Books: Last Book You Read and Rate It

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Ceremony, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Oscar Acosta

    Oscar Acosta Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Messages:
    7,654
    Likes Received:
    306
    Trophy Points:
    94
    [​IMG]

    Dead Wake - Erik Larson

    Should be a totally badass book. Much like Larson's Devil in the White City. It entirely falls flat on the promise. Both are advertised as a novelized version of historical events that should have an intense build up and finale.

    Neither do. This one falls in the same shell of boring as **** recounting of the Lusitania. Spending the majority of the chapters talking about what cargo the ship had on board, what passengers, and how it navigated.

    This should be a god damn thriller, The Lusitania was a passenger ship almost the size of the Titanic that got torpedoed ruthlessly by Germany in the onset of WWI. 1200 people died not even 2 years after the Titanic.

    Instead you get 400 pages of a cargo list, some random stories about passengers letters, a 150 word chapter from the view of the U-Boat that sank it, then it all happens... and like Devil in the White City just wraps up all fast:

    They all died, Captain lived and then died later on another boat, U-Boat captain died later, everyone died later due to age. And you're left like "what the ****?", the entire climax of the book is the conclusion that happens in 12 pages.

    I really hate this guy's writing.

    3/10
     
    Amerika likes this.
  2. stingo

    stingo Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,076
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    81
    [​IMG]


    This is the third book I’ve read by this author , and while I did enjoy it, it’s my least favourite of his books.

    He does touch on some interesting themes here - AI will one day be able to detect the moment something is wrong with us, which will then give us steps to do - eating , exercising , and if we don’t complete it, it could cost us our health insurance.

    AI is discussed in the first half of the book, while the second half expands on themes discussed in Sapiens - War , religion & terrorism, to name a few.

    The last part focuses on what he thinks humans will take up next and that is meditation.

    Interesting book that I would recommend if you’ve read and enjoyed Sapiens.

    8.4/10
     
    Amerika likes this.
  3. stingo

    stingo Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,076
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    81
    [​IMG]

    If you’re looking for a fast paced book about corrupt cops with an anti-hero protagonist , The Force is the book you want to read.

    This is a great book that had me hooked 10 pages in right up until the end, using any spare time I could find to compulsively read as much as I could.

    If you were a fan of The Shield, you’ll be a big fan of The Force.

    It’s going to be a blockbuster movie.

    Now I have to check out his other books.

    9.2/10
     
  4. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    9,297
    Likes Received:
    936
    Trophy Points:
    169
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    None, or '' Starlet ''
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (1944) - Completely forgot to review this as I finished this well over a week ago. As a physical artform, there's little less I dislike as much as the theater so I tended to shy away from reading plays but I think I'll be making more of an effort as of now. I really enjoyed No Exit and Sartre creates a great atmosphere and stylish setting to let his three interesting characters - with fascinating backstories - enough room to suffocate. The dialogue is mostly good but certainly has its heavy-handed - well, theatrical - moments that do not feel organic but I certainly like its spirit. An easy read and accesible but perhaps not as deep as lots of people think - at least on the surface - but it's a really cool work - I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. I'll see myself out (Again, I'm sorry. This one wasn't intentional.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
    GB likes this.
  5. stingo

    stingo Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,076
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    81
    Wrong thread.
     
  6. GB

    GB Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2002
    Messages:
    4,990
    Likes Received:
    106
    Trophy Points:
    156
    Location:
    UK
    I don't think I've read a play since I left school. I'm thinking of trying King Lear soon. What do you dislike about theatre?
     
  7. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    9,297
    Likes Received:
    936
    Trophy Points:
    169
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    None, or '' Starlet ''
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    Just the overtness of it. It makes my skin scrawl the way every line and emotion is accentuated. Sitting through people overdoing it in that way feels unbearable. And I get that the logistics of the art forces that execution - as an old actress girlfriend explained to me, everyone needs to hear the play - but at its root I can't stand the call to the room to have everything riveted towads the stage. To me, art, such as literature and music, is not a common or universal experience, but something to be enjoyed entirely alone, in a bubble. The theather, in its execution, seems to take away from that experience, particularly outside of the reading of it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
    GB likes this.
  8. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    104,428
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Trophy Points:
    185
    Home Page:
     
  9. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    104,428
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Trophy Points:
    185
    Home Page:
    I started writing a post, then I put a quote in and HF shat itself, so I'll try again.

