Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 10, 2014 - 05:58am PT
One of the best OT threads evidently has bitten the cosmic dust; I think Donald Thompson started it(?). He either pulled the plug on all his posts and topics he authored or it was done for him.
The thread was apolitical in nature and posts were absent of the drama and bitterness that can be found elsewhere. It was a wonderful source of reading material and should not be lost or MIA as a casualty of bad manners, so this is an attempt to revive it.
Roxy, thanks for that, I love me some good nutter books. What was he thinking?
I knew straight away he couldn't have canoed some of those drops but still
a very impressive, if questionable, feat. I enjoyed reading his "Driving
Through Zaire" article on his website. My wife's family spent years there
so the tales of corruption will bring knowing nods when they see this.
With the Old Breed, by E.B. Sledge. A Marine's account of the campaigns at Peleliu and Okinawa, and the basis for the solid HBO minseries, The Pacific. Absolutely amazing what those guys had to do with such little support compared to the European front.
Argentine author, ranging from Islamic fantasy to gaucho frontier campfire stories, 1940 - 1970's collection. I enjoy him so much that I've one edition I've quartered down the spine, to have some backcountry reading of managable weight. Of course, if I were Norman Clyde, I'd carry the Latin translation so it'd last longer! ; )
Been reading this old one from 1935 that has not seen any re-prints I don't think. Very intimate account of the Russian gulags and an escape to Finland right after the Bolshevik revolution and establishment of the Communist state.
I just finished reading Winter of the World by Ken Follett... part two in a series covering the 20th century, part of the sweeping historical epic genre. It's a step above typical pulp fiction, quite enjoyable to read and somewhat educational, but can't really say it's classic literature. There is a significant dose of gratuitous sex and violence to keep the historical commentary couched in dialog from becoming too dry. Well, maybe the sex is gratuitous to sell books, but the violence actually shied away from much of what could have been done given the grisly history covered in the period (rise of Nazis, Jewish persecution, WWII, and war crimes by multiple groups during and immediately after the war).
Aw Mouse, i love Ralph Moody! His "Little Britches"series about a young boy growing up on a colorado farm is the perfect antidote to all of today's dystopian young adult sheet. Also can i put in a plug for the publisher, Bison Imprints of the University of Nebraska Press-best press for western reprints!
Nice thread. I'm 1/3 of the way through "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Well written and a great blend of science history about the recognition in the 1800s that some species had disappeared from the earth and the current day recognition that extinction rates for all kinds of organisms are at much higher levels than have been seen on earth since the last big die off associated with dino demise.
Currently reading Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France". I don't know if I'd highly recommend it, as it can be a bit tedious and long-winded at times. Burke has a tendency to overstate his claims and repeat the same points over and over. The other issue I have is that it's a 250 page "letter" without any sort of breaks or chapters. These could have at least been inserted into the modern editions by the editor because there are natural breaks and transitions in Burke's argument, and it would be easier to read if they had been thus marked.
On the plus side, Burke makes some interesting points and offers a perspective we don't get much these days. When was the last time you heard someone argue for the superiority a constitutional monarchy over a pure democracy? And Burke makes a convincing argument for the merits of reformation over revolution which still holds strong in modern times.
I'm about 2/3rds through it and will stick with it. It's available at many places free online
"...make the Revolution a parent of settlement, and not a nursery of future revolutions."
"Of all things, wisdom is the most terrified with epidemical fanaticism, because of all enemies it is that against which she is the least able to furnish any kind of resource."
"Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out; and where absolute power is given, it requires but a word wholly to abolish the vice and the establishment together."
Before digging into my current read, I reread Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, which I know I read in high school and maybe once over the following 30 yrs. I forget. Anyways, not a huge Hemingway fan, but definitely enjoyed it more than I remember, particularly the passages about fishing in the Pyrenees. Made me want to be there. Not chewy and thought provoking like Dostoyevsky, etc., but a quick, enjoyable read.
Warsaw 1944 by Alexandra Richie: An account of the total destruction of this beautiful city and the murder and/or rape of most of its (until then) surviving inhabitants by the Nazis. Stalin's deliberate refusal to assist these heroic citizens in their time of need is also examined.
The shameful indifference of the Western Allies (especially FDR) to this systematic massacre of a proud people is also a part of this grim narrative.
I finished Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon and Infinite Jest and Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace in the last two weeks. Infinite Jest took some time but also sort of towers above the others there... Maybe the most interesting book (to me) that I have read.
I am now reading Underworld by Don DeLillo. Only a couple pages in, but really fun, and comparatively mellow reading for an ESL like me..
Parallel to Underworld I am reading the German book Der Turm by Uwe Tellkamp. I haven't made up my mind yet on whether or not I want to continue. German literature after 1950 can't even be compared to American literature of that period, is my opinion.
I've always had a hard time getting around to reading Pynchon, although I feel my reading of 20th Century American novel is lacking until I do. When I do though, Crying seems to be a much better warm up than diving into Gravity's Rainbow. Even some of my lit professors commented that it was a handful.
I find DeLillo terrific. Enjoyed White Noise and Libra quite a bit, and need to get around to reading Underworld, maybe when I finish my current read. To me, though there are a lot of interesting American novelists right now, the only ones I find who border on great are DeLillo and Roth.
Heaney's Beowulf was terrific. Tolkien apparently wrote a translation as well that was found not long ago. That would be interesting to compare.
Just finishing this up.
Amazing historical narrative of the "opening up" of Kentucky and the Ohio territories.
A story within a story it has all the main personalities of the times;
Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Arthur St. CLair, Anthony Wayne, Simon Girty, Tecumseh, Blue Jacket...the list goes on.
Amazing piece of history.
Allan Eckert did his research and has produced some really amazing and accessible work.
Being 100 years since the start of The Great War and all...
No Parachute by Arthur Gould Lee. A good read about a no name fighter pilot in a no name squadron flying obsolete aircraft. Lee had an amazing run of good luck. He gives a portrayal of not only the horror of the air war, but also the joy of flying in those days. Imagine cruising at 20,000 feet in an open cockpit wood and doped fabric airplane, no oxygen, and with nothing more than an altimeter and a compass.
‘They could see him struggling to get clear of his harness, then half standing up. They said it was horrible to watch him trying to decide whether to jump. He didn’t and the machine and he were smashed to nothingness. … God imagine his last moments, seeing the ground rush up at him, knowing he was a dead man, unable to move, unable to do anything but wait for it. A parachute could have saved him, there’s no doubt about that. What the hell is wrong with those callous dolts at home that they won’t give them to us?’
A passionate alpinist, King Albert I died in a mountaineering accident while climbing alone on the Roche du Vieux Bon Dieu at Marche-les-Dames, in the Ardennes region of Belgium near Namur. His death shocked the world and he was deeply mourned, both in Belgium and abroad. Because King Albert was an expert climber, some questioned the official version of his death. Nonetheless, rumors of murder have been dismissed by most historians. There are two possible explanations for his death: the first was he leaned against a boulder at the top of the mountain which became dislodged; or two, the pinnacle to which his rope was belayed had broken, causing him to fall about sixty feet.
I've just re-read The Forever War. I think Dexter Filkins especially captured the contradictions wrapped around every aspect of the war in Iraq. There is a scene he describes where during the battle of Falluja in 2004, amidst the sound of guns and bombs, one can hear the rally from the local minaret to the neighborhood people to pick up their weapons and fight the invading Americans. At the same time, the Marines are blasting Hell's Bells by AC/DC at full volume on an outdoor sound system they had brought along to help with battle psyche.
I read And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini at the end of the summer. I just really enjoy how his novels span lifetimes, and his descriptions of Afghanistan and its culture. As with his other books, one feels the regrets that his characters tend to carry throughout their lives, but ultimately his stories are uplifting.
What happens when an entire society is corrupted by extortion, graft and murder. A real page turner. I like to read it in short snippets over breakfast. It's good in a way for the USA that Christian Sunday School cadets like Herbert Hoover built and entrenched themselves in the FBI and DOJ where they remained incorruptible (if reactionary) Christian soldiers. Now the Italian police force on the other hand . . . !!!!!
I don't read anymore.... in fact I may have forgotten how. ha
But books on tape, Teaching Company University lectures and Podcasts keep me going.
Just finished a great pod-cast on Genghis Khan. Great "read". 5 free pod-casts of about 1.5 hours each. What I guy he was. Biggest empire in human history I believe. From Beijing to Turkey or something... even into parts of Russia. His 'hordes' used to ride 120 miles overnight, attack a city, murder 20,000 people then ride home.... non-stop (these 'facts' from some other book I read years back). Kind of like the nose in a day. Imagine 20,000 of the most talented horsemen and dynamic archers in history galloping down on your town. They regularly would kill every single man women and child. Even sent teams back a few days later to make sure no one had survived.
They say he may have been responsible for 60,000,000 deaths. Hitler, Stalin and Mao couldn't compare.
anyway... the pod cast. Dan Carlin, hardcore history. The ones I just finished are titled 'Wrath of the Khans'. Real page turners to say the least.
We have a copy at work that I am perusing, but I'm going to buy my own copy and run down that Crusher guy to autograph it! An encyclopedic volume of stuff that runs deep in the lives many of us live! I really want to support this!
We have a copy at work that I am perusing, but I'm going to buy my own copy and run down that Crusher guy to autograph it! An encyclopedic volume of stuff that runs deep in the lives many of us live! I really want to support this!
Crusher, do you do any direct, autograph sales??
Hey, just clicked in this random thread and there's a question for me.
Answer is yes indeed! I can sign copies and send them your way. I can take credit cards, checks, sexual favors, whatever. Well, OK, maybe scratch the last option....
And, since my birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, as is desert season and I'm getting psyched to sell some books and go exploring, how about any copies I sell between now and then, through Supertopo, I'll sell for 40 bucks, 20 percent off regular retail.
Send me a PM or just phone three-oh-three, four four three, zero nine five five
Oh, and I've been reading Deer Hunting with Jesus, by Joe Bageant. Great writer, pithy yet hilarious dissections of modern life in the US, with something of the best of the Abbey/Thompson gonzo tradition.
Sully, you always read such quality literature and have such profound insights. Wish I could still read like that. I'm on the entertain or thrill me track.
Currently reading Denali's Howl about the disastrous Wilcox expedition.
Hey, if anyone tried sending a message to me via Supertopo's message function and is wondering why I've not responded, apologies. The messaging function does not seem to be working very reliably lately.
If you enjoyed Lady with the Pet Dog (or Lap Dog, Toy Dog, etc.), check out The Doctor's Visit. Though it sounds cliche, Chekhov is the master at observing the human condition in the ordinary.
Also, if you admire Nabakhov's opinion on literature, check out Dr. Jekll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I just reread that recently (between reading otehr things of course). Despite what you think you know about the story, as Nabakhov pointed out, it reaches the point of "great art". Most of Stevenson I believe is underrated, but you have terrific things like his novella, Markheim, or even Kidnapped and Treasure Island are masterful adventure yarns.
Other terrific short story/novella recommendations for those unwilling to commit to a novel:
The Golden Land, Faulker. The Road to Colonnus, E.M. Forester A Death in Venice, Thomas Mann Parker's Back, Flannery O'Connor At Sea, Checkov The Secret Sharer, Joseph Conrad
That's just off the top of my head. There's just too much good stuff out there.
I am looking to read In The Dust Of This Planet by Eugene Thacker - He describes himself as an author of books nobody will read...or something like that... Strangely... I have no idea how this may feel. Figure I'll try to finish the book and see if I can figure it out.
I think I'm punching above my weight class with this one...
The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians... by Cynthia C. Kelly and Richard Rhodes (Feb 10, 2009)
Fascinating insights into this incredible undertaking, including letters and manuscripts by famous scientists and authors as well as a touch of fiction: H. G. Wells had a story published in 1914 about the atom bomb. In his imagination, the bomb (2 feet in diameter, black and spherical with two handles) was hand-dropped from an aircraft by the pilot.
Just finished Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. A POW in Italy in 1943, he escaped through a hospital window and survived in the Italian landscape thanks to the help of several peasant families. Among many adventures he had before being recaptured, Newby managed to meet the woman he would marry after the war. A blithe and delightful tale.
(Newby's the author of the classic climbing book A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, which, in my opinion, is one climbing lit's handful of absolutely mandatory reads.)
Just finished Ken Follett's "Dangerous Fortune"
Also halfway through "Eye of the Needle" by the same guy. Both are entertaining fiction when you just want to relax and enjoy a satisfying story with no real mental commitment.
This morning I re-read a short book "Who Moved My Cheese?" which is a nice reminder when you find yourself getting lazy in life, resting on your laurels, or otherwise getting fat and weak with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.
I'm in the middle of "The Sun Also Rises" by Hemingway, but I haven't picked it up in a couple of weeks. It's impressive how the style of writing perfectly reinforces the mood of the content. It's like a distinctive timbre of a musical instrument. When I was in high school I couldn't relate to the sort of angst and emptiness and futility the characters felt, especially in the context of romantic relationships because I had no personal experience as a frame of reference. Now I'm older than them and I see them as immature. Maybe it's a book best read in the 20s. It's still a good book to capture an era and a mood, but it's not a mood that I hold in high regard or want to immerse myself in. As a youngster it can seem romantic maybe, and looking from an older vantage point it just seems like a waste, a tragedy of lost young people and the lingering effects of war and disconnectedness and inability to create meaning for one's self.
Was just sent this book from a flight companion whom I did not ignore while flying. (I tend do that... to just get lost in the Sky catalog.)
He has turned out to be an excellent friend, and gives me GREAT advice in terms of the business world and what I want to do.
This book may not be up my alley, but I love to read, so I appreciate the suggestion.
Totally agree about A Distant Mirror, Greg.
The other interesting one I've read recently that combined WWI and climbing was Into the Silence by Wade Davis.
An account of the post-WWI British expeditions to Everest, and how they were influenced by the experiences that many of the members had during the war.
My current reading continues the literary post-apocalyptic theme:
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
That will be followed by One Day as A Tiger by John Porter, the Alex Macintyre biography, as soon as it makes it to me from the UK. Thanks to another thread here on ST for that recommendation.
"The Chrysanthemums" (John Steinbeck)
Never heard of it, how was it Sullly?
Currently reading Behind Barbed Wire by Lt. Morris J Roy. It is the stories of the young Allied pilots of WWII (ETO) who were shot down and spent the remainder of the war in Stalag Luft 1, Barth Germany.
Interestingly enough my PT's father flew a P-47 fighter and when he marched into Stalag 1, he eventually ran into one of his hometown pals, a friend of mine's father who was a bombardier on a B-17. There was one other local citizen there. They were all friends before the war.
