Author: Adlai E. Stevenson III
Publisher: Adlai E Stevenson III
America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great is a famous quote by Alex de Tocqueville. Adlai Stevenson III probably believes in this quip from the mid 1800s and it shows in his book, The Black Book.
The Black Book is a two hundred and ninety-nine page book that compiles quotes, quips and personal beliefs of his great grandfather, father and himself over a span of one hundred and fifty years. In this book, Adlai III (as he calls himself in the book) has researched and reorganized years of history into “themes” such as Politics, Speeches, Religion, The Press, Crime and Justice, and Money and Economics, etc based on his ancestors’ and his beliefs, morals and aspirations.
Going back to Abraham Lincoln’s era in the mid 1800s, it tells stories of his great-great grandfather Jesse Fell who was Lincoln’s sponsor. It gives quotes from his grandfather, Adlai I who was Vice President under Grover Cleveland along with input from Governor Adlai II in the mid 1900s and includes the Senator’s own experiences and stories.
Most of the book is Adlai III’s own thoughts and theories on historical events in both past and current events and how they played out within politics, the government and world systems. He mentions time and time again the actual Black Book that he and his ancestors kept throughout the decades, a book the reader can only imagine is voluminous and detailed but cannot actually see or read.
When offered to review this book, I expected a “coffee-table” type book with photos of the three Adlais, copies of their actual notes and cards that were in the original Black Book along with more of a timeline of history how it happened. However, The Black Book has none of these expected features. It is not a scrapbook but an explanation of the original family’s Black Book through Adlai III’s eyes and opinions.
Because Adlai’s interpretations and themes are meshed together instead of listed historically, the reader easily gets lost in who said what or who actually thought what. Some quotes have no author while others could be confused with prior or after listings. There is the occasional extra space in some wording along with sporadic paragraph indents.
Adlai III has his own opinions of world events and how they play out and they are profusely promoted in the book. The reader may find the author to be cynical at times, mocking the Bible, Christian evangelicals or those without Reason (mentioned often as logical thinking instead of ideology / beliefs) or demean any one involved in the “other” political party. Some of the themed chapters (i.e. Education and Money) end with future predictions of delusion, turmoil or chaos where America may not be able to redeem itself. The chapters on Lincoln, the Press and Israel were enlightening from a senator’s perspective. There are plenty of moments of humor and wit placed throughout the book which do give the feel of the roots and family history. Adlai III has no answers to correct our beloved America except to look to our past along with maybe foretelling Europe’s new rising.
The Black Book is typically opinionated as it is written by a politician. Any person considering going into politics or governmental service should read this book to see how a person’s beliefs, morals and thoughts are portrayed and perhaps swayed to be changed, especially over time. After reading it, I remain an apathetic American who votes what I want, even crossing party lines or leaving a section blank when there are no decent alternatives.
As the Bible says in Isaiah: “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord … If you be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” Perhaps it is time both political parties actually “Reason” together to make America great again.
Posted April 2012: