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What Are You Reading

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Read the New York Times on the train last nite. The Mueller Report and Barr's laconic summary seems insufficient
    testament for the howling mob. A rather comical scene since the truth of the matter is that the Special Counsel
    never issued a presidential grand jury subpoena; merely allowing a written submission, because boiled down
    to the brass tacks Mueller had nothing, no evidence leading in any particular direction whether collusion or
    obstructive; and, had his bluff been called he would have appeared the fool. The earlier Russian indictment
    laundry list prefaced what was to follow. Little more than window dressing. And in legal shirtfront poker the
    play was all too obvious. Mueller had zilch. Cohen's Manhattan allocate was all scripted. And after the patrol
    returned to base the search-and-destroy mission proved a busted flush overall excepting Manafort and Cohen
    who were trapped in their own web of folly.
    Now Mueller will have to appear before the Sanhedrin to testify to the hunt. Photos of the SC seem to strike
    a pensive countenance. A man whose conscience will whisper for years the erroneous foolishness.
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Revisiting, after many years, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer.

    Published in 1960, this is one of the few epic works of history that truly deserves its reputation. Shirer was uniquely qualified to write this book, having been present in Germany as a correspondent for the Universal News Service, and later for CBS, during the entire period of the Nazis' rise to and consolidation of power. He knew all the major figures -- and many of the minor figures -- of the movement personally, and he was fully conversant in their doctrine. And following the war, he took advantage of the vast historical resource available in the captured archives of the German government and the Nazi Party. Shirer doesn't just know what he's talking about, he constantly proves that he knows what he's talking about by showing his work every step of the way.

    But this book is not simply a dry recitation of names, dates, places, and actions. Shirer's narrative flows smoothly from Adolf Hitler's family history thru the course of his life, his rise to power, and the consequences of that rise, without getting so bogged down in statistics that you lose track of what's going on. This is how history should be written, by a historian who has full grasp of his material.

    The most important accomplishment of this book, however, is how it fully documents exactly what Nazism was, what it stood for, what it hoped to accomplish, and how it planned to accomplish it. At a time when every babbling jackanapes on the internet throws the word "Nazi" around like birdseed, drawing false equivalencies with utter disregard for any grasp of reality, Shirer draws a tight focus on exactly what Hitler taught and on the sources of what he taught -- a strict, racially and culturally defined nationalism built on the myth of "blood and soil," derived largely from the beliefs of Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Albert Rosenberg, mixed with a strong dose of the gutter anti-semitism of prewar Vienna -- while at the same time examining how Hitler managed, long before his rise to political power, to eradicate opposition wings within the Party who might have alienated the financiers and industrialists upon whom the Nazis were dependent for their funding. Shirer is quite clear and quite definitive in demonstrating that there was nothing "Socialist" about "National Socialism" in any accepted sense of that word, and that German capitalists were not only largely responsible for paving the way for the Nazis' rise to power, but that they profited immensely from their investment. I'll take Shirer's word for that any day of the week over that of any tinfoiled Freeper or the ridiculous Mr. D'Souza.

    This book has been around for a long time, and it might easily get overlooked among the flood of later, lesser works on the Nazi period. But in a time when "blood and soil" nationalism is on the rise worldwide it's more relevant than ever. Shirer uses as one of the book's epigraphs the famous Santayana quote about what happens to those who forget history, but he died twenty-five years too soon to see just how apt that quote would be.
     
    ChiTownScion likes this.
  3. The Jackal

    The Jackal One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    133
    I picked up The Shining by Stephen King on Friday and plan to read through that followed by the sequel, Doctor Sleep

    Sent from my moto z3 using Tapatalk
     
    Bushman likes this.
  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    12,227
    Location:
    New York City
    I've read it twice in the last thirty years - the last time about ten years ago. A good "companion" book is "The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945" by John Toland, which I need to reread as it's been about twenty years since I read that one.

    If you don't own a copy of one or both, the nice thing is that they were both immensely popular so you can find cool old copies for very reasonable prices.
     
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep, Shirer's book sold millions in hardcover -- imagine a rigorous work of history accomplishing that today -- and millions beyond that in paperback. I got my original 1960 hardcover copy for $1.50 at a second-hand bookstore when I was in high school, and it's still very easy to find thru such sources.
     
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  6. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    ⇧ Lizzie, have you read the Toland book?
     
  7. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I did, probably thirty years ago. It's due for a reread, I think.
     
    Fading Fast likes this.
  8. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Midwest America
    I think that I was ten or eleven when I first read it. Loved it then and love it now.

    As far as D'Souza? A convicted felon. Res ipse loquitur.
     