I think I posted a pic of my friend's dad, the bombardier somewhere on the taco; but feel inclined to do so here.
Mom sent me "Mink River" by Brian Doyle, which I also started recently but am having a hard time with because of the writing style and sheer number and depth of characters. He seems to jump around a lot, throwing in elements that, although I appreciate the irreverence, I find confusing.
David James Duncan (whom I love as a writer) compares this book to Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" and Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" - neither of which I have read.
Going Solo by Roald Dahl. An account of his experiences in Tanganyika and the RAF before and during WWII. On the recommendation of a climbing partner. I was surprised that the library computer located the book in the Juvenile section. It now appears that that may be a way to keep the fragile adult mind safe from the horrors yet make them available to the more resilient child mind.
I also intend to read Boy by the same author if I still have the nerve.
Sounds as though the remnants of the Valkyrie plotters did their best to hand France over to the Allies. The Germans always did like the City of Lights as an R&R site away from the rigors of the Ost Front.
Excellent book by a climatologist and former NASA space shuttle engineer who provides convincing evidence that the Earth could be on the verge of a coming Ice Age.
The sun goes through regular cycles called "solar hibernations" that produce either severe or relatively mild cold periods every 200 and 400 years, as well as extreme ice ages that occur every 11,500 years.
Still plodding away on John Verdon's bizarre Holmesian Shut Your Eyes Tight.
I've been reading New Yorker articles, including one about the deployment of American drones in the Mideast. Very unsettling.
I've taken the New Yorker for about forty years and am continually amazed at the variety of intriguing articles (plus the wonderful cartoons!). I was introduced to the magazine by a graduate of the University of Chicago who was working as a car salesman and living in the rooming house - the home of an English professor at Roosevelt and his wife, an artist - where I stayed while a grad student at UC in 1958/59.
Has any one read a Narrow Road To The Deep North yet? It won the Mann Booker Prize this year.
Not yet picked up that one, but Richard Flanagan's back catalog is well worth checking out, especially "Death of a river guide" and "Gould's book of fish". Having lived in (or at least traveled to) Tasmania helps.
I'm currently re-reading Moby Dick and loving it, which a friend who read it at high school was a tad surprised by. I'm increasingly convinced that having to study classics at school completely ruins them for many.
Pretty darn epic, hard to conceive of anything more audacious in the history of humanity in terms of Man vs Nature. There was enough technology to make audacious things possible, but not so much as to make the effort seem contrived or trite. They pushed the state of the art technology to barely reach a state where survival was possible, and that only with an incredible amount of fortitude, skill, and perseverance. Maybe in terms of pushing Technology, Apollo 13 was similar... But it would have been more similar if it was a disaster on Mars, and it took a few years to unfold and suffer never being sure they would make it home, and then everyone surviving. I saw that Netflix documentary recreating just the open ocean travel part of Shackleton's adventure- the modern adventure looked like a weak cop-out in comparison (but still very far beyond what I would willingly subject myself to). It is even more of an eye-opener to see how much and how long the group went through other challenges even before the open ocean piece. I can't imagine the feeling of abandoning a ship that is being crushed by ice as you are carried farther from land on an unstable ice pack that will eventually melt out when you are hundreds if not thousands of miles from land.
Read Dahlgren years ago. It was a bit too trippy and wandery for me. But I'm a chunk younger than you and maybe you'll relate better having lived through the 60s and early 70s when I was a tyke.
I just finished "One Day as a Tiger" by John Porter, the biography of Alex MacIntyre. Which has it's own separate thread on ST. I liked it, but it was a bit depressing. Reminded me of This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson. The death toll in that group of elite British alpinists in the late 70s and 80s was terrible. I moved to Seattle in the early 90s hoping to do that sort of climbing, but took another path. Reading those books, makes me glad I did, though part of me feels a missed adventure.
Now catching up on the Bernie Gunther novels by Philip Kerr, about a detective in Germany during the rise of the Nazis. I'd highly recommend them if you like detective novels and historical fiction.
Santa brought me Kelly Cordes' The Tower, the history of Cerro Torre.
So far I've only started looking at the pics and, believe me, there are
a LOT! WOOT! I have skimmed a few sections and it seems very well written, too.
Lots of killer ideas here--and such a literary bunch!
Just finished two climbing books:
The Calling by Barry Blanchard--excellent and must read. Buried in the Sky about the stupid tragic events of 2008 on K2 when a bunch of people died during what was probably some of the best summit conditions that mountain has seen in many years.
Currently reading: One Summer: 1927 by Bill Bryson. Phreakin' awesome! All of his books are great. Got read 'em.
The Third Gate by Lincoln Child and The Circle by David Poyer.
I've read a couple of the Dan Lenson books by Poyer, but recently obtained all the rest, so I'm back at his first story: when Lenson is an ensign. I really enjoy naval stories - not quite sure why, but 60 years ago I almost went into NROTC but chose AFROTC instead.
Sullly, i don't buy into the theory that Capote penned the novel for Harper Lee.
Of course, that doesn't mean to say it is not possible; but in my mind not likely. Since the book deals with a lot of realities in Harper Lee's life, I would offer that Capote may have indirectly been involved in Lee's writing the story that centered on the events in Monroeville. As you stated, there is the idea that Dill is modeled after Capote. The idiosyncratic personalities of the two, Dill and Capote, can't be dismissed as pure coincidence or happen-chance .
Add the realism of Lee's father being a real life attorney who was involved in defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman would certainly be branded on both of Lee's and Capote's mind forever. I'm sure that as children in that era the two friends spent a great deal of time discussing the event.
It is interesting that the authors spent time in NYC, just prior to Lee's publishing of the book and that she did research for Capote in Kansas for his book In Cold Blood. Payback? I doubt it, just friend's helping friends.
My thoughts are not intended as argumentative, just my thoughts, pure and simple.
I took a course in college on Southern Authors in Southern Literature. It involved a look at the names anyone that reads would name as Southern. I have to say Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were two at the bottom of my favorites list. At the other end were Walker Percy, Pat Conroy, William Faulkner and a few more I can't bring to mind.
The Eagle Unbowed by Halik Kochanski - A history of Poland's martyrdom at the hands of Hitler and Stalin, as well as an account of this nation's disproportionate contribution to Allied victory in World War Two.
The book also examines the appalling betrayal of Poland by the Western Allies, especially in the face of its brutal post-war occupation by the Soviets.
A must read for any history buff with a serious interest in broadening their understanding of the horrors of WW II endured in Eastern Europe.
Just finished it. Great reading for me. Probably not for everyone. More drinking per page than any book ever written. It's basically a bunch of cool people who go drinking in Paris, then Spain. There is a little bit about bullfighting, a tiny bit about trout fishing. Not much sex. Just drinking. But in a good way.
The Last Season, Eric Blehm
Mid book. About the Search for Sequoia back country ranger Randy Morgenson, who went missing in 1995. I believe I met Morganson once and I've traveled the trails of SeKi backcountry enough to be well oriented. Not actually enjoying it that much. Too much personal detail. I'm glad to see the big dedication to Patty Rambert, a lost friend, who did quite a bit to promote the book in the LA Sierra Club scene.
Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi edited by Larry Siems
I'm about half way through it. Good book, and it reads as if "you can't make this stuff up!".
The sad thing is that they have yet to charge the poor man, with anything, and he has been in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2002. He had previously been rendered to Jordan, and then to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. A federal judge ordered his release in March 2010, but the U.S. contested the decision Never charged with a crime!
Sullly, Change is seldom seen in these parts. Were you in LaGrange? The college there has grown; but the town itself refuses to grow. In some ways that is good; but as related to the attitude you described, it seems to be unable to change. Surprising, as learning institutions are usually the springboards where change originates. I don't know why.
So much for thread drift.
Just started American Sniper (Chris Kyle) along with Problems with Pain (C.S. Lewis).
I'm speeding through: "In The Kingdom of Ice." It's about an American North Pole expedition that went up towards the pole though the Bering Sea in 1879. It of course came to grief, & their ship went down after being locked in the ice for 1 1/2 years. At the moment, the crew is going across the ice to Siberian islands. (I know most of them survive.)
An absolute page-turner epic story, with a lot of great history in it. Yeah, it is nearly another Shackleton story, but I haven't finished it yet.
Spider! Re your mention!
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemmingway
Just finished it. Great reading for me. Probably not for everyone. More drinking per page than any book ever written. It's basically a bunch of cool people who go drinking in Paris, then Spain. There is a little bit about bullfighting, a tiny bit about trout fishing. Not much sex. Just drinking. But in a good way.
During a quest in my 20's to read all Hemingway's books, I read that one. I could relate to some of it, including the drinking & the fishing. It of course ends up in Pamplona for the "Bull-Running." So far, the only Hemingway books I've read twice are: "Farewell to Arms" & "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
Besides, my old man used to drink with Hemingway, as did most Ketchum Idaho males in the early 1960's.
i was in the middle of 3 books and got stuck, uncommon for me; as i will force myself to read something through unless i find it impossible to read after several attempts. (For example, Gravity's Rainbow or Atlas Shrugged.)
i picked up China's Wings and can't put it down; which hopefully ends the drought, when i was looking for this thread, i found the China's Wing thread.
i used to know a "hump pilot" in the 1980's when i was managing a racquetball-fitness club and would listen to his stories for hours. i can't remember his name to save my life. At any rate a great read!
Peter Stanyer's epic Guide To Investment Strategy. Oh, yeah, some riveting
stuff in this AND quite relevant to this crowd. It delves considerably into
behavioural finance which is all about risk assessment.
"Risk is about the chance of disappointing outcomes." Yes, there is a rigorous
methodology to avoiding cratering while sending yer proj, and it doesn't
depend upon properly wearing yer toque.
During a quest in my 20's to read all Hemingway's books, I read that one. I could relate to some of it, including the drinking & the fishing.
Fritz, strange as a literature major during my first tenure as a college student, I began a similar quest. I did the same with John Steinbeck and William Faulkner.
Can't say i accomplished my mission; but haven't given up yet. i read more Steinbeck and Faulkner, less of Hemingway. The bull fighting was a little much and i would get lost in other aspects as well. At the time it seemed pointless to write so much about (nothing as i saw it).
i'm much older now and a little more patient with my reading; but i doubt i will ever finish all the Hemingway books. One reason to finish the list was his end.
I had a great time recently reading Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. If you're in the mood for good hard science fiction, Morgan's your man. Seriously good dialog and a well-developed plot. I'm now into the second of these three books about the main protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs.
I'm a parallel reader. Or more precisely put, I'm a serial interleaving reader:
Holcroft Covenant (an old Robert Ludlum thriller)
50 Classic Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Summits in California
An Altered Carbon sighting! Excellent sci-fi noir, that. And set in San Francisco, which we should link to that thread currently devoted to people devoted to slagging off the Bay Area.
I've read all or most of Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Saul Bellow... to go with all of Patrick O'Brien, Michael Connelly, Alan Furst, and (almost all of) Bernard Cornwwell and Iain M. Banks's sci fi books. Because I do love me some potboilers.
If you're into historical fiction, you'll love Alan Furst--atmospheric espionage novels usually set in Eastern Europe, Germany, and France in the run up to World War II.
(And Tobia, psyched to hear that you're enjoying China's Wings. Thanks for taking the time to read it.)
I like the Patrick o'Brian stuff. If you like that, you might like another prolific author Wilbur Smith- similar action, but some more graphic descriptions of violence, some gratuitous sex, and tracking a long arc of history in Africa, from western ship-based explorers to land-based hunters/colonial stuff to the emergence of mining industries. He even has some for ancient Egypt that goes off the deep end from historical fiction for a few books, then toward supernatural/fantasy with the same character/story arc.
Good call. I read some Wilbur Smith back in the day. Enjoyed him very much. (I think he has much more of a following in the UK than here.) I never got in the habit of reading his new one each year or so. I'll add him to my "books to read" Evernote note.
Although I can't claim that I totally "got" Ulysses when I was 15 (does anybody, ever?), I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever read. What I couldn't cope with when I was 15, but am reading now, was Don Quixote--which is, yes, one of the funniest things I've ever read.
Don't tell the Don, but I spent last night promiscuously in bed with Philip Levine's The Bread of Time--which is, yes, one of the greatest titles ever written.
i read the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels without a break (that i can remember) in between them; w/ exception of constantly having to refer to a dictionary because of O'Brian's extended vocabulary.
That inspired a keen interest of ocean going vessels, both modern and of those long past. The Wooden World by N.A.M. Rodger gives a lot of insight into the design and mastery of the ships Capt. Aubrey sailed.
I just finished Hemingway's big non-fiction work, The Green Hills Of Africa. Well written with these crazy hundred word sentences, unlike his normal, sparse style.
I am now back to TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, one of the best written stories in our language. A MUST read. Beautiful
Prose flowed from that guy like water. IMO, one of the better books in the English language.
Please read it. It is long, but you won't be able to put it down.
Born To Run Very entertaining book about aging, ultramarathons, the Tarahumara and some highly unique characters. Lotsa fun.
13 Hours Fascinating book about what happened in Benghazi from the
special operators that were on the ground.
More Than A Score If you're wondering what's the big deal about all the standardized tests going on in public schools, this is a good read. Perhaps too conspiracy-theory oriented, but informative nonetheless.
I am working slowly but surely through Robert Caro's
The Power Broker. It is a biography of Robert Moses, the engineer and politician who changed the face of New York during 1930 to 1960 through massive public works programs, including parks, bridges, highways and dams.
Moses is a fascinating but not likable character: brilliant and energetic, but also arrogant, racist and staggeringly mean-spirited to any one who got in his way.
After reading this book, you will never doubt the old maxim that money is the mother's milk of politics. It includes great descriptions of Al Smith, Fiorello La Guardia, and Moses' hated enemy, Franklin Roosevelt.
After the penance of a good but not easy read like Caro, I tend to go back to old favorites for a reading vacation. I have read all of Patrick O'brian (more than once), all of John Mortimer's Rumpole books and all of PG Wodehouse's Jeeves stories.
I had read that O'brian was a landlubber; apparently, he got his nautical knowledge completely through pouring over old Navy logbooks in London libraries. And he was not even Irish as his name suggests.
Base104, if you're into Seven Pillars, might I suggest Arabian Sands by Sir Wilfred Thesiger? IMO, that's one of the best adventure books of all time. (Although it takes about 60 pages to get into the meat of it...) I've actually stood on some super-obscure, remote spots in Oman that Thesiger wrote about with Arabian Sands in my hands, and his descriptions were so absolutely accurate that I suspect he was standing on the exact same spot when he was making notes in his journal. (Impossible to be that accurate without taking notes on the spot.)
