- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
The Icarus Syndrome is the best history book that I have read this year. Beinart surveys American foreign policy from the Wilson administration through the 2nd Bush administration. His thesis is that there have been different policy strategies that have worked over the past century, but these strategies cause problems when the government becomes overconfident in its ability to succeed.
The most recent case is the dominant, nation building strategy of the Clinton and Bush administrations. According to the author it sort of worked in the first Iraq war and in Bosnia, but it led to disaster when George Bush over confidently decided that he could bring democracy to Iraq simply by overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
Although not everyone will agree with the thesis, the writing is strong and interesting and Beinart's research was very thorough.
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. Every November Americans celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday of feasting and school children are taught the story of the Pilgrims who arrived on the ship Mayflower in 1620 and settled New England. In this well-researched historical narrative Nathaniel Philbrick fleshes out the background of this American story and its underlying issues of race, violence and religion which began long before the landing of the Mayflower and continued for decades after the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims (not all religious separatists) at first kept a tenuous but peaceful relationship with Native Americans. Both groups were decimated by disease, and soon were at war with one another. This is the book to read if you want to know the adult version of the widely publicized, but probably not the first, Thanksgiving.