The True St. Nicholas

So, who was St. Nicholas, anyway? Bill Bennett’s new book , The True St. Nicholas tells you all you need to know about a pervasive, but oddly little-known figure. Bennett starts with what is known about the real St. Nicholas, an important and formidable leader of the early Christian church. He goes on to an examination of St. Nick, in his various guises, as a figure of legend, and concludes with the modern form in which he is most familiar to us: Santa Claus. It is remarkable how the virtues of a man who lived 1700 years ago largely survive in the commercialized yet mythic figure who visits us every Christmas.
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The True St. Nicholas is a delightful book that you can easily read in a couple of sittings. It is written with the author’s trademark muscularity and can be enjoyed by young people as well as adults. If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas present or three, The True St. Nicholas would be an excellent choice.
As would Terry Teachout’s Pops, his just-issued biography of Louis Armstrong. We had a great time interviewing Terry on our radio show last Saturday, and I’ll post a podcast of the interview as soon as I get a moment. In the meantime, Pops would make a great Christmas present for anyone interested in music, American history or, really, life.

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