Riding Two Horses at Once
It’s fairly sweet to have my book mentioned in a review of someone else’s book — even if I’m not entirely sure what to think of the description of The Summer of 1787 as a “novelistic narrative. ” It happened in this morning’s NYT Book Review, and even in the second paragraph of the review, which is very nice. I’ll be watching the Amazon numbers to see if it helps.
But I am definitely impressed by the supple way in which the reviewer, the multi-talented Walter Isaacson, finessed what lesser beings might have viewed as a tight spot. You see, he provided a blurb (a very nice blurb) for The Summer of 1787 when it first came out.
“Crafting the constitution was one of the most amazing collaborations
in human history. David O. Stewart’s book is both a gripping narrative
on how it was done and a useful guide to how we should regard that
wonderful document today.”
So when young Isaacson was asked to review this new book about the Constitutional Convention (Plain, Honest Men — maybe not the best title), he was looking at a couple of bad possible outcomes:
- He pans the new book, making it seem like he’s in the bag for The Summer of 1787 (and who knows what he disclosed to the NYT when he accepted the reviewing gig?).
- He says he loves the new book, calling into question his prior endorsement of my book.
Awkward? Not as it turns out. Isaac prominently mentions my book with a pretty positive description (“novelistic narrative”) that just might carry an implication that The Summer of 1787 is not the most serious book on the shelf. Then he’s also pretty positive about the new one (calling it “judicious”), which just might carry an implication that it’s not the most fun book on the shelf, and dutifully criticizes one element of the book while saying nice things about the author.
Smooth. We can all learn.
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