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  What Book Are You Currently Reading?
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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 334629 times)
TNF
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« Reply #1050 on: June 26, 2014, 12:07:33 pm »
« edited: July 07, 2014, 11:47:18 am by Senator TNF »

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Spiral
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« Reply #1051 on: June 26, 2014, 01:17:46 pm »

Post Office by Charles Bukowski
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TNF
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« Reply #1052 on: July 07, 2014, 11:50:45 am »

Just finished up:

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Just started:

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Just ordered:

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Maistre
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« Reply #1053 on: July 07, 2014, 09:00:31 pm »

Origins of the New South - Woodward
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Nathan
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« Reply #1054 on: July 07, 2014, 09:07:53 pm »

I'm reading Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic by Régine Robin. Robin appears to assume more preexisting familiarity with the subject matter than I in fact have, but it's still a pretty interesting read.
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RogueBeaver
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« Reply #1055 on: July 07, 2014, 10:07:14 pm »
« Edited: July 07, 2014, 10:08:57 pm by RogueBeaver »

Charles de Gaulle by Eric Roussell. Also recently finished The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic by Henry Buckley,  A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes, and The Failure of the Action Liberale Nationale by Patricia Dirkes.
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« Reply #1056 on: July 08, 2014, 08:57:07 pm »

It's funny that now when you mention Orlando Figes the first thing anyone thinks of is his Amazon reviews.
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« Reply #1057 on: July 09, 2014, 02:39:26 pm »

The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely by Mungo MacCallum. Say what you will about Abbott, Rudd, Gillard etc but next to some of the early Aussie PMs they are saintly.
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anvi
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« Reply #1058 on: July 09, 2014, 08:10:34 pm »

Not sure if it's become obvious from my inactivity, but I've decided to stop posting on the forum.  Not my thing anymore.  I thought, however, that my last post was quite unpleasant in the way it concluded and so wanted to end on a little better note.  So, I'm making that hopefully better note a few impressions from Kearns-Goodwin's book Team of Rivals that I just finished reading--all 760 pages of it.  I read it partly to learn more about the time and partly for some guidance in my own future.  Anyway, here are a few things I enjoyed learning about Lincoln.

From when he was young, Lincoln loved to tell raucous jokes.  One of his favorites in early life seems to have been about a man who loved Revolutionary War souvenirs.  He would travel far and wide not just to purchase them, but even just to see and touch them.  On one occasion, the man heard of a elderly woman who lived far away from him, but who owned a rare aristocratic dress from the period.  He went to visit her and begged to see the item.  She was puzzled about why he marveled at it so much, especially when he started to gently kiss the dress.  Finally, she said to him: "if you like kissing old things so much, you should kiss my behind; it's sixteen years older than the dress."

Lincoln never wore a beard before the 1860 general election campaign. He decided to grow his at the suggestion of an 11-year old girl from New Jersey, who wrote him a note saying that girls like men with beards.  Women couldn't vote at the time of course, but Lincoln was still intrigued.  Skeptical about whether it would help, Lincoln wrote the little girl back and wondered aloud in his reply if people would be suspicious of him growing a beard only now, when running for office, addressing her almost like a campaign consultant.  But he did it anyway.  After winning, during his trip from Springfield to Washington, someone pointed out the little girl in a crowd at one of the train stops, and Lincoln went up to her and gave her a fatherly kiss on the forehead.

One of Lincoln's greatest sources of pleasure during the war was giving pardons to Union soldiers who had been deserters.  He sat frequently with his Secretary of War, Stanton, to go through pardon requests.  Stanton preferred to be consistently strict with deserters and upheld many orders for them to be executed, but Lincoln frequently overrode him, looking for even the slightest excuse to let the deserter off the hook.  He told a few stories that accompanied his pardons that I found funny and touching.  One of his first, about a deserter who was to be beheaded, went roughly like this: "I thought about it for a time.  I came to the conclusion that one head was not a matter of great weight to the country.  It was quite a weighty matter to the soldier though, for it was the only head he had."  Later in the war, when signing another pardon of a deserter, Lincoln said: "I once heard of a fellow who, about to be executed for desertion, was asked by his commander why he always ran away from his post.  'Well, Captain,' the soldier replied, 'it's not my fault.  I have a heart as brave as Julius Caesar's, but when the guns start firing, these legs of mine just carry me away.'"

