Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: January, 2013

941: The Land That Never Was by David Sinclair


941.1074092: Sinclair, David. The Land That Never Was: Sir Gregor MacGregor and the Most Audacious Fraud in History. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo 2004. 350 pp. ISBN 0-306-81411-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 941: History of the British Isles
  • 941.1: History of Scotland
  • 941.1074: During the reign of George IV, 1820-1830
  • +092: Biography

I have the flu today. As the virus passes through my body, making everything hurt, issuing forth all sorts of coughing fits, I have to pause for a moment and gain a bit of perspective. As wretched as I may feel, there is no chance that I have it worse off than the people in David Sinclair’s The Land That Never Was. In 1822 and 1823, two groups of Scottish immigrants departed across the Atlantic to start a new life in Central America. The land of Poyais, as it was called, was to be a bounteous landscape, with opportunities for farmers to grow and sell many new European staples. They sold their entire livelihoods for the chance to strike out into the great unknown. There was just one catch—the nation of Poyais did not exist.

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269: A Shopkeeper’s Millennium by Paul E. Johnson


269.20974789: Johnson, Paul E. A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837. New York: Hill and Wang, 1990 [1978]. 141 pp. ISBN 0-8090-0136-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 260: Christian social theology
  • 269: Spiritual renewal
  • 269.2: Evangelism
  • +0974789: Rochester, New York

The early 1800s in America were a very interesting time. The Revolution was behind us and the population was moving inland. Most U.S. cities were concentrated around sea ports, but the vastness of the interior of the new United States was a big temptation for land speculators and budding farmers. Along with them came a new era of quasi-lawlessness and country justice. Rushing to fill this moral vacuum were local ministers and preachers fostering a sense of personal responsibility and religious living. This was the Second Great Awakening.

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306: The Call of the Mall by Paco Underhill


306.30973: Underhill, Paco. Call of the Mall. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. 213 p. ISBN 0-7432-3592-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 306: Culture and institutions
  • 306.3: Economic institutions
  • +0973: United States

For most of us, the mall has been around for as long as we can remember. But we hardly think about it that much; we just take it for granted. But Paco Underhill, on the other hand, founder of Envirosell, thinks about them all the time. His job is to meet with store executives and help run their stores better, by actually sending in his team of observers and watching how shoppers interact with the sales staff, the fixtures, and the products. Let’s see what he finds out.

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809: This Craft of Verse by Jorge Luis Borges


809.1: Borges, Jorge Luis. This Craft of Verse. The Charles Eliot Norton Lecture Series, 1967-1968. Edited by Calin-Andrei Mihailescu. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. 150 p. ISBN 0-674-00290-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 809: History, description, or critical appraisal of more than two literatures
  • 809.1: Poetry

Most years since 1925, Harvard University has invited an accomplished writer or artist to give a series of lectures regarding “poetry in the broadest sense.” Speakers have included T.S. Eliot, Czeslaw Milosz, Aaron Copland, and John Cage. In 1967, they chose one of my favorite writers: Jorge Luis Borges. These six lectures sat in the Harvard audio archives for 30 years before they were found and transcribed for the next generation. His series, entitled “This Craft of Verse,” illustrates not only a theory of poetry, but also Borges’s connection to his readers and the world.

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573: Unraveling Piltdown by John E. Walsh


573.3: Walsh, John Evangelist. Unraveling Piltdown: The Science Fraud of the Century and Its Solution. Bath, UK: Bath Press, 1997. 219 p. ISBN  0-679-44444-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 570: Life Sciences
  • 573: Specific physiological systems in animals, regional histology and physiology in animals
  • 573.3: Anatomy and general biological processes

With the bitter winter winds blowing about, my training runs have been postponed until it at least climbs over 30 degrees F outside. That said, it gives me more time to hunker down and get through another book. Today’s selection looks at fraud in the scientific world. Now, we’ve all heard of art forgery and corporate fraud, but deliberate deception in the scientific world takes on a different aura. Not only do scientific frauds set back discovery, they also cast doubt on all those involved, guilty or not, for a long time afterwards. This is one such tale.

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974: The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto


974.7102: Shorto, Russell. The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America. New York: Vintage, 2005. 325 pp. ISBN 1-4000-7867-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 970: History of North America
  • 974: History of the Northeastern United States
  • 974.7: History of New York State
  • 974.71: History of the Borough of Manhattan
  • 974.7102: History of Manhattan during the colonial period, 1620-1776

For years, Charles Gehring has been at the New York State Library, toiling away at a single task: translating the original Dutch records of the colony of New Amsterdam. In 1624, a contingent of settlers left The Netherlands to establish a permanent European presence just south of the Pilgrims who had settled just fours before. The next year, 45 more colonists arrived. They weren’t all Dutch—the atmosphere in The Netherlands was already one of religious, social, and political tolerance, so a mixture of European settlers came to the colony. Today, we now New Amsterdam by a different name, though. Today, it’s called Manhattan.

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741: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons


741.5941: Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics Inc., 1995. 416 pp. ISBN 978-0-930289-23-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 740: Drawing and decoration
  • 741: Drawing and drawings
  • 741.5: Cartoon, caricatures, or comics
  • +941: Collection from the British Isles

741 is probably the most fun section in the entire Dewey classification. While it does contain dusty volumes on how to draw animals and forms, it also holds all the comics books in the world. That’s the funny distinction in literature these days. If the dominating feature of a work of fiction is that it’s drawn, then it’s taken out of the literature class and plopped into fine arts. Now, no one will disagree that premier graphic novels can be just as good as literary novels, but they are still separated into their own subsection of the Dewey. Now, on to my pick.

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