Book bits

Q&A with Carl Bernstein

Carl Bernstein, one of America's most famous journalists, tells the life story of Hillary Clinton in "A Woman in Charge." In an interview, he discusses what he learned about the would-be president:

What do you think people would be most surprised to learn about Hillary Clinton from your book?

Recommended: Default

That she is a very different person and much more complicated than she has portrayed herself or how she is perceived to be. She is very different than the caricatures that are out there.

How so?

From her childhood, which was difficult, with a father who was verbally abusive and humiliated her mother, to the role of religion in her life, which is a fundamental of who she is ... almost everything she wrote about in her autobiography has another dimension that she has left out or obfuscated.

What will be her biggest personal strength in the presidential race?

She has a formidable intelligence. She is running for president with more knowledge about the White House and the presidency than any incoming president has ever had, including former vice presidents. She lived there and she was in essence a copresident for part of the time, although she had great difficulty and failed at many things.

And her biggest personal weakness?

Dealing with the fact that she has had, as I've put it in the book, a truth-telling problem in her public life for many years.

Are there any lessons we can learn from how she handled her husband's infidelity?

It's probably the most unattractive and disturbing aspect of her story…. Many people recognized when Bill was in early 20s that he was one of the great political talents of our era. Only she understood that even with all of that political talent, he would not be politically viable if his sexual compulsions and their effects became known. For the next 25 years she dedicated herself to covering up the effects of that sexual compulsion.… In the process of covering up ... she savaged some of the women and had them investigated.… But one assumes that that's behind her, that the necessity of doing that to make her husband politically viable no longer exists.
– By Randy Dotinga

Three books about pirates

Moviegoers eager to meet some real-life "Pirates of the Caribbean" can now pick up The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward. Journalist and author Woodward tells the fascinating story of pirate captains Edward "Blackbeard" Teach and "Black Sam" Bellamy who set up a form of pirates' cooperative in the Caribbean in the 1700s. "The Republic of the Pirates" is the ultimate in beach reading – breezy, colorful, and rich in history and action.

Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army by Stephan Talty offers a vivid portrayal of legendary privateer Capt. Henry Morgan. Morgan was a Welshman who sailed into the New World in the 1600s and, in the name of the British Empire, led a ragtag band of thieving pirates against the Spanish. Full of plenty of swash and buckle, Morgan's daring, larcenous, and ultimately tragic life makes for fascinating reading.

For an encyclopedic grasp of the world of the pirates, try Pirates, Predators of the Seas: An Illustrated History by Angus Konstam and Roger Michael Kean. This lively text offers colorful maps to help relate the history of pirates around the world, including the little-known story of two renowned female pirates.
– By Marjorie Kehe

Great Outdoor Reads

Looking for an excellent outdoor-adventure book for your summer reading? Ron Watters, editor of the anthology "The Outdoor Experience," lists some of his favorites, including:

Scrambles Among the Alps in the Years 1860-69 by Edward Whymper

Steep Trails by John Muir

To Build a Fire by Jack London

The Singing Wilderness by Sigurd F. Olson

Travels in West Africa by Mary H. Kingsley

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powells and the Second Opening of the West by Wallace Stegner

For more titles, see Watters' website at ronwatters.com.

Readers' picks

Seventy-five pages into Wallace Stegner's Pulitzer-winning Angle of Repose, I'm fully engaged. The artful merging of the narrator's voice as a wheelchair-bound historian writing from his home in Grass Valley, Calif., with the touching story of his grandmother's journey west 100 years earlier is heartbreakingly beautiful.
– Bob Clark, Clearwater, Fla.

Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman tells of the development of a self-sustaining village in the isolated savanna of eastern Colombia by a group of visionaries, engineers and technicians, artisans, peasants, and natives to prove they could survive in the most brutal environment imaginable. This is one of the most exciting books I have read in ages.
– Deanna Young, Seattle

Katharine Graham's memoir Personal History tells the dual stories of her development into the powerful woman publisher of The Washington Post newspaper, against the historical backdrop of JFK, LBJ, the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. And those are only two of the fascinating elements of this book.
– Art Scott, Flagstaff, Ariz.

I lived through the time depicted in March to a Promised Land, The Civil Rights Files of a White Reporter, 1952-1968, but was still unprepared for the stunning writing found in this book by former UPI journalist Al Kuettner. At the end, I felt I had been part of the march!
– Radine Trees Nehring, Gravette, Ark.

At roughly 700 pages, Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man seemed daunting, but thanks to Dale Petersons deft hand at storytelling I was fully engaged all the way through. This is one I'll read again.
– Gina Hanzsek, Snohomish, Wash..

What are you reading? Write and tell us at Marjorie Kehe.

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