The Third Monday in February

Posted: February 20, 2012 in Historical, Off Topic, USA

I still haven’t finished writing a review of The Boy in the Suitcase, because it was one of those brilliant books that left me  struggling with my emotions. More on that later.

But it is the third Monday in February a Federal holiday in the USA known officially as Washington’s Birthday, or unofficially as Presidents Day; and I am reading Charles McCarry’s prophetic book, The Better Angels published in 1979.

The title comes from Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, “when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature“. The story concerns the USA in an election year at the end of the last century, and features an inspirational liberal President, who has ordered the assassination of a charismatic Arab sheikh, and there are other prophetic references throughout the first hundred pages.

I realised what a complete American history nerd I am, when I read this passage, which is relevant on Presidents Day. 

“-he [Mallory] may damn well be the first President since Grover Cleveland to serve two nonconsecutive terms,” said Patrick. 

‘That’s his new witticism. He goes around the country asking people if they can name the President who served between Cleveland’s two terms. Can you?”

“Harrison,” said Emily.

“Smart girl. Which Harrison?”

“I’m not that smart,” Emily said.

  1. Sarah says:

    Nice quote from Abraham Lincoln – I hadn’t heard it before. I’ll look out for your review of the book and for the one for TBitS.

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – Oh, I love that Lincoln quote; it’s one of my favourites. Thanks for that. And I like the snippet of the novel you shared, too. Should I mention which Harrison it was? 😉

  3. Maxine says:

    Well I don’t know I’m afraid! Like others, I am looking forward to your review of TBINTS.

  4. Norman says:

    I should have the review of TBITS up in the next couple of days.

    Margot, I was reminded of this because I was intrigued that the highly intelligent President Obama made an error in his First Inaugural speech [I am fairly certain there will be a second] that “44 Americans have now taken the Presidential oath.”
    Of course it was only 43, because Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President on either side of number 23, Benjamin Harrison; grandson of William Henry Harrison, the 9th President. I bored my family with all this for quite a while after the inauguration.

    • Margot Kinberg says:

      Norman – I am indeed impressed :-). Yes, I thought about that, too when I heard Obama’s speech and of course, you’re right about Benjamin Harrison. Interesting stuff, I’ve always thought. My daughter actually has a few books on Presidential trivia and I find them fascinating.

  5. kathy d. says:

    Honestly, I’m bored with the presidential stuff, but very eagerly anticipating your review of The Boy in the Suitcase. I liked it, couldn’t put it down, and am waiting for my copy to be returned so I can loan it out to avid readers. Of course, I wonder how my friends, who are mothers and grandmothers of boys will take it. One already said she can’t read it. But I think most can.
    So, will check in to find your review. (I’m glad you found it brilliant.)

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