What book are you reading?

Discussion in 'Music, TV, Movies & other Media' started by Panzerkampfwagen, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    65726712._UY630_SR1200,630_.jpg

    Just finished reading this over the weekend.

    Excellent book, meticulously researched and footnoted. Contains an informative primer on stakeholderism for those who aren't familiar with it.
     
  2. zalekbloom

    zalekbloom Well-Known Member Past Donor

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  3. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    I just finished reading The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel and the Fate of the Jewish People by Walter Russell Mead. Arc is a tour d' force of greatness, no question. Mead seeks to take the course of U.S. history as it relates to Jews and then Israel from just after the Civil War through 2022. Without serving as a spoiler, Mead effectively makes the argument that Israel's importance to the U.S. stems more from its military and economic success and power than it does to the impact of the "Jewish" or "Israel" lobby. Indeed, he very effectively belittles the impact of the lobbies asa being the equivalent of Star Trek's "vulcans;" an imaginary force thought to be creating a wobble in Mercury's or Venus's orbit. He states: "Not only does Israel occupy a "continent" in the American mind; Jews, at 1.9 % of the population...." in arguing that the focus on Israel is out of proportion to Jewish numbers. The contrast is even starker when compared to an estimated worldwide population at 15.7 million, 0.2% of the 8 billion worldwide population. What the author leaves out is that the Jews, historically, have had a disproportionate pull on the world psycho.

    I do have my quibbles with the book: 1) there are lots of run-on and awkwardly constructed sentences; 2) the book illustrates the dictum in intro to Practicing History: Selected Essays by Barbara W. Tuchman, that it is hard to write good history close to the occurrence of events. It certainly was, and is; and 3) part of point II, the last two chapters, on the history of the relationship under Obama, Trump and Biden are not yet history given how recent they are.

    While I do not accept 100% of the author's opinions, the book is an indispensable starting point of any serious analysis and understanding.
     
  4. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    While I haven't read the book you reviewed, it kinda reminds me of Power, Faith and Fantasy: American in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, by former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael B. Oren. It's an outstanding history of America's oft-stormy relationship with the Middle East, and one I highly recommend:

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    https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/power-faith-and-fantasy-michael-b-oren/1100537533?ean=9780393330304
     
  5. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I am currently skimming back through a book I read years ago by Daniel J. Flynn:

    CHAL.jpg

    I've actually enjoyed and appreciated this book much more the second time around than I did when I first read it. It's starts with the failed communist experiments at Jamestown and Plymouth and the religious communes (Labadists, Shakers, et al) that sprang up during the Settlement/Colonial Era. It then moves on to the utopian socialist communes that became a fad during the 19th Century (most notably Robert Owen's utopian collectivist fiasco at New Harmony) and then on to the late 20th-early 21st Century (the book was written in 2008 .

    This is an excellent history of the American Left, albeit written from a conservative writer's perspective, so you won't find the author gushing over the likes of FDR, but it does cover a lot of history that a Leftist writer most likely would not cover (the long history of racism on the Left, Margaret Sanger and Woodrow Wilson's fondness for eugenics, FDR's observation that many of the programs his administration carried out during the Great Depression were similar to those carried out by the fascists in Nazi Germany and the communists in the Soviet Union, etc.). I'm currently on the section covering the New Left of the 1960s - something that has somewhat morphed back into the Old Left in recent years. I highly recommend it to Righties but I think Lefties would find it informative, too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2024
  6. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    It was given five stars by many on Goodreads and I may yet read it. I have read a good chunk of Ally by the same author and that one is more recent. I do thank you for your suggestion, but I presume Oren plows much of the ground later explored in Ally. Correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  7. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    From the book under review, by Canada's former PM, Stephen J. Harper,Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age or Disruption, an excerpt:
    Quite the tour d' force, the book amply reviews and summarizes American and, to a lesser extent Canadian sociology, philosophy and political history from approximately 1980 through a portion of the Trump era. He clearly styles himself as a latter-day Edmund Burke, an eminent political philosopher from shortly before the American Revolution through the late 1790's. Harper sees conservatism as pragmatic and flexible as opposed to atavistic.

    This book is a short but highly accurate guide to the modern political era, and aptly explains how we wind up with Trump, for better or worse. I reluctantly give "five stars" and this is one such occasion.
     
