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Editors’bookshelf

June 2024
1min read


If yesterday’s Presidents examined their images on today’s coins and then turned them over, Lincoln might be embarrassed to encounter a grandiose monument to himself, while Washington would probably be pleased and surprised to find 50 states sharing quarters with him. It is certain, however, that Jefferson would be proud to see his beloved Monticello. The sumptuous Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 218 pages, $45.00) is illustrated with everything from sweeping aerial views to exquisite interior shots to close-ups of dusty hand tools and bits of slate unearthed by archeologists. The text, by four members of Monticello’s scholarly staff, discusses the house and plantation from the standpoints of architecture, decorative arts, horticulture, and the daily lives of Jefferson, his family, and his free and enslaved workers.

In 1992 Eric Marcus’s Making History celebrated the fact that the gay-rights movement was finally mature enough to have a history. During the 10 years since its publication, things have changed to the point where no television series seems complete without a gay character. In response, Marcus has written an expanded version with an expanded title, Making Gay History (HarperCollins Perennial [paperback], 479 pages, $15.95). The book consists mostly of interviews with activists, which yield some grimly amusing moments (“I read that homosexuals could not whistle. I could whistle, so I didn’t quite know what to make of that”). Less committed readers may prefer to skip over such details as the menu of an important dinner one couple shared (“It was London broil and artichokes”) and the canned expositions of personal philosophy (“I’m a socialist, which means, of course, that I’m anticapitalist and leftist…”).

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