Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Only Yesterday 02 (Continued)

Only Yesterday
Frederick Lewis Allen
New York: Bantam Books, 1931.
An ironic view of the 1920s, from the end of World War I to the collapse of the stock market in 1929.


Calvin Coolidge on what to do with the "Reds": My motto for the Reds is S.O.S.--ship or shot. I believe we should place them all on a ship of stone, with sails of lead, and that their first stopping place should be hell. p. 41.

The KKK: ...the preposterous vocabulary of its ritual could be made the vehicle for all that infantile love of hocus pocus and mummery, that lust for secret adventure, which survives in the adult whose lot is cast in drab places. p. 46.

KKK: To unite white male persons, native-born Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person or maintain forever white supremacy. p. 47.

The division of public opinion on the [Sacco-Venzetti] case was largely a division between those who thought radicals ought to be strung up n general principles and those who thought that the test of a country's civilization lay in the scrupulousness with which it protected the rights of minorities. p. 60.

....millions of [ex-soldiers] had been provided with an emotional stimulant from which it was not easy to taper off. Their torn nerves craved the anodynes of speed, excitement, and Passion. They found themselves expected to settle down into the humdrum routine of American life as if nothing had happened, to accept the moral dicta of elders who seemed to them still to be living in a pollyanna land of rosy ideals which the war had killed for them. They couldn't do it, and they very disrespectfully said so., p. 66.

Sex, it appeared, was the central and pervasive force which moved mankind. Almost every human motive was attributable to it; if you were patriotic or liked the violin, you were in the grip of sex--in a sublimated form. The first requirement of mental health was to have an uninhibited sex life.... And clergymen who preached about the virtue of self-control were reminded by outspoken critics that self-control was out of date and really dangerous. p. 69.

Meanwhile a new sort of freedom was being made possible by the enormous increase in the use of the automobile, and particularly of the closed car.... The automobile offered an almost universally available means of escaping temporarily from the supervision of parents or chaperones, or from the influence of neighborhood opinion.... The automobile had become a 'house of prostitution on wheels'.... p. 70.

The publishers of the confession magazines, while always instructing their authors to provide a moral ending and to utter pious sentiments, concentrated n the description of what they euphemistically called 'missteps.' p. 71.

To be continued.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Only Yesterday 01

Significant Sentences: Only Yesterday (01)
Frederick Lewis Allen
New York: Bantam Books, 1921.

An ironic view of the 1920s from the end of World War I to the collapse of the stock market in 1929. Its theme: “Whether the human race gains in wisdom as time goes by is uncertain; the one thing we can be sure of is that its absurdities take changing forms.”

Shout as the crowds might for Wilson and justice, they voted for Lloyd George and vengeance. p. 17.

Now that the Germans were beaten, a score of jealous European politicians were wondering what they could get out of the settlement at Paris for their own national ends and their own personal glory…. They went to Paris determined to make a peace which would give them plunder to take home. p. 17.

As Ray Stannard Baker has well put it, Wilson was ‘accustomed to getting his information, not from people, but out of books: documents, letters—the written word’ and consequently ‘underestimated the value of human contacts.’

Again and again, it was he [Wilson], and he only, who prevented territories from being parceled out among the victors without regard to the desires of their inhabitants. p. 18.

He [Wilson] fell into the pit which is dug for every idealist. Having failed to embody his ideal in fact, he distorted the fact. He pictured the world to himself and to others, not as it was, but as he wished it to be…. The story of the Conference which he told to the American people when he returned home was a very beautiful romance of good men and true laboring without thought of selfish advantage for the welfare of humanity. p. 20.

Henry Cabot Lodge…believed in Americanism. He believed that the essence of American foreign policy should be to keep the country clear of foreign entanglements unless our honor was involved, to be ready to fight and fight hard the moment it became involved, and, when the fight was over, to disentangle ourselves once more, stand aloof and mind our own business. p. 20.

Harding: America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration…not surgery but serenity. p. 30.

(To be continued)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Significant Sentences: Introduction

Significant Sentences from My Favorite Books
Over the years, I have read thousands of books. Some have influenced me so much as to become permanently engraved on my consciousness. I can’t forget the books or the ideas in them. In all of the books I have read, I have underlined ideas that interested me, ideas that I could think about and reflect on, their meanings deepening as I have lived longer and gained more experience. These ideas are the essence of the books.

I have collected these “significant sentences” for each book. In another blog, I have summarized the books I have read in alphabetical order ( And in another, I have collected the sentences according to topic ( In this blog, I would like to share the significant sentences from my favorite books. As I say in my introduction to the significant sentences in each book:

The Sentence as Essence
“….because of the ideas conceived and circulated generation after generation civilization endures, progresses, and deepens.” Albert Schweitzer.

“We have here an example of what has been often said, and I believe with justice, that there is for every thought a certain nice adaptation of words which none other could equal, and which, when [a writer] has been so fortunate as to hit, he has attained, in that particular case, the perfection of language.” Dr. Samuel Johnson.

The single sentence can contain the essence of a paragraph, of a chapter, sometimes of an entire book. In this [blog], the reader will find the single sentences that I believe are most interesting in __________. Each of these selected sentences, while obviously related to preceding and following sentences, can stand on its own merit as an idea. As Boswell said of one of Dr. Johnson’s works, “…almost every sentence…may furnish a subject of long meditation.”

Raymond Stopper (rays)
March 25, 2007.