I love to read novels and works of non-fiction in concentrated sittings so I can really lose myself in what I am reading. Because I am so busy during the course of my work-a-day professional life I rarely have such luxury. This is why vacation for me means a time when I can find a few really interesting books on my reading list and just devour them. Having recently returned from vacation and being overdue for my AMBI Blog, I thought I would share a few thoughts on my vacation reading, and even see if there is a lesson for bioethics.
This summer my reading was unusual in that it was all non-fiction, which included “The Return of George Washington” by Edward J. Larson, “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson, and “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I really didn’t plan to be reading these books together. But as it turns out, after finishing all three, I found a theme of interesting, often disturbing, questions about the past and present treatment of African Americans in the United States—questions that challenge the moral foundation and integrity of American democracy from its origins to the present.
In “The Return of George Washington” we learn about the transition between Washington’s resignation as general and commander-in-chief of Continental Army following its victory against Great Britain in 1783, to him being sworn in as the first president of the United States in 1789. It is surprising that these 4-5 years have not received more attention from historians, since in many ways they represent the significant period of our nation moving from a revolutionary upstart, to a viable democracy, and a symbol of a new kind of hope for human freedom and possibilities throughout the world.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.