    The Crack-Up is the title of an essay by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1936. The Crack-Up is the title of a posthumous collection of that and some others released in 1945, and again by Alma this year. I finished it some time ago but I remember looking it up at the time and there being some differences between '45 and '18. Or come to think of it, maybe the book itself noted the differences. I think that's probably more likely.

    Anyway, while I can't say I read a lot of writers outside of their major works I've done it with Fitzgerald a fair bit. I think it comes down to a case of if I can appreciate his worldview - or my interpretation of it at least - in his fiction then I can do it as well or better in his essays and letters when he can be more personal, self-critical and straightforward. I posted this excerpt from 'Handle With Care' somewhere else a month ago to the day:

    I suppose it's interesting as well to consider that Fitzgerald will usually write from one of three perspectives: pre-success, success or post-success, and a degree of reflection is bound to creep in as that arc progressed. At the heart of everything though - and I'm including fiction in that - there's always an honesty and a realisation that under the bluster, the image, the fanciful excess of his time there were people. They had emotions and they had desires that were all broadly similar, even if they might not have been able to realise it. Fitzgerald does, and has the added bonus of being quite good at articulating these feelings.

    In addition to the handful of essays there's a collection of notes in the edition I read. Ideals, quips, quotes, anecdotes, there's a lot of stuff which you don't really read, more dip in and out of. They're obviously brief and I don't think they're organised very well but it's nice to be nosey into what a great writer thought about and how he worked. The essays are accessible to most people, I'd say the notes are for the really sad like me. I learned more about a writer I enjoy like nobody else, so I'm not complaining.
     
  10. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    104,428
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Trophy Points:
    185
    Home Page:
    Alma's feverish need to publish everything F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote down or thought of has led to a lot of his short stories getting a new airing. One such collection is the Basil and Josephine stories from 2014, which bring together several stories about the childhood/early adulthood of a boy and a girl whose names you can probably guess, largely but not totally based on him and his wife Zelda.

    I enjoyed these stories because they're obviously typical Fitzgerald stories but from a much more innocent or naïve perspective because some of them are about childhood. About playing tricks, trying to hide stuff from your parents, about kissing girls without anyone finding out about it. And obviously these are all the most important things in the world and treated with the utmost seriousness, so to recall that sort of childish awe at how important the different aspects of your life are before you have any real responsibilities is an interesting comparison with the superficial things Fitzgerald's generation was accused of fixating on.

    There isn't much else to say of them beyond that. One of the Basil stories, The Freshest Boy, was in one of Fitzgerald's main collections. The stories all go together charting his aging from childhood to school to parties so it's nice seeing it in a wider context. If you read into the personal experience aspect you see more of the self-doubt that I mentioned in his essays in my previous post. It's one thing to read his novels or have a cursory knowledge of his life and the Roaring Twenties and however many other high school buzzwords you can throw in, but when you find out a bit more you realise it wasn't that straightforward. When Basil goes to school he's a bit of an outcast. He's socially awkward and tries really hard to fit in, but sometimes he says the wrong thing because his mouth moves quicker than his brain and he puts himself in bad situations.

    The Basil stories are better than the Josephine stories. They're in that order in the book and it's sort of strange reading them in sequence like that because of the discrepancy in quality. It's like they're tacked on as an afterthought and I can't tell if this is down to the original intention behind the stories in the first place or the editing of the book they're in. It's certainly not a reason to avoid the collection and it doesn't undermine the good ones, but it's not necessarily the companion piece the title would suggest it is.
     
