What's President Bush Reading This Summer?

Posted on August 16, 2005

Summer's nearly over but the White House has just released President Bush's summer book list. The three books on the list include Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky; Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John Barry. Salt describes the history of salt which as the Seattle Times explains was once was a treasured commodity that nations often fought over. The Great Influenza is relevant because it describes the influenza pandemic of 1918 which killed tens of millions worldwide. The World Health Organization is concerned the Bird Flu outbreak occuring in Southeat Asia and Russia could lead to a similar outbreak killing hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The third book, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar, describes the life of the Russian Tsar who was the first world leader to ever call for a War on Terror. The Seattle Times explains:

Alexander II, who ruled Russia from 1855 to 1881, was known as the "Czar Liberator" because he freed 23 million Russian slaves in 1861, two years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But his governmental reforms ultimately were his undoing. On the right, they provoked a conservative backlash. On the left, they contributed to a radical political movement that used violence to accomplish its aims, including a wave of murders and bombings.

When he decided to halt the reform process, the violence intensified. Alexander II became, in effect, the first world leader to declare a war on terrorism.

We thought that the Salt book was really the SALT book -- you know, about the history of the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaties -- but it turns out that it really is a book about salt. Table salt.

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