The Book Club

Couldn’t Put It Down


Let me get this straight.

  1. We both say this is a great book. This is not surprising; everyone says that. Yet,
  2. Neither one of us, we agree, would have bought it in the first place. I believe you suggested you preferred to read the biography of a horse.
  3. You think J.P. Morgan did nothing sufficiently noteworthy to justify Jean Strouse’s last 15 years if research.
  4. Neither one of us believe there was anything innately “special” about Morgan’s talents.
  5. Both of us would choose to sit next to Whittaker Chambers over Morgan at the proverbial dinner party in the sky.
  6. But we really, really like this book.

Now. Has this been an exercise in generating specious criticism of an excellent book because it’s too difficult to come up with 750 words a day counting the ways it’s so brilliant? Or are we a couple of slip-streamers who don’t have the intestinal fortitude to slam a book that all our leading lights are fawning over? I’d hate to think either is true.

Instead, let’s close out the dialogue by suggesting that while Strouse has done a masterly job reassembling the life and times of an important man, it is also true that not all great men lead intrinsically fascinating lives, leave us a legacy of fascinating ideas, or muster unique talents in the furtherance of their interest. In sum, this is a superb biography, but one that will probably captivate only students of the period.

Now Jim, with all that out of the way, do you think Secretariat hated his mother?