  11. kihei

    kihei Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    30,910
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]

    The Brothers Karamazov
    , by Fyodor Doestoevsky

    The Brothers Karamazov, the story of three bothers whose fates largely depend upon the father whom two of them loath, is a great novel and an awful novel simultaneously. Let's deal with the "awful" bit first. TBK is awful because it is so over-the-top; deals with nothing but BIG emotions ALL THE TIME; includes characters who literally paw the earth and pull their hair out; never has a character give a 200 word speech when 2000 words will do just as well; is extremely repetitive, especially when it comes to the key crime of the novel and the trial that follows; is tremendously verbose with entire sections taking up space that have only a passing relationship to the central story. There are an endless number of passages of extreme passion that recall Tchaikovsky's most bombastic musical indulgences. But to condemn the book for these reasons would be letting the trees get in the way of seeing the forest clearly. TBK is also one of most fascinating character studies of the 19th century--about three distinct brothers--a hothead, an intellectual (who is also a hothead), and a young monk, the closest thing we get to a rooting interest). Add a majestically demented father and two women (who should be more distinct than they are), and one has the recipe for a melodramatic page turner of the highest order. But the novel is also filled with ideas about some pretty deep issues related to psychology, religion, politics, and philosophy. There are virtual "stand alone" sections that don't progress the plot but provide plenty of food for thought. The Grand Inquistor scene, a Machiavellian tour de force on the nature of obedience and freedom, is justly famous, but it is only one instance among several. Equally compelling is a long conversation that one of the brothers has with a very reasonable, quite intelligent devil who seems to have a taste for irony. Another improbable section, a dying monk's seemingly endless bedside last thoughts, communicates a religious perspective, one that the youngest Karamazov strives for, that is provided almost in the form of a revised Gospel--a handy new catechism in support of repressive self-discipline. All of these additions contribute greatly to the depth and resonance of the novel. And, finally, warts and all, it is hard to imagine anything that feels more genuinely Russian than this novel. Every thing of any importance to the author is laid out on a huge canvas with characters who seem to jump out at you from the printed page, all proclaiming their fealty in one way or another to mother Russia whose soul is in their blood. The Brothers Karamazov is a heady mix; the reader best be willing to take the good with the bad.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
    Amerika, stingo and GB like this.
  12. kihei

    kihei Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    30,910
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]

    Labyrinths
    , by Jorge Luis Borges

    If anyone ever deserved a Nobel Prize for literature, it's this guy. He is sui generis--there is no other writer remotely like him. He writes what could be called fantasies, but they bear scant resemblance to other writers of the fantastic. Borges' work is complex, scholarly, imaginative beyond belief, and virtually unforgettable--he writes of infinite libraries, characters twisted in time, memories that take on lives of their own, time that is circular, destiny that lies in wait, neverending labyrinths, and disconsolate Minotaurs. I hadn't read this collection since probably secondary school, and though I was impressed greatly by the stories, they didn't have quite the impact that they had on me way back when. I think two reasons account for this unexpected reaction. One, Borges is so erudite, so well read in the fields of religion, philosophy, science, superstition, and folk art, as well as all things Argentine, that his knowledge seemed intimadating to me--I could not always tell whether some mystic that he was talking about was real or make believe, and I just felt that I was missing a lot of references that would have made the works even richer to read. The second reason was more the killer, though. When I first read Borges, basically Newtonian physics with a nod to Einstein was what we were taught in secondary school. I didn't understand it well, but the universe seemed to make sense. Many of Borges stories are about, in one way or another, time, infinity and chance. As wonderfully imaginative as these stories still are, they can't hold a candle to the strangeness of contemporary quantum mechanics with its infinite inflation and possible multiverses and seemingly absurd logic that particles can be in two places at once. Science has caught up and surpassed Borges' imagination, a fact which in itself is hard to believe. Reality turns out to be stranger than even these fictions. Still, I would recommend this collection to anybody.
     