  8. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    I did not finish reading Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy by Peter Schweizer. Not that it was a bad book. I read selected chapters. Much of it is out of date, so that is not "on" the author. The problem with the book is it discusses the fact that many politicians, philanthropist and public figures are warm-hearted towards the poor verbally but live the lives of the rich and famous. To me there is nothing wrong with that. One of the examples that hits a bit closer to target is Edward Kennedy. He was an environmental advocate, except when the wind farms would sully his sight-line or sailing playground.

    I would appreciate an updated version, if the author writes one. For example, BLM leaders do not truck with their constituency.
     
  9. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    I just finished reading First Strike: The Exclusive Story of How Israel Foiled Iraq's Attempt to Get the Bomb by Shlomo Nakdimon. First Strike was not well-reviewed on Goodreads. There was criticism that it "dragged" and of the translation from Hebrew. I am giving the book "Five Stars" regardless. I am giving the book "Five Stars" regardless. I consider it a thrillin page-turner.

    The author well makes the point without saying so directly that "diplomatic efforts" are useless against a determined enemy. Iraq was bound and determined to get "the bomb" and obliterate Israel. In the prevailing atmosphere of the late 1970's and early 1980's, oil could buy anything, notwithstanding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency of the U.N.

    Nakdimon well makes the case that should not need making; Israel and similarly advanced countries must defend themselves. Words are not enough.
     
  10. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    double post
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2024
  11. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    GREAT book containing great insights - highly deserving of the Pulitzer Prize. If you're into American History, this belongs in your collection.
     
  12. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    I just finished reading A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel J. Flynn. Daniel Flynn convincingly draws a more or less straight line between the Utopian colonies of post colonial New England to the climate change panic of the 21st century. The book explains that utopianism is often attractive, particularly to people who want to believe it and want to believe in it. Perhaps four words, from the description of the belief in the New Deal, sum it up best: "Action, not outcomes, mattered."
    But I digress. The book starts with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock: "\
    The author makes the case that the more things change, the more things stay the same. The New Harmony commune in Indiana collapsed in ruins in the 1820's and 1830's. Some similar colonies fared marginally better, some worse. Some became sexual playgrounds for their leaders. Certain exploits, including those of the famous researching Alfred Kinsey, are unprintable.
    The author traverses the 1960's and the self-immolation of a prosperous, promising era on college campuses. Shades of what is happening now.
    In the early 2000's, the "climate change" hysteria has taken over:
    A Conservative History of the American Left is clearly a tour d'force and worth the read (though it is a slog because so much information is new and unfamiliar). Then why am I giving it a "four?" The author does indulge in some demonization of the Left. While I am no fan of FDR, he comes close to calling him a Communist. Like many books of this genre, for example The Rise of the New Puritans: Fighting Back Against Progressives' War on Fun by Noah Rothman, The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America by Victor Davis Hanson and others, the books do not concede any redeeming value to other beliefs. Put simply, they are strident.

    I personally am not a conservative, though I am open to their ideas. This book doesn't help inch me to the right.
     
  13. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    This little vignette, from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond has little to do with the central topic. It is one of the ingenious touches that the author employs to maintain people's focus through a very dense and scholarly work. To say the book is exhaustively researched would be an understatement.

    Guns, Germs and Steel starts out with a question supposedly posed to the author by a New Guinea native, about why Europeans, rather than New Guineans conquered the world. The book's premise is that race and culture are not a factor. Geography turns out to be the central factor, enabling the Europeans (and others on a smaller scale) to conquer the world. I was exposed to the "Germs" portion of this hypothesis in the book 1491: The Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. Mann posits that horses and rats were that vector and suggests that much of North America's Native American population was reduced by 90% to 98% by the spread of those diseases. In other words the migrant European population found far fewer Native Americans than had existed half a century before. If the native population was dense enough to have the famous major Aztec, Mayan and Inca cities and in the Midwest cities such as Cahokia, there was enough population to support transmission of highly contagious diseases.
    Smallpox, diphtheria and typhoid raced through the native populations in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the numbers killed, their leadership was decapitated, resulting in disorganization. Diamond mentions but does not emphasize this, focusing on the spread of crops, animal domestication, tools and weaponry. It is not surprising that Guns, Germs, and Steel appears in the bibliography of 1491; I stopped at the local library today and checked.