I second The Lost City of Z. Recently read it on Kelly Cordes' reccy and really enjoyed it.
Mr. Crouch, I have much respect for your literary skills, as well as your work ethic in completing such a project. Your acknowledgement chapter was a complete work of literature within itself.
American Sniper Chris Kyle's Autobiography. Breeze of a read. I found it interesting how humble of a man he was, admitting his weaknesses such as not being fond of the water and a fear of heights doesn't exactly fit the traits of the ideal Navy Seal.
A simple, but profound book I just finished "The Orphan Train".
Also, "RED" an interesting book by Terry Tempest Williams. The writer speaks to the preservation of the Redrock Wilderness in the canyon country of southern Utah. I enjoyed her book, but would love to debate her on some of the books issues.
Currently reading Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. Incredibly interesting, amusing, and well written. Though the rare-species folks dislike ravens, it has always been one of my favorite birds, so I grabbed this one in an instant when I saw it in the bookstore.
Tomahawk , a Dan Lenson novel by David Poyer. Recently finished the latest Jack Reacher book . . . disappointed in the finale.
Reading an article in the latest New Yorker on student political organizations during the Cold War. It reminded me of working at Glasgow AFB in the early 1960s, SAC nukes in abundance, and subscribing to that old Soviet cultural magazine, Soviet Life maybe, but I'm too lazy to look it up. It was fairly popular on the Base. Seems strange in retrospect.
Oh for the good old days when our enemy was another civilized state and Balance of Power worked.
Just finished Last Call by Okrent--an AWESOME history of prohibition. Definitely read it.
Currently reading Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun by Geoffrey Canada
This is a short but compelling story of his growing up in NY in the fifties and sixties. Yikes! Interesting because it was a prelude to the gun culture that made such places "killing fields," as he puts it. Hard to put down.
Totally interesting studies. The book was highly contested by big foods scientists. Dairy, Beef, chicken, pharma, etc, multi billion dollar industries went to war over potential lost in profits. It's the Capitalistic way! Excellent studies by Oxford, Cornell, and The Chinese Government for over 3 decades!
Just finished "The Call of The Ice" Simone Moro 2012.
Simone is one of the most badazz human beings alive. The book documents his quest to climb 8000 m peaks in winter culminating in G2 in 2011. If you saw Cory Richards film "Cold" this book leads up to that.
If you saw it and remember that crazy Italian coughing his lungs out, that was Simone. After meeting Simone at a slide show last fall and reading this book I have huge respect for that crazy Italian who makes Cory looks like an adolescent American crybaby.
The writing style is raw, coursely edited and in a way that is about the same as listening him speak in English, not his first language. While not winning any awards for writing style, it makes for a clearer picture of who he is and what he is doing. So in fact, it is easier to understand him as he communicates.
He has a harshness and self-centeredness which I could easily forgive and live with. He is a doer. A man of great accomplishment, largely because he has a great sense of his limitations and knows when to give up. His list of failures on peaks outnumbers his successes. For this reason he still has all his fingers and toes and is alive today.
He is near the top of my heros list along with his equally badazz partner Denis Urubko.
The book is essential reading for anyone interested in high altitude climbing.
I love all kinds of books, even literature for children. These are several very good ones grownups should enjoy too.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai. In this one the sentence structure threw me at first, but after a few pages I was totally engrossed.
E. M. Forster, The Longest Journey. It has the best opening sentence ever, better than Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses.
The novel opens in medias res, the first scene an idle discussion between Cambridge students arguing about whether there is an objective reality independent of the sensations of an observer. Sentence one:
"The cow is there," said Ansell, lighting a match and holding it over the carpet.
In the middle of David McCullough's The Johnstown Flood. A historic work on how the negligence of a few people combined with an unusual amount of rain in 1880's wiped an entire town and more off the Pennsylvania map.
I read his Path Between The Seas which covered the politics and mechanics of the building of the Panama Canal. I have one more of his books that I haven't read, The Great Bridge, the detailed summary of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you saw Cory Richards film "Cold" this book leads up to that.
Spider, was that at the Banff film show at Caltech a couple of years ago? The one I'm thinking of was really good, a far cry above the usual "look at all the badass stuff I do" fare at Banff.
Just finished George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. It concerns his time fighting in the Spanish Civil War. He describes his time fighting the fascists on the Aragon Front. Catalonia was semi-independent at the time and mostly under the "rule" of the Anarchists. It was an interestingly different sort of army.
He details how the Russians stabbed the Spanish workers in the back.
Can anyone recommend a book on Joan of Arc? I have found one, much to surprise that was written by Mark Twain!
Posted on Amazon, Twain considered it "not only his most important but also his best work". It also says he spent 12 years researching in both England and France before he "reached his conclusion about Joan of Arc's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English".
Another person considered it a fictional biography(?)
Other authors that I am not familiar with include Helen Castor,.Kathryn Harrison,Régine Pernoud and George Benard Shaw
This book my wife gave me might actually help me figure out how to meditate. I've always had a hard time, felt silly when I tried it. His irreverent everyman perspective is easy to read and doesn't make New Age type and other worldly claims that have previously turned me off.
Spitfire Women of World War II: A beautifully written book that tells the largely unknown story of the women pilots who served in the Air Transport Auxiliary. The ATA was composed of pilots, many of whom were women, who flew thousands of aircraft to front line units in Britain and, later in the war, to the European mainland. These females came from all over the world, including such nations as Poland, Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere.
The book follows the struggles of these women to be permitted to perform this vital contribution to Allied victory in the air and recounts many heroic and tragic events related to this story, while never neglecting the often hilariously irreverent way that they performed their duties.
This is a must read for anyone with an interest in World War II, especially for those who wish to develop a greater appreciation of the many ways in which women served the Allied cause.
The Ardennes 1944-1945: Hitler's Winter Offensive (2014) by Christer Bergstrom
The diction and syntax are at times a bit awkward (Bergstrom is a Swede), but arguably the best tactical analysis of the many small unit actions and engagements that comprised the Battle of the Bulge. Offers American and German after-action reports along with eye-witness testimony. Better even that Peter Caddick-Adams' monumental study, Snow & Steel (2015), and topping an Oxford edition says a lot. Fantastic photographs, many of them published for the first time, compliment Bergstrom's narrative. You really get a sense how during the first 6 or 7 days of the battle, the US almost lost WWII in Europe as the Allied command structure frayed and buckled under the unanticipated German onslaught.
Finished The Great Bridge by David McCullough, a fascinating tale of engineering and political graft.
I followed that up with George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia because I knew very little of the Spanish Revolution or Civil War.
The last sentence really grabbed me, as foreboding as it was, (written in early 1937 upon his return to England after his stint in the Spanish revolt):
Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policeman--all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
Now I will try to find a good book on Joan of Arc, thanks for the suggestions.
I just listened to The Glass Castle, and while I wouldn't say it was the best book ever, it was one of the only defenses (to the extent that it was) of not-totally-crazy or drug-addicted people choosing homelessness because it just suited them that I've ever seen get mass-market traction. It was slow going to start, but I'm glad I finished it.
Reading an older book by Kim Stanley Robinson (of Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars fame) called The Memory of Whiteness. If you like scifi and you like music, and philosophical themes, this book is quite the mind bender.
Just finished the last two volumes of Allan Eckert's series, The Winning of America, The Conquerors & The Wilderness War. Although Eckert's work has taken some criticism for his employment of imagination when recreating conversations based on historical facts, these books are valuable accounts of this land's history.
I just finished Command & Control by Eric Schlosser. Basically a history of nuclear weapons safety in the US. Interesting and well-written, but also a bit scary and depressing. Finished it thinking that it was sheer luck that we didn't have an accidental nuclear detonation at some point between 1950 and 1980. And that such an accident could very easily have led to war with the Soviets.
Iron & Silk by Mark Salzman. A good read and probably the last look at China before the advent of the internet; which has had a marked impact on the ancient culture there, at least from what I read in the news about modern China. Of course the internet has changed every culture; but probably not to the extent that has taken place in China.
stevep, Command And Control sounded interesting so I bought a used copy and am starting it today.
malemute, looks like a good read, i will give it a try, i'm about to finish up Command And Control , if that isn't enough of a realistic scare, i don't know what is. Mind boggling.
sycorax, our stories are reversed, i came home to GA for a medical checkup for what i thought was going to a few month's visit until spring of 1985 and here i have unintentionally remained for 30 years. i had planned on another exodus to Yosemite.
Thanks for the link, i read that in 2010; certainly worth reading again.
Somethings have changed, somethings have remained the same. i have a friend who is an organic chicken farmer for both laying and frying hens and two others that are organic truck farmers. Waffles and grits remain strong and the instant variety of grits is not part of the diet.
tgt, my little library looked like that once;however i culled what i knew i would never read and have whittled down the orange variety to about four. That was a mission i started 2 years ago, most belonged to my mother, a student of history.
i have two of the "gray" variety Tom Wolfe's A Man In Full (i did enjoy the parts on quail hunting.) The other is Hunter Thompson's Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas. Tom Wolfe's other works i have read more than once, he must have owed his publisher one more and dumped A Man In Full on them to settle up. i have no idea why i keep them; except to tear the pages out to light the fire in the winter. i offer them up to anyone who wants them to read.
i did enjoy HT's Hell's Angels.
i can't say i have any of the hot pink one's, except that which are made to be looked at.
Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers
The one time Wittgenstein met Karl Popper -in the Cambridge debating club - it ended with Wittgenstein threatening Popper with a fire poker and then storming out of the room...... or so the story goes. :)
Fun read so far if you are into that sort of thing. Important philisophical issues in the background but the book is not too dense for a layman.
More about personalities and the culture of Cambridge in 1946. And the great clash of competing approaches to reality as represented by these two figures.
So this copy's lying in the cab of Flip Flop's truck and we agreed it's got more smooth moves than a Casanova.
Then Erika, his climbing partner for the weekend, showed up in camp and she had her female wolf-dog with her, a mellow little love named "Bumi."
Flip Flop decided to give me the chance to read it one more time. Thanks!
Sir Karl Popper was my Dad's PhD adviser at LSE...
One story my Dad liked to tell was that he and Sir Karl were discussing some difficult theory and Sir Karl leaned back, rubbed the bridge of his nose, and said, "Crouch, even after all these years, I am amazed by what I do not know."
Wrapped up Command & Control by Eric Schlosser a few minutes ago. It is a captivating tale of the haphazard handling of nuclear weapons dating back to their advent. The sad part is that the saga of nuclear weapons will continue. Thanks for posting it stevep.
“Here’s another thing I always carry. A souvenir of Oxford days. It was taken in Trinity Quad — the man on my left is now the Earl of Dorcaster.”
(Jay Gatsby bragging to Nick Carraway)
Interesting that sycorax posted a Gatsby quote since I just reread that a couple of weeks ago for the first time in about 25 yrs. Absolutely terrific. I hadn't really appreciated it in the earlier period of my life.
The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons. I just started reading it and doubt I will have it done in the three weeks the library allows (600+ pages). Might have to buy it and read at leisure. Sherlock Holmes meets Henry James.
Lot of folks seem to be reading Crime and Punishment, which is terrific of course. First I need to finish rereading The Brothers Karamosov, (for the third time I think) which I picked up a while back but got bogged down with the length and my own commitments, etc. Really one of the standout books of Western literature. That was the nice thing about reading Gatsby is that the length wasn't daunting and didn't seem an impediment to finishing it, which begins to feel worrisome. I had a similar reaction to David Copperfield, which is great. But when you read and write all day at a desk, long books can become a chore.
Also need to finish Cadillac Desert, which, for a book about water, is really compelling.
Just yesterday, while rummaging through a closet, I found a box I have moved many times, but not opened, in about 20 years. Books of course, those heavy things I always seem to drag around the country when I move, yet never actually unpack, or shelve.
Last night I enjoyed dipping back into Soul of Wood, by Jakov Lind. It will be interesting to see the difference, if any, 20 years makes in my overall impression of this book, and the rest of the boxes contents.
In the near future water wars between Las Vegas and Phoenix are serious. Phoenix is a dying city with much of it abandoned and the houses stripped of plumbing and wiring. Good stuff for those with a post apocalyptic appetite.
Enemy at the Gates
Words cannot describe the horror, but William Craig does a pretty good job. Over a million soldiers killed, 40,000 civilians dead in the city alone in the first two days. Reading words like "The primitive instinct to survive at any cost" And "monumental human tragedy" and the stories/facts behind those words leaves my mind reeling.
I finished Fur, Fortune And Empire by Eric J. Dolin, less than a week ago. If you are interested in North American History and how the fur trade drove the international economy, it would be of great interest to you.
I read Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson by Raymond Thorp and Robert Bunker in a few days time. It is the book which the movie Jerimah Johnson was loosely based on. A lot of documented history, again involving the fur trade. It was a quick one. I need to read the other book used to write the movie script, Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher. (I may be reiterating information posted up thread somewhere.I am not sure where I learned of this.)
I just started Incidents In The Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs. When first written she used another name and apparently no one put much stock into it. Someone did some research and discovered it to be a factual account and a true autobiography. (It is one of my mother's books that has been sitting among others that I want to read. I thought I had about four in that category; but it turns out I have a whole shelf full.)
I am finishing up "To Hell and Back" by Charles Pellegrino. The Last Train From Hiroshima.
He gives the stories of people who lived through the atomic bomb blast of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.
Some people very near ground zero survived in cellars or concrete buildings. Very horrific tales of radiations effects depending how far away you were. Sometime just being protected by the leaves of trees would be the difference between living or not.
Like a kid that dove down to the bottom of a river and held on while he tried to hold his breath as long as he could, and came up to a world destroyed around him but no radiation effects.
Lots of good science.
There were quite a few people who experienced both of the blasts and survived , having gone from Hiroshima to Nagasaki to get to family or just to get away.
"The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer- story of combat on the Eastern Front by a German Infantryman. Intense.
"Me, Myself, and I" by Andy Kirkpatrick-the PDF version. HEY ANDY!! Hurry up on the print version, would you??
I wrapped up Enemy at the Gates today. William Craig's Prologue ends with the following sentences in the last paragraph:
Brutality, sadism, and cowardice are undeniably prominent in the story. Jealousy, overriding ambition and callousness to human suffering occur with shocking frequency... What happens is not pleasant reading. No book that deals with widespread slaughter can be.