    Amerika and GB like this.
  13. Amerika

    Amerika Lil Ainjil

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    9,297
    Likes Received:
    936
    Trophy Points:
    169
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    None, or '' Starlet ''
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    Call at Corazon (1988) by Paul Bowles - A short story collection which includes stories written over a 50 year period, many of them before his landmark The Sheltering Sky. It felt a bit odd to read certain stories set in a banal America, for Bowles has a certain otherwordly essence to his writing, and a exoticness to his description of mood and setting. Not all the stories hit the mark for me - certain stories are too short in contrast to their ambitious set-up, which left me hungrier. It also gave them a suffocating quality - but there is some inspired writing throughout the book, and Paul Bowles had a champion's game in regards to character depth. In any story longer than 2-3 pages, the characters feel fully realized as their own entity. Also, while not as rich in description as The Sheltering Sky, the book is riddled with precise phrases which illuminates the various realms, and creates an ambience that is just as interesting as the story itself. He definitely has a knack to give someone the itch to travel, despite the melancholy which tends to permeate across his works. There is a streak of 3 separate monologues - without a trace of punctuation - that are a tour de force.

    Favorite stories: Monologue Tangier 1975, Monologue New York 1965, Monologue Massachusetts 1932, Sylvie Ann The Boogie Man, Tea on the Mountain, In Absentia, The Successor

    Edit: Also an interesting observation about Bowles as a writer: He seemed fully realized from the start. There is not a change in quality between his earlier and later stories. It never gets worse or better. Perhaps this is due to revision but even if it is, this is the mark of a mature artist with sensibilities fully developped by the time pen was put to paper, so to speak.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
    GB and stingo like this.
  14. kihei

    kihei Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    30,910
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]

    Fear: Trump in the White House
    , by Bob Woodward

    If you have time for only one book about Donald Trump, this should be the one. Written by Bob Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story wide open, Fear: Trump in the White House is simply better researched and more convincing than other books that purport to reveal the chaos going in Washington right now. Woodward, nominally a Republican if I remember correctly, paints a far more nuanced picture of Trump than most writers and has no discernible axe to grind, making his commentary carry both weight and conviction on the subject of Trump. As well, Woodward's reputation as a journalist, his measured, well documented and responsible approach, lends the book credibility as well. In the book he simply paints an extended portrait, week by week, crisis by crisis, of Trump's first year and a half as President of the United States. Part of this portrait varies significantly from the impressions that I have gotten from most media outlets. We see Trump show genuine empathy toward some of the families of soldiers killed in action. We see a more purposeful Trump who is conscious of the needs of his base and makes (some) decisions that he believes are in their interests. By reducing restraints on business through deregulation, he has helped the economy prosper, though usually at the expense of the environment. If he weren't crazy as a loon, part of his approach to governing would appear fresh and even praise worthy. For instance, in the early stages he cooperated more transparently with the Mueller investigation than might be expected of any previous president, providing unfettered interviews of staff and thousands upon thousands of requested documents. (As for the Mueller investigation, Woodward's best sources think there isn't much there--except possible perjury if Trump actually testifies).

