Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Able McLaughlins - Winner, Novel, 1924

The Able McLaughlins
By: Margaret Wilson
Harper, 1923

It is so easy for me to get bogged down in many of these books that require so much thinking. I have learned so much from the heavier books, but I often find myself looking forward to the novel that won each year. I know that for at least a week or two I will be able to relax. The Able McLauglins was, for me, a welcome respite. I could just sit back and read.

The story centers around a Scottish family in the Midwest during the late 1800s. It focuses mainly on the oldest son, Wully, who is a Civil War soldier returned from battle. We see him become a man as he woos his wife, builds his home, faces great heartache and pride, and, ultimately, triumphs over the great foe of his life.

I continue to enjoy the novels that take place in the Midwest. Until now the stories have mostly been about the developing cities of the Midwest. It was interesting to read a story focusing on the life of farmers on the plains. We often forget what the early pioneers had to endure. It is also interesting to see that many of the interpersonal problems that they dealt with are the same as problems we have today. Definitely an interesting and easy read.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation - Winner, Non-Fiction, 1924

The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation
By: Charles Howard McIlwain
The Macmillan Company, 1924

Thank goodness for the rare prize-winning book out there that is less that 200 pages long! I have been a bit overwhelmed, especially in the non-fiction category, with the multi-volume works that won Pulitzers. Fortunately, this book was the exception.

McIlwain belonged to the historical school of thought concerning the Revolution and constitutional conflict that dominated the early twentieth century, although that school was beginning to wane as the progressive historians, who focused on economic motives for the Revolution rather than constitutional, took over. In The American Revolution: A Constitutional Interpretation, he spends a great deal of time attempting to prove his argument that the colonists had constitutional precedents that supported their demand for their rights as Englishmen. McIlwain mainly compares England's constitutional relationship with Ireland to its relationship with the American colonies, but also its relationship with Scotland and several other of Great Britain's imperial holdings.

The argument is interesting, although I wouldn't say the entire book is. I am interested to see how interpretations of the American Revolution evolve over the years through the reading of these Pulitzer winning books.