  9. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Messages:
    980
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    +1. Rise and fall of the third Reich was one of the books that turned me on to history and made me realize that you need to know history to make sense of events. Wouldn’t hurt for me to read it again.
     
  10. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,355
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Elizabeth Hardwick, Seduction & Betrayal: Women in Literature
    A study of the presence of women in literature. A Times book review
    of Hardwick's semi-autobiographic Sleepless Nights drew me to S&B;
    chiefly because she supposedly excoriates Simone de Beauvoir...wicked.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
  11. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,355
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Dinesh tripped over campaign contribution limit, recklessly and without forethought; angering some,
    vexing the vengeful, and did a stint as a weekender at a San Diego calaboose. His memoir is a yarn of a read,
    --the New York circuit gets plenty of power play revenge. A judicial tempest in a teapot case for all jackleg lawyers.
    -----by-the bye, McKeever v. Barr, decided April 5th by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held that
    the district court lacked inherent authority to disclose grand jury records, adherence to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
    6(e) necessary, and disavowing McKeever's lame solicit of Haldeman v. Sirica disclose to the House Judiciary
    Committee's Watergate investigation.
     
  12. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Felon or not, he's still a ridiculous hack whose grasp of history is that of an illiterate internet edgelord. There needs to be a new "Godwin's Law" that in any way citing him or any of his books, films, or public or private conversations means that not only do you lose the argument, but you also get dropped off a high seat into a tank of ice water.
     
    Harp and ChiTownScion like this.
  13. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,355
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Non est qui malus denesh. !!!
     
  14. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Messages:
    980
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    Just saw this. Looks like something I will have to add to my reading list:

    "Vividly capturing the heady times in the waning months of World War II, Ronald Weber follows the exploits of Allied reporters as they flooded into liberated Paris after four dark years of Nazi occupation. He traces the remarkable adventures of the men and women who lived, worked, and played in the legendary Hôtel Scribe."

    Dateline Paris.jpg
     
  15. Just Jim

    Just Jim One of the Regulars

    I once had the pleasure of getting absolutely blotto with an elderly gentleman who spent the war years in Paris. He had little use for the Resistance: as he put it, on the day the Liberation forces arrived, every barman who over-changed a soldat, every streetwalker who gave a feldwebel the clap, instantly became a "hero of the Resistance".

    But if he had little use for many of his countrymen, and less for the Germans, he had no use at all for the reporters who followed the troops. He described wanting to put up posters like in a spaghetti western, and when I explained the phrase, "there ought to be a bounty on them", he clapped his hands in delight and bought the next couple of rounds.

    I still wince when I recall the hangover--cognac and red wine--but it was worth it for the stories.
     
    Touchofevil, Fading Fast and Tiki Tom like this.
  16. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,355
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Looking the Mueller Report over and internet news accounts of the residual resentment.
    Mueller holds opinion at variance with Article II and his failure to seal obstruction through
    objective factual analysis left Attorney General Barr no other recourse but to declare said finis.
    As I was leaving last night the floor custodian-a virulent sort gleefully proclaimed that he was right
    all along the last two years of our ongoing dialogue-not listening to what I said in response.
     
  17. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    12,227
    Location:
    New York City
    From the Terrace by John O'Hara, published 1958

    I admit to a weakness for mid-century American novels about wealthy industrialists - about their families, the towns they dominate, the woman who love (and hate) them, the bounders who latch on to them, their workers who envy, worship or hate them and their enemies in business and society who try to bring them down. While this one starts off in that fashion, it quickly morphs into the story of the ignored second son - Alfred Eaton - of a steel magnate who can't get over the death of his beloved first son.

    There's a lot here, but the cut-to-the-quick is that it's a good, solid 450 page book trapped inside an overly ambitious 900 page novel with unmet aspirations for greatness. It's a soap opera that goes on for too long. And there's also this - all the sex that wasn't happening on the movie and TV screens of the '50s was packed into this one novel. I get it, people cheat - but does everyone cheat, all the time, with anyone he or she can?

    All that grumbling aside, it has long periods of being a solid page turner that engrosses you in Alfred's life as he tries to break away from his father and family and make a future of his own. It's also a bit of a journey through the last century's two wars, politics, social challenges and cultural issues: one of Alfred's childhood friends starts as a hard-working kid trying to break out of poverty who morphs into an avowed communists who, then, ages into a corrupt union leader.

    Also a positive, Alfred is a genuinely complex character - neither hero near villain - who struggles with life, matures, gets harder (maybe bitter) about somethings and easier (more forgiving) about others, the way real people do. It wasn't worth it - and that's the bottom line - but I'll admit that I've been thinking about Alfred even though I finished the book - he felt that real.

