Representative Men

Representative Men by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Representative Men by Ralph Waldo Emerson

A series of biographical lectures originally published in 1850. Each chapter is a philosophical treatment of the life of an intellectual. The six representatives are Plato, Swedenborg, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Napoleon and Goethe.

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The People of the Abyss

The People of the Abyss by Jack London

The People of the Abyss by Jack London

Jack London lived for a time within the grim and grimy world of the East End of London, where half a million people scraped together hardly enough on which to survive. Even if they were able to work, they were paid only enough to allow them a pitiful existence. He grew to know and empathize with these forgotten (or ignored) people as he spoke with them and tasted the workhouse, life on the streets, … and the food, which was cheap, barely nutritious, and foul.

He writes about his experiences in a fluid and narrative style, making it very clear what he thinks of the social structures which created the Abyss, and of the millionaires who live high on the labors of a people forced to live in squalor. “The food this managing class eats, the wine it drinks, the fine clothes it wears, are challenged by eight million mouths which have never had enough to fill them, and by twice eight million bodies which have never been sufficiently clothed and housed.”

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The Philippics

The Philippics by Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Philippics by Marcus Tullius Cicero

A philippic is a fiery, damning speech delivered to condemn a particular political actor. The term originates with Demosthenes, who delivered an attack on Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BCE.

Cicero consciously modeled his own attacks on Mark Antony, in 44 BC and 43 BC, on Demosthenes’s speeches, and if the correspondence between M. Brutus and Cicero are genuine, at least the fifth and seventh speeches were referred to as the Philippics in Cicero’s time.

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The Eye of Dread

The Eye of Dread by Payne Erskine

The Eye of Dread by Payne Erskine

The Civil War is upon the United States, and the town of Leauvite has sent away its young men, among them Peter Junior and Richard Kildene. When they leave, Betty Ballard is but a child, but by the time the war has ended, she has become something else entirely. Wounded, Peter Junior finds his time at Betty’s father’s studio, learning to become an artist, until one day he proposes to her after deciding to go to France. Of course, she agrees to wait for him. Meanwhile, Richard, who has decided to work on the railways, expects that when he gets back, that Betty will be waiting for him. With these complications, problems begin to arise…

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Notes of a War Correspondent

Notes of a War Correspondent by Richard Harding Davis

Notes of a War Correspondent by Richard Harding Davis

Experiences and observations of the journalist in the Cuban-Spanish War, the Greek-Turkish War, the Spanish-American War, the South African War, and the Japanese-Russian War, accompanied by “A War Correspondent’s Kit.”

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Royal Children of English History

Royal Children of English History by E. Nesbit

Royal Children of English History by E. Nesbit

E. Nesbit writes about some of the people behind the names, dates and battles of English History in this lovely book for older children.

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Diversions in Sicily

Diversions in Sicily by Henry Festing Jones

Diversions in Sicily by Henry Festing Jones

Samuel Butler’s biographer dedicates his urbane account of the culture and entertainments of rural Sicily to the unborn son of his guide to them.

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Laugh and Live

Laugh and Live by Douglas Fairbanks

Laugh and Live by Douglas Fairbanks

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films such as The Thief of Baghdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro. His book, Laugh and Live, is a book about positive virtues and advice for leading a good, healthy, and successful life. An advisory about this book is in order. It was written at a time when “men went to work, women kept house, and supported their man”. Some of the writing and references are old-fashioned by today’s standards. Several ideas may be at odds with plans for successful lives today, especially for female listeners. Listeners should still find many valuable common-sense suggestions for leading a wholesome life.

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Common Sense

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Common Sense, Paine’s pro-independence monograph published anonymously on 10 January 1776, spread quickly among literate colonists. Within three months, 120,000 copies are alleged to have been distributed throughout the colonies, which themselves totaled only four million free inhabitants, making it the best-selling work in 18th-century America. Its total sales in both America and Europe reached 500,000 copies. It convinced many colonists, including George Washington and John Adams, to seek redress in political independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and argued strongly against any compromise short of independence. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

This is James Joyce’s first novel, the semi-autobiographical story of a young Irish boy who struggles with family, country, and religion to become an artist and a man.

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