The selection of books for summer reading (Opinion Exchange, May 28) was notably lacking an accurate depiction of America. Most significant are books addressing the New Deal and how it changed America for the better. Books such as “Fear Itself” by Ira Katznelson and “A Traitor to His Class” by H.W. Brands should be on the list. What we really are dealing with today is the conservative reaction to the changes advanced by Franklin Roosevelt. Another book that would tell more about why we are where we are is “The Invisible Bridge” by Rick Perlstein, which addresses the early 1970s and the rise of Ronald Reagan. One constant in each of these books is the role of race in what has happened since the 1930s. Adding such books would balance what is otherwise a conservative description of what America is and is to become.
Karl Sonneman, Winona, Minn.
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In addition to the books presented by members of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, “Changing The Bully Who Rules The World,” by Carol Bly, is a mindful selection. It is a brilliant work filled with practical insight to assist evolution in our thinking and behavior. From the description on the back: “Bosses, partners, government, corporations — all can act as bullies in our lives, intimidating us to their will.”
This book “examines some of this century’s most far-ranging concepts about how to nurture ethical humans and presents them through the lens of excellent contemporary literature” paired with exceptional commentary. Carol’s book gifts us with insightful messages and powerful actions to contemplate and incorporate into our lives during this “complex and murky era we all inhabit” and, just as significantly, into our future.
Judith Kroening, St. Anthony
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There is one book I keep thinking about in these Donald Trumpian times that didn’t make the Star Tribune’s list of reads.
It’s Jimmy Breslin’s brilliant and hilarious book about Richard Nixon and Watergate titled “How the Good Guys Finally Won.”
Breslin, who just passed, was a street and politically smart New York City newspaper columnist who knew phonies when he saw them, and never let them off the hook.
He also knew, and wrote about, how politicians of intelligence, integrity and craft can work to get things done.
Breslin focused on people like Tip O’Neill, Peter Rodino and John Doar who helped rid the nation of a bad president, one who thought he was above the Constitution, while preserving our hard-won democratic values.
My guess is that whatever fate awaits Trump — and, more important, all of us — will be decided ultimately by Congress, and only secondarily — if at all — by a criminal charge or a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
And a not-so-dead newspaper-based media — not CNN, Fox or Twitter — will have laid the groundwork.
Paul Gustafson, Minneapolis
The writer is a former Star Tribune reporter and former executive assistant to Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.
Here we are on our high horse, when we do it, too
Former CIA Director John Brennan’s message to Congress, printed with the May 28 editorial (“Get all the facts on Russian interference”), was rather amusing when considered in the light of all meddling the CIA and other branches of our government have done to foreign governments, including our allies.
The United States was involved in the installation of forces responsible for the death of more than 100,000 people in South Korea in the late 1940s.
Evidence shows CIA involvement in the ousting of the Whitlam Labor government of Australia in 1975. Check Congress’ Pike Report of 1976 for large-scale interference in Italian politics. The list of governments the U.S. has tried to influence covertly or overtly in this hemisphere and the rest of the world is almost endless.
Russia’s attempt at influencing our election seems amateurish compared to our government’s historical actions.
Dennis Hoyne, St. Francis
It’s the parents
Regarding “State puts new focus on school absences” (May 28): Once again, the Star Tribune writes an article about educating children omitting the most important word: parents. Where parents highly value education and stress its importance to their children, children learn and succeed. Parents are responsible for making sure their kids attend school. Schools can help by calling the parents immediately when a child does not show up for school. The education system can also reach out and educate parents on the importance of regular school attendance.
Dennis West, Minneapolis
No value proposition
On the May 28 Business section “Viewpoint” interview with John Mesko (“Despite many barriers, organic farming still a growth industry): The real problem for organic farming, if Mr. Mesko would be willing to admit it, is the value proposition for organic food — there is none. And if Mesko had, indeed, been in conventional farming and biotechnology research, he would know this. The best science says organic food is not safer nor more nutritious, and there is very little good science that says it is better for the environment than conventionally produced food — but the consumer will pay much more for it. What the organic food industry does do well is market itself.
William Pilacinski, Blaine
WALKER SCULPTURE CONTROVERSY
A missed opportunity
Let’s be clear about this: Great art is not about pretty pictures. The power of great art lies in its ability to provoke, unnerve, make us think. What a chance missed here by Walker! Art is not made by committee, or by consultation; it’s forged in the heart and the imagination of the artist. In this country we profess to believe in freedom of expression: love it, hate it or be indifferent — that’s your right. But if we’re going to start burning art, at least let’s be honest about what it is we’re doing. This is censorship at its worst, done in the name of political correctness. While we’re at it, why not throw a few books onto the pile? Only the ones we object to, of course, on the grounds that they are offensive to some people. That makes it OK, right?
Judith Guest, Edina
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I drove over to see it. It was gigantic; it was powerful; it was horrible to see and understand what it represented. History has two sides, but that is not the present issue. I think the sculpture should have been left standing, covered with a permanent black shroud of wood or steel, and, once a year on the anniversary of the hanging, uncovered for one day only, then covered again to become a black mark. Once burned, it will be gone forever, and the history it tells will be relegated once again to a shadowy past, not taught in schools. This monument, even shrouded, could have been a marker, a reminder to tell the story again and again.
Stuart Borken, St. Louis Park
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Better than burning the wood from the scaffold “sculpture” after its dismantling would be donating it to Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Better Futures Minnesota’s ReUse Warehouse or any other organization that can make use of the building materials.
Nancy Johnson, Northfield