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On their summer reading lists ...

| Saturday, June 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Reading simply for sheer pleasure certainly has its summertime place. But books that balance enjoyment with substance hit a seasonal sweet spot and are more rewarding reads.

First, books recommended for summer reading by three folks you might have heard of:

George F. Will, whose syndicated columns appear regularly in these pages, likes the following titles this summer.

• “Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition” by Jean M. Yarbrough (University Press of Kansas, 2012) — Will tells the Trib, “It is especially important just now to understand how thoroughly progressives, then and now, reject the Founders' natural rights basis of limited government.”

• “The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945” by Rick Atkinson (Henry Holt & Co., 2013) — “This completes his magnificent ‘Liberation Trilogy.' Readers of this volume will hasten to read the previous two.”

• “P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters” by P.G. Wodehouse, edited by Sophie Ratcliffe (W.W. Norton & Co., 2013) — “Wodehouse was incapable of writing a bad or even dull sentence. Having read 73 of his novels, I look forward to his letters.”

What U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., is reading this summer reflects his elected position, the history of the state he represents and his own background. His choices are:

• “The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV” by Robert Caro (Vintage, 2012), part of a massive, multivolume biography of America's 36th president. Casey says he's reading this book because he's interested in Senate history.

• “Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat” by Raymond Walters (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1957), which drew the interest of Scranton native Casey because of Gallatin's roots in another region of the Keystone State, Western Pennsylvania.

“Fraternity” by Diane Brady (Spiegel & Grau, 2012), a book whose cover says, “In 1968, a visionary priest recruited 20 black men to the College of the Holy Cross and changed their lives and the course of history.” Casey says that as a Holy Cross alumnus, he's interested in reading about this transformative period in the school's history.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, is reading these three books this summer:

• “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek, which has become a classic work on how overreaching government and central planning lead to tyranny and economic ruin; first published in 1944, it's available in numerous editions.

• “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, 2011), tells the story of the German Lutheran pastor and theologian famed for his role in the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler, helping to smuggle Jews to safety in neutral Switzerland and being executed by the Nazis for his dissident activities.

• “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. First published in 1937 and available in many editions, this book was a forerunner of today's personal-success/self-help genre; it condensed material that the author developed through research prompted by a suggestion from none other than Andrew Carnegie and had published earlier in “The Law of Success.”


Here are three other books, all new, that make fine choices for summer reading:

“The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game” by Edward Achorn (PublicAffairs) — This book focuses on German-born Chris von der Ahe, a 19th-century St. Louis beer-garden proprietor. He knew little of baseball but saw in it an opportunity to sell more “suds,” so he risked his life savings to own a franchise (which would become today's St. Louis Cardinals) in the upstart American Association.

Backed by like-minded bar owners, brewers and distillers, the American Association — in which forerunners of today's Pittsburgh Pirates played from 1882-86 — challenged the “haughty” National League, broadening baseball's appeal with Sunday games, ballpark beer sales, easily affordable 25-cent tickets and rosters full of “drunks and renegades,” drawing “huge crowds of rowdy spectators,” according to the publisher.

Concentrating on the 1883 St. Louis Browns-Philadelphia Athletics pennant race, this book portrays both the American Association and the changing nation it entertained until it folded after the 1891 season.

“Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey” by Peter Carlson (PublicAffairs) — Telling a little-known yet true story that seems like a cross between historical fiction and a page-turning thriller, this book draws on accounts written by title subjects Junius Browne and Albert Richardson.

Both were Civil War correspondents for Horace Greeley's stridently abolitionist New York Tribune when Confederate forces captured them near Vicksburg in May 1863.

They were shuffled through Confederate prisons rife with disease, lice, overcrowding and malnutrition for more than 19 months before escaping in western North Carolina during winter.

They had to walk 200 miles — by night, often in deep snow — to reach Union forces, near Knoxville, Tenn.

They were fed and warmed by slaves, concealed by wives of hidden Confederate draft evaders, guided by a mountain man and aided by a secret Southern society of Union sympathizers and a teenage horsewoman who “rode to their rescue at just the right moment,” the publisher says.

The author, a former Washington Post reporter and columnist, tells a colorful, vivid, lively tale that offers fresh Civil War insight.

“America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century — Why America's Greatest Days Are Yet to Come” by James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus (Encounter Books) — “Sunny” fittingly describes this book, which National Review editor at large John O'Sullivan wryly says “is in danger of giving conservative optimism a good name.”

Noting government's current failings, the authors — a writer and entrepreneur who co-founded two private space transportation companies (Bennett) and a Chicago lawyer and blogger (Lotus) — assert that “the end of big government does not mean the end of America,” as the publisher puts it. They see the nation entering a third phase in its history.

Their “America 1.0” of family farms and small businesses was supplanted by an “America 2.0” of big cities, unions, businesses and government. Emerging is “America 3.0” — “post-industrial, networked, decentralized” and bringing “immense productivity, rapid technological progress, grater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government.” The transition won't be easy, but “is the only path forward” in their view.

Alan Wallace is a Trib Total Media editorial page writer (412-320-7983 or

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