Now Hear This
I've just read Kevin Phillips's review of Howard Dean's and Graydon Carter's books (Book World, Sept. 19) on democracy in America. I've known for some time most of the points that Phillips makes about the "blatant White House hypocrisy," because I'm pretty well read. But something occurred to my as I was reading this review: I don't remember reading any of this information on the front page of your newspaper or any other newspaper for that matter, and especially not on the TV evening news. Why don't we have headlines like:
PRESIDENT BUSH VOWS TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS EVEN AS HE CUTS THEIR BENEFITS
PRESIDENT BUSH DECLARES MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
SO HE CAN CUT HAZARDOUS-DUTY PAY TO SOLDIERS
Most people only scan the headlines, if that. The Post does a great disservice to the people of this country by not treating this as important information.
New Windsor, Md.
The Lindbergh Question
Jonathan Yardley (Book World, Oct. 3), commenting on The Plot Against America, Philip Roth's novel about the imaginary election of Charles Lindbergh as president in 1940, notes that after making a notorious anti-Jewish speech in 1941 -- in which Lindbergh accused "the Jews" of "pressing this country toward war" -- he "turned to less heated matters and became an elder statesman." It is troubling that despite Lindbergh's expressions of bigotry, our nation's leaders continued to treat him with respect and admiration. President Truman chose Lindbergh for a mission to postwar Germany, Eisenhower named him a brigadier-general, Kennedy and Johnson invited him to the White House, and Nixon appointed him to his environmental advisory committee.
In our own time, Lindbergh-style accusations about Jewish war-mongering have been heard from individuals such as Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), former Sen. Gary Hart and television talk show host Pat Buchanan, who have publicly charged that Jewish members of the Bush administration tricked America into war against Saddam Hussein in order to help Israel. Despite the obvious intimations of bigotry in their statements, Hollings et al. continue to be treated as legitimate participants in mainstream political culture. This is a mistake: It lowers the standard for civilized discourse and grants credibility where it is not deserved.
RAFAEL MEDOFF, Director
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
Melrose Park, Pa.
Same Old Story
Richard Lipez's review of Ian Rankin's Witch Hunt (Book World, Sept. 26) gives the impression that he is commenting on a new or at least recent book. For example: "Perhaps, in this age of ideologically driven terror, Rankin wishes to avoid the obvious." Odd, considering that the book was written 11 years ago.
Witch Hunt, published in 1993, was one of three books written by Rankin under the name of Jack Harvey. (The two others are Bleeding Hearts and Blood Hunt.) Rankin fans are well aware of Rankin's Jack Harvey books; I'm surprised that a reviewer of mysteries would not give your readers a clue to Witch Hunt's previous publication and the author's chosen pen name at the time.
You've Got to Read This
I enjoyed reading Chris Shea's Book Report on high school summer reading lists (Book World, Sept. 19). Such lists have also become standard in middle schools, and, as a library/media specialist, I have been bothered by the old copyright dates of most of the books on my school's list, ones I was exposed to in library school in the 1970s. Today young adult literature is chock full of new, high-quality books that span fantasy, real-life issues, historical fiction, science fiction and humor.
Unfortunately, there is often no input from the library/media specialist in the schools when these lists are composed (often by higher-up English teachers). The reality is that the library/media specialist is the one who has a sense of what students' reading tastes are. Each day we see what students choose to read, not what they are required to read for a grade.
We have the pleasure of browsing through the shelves with students, talking about what they read last that they really liked, comparing our reading tastes, discussing authors, saving that new book for an especially interested reader, and in general just talking about great books in a non-threatening, non-graded situation. Why then, I wonder, when the invitation went out at the end of the article to "teachers, parents and students to suggest a shortlist of books you think high school juniors and seniors should be reading," were library/media specialists once again not singled out as people who could make a valuable contribution to this endeavor?
Silver Spring, Md.
In Jonathan Yardley's review of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America (Book World, Oct. 3), he notes that "it says a great deal about Roth that when he accepted an award from PEN, the international writers' organization, not long after the publication of The Human Stain, it was this provocative passage he chose to read to the assembled literati at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington."
The occasion was specifically Roth's acceptance of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Human Stain, at the Folger, on May 12, 2001.
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