• Michael Rosen
    • Investment Insights are written by Angeles' CIO Michael Rosen

      Michael has more than 30 years experience as an institutional portfolio manager, investment strategist, trader and academic.

    (NOT YET) BEACH READING

    Published: 04-14-2020

    It’s not quite beach weather yet, but as we are all locked in our houses waiting out this virus, we may have found a little more time for ourselves. So I offer a selection of three books I’ve read over the past three months that I thought worthy of your attention. Happy reading!

    Fiction

    The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

    Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award with his Underground Railroad, a brilliant book that I cannot praise enough. The Nickel Boys is likewise superb, a story of a Florida school for wayward boys. Whitehead, more than anyone today, I think, portrays his characters in such vivid and intimate prose that draws you into their lives. The book is sad, funny, angry and shocking. Colson Whitehead is one of our great writers today.

    History

    Destiny of the Republic, by Candace Millard

    There are long stretches of American history that are generally ignored as uninteresting or unimportant. The thirty-five years between Lincoln and TR contained a string of undistinguished and forgotten Presidents. But history did not stop in this period, and a few historians are examining this era to help form a more complete understanding of American history. Last year, I was drawn to The Impeachers, by Brenda Wineapple (https://www.angelesinvestments.com/institutional-insights/more-not-necessarily-beach-reading), to describe the personalities and motives behind the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, generally considered our worst President (the contest is not over). One of the forgotten Presidents of the time was James Garfield , who was President for only a few months. But Millard shows us that Garfield was a remarkable man, his rise from poverty to the presidency is almost impossible to believe. Counterfactuals are fun, and generally uninformative, but Millard makes a case that had he survived, Garfield may have been a great President. We’ll never know, of course, but Garfield deserves more attention than he gets, and Millard does an excellent job portraying this remarkable man.

    The Fire is Upon Us, by Nicholas Buccola

    William F. Buckley, Jr. was well known to a generation of Americans as an outspoken, over-literate apostle of conservatism. James Baldwin was briefly famous as an essayist and playwright and civil rights leader. Buccola, a political science professor, traces the arc of each man’s thinking and makes a strong case that each man was at the center, if not the origin, of a line of political thought that formed in the country after the Second World War, and came to define the intellectual political divide that stretches to today. Buccola uses a debate between the two men at Cambridge Union as the culmination of their opposing political perspectives, but the debate itself is anti-climactic. The real sparks come from the description of the evolution of political thought of both Buckley and Baldwin. Buckley was the more famous of the two, even to this day, but history proved Baldwin right. More than that, though, for those not familiar with Baldwin’s writings, the excerpts here will pique an interest in delving further, for Baldwin is surely one of the greatest essayists America has produced. His prose is poetry, his insights profound. Buccola makes an analysis of intellectual political thought, most certainly as relevant today as then, accessible, even exciting.

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