    But then there is the other side of the coin, and it is genuinely frightening. Trump believes that real power is the ability to instill fear in his opponents who are often countries who are friends of the United States, not its enemies. His understanding of how government functions is almost entirely non-existent; plus, he doesn't care. His instincts are by nature imperial rather than democratic. He cares nothing about his nation's security in relation to the security of its allies. For him the bottom line is always money. He believes the world is stealing from the United States and he hates it--which is one of the key reasons why he is far more angry with South Korea than with North Korea. He will not listen to reason, no matter how many times his staff explains things like trade debt and tariffs to him. His philosophy with virtually everything is never appear weak, never back down, and always attack. His own sanest lawyer concedes Trump is "a ****ing liar." His almost total impulsiveness in governing, his reliance on intuition at whatever the cost, his fear of looking vulnerable, means that he has already put the world in jeopardy on numerous occasions and that it is only through the vigilance of the few adults in the White House that a catastrophe hasn't already happened. For instance, he thought pulling the families of troops and government officials out of South Korea would be a good idea to frighten North Korea, never realizing that the consequence of such action--a signal that an attack is coming--might well start a nuclear war. According to the sections dealing with Republican senator Lindsay Graham, Trump would prefer blind 100% loyalty to cool, intelligent appraisal. In short, Trump is perceived as a dumb bell, an idiot, a moron, by many of his senior staff and even Cabinet members. His rash incompetence and frequent temper tantrums are partly mitigated by the fact that he will order some destructive action only to forget that he had done so by the end of the day. At several points, his officials have simply removed damaging information or letters from his desk and he forgets that they were ever there. As more and more of "the adults in the room" retire, leave or are fired, the chances become ever greater that his worst instincts will be accommodated by the right wing zealots who will replace the few competent people serving his administration. I'd say the possibility of getting though as many as six more years of this guy without a major disaster occurring is effectively zilch. By the time that I got to the end of this book, I got the impression that we are all living on borrowed time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
    stingo likes this.
  15. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    104,428
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Trophy Points:
    185
    Home Page:
    Marabou Stork Nightmares is the third book and second novel by Irvine Welsh. It is narrated by and about Roy Strang, a boy from Muirhouse in Edinburgh who is in a coma. The narrative switches between the people Roy hears talking to him in his hospital bed, his description of his dysfunctional upbringing including a family emigration to South Africa, and the apparent fantasy of him hunting a marabou stork.

    It carries on from the more experimental aspects of the first two Welsh books and it's pretty successful. There's a range of fonts and formatting on the page during the coma sections when Roy hears people - his family and his nurse mostly - talking to him and can feel himself recovering. When you first start reading it can be slightly disorientating as the words go up or down but, along with the changes in location they feel natural after you've gone through them a few times. It helps somewhat in this situation too that there's a switch between dialects. The stork safari sections are in the style of old Victorian-era missionaries, while the rest is in regular Edinburgh-Scots dialect. The shift in language is as intuitive as the shift in settings, and contributes to the surreal absurdity of the safari.

    There does seem to be a recurring thing in Welsh where the narrator occasionally slips in to an enlightened, properly spoken genius who becomes self-aware of the horrors of their life which I think will get tedious if it continues to appear. The main difference in this case is that Roy isn't constantly out of his face on drugs, but he carries the same propensity for violence and short-sighted self-interest. His family life is a strange mixture of working class squalor and self-righteousness. Come to think of it, this book differs from Trainspotting and A Smart **** from The Acid House in that there is a family at all. It's dysfunctional, his mum has two half-Italian children from a previous relationship, he has a gay brother, an autistic brother, and an apparent sexual deviant of a brother who he comes home to find having sex with his sister one day. They live in a block of flats in a generic scheme but near enough anyone in this situation in real life believes themselves to be superior to the people around them, and the Strangs aren't any different.

    The family's brief stay in South Africa to live with Strang Sr.'s brother Gordon backs this up, in a strange way. I've always felt detached from some relatively recent historical events. Yugoslavia, the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union and South African apartheid were all a thing within a couple of years of me being born or even my lifetime, but in my consciousness they're all gone and sorted by the time I was old enough to know what the world is. South Africa in the late eighties then seems to be an ideal destination for the Strangs and their errant belief they're better than everyone around them despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    The real strength of Welsh's writing is in his descrtiptions of people and their actions. As I've said before in posts about his books, everything feels real, relatable and understanable to me. I read about people like Roy and his friends and his family and even though it's nothing like my life, I know this mentality. I know the mindset, I know the reactions to things. Marabou Stork Nightmares isn't any different. Even in the more brutal sections (including child molestation and a dog getting fireworks taped to its face) there's never a sense that it's gratituitous or there for its own sake, it's all real.

    One criticism I'd aim at the book is the way it ends. An event happens in Roy's life with some of the boys he goes to football hooliganism with and he becomes so affected by this he moves to Manchester. He ends up taking ecstasy and engaged and back up the road, a year's worth of events in about thirty pages. I get that compared to recalling his entire life these events would have seemed quick and sudden, but this is at odds with the idea of the story being recalled by someone in a coma. The reason for Roy's being in a coma is interesting and admittedly not where I thought the book was going, but it feels like some disparate ideas thrown together in a way which isn't quite successful.

