Mixing a former M15 agent with a dishy priest and a bunch of Hollywood gossips is guaranteed to be at least entertaining and potentially explosive.
“Don’t shoot, G-Man,” Machine Gun Kelly cried out to the federal agents who were moving in to arrest him in 1933. The term later came to be synonymous with FBI special agents.
The notion of Americans reinventing themselves has become such a well-worn trope — even among cliches — that one is hesitant to use it. I can never forget that self-appointed cultural arbiter, the late Susan Sontag, using it over and over again to explain what her novel chronicling the California life of Polish actress Helena Modjeska “In America” was about.
“I believe our entire nation is in the midst of a collective coming of age crisis without parallel in our history,” writes Ben Sasse, junior senator from Nebraska and former president of Midland University.
Much as I deplore the trend within the academy towards ever more micro-courses dealing with a subsection of a subject, when it comes to books honing in on such slices of history, I feel entirely differently. After all, is it too much to ask that if a college course does not quite leave students seeing life steadily and whole (in the words of Matthew Arnold), it should at least give them some context and not result in them not knowing, say, who came first, Jackson or Lincoln?
“Saints for All Occasions tells the stories of the Flynn sisters: Nora and Theresa, who leave their home in Ireland to settle in Boston in 1958. Theresa is the adventurous one; Nora is the older, shy, responsible one. She’s engaged to Charlie Rafferty, who is already in Boston.
One of the problems with a book titled “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution” is that, more than two centuries after ratification of that document, we still have no real consensus on exactly what is meant by the term “middle class.”