Patience and Fortitude, a Book Review

From the Christian Science Monitor, reprint of a book review from December of 2001. The book by Nicholas Basbanes, is 'Patience & Fortitude' a grand, rambling, serendipitous treasure-house of material about books and the people who have loved them.

This story is told of the Italian humanist Niccolo Machiavelli: "Dismissed from high office, stripped of all his honors, and forced to leave his beloved city of Florence for the primitive countryside, he found solace in his books: “When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and put on the garments of court and palace.

“Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where … I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of human kindness, answer me. And for four hours at a time I feel no boredom, I forget all my troubles, I do not dread poverty, and I am not terrified by death. I absorb myself unto them completely."

I also learned that it was our Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia who named the NYPL Library Lions Patience and Fortitude; he used those words to conclude his Depression-era radio broadcasts, words meant to give heart to his listeners while acknowledging the hardships and setbacks that they faced. Maybe that's what we all could use at this moment in time...patience and fortitude and something good to read.

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