Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sarah Vowell: All Up in My Business

One thing I didn't mention about The Girl from Everywhere in my review is that I'm having this moment where all my media are coming together--oddly enough, via Sarah Vowell.  I own a copy of Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes, about the history of Christian missionaries in Hawaii, and The Girl from Everywhere makes me want to read that at last--mostly because of the way it touches on Hawaiian history, while failing to include any Hawaiian points of view.  There are Americans who want to annex it and whites who want to save it, and some Hawaiian folklore that's pivotal to the plot, but not much else.

But Unfamiliar Fishes is going to have to wait, because I've already started reading Lafayette in the (Somewhat) United States, and I imagine that you can guess what inspired that!  Listening to Hamilton (again and again) you're just reminded how many amazing characters, how much energy and intelligence was brought to bear on the issue of freedom and the Revolutionary War.  If there was a book about Hercules Mulligan (and his slave/assistant, the enigmatic Cato), I would read that, too.

It makes me think about what the drive and problem-solving that young entrepreneurs bring to their tech start-ups would do if it was applied to politics instead of capitalism.  There were amazing people living in amazing times, but I know a good number of amazing people who, if their goal was to start a new country instead of a company, would kick butt at it.  But in a different time and place, their passions (and politics) would of course be very different.

That's one interesting point that Vowell makes about the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution that soon followed--Americans were already passionate about government.  They weren't just tearing down the abusive old ways; they had firm ideas about how things should be run and they knew what they wanted to build. Politics was the national pastime, and even though not everyone agreed (can you really call it freedom if it's not for everyone?), $#!* got done.

I wonder if Sarah Vowell has seen (duh) and written a review of Hamilton.  I would read the heck out of that.

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