I read some chapters more than once because it was hard to believe what I had just read.
I started A Stance of Wonder by Mark Rodell this afternoon. The first few pages seem promising and I am sure it will be pleasant reading.
If you liked Heart of Darkness, check out N888er of the Narcissus. A dated title, which is unfortunate, but a terrific book. I remember absently mindedly reading it in the Atlanta airport and then realized some folks might not take kindly to me reading a book with that word in the title so I slyly tucked it away.
I just picked up Wind, Sand and Stars by St. Exupery again after a long lapse. Though it clearly has some touchy feely parts, when you get through those into the accounts of early aviation, it is riveting.
St. Exupery had an interesting life. Didn't know this when I first read it but, while I knew that St. Exupery disappeared in his plane. Rereading this book prompted me to check him out and found out that he lived in the U.S. for a couple of years during the WWII after the Nazis invaded France and attempted to persuade the U.S. to join the fight against Nazi Germany. He was actually on a recon mission for the Allies when his plane disappeared.
Second the rec for Conrad's N888er of the Narcissus found in some short story collections. It's almost a novella. A sea voyage returning home from India to Europe....with a fine company of sailors.
My all time favorite Conrad is Secret Sharer outstanding short story. Recommended at the US Naval Academy. A leadership story about the shadow side of self.
Last read Defending Beef by the Niman Ranch wife. Covers climate change, water, grazing, and a short but valuable chapter on the value of having in our nation children raised on farms, with animals and nature.
On deck: Life in Motion by Misty Copeland the ballerina from San Pedro in LA County with the outraged anti-stage mother who turned down full scholarships for her daughter at the best dance programs to keep her at home with her (nonwhite) family and culture.
I finished A Stance Of Wonder within a couple of days of starting it. I enjoyed it, as much as I thought I would. Although it a fictional tale, a lot of the descriptive language involved in sculpting a reader's p Yosemite Valley, Tenaya Canyon, Cloud's Rest, places that burned into my soul, made me forget I was reading fiction. The same can be said of Camp 4 and the variety of personality types found in the climbing community.
I have never been to Thailand; but I feel like I have now.
Anybody interested in military history and, more importantly, Pentagon shenanigans
MUST read Boyd - The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art of War. The title
addendum is somewhat misleading in that while Boyd's impact on war fighting
is undeniable his greatest legacy might be the valiant, if marginally effective,
war he waged within the Air Force and Pentagon to further accountability and
just plain common sense. It is impeccably researched searing in its analyses.
Boyd's battles with the AF brass should be front page news today with the
Obama administration's announcement of the awarding of a contract to build
another in a long line of useless AF pet projects - a new long range nuke
bomber. WTF? If you read the book you will have to agree that the whole
existence of the Pentagon is twofold:
1. To build expensive weapons so
2. Retired generals and admirals can get nice high paying jobs after they
Reilly, thanks for posting above book. Sounds like something I would like to read.
I started Doug Robinson's The Alchemy Of Action today. I have always enjoyed reading Doug's posts on the historical threads here. I also have a background in exercise science; which makes his theory about brain chemistry during climbing and other physically demanding sports intriguing.
The Alchemy Of Action is a bold new look into the chemistry of our brains when we experience those heights in spirit and vision when stressing our bodies (and minds) in heavy duty action on granite, trails or asphalt.
The biochemistry of action is explained in layman's terms and easily understood. Dick Robinson put a lot effort into writing a book that made the science easily digestible and transferable to my own experiences.
Reilly, if you can fly a jet, you can easily handle this information. No "crankloon" stuff here.
I recently finished "Bloodsucking Fiends" by Christopher Moore. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read.
Regarding Joseph Conrad, mentioned on the previous page, I have recently read Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, and Typhoon. I have a hard time understanding why Conrad's writing has the reputation it does, I really didn't find much to appreciate. I was so surprised by this fact that it took me 3 works to decide that I really wasn't going to go for it.
"Reading Lolita In Tehran" by Azar Nafrsi published in 2003. What a wonderful writer. She paints scenes that draw you into her apartment and into her circle of students in Tehran in the mid-90's. As real and vibrant and relevant today as the day it was written. It offers the reader tremendous insight into the culture and politics of Iran and the Revolution still playing out today,
I'm getting old, and need to get serious about my bucket list. Just took a train to Indiana and had time to read.
Finished Crime and Punishment on the way out. It was a good translation apparently and it was a real page turner, especially as things started closing in on Raskolnikov. The only issue I had with it was trying to figure out why Nastasia, Dunia, Sofia and Razumihkin were so devoted to Raskolnikov.
After that Shooting Polaris by John Hale. Hale was a summer temp for the BLM's cadastral survey in Utah in the early '80s, right before technology caught up with surveying. The book is about the conflict with his personal views on nature and conservation with his love of surveying. Good read.
Just started East of Eden and it might be better than Grapes of Wrath.
Lots of 19th Century American, Californian and Western history and commentary: Vigilantes in Gold Rush San Francisco, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, The Rush, Rush for Riches, Eldorado, Mining in the Pacific States of North America, Days of Gold, The Telegraph in America, The Life and Legend of Jay Gould, Five Points, The Great Hunger, American Colossus, Mining Frontiers of the Far West, Scenery of the Plains, Mountains and Mines, and The Irish Americans, My Memories of the Comstock, Comstock Women... phew. There's more, too. A lot more.
Of those, only The Great Hunger, The Irish Americans, Five Points, and Rush for Riches were good. And only then if you're psyched to learn about those topics.
Also the Stegner (Where The Bluebird...). But Stegner worries me. Angle of Repose is one of my favorite novels, but he unarguably directly cribbed about ten percent of that book from the writings of Mary Hallock Foote. All the beautiful descriptions of the 19th Century west? Foote. Ten percent. Uncredited. That is a colossal amount. I suspect that cost him the Nobel Prize.
Okay, that said, I detected another one in Where the Bluebird Sings...
In it, Stegner writes to the effect of: "California, it's America, only more so."
Great quote, one you see widely attributed to him...
Problem is, I just happened to be perusing back issues of The Overland Monthly, and there it is, that exact quote, in the December 1883 issue.
After awhile, it's a bit much.
So when I'm not plowing through skull-crushing 19th Century history, I've been reading pulp for funzies: The Mask of Dimitrios, Masie Dobbs (#1 & #2), Glitz, Freaky Deaky, Maximum Bob, Brown's Requiem, The Hot Country, The Star of Istanbul, and The Martian.
That last was a real thriller.
And then three WSJ reviews I've done: Snowblind by Daniel Arnold, Alone on the Wall by Honnold, and The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck. All three of which were very good. The Oregon Trail is almost great. I think most of us following this thread would enjoy all of them.
Interesting. The Oregon Trail sounds intriguing. I need another good nonfiction to start and then put aside when I find I lack the time to finish it. Nonfiction is interesting in that it can either be a relatively quick read, like one of Steve House's books, or it can be really, factually dense and make for interesting but slower going, like Cadillac Desert, which I'm now about 80% through.
My brother just came down for a visit and left two books with me. Both are baseball books. Baseball has always been a big part of our family, so his gift was all the more meaningful. It also helps keep the stoke going during baseball's doldrums between the end of the World Series and the start of Spring Training.
First was Driving Mr. Yogi by NY sportswriter Harvey Araton. Published in 2012 and based on much material gathered in 2011. It explores the relationship between Yogi and his "keeper", another former Yankee star, Ron Guidry. Of course Yogi passed away earlier this year, and I'm sure there are going to be a bunch of "Yogi" books coming out to take advantage of the momment, but it was nice to read this that was written while Yogi was still alive. You don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book.
The other is Fridays with Red by Bob Edwards, the host of NPR's Morning Edition. It's about Bob's 12 year gig with the great radio announcer Red Barber. I remember these broadcasts (they lasted only 4 minutes! I would have sworn theye were longer) and loved tuning in on Fridays just to catch these two having fun. Just starting to read it. So far so good. Again, baseball is not the central theme, so don't shy away because of that.
yes, a long time follower of Roger. My Mom used to clip his New Yorker bits and send them too me. Before the internet, his stuff helped keep me afloat as a baseball fan here in Costa Rica, where futbol is king. I've also got his books A Pitcher's Story and Season Ticket, both well dog-eared.
Phew... I revisit a few of his stories during the dark time of each year as I attempt to survive the dull thuds of the football season and connect the end of the World Series with the start of spring training.
The Summer of '49 by David Halberstam is a great "baseball book". I look forward to reading Driving Mr. Yogi .
I love baseball myself, I wasn't very good at hitting, only fielding. I got to throw the ball some with my nephew on Thanksgiving, first time in a few years.
He was a standout in high school and helped his team win the state championship in 2011. Funny thing, I have a bunch of my left handed gloves from years ago. He forgot to bring his right handed glove; but it made no difference because he is ambidextrous at hitting and fielding. Not sure if he got to pitch both ways in high school; but batted that way often.
I'm working on Moanin' At Midnight, The Life & Times of Howlin' Wolf by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman.
The Summer of '49 by David Halberstam is a great "baseball book".
I second Tobia's opinion. Why is it that baseball seems to do so well in lit relative to the other big sports? There are reams of good baseball books, but the shortlist of the good books on the other major sports is pretty small. For football, I think of Semi-Tough (classic, in my opinion), North Dallas Forty, The Blind Side, and Friday Night Lights (also classic). I don't know of any great basketball books. But there's a really long list of good and great and classic baseball books...
My guess as to the answer to your question concerning the quality and number of books written about baseball is that baseball was the greatest game before the advent of televised sports events, as well the fact that the sport's complexity and strategy makes better literary material.
David Halberstam wrote two other books on baseball, October 1964 and The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship.
According to Halberstam's biography, printed on the back jacket of his last work, The Coldest Winter, (published posthumously) he died in an automobile accident that occurred on his way to an interview for his next book about the 1958 NFL Championship Game.
An article concerning the 1958 game in Wikipedia states the game was between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants that became known as the "The Greatest Game Ever Played" and the beginning of the rise of the NFL as the leading (spectator) sport in the United States. The book was completed by Frank Gifford, who was quarterback for the NY Giants.
I read a few football books when I was a youngster: Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay, Joe Namath's I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow...'Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day, and in later years The Junction Boys; which was the story of Bear Bryant's era at Texas A&M. I also read North Dallas Forty at some point.
Halberstam also wrote three other books concerning sports, none of which I have read. Those include books about Bill Walton, Michael Jordan and Bill Bellichick,
I didn't realize Halberstam had done so much sports writing. I really enjoyed The Coldest Winter. You're probably right about the dynamics of baseball/football lit, but if that's the case, where are the excellent modern books about football, since the rise of TV to rule our lives? Although we might not have enough perspective yet to winnow out the good ones.
At the end of every year I like to look over what I read through the year. Make sure I'm staying on track with my reading goals. I thought I'd share this here in the form of mini-reviews in case someone is looking for book recommendations. Title and author is followed by a rating and then very brief (5 words or less) synopsis/word-association.
Notre Dame de Paris - Victor Hugo 10/10
Heartache, self-loathing... architecture!
The Right Stuff - Tom Wolfe 10/10
Manly men playing with rocketships.
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 9/10
Humanity, God... La France!
Time Machine - H. G. Wells 9/10
The unlikely future of mankind.
Island of Dr. Moreau- H. G. Wells 9/10
Unsettling scifi horror.
Age of Reason - Thomas Paine 8/10
This week on Mythbusters: Christianity.
Shanghai - Stella Dong 8/10
History of the International Settlement.
The Creators - Daniel Boorstin 8/10
History of the arts/humanities.
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 8/10
You know the story.
Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith 8/10
Free trade, prosperous nations.
Elements of Style - Strunk and White 8/10
Learn to write good.
War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells 7/10
Better without Tom Cruise.
First Men in the Moon - H. G. Wells 7/10
Yes "IN" the moon.
The Language Instict - Stephen Pinker 7/10
Linguistics theory 101.
Fail Falling - Royal Robbins 6/10
The first one is better.
Hiding in the Mirror - Lawrence Krauss 6/10
Over-my-head quantum theory.
Invisible Man - H. G. Wells 6/10
Interesting premise, weak characters.
Good respective list from Bryan. Wish I had that much quiet time to read. I've been eyeing The Invisible Man, which is on my shelf, after enjoying two other Wells' novels, The Time Machine and The Lost World. Both are good fun but really more adventure yarns than anything else. Maybe I'll save it for later. I've been meaning to go back to Steppenwolf but wasn't too impressed with Narcissus and Goldmun, so I back burnered it after a couple of chapters.
SteveP.... Thanks. As for Kem Nunn, I've read them both. Enjoyed them both, too. I seem to recall them both tipping a little too far into "magical realism" for my tastes. I wasn't as convinced by the surfing scenes as I wanted/needed to be. (It has been a long time since I read them, so I could be wildly misremembering.)
I think it was Tapping the Source that had the description of a commando trip to what was clearly supposed to be the secret spots west of Goleta, where i grew up. I've been fortunate to come to know a few of those spots pretty well in the last 35 years. I wasn't completely sold.
But that's nit-picking, too. Both were really good California novels. Surf noir.
Back to Barbarian Days... being one of the first nine people in the world to discover Tavarua... it boggles the mind. Three MONTHS of trading waves there with just your buddy in the water... How much perfection can one man stand? Finnegan knows. And then Lagundri Bay under just slightly more crowded circumstances? That's one of the waves in the world I would most like to try, but I sure won't get it with five other guys. (Rifles, J-Bay, Lagundri Bay, P-Pass... I'm going to try to get to them once my son goes off to college and I have large chunks of time on my hands again. Wouldn't mind ramping up the climbing ambitions again, either.) I got nothing to complain about. I've had my share of low-crowd go-outs on fantastic waves.
The Devil's Chessboard by David Talbot (founder of salon.com) about the life of the first director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, who oversaw:
1) the 1954 coup d'etat that overthrew Arbenz who was trying to implement democratic reforms in Guatemala,
2) Operation Ajax that overthrew the democratically elected Mosaddegh government because they nationalized Iran's oil industry,
3) the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, and
4) project MKUltra (aka Mind Control Program) that experimented with LSD and hypnosis techniques on subjects without their consent.
I read fairly heavy stuff this winter ( couldn't get enough of Cormack McCarthy.)
So I'm reading some cotton candy right now and it's really fun.
