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Volume 2, Issue 2
Summer 2006:

From an Ample Nation

Joseph A. Wheelock, Jr.

Cell 2 Soul. 2006 Summer; 2(2):a15


  • The Trial of Jack Ruby by John Kaplan and Jon R. Waltz
  • Although there are a number of good books about law, almost all of them are addressed to those who are well versed in the field. There are, unfortunately, very few books about law which are both well written and instructive at the same time that they are understandable by the layperson. The Trial of Jack Ruby, however, happens to be one of them. Jack Kaplan was a professor of law at Stanford. He decided to write about the prosecution of the person who killed the murderer of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, because he could not believe that Ruby was given the death penalty for his act. The authors take the reader through each of the many legal issues that arose in the trial, carefully explicating their importance in the case and how a good lawyer would grapple with those issues. They then explain in detail how Ruby's attorney, Melvin Belli (the so-called "King of Torts"), dealt with them. By the time they get to the jury's verdict, the egomaniacal incompetence of Belli is so clear that it is surprising that the jury did not execute Ruby themselves right there in the courtroom.


  • The Double Helix by James D. Watson
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • Hawking has recently authored a revision of his book and entitled it "A Briefer History of Time". The purpose of the revised book was to make it more "accessible". I have not read the revised book.

  • One, Two, Three . . . Infinity by George Gamow
  • Literature

  • The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (consisting of Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation)
  • Although Asimov's Foundation Trilogy is classified as "science fiction", I am not a reader of that classification of books. Yet I find Asimov's trilogy to be among the best works ever written in the English language. It has little, if anything, to do with spaceships and the other accoutrements of science fiction and much to do with a very sophisticated portrayal of the struggle between good and evil. Prior to his relatively recent death, Asimov was a biochemistry professor at Boston University.

  • The Smiley Quartet by John Le Carré (consisting of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honorable Schoolboy; and Smiley's People)
  • The title "The Smiley Quartet" is one which I made up. In my view, readers of the last three of these four books, which are sometimes referred to as The Karla Trilogy after the name of the Russian spymaster who is the target of Smiley's division of British Intelligence in these three books, should first read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

  • The Richard Hannay Quartet by John Buchan (consisting of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, Mr. Standfast, and The Three Hostages)
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Finally, I highly recommend Dracula. It is written in the epistolary style and is one of the best written and most suspenseful books I have ever stumbled across.

In late 2005, the editors of Cell 2 Soul and Dermanities launched a new section, "Why Read? — Personal Canons," which is a forum to catalog those works of art which instruct and enrich us as care givers and individuals. We invited some friends, colleagues and teachers to share those they deem canonical — books, poems, the occasional movie to which they keep returning.

The background for these selections is found in a recent editorial entitled: Why Read? An Emerging Canon.

We welcome your Personal Canon. Please click on Canon Guidelines. Kindly follow the format you see here.

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