It’s A Wonderful Life

(dir. Frank Capra) (1946) Utopian dreamer George Bailey (James Stewart) receives a Dickensian gift as he prepares to jump off a bridge; a glimpse at local conditions if he’d never been born. Full of sentiment but not sentimental, TVC challenges you not to be reaching for your hankie by the conclusion.    

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Islamic Arts

(by J Bloom & S Blair) Despite ongoing conventions, Islamic Art (an extremely wide term, used here for convenience and coherence) flourished beyond the merely decorative or doctrinal. This sumptuous Phaidon edition is a good entrée to the flowers of the various Muslim empires in history.

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A Savage War of Peace

(by Alistair Horne) Terrific, informative, thrilling account of the French being kicked off the Barbary Coast. I don’t know if Algiers is better off, but at least they own it.

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The Life of Thomas More

(by Peter Ackroyd) Highly readable and balanced life (and death) of the contentious, hair-shirted and many faceted ‘man for all seasons’ (omnium horarum). Beatified but no saint, an intolerant believer and a survivor who sacrificed himself on principle, he remains an enigma and a controversial one. This book comes close to doing justice to all sides and all sides of the man and one can’t do much better than that.

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The Children’s Hospital

(C. Adrian) O you lovely book!  From the first, gasping, rolling hurtling minutes, through the green fire and the black death to the final sad biblical parade, I love all of your pages.

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