So this is performance art, right? Someone please tell me he's putting us on!
Michael S. Gazzaniga: Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain
(7/27/2015) Neuroscientists are really bad at interpreting their own studies. Blah. (**)
Larry Niven: Fallen Angels
(7/26/2015) This is absolutely brilliant! It's slightly outdated on some details – 25 years is a long time for computer technology – and the authors misidentified the solar contribution to global warming (it's an indirect effect), but this is a must-read. (****)
Robert Kagan: The World America Made
Martin J. Blaser: Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
(7/16/2015) I think that he overstates his case, but he's on to something here. (****)
Sir Winston S. Churchill: The World Crisis Volume II: 1915
Sir Winston S. Churchill: The World Crisis Volume I: 1911-1914
T. E. Lawrence: Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph: The Complete 1922 Text
(5/12/2015) That's Lawrence of Arabia to you. (****)
Xenophon: The March Up Country: A Translation of Xenophon's Anabasis
(4/5/2015) For some reason, a mercenary Greek army and the Persian prince who hired them thought it a good idea to march 1,500 miles on a shoestring budget to fight the king (the ambitious prince's brother) close to his capital - fricking Babylon! This worked out miraculously well and the Greeks got the best of the fight until the prince was killed in battle. Then came the march home, the long way through mountainous terrain, poorly-clothed (and -shod), hungry, without pay, and with the pissed-off (and probably embarrassed) king and all his petty satraps on their asses. Did I mention that the Greeks were mercenaries who thought that the army was a democratic institution? Good times!
Émile Zola: I Accuse!
Margaret MacMillan: Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
(3/20/2015) From Germany and France to eastern Europe to the Middle East to China and Japan, the Treaty of Versailles screwed the pooch pretty thoroughly. Wilson was so hung up on the creation of his League of Nations that he couldn't be bothered with trifles such as justice and principle – except the ‘principle’ of his own ‘Fourteen Points’, which didn't exactly impress – and Clemenceau was insufferably demanding. (E.g., the ‘indemnity’ – charging Germany not just for reparations but also for the economic value of lost Allied men – was unhelpful and contrary to existing and stated principle. But the French were in no mood for forgiveness.) But Keynes's concern about the supposedly unbearable size of reparations was baseless. Unfortunately, the German people took Keynes's BS seriously, another terrible injustice among many as they saw it.
Another failing was the absence of proper war crimes trials for, at the least, the officers responsible for the murderous German behavior in Belgium – Falkenhayn, Ludendorff, and Bülow spring immediately to mind – rather than simply forwarding their names to the German government for trial at home (!) where they were either acquitted or allowed to escape and disappear without official trace. (!!) Also, allowing the German army to march home in good order, rather than forcing them to surrender publicly in the obvious disarray of defeat, encouraged the German public to believe that they had not really ‘lost’ but had rather been ‘stabbed in the back’ by traitors and Jews. Merde! (****)
Kevin Garrison: The CEO of the Cockpit
Baroness Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel
(2/20/2015) A bit juvenile for this old man. I wish I'd read it in the sixth grade. Or even the eighth. (****)
Isaac Asimov: The Stars, Like Dust
George W. Bush: 41: A Portrait of My Father
Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
(1/9/2015) The title is slightly misleading (Zamperini was, ultimately, broken, but managed not to show it until he got home), but the book is an absolute must-read. I can't imagine how anyone could withstand what he did for so long.
I haven't seen the movie, but apparently the fuck-a-duck scene didn't make the cut. I can't imagine what the problem was .... (*****)
Ben Stein: How To Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio
(1/2/2015) Oh, the sarcasm, it burns! (*****)
Barbara W. Tuchman: The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914
The chapter on the Dreyfus Affair is brilliant and well worth the price of admission. Other chapter on Wilhelmine German politics and culture (and music) is also highly instructive for those of us who are still trying to grasp what in hell could lead Germany into two world wars. Many chapters just pointlessly bore, but the whole is worth the reader's time. (****)
Edzard Ernst & Simon Singh: Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine
(10/09/2014) Treatments that have been demonstrated to be safe and effective quickly become conventional, leaving only quackery and worse in the ‘alternative’ category. Examples of such proven bogosity include homeopathy (although that is now a marketing term used very loosely), aromatherapy, and acupuncture. All have been demonstrated, in fair trials, to be bunk. Laetrile is worse than bunk and no, it's not an effing ‘vitamin’. (****)