Top Ten Books of 2009, Number Six

Top Ten Books of 2009, Number Six

Terry Teachout, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong Even if you don’t like jazz (how could you not like jazz?), you’ll enjoy this new biography of one of the greatest of all time, Louis Armstrong. Too many Americans know Armstrong’s inimitable voice from “It’s a Wonderful World” but they don’t know his even more inimitable jazz sound as a pioneer in a distinctively American art form. Terry Teachout, drama critic

Top Ten Books of 2009, Number Seven

Gilbert Meilaender, Neither Beast Nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person I am stunned by how often I hear evangelical Christians (including some very conservative ones) who have no idea how to think about bioethical issues beyond the question of abortion. There seems to be a “no abortion/no problem” attitude among some evangelicals when it comes to questions of reproductive technology and so forth. The problem is a previous

Top Ten Books of 2009, Number Eight

Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor I’ll admit I was afraid to read this biography. I love the work of Flannery O’Connor and I was afraid, as with so many other literary biographies (see the recent one on John Cheever, for instance), that I would walk away from it hating her. Far from it. There are no scandals in here. No gossipy “morsels.” No catalog of hypocrisies or

The Princess and the Frog? Yes and Neaux

As one who grew up right across the state line from New Orleans and spent most of my young life romping through its streets and marshes, I took my family to see Disney’s latest animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” set in the Crescent City and the bayous around it. Since then several have asked whether it’s a thumbs-up or a thumbs down. I’ve got mixed feelings. Here’s the

Top Ten Books of 2009, Number Nine

Eugene Genovese, Miss Betsey: A Memoir of a Marriage I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better example in print of a man honoring his wife and, beyond that, honoring marriage itself. Historian Eugene Genovese writes here a kind of love letter to his recently departed wife, scholar Elizabeth Fox-Genovese. The Genoveses were for many years Marxist atheists, though, as the book notes, probably the only Marxists “who believed in