    Aside from that, it's as engaging as the other two Welsh books I've read. I look forward to a similar review of the next one.
     
    Amerika and GB like this.
  16. silverfish

    silverfish wrong as usual

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Messages:
    34,643
    Likes Received:
    4,313
    Trophy Points:
    186
    Location:
    under the bridge
    I have been slowly but surely going through "the classics" recently since I was a **** student and never did the reading assigned to me in school. Finally finished BRAVE NEW WORLD. Have a question about the ending...

    Why did John partake in the soma-orgy? I don't understand why he cracked the way he did.
     
  17. Ceremony

    Ceremony ______________

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    104,428
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Trophy Points:
    185
    Home Page:
    He was drugged, m8
     
  18. stingo

    stingo Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,076
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    81
    [​IMG]

    Waiting for Eden is Ackerman’s third, and best book.

    After getting blown up by an IED, Eden lays in a hospital bed , shrivelled down to 70 pounds from 210, charred beyond recognition, unable to speak, living only in his mind. He is close to death, but stubbornly holds on.

    The book is narrated by the ghost of his friend who died in the same explosion.

    Eden’s wife comes to visit. She wants this to end, and for him to find peace, but she’s reluctant to let him go.

    A short, but haunting look at what war does to a man, his friends , and his family .

    9.1/10
     
    kihei likes this.
  19. stingo

    stingo Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,076
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    81
    [​IMG]

    This is the first Chris Hedges book I’ve read all the way through. I have to think it’s his best, but I’ll have to go back into his catalogue now & read his other works.

    America, the farewell tour is Hedges scathing , depressing look at the fall of the American empire, each chapter devoted to societal decay, showing the reader how America, the once great empire is now rotting out from the inside .

    The first part of the book talks about Trump, and how we got to Trump. It didn’t happen overnight , Trump is merely the last stage in corporate totalitarianism. The shift from common good to “race, crime & law and order” is typical for any crumbling empire.

    The other chapters are : heroin, sadism, work, hate, decay, & gambling .

    Sadism is a disturbing read, where Hedges hangs out at the kink.com building , talks to girls forced into porn, how porn has pushed the envelope of abuse and torture where girls are now actually water boarded for sexual pleasure . Proof of a sick society.

    The gambling chapter was really eye opening as well , casinos generate 37 billion dollars a year . That’s more than all four major sports leagues combined! Casinos built with no windows, so people forget about the outside world, & lose track of time.

    The last chapter deals with private prisons, and the slave labour that happens within them, that giant, household name corporations are taking advantage of . Prisoners paid pennies , or in some cases not at all, and the corporations profiting handsomely . They don’t care about rehabilitation , just keeping a steady flow of prisoners to keep the system going.

    Most of the books coming out that deal with current events just deal with Trump and what he’s doing and not doing. But none of them look at the whole picture the way Hedges does, who argues neither for the left or the right -

    the conflict will not end until followers of the alt right & the anti capitalist left are given a living wage and a voice in how we are governed. Take away a persons dignity, agency and self esteem and this is what you get. As political power devolved into a more naked form of corporate totalitarianism, as unemployment & under employment expand, so will extremist groups . They will attract more sympathy and support as the wide population realizes , correctly, that Americans have been stripped of all ability to influence the decisions that affect their lives - lives that are steadily getting worse.

    Hedges is a great thinker & writer & has written one of the best books of 2018. It should get a lot more hype and mentions than it will. I recommend it highly.

