic mission to the Pope, and there were no diplomatic contacts between the Holy See and the US government.

During World War II, FDR got around the law by appointing a personal representative to the Pope and having him pay all of his own expenses so that taxpayer money wasn't being used. This was continued by Truman, and in either late 1951 or early 1952 (I'm not sure exactly when) Truman proposed reversing the 1870 law and establishing formal diplomatic relations with the Pope, and he appointed General Mark Clark to be the first ambassador. There was an immediate eruption of controversy over the appointment, some complained that such an appointment would violate the separation of Church and state, some complained that Truman was cynically trying to pander to Catholic voters in an election year, and others just didn't see the value in establishing such a diplomatic mission. Evangelical voters, in particular, were outraged by the suggestion. After about two months, without the Senate holding or even scheduling a confirmation hearing, Clark withdrew. Truman said that he would appoint someone else for the post, but it was towards the end of Truman's presidency and he wasn't very popular and apparently didn't want to get into a big battle with Congres and never made another appointment.

After the defeat of the Clark nomination, there were neither formal nor informal diplomatic relations until the Nixon administration. Pope John tried to pressure Kennedy into opening formal diplomatic relations, but Kennedy was worried about encouraging fears that he was kowtowing to the Pope, and he told Pope John that he couldn't even consider it until after he was re-elected and no longer had to worry about the reaction.

Nixon re-started the tradition of an unpaid representative to the Holy See, and he chose Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, his running mate in 1960, for the job. And in 1984, Reagan got Congress to repeal the 1870 law and established formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See, this time with strong evangelical support.

But beyond this basic skeleton of an outline, it is insanely difficult to find any further information.

Author:  Highlander [ Tue May 01, 2018 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Sounds pretty complete to me.

Author:  Highlander [ Tue May 01, 2018 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

I have finally gone with Mikolashek's General Mark Clark: Commander of U.S. Fifth Army and Liberator of Rome. Apparently, there is little information available on Clark's early years. Unless someone can vector me to another source.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Highlander wrote:
Sounds pretty complete to me.


Complete in the sense that a summary of the US presidency is 'first there was Washington, who established most of the traditions and precedents that president follow today, and now today, 44 presidents, 58 presidential elections and 229 years later, Donald Trump is president.'

After years of searching, I have found only one book-length treatment of the subject and it has only one paragraph on Clark's nomination. I think the controversy over the Clark nomination, even if it only lasted a couple of months, is worthy of a book-length treatment. I mean, there have been entire books written about Robert Bork's failed nomination, why not a book about Mark Clark's failed nomination?

I know what some people will say 'well if you want to see such a book, then write it yourself.' I absolutely would do that, if I had access to the original sources, personal diaries, newspaper accounts etc

Author:  GKC [ Tue May 01, 2018 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Doom wrote:
Highlander wrote:
Sounds pretty complete to me.


Complete in the sense that a summary of the US presidency is 'first there was Washington, who established most of the traditions and precedents that president follow today, and now today, 44 presidents, 58 presidential elections and 229 years later, Donald Trump is president.'

After years of searching, I have found only one book-length treatment of the subject and it has only one paragraph on Clark's nomination. I think the controversy over the Clark nomination, even if it only lasted a couple of months, is worthy of a book-length treatment. I mean, there have been entire books written about Robert Bork's failed nomination, why not a book about Mark Clark's failed nomination?

I know what some people will say 'well if you want to see such a book, then write it yourself.' I absolutely would do that, if I had access to the original sources, personal diaries, newspaper accounts etc



I knew a little of all that, but though I have occasionally stumbled across the name of Truman, in my reading, the name of Clark, as his choice in this either eluded me, or passed from memory.

Write the book, after the one on the reformation, and I'll buy it. I need to know more of this Truman of whom you speak.

Oh. I see you had considered it.

Author:  GKC [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Highlander wrote:
I have finally gone with Mikolashek's General Mark Clark: Commander of U.S. Fifth Army and Liberator of Rome. Apparently, there is little information available on Clark's early years. Unless someone can vector me to another source.



There's Blumenson's. But from the reviews of Mikolashek's book, it does look like what you might want.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

GKC wrote:
Write the book, after the one on the reformation, and I'll buy it. I need to know more of this Truman of whom you speak.

Oh. I see you had considered it.