Tourist Season by carl Hiassen. He writes corny murder mystery/investigative reporter stuff that pokes fun of Florida and its gawdy, sleasy, tacky side. Fun characters and outrageous understatement. The perfect summertime reads. Makes me feel like I'm on vacation mentally. Tourist Season starts off with the body of a well known Shriner found floating in the ocean zipped up in a suitcase. The legs are missing and the body is covered in suntan oil and a rubber alligator shoved down his throat. A skinny Cuban car thief and a large washed up ex-NFL star turned petty burglar are the most likely culprits right now early in the book. But another Shriner has just gone missing and a poorly written ransom note has just turned up from a group calling themselves the "Noches del Deciembre." The writing is silly and casual and not heavy on any level.
Skydog: The Duane Allman Story by Randy Poe. Of the books related to the Allman Brothers Band this is has been this best so far.
The other book, Moanin' At Midnight: The Life & Times of Howlin' Wolf by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman is a well researched and informative biography of not just the Wolf but also the history of the Delta & Mississippi Hill Blues.
Risk management, situational awareness; applicable to most walks of life.
Some of the discussion of subconscious cues and how not to smother them with higher-function interpretation suggests info covered in Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.
"Walking the Nile" by Levison Wood. Great story about his 2013 trek the length of the Nile River from Rwanda to the Mediterranean coast in Egypt.
"Reclaiming Conversation" by Sherry Turkle. Fascinating book about the decline of person to person conversation in the age of texting and its affect on education, personal relationships, family, friends, and work.
^^^^^^ I just got that in the mail and will start it after I finish "Titan:" The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr." by Ron Chernow whick I am reading now.
"Titan" is one of the best biographies I have ever read. I'm currently finishing re-reading "The Gathering Storm" by Churchill and then I'll start in on "And Then All Hell Broke Loose." On deck is "Capital in the 21st Century" by Thomas Piketty.
Mozart - A Life by Paul Johnson. Mind-boggling scholarship went into the 156 pages
of densely packed observations often at odds with the prevailing prejudices. I will probably
immediately re-read this.
Reading a few books at once, The Myth Of the Lost Cause and Civil War Hisory, edited by Gary Gallagher & Alan T. Norman. Interesting reading for a person who lives in the deep South. If I could only get some people I know to read it!
Also reading From The Heart Of The Crow Country, by Joseph Medicine Crow. Another sad tale of the demise of a Native American tribe.
I think Reilly suggested Longitude, by Dava Sobel. It seems very promising from the first few pages I have read.
I see some good material posted above to select from.
Tobia, I add my props for Longitude. I really enjoyed that book. Wanted more detail, but I suspect the primary sources are pretty thin and that Dava Sobel did the best she could with what is available.
Good to see there are a few books out there talking sense about slavery and secession.
I recently read David M. Potter's Impending Crisis, 1848-1861. Thoroughly enjoyed it. No matter what anybody says, it was all about slavery. Can't believe there's any doubt considering that many of the southern states' declarations of secession mention slavery outright. Sample Mississippi's, which begins: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery."
As General Grant wrote in his memoirs, discussing Lee's surrender: "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought."
I just finished two on early Nevada: Mark Twain in Virginia City by Paul Fatout and Devils Will Reign by Sally Zanjani. Both decent.
I did hit on a clause of Twain's, in an obscure newspaper article, that is so good it makes me weep: "with the serene confidence that a Christian feels in four aces."
That is about as close to perfect of a sentence fragment as I've ever read.
I've just started Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell by Janet Wallach. So far, so good though it's clear the writer has no clue when it comes to climbing (a very minor component of the book). I'm struggling a bit to get into We the Navigators (David Lewis). I read mostly to escape having to think hard (for me, required for most activities), and this is a bit too close to work, but I'm hoping to break through.
I also just got a dvd of Moana, Robert Flaherty's film about his family's experiences living in Samoa in the 1920s. Flaherty is the fellow who directed Nanook of the North btw. I'm getting ready for a work trip to Micronesia and the purchase seemed semi-justifiable. I'm psyched anyway.
ydpl8s! Psyched. Thanks for making the effort. Moon Chin just celebrated his 103rd birthday, and Pete Goutiere is coming up on his 101st.
Now you'll appreciate your connection to CNAC and the Hump whenever you handle a Fedex package--after the war, ten of the AVG (Flying Tiger) pilots who came over to CNAC after the AVG disbanded in July of 1942 went on to found The Flying Tiger Line based out of Los Angeles International Airport. (Joe Rosbert--he who crawled out of the mountains with the broken leg--was one of the principals.) It was the first airline in the world dedicated to flying freight. So they used their fighter pilot cache for the name, but actually did what they'd learned with CNAC--flying freight. Fronted by Bob Prescott, it operated successfully until Prescott died in 1992, at which time the others sold out to Fedex. Hence the connection between Fedex, the Hump flying, the AVG, and CNAC.
Pud. If you're an Oregon Trail enthusiast, you might enjoy Rinker Buck's recent The Oregon Trail: An American Journey. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Two brothers get the wild hair to drive a covered wagon from Missouri to Oregon in 2012. Great story.
Just about finished with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle........not sure how I missed it when it came out, but have quite enjoyed it. The author definitely knows dogs, which makes it even more interesting to me. Just starting "The High Mountains of Portugal", which has gotten great reviews, and has captivated me from the beginning....I'm only about a chapter in, as I have to finish Edgar S. first!
This has been a year of re-reads for me. Currently I'm 150 pages into "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill" by William Manchester, the excellent biography of Winston Churchill.
This time around I can much better appreciate the historical reach of Churchill's life . Born in 1974 during the high point of Victorian England, the span of his life encompassed that nation as the preeminent Imperial power, only to arrive to the edge of ruin, and after rescue from that ignoble state to the dissolution of its longstanding colonial reach , then eventually to second class status among the global powers.
If the title of Isserman's book were "A History of North American Mountaineering through the North American Wall," would it be a good history? What's different between Isserman's take and Chris Jones'?
Also in your lead-in you state that the national parks and the environmental movements are the result of American Mountaineering. Maybe the book should end with the early-60's since none of the climbing since the mid-60's has contributed to either, as far as I know. Interesting that the NY Times thought that this book would be of interest.
It IS a good and detailed history through that point. Especially through the end of the early K2 expeditions in 1953. Very detailed look at the early days in the 19th Century. That stuff was interesting, and he did a good job wrapping in the philosophical evolution of attitudes toward the natural world. I enjoyed that stuff.
He's much more detailed than Jones, and more all-inclusive. Jones is perhaps more fun.
IMHO, he kowtows way too much to what he calls "The Brotherhood of the Rope" generation. Basically, the Harvard Five, led by Brad Washburn. Then takes the subsequent generation to task for, among other things, "Yosemite-style competitivenes."
I think those 1930s-1950s climbers were every bit as competitive as subsequent generations. Witness the 1938-1939 rivalries with the K2 expeditions, and Charlie Houston losing an entire day of his life when he learned that the Italians had reached the summit of K2. If that isn't an indication of a hyper-competitive man, I don't know what is.
p329: "If Yosemite epitomized the the competitive individualism coming to the fore in big-wall climbing, the American expedition to Everest was perhaps the last golden moment of the spirit of the brotherhood of the rope." As if none of us have ever experienced that on an expedition! (And please, who in modern mountaineering/alpinism draws inspiration from an expedition that needed 900 porters to get it to the base of a mountain? To my mind, that expedition goes against the grain of one of the great American climbing traditions, which is to try and do more with less... (ironic, considering how our nation approaches just about everything else.) Historically, I think we've done pretty well in that regard, with the early K2 trips, the stuff done in AK, and our modern efforts.
And said "There were no budding David Browers in their ranks," which I took to indicate that he believes there was no one in that generation to extend the legacy of Brower and John Muir. To that, I submit Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, who are surely at the forefront of modern environmentalism, and who, in my mind, definitely extend the environmental conservation legacy of Muir and Brower through the ranks of American climbing.
Also, he says that "the era of the all-around climber was drawiing to a close." Not true, in my opinion. Robbins, Chouinard, Frost, and so many others of that era, in Yosemite and elsewhere, were very accomplished all-arounders, particularly in comparison to what had gone before. And there are SO MANY all-rounders in the modern game.
A few factual errors, too, like about TR's visit to Yosemite: "Most of the presidential entourage stayed behind at the Wawona Hotel on the Valley floor." Describes Devils Tower and the Wiessner Route on it as "One of the first dramatic climbs of a desert rock formation." In aggregate, not that big of a deal, and should have been caught by his copy editor.
He did raise interesting points about the horrible racism in the AAC and AMC in the first half of the 20th C.
I'm psyched the NYT thought it was worth reviewing. The WSJ has been doing a lot of climbing and adventure themed book reviews, too. If I knew nothing about American climbing history, Isserman's book would be the go-to survey for an overview for everything that happened pre-1964, even if I have some significant criticisms of tone and content.
I like "Yosemite-style competitiveness." Probably applies to fashion too.
I think there is a hinge point in American climbing--maybe climbing worldwide--which occurs about the mid-1960s: with few unclimbed peaks or major faces, the focus shifted almost entirely to difficulty and style. One consequence of this is that the headlines become less grabby, and journalistically riskier interior monologues become more important. Think of Royal's account of Tissiack, in which he wrote all of the parts as if spoken by each climber: a few of us read it.
After the 60s few climbers wrote about climbing. In Yosemite in the 1970s, for the most part, the first ascensionist of major new climbs did not publish accounts. Partly I think that this reflects a shift in climbers' sense that they were doing anything so special. Just climb hard, man! Workaday stuff.
If you were not there, where do you turn to for information; how do you parse the difference between an envelope-pushing new ascent versus a run-of-the mill, "mopping-up operation," to quote Robbins. And even if one had a thread of ascents which moved the progress along, would anyone care. Until the public started thinking of rockclimbing as gym climbing, who cared that the East Face of Washington Column was climbed all free. Lynn's ascent of the Nose got attention and was press worthy.
As a practical matter, no one has really written an integrated history of climbing since the mid-60s. The closest in the mid-70s was the introduction in Meyer's Valley guide, written by Royal.
This shift in climbing focus and a lack of source material leaves a vacuum for an historian. I am sympathetic to the difficulty in finding an audience for the best stuff--what does a lay reader hang her attention on: the new climbs are mostly captured in visuals or knowledge of the difficulty. (I was mesmerized by Jorg Verhoeven's video of climbing the Changing Corners on the Nose, and later found a clip of Lynn's ascent. I doubt that any non-climber would have had a clue how cool it was. Ice skaters fall down all the time so that the audience knows how hard it is.)
Interestingly, retrospectively, the 60's climbers invented heroics in their accounts to stoke interest in their ascents. Given their record, it seems overwrought nowadays.
As an aside, Alex' free-soloing and Tommy and Kevin's camping trip seem to excite public interest, give-or-take, 50 years later. Great climbs, great climbers, great publicity.
On another note, I am not sure that Yvon and Doug's environmental reach is in the same league with what had gone before. I don't minimize it, but I don't think it reached beyond the climbing community. Yvon's later environmental efforts at Patagonia on cotton sourcing is certainly having an impact on water conservation. Yvon is also showing how at least a small niche marketer can make a fortune in promoting environmentalism.
I am glad that the NY Times and the WSJ is interested in climbing related articles. Good gigs. I also don't have to dance around my lost-years climbing in the Yosemite. One 75 year old colleague introduced me to his granddaughter as a "Yosemite Rockclimber." I had never talked to him about it; the granddaughter smiled blankly. It doesn't seem to do any harm.
PS: to stay on thread I am reading "Hamilton" by Chernow and a stack of short academic books on Shakespeare's style, character, plot and metrical devices--a long running chapter in reading-for-pain.
The ancient and august Cleveland Public Library has a copy of Stephen Booth's "Shakespeare's Sonnets," published in 1969. It has been checked out 40 times in 47 years. Interesting stuff. It is a little like move-by-move beta on a big wall free climb: hugely varied, rich, and very precise; overwhelming from afar but necessary upclose: tiny variations make all the difference. A connective function for every syllable in every line with the minimum structure to create a whole. Like every note in a 60 minute symphony. 5.14 reading. Booth is a cool analyst. Professor at Berkeley. Has been trying to find the answer to, "What's the big deal?" with Shakespeare.
Several years ago I had a conversation with an old climbing partner about reading hard stuff. His reaction was why bother?; why cater to authors who make it hard; stick with the plain stuff. I reminded him that in our sunny days of climbing we did anything but stick with the plain stuff. We sought out the not-so-obvious, hoping for an elegant solution to a hopeless line, looking for fully-meshed linking of improbable doability--sneaking by in the dark. I am sure there is a connection.
Although, pictures of me in a good reading chair, with a glass of neat whiskey, does not compare to a good climbing picture in sunny Yosemite.
Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?
The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.
The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.
The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.
When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to banking and oil fortunes, had the brilliant insight that most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible “philanthropy.”
These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision—a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network.
The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. Mayer documents instances in which people affiliated with these groups hired private detectives to impugn whistle-blowers, journalists, and even government investigators. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied.
Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews-including with several sources within the network-and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings in reporting this book. In a taut and utterly convincing narrative, she traces the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent by the network and provides vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.
Dark Money is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.
Hey Sycorax and others interested in Shakespeare 5.14,
Fifteen years ago while spending lots of time working overseas, after I had read a few Shakespeare plays and popular critical essays, I realized that what made Shakespeare so interesting is that he was the foremost playwright and poet of his day. Folks flocked to his plays, not because he was the world’s greatest poet or playwright but because he was the best entertainment. Titus Andronicus, which most of us can barely stand to read or watch, was his biggest hit, measured by publications and performances around Europe. His plays were popular with Queen Elizabeth and King James, and he filled the cheap seats. So I set out to try to hear Shakespeare the way it was heard in the 1590’s and the 00’s.
Here is an example of the sort of pay-offs I have learned: Juliet says,
Give me my Romeo, and, when I shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
Which makes no sense, until “to die” is pointed out to be a common synonym for, in the 1590's, “to have an organism,” in which case, Juliet wants to come and see Romeo as stars in the heavens. Way more romantic and charming than Juliet's apparent murder/suicide revere.
So to answer the question, what am I reading, these are the books that I have either read through or dip into as something strikes me. They cover the characters and plots of the plays and the poems as well as the language of the period and Shakespeare’s specific usage. They are mostly readable for someone like me with a general interest, as long as I remind myself that Shakespeare was wildly popular before anyone thought to study his plays and poems to gain meaning. That said, Shakespeare's plays did cover dangerous topics of kingship, succession, and governance in ways that the court allowed. Shakespeare's later political plays were set outside of England in part to avoid incurring the wrath of the court, at least that is one compelling theory.
