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This very interesting White House photo of edits made by the President before delivering his Inaugural Address (courtesy of James Fallows), gives the reader great insight into President Obama’s thinking, not to mention his editing abilities. As James Fallows points out, you can see how the president begins to work toward a reference to Abraham…

Barack Obama, Editor

This very interesting White House photo of edits made by the President before delivering his Inaugural Address (courtesy of James Fallows), gives the reader great insight into President Obama’s thinking, not to mention his editing abilities. As James Fallows points out, you can see how the president begins to work toward a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. “That line isn’t in this draft shown in the picture— at least not the part we can see. But Obama is working toward it with this handwritten insert at the top of the page:
Through blood and toil ____ we learned that no nation founded on these principles could survive half-slave and half-free.
Fallow writes, “He recognizes that “toil” is not right—“blood and toil” would be an allusion to Churchill, not Lincoln—but he also knows that for cadence he needs another word after “blood,” where he’s crossed out “toil” and left a ___ mark.”

Posted by Joel on February 23 2013 • Current Affairs

Lincoln for our Time

The New York Times reviews Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism by John Burt in the upcoming Sunday Book Review. Of course, it being President’s Day weekend, not to mention the movie Lincoln being nominated for so many awards, our nation’s 16th president seems to be a popular subject for readers at the moment. The book examines Lincoln as a moral philosopher. Steven Smith cites Harry V. Jaffa’s “Crisis of the House Divided,” published in 1959.

“A student of the philosopher Leo Strauss, Jaffa argued that the issue between Lincoln and Douglas during the 1850s was the clash between Lincoln’s doctrine of natural right and Douglas’s doctrine of popular sovereignty. This was, as Jaffa declared, identical to the conflict between Socrates and Thrasymachus in Plato’s “Republic.” Douglas argued that whatever the people of a state or territory wanted made it right for them. For Lincoln, however, only a prior commitment to the moral law could make a free people.” Now, for the first time in half a century Jaffa’s book has a serious rival, writes Smith, a professor of philosophy at Yale. I’ve already downloaded a sample to my Kindle.

Posted by Joel on February 16 2013 • Books

Today's Bookstore Business

Megan McCardle asks, “Why is Barnes and Noble getting out of the bookstore business?"

From her post at The Atlantic Wire: “But the sad fact is that Amazon is crushing the margins of physical retailers, including bookstores, in two ways.  Fewer customers are coming to the stores, as people let their fingers do the walking instead.  And Amazon’s low prices have forced retailers to cut their prices to stay competitive.  As a result, many stores are unprofitable, borderline profitable, or experiencing declining revenue.  It’s true that having a physical bookstore around probably means that more books get sold.  But it doesn’t seem to be true that those extra book sales produce enough revenue to cover the cost of all that lovingly organized and curated real estate.”

Posted by Joel on February 07 2013 • Books