Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dennis Lehane Strikes Again

If you liked Mystic River and Shutter Island, try The Given Day.  I hope it gets to film.  The Given Day is about America, specificallly Boston, from 1917-1919.   Babe Ruth and the Red Sox are here, but also African-Americans from Ohio and then Oklahoma, and of course, the Irish.  We learn about the great Mollasas flood (This is for real!), the great influenza outbreak (This was real, too, and apparently began in Boston), and most of all the great police strike of 1919.  Our hero is a police detective who is ordered to infiltrate the anarchist and communist groups of the time, sort of like Muslims today.

This book is well researched history, but it is also about today.  Published in 2009, it was eerie to read about labor struggles and defeats last winter while Scott Walker the cruel was crushing the public worker unions in Wisconsin.

I was a conservative republican my first two years of college.  I was acting out against my Dad’s unionist Democratic Party politics.  By the time I graduated I had changed.  I was proud that my Dad could come to my graduation and hear Walter Reuther give the commencement address.  (I wish I could find a copy of this speech in the U of Iowa archives.)

Lots of lessons here.  Again it is about failure.  And how ultimate success often comes through the sacrifice and deaths and failure of thousands before us.  Changing the world is really hard, but we dare not say impossible.

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