    9.5/10
     
    Amerika, GB and kihei like this.
  20. kihei

    kihei Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    30,910
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Toronto
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    great review
     
    stingo likes this.
  21. kihei

    kihei Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    30,910
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]

    The Prince
    , by Niccolo Machiavelli

    Perhaps if I had ever taken a course in political science or political philosophy, this might have been less of a slog. In general I found the book dull and repetitive, but with one major surprise. In layman's terms, The Prince is an ancient(-ish) version of a modern day self-help book, in this case written by Machiavelli to his current prince, no less than Lorenzo de Medici, proffering him advice on what princes in general and he in particular should know about ruling their respective kingdoms. Most of the book examines different types of principalities and the specific difficulties related with keeping each of these types of states under the effective control of their ruler. Machiavelli's philosophy can be simplified down to a John Wayne line: "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." While Machiavelli respects benevolent means of controlling the peasants, the soldiers and the nobles, he recognizes that in the real world, benevolence doesn't necessarily always serve the needs of the state, especially given the different exigencies related to the various types of principalities. The surprise for me had to do with Machiavelli's tone, not that of an arch-villain as I always sort of suspected, but that of a rational, scholarly, intelligent man who has figured out that if you are gonna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs. In other words, the advice that cruelty and deviousness and lies may be necessary to retain power effectively is put forward with clear-eyed certainty but without wrath. He even suggests that the extreme measures he recommends using should eventually become unnecessary once the kingdom is secured. But in the meantime Machiavelli advises that if it is a question of fear or love, it is far better too be feared than loved. While his advice is usually quite matter of fact, his prescriptions for gaining and keeping power are extreme. Basically anything goes--murder, torture, terror, broken promises--as long as it is necessary for the ultimate good of the ruler and his kingdom. To be fair, he thinks many rulers employ such means badly and improperly--it takes an enlightened prince, one capable of using a variety of means, not a despot, to know when such measures are necessary (though he does mention a few despots who had a pretty good run of it). He even cautions not to rule brutally when deception will suffice. Further he proposes that such cruel devices as he suggests be not permanent fixtures of a kingdom, but that they be lessened or abandoned when they have served their function of bringing the various factions of the state to heel. But he doesn't see, and counsels his prince not to see, any immorality in his suggestions. The effective and, by Machiavelli's standards, proper governance of the state should be the prince's only moral concern.

    I read The Prince because I was curious about how Machiavelli's suggestions for governance stack up with the current President of the United States. So is Trump Machiavellian? Maybe in some ways, but much more by random nature than design. Trump's belief that fear is power is certainly Machiavellian to the core as well as Trump's willingness to use any means available if he thinks that by doing so, it will gain him advantage. But Trump's ignorance would have repulsed Machiavelli. Machiavelli might have summed up his opinion this way: “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him” or “…he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
    stingo likes this.
  22. Mr Plow

    Mr Plow Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2016
    Messages:
    535
    Likes Received:
    156
    Trophy Points:
    46
    The Martian[​IMG]


    Fun read, if not a little repetitive. Way less emotionally manipulative than the movie with even more interesting science as well.
     
    stingo likes this.
  23. Shadowtron

    Shadowtron Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2002
    Messages:
    5,578
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    131
    Location:
    Earth
    Head Full of Ghosts - Paul Tremblay

    1-star: Reminds me why I seldom read horror novels. Flat as paper characters, uninteresting scenario, lame twist ending, and not a single likable character.

    I read Infinite Jest, with it's endless footnotes and sub-footnotes and multiple page paragraphs and endless diversions into off-topic discussions. None of these were nearly chore I had reading the blog entries in Head Full of Ghosts.

    Mercifully it's a short book and I got through it pretty quickly.
     
  24. stingo

    stingo Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    7,076
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    81
    [​IMG]

    After being enlightened with Hedges last book I thought I’d check out a couple of his older works.

    Hedges is a seasoned war reporter who has seen action in wars from El Salvador to Iraq to Bosnia. It is an anti war book by a man who is addicted to war .

    “The enduring attraction of war is this : Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose , meaning , a reason for living . It gives us resolve , a cause. It allows us to be noble.”

    The book is a description of what war does to us : our lives our culture our love of fellow man. It describes how our culture can censor itself into believing great cause , and squash the speech of any who disagree.

