Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Supreme Court in United States History - Winner, Non-Fiction, 1923

The Supreme Court in United States History
By: Charles Warren
Little, Brown, & Company, 1923

Wow. This book was every bit as exciting as one would imagine it to be. (Because I know sarcasm doesn't work so well in the written, or typed, word - that last sentence was entirely sarcastic.) The Supreme Court in United States History starts with the very beginning of the Supreme Court in 1781 and moves forward through every minor event in the history of that high court. While Warren did what he could to make this book readable for the layman, he didn't have much of a chance to make it fascinating.

Warren's book does provide a vast amount of factual information and would, therefore, be a great research tool. It gives so many details about the formation of the Supreme Court and how, over the years, they have toiled to work out the kinks so that justice is fully administered. This book was the first one where I noticed a reference back to one of the other Pulitzer books I've read (specifically Albert Beveridge's The Life of John Marshall). I must admit that I dreaded reading this book and while I did pick up a few facts that I will hopefully remember, I am quite relieved to be done and move on!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Life & Letters of Walter H. Page - Winner, Biography, 1923

The Life & Letters of Walter H. Page
By: Burton J. Hendrick
Doubleday, Page, & Company, 1922

In The Life & Letters of Walter H. Page, Burton Hendrick has put together an extensive collection of personal correspondence written by American ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Page, and tied it together with his own commentary. Page was ambassador to Great Britain from 1913 to 1918. The book contains examples of not only his letters to Woodrow Wilson and others during his time in England, but also some replies written by the president and other government officials.

While this book was not the most fascinating to read, it did cause me to think about several things. First, and most importantly for me, is the importance of primary sources. In doing any type of research I would much rather read the original sources of things than the commentaries of others, contemporary or otherwise. It just seems right to make your own judgements about things. This book did contain the commentary of the author but it also contained so many letters and memos written by Page and by Woodrow Wilson.

Another thing that this book caused me to consider that I hadn't spent much time thinking about is the period of transition during the years before and after World War I that America went through as it became a world power. Page believed firmly that the United States would soon pass Great Britain as THE world power and took to his job as ambassador from that standpoint. He was not arrogant, he just saw where things were going.

This book would be great for someone looking for primary resources concerning American and British relations in the pre-WWI years.