    While reading the book, the movie version showed up on TV, which I DVD'd, will watch now and report out in the movie thread when done. It will be interesting to see how they boiled 900 small-print pages down to a two-plus-hour movie.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  18. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "Joe Miller's Complete Jest Book -- Being A Collection of the Most Excellent Bon Mots, Brilliant Jests and Striking Anecdotes In The English Language."

    For historians of post-Enlightenment English-language comedy, this book is the ur-text, the fundamental volume from which all else proceeds. There really was a Joe Miller, a London-based stage comedian of the early eighteenth century, and supposedly this book collected the cream of his material, gathered and edited over the course of his career. Whether that's precisely true or not is really irrelevant -- what's important is that this was the first really successful attempt to create a "joke book" in modern English. Joe Miller's name itself went down as a cliche -- by the vaudeville era, a "Joe Miller" was an old, tired joke delivered without much effort or imagination, the essence of hack comedy. But better vaudevillians knew how to joke-switch and take the germ of humor in all Miller bits and update the material for contemporary audiences, and it was in that capacity that the Miller legacy lived on well into the twentieth century.

    My copy is a compact leather-bound edition published in London somewhere between 1836 and 1842, and as noted in the preface includes much new and updated material in addition to the original Miller gags. It's evident that even at this early date, "Joe Miller" was to joke books what "Webster" is to American dictionaries -- a brand name more than a signifier of authorship.

    The very first anecdote in the book is worth offering in its entirety, because the kernel of humor at its base is still very much a foundation of modern comedy. Consider:

    When William Penn the Quaker was brought before the Lord Mayor and Recorder for preaching, he insisted upon knowing what law he had broken -- to which simple question the Recorder was reduced to answer "that he was an impertinent fellow, -- and that many had studied thirty or forty years to understand the law, which he was for having expounded in a moment." The learned controversialist, however, was not to be silenced so easily; -- he quoted Lord Coke and Magna Charta on his antagonist in a moment, and chastised his insolence by one of the best and most characteristic repartees that we recollect ever to have met with-- " I tell you to be silent," cried the Recorder in a great passion, " if we should suffer you to ask questions till to-morrow morning you would be never the wiser." -- "That," replied the Quaker, with immovable tranquillity, " that is according as the answers are."

    Or, to boil the gag down to its modern essence:

    "I know you are, but what am I?"
     
  19. Antje

    Antje One Too Many

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I'm currently in Stephen Kings It, and I am one chapter into Albert Payson Terhune's Omnibus
     
  20. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Just finished "Walt and Skeezix: Volume 7, 1933-34," the latest volume in the elegantly-produced series collecting the full run of Frank King's infinitely-running comic strip "Gasoline Alley."

    The Depression is a lingering presence as the Alley bunch move thru this volume, but the emphasis is on Skeezix, who stands here on the brink of adolescence. He turns 13 in 1934, and while he's busy having adventures with his neighborhood gang, it's significant that this gang now includes a girl, a two-fisted young hoyden named Trixie -- who runs, jumps, punches, and fights on a par with the boys, and takes no guff from any of them, especially not Skeezix's repellent cousin Clarence, who she smacks in the face at every opportunity. None of the boys know quite what to make of her, with her hair bow and her jump rope and her baseball glove and her bicycle, and she doesn't care a lick. Accept her on her own terms or not at all. A more vigorous depiction of a 1930s girlhood cannot be imagined.

    But it's not all youthful hijinks. Cousin Lora finds herself intrigued by a greasy con-man who's running a stock swindle involving processed corncobs, and Uncle Walt and Avery end up on the sucker list before the kids figure out the truth and put the grownups wise. A summer camping trip turns disastrous when Walt and the kids find themselves caught in a forest fire. And when the kids learn that their friend Spud lives in desperate poverty, they team up to make sure he and his mother have heat and food for Christmas. (They don't yet know, of course, that Spud will grow up to be the one member of the gang who won't come home from World War II.)

    These strips find King at the peak of his ability as a writer and cartoonist. The long, soap-opera narratives of the twenties give way here to a gentle day-to-day flow of events in which nothing might seem to be happening -- but then you realize that's what real life is like, and you're content just watching these people exist. It's an uncanny feeling to get from a comic strip, and it was a unique experience at the time. There have been several strips since "Gasoline Alley" to adopt the pace-of-real-life approach, but King was the first to explore the concept in comics, and for my money no one ever did it better. My only regret is that it takes so long between volumes -- it's been four years since Volume Six, which means we probably won't see Volume Eight until 2023 or so. Even though we're getting into a period where I've read most of the strips coming up, I'll be waiting impatiently to add the next volume to my shelf.
     
    Fading Fast likes this.

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