A Patriotic Pick: February 2020

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here is one such title, suggested by Kathy Cannon Wiechman, winner of 2015’s inaugural Grateful American™ Book Prize (for Like a River: A Civil War Novel).

Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s masterful, multi-volume chronicle of our 16th (and possibly greatest) president deserves a prominent place on every serious reader’s shelf.

 

Patriotic Picks is a monthly feature in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Patriotic Picks: December 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

  • “Scoundrel Time” by Lillian Hellman. In gripping detail, the activist/playwright recounts her surreal — and fraught — experience of being hauled in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era.
  • “The Financier” by Theodore Dreiser. Greed, backstabbing, and the relentless pursuit of power take center stage in this caustic, cautionary tale of the American Dream gone horribly wrong.
  • “Death Be Not Proud” by John J. Gunther. Stricken with a fatal brain tumor, 17-year-old Johnny nonetheless perseveres with tremendous maturity and goodwill in this heartbreaking memoir written by his grieving father.

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Patriotic Picks: November 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

  • “The Winds of War: A Novel” by Herman Wouk. This sweeping narrative — along with its sequel, War and Remembrance — chronicles the trauma, glory, and sacrifice experienced by one American family during and after WWII.
  • “The Joy Luck Club: A Novel” by Amy Tan. The author’s warm, witty debut tells the story of four Chinese immigrant women and their complex, sometimes fraught relationships with their American-born daughters.
  • “Watergate: A Novel” by Thomas Mallon. Although set in the 1970s, this darkly comic, fictionalized account of the Nixon debacle — and some of the major and minor players caught up in it — feels positively timely.

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Patriotic Picks: October 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

 

  • “Maggie-Now” by Betty Smith. From the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn comes this story of a young woman struggling to navigate men, a career, and an unquenchable desire to make her own way in the world.
  • “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Quick-witted George and simple-minded Lennie companionably eke out a living on hardscrabble California farms. But a tragedy soon unfolds that forces one man to commit an unthinkable act.
  • “Mama’s Bank Account” by Kathryn Forbes. This inspiration for the classic TV show “I Remember Mama” chronicles the triumphs and trials of a Norwegian-American family in early-20th-century San Francisco.

 

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Patriotic Picks: September 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

 

  • “1984” by George Orwell. Though written and set in Great Britain, this chilling, dystopian tale of Big Brother feels eerily relevant in the 21st-century United States.
  • “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Even in Puritan Massachusetts, the shameful “A” emblazoned on her chest can’t make Hester Prynne reveal the name of her lover. (Spoiler alert: It’s Dimmesdale.)
  • “3 by Flannery O’ Connor” by Flannery O’Connor. “Wise Blood,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” and “The Violent Bear It Away” comprise this matchless trio from the country’s foremost short-story writer.

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Patriotic Picks: August 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

 

  • “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. This final installment in the author’s prairie trilogy chronicles the lives of hardy 19th-century immigrants attempting to tame the wilds of Nebraska.
  • ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ by Herman Wouk. In this classic love story, a young Jewish woman in 1950s New York City seeks fame and fortune on the stage.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. How quintessentially “of the U.S.” is this tale of racism and hope set in the Deep South? In 2018, it was named the country’s “#1 Best-Loved Novel” by PBS’ Great American Read.

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Patriotic Picks: July 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

 

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This story of the ragamuffin Huck’s journey down the Mississippi River offers an often coarse, scathing commentary on racism and 19th-century societal norms.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Childhood in circa-1912, working-class Williamsburg is captured through the eyes of Francie Nolan, a young girl whose eccentric New York family is, by turns, scandalous, loving, erratic, and jubilant.
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. An elderly Cuban fisherman battles a massive marlin — and, ultimately, himself — in this classic man-versus-nature tale spun in a spare, beautiful style.

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Patriotic Picks: June 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

 

  • Obscure Destinies by Willa Cather. The Great Plains serve as the harshly beautiful backdrop for this trio of novellas about sacrifice, pride, love, and the endurance of the human spirit.
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. A 14-year-old boy ends up with a front-row seat to the Boston Tea Party, the first shots of the Revolutionary War, and other pivotal events from our nation’s birth.
  • The Good Times by Russell Baker. In this entertaining memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author recalls his often absurd (and absurdly funny) days working his way up the rungs of the newspaper ladder.

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Patriotic Picks: May 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

 

Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser. Class inequality, lost love, and personal sacrifice collide in this early-20th-century tale of a young lady’s struggle to make — and remake — her life in the face of tragedy.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. The famed poet’s first memoir is as much an account of her own fraught childhood as it is a story of the country’s ongoing problems with racism and casual bigotry.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The glitzy excess of Jazz Age New York forms a lavish backdrop for a brash millionaire’s pursuit of both the woman he desires and the (often elusive) American dream.

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Patriotic Picks: April 2019

Whether it’s via their tone, topic, or tenor, certain works just say “America.” Here are three such titles, suggested by David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, in partnership with the Washington Independent Review of Books.

  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. After being driven by fear from a Civil War battlefield, a young Union private regains his nerve and seeks an honor-bestowing combat wound.
  • Iacocca: An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca. In larger-than-life style, the son of Italian immigrants recounts his role in salvaging the American auto industry, and the slings and arrows he endured along the way.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. New England sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March grow into womanhood in this classic coming-of-age tale from the mid-19th century.

Contact

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