Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"His Creole wife preferred to keep the Atlantic between them"

I'm excited. I have picked up a succession of mediocre books, some of which I haven't finished, and one of which I won't finish. (This does not include Brian Burton, Brett.)

Today, however, I received, on Sean Nalty's recommendation, Roy Franklin Nichols's The Disruption of American Democracy and snuck in a chapter at work. I don't know yet whether it will contain great insights. Perhaps I will violently disagree with it -- the dedication "To The Memory of William A. Dunning" makes me queasy.

The prose, however, is just superb. Consider this brief description of Judah Benjamin:
[John] Slidell's colleague from Louisiana, Judah P. Benjamin, a Sephardic Jew, was smooth and urbane, his countenance suffused with a perpetual smile. He possessed a superior intelligence, but he was just as opportunistic and just as lustful for power and place. His Creole wife preferred to keep the Atlantic between them and dwelt in Paris, confining her connubial responsibilities to whatever favors she would grant him during his occasional summer visits to the French capital.

Who can resist writing like that?

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