Latest reading

Haven’t posted my reads in a while.  Which doesn’t mean I’m not reading…

Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government, by Gregory Levey.  A memoir of Levey’s time working for the Israeli government.  Levey was going to law school in New York and getting bored, so he decided to apply for an internship with the Israeli delegation to the UN.  (Levey is Canadian, but he is Jewish.)  He was told that they did not have interns, but they offered him a job as a speech writer instead.  Thus began his career with the Israeli government, which eventually led to his moving to Israel and working as a speech writer on Ariel Sharon’s staff.  It’s a pretty funny book, largely centered on the various mistakes that Levey made along the way (including one time that he cast Israel’s vote on a UN resolution without actually knowing what that resolution was, and another time when he used the remnants of his high school French to translate a statement from the French government, a translation that ended up in several news stories, and one where he was not at all confident of his accuracy).  A funny book, though certainly light.

The Civil War by Shelby Foote.  Somehow, over several years of reading about the Civil War, I’ve never gotten around to reading Shelby Foote’s massive three-volume history.  I’m coming to regret the lapse.  Foote was a novelist who wrote a history of the war, and it is an excellent read.  Further, it reads like a novelist’s view on the war – Foote’s descriptions of the various generals and politicians read like a novelist’s descriptions, complete with piercing eyes and dark black hair.  The books mostly cover the military aspects of the war – if you want detailed discussions of the economics, you should look elsewhere.  I’m through the first two volumes now – putting the third aside for a while.  But they have been a great joy.

One note on the Foote trilogy: I’m finding a real joy in reading his take on the late unpleasantness.  It’s a story that I know well, but hearing Foote’s version makes it fresh.  I’ll also note that while Foote clearly has sympathies for the south, I don’t find them overwhelming.  On the whole, I think he presents a balanced view.  (Though he does degenerate into Lee hero-worship sometimes.  It isn’t too bad, all in all.)

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