CHARACTER By Marjorie Garber

“It goes to character. You don’t realize how important character is in the highest office in the land until you don’t have it.” Adam Schiff made this declaration during the Impeachment trial of Donald Trump on January 20, 2020 (p. 23). Marjorie Garber is a Shakespeare expert, but she spends a lot her latest book writing about Trump, Pence, and Brett Kavanaugh. Of course, Garber is quick to quote Shakespeare on character to highlight her thoughts that lack of character leads to disaster both for the individual and the community.

I’m a fan of books that explore intellectual history so Character checks a lot of the boxes that make a book compelling to me. Garber supplies plenty of historical examples of character and character failures. She links thoughts about character in the Past with those dealing with our present political nightmare.

My only quibble is Garber’s occasional forays into physiognomy–the “science” of determining character by the bumps on your head–and other wacko theories caused me to become impatient for a return to a Shakespeare reference or an another example of a catastrophic decision by the Trump Administration. If you’re looking for a wide-ranging discussion of character, Marjorie Garber’s new book covers all the bases. GRADE: A

Table of Contents

Introduction: Character Witnesses 3

1 Testing It: Politics, Sports, Celebrity 23

2 Teaching It: Tales Out of School 57

3 Claiming It: The Idea of National Character 131

4 Reading It: The Rise, Fall, and (Un)Surprising Return of Phrenology 195

5 Naming It: Psychoanalysis, Psychology, and the Emergence of “Personality” 240

6 Seeing It: Art, Physiognomy, Photography, Gesture, Science 271

7 Character Types: Greeks, Geeks, Nerds-and Little Miss Hug 322

8 The Difference Gender Makes: Mettle, Spunk, and the Right Stuff 349

Afterword: The Character Effect 375

Notes 385

Acknowledgments 425

Index 427

21 thoughts on “CHARACTER By Marjorie Garber

  1. Patti Abbott

    Phil, when writing books on the President, used Shakespearean characters to illustrate a lot. Like Richard III and Richard Nixon were an apt comparison. This looks good to me if I ever get to my library again.

  2. Michael Padgett

    Certainly an interesting and important subject, but when it comes to reading about it I don’t want anything longer than, say, an ATLANTIC article. But that’s just me.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, I find a Deep Dive into a subject that I’m interested in pleasurable. You could read a chapter a day (about the size of an ATLANTIC article).

  3. Prashant C. Trikannad

    George, the only thing that would get me to read a book about Trump-Pence is if it’s a horror comic-book but that would be too close to the real thing. Jokes aside, the Shakespearean character references would be interesting to read.

    1. george Post author

      Prashant, no matter what happens on Election Day, the effects of the Trump-Pence Administration will be hampering America for years!

  4. Jeff Meyerson

    Bumps on the head? That was taken seriously in the late 19th Century. Can’t believe she’s talking about it now. Trump’s character, or lack of same, hasn’t changed from what it always was. He’s a psychopath and a sociopath and, as Deb frequently points out, a grifter who is out for what he can get. Not only doesn’t he have any empathy for anyone else (including his own family), he doesn’t even try to pretend he does, as people like Nixon would have. He’s a truly empty man.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, all you say is true about Trump. But his Superpowers include being repellent yet attracting the loyalty of millions of followers despite all his failures.

      1. maggie mason

        He does seem to care for his daughter/wifey Ivanka. His followers are the worst sort of humanity. They are racists, sexists, with no care or thought for anyone who doesn’t buy into the bs he is spouting. The spineless GOP has enabled him and together they bring out the worst in the lowest of the followers.

        Abortion is a big selling point to them. But, while they don’t want abortions, after the child is born, they could give a rats ass if the child is fed, housed, educated. I’m not for abortion, but all that means is I wouldn’t have one. I don’t have the right to tell someone else what to do. How many anti-abortionists have adopted childen in need?? I’m guessing less than 1%

      2. george Post author

        Maggie, Steve Schmidt on MSNBC said that when Trump loses next week, the Republican Party will become WORSE: more crazies, more conspiracy theorists, more Qanon, more wackos.

  5. Jerry House

    My father taught me that character means being a good person with a kind heart, even if doing so could be difficult at times. That’s something I have tried to pass down to my children and grandchildren. Trump lost the lottery when he had Fred as a father; any soul he might have been born with was beaten out at a very early age.

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, people like Trump seem resistant to change. They don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. They persist in actions that have resulted in failure in the past. It’s sad.

  6. Kent Morgan

    I am happy that I live in Canada, but lke everyone else I am anxious about what happens on election day. I can’t understand how anyone could support Trump when he only thinks of himself during this terrible COVID19 crisis. You have to wonder if VP Pence really feels that he should be on the campaign trail today. Probably his leader ordered him to get out there.

    1. george Post author

      Kent, you’re right about Pence being ordered to hit the campaign trail. Trump is behind in most “swing” states and unless he can close the gaps in these final days, he’s going to lose.

  7. wolf

    Thanks all for your comments – if only all (or at least a larger number of …) “Muricans” were thinking like you.
    Here in Europe we just have to wait, can’t really influence anyone.

  8. Cap'n Bob Napier

    The only way to mention character and Adam Schiff in the same sentence is if you use terms like sleazy character, rotten character, lack of character…!

  9. maggie mason

    Shiff has more character in an eyelash than you, napier have in your entire body

    At least now, you are flying your racist, sexist, trump loving flags openly


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