Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: October, 2013

324: 1912 by James Chace


324.9730912: Chace, James. 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs—The Election That Changed the Country. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 284 pp. ISBN 0-7432-0394-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Science
  • 320: Political science, politics, and government
  • 324: The political process
  • 324.9: History and geographical treatment of elections
  • 324.973: Campaigns in the United States
  • 324.9730912: U.S. Presidential election of 1912

In 1912, the political landscape of the United States was fracturing at the party level. President William Taft, the conservative republican incumbent, had only ever wanted to be on the Supreme Court, but was hand-picked by his progressive predecessor Theodore Roosevelt for the nation’s top office. Two years before, a political disagreement between the two led to internal strife in the GOP. The split led Roosevelt to run from his own party, the Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party. Meanwhile, the Democratic Convention saw New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson emerge as the candidate after 46 ballots. Lastly, the Socialist candidate Eugene Debs joined the fray. James Chace’s 1912 is a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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098: Great Forgers and Famous Fakes by Charles Hamilton


098.3: Hamilton, Charles. Great Forgers and Famous Fakes: The Manuscript Forgers of American and How They Duped the Experts. New York: Random House, 1988. 268 pp ISBN 0-5175-4076-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer Science, Knowledge, and General Works
  • 090: Manuscripts, rare books, or other rare printed materials
  • 098: Prohibited works, forgeries, and hoaxes
  • 098.3: Forgeries and hoaxes

There are innumerable people in this world who are just looking to make a quick buck, no matter the ethics or consequences. In the literary world, there are those who try to sell stolen rarities that they’ve pilfered from museums and private collections. Others still, simply create them from thin air. Thousands of autographs and letters are “found” every year and released onto the market. For every ne’er-do-well, however, there is somebody trying to call them out for it. For a while, the one of the world’s best authenticators was Charles Hamilton. He recounts some of his more interesting cases in Great Forgers and Famous Fakes.

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873: The Metamorphoses of Ovid


873.01: Ovid. The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. San Diego, CA: Harvest, 1993. 559 pp. ISBN 0-15-170529-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 870: Latin and Italic literatures
  • 873: Latin epic poetry and fiction
  • 873.01: Latin fiction of the Roman period

To fully investigate the entirety of Greek and Roman mythology  would take a lifetime. Luckily, Ovid did all the heavy lifting two thousand years ago. Every mythological figure you can think of is in here—from Jupiter to Perseus to Jason to Pygmalion to Romulus. Ovid’s history start at the creation of the universe and goes up to the Caesars of Rome and paints the chronology as a series of changes. In fact, the first lines have the poet saying “My soul would sing of metamorphoses.” Also playing a heavy part is the role of the love god Amor, who is constantly affecting the course of history.

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390: All the Time in the World by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins


390: Jenkins, Jessica Kerwin. All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2013. 264 pp. ISBN 978-0-385-53541-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Science
  • 390: Customs, etiquette, and folklore

Jessica Kerwin Jenkins’s All the Time in the World is a delightful collection of historical anecdotes, asides, and trivia arranged like a traditional book of hours. Historically, a book of hours was an ordered collection of prayers, rituals, and devotionals to be learned and practiced at regulated times of the day and certain days of years. While each book was different and unique to its owner, it allowed the reader to incorporate elements of monasticism into their religious lives.

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911: A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton


911: Brotton, Jerry. A History of the World in Twelve Maps. London: Penguin, 2013. 445 pp. ISBN 978-0-141-03493-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 910: Geography and travel
  • 911: Historical geography

Maps serve two functions. They give you information—where people have been, places people have mapped, and the names given to those places. They also give you a destination, they let the heart roam over distant lands, and hope for an adventurous future. This information and hope have driven human history in more ways than we think. Beginning with a cuneiform clay tablet found in the site of the ancient city of Sippar in Babylonia, maps exist as an interesting window into how a civilization (or at least the mapmaker) views the world. In the 15th century, when the technology and means caught up to the desire to explore, the edges of the maps begin to be filled in and mankind got a truer picture of the world it inhabits. Jerry Brotton’s History of the World in Twelve Maps is a look at the world by investigating maps created at key points in history and what those maps say about the humans making them.

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248: Silence by Diarmid MacCulloch


248.46: MacCulloch, Diarmid. Silence: A Christian History. London: Allen Lane, 2013. 239 pp. ISBN 978-1-846-14426-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 240: Christian practices and observances
  • 248: Christian experience, practice, and life
  • 248.4: Christian life and practice
  • 248.46: Individual observances

One of the most powerful social forces is silence. A silent man before a crowd speaks volumes without opening his mouth. Silence is powerful in that it forces the listener to be still within themselves, to not desperately fill the moment with words. In an age where media of all sorts constantly surrounds us, it is nice to gain a little perspective and be silent. Diarmid MacCulloch’s Silence is a look at the use of silence in the history of Christianity.

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822: Shakespeare is Hard, But So Is Life by Fintan O’Toole


822.33: O’Toole, Fintan. Shakespeare is Hard, But So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Granta, 2002. 162 pp. ISBN 1-86207-528-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 820: English and Old English literatures
  • 822: English drama
  • 822.3: Drama of the Elizabethan Period, 1558-1625
  • 822.33: William Shakespeare

I’m a firm believer that if you are a reader of English, you need to get at least one Shakespeare play under your belt as an adult. High schools trot out Shakespeare and try to make students understand it, but they’re basically brain damaged until the age of 25 (talk to any neuroscientist, they’re with me on this). If you’ve read one and don’t enjoy it, well, that’s fine by me, but don’t immediately dismiss the idea altogether. Fintan O’Toole’s Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life is an ardent attempt to get people who would normally write off Shakespeare as oblique and antiquated to approach it in terms that they’ll understand.

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