The Flag, The Poet and The Song by Irvin Molotsky

The Flag, The Poet and The Song by Irvin Molotsky:

I found this book to be extremely irritating. As far as history books go, it is a far cry from the standard. The author, contrary to most historical texts I have read, frequently interjects personal opinions on the events he desribes. For instance, early in the book, he mentions, not once, not twice, but three times in the same paragraph the fact that Francis Scott Key, the writer of the Star-Spangled Banner, owned slaves. The point being that he, the author, was critical of someone whose words espoused freedom should have been a slaveholder. Molotsky does this personal interjection more than once throughout the book. In its strictest sense, a historian should be more objective when writing.

As a historical piece, it is quite fascinating, especially since he covers areas that are not that well-known to most American citizens, including the fact that the burning of Washington during the war of 1812 was instigated by a similar act taking by the U.S. Army in Canada just a few weeks earlier.

Most of the first few chapters tell the story of the war as it lead up to the British army's failed attempt to take Baltimore and Fort McHenry, from where, as a prisoner on a British ship, Key wrote the words to the American national anthem. Later chapters detail the rise in popularity and its official recognition as the national anthem.

All in all, it is well-written and were it not for the frequent interjections of opinion, I might have given it a higher rating.

Rate this one 5½ stars.


Uncle John's....by B.R.I.

The book in particular I will be referencing for this review is Uncle John's All-Purpose Extra Strenghth Bathroom Reader by the Bathroom Reader's Institute. But I have bought several of these over the years and although the specific subjects are different, this reveiw could easily be used to reccomend any of the B.R.I. titles.

Years ago, in the prehistorical era, one had to spend their time in the bathroom with only the newspaper or, in the case of public restrooms, the bathroom stalls, to read. But beginning in 1988, the Bathroom Reader's Institute (B.R.I.) began culling one to four page highly trivial articles and publishing them in book form. These were named Uncle John's Bathroom Readers. Later in history, the B.R.I. published combined volumes such as the one pictured here. In more recent years, they have expanded to publish collections with a particular theme, such as history or science.

Each collection has lots of little brief passages to help you while away the time spent on the porcelain throne. For instace, on page 291 of the volume here is an two page listing of some very humorous dumb crook stories, like the woman who thought her drug dealer had gypped her and went to the police to verify if the crack she bought was real. If you have more time, on page 251 is an article on how the Statue of Liberty came into existence and how it was acquired by the United States.

Nothing says you have to read this only in the bathroom however. I spent almost a week taking this volume with me wherever I was going and reading the articles while waiting in line at the post office, or at traffic lights, or during my lunch break at work. If people ask why you are reading a "Bathroom Reader" while you are not in the bathroom, you have my permission to be creative. See how many weird looks you get when you glance down at your pants and then look up and say in all innocence..."Whoops!"

Rate this volume 8 stars. Rate the overall series 7½ stars. (Only get the specific themed series if you are really interested in the subject as, if you aren't, it can be rather monotonous.