The plays are covered by Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare The Invention of the Human for which he won the Marlow bombast award, and by W.H. Auden’s, the poet, Lectures on Shakespeare. Scholars have attributed more works to Shakespeare than covered by Bloom or Auden. Also in this category is Shakespeare’s Style by Maurice Charney.
I usually read the Arden Shakespeare Series, 3rd Series editions of the plays as the extensive notes provide context. However, I usually end up reading the play twice, once including the notes and a second time straight through. Until recently, this was very laborious. The Arden series also includes plays that are recently attributed to Shakespeare, forty-two including the poems and Sonnets. For the Sonnets, Stephen Booth’s edition includes the most thorough commentary on the language. The other poems are easy to read straight through.
The most helpful books on Shakespeare’s language include:
Shakespeare’s Metrical Art, by George Wright from which I learned to read verse distinct from prose and learned the range of variation in iambic pentameter used by Shakespeare. Once iambic pentameter became the engine of poetry, Shakespeare managed to bend it into flexibility while maintaining five beats per line, except sometimes he left some beats out. I did not study poetry in school. Now I have learned to read it silently with stresses and end stops.
Shakespeare and Language, Edited by Catherine Alexander which includes sixteen academic papers on language, some focused on language in general and some focused on specific plays. I dip into this, but it has been helpful in learning to recognize what makes a sentence, line or passage characteristic of Shakespeare.
More specific, short books on Shakespeare’s language include:
Shakespeare & the Arts of Language by Russ McDonald. McDonald is a great analyst and easy to read.
Shakespeare’s Freedom by Stephen Greenblatt, which tries to get at Shakespeare’s over-the-top-ness which Stephen Booth characterizes “strenuously impertinent,” “conspicuously irrelevant,” a quote from “The Shakespeare Wars” by Ron Rosenbaum—see below. Greenblatt is the editor of the Riverside edition of Shakespeare and the author of Will in the World.—see below.
Shakespeare’s Style by Maurice Charney which includes an essay on specific topics in 32(?) of the plays.
Shakespeare’s Late Style, by Russ McDonald takes on the shift in Shakespeare’s language in the late tragedies and romances. I have not read much of this because I am not so familiar with these plays—they are next up. But McDonald is a good writer, so I feel comfortable recommending it.
Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt is a best seller. Interestingly Greenblatt, who is known for being a stickler for presenting the evidence and facts on Shakespeare, delves into speculation. I heard him speak and he said that he only linked actual facts about Shakespeare (which he said could be recited in ten minutes) with events described in the plays. I have read this a few times—it is better the more I know of the plays.
The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, An Introduction with Documents by Russ McDonald collects the bits and pieces of actual documents related to Shakespeare and his plays. Just the facts, Mamam, just the facts: readable but history.
The final book, The Shakespeare Wars is by Ron Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum is a NY reporter and author whose book is an engaging if breathless tour of Shakespeare academia. I am not sure that I would recommend it per se, but most of the books I recommend above came from references in Rosenbaum’s book. The two things it does is to make the scholars more human and interesting and to point out juicy tidbits of scholarship, such as the “…I shall die…” bit quoted above, or for example the general derision of Bloom expressed in the academic community. Rosenbaum likes to stir the pot, but his writing is okay and he remains fairly evenhanded.
Well, there it is: 5.14 reading. All of these books are available on Amazon.
The Swerve, Stephen Greenblatt. Pulitzer Prize winner for non-fiction a few years ago, this is a fascinating book. Greg C. recommended it to me and I had a great time with it. Thanks again Greg.
It weaves the story of a Vatican functionary, Poggio Bracciolini--who in the 15th century brought to light the lost writings of Lucretius, a Greek philosopher--into a larger discussion of Lucretius' ideas and their significance. These ideas are thoroughly modern ones(including that atoms are the building blocks of nature and scientific arguments against religion).
Highly recommended, even though, as a friend of mine pointed out, some scholars have criticized the book's possibly over-broad generalizations about medieval life and thought.
Roger, thanks for the Shakespeare recommendations! I'm going to start with Will of the World, also by Greenblatt.
Hope all is well. Swerve is a great book, but picking it up is a little like plunging off a high cliff with a vague idea that somehow it is going to work out. It is interesting that Greenblatt picked up Lucretius' epic poem for a book topic--I guess this proves that at least one person exhausted Shakespeare. I like the modern, ironic name, Swerve.
For readers who are not likely to plunge in, here is a summary of Lucretius' poem. To get your bearing, Lucretius as a Roman and this is pre-christian times.
De rerum natura (Latin: [deː ˈreːrũː naːˈtuːraː]; On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through richly poetic language and metaphors.
Lucretius presents the principles of atomism; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna, "chance," and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities.
To Epicurus, the unhappiness and degradation of humans arose largely from the dread which they entertained of the power of the deities, from terror of their wrath. This wrath was supposed to be displayed by the misfortunes inflicted in this life and by the everlasting tortures that were the lot of the guilty in a future state (or, where these feelings were not strongly developed, from a vague dread of gloom and misery after death). To remove these fears, and thus to establish tranquility in the heart, was the purpose of his teaching. Thus the deities, whose existence he did not deny, lived forevermore in the enjoyment of absolute peace, strangers to all the passions, desires, and fears, which agitate the human heart, totally indifferent to the world and its inhabitants, unmoved alike by their virtues and their crimes.
To prove this position he called upon the atomism of Democritus, so as to demonstrate that the material universe was formed not by a Supreme Being, but by the mixing of elemental particles that had existed from all eternity governed by certain simple laws. Lucretius' task was to clearly state and fully develop these views in an attractive form; his work was an attempt to show that everything in nature can be explained by natural laws, without the need for the intervention of divine beings.
Lucretius identifies the supernatural with the notion that the deities created our world or interfere with its operations in some way. He argues against fear of such deities by demonstrating, through observations and arguments, that the operations of the world can be accounted for in terms of natural phenomena. These phenomena are the regular, but purposeless motions and interactions of tiny atoms in empty space. Meanwhile, he argues against the fear of death by stating that death is the dissipation of a being's material mind. Lucretius uses the analogy of a vessel, stating that the physical body is the vessel that holds both the mind (mens) and spirit (anima) of a human being. Neither the mind nor spirit can survive independent of the body. Thus Lucretius states that once the vessel (the body) shatters (dies) its contents (mind and spirit) can no longer exist. So, as a simple ceasing-to-be, death can be neither good nor bad for this being. Being completely devoid of sensation and thought, a dead person cannot miss being alive. According to Lucretius, fear of death is a projection of terrors experienced in life, of pain that only a living (intact) mind can feel. Lucretius also puts forward the 'symmetry argument' against the fear of death. In it, he says that people who fear the prospect of eternal non-existence after death should think back to the eternity of non-existence before their birth, which probably did not cause them much suffering.
See, that was not so bad.
On a Shakespeare note, the Folger Library in Washington DC organized a tour of original First Folios of Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623, to all fifty states to commemorate Shakespeare's death 400 years ago. Shakespeare's First Folio Tour Host Locations and Dates The one in San Diego closed on 7 July but the one in Boulder is in August. We got a copy in Cleveland. I had no idea of what to expect--it's a book. But was startled by: "It's a book." Not fancy, just a readable book, like any other book. History is not so long ago if Lucretius sounds modern is ideas and Shakespeare 400 years on, looks like Barnes and Noble.
I have not read any of Delillo's novels. I read the recent NYTimes review for "Zero K" but could not get a clear signal that this is the one to start with. Any suggestions?
Nice pictures Sycorax. Jane's place, by comparison, looks a little shabby.
Since my long Shakespeare post upthread, I have delved into his Sonnets and found (in the Cleveland Public Library) and read Stephen Booth's An Essay on Shakespeare's Sonnets, 1967 (Only about 40 people have checked it out and the selling price on Amazon is ~$100). I am not sure that I would recommend this, except for bragging rights (5.14 R). That said, I have a much deeper appreciation of why these poems have been on everyone's reading list for the past 400 years. Booth has his own edition of the Sonnets with his copious textual notes. I also have several other editions--somehow I keep buying them until I finally started reading. These other editions refer to Booth's comments, especially in tricky bits.
If you want a little edge of your seat, solving a mystery, true story with an adventure bit to it, check out Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson.
I've never been much of a "water guy", but read it cover to cover in a nearly single stretch.
For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships. But in the fall of 1991, not even these courageous divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey: a World War II German U-boat, its ruined interior a macabre wasteland of twisted metal, tangled wires, and human bones–all buried under decades of accumulated sediment. No identifying marks were visible on the submarine or the few artifacts brought to the surface. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to which U-boat the men had found. In fact, the official records all agreed that there simply could not be a sunken U-boat and crew at that location.
I have not read any of Delillo's novels. I read the recent NYTimes review for "Zero K" but could not get a clear signal that this is the one to start with. Any suggestions?
I'd recommend it. It's a quick read. He's a stylist of sorts a bit like James Salter but more surprising and, at least in this case, more surreal... sentences that are at once confounding and yet perfectly clear.
"Tribe", by Sebastian Junger. Good stuff about how people traditionally relate to one another, or not. Also great insights in how to treat PTSD, in the realm of a "tribe of people", or veterans who cannot relate to civilian life anymore.
Easy read too.
Still trying to parse my way through the "Republic" too. Plato. I can relate to it, and I see where they're going, by it's fuking slow....
Wow, I read a ton and don't shy away from difficult reads, but Name of the Rose is right up there with the few I've had a hard time getting through. Two others on that list are Anathem by Neal Stephenson (I loved Cryptonomicon) and V by Thomas Pynchon (I liked Gravity's Rainbow).
I'm currently reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown
In the last month I have read two Phillip K Dick books, two on teleporting, and one on prime numbers.
Gotta start a new one today after I learn the Theme from Lumpy Gravy on my new classical guitar, dry out the tent and fly after getting rained on at Plakett Creek Campground this weekend, and miss climbing since my neck and shoulder no longer allow it.
i fell in a slow reading gulch last spring, managing to climb out by reading a book authored by a close friend, Allen Levi, The Last Sweet Mile, written about his brother's life with ended all too with cancer .
i followed that by re-reading most of Mitch Albom's works. i think tuesdays with Morrie is my favorite.
i re-read The Final Leap by John Bateson. i can't restrain myself from mentioning the irony in the fact that one the most beautiful man made structures in the world is being used as a platform for one of humanities most desperate acts. Both the bridge and the act serve transportation roles, only one by design.
Lately i read several of Pat Conroy's books, My Losing Season, The Water Is Wide, The Death of Santini and South of Broad. i have The Boo, his first work to read soon.
Gregory, knowing you enjoy books about sports, i think you would enjoy My Losing Season.
i just finished Sitting Bull, Champion of The Sioux by John Vestal, which has led me to The Heart of Everything Is (the story of Red Cloud) by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin.
For those that Empire of the Summer Moon, you will find these two books just as intriguing.
ooooh, Perfect Storm, forget about the movie. That book was tough to read - tragic, humbling . . .
I'm getting back into my sci fi addiction with "Lies Inc." by Philip K Dick, can't put it down. Written in 1964, his depiction of a world where the superpowers are not governments, but corporations, I find to be particularly spot on . . .
I took some late night pleasure reading lately to counterbalance my steady diet of 19th century newspapers and mining treatises.
Into the Woods by Tana French, the first of her Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I was hoping to considering the recent rave in the NYT book review. I might give the second and third a spin to see if the series improves.
And Welcome to Paradise, Now Go To Hell by Chas Smith about the North Shore surfing scene. It's not Barbarian Days, but I still thought it was pretty good. Very different POV. Does anybody know Chas Smith? Considering how little actual surfing there was in the book, I'm curious to learn how much time he spends in the water. (He could well do tons and just doesn't write from that POV. I simply don't know.) Some very well drawn characters in that book, particularly Kaiborg Garcia and Eddie Rothman, quintessential North Shore heavies.
Tobia, I have not read My Losing Season. I'll put it on the list.
Islands in the Stream. I missed this one on my first trip through Hemingway, but I'm fascinated by it now. As usual, it's about men who do things and make things and their friends and their sons. Almost exclusively dialogue; It's as if one person you met invited you onto his boat for the weekend and now you're just watching and listening to everyone, trying to figure what each of these people really is, or will turn out to be.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand . The incredible story of Louie Zamperini, Olympic runner ,bombardier, survivor of a 2000 mile raft drift in the Pacific Ocean, and appalling treatment by a sadistic guard in a Japanese POW camp.
Nancy and I have been enjoying the PBS series "The Durrells in Corfu" and it finally dawned on me that Larry Durrell is in fact Lawrence Durrell, whose Alexandria Quartet I read in the early 1960s. We picked up a couple of his books for pennies on the dollar at the local library sale.
Just finished "Crazy for the Storm, A Story of Survival", by Norman Ollestad. It's a true story that reads fast and easy. It's very compelling. Supertopo crowd would probably relate to it - a plane crash in CA in the late 70's (no, not that plane crash, and drugs are not a theme in this book). A fun read.
I just finished our own Neebee's Steppingstones Through Jakes Ranch Volume one. It is a collection of short stories that my family and I read. I'm sure it is no suprise to you all that she is an extremely prolific author.
This novel took a ton of effort and I was surprised by the quality.
You should all purchase one of her books from her. The money goes to the best of causes.
I am starting George R. R. martin's Game Of Thrones next. I have been wanting to dive into his works for a long time now. Never saw the TV thing. We don't do much TV around here.
i just finished Enduring Patagonia, a job well done, Mr. Couch. If you haven't been to Patagonia or climbed at that level (like me), you will feel as though you have. i also learned a lot about Jim Donini's accomplishments, so a tip of the hat to him as well.
i zipped through a short read by a local friend Awake My Soul, by Grant Scarborough. It has nothing to do with climbing, but inspirational none the less.
i just got a toehold into Blood & Thunder (The Epic Story of Kit Carson) by Hampton Sides.
Goodbye, Columbus, by Phillip Roth. Solid book, but my god is that guy obsessed with his penis. One of the reasons I stopped bothering with Updike.
I was in the bookstore yesterday and looking at something new to buy (until I saw the checkout line). I was hovering over a few choices, The Crying of Lot 39 by Pynchon, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and either Roth's The Counterlife or American Pastoral. Any recommendations as to which? All books whose reputations precede them but my reading time is pretty limited. I'd love to have a week to sit and read The Underworld by Don Delillo, but I don't see that happening soon.
One of I believe 5 volumes, more or less updating the current understanding of the Rise of Nazi Germany. Targeted for the non-professional historian.
