Reaping the Whirlwind
A warm summer day in 1987. A thump on my doorstep announces the arrival of a stout parcel with the familiar return address, BOMC, Book-of-the-Month Club. These were the pre-Internet days, when BOMC worked exclusively by mail. You had to open the brochure that arrived every three or four weeks and return the postcard that proclaimed you didn’t want the next month’s selection, or else it would be sent automatically. Having neglected to return the postcard, I found myself holding Freedom by William Safire, a 1,000-page novel about Abraham Lincoln and the first two years of America’s four-year Civil War, this account ending with Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a book I did not want and had no interest in. Still, it was here. I was here. There was no harm in having a look before I sent it back. I sat down and began to read. Three hours later I was still reading. Freedom would alter the trajectory of my reading for the next twenty years.