Check Out – Check In

Janet Mills

Bunker Hill, a City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick. This is a book that could have been written in three sections. I have read books about the founding of our nation but never one that has so much detail about each section. Philbrick has written a masterful knowledgeable book. In 1775, Boston was the home of 15,000 people. The British continued to tighten the living conditions with acts that made the residents’ lives more difficult. The tax on tea was the last straw when the Puritans dressed as Indians dumped the tea in the water. Two of the great men driving the beginning of indignation against the British in the colonies were John Hancock and Samuel Adams. They believed in Boston after a decade that the British ministry wanted to enslave America, to drain America of all its bounteous land and resources so that England could continue the luxury and corruption. In time the patriots developed the Committee of Correspondence which as time passed was taken over by D. Joseph Warren. Each town and village set up their own militia. That included towns from not only Massachusetts but Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine. The beginning battles were in Lexington and Concord and the battle of Bunker Hill was about to start. There was no one general to control the troops. Stark, Prescott and Putnam were all head of their militia but as far as they were concerned, they would be fighting their own battle. General Howe was the British General in charge and he believed it would be difficult to read the enemy. As the battle was over it was found that nearly 50 percent of the soldiers had been wounded or died. General Gage had a virtual impenetrable fort built on top of Bunker Hill so that it could never be used by the provincials again. The Continental Congress decided the time was due to put a general in charge of all forces, and George Washington accepted the position. The British realized that they must commit to a full scale war if they were to save the colonies. When Washington arrived in Boston he knew he must win, not realizing that the British were getting out to find a better spot to fight. On January 1, 1776, a British officer approached the American lines in Roxbury under a flag of truce.

Riding Barranca by Laura Chester. This book is much more than a book about riding horses. It is a memory of Laura Chester’s family along with the love of horses. Her family lives in homes in Arizona; in the Patagonia desert in the winter and in Massachusetts in the Berkshires in the summer. Both places are wonderful for trails. Barranca is her favorite horse but she has three or four more and is always happy for someone of her extended family to join her on a ride. In late spring, Laura knows it is time to send Barranca and Peanuts by horse trailer to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. There are pictures on nearly every page. Laura Chester finds forgiveness for the unhappy events and continues to love her family along with Barranca and her other horses.

The Great Degeneration – How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson. Where in the way of economies does Ferguson place the United States? He believes that the frameworks in which a society can flourish or fail are degenerating. The four areas he covers in this little book are called black boxes – they are democracy, capitalism, rule of law and civil society. He covers each of the black boxes in detail in separate chapters, showing how we have lost our way while China has found theirs. The heart of the matter allows the current generation of voters to live at the expense of the too young to vote or not yet born. The first starting point would be to strengthen the central bank as the ultimate authority in both the monetary and supervisory systems, and punish those who are greedy and go unpunished. The next chapter takes up the rule of law and the number of lawyers in Congress and the political outcome for our laws. The last chapter on civil society discusses the private schools versus public schools and the need to recognize the limits in each. Private education plays a crucial role in raising educational standards all over the world.