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June 10, 2008

Happy Father’s Day, and books 17 and 18

Filed under: 150 Best Minnesota Books — Lori Williamson @ 2:37 pm

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I am fairly certain that the only father/son combo making the list of Minnesota’s 150 best books will be the Lindberghs. As evidence of their relationship (and so I can sneak in another great book) I offer their joint biography by CAL Sr.’s political right hand man, Lynn Haines. His wife Dora Haines finished the book upon his death.

Years ago my own father, knowing that I revered the elder Lindbergh for his political leadership and courage, invited me to a breakfast meeting with Charles Lindbergh Jr. Unfortunately for Lindbergh, it was 1974 and he suddenly became ill and never made it back to Minnesota from his home in Hawaii. Fortunately for me, the meeting never happened. I was an arrogant young pup and wanted to grill him on unsavory aspects of his biography and accuse him of abandoning his father’s principals. I’m much better now, thanks.

Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. Why is Your Country at War and What Happens to You After the War and Related Subjects. Washington, D. C.: National Capital Press, 1917.

Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. The Spirit of St. Louis. New York: Scribner’s, 1953.

Lindbergh had already written a book, We, about his solo flight across the Atlantic, but he was unsatisfied with that first effort. He spent years working on a fuller and more readable account and earned a well-deserved Pulitzer for Spirit. Less known to readers of this blog, I suppose, will be the work of his father, a United States Congressman from the Sixth District. He was a progressive and an initial opponent of U.S. entry into World War I. Among other arguments in this work CAL believed that the war was a struggle for commercial hegemony and wrote that if we conscript young men to fight and die in a war then the profits made from that war by the “Money Trust” should also be conscripted. Naïve, perhaps, as Roosevelt showed us in WWII, but the idea of shared responsibility and sacrifice is one we could use a little more of today. So, Jenna and Barbara, if you are looking for a Father’s Day gift, don’t overlook this volume. This book, often referred to as the “poison book of Lindbergh,” was so controversial that a mob broke into the print shop in Washington and destroyed the plates (making this a very rare title). It also made some Minnesotans so angry that the author was burned in effigy and even shot at during his Nonpartisan League-backed campaign for Governor in 1918. In 1934 the text of the book was brought back under the revised title of Your Country at War and What Happens to You After A War, with a dust jacket blurb by Father Coughlin calling CAL a “prophet before his time.” The best book on the elder Lindbergh is the 1973 Lindbergh of Minnesota: A Political Biography by Bruce Larson.

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One Response to “Happy Father’s Day, and books 17 and 18”

  1. Lori Williamson Says:

    I am deeply sorry that breakfast meeting never took place.
    And: I want to read CAL Sr.’s book. Burned in effigy? It’s got to be good. He would have made a great guest on The Daily Show.



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