What are you reading this month (December, 2011)?
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I'm drowning in Love and Capital, which is the story of Karl Marx's family life. The subject itself -- why he married his wife and the sacrifices she had to make -- is interesting, and sad (3 of their children died young) but the problem is that Marx himself did just not have a very exciting life. He spent most of his time writing letters begging relatives for money, complaining about his various illnesses, and arguing with other revolutionaries about theory. There's just so much of this I'm not sure I'm going to finish the book.
I am reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. I'm really enjoying it both as a spiritual story (the growth and development of a man who had a deep and profound relationship with God) and a political story (a birds-eye view on the changes in German society that allowed Hitler to come to power). I deeply appreciated Eric Metaxas' Amazing Grace : William Wilberforce and the heroic campaign to end slavery so I shelved my e-book reader for the duration because the only library copy I could get was in paper. May be the beginning of converting me back to reading paper books.
I am also reading Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks, because it was recommended to me at a conference I went to.
Have to finish Unnatural Selection: choosing boys over girls, and the consequences of a world full of men by Mara Hvistendahl which is an interesting read. Heard about it on freakonomics.
I just finished The Sex Lives of Cannibals and laughed my butt off...
Just finished Aladdin's Lamp, about the rise of science from Antiquity via the Islamic world to Western Europe. It explains quite well how the Islamic world maintained and expanded the heritage of ancient Greece.
Have just finished 'GHOST IN THE WIRES; My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker' (2011) who did essentially no harm to the subjects of his hacking, but did something almost worse, embarrassed and frightened some very wealthy and influential companies, who then screamed bloody-hell that he be stopped before he decided to release the company secrets he had acquired. Mr. Mitnick did all this simply for fun, for the challenge of breaking into the most secure commercial computer systems in the world, but he never revealed, sold or sabotaged any of these classified programs and systems. He never tried to break into classified government or military systems, even though the government and the New York Times newspaper lied about the extent and severity of his activities. In the end he spent nearly five years in detention, and was illegally deprived of his right to a bail hearing, before being released and paying a fine of $4,125, most of which was paid by supporters who rallied to oppose his unjust incarceration.
This brings up the truism that it matters less what you do than who is embarrassed and upset by what you do.
I am reading The Perfect Hostage , which is about Aung San Suu Kyi, who is an important leader in Myanmar (Burma), and has fought to improve the harsh conditions there. The region is ruled by a military junta which kills and enslaves people.
Hilary Clinton recently visited Aung San Suu Kyi, which makes this book more interesting.
I just finished I finished the biography Twenty Thousand Roads: the Ballad of Gram Parsons and his Cosmic American Music by David N. Meyer. I've now started Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
I am reading Low Level Mission by Leon Wolff. As an aviation lover I was well aware of the stories about the raids on Ploesti oil fields in 1943, the only way we could cut off the germans main oil supply and hopefully cut short the War. This book though gives alot of the decision chain years before, even concerning the AAF and it's role in our military. Great read for history and military buffs.
PLOESTI-The great ground air Battle of 1 August 1943 by James Dugan & Carroll Stewart inludes the experiences of the downed pilots in Romania. Some living high on the hog with pay in a castle in the mountains, though they were in perpectual
tunneling excape mode. Reads like the hollywood movie "Escape from Colditz"
Just finished Adam Hochschild's "To End All Wars," a book that will stay with me long. Interrelates the personalities, power people, backstory leading up to WWI and the utter waste of human life and destruction of the earth. Had Wikileaks been around then, we might have known of the highly acclaimed British general who counted his success in terms of how many dead...his own troops. Or the selling of war materials to the other side when a good profit could be had. Well written as are all of Hochschild's books and very well documented.
Although I read the book a year ago, with the recent death of Kim Jong-Il, I wanted to put in a plug for Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, a book I could rave about ad nauseum; but, I won't.
<23 Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea was one of my favorites that I read this year as well. I keep thinking about the forced mourning for Kim Jong-Il's father and wondering if the same thing is happening now.
I third Nothing to Envy. There's a list in the Artsbeat blog on the New York Times today of "North Korea reading."
I finished both 1491 and 1493 and liked 1491 just a little better, maybe because it was more focused. A couple of times in 1493 I found myself overwhelmed by detail. Interesting that on my Kindle the text itself ended 55% of the way through the book...the rest is endnotes!!!
Picked up South with the Sun on my way through an airport this weekend. So far the style is a bit weird but not unreadable.
Not a biography per se, not an exploration book. Somewhere in between and a bit to the left (or something). More details when I finish it;)
I just finished the LTER Improbable Patriot.This is an astonishing ribald tale of a French character. His genius, cunning, and indefatigable energy and good will repeatedly bumped up against the French king and nobility. He lost everything many times but came back with perseverance. It's an excellent story well told. America owes much to him, at least as much as it owes Lafayette, but has never given him his due. Maybe this biography will help in some small way.
I'm currently reading the melodramatic Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I finished Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. A great book, and essential information, but really tough to read due the depressing nature of the subject matter, the serial destruction of the cultures of the Native American tribes across the U.S.
I am finishing The Children's Blizzard. Chilling story (no pun intended)
I'm about halfway through The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. It was a fantastic selection by my SantaThing Santa. It's a story about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London and, while that may sound a bit dry, it's also about the sociological, economic, and class struggles the people near the epicenter of the outbreak faced. Two men, one a doctor and the other a curate, try to follow the clues to determine why this terrible sickness is happening, how to stop it, and how to prevent it from happening again. It's much more than a medical mystery and highly recommended for anyone who loves a deep down look at society and its ills (not all of them medical).
I finished and reviewed Churchill's Empire. The British Empire played an important role in Churchill’s career as a journalist and politician. Modern readers may not always like the Social Darwinism and “right-or-wrong-my-country” mentality of the Greatest Briton.
I just finished reading PLOESTI and do so with a heavy heart. It was the biggest single air disaster of WWII. The book read like a Hollywood War movie with the most visually descriptive and emotional roller coaster ride of an air sortie. Amazing bravery among the pilots who were sent on an almost Kamikaze mission. Of the 177 planes-half were lost,over a thousand men lost. I am going to make an effort to see that the one british pilot, Barwell, who did not receive a medal for his great efforts is recognized. The planners of the raid on the Ploesti , the German controled oil fields in Romania, should have faced a court martial.
If you have read Leon Wolffs-LOW LEVEL MISION, you should read this one. Has some great stories of the men in captivity
and efforts by the royalty in Romania to protect them.
Just finished With My Face to the Enemy. Not an anthology, not a collection; this is more of a very well-written sampler.
The essays (or parts of chapters or articles or whatever they are) stand alone, but are arranged and do cover, the duration of the Civil War. Subjects include Lincoln's beginning strategies and Fort Sumter, Southern strategies, the Battle of Mulvern Hill, George Thomas and the war record of the Conferderate Navy's Shenandoah.
Each topic provided incentive to read more at some later time.
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