Heat waves

By JOHN FREEMAN  |  June 28, 2007

If after all this your patriotism has taken a hit, re-up those ’merikan feelings with The Age of Lincoln (July 4, Hill & Wang), Orville Vernon Burton’s look at America during Honest Abe’s life. A more topical story would be Andro Linklater’s The Fabric of America (July 4, Walker), a look at how our borders — and our expansion of them — created American identity.

If you’re on the road this summer, the best thing you could take — due to size, readability, and re-readability — is poetry. Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs’s Collected Poems II (August 30, Green Integer) won’t keep your pockets weighed down, nor will A Choice of Shakespeare’s Verse (August 7, Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a collection of the Bard’s lyrics chosen by the late Ted Hughes. But the one upcoming volume that might eclipse them all is Poems from Guantánamo (August 15, University of Iowa), a book of 22 poems by 17 of the detainees languishing off the coast Cuba, for whom summer has become something of an abstract concept. Chances are their efforts will be worth pondering.

John Freeman is president of the National Book Critics Circle.

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