I was really hoping that David McCullough's biography of Truman, as massive and comprehensive as it is, would have at least a few paragraphs about the Mark Clark nomination, because it would be an excellent illustration of one of the points he makes about how in his second term, Truman found the presidency very taxing and stressful and came to hate the job and just wanted it to be over. '

After leaving the White House, Truman said 'having served as president, I honestly cannot understand why anyone would want the job.' Many presidents have said things like that, but I don't think any of them meant it as much as Truman did. He never wanted to be president, his ambition was to serve in the Senate, and he was happy with that role. But fate came knocking and the rest is history.

Author:  Highlander [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

GKC wrote:
Doom wrote:
Highlander wrote:
Sounds pretty complete to me.


Complete in the sense that a summary of the US presidency is 'first there was Washington, who established most of the traditions and precedents that president follow today, and now today, 44 presidents, 58 presidential elections and 229 years later, Donald Trump is president.'

After years of searching, I have found only one book-length treatment of the subject and it has only one paragraph on Clark's nomination. I think the controversy over the Clark nomination, even if it only lasted a couple of months, is worthy of a book-length treatment. I mean, there have been entire books written about Robert Bork's failed nomination, why not a book about Mark Clark's failed nomination?

I know what some people will say 'well if you want to see such a book, then write it yourself.' I absolutely would do that, if I had access to the original sources, personal diaries, newspaper accounts etc



I knew a little of all that, but though I have occasionally stumbled across the name of Truman, in my reading, the name of Clark, as his choice in this either eluded me, or passed from memory.

Write the book, after the one on the reformation, and I'll buy it. I need to know more of this Truman of whom you speak.

Oh. I see you had considered it.


I wonder if the controversy was over Clark being the nominee for Ambassador to the Vatican or was it over anybody being an Ambassador to the Vatican? Or both?

Author:  GKC [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Highlander wrote:
GKC wrote:
Doom wrote:
Highlander wrote:
Sounds pretty complete to me.


Complete in the sense that a summary of the US presidency is 'first there was Washington, who established most of the traditions and precedents that president follow today, and now today, 44 presidents, 58 presidential elections and 229 years later, Donald Trump is president.'

After years of searching, I have found only one book-length treatment of the subject and it has only one paragraph on Clark's nomination. I think the controversy over the Clark nomination, even if it only lasted a couple of months, is worthy of a book-length treatment. I mean, there have been entire books written about Robert Bork's failed nomination, why not a book about Mark Clark's failed nomination?

I know what some people will say 'well if you want to see such a book, then write it yourself.' I absolutely would do that, if I had access to the original sources, personal diaries, newspaper accounts etc



I knew a little of all that, but though I have occasionally stumbled across the name of Truman, in my reading, the name of Clark, as his choice in this either eluded me, or passed from memory.

Write the book, after the one on the reformation, and I'll buy it. I need to know more of this Truman of whom you speak.

Oh. I see you had considered it.


I wonder if the controversy was over Clark being the nominee for Ambassador to the Vatican or was it over anybody being an Ambassador to the Vatican? Or both?


I would say the idea of such an Ambassador, at all, from the little I read on line. But I also wonder about how he was Truman's choice. If only someone would write a book.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Highlander wrote:

I wonder if the controversy was over Clark being the nominee for Ambassador to the Vatican or was it over anybody being an Ambassador to the Vatican? Or both?


It was mostly over the question of whether or not there should be an ambassador to the Holy See at all. Mark Clark was a controversial guy who was hated by many so there might have been some who thought that Mark Clark was wrong for the job, but Truman had previously put Clark in charge of operations in Korea after MacArthur was fired, and there was little opposition to that nomination.

The opposition to the nomination came to the question from several angles.

The fundamentalists regarded the Pope as the antichrist and regarded any diplomatic mission to him as illegitimate for that reason.

The ACLU and similar liberal groups objected on the grounds that the Pope is a religious leader and thus a diplomatic mission would violate the separation of church and state.

Many evangelical and secular critics (such as atheist Paul Blanshard, who was the editor of 'The Nation' and wrote the book 'American Freedom and Catholic Power') objected to the idea of a diplomatic mission to the Holy See on the grounds that the Catholic Church is a threat to American Freedom and to the Constitution because the Pope wants to enslave America. Critics like Blanshard saw the Catholic Church the same way that many people today view Islam, as a strange foreign cult that wants to impose un-American ideas on the country. Evangelist Billy Graham was actually in this group both in 1952 and in the 1960 election, although unlike some, Graham was wise enough not to make his real opinion public.