There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand than Hitler’s rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. With The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans, one of the world’s most distinguished historians, has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans’s history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as it shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. The Coming of the Third Reich is a masterwork of the historian’s art and the book by which all others on the subject will be judged.
by Annie Proulx
Should appeal to this crowd, a long epic about the timber industry and how it affected change both personal and societal across N America. it is long, but i dig long books, and it was hard to put down.
James Dickey was the kind of man who made Ernest Hemingway look like a florist from the Midwest....
PAT CONROY: My friend Terry Kay is a novelist from North Georgia, and he was furious with Dickey’s book. He said, “He didn’t write about your people, Conroy. He’s writing about my people.” I said, “Look, all he said was your people had no teeth, they were dumb as sh#t, they never bathed, they were all retarded but could play the banjo. Otherwise, he didn’t say anything bad about your people. They’re just like you, Terry. I recognized them immediately.” So Terry, who’s got this great Churchillian voice, replied, “Conroy, let me tell you one thing: You can go up to the mountains with my people and we may kill you, but we’re not going to f*** you.”
The first place I met Dickey was at his house. He said, “I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told a living soul, and I want you to promise not to mention it to anybody: Everything in that book happened to me.” Of course, I couldn’t wait to tell someone. I was there with my associate producer, Charles Orme, and as soon as we left the house I said, “Do you know what he told me? That everything in the book happened to him.” And Charles said, “Yes, he told me the same thing.” Dickey told everybody that story.
Here's what I read this year, with a quick review and rating from 1-4 stars. Mostly non-fiction, but for every hour I spent reading books, I spent probably 2 hours reading comics and manga which is all fiction.
Natural Science The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins * * * *
The classic book that provided an essential course correction, and got people thinking about evolution clearly again. Each chapter is sort of an essay on a different topic, but it's all held together by a strong central theme. Make sure you get the second edition (or one of the "Anniversary" editions), which include two additional chapters and 70 pages of endnotes. The Ancestor's Tale - Richard Dawkins * * *
In this, humans march backwards through time in search of common ancestors which link us to each of the branches on the tree of life. You get a complete phylogeny (or as near complete as is currently known), plus a sampler of quick essays on a whole bunch of different topics pertaining to biology. The Origins of Life - John Maynard Smith * *
This is a popularization of "The Major Transitions in Evolution" by the same author. The general premise of the book is profound, and the earlier chapters about molecular biology are engaging. But the later chapters about social groups and language are all too brief, and these topics are better explained in books by Dawkins and Pinker. I suspect that the original book is better, although written for academics. The Mystery of Comets - Fred Whipple * *
A history of the science of comets, from evil celestial omens fortelling Armageddon to dirty snowballs drifting through space (which hopefully don't collide with the earth, causing Armageddon). A Guide to the Elements - Albert Stwerka * *
Each element on the periodic table gets a page or three explaining its discovery, what it's commonly used for, how it reacts in certain environments, and any other fun facts the author could think of. Good for reading on the toilet.
Political Science A Modern Utopia - H. G. Wells * * *
The narrative elements in the book are well done, with two fleshed-out main characters. The Utopia itself is sometimes so modest in its aspirations, that it can scarcely be considered a Utopia. It's also interesting that the book is somewhat critical of the very society it envisions. Letters on England - Voltaire * * *
Hilarious and insightful. The chapters on religion, philosophy, and science are the best. Rights of Man - Thomas Paine * * *
This book kills fascists. Still relevant to the world today. Why government should serve the people and not the other way around. Common Sense - Thomas Paine * *
An essay on why the American colonies should secede from Britain. Influential in its day, but sort of forgettable now. The bit about Quakers and religious toleration is good.
Philosophy Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion - David Hume * * * *
This is the best thing I read this year. If you're at all interested in theological arguments you should absolutely pick it up. The History of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russell * * * *
The first two "books" on Classical Philosophy and Catholic Philosophy can be a little slow going at times. It picks up for the final book on Modern Philosophy, as Russell wades into the fray to take swings at all the idealism, romanticism, and metaphysical bullshit which still clouds modern thinking. The Seekers - Daniel Boorstin * *
This is the last in a trilogy. The first two volumes, The Discoverers and The Creators (on the history of science, and the arts, respectively), are both excellent and highly recommended. For this final entry on theology and philosophy, it feels like Boorstin really phoned it in. The History of Western Philosophy covers a lot of the same ground and is much more worthy of standing alongside the first two books in this series.
Fiction Candide - Voltaire * * *
A laugh-out-loud satire on the absurd world that Voltaire found himself living in (which is unfortunately the "best of all possible worlds"). The plot is sort of epic in scope, and yet you can read it in a single sitting. Very fast paced, as comedy should be. The Tempest - Shakespeare *
Some of the dialogue is pretty funny, but the plot is absolute nonsense. Maybe I'd appreciate an actual performance of it more, but I think I maybe prefer Shakespeare's tragedies to his comedies.
Here's some excerpts from my 3 favorite books I read this year.
From "The History of Western Philosophy" (1945)
Without criticizing Hobbes's metaphysics or ethics, there are two points to make against him. The first is that he always considers the national interest as a whole, and assumes, tacitly, that the major interests of all citizens are the same. He does not realize the importance of the clash between different classes, which Marx makes the chief cause of social change. This is connected with the assumption that the interests of a monarch are roughly identical with those of his subjects. In time of war there is a unification of interests, especially if the war is fierce; but in time of peace the clash may be very great between the interests of one class and those of another. It is not by any means always true that, in such a situation, the best way to avert anarchy is to preach the absolute power of the sovereign. Some concession in the way of sharing power may be the only way to prevent civil war. This should have been obvious to Hobbes from the recent history of England.
Another point in which Hobbes's doctrine is unduly limited is in regard to the relations between different States. There is not a word in "Leviathan" to suggest any relation between them except war and conquest, with occasional interludes. This follows, on his principles, from the absence of an international government, for the relations of States are still in a state of nature, which is that of a war of all against all. So long as there is international anarchy, it is by no means clear that increase of efficiency in the separate States is in the interest of mankind, since it increases the ferocity and destructiveness of war. Every argument that he adduces in favour of international government, in so far as it is valid at all, is valid in favour of international government. So long as national States exist and fight each other, only inefficiency can preserve the human race. To improve the fighting quality of separate States without having a means of preventing war is the road to universal destruction.
From "The Selfish Gene" (1976)
The question of why we die of old age is a complex one, and the details are beyond the scope of this book. In addition to particular reasons, some more general ones have been proposed. For example, one theory is that senility represents an accumulation of deleterious copying errors and other kinds of gene damage which occur during the individual’s lifetime. Another theory, due to Sir Peter Medawar, is a good example of evolutionary thinking in terms of gene selection... (A) general quality that successful genes will have is a tendency to postpone the death of their survival machines at least until after reproduction. No doubt some of your cousins and great-uncles died in childhood, but not a single one of your ancestors did. Ancestors just don’t die young!
A gene that makes its possessors die is called a lethal gene. A semilethal gene has some debilitating effect, such that it makes death from other causes more probable. Any gene exerts its maximum effect on bodies at some particular stage of life, and lethals and semilethals are not exceptions. Most genes exert their influence during foetal life, others during childhood, other during young adulthood, others in middle age, and yet others in old age. (Reflect that a caterpillar and the butterfly it turns into have exactly the same set of genes.) Obviously lethal genes will tend to be removed from the gene pool. But equally obviously a late-acting lethal will be more stable in the gene pool than an early-acting lethal. A gene that is lethal in an older body may still be successful in the gene pool, provided its lethal effect does not show itself until after the body has had time to do at least some reproducing. For instance, a gene that made old bodies develop cancer could be passed on to numerous offspring because the individuals would reproduce before they got cancer. On the other hand, a gene that made young adult bodies develop cancer would not be passed on to very many offspring, and a gene that made young children develop fatal cancer would not be passed on to any offspring at all. According to this theory then, senile decay is simply a by-product of the accumulation in the gene pool of late-acting lethal and semi-lethal genes, which have been allowed to slip through the net of natural selection simply because they are late-acting.
From "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" (1779)
PHILO speaking: Let the errors and deceits of our very senses be set before us; the insuperable difficulties which attend first principles in all systems; the contradictions which adhere to the very ideas of matter, cause and effect, extension, space, time, motion; and in a word, quantity of all kinds, the object of the only science that can fairly pretend to any certainty or evidence. When these topics are displayed in their full light, as they are by some philosophers and almost all divines; who can retain such confidence in this frail faculty of reason as to pay any regard to its determinations in points so sublime, so abstruse, so remote from common life and experience? When the coherence of the parts of a stone, or even that composition of parts which renders it extended; when these familiar objects, I say, are so inexplicable, and contain circumstances so repugnant and contradictory; with what assurance can we decide concerning the origin of worlds, or trace their history from eternity to eternity?
You propose then, PHILO, said CLEANTHES, to erect religious faith on philosophical scepticism; and you think, that if certainty or evidence be expelled from every other subject of inquiry, it will all retire to these theological doctrines, and there acquire a superior force and authority. Whether your scepticism be as absolute and sincere as you pretend, we shall learn by and by, when the company breaks up: We shall then see, whether you go out at the door or the window; and whether you really doubt if your body has gravity, or can be injured by its fall; according to popular opinion, derived from our fallacious senses, and more fallacious experience. And this consideration, DEMEA, may, I think, fairly serve to abate our ill-will to this humorous sect of the sceptics. If they be thoroughly in earnest, they will not long trouble the world with their doubts, cavils, and disputes
"We shall then see, whether you go out at the door or the window" - that line always makes me laugh when I read it. It's interesting to note, at the start of the Dialogues I found myself mostly in agreement with Cleanthes, as I am in this passage, but by the end Philo had slowly won me over.
True story about the 4 man English crew of a yacht shipwrecked in 1884 in the equatorial Atlantic on its way to Australia. They went adrift in a small dinghy for over twenty days with no water or food. The youngest crew member made the fatal mistake of resorting to seawater in the agony and desperation of a maddening thirst. Since he was likely to die anyway, 2 of the other crew deliberately took his life so that they would have a chance of survival.
The second portion of the book details the sensational trial, verdict and politics that followed in Victorian England, as well as the overall aftermath in the lives of those involved.
"Nathanial's Nutmeg" - for the third time. :) My favorite history book about the early spice trade on the East Indies . One of those truth is stranger than any fiction stories. Very entertaining.
@ Ward - I have a whole library of nautical survival stories. I have a different ( short story ) version of what you are reading but I'll check it out. A fascinating story is "Men Against Sea" which is the remarkable and lttle known story of the 3600 mile journey across the Pacific Captain Bligh and 20 loyal sailors survived in an open skiff after Fletcher Christian set them adrift.
Bryan, too bad you didn't like The Tempest. One of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and definitely my favorite of his romances (or later plays). If you ever get to see a well staged production of it--shipwrecks, Ariel flying around the stage, Caliban-- it is magical. Shakespeare really is meant (and was intended) to be seen rather than read. No offense intended, but maybe you're a little too young to appreciate Prospero looking back at his life, tolerating a suitor for his daughter, betrayal by his brother, etc. I'm tempted to start rereading it right now, but then I'd never finish The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I'm enjoying right now.
I just finished reading When the Sleeper Wakes (1899) by H.G. Wells. It's a fairly quick read about a man who falls into a coma, is kept alive for 200 years without aging, and then wakes up in the future. I've read about ten books by Wells, and I consider him one of my favorite authors. That said, "When the Sleeper Wakes" is one of my least favorite of his novels that I've read so far. It's really a mixed bag, some elements I really like, other things really fall flat.
It's strongest aspect (and this is true of most of Wells' fiction) is the world it takes place in. It is a well crafted future that holds a lot of promise for an engaging narrative. Most authors when envisioning the future tend to fall into a cliche of either making their world a utopia or dystopia. The world the Sleeper wakes to is neither extreme. Rather it's an embellishment of all the trends Wells saw taking place in the 19th century. There are wondrous innovations in transportation, engineering, architecture, communication, medicine and science. You can tell Wells put a lot of care and thought into designing the various machines and devices which exist in this future, and you get a sense of his astonishment at all the incredible advancements in technology that were happening in his time. On the other hand, many negative developments of the 19th century are also still present and amplified: class inequality, political strife and civil unrest, proliferation of propaganda by the state, and ever more destructive weapons of war. This all makes for a diverse world that feels alive while allowing for much social commentary.
Where the novel comes up short is pretty much everywhere else. The starting premise for the story is good, but the sequence of events once it gets going quickly becomes predictable and the plot never really goes anywhere. The characters are lacking in any charisma or personality (and this is my main gripe with most of Wells' fiction) The good guys aren't likable and the bad guys aren't despicable, so it's hard to get invested in the drama. The ending doesn't drive home any of the moral or philosophical threads which the story had been cultivating, and instead brushes any sort of nuance aside in favor of a grandiose action scene and then ends very abruptly. Basically the novel has a good set-up but just doesn't follow through. Also a lot of the conflict towards the end centers around a privately contracted "negro army" which is brought in from Africa to squash the rebellious working peoples of London. Most modern audiences will probably find this a just a little bit racist, although I think Wells was aiming more at irony given the British Empire's sordid history of doing the exact same thing in reverse.
Here's a couple short passages that I liked
It seemed to him the most amazing thing of all that in his thirty years of life he had never tried to shape a picture of these coming times. “We were making the future,” he said, “and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!”
And some very prescient remarks on the course of democracy and formation of political parties.
But the Parliament — the organ of the land-holding tenant-ruling gentry — did not keep its power long. The change had already come in the nineteenth century. The franchises had been broadened until it included masses of ignorant men, ‘urban myriads,’ who went in their featureless thousands to vote together. And the natural consequence of a swarming constituency is the rule of the party organisation. Power was passing even in the Victorian time to the party machinery, secret, complex, and corrupt. Very speedily power was in the hands of great men of business who financed the machines. A time came when the real power and interest of the Empire rested visibly between the two party councils, ruling by newspapers and electoral organisations—two small groups of rich and able men, working at first in opposition, then presently together.
re: Fat Dad, yeah I think I'd probably like Shakespeare more in performance than in writing. I've seen pitifully few stage productions in my life, but generally liked them even if I wasn't engaged by the story.
edited to add: And on that same note, I think When the Sleeper Wakes would actually be perfect for a film adaptation for many reasons. First, the story has untapped potential and could be greatly improved by a talented screenwriter. Also you wouldn't have the pressure of taking a beloved classic and inevitably making a film which fails to live up to it. Additionally, the book paints a visually stunning world of towering skyscrapers and winding walkways crowded with people and this would translate well to a visual medium. And of course the book is also filled with big action scenes, chases, battles, and aerial dogfights which are a little bit tedious to read but would make for a good Hollywood action flick.
