A Handbook of Politics for 1868 [to 1894]

Philp & Solomons
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Publisher
Philp & Solomons
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Published on
Dec 31, 1868
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Pages
406
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Language
English
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This content is DRM free.
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Essays on America’s changing environment from an author who is “funny and searching—a joy to read” (Elizabeth Kolbert).
 
What does it mean to think about Dallas, the city where JFK was shot, in relationship to Dallas, the show that just seventeen years later made “Who shot J.R.” a national catchphrase?
 
This collection of essays looks at seven diverse American places and reexamines them in the light of history, experience, and myth. Taking on topics from private streets, racism, and the St. Louis World’s Fair to fracking for oil and digging for dinosaurs in North Dakota boomtowns, this book both warns about the dangers we face as a nation and “explores America in all its beauty and strangeness” (Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction).
 
“In his energetic and incisive collection of essays, The History of the Future, McPherson thoughtfully examines seven markedly different American sites. In doing so, he zeros in on the manner in which cultural representation and the pull of nostalgia skewer our self-image at this critical juncture in American history, too often steering us away from our most pressing concerns. His often quirky study reveals the suppressed violence that ravages our communities’ social harmony as well as the environmental balance we so desperately need to preserve.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
“Taken together, this travelogue of the familiar and the strange exposes multiple anxieties latent in the national subconscious: racial inequalities, the dread of disaster, the chase after short-term profits, the eroding meaning of home. McPherson’s depth of research, the inventiveness of his prose, and his sensitivity to municipal undercurrents make this a first-rate work of social analysis.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
 
“Edward McPherson’s meditations on the United States—from its soaring, vulnerable architecture to its deep underground tunnels—are bracing in their acknowledgment of what’s been lost to time and his anxieties about what’s ahead. This is a smart and beautifully written book about America.” —Rebecca Traister
There is one card game that towers above all others as the most intelligent, intricate, and psychologically absorbing ever to be invented. It has a rich history. It's played and loved by some of the world's most famous and influential people. And it's not the one that's currently on television twenty-four hours a day.

In 1925 Harold Stirling Vanderbilt invented modern bridge, and a national craze was born. In the 1930s, bridge was even bigger than baseball. Its devotees would eventually include the Marx Brothers, George Burns, Wilt Chamberlain, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who played to unwind before the Normandy invasion. Today bridge players number about twenty-five million in the U.S. alone; current celebrity addicts include Warren Buffett (who goes by the online handle "T-Bone"), Bill Gates, Hugh Hefner, Sting, a sitting Supreme Court justice, and the guys from Radiohead.

In this spirited homage, Edward McPherson recounts the history of the game while attempting to master its deep mysteries in time to compete at the North American Bridge Championships in Chicago. Barely able to shuffle cards let alone play bridge, he sets out to discover why the game became and remains such a popular pastime, stopping in Dallas, Kansas City, Gatlinburg, Gettysburg, Las Vegas, and London. He focuses on a handful of professionals and eager but fumbling amateurs, and the characters he meets convince him that in a game that pits mind against mind, close attention to the cards often reveals much about those sitting at the table. He attempts to learn from bridge's devoted fans—from white-haired grannies and international playboys to teenage pros and billionaires—how its legacy can be preserved for future generations. And along the way, he picks up a playing partner of his own: Tina, a New York octogenarian with sharp card skills and energy to burn.

Insightful, funny, and steeped in respect for bridge, The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats is an affectionate view of a grand game by an outsider trying to make his way into the inner circle.

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