Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: August, 2012

670: Howard Hughes by James Phelan

670.92: Phelan, James. Howard Hughes: The Hidden Years. New York: Warner Books, 1977. 299 pp. ISBN 0-446-89521-0.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Technology
  • 670: Manufacturing
  • +092: Biography

James Phelan does what Clifford Irving couldn’t: he wrote a respectable biography of the final years of the great Howard Hughes. In the cultural landscape, there are two Hugheses—the monolithic business genius who amassed great wealth through his ingenuity in aircraft and tool manufacturing and the eccentric almost xenophobic shell of a man he became in his last years. Everyone knows the first half of the story, but only a select few got live access to the latter.

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781: Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

781.660973. Klosterman, Chuck. Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story. New York: Scribner, 2005. 235 pp. ISBN 0-7432-6445-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 780: Music
  • 781: General principles and forms of music
  • 781.6: Traditions of music
  • 781.66: Rock ‘n’ roll
  • +0973: United States

Armed with 600 CDs, Chuck Klosterman is sent on a road-trip across the United States to visit the places of rock mortality—the buildings, fields, and memorial sites where members of the rock ‘n’ roll community met their untimely end.

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880: Greek Classics by Mary Ellen Snodgrass

880.8: Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Greek Classics. Lincoln, NE: Cliffs Notes, Inc., 1988. 389 pp. ISBN 0-8220-0566-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 880: Literatures of classical Greek and Hellenic languages
  • 880.8: Collections of classical Greek literature

I wish I had a more profound and glorious book to review for my 100th post, but since I have a pattern going here, it’s just a hum-drum collection of classical Greek literature. Seven more to go before I have officially read one book in every Dewey division.

You may have noticed that I did the same thing here that I did with 870, i.e., read a condensed version of classical literature of a certain culture. That’s because the only to get a pure 880 is to find a collection classical Greek literature, most of which are several volumes long. I don’t have that kind of time (or that kind of patience). Back in the day, men of stature and learning would study volumes of works by the great Greek and Roman authors, hoping to incorporate some of their past lessons into their lives. And I expect to do some of the same, but that’ll have to wait until I get deeper into this division.

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946: The Last Day by Nicholas Shrady

946.9033: Shrady, Nicholas. The Last Day: Wrath, Ruin, and Reason in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 New York: Viking, 2008. 209 pp. ISBN 978-0-670-01851-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: General history of Europe
  • 946: General history of the Iberian peninsula, Spain, and adjacent islands
  • 946.9: General history of Portugal
  • 946.9033: 1750-1807, including the Pombaline reforms

On November 1, 1755—All Saints’ Day—thousands of Lisbon’s citizen studiously marched to any of the dozen churches in the city to hear Mass. At 9:15 a.m., when the penitent were packed in the pews, the earth let loose a violent tremor. Then, ten minutes, later the ground quaked worse and leveled the city. A third tremor helped what was still standing to the ground. Since every house had a hearth, these now open flames, lit the rubble ablaze and burned the debris to ashes. If that wasn’t enough, the quake, whose epicenter was off the Portuguese coast, unleashed a massive tsunami that destroyed many of the ships in dock and washed away the entire business center of the port. After that, began the first modern disaster relief effort.

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083: The Words of Albert Schweitzer by Albert Schweitzer

083.1: Schweitzer, Albert. The Words of Albert Schweitzer. Selected and edited by Norman Cousins. New York: Newmarket Press, 1984. 96 pp. ISBN 0-937858-41-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 000: Computer Science, Information, and General Works
  • 080: General Collections
  • 083: General collections in other Germanic languages
  • 083.1: General collections in German

[This book was so short that I finished it in about an hour, so I thought I’d treat you to another review today.]

When you first come upon the “general collections” division in the Dewey (080s), it’s a bit confusing. The classification note for 080 reads as such: “Class here abstracts, addresses, lectures, essays, interviews, graffiti, [and] quotations.” This means that books that are just a collection of any of those things get sorted here. Since today’s subject—Albert Schweitzer—originally wrote in German and since it is a collections of quotations and an excerpt from a speech, the only place to fit this volume is in 083.

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170: On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

170.8: Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals. Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage, 1989. 149 pp. ISBN 0-679-72462-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 170: Ethics (Moral Philosophy)
  • 170.8: History and description of ethic with respect to kinds of persons

There’s a reason I was never a philosophy major in college. While I did take two courses—Existentialism and Medieval Philosophy—I never got the hang up over proving one system of thought better than another. The history of the world has seen somewhere between 75 and 120 billion persons (roughly), each with their own way of looking at the world. The possibility that there exists a single system of thought that governs all of them is infinitesimal. But—people keep trying to come with one anyway.

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277: Meetinghouse Hill, 1630-1783 by Ola E. Winslow

277.4: Winslow, Ola Elizabeth. Meetinghouse Hill, 1630-1783. New York: W.W. Norton, 1972. 316 pp. ISBN 0-393-00632-8.

Dewey Construction:

  • 200: Religion
  • 270: Christian Church history
  • 277: Christianity and the Christian Church in North America
  • 277.4: Christianity and the Christian Church in the Northeastern United States

Ola Elizabeth Winslow’s Meetinghouse Hill, 1630-1783 covers the history of New England town churches through Pre-Revolutionary America. What at first seems like a history of a single church in a single town is actually a tapestry portrait of the religion and civics of a whole region. She starts with a group of Massachusetts Pilgrims who go through the arduous process of electing town elders, church pillars, a teacher, and a pastor. Each choice is prayed, reasoned, discussed, and voted on. Church creation was a very serious matter in the mid-17th century and each decision was scrutinized to within an inch of its life.

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