And there were some critics, mostly Republicans, who might not have objected to the idea of a diplomatic mission to the Holy See in principle, but who thought that Truman was making a cynical election-year ploy to try to lock down the Catholic vote in the 1952 presidential election (this was obviously before he formally withdrew from the race and said he wasn't going to run.) Of all the criticisms of the nomination, this one could be the silliest and most risible. The Democrats already had the Catholic vote locked down for more than a century, no Republican had ever gotten more than 10-20% of the Catholic vote, Truman didn't need to cynically pander to win the Catholic vote, he could be confident that he had their support without doing so.

Author:  GKC [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

Doom wrote:
Highlander wrote:

I wonder if the controversy was over Clark being the nominee for Ambassador to the Vatican or was it over anybody being an Ambassador to the Vatican? Or both?


It was mostly over the question of whether or not there should be an ambassador to the Holy See at all. Mark Clark was a controversial guy who was hated by many so there might have been some who thought that Mark Clark was wrong for the job, but Truman had previously put Clark in charge of operations in Korea after MacArthur was fired, and there was little opposition to that nomination.

The opposition to the nomination came to the question from several angles.

The fundamentalists regarded the Pope as the antichrist and regarded any diplomatic mission to him as illegitimate for that reason.

The ACLU and similar liberal groups objected on the grounds that the Pope is a religious leader and thus a diplomatic mission would violate the separation of church and state.

Many evangelical and secular critics (such as atheist Paul Blanshard, who was the editor of 'The Nation' and wrote the book 'American Freedom and Catholic Power') objected to the idea of a diplomatic mission to the Holy See on the grounds that the Catholic Church is a threat to American Freedom and to the Constitution because the Pope wants to enslave America. Critics like Blanshard saw the Catholic Church the same way that many people today view Islam, as a strange foreign cult that wants to impose un-American ideas on the country. Evangelist Billy Graham was actually in this group both in 1952 and in the 1960 election, although unlike some, Graham was wise enough not to make his real opinion public.

And there were some critics, mostly Republicans, who might not have objected to the idea of a diplomatic mission to the Holy See in principle, but who thought that Truman was making a cynical election-year ploy to try to lock down the Catholic vote in the 1952 presidential election (this was obviously before he formally withdrew from the race and said he wasn't going to run.) Of all the criticisms of the nomination, this one could be the silliest and most risible. The Democrats already had the Catholic vote locked down for more than a century, no Republican had ever gotten more than 10-20% of the Catholic vote, Truman didn't need to cynically pander to win the Catholic vote, he could be confident that he had their support without doing so.


Browsing around the net, I see much evidence it was the idea of diplomatic relations with the Vatican that stirred the pot. As occurred when Reagan actually did it in 1984.

And I see that both Roosevelt's choice of personal envoy and Truman's, were Episcopalians.

Clark replaced Ridgway as UN EL Supremo in Korea, in May 1952.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

GKC wrote:

I would say the idea of such an Ambassador, at all, from the little I read online. But I also wonder how he was Truman's choice. If only someone would write a book.


If only someone could tell me where the primary sources are!

At any rate, why Mark Clark? Several reasons. Clark had served in Italy and Rome specifically during World War II and was already personally known by the Pope and had familiarity with Italian culture, language and with the Vatican bureaucracy. Also, Truman had previously appointed Clark to replace MacArthur as Supreme Commander in Korea. He was familiar and comfortable with Clark's leadership style.

To me, the most interesting thing about the selection of Mark Clark is that if he had been confirmed, it would have established a precedent that the ambassador to the Holy See would be a diplomat of the highest caliber, and the post would not be a sinecure given to reward someone who had worked on the campaign which is what most ambassador positions are. If Mark Clark had been confirmed then the Ambassador to the Holy See might be a more significant and visible job than it is now, comparable in stature to the Ambassador the UN, and might be someone might be qualified to be Secretary of State, indeed, it might actually be a stepping stone to one of those positions.

Author:  Doom [ Tue May 01, 2018 3:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Amazon Book Reviews

GKC wrote:


Clark replaced Ridgway as UN EL Supremo in Korea, in May 1952.


So being appointed to that job might have been Truman's consolation prize to Clark after his confirmation as ambassador was rejected.

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