    Earlier, when making notes, I noted that "(t)he book reminds me of what I flipped from article to article in the World Book. I just finished reading the chapter about Pizarro‘s conquest of the Incas. I feel like I am back in 1965 and 1966 reading the old encyclopedias." That holds true. Overall, I give the book four stars. I rarely give five. Here my quibble is that the book does drag in places, especially near the end. The 2003 postscript was less informative than I had hoped. Otherwise, a great read.
     
  14. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    I just finished reading Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America (Paperback) by Les Standiford. Over the years, Carnegie has had a more beneficent image. Frick gets the moniker of being the "bad boy" who unleashed unnecessary bloodshed at the Homestead Steel Mill in 1892. It seems that Carnegie almost deliberately absented himself, left the hard decisions to others and let others take the blame for actions that he "was for until he was against."

    As for the book itself I give it a 3.5, rounding it up to four stars. Until the descriptions of the end of the strike and the legal bloodbath between Carnegie and Frick, it does move slowly. For history buffs it is a very worthwhile read.

    Frick, obviously intelligent, correctly foresaw what the results of world governance would be:
    This book tells us a lot both about the Gilded Age, about common sense, and views of history.
     
  15. JBG

    JBG Well-Known Member

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    I just finished reading Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up byAbigail Shrier. It is one of the best rebuttals to junk psychology that I have read. The book tells numerous stories about how both schools and popular culture push children to focus on “feelings” to the exclusion of accomplishment and personal growth. My own personal growth was hardly halcyon.

    Nevertheless, despite these facts I agree with the book's premise. The therapy I did receive was of little use. I learned more from peers and certain teachers. I have been successful as a lawyer, husband and parent with little help from most of the professionals I had seen. This book largely confirms my own learning and experience over the years.

    Unlike many children in their grades, my children have been encouraged to get wherever they can under their own power. You know, such old fashioned stuff as bicycling and walking. They are none the worse for wear. I cannot fathom either myself or my children being driven everywhere.

    The book is a powerful statement in response to "medals for all" and rewarding people for just being on the earth.
     
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  16. JET3534

    JET3534 Well-Known Member

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    Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas

    Available on Amazon but I got my copy from a used book store. Entertaining read for anyone interested in cults, crime dramas, religion, or the 60s/70s culture.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2024 at 11:36 PM
  17. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    the late 60s and early 70s were a crazy time. There were a huge number of cults, as well as serial killers.
    The big cities were still very affordable at this time, so it was not too difficult for young adults to live "alternative lifestyles" in the big cities like San Francisco and even New York.
     
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  18. JET3534

    JET3534 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of cults at the time and young people with zero critical thinking.

    In 1971 would walk past the Scientology building in Kenmore Square Boston every day on my way to college. Myself having no critical thinking whatsoever at the time, if I had had money then I would likely be in the cult today. Because as you walked past they (Scientologists) they would chat you up about this or that but their goal was clearly to recruit rich people, not poor students.
     
  19. Moriah

    Moriah Well-Known Member

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    I checked the book "1984" out of the library a few days ago. I've only read about 4 pages of it and it's already creeping me out. They say Mr. Orwell wrote this book in the 1930's, and he is making reference to a device that can watch you, in the beginning of the book. He called it a "telescreen". This telescreen could hear and see everything you do. I hear that's exactly what our current TVs can do.
    I don't know if I'm going to finish this book.
     
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  20. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    "1984" is a must-read for anyone interested in political theory and civil liberties.

    It imagines a hypothetical dystopia, in the not too far off distant future.
    Many of the things the author describes were based on actual real-life things the author had seen taking place in Britain or read about in neighboring European countries during World War II, especially in Germany and Soviet occupied Eastern Europe. It was written as a warning to society what could happen.

    Basically it's a book about totalitarianism, propaganda, and where government decides what the "truth" is.

    Two other books that have a little bit similar themes are Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm, though "1984" is the better of the three.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2024 at 4:42 PM
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  21. Lil Mike

    Lil Mike Well-Known Member

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    Nowdays we call it Alexa.
     

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