Next up was the definitely more serious The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age by Martha Nussbaum, a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. She believes that there is a rise in intolerance for Islam worldwide as evidenced by new legislation banning headscarves in France and the immediate belief that a Norwegian massacre was the work of an Islamic extremist before it was discovered that the perpetrator was in fact a right-wing Norwegian. Nussbaum believes that the United States may be better equipped to handle these questions because we don’t have one single ethnic or linguistic identity but are a blend of many different influences. We already have the ideals in place, even though the performance is sometimes lacking such as with the early Mormon Church. Our reviewer thought it was a thought-provoking book and especially liked the international approach.
The popular image of the Civil War has all the people in a state firmly on one side or another, Rebel or Yankee. The truth is more complex, as Lewis F. Fisher demonstrates in No Cause of Offence, the true story of a family of slave-owning Unionists in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Samuel Lewis, the patriarch, made no secret of his conviction that the United States should remain as one nation, putting him at odds with his neighbors. At one point, the family had to abandon their home as a battle swirled over their land, leaving dead and wounded behind; Stonewall Jackson used their home as his headquarters. The family story continues after the war, when the family is involved in Reconstruction. Fisher, a Lewis descendant, drew on family records as well as newspaper and official accounts to produce this slim but most interesting book.
Last but certainly not least, The Searchers by Glenn Frankel drew rave reviews from two club members. The book’s title comes from the movie of the same name, an extremely influential Western starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford. Frankel doesn’t limit himself to the movie, and therein lies the strong appeal of this book. He examines the true story on which the movie is based, the kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker by the Comanche, looking not only at the facts as we know them but at the changing interpretations of those facts and mythologizing of the West. Finally, he looks at the effect the movie had on the American psyche. This multifaceted approach has made this a very popular book, and it continues to make the rounds of Nevermore readers.