‘Pin Picks: Se7en

Oh, dolly, today we’re helping our gal Pistol Packin’ Mama hook her ‘rents up with a new read. Her dad (love ‘im) is totally one of those War Book Dads (not to be essentialist), which is often an overlapping set with the Golf-Themed Paperweight Dads, but that’s beautiful too. Look at us, wanting different things! Hold hands, little children. I’m going to go with your Dad’s list, but your Mom is totally a slam-dunk for 84, Charing Cross Road, so buy it for her right away, okay? Promise me!

1. A World Lit Only By Fire, William Manchester — This is interesting, because I kind of disagree? I think Manchester’s Churchill books are incredible, but as someone with a medieval lit background, I feel like Manchester was kind of faking it a little in this one? He’s reasonably upfront about it not being his field, but then why not write that boss biography of Churchill’s mom that I’ve been agitating for, instead? BUT THAT’S OKAY! It’s still helpful for my purposes that your dad (and mom!) love this book.

2. The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman — Okay, I’m totally groovin’ on your dad, Pistol Packin’ Mama, because that book is my jam. Tuchman is SO GOOD AT WRITING ABOUT HISTORY, and I now immediately know what I’m gonna tell your dad to read. I don’t care if his next pick is “Broadway Musicals of the 1930s.” (I hope it is, though!)

3. John Adams, David McCullough — HAHAHAHA, Classic Dad. Classic, classic Dad. I hear they hand this book out in maternity ward waiting rooms now, instead of cigars (because of the fire hazard). No, that’s wild. Annnnd, now I’m actually a little torn on your recommendation, because there’s another David McCullough you might like even better. Crumbs. Okay, we’re going with Option #2.

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt, David McCullough — Teddy Roosevelt is the greatest. I actually have a mini-shrine to Teddy Roosevelt in my foyer. Not with candles, or anything (fire hazard), but with a painting and some books, including The Roosevelt Women, because, as McCullough basically tells us, if Teddy’s sister had had a dick, she would have been THE GODDAMN PRESIDENT. Like most of his contemporaries, of course, Teddy was horrible on issues of land rights for Native Americans, so I’m not exactly endorsing him for 2012. This is really a fabulous read, even if you’re not a Golf-Themed Paperweight Dad.

Oh, and my original recommendation was going to be for Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, which is certainly not for everyone, but it probably IS for your Dad, who may secretly like Margaret Thatcher? I kind of have some love for Margaret Thatcher myself, or at least for the fake Denis Thatcher letters in Private Eye.