Someone up thread mentioned Six Frigates by Ian Toll. i just wrapped it up. A fine account of the original U.S. Fleet and a telling story of U.S. politics during the 2nd & 3rd presidencies and Congress during those times. (nothing changes).
i also read David Halberstam's The Powers That Be, the story of CBS radio and television news division, the Washington Post and the L.A. Times. As usual Halbertsam is thorough in his research. Although published in 1975 (pre internet) the book reveals how manipulating the "news" business is.
i just started his Breaks of the Game concerning the Portland Trailblazers and their 1977 championship.
Tobia, Ian Toll totally rocks as both a historian and as a writer. I have read "Pacific Crucible" and "Conquering Tide" about the Pacific campaign in WW II and I highly recommend both for folks who enjoy that sort of thing. Just finished Hornfishers' newest effort "The Fleet at Floodtide" and it is very good as well. Both authors are first rate historians and both are fabulous wordsmiths as well. I often caught myself rereading a passage just because I loved the writing style so much.
I put down Breaks of the Game about a ½ way through it, I just couldn't get into it.
I followed Nick's lead and read the next two Ian Toll books. It was hard to put them down.
I followed that with Wooden World by N.A.M. Rodgers, which I started 5 or 6 years back. It dispels a lot of myth of what it life in the British Navy during the French and Indian Wars was like. Mighty Hiker mentioned it on a thread about whaling.
When searching the forum to see if I had posted anything about the book I discovered a "book thread" started by yosguns (The last book you read, December 2007), which is where I found my initial post about Wooden World. The last post on her thread was August 2011, which is about the same time D. Thompson started his thread. You never know what you will turn up in a ST forum search.
The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman--the author is a friend of mine but that's not the only reason I love this book. She did 10 yrs of research to discover what happened to one of her uncles who was a POW in the Phillipines for most of WWII. Her father, as a very young naval officer, ran FDR's map room, and her other uncle was a gunnery officer on the USS Enterprise. This true story is gripping, heartbreaking, and as hard to put down as a good thriller. It's available on Audible and Kindle, but the hardcover edition gives you maps, photographs and end notes documenting all the diaries, letters, and Red Cross records she was able to track down. Amazing work, amazing story.
The White Tower, by James Ramsey Ulman (gotta love the three names, something unfashionable - and long considered garish and vain - in 'Merica), published in 1945. Had the pleasure of getting a guided tour through the AAC library in Golden, Co., on Saturday, and bought this beauty for three dollah, thirty-three cents.
I just finished River Of Doubt by Candice Millard, a well written account of the first passage down the 1,000 mile river that flows northward in the Brazillian Amazon Basin led by T. Roosevelt and Cândido Rondon in 1913–14. The river is now known as the Rio Roosevelt. The descriptions of the plant and animal life in the rain forest and river are fascinating, as well as the hardships endured by the ex-president, Rondon and the rest of the team.
Prior to that I read The War Below by James Scott (WW II submarine warfare in the Pacific) & A Dawn Like Thunder by Robert J. Mrazek (an account of Torpedo Squadron Eight from its inception to decommissioning).
I'm finishing up The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence. Most of the events recollected in this book took place in 2017-18, exactly a hundred years ago. Earlier in the year I read a small,thumbnail biography Lawrence of Arabia by Anthony Nutting (who was consultant on the film released in 1962).
This is an incredible story about the Arab Revolt masterminded by the British against the long-ruling Ottoman Turks. The Turks were allied with the Germans in WW1 and had ruled over the Arabs for hundreds of years until deposed by the end of the war.
Lawrence was a sort of guerilla fighter who was a major liaison in this regard between Faisal, the various Emirs and Sharifs -- and the British.
The meticulously reconstructed battlefield tales, the unbelievable camel journeys of hundreds of miles in all sorts of conditions and weather, and inscrutable desert logistics in a region remote, and very difficult, and very deadly. All of this against a deep inner conflict that Lawrence shares with the reader.
"The Bond" by Simon McCartney is one of the most griping recollections from the literature of Alpinism I've ever read. Somewhat akin to "Gervasutti's climbs", in which we are invited into the mind of the climber, facing doubts and fears.
Simon McCartney and Jack Roberts met in '77 at the famous Bar National in Chamonix. Sussing each other out they climbed together becoming friends, subsequently teaming up to do two first ascents of immense importance in Alaska during the late '70'S. Huntington's north face in '78 and Denali's southwest face in 1980.
I personally knew Jack Roberts as a lad in So. Cal., thru the climbing shop I worked at, The West Ridge. Jack was a member of a High School Climbing club known as "Buff" which was made up of a bunch of young guys and gals from Santa Monica High School. We often bouldered together on the local sandstone.
Jack, as many of you know, became a driven hardman of the highest caliber , strong, proud, capable, true in spirit; and without a doubt Simon is of the same mettle.
I'll not recount their achievements, however, as the story completes, after the episode on Denali, Simon drops out of the climbing scene for almost forty years; then thru a series of fateful connections, one of which was the Supertopo, Simon is lead back to the climbing community.
The read is as vigorous as 2000 feet of front pointing, compelling as melting spin drift on blackened fingers and as visceral as leaving your compromised partner on a face with only a promise.
Thank You Simon, for giving us clear incite into your, and our, love/hate affair with the mountains.
I highly recommend this to those of us who climbed in the 70's and 80's and on... As well, to those interested in our unique history.
Published by: Mountaineers Books, Legends and Lore Series 2016
they don't get read much, as, they are self published and hard to get the word out...
have worked on one of the new ones, recently...
for those that don't know FULLY what they are about, here is a small example
to share: Jake... ex-rodeo cowboy, from south Texas, turned rancher in Montana... and this 'gang' of buddies... and a TWIN sister, that
just won't quit, ;)
FOUR NOVELS... and five, going on six, short stories,
all based on ASL, head injury, tongue loss, seizures and:
overcoming! through the bond of strong friendship, and twinship, :)
FOR THOSE THAT DON'T know about my JAKE smith ranch series... the character, Jake, recovers from a serious injury, after saving his buddy, from a bull-- he learns he had no tongue, anymore, and has head injuries, and can't function as well as he used to:
his twin sister teaches his sign language, as, he can't talk, (though, has learned to make various sound, but does not like to hear himself, or, read or write... (though later, he works out a system, down the year, as to a 'code' of sounds to mark down)-- eating is hard, and can be dangerous, too... he finally succeeds to even try eating in public, with his buddies...
god's grace, is all through my books... his whole recovery, is strongly spiritual, as well, to not give up, to, once again, 'feel like himself again'...
HE SUCCEEDS through love, friendship and loyalty, of good buddies... THESE book, show various parts of his life, to reach victory, as, being 'new and different' but STILL the same, -- the Jake that he knows he is... THIS VIDEO might give folks an idea what he goes through... there are two that i found...
i hope my BOOKS someday HELP folks to learn to be patient with others, that have these troubles, and/or head injuries, or, seizures... folks that are 'suddenly' DIFFERENT, but still wanting to be themselves...
HERE is a video, that found, recently... this woman, who-ever she is, was very brave and kind to post these, to show folks how hard her life is... (she, i think, had cancer-- another way, that folks can lose their tongue) ...
as the TITLE SAYS... this type of surgery, as to tongue loss,
the character in my book, had a twin sister that was NOT going to
let him 'isolate' himself...
he gets back into being a 'mentor' to youth, as like he used to do...
through the horses on his ranch...
I last read Angle of Repose over 30 years ago. I had forgotten how great it is. I remember that I liked it so much back then that I read Crossing to Safety and some of his other works; I might have to revisit them also.
Echopraxia is hard sci-fi. It’s not as good as Watts preceding novel Blindsight, but it gave me a lot to chew on, and it was several orders of magnitude more interesting than the “What is Mind?” thread.
The first two sci-fi novels of Liu Cixin’s Three Body Problem trilogy were incredibly inventive and unpredictable. I hope this third one holds up.
As with Angle of Repose, The Idiot is something I read many years ago, and I remember very little of it. For a few years back then I was obsessed with everything Dostoevsky. I read all of his works, and I read The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, and Notes from Underground several times each. I'm not religious, I don’t believe in god, and I disagree with much of what his writing seems to propose, but I still lovingly remember parts of The Brother’s Karamazov quite vividly such as Ivan’s grand inquisitor and Alyosha’s dream.
when I was back in Seattle in August I went into the UW Bookstore and bought about $200 of bargain books off the front tables and carts. Been happily working my way through the pile since then.
Last night started The Best American Sports Writing 2013. This anthology has been published yearly since 1991 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) when David Halberstam edited the inagural version. The editor for 2013 was J.R. Moerhringer.
from his intro:
"Though every competition, from aikido to Xbox, is at surface about winning, it's the losing that matters in the end, because we're all going to lose more than we win. Our bedrock task as human beings is coping with loss, the knowledge of it, the memory of it, the imminence of it, and sports have the power to show us, starkly, bracingly, how."
Started with a story about the death of ultra-runner Micah True: Caballo Blanco's Last Run by Barry Bearak which first appeared in the NY Times.
Was a fine start to what looks like some good reading.
When the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam started I was reading Huê 1968 by Mark Bowden. It gives a focused view on exactly how misguided our military leaders were and how brave the young soldiers were fighting for survival and the citizens of Huê had little input on their survival or death.
I read David Halberstam's Ho following that and Duong Thu Huong's Novel Without A Name, which was mentioned in Bowden's book. It is a perspective of the war written by a soldier of North Vietnam.
Another Vietnam novel I'd highly recommend is Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Marlantes won the Navy Cross, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, so on top of being a good writer, has the experience to back up the writing.
I just finished Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan. Biography of Edward Curtis, who was a pretty interesting character.
Here's a first book which will knock your sox off, Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris. An Atlin gal whom I like to think of as an Honorary Grand Daughter. Here's what Dave Roberts has to say about it (from Facebook):
"Last week I came home from Banff, and from the cozy little writers’ dinner my agent, Stuart Krichevsky, hosted, with a galley copy of Kate Harris’s forthcoming book, Lands of Lost Borders. I first met Kate six or seven years ago at Banff, where she was enrolled in the writing program. Bernadette McDonald told me that one of the students there was a gifted, promising writer, but that she was too shy to approach me for advice. We had a good chat in the MacLab bistro, and later I read an early draft of her book, which hangs an inquiry on the meaning of exploration on a grueling ten-month bike journey along the Silk Road that Kate and her best friend accomplished in their mid-twenties.
Here, I realized, was a writer of uncommon intelligence with a penchant for the lyrical, but the draft seemed hamstrung by a certain academic rigidity. No wonder—Kate was a former Rhodes scholar who had pursued a doctorate in science at MIT. But Bernadette was right: what promise she showed! I passed her on to Stuart, who, seeing the same talent and lucidity that impressed me, took her on.
I finished Lands of Lost Borders two days ago. Old cliché: I couldn’t put it down. But beyond the fact that Kate’s story hooked me, I realized that I was witnessing the emergence of a formidable voice speaking startlingly original things about the world. I can’t remember coming upon a first book that so dazzled me. I wish that at her age I had had half the skills that Kate unearthed in herself, and that now, with Stuart’s help, she had transmuted into prose.
The care and fresh insight show in virtually every sentence. Of an old woman met along the road in post-Soviet Georgia: “A gold ring hung on her thin finger, loosely orbiting the bone—a hand that had held hunger once and probably expected to grip it again.” Of an aperçu wrung from a truck speeding past in the muddy night: “Every heartbeat is a history of decisions, of certain roads taken and others forsaken until you end up exactly where you are.” Of the mystic pleasures of marathon biking: “I’m not sure where I go when I spin wheels for hours on end like that, except into the rapture of doing nothing deeply—although ‘nothing,’ in this case, involves a tantrum of pedal strokes on a burdened bicycle along a euphemism for a highway through the Himalaya.” “Beautiful writing” per se, though, is not my cup of tea. I can’t read Lawrence Durrell, Annie Dillard, or Rebecca Solnit. All of the craft that goes into each of Kate’s paragraphs is marshaled in the service of an accelerating plot, and toward the end of her book, her restless intelligence rises to a cri de coeur in Chinese-occupied Tibet against the tyranny of nations, xenophobia, and cultural oppression.
Yes, the biking itself often sounds arduous and lonely, the furtive campsites grim, the moments of joy too fleeting. But some of the best stories are woven out of desperate adventures: think of Apsley Cherry-Garrard or Fridtjof Nansen. My own second book, Deborah, narrated a two-man journey into our own psychic hell in Alaska. Shortly after we met, my longtime buddy Ed Ward gave me his capsule review: “I’m sure glad I didn’t go on that expedition.”
Lands of Lost Borders will be published by Knopf in Canada in January, by Harper Collins in the U. S. only next August. Write the title down, my friends, and pre-order from Amazon as soon as you can.
Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see what Kate writes next. And while our evening with Stuart, Sharon, and Roman Dial in Banff made me sorry that she lives so far away from Boston, in the wilds of northern British Columbia, I trust that we’ll find a way to connect long before next year’s Banff rolls around. After all, in my been-there, seen-it-all old age, I suspect that Kate Harris has a lot to teach me about writing and life."
Add to the above the incredibly enthusiastic reviews of Pico Iyer; "Carried me up into a state of excitement I haven't felt for years. It's a modern classic." and Barry Lopez, and you know this one is a winner. I'm ordering a bunch for friends who deserve the best. It's not just travel and adventure, it is literature in the truest sense.
Currently reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons and re-reading The Red and the Black by Stendhal.
I really like this description of Mathilda from The Red and the Black:
“When anyone offended Mlle. de La Mole, she knew how to punish him with a witticism so calculated, so well chosen, so proper in appearance, so timely launched, that the wound kept growing by the minute, the more one thought about it.”
Just finished An American Tragedy by Dreiser. It's a very disturbing piece of writing. Might take a while to digest this one. Clyde is such a shallow boy it's hard to know which way to think about him. Pity?
Is it comparable to Crime and Punishment? Raskolnikov is an intellectual, Griffiths is a cipher. Rasklonikov gets 7 years in Siberia, Clyde gets fried. Raskolnikov get spiritual redemption in prison, Clyde thinks maybe he does, but he's not sure.
Is there something American about Clyde's moral cowardice?
Alice Adams is next on the list. And at some point I need to get to Angle of Repose. And there's all that Faulkner...