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“I had called him a son of a bitch to his face, and took off my glasses when I said it”

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i have been trying to read more biographies of great men

i will add this to my reading list

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Strongly recommend!

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I’m deeply wrapped up in Mechams biography of Lincoln now. Unabridged, the audiobook is read by the author. So timely. Complicated. Emotionally comforting. Technically, it’s a different genera ... but .. not really.

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How does it compare to Meacham's book on Jefferson?

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Great question. I got Jefferson last year after dropping by Monticello. It’s what inspired me to try another by the author. Jefferson had an unusual style I needed to get used to (each chapter seems to start at T0 and reach into the future, covering a different theme), but overall, it seems much more interpretive (like many biographies, hence the current review here) whereas Lincoln feels much more dependent on written documents .. lots of letters and deep-seated, documented turmoil. Jefferson was much more cerebral in the usual way whereas Lincoln is probably much more open to the readers experience operating with the same source material. In short, Jefferson was about an intellectually complicated individual born into privilege whereas Lincoln was quite the opposite yet, navigating very real existential crisis. His writings feel terribly contradictory (not unlike some contemporary politicans) but Mecham does a good job exposing the social duality he was living through, both inward and outward. I’m just httting chapter 20 so I’ve got a ways to go ..

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Your description here really sold me. I’m also hesitant to start really long books, but I find that quality of emotional turmoil in Lincoln very captivating as well. (From reading Lincoln’s Melancholy primarily, though it comes out in some of the famous speeches and anecdotes at the surface level too)

In general I’m fascinated by tensions and contradiction. Often the opposing forces combine to present deeper truths. I will add to my reading list.

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TL:DR: Jefferson was enlightening, Lincoln is hitting me like a ton of bricks - at an important time.

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A lot of good, modern CEO’s are like Lincoln while a decent start up founder is maybe much more like Jefferson.

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What have you been reading recently, or read recently, that you recommend (or recommend against)? Always on the lookout for a good biography.

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Aug 26, 2023·edited Aug 26, 2023Author

Strongly recommend “The Infidel and The Professor” about David Hume and Adam Smith. Have also been enjoying “The World of Yesterday” by Stefan Zweig from that genre.

Edit: Saw the notification but didn't realize this question wasn't for me!

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I listened to “The Infidel and The Professor” on audible, really enjoyed it. One of many consistently excellent recommendations from Econtalk. Hume and Smith are particularly close to my heart.

Haven't read Zweig's book but it's now on my list. I enjoyed his little book on Montaigne. Skimmed wikipedia on "The World of Yesterday" and this struck me—"Zweig begins by stating a law: no witness to significant changes can recognize them at their beginnings." Seems true. Also seems many writers on Substack are trying to prove this wrong...

Appreciate you jumping in. I need all the good advice I can get.

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