    Genocide , ethnic cleansing , mutilation , the killing of innocents : it is the side unseen by those supporting it . The war is enabled by myth , and the myth is a lie. The lie is captivating and grabs us all. Every nation feels like it is fighting the ultimate evil, and they have no choice but to defeat it. The war will only end when the lie has collapsed under overwhelming evidence. All that is left when the lie disappears is guilt and shame, and the holes in people’s lives where there loved one used to be. The anger of the victims : the seeds to the next war.


    The book reminded me of Anthony Loyds - my war gone by, I miss it so, but unlike Loyd, Hedges doesn’t have a death wish. Hedges is less action, and more reflection. Hedges is now one of my favourite thinkers.

    9.3/10


    I also finished “empires of illusion” , and felt it was good, enlightening, but his ideas and thoughts were better fleshed out and expanded upon in America : The Farewell Tour.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
    kihei likes this.
  25. Finlandia WOAT

    Finlandia WOAT Bench Rosen

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19,320
    Likes Received:
    9,502
    Trophy Points:
    156
    Occupation:
    a watchmaker
    The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate N.K. Jemisin

    Contemporary fantasy is dominated by white, male, cisgendered septuagenarians writing the same basic plot over and over and over and- McDermott is a 30th percentile bell curve schmuck living a life not worth living, and doing nothing under his own power to change that, until one day God downloads superpowers into his skull and suddenly, through no ability or effort or for any real justification, he becomes McDermott, the Chosen One, destined to defeat the Sacred Order of D-Bags who have taken over the kingdom/want to destroy the world, or whatever.

    Dibs on McDermott vs. The Sacred Order of D-Bags

    So I wanted to like this series, because it was decidedly *NOT* that. It's about an emotional wreck of a woman who, despite being a mage of great power (power as in, she can move pulverize boulders and freeze people with a thought) is hampered by her significant mental distress from a life of emotional trauma and constant abuse. She's caught up in events she doesn't understand and can't control, she doesn't want to save the world or stop the Dark Lord from gaining the 8th Xan'far Seal, she just wants to survive and locate her daughter.

    But there are too many issues to ignore. Regarding the A-plot, there're about as much narrative movement in the first 30 pages as there are in the next ~400 pages (book 1 is carried entirely by one character in the B-plot, who, coincidentally, is reduced to an exposition machine in book 2, of the "I'll lose consciousness before I can explain the vaguely worded advice/info dump" variety). In those 30 pages, the emotional conflict of the main character manifests as repression of the horrific thing she just discovered, lest she lose control and kill everyone in town, or worse, out herself as a mage. The scene builds, piling on the tension until she can't take it anymore and explodes! But this dynamic is never used again: instead, we see this pattern: "[insert horrible, mildly interesting thing completely unconnected to the narrative or the main characters goals/desires]--> main character [internally]: 'oh. My. F**K.' " Then they solve it and move on. Many of the setup/payoffs are botched, because none of the characters involved are built up or fleshed out. One of the most important scenes in the 2nd book involves a fight between a character with two lines previous (and this qualifies him as a major character, mind), and a character the book doesn't even bother to name; a second, equally important scene soon after involves two characters with one line each, who are introduced for the first time in the previous scene! Many of the emotional beats don't make sense. For example, the main character's goal in book 1 is to find her daughter. But in book 2, we learn she doesn't really like her daughter, having viewed her as a burden and risk for getting caught for the last 7 years/all of her daughter's life.

    Anyway, the writing was pretty good, save she favors that staccato style that modern writers seem to love. The 1st book is carried by the B-plot, the 2nd book isn't, so the 2nd is "worse" when really it was just the 1st book saved by a great B-plot- because it involves only two characters who well fleshed out, and the narrative moves swiftly, and it doesn't get bogged down in info dumps via combining information about the world with tense or sad scenes. In retrospect, it's sad- the problems which dominate the A-plot disappear in the lesser plots.

    Not interested in the 3rd of the trilogy.
     
    stingo likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
monitoring_string = "358c248ada348a047a4b9bb27a146148"