What We Are Reading Today: Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

Updated 07 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

  • It said the book “chronicles the wars of the US from the war of 1812 to the Vietnam War

Author Michael Beschloss has spent nearly 10 years in preparing Presidents of War for publication by reviewing diaries and declassified documents, which is quite apparent in the historical sweep and scope of the book. 

This historical narrative begins in 1807 with the assault on the USS Chesapeake and the measures taken by former President Thomas Jefferson to avoid war through the Bush administration and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

“This was a magnificent book that captured, not only history, but the humanity and struggles of our war presidents,” said a review in goodreads.com.

Presidents of War “is an extraordinary work, so extraordinary that it should be required reading for anyone seeking the presidency, vice presidency, a Senate seat, a congressional seat or any Cabinet positions in the US government,” said the review.

It said the book “chronicles the wars of the US from the war of 1812 to the Vietnam War. The author explores the reasons for the wars and often what the leaders did to circumvent Congress to enter the war without congressional approval.”

 “We Are All Things”: An ode to lost love 

"We Are All Things" by Elliot Colla. (Supplied)
Updated 29 January 2020

 “We Are All Things”: An ode to lost love 

CHICAGO: In a room in Cairo, a man sits alone surrounded by items that fill his house. His relationship has just ended and, as he laments, he doesn’t realize that he isn’t the only witness to his latest tragedy. The objects in his house that he interacts with every day but pays little attention to, all watch on as the remnants of moments fade away from the room but remain imprinted in them. In “We Are All Things,” a graphic prose poem written by Elliott Colla and illustrated by Ganzeer, ordinary objects are brought to life with their own opinions, memories, and quirks.

The first image is of a black lamp with a pink shade which illuminates the room as it “soaks up the shapes and colors of the rest of the room and wears them as a funhouse reflection.” Colla’s words and Ganzeer’s pink and black illustrations jolt awake objects to tell their side of the tale.

Each object has a special personality, the bed that harbors not only humans but also the weevils that have eaten away the cotton in the pillows. A stereo that plays Umm Kulthum’s voice from a cassette tape, her pink figure in the middle of the page passionately singing of a longing that has repeated itself in the room countless times. The oldest object is a mirror, which not only sees things but keeps images and memories, making the room seem as if it is “full of ghostly reflections and optical echoes.”

Colla’s words ignite everyday objects, giving them spirited personalities, such as the clock that must endure “obscure comments” about itself, such as: “Time standing still. Time flying. A stitch in time,” while it holds time together with its “wires, coils, and levers.” Ganzeer’s illustrations capture the moments and objects so intricately in a charmingly unique atmosphere created by a collaboration that is peculiarly delightful.

Ganzeer and Colla push readers to think beyond existence to where secrets can be held by the objects in their lives in this remarkable chapbook. Molly Crabapple sums up the book perfectly in the introduction: “This is Elliott Colla and Ganzeer’s nostalgic ode to a lost love in a city that for the last two millennium has been the focus of every variety of love, longing, and loss.”