I guess one of the things that impressed me the most about Lincoln, what I personally have to learn the most from, is how easily he was able to win the loyalty of those around him by being in incredible control of his own feelings, so that he could be generous and magnanimous with even those who had either once competed against him or had clearly wronged him in some way.  Lincoln almost invariably waived off past rivalries and injuries by telling those involved things like: "I'm sure what you did was not done out of any malice toward me, and so I bear none toward you;" and: "whatever happened before, I don't even remember it."

Anyway, that's it for me, folks.  It's been a fun five-and-a-half years or so posting on the forum.  I'd like to kindly thank those who were generous enough to befriend and defend me occasionally here, and also would like to say sorry to those I sometimes responded very poorly to.  Cheers to all and enjoy.

Signing off,
anvi
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badgate
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« Reply #1059 on: July 10, 2014, 08:00:15 pm »

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traininthedistance
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« Reply #1060 on: July 10, 2014, 08:17:18 pm »

Just finished this:

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Next up is this:

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Both Xmas presents that I'm just getting around to now.
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Mechaman
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« Reply #1061 on: July 12, 2014, 08:03:44 pm »

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A very controversial book to be sure that shatters a bunch of assumptions even I had about the "good ole days".  A few shockers I've already read:

  • 1700's Colonial America was a haven of extreme libertinism that scared many of the Founding Fathers sh*tless.  Hell, there was a large scale gay culture emerging amongst the pirates who docked at many early American cities.
  • Slaves were more sexually liberated on their plantations than the vast majority of white Americans were in the 1800s.
  • The richest women in American society in the 19th century were Madams who ran brothels.  Prostitutes who worked for these Madams were also among the top income earners of their time, earning in some cases ten times as much in a week compared to women who worked in factories.
So far, I definitely recommend a read.

Also reading this:

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A pretty fascinating read if you are interested in learning about the Irish military diaspora in the Civil War.  Contains some pretty badass stories, including how Abe Lincoln talked down an irate Tyrone man from a duel after insulting his manhood in a local paper.  Also, the story of a man who got shot like eight freakin times and not only lived but walked back several miles back to his camp in the scorching heat!

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One of John Meacham's books, I kind of started this one the other week.  Haven't really read that much of it, given my Kindle ADD.  So far it seems to be doing a real good job of depicting Jackson as a morally flawed man who was passionately and zealously devoted to his friends, his family, and his calling.  The kind of balance the author has achieved is impressive, given the subject.

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Another Meacham book that I am about 80% done with.  In my opinion this book does a great character analysis of Jefferson that reveals Jefferson for the pragmatic power seeker that he really was.  Many myths are shattered here, like the idea that Jefferson wanted a radical agrarian republic (lol) or even that he was vehemently opposed to economic nationalism.  In my mind the book helps establish Jefferson more as an "opportunistic conservative" who took advantage of the liberal movements of his time to gain greater power for himself and other more moderate upper class Virginian planters of his time.  Basically, he used the power of government and politicking to create an order that helped retain him and his broseths Madison and Monroe in power until the Election of 1824.
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RogueBeaver
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« Reply #1062 on: July 15, 2014, 09:54:28 pm »

Maurice Duplessis et son temps by Robert Rumilly. This one's been on my list for eons. Lively read which mostly focuses on daily governance, unlike the other books I've read. Plan on reading more Rumilly works.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #1063 on: July 17, 2014, 01:51:04 am »

Read all the Game of Thrones-books during long plane rides and general vacation. Decent, entertaining reads and adds a lot of welcome complexity and nuance to the tv show.

Royal Flash. New discovery for me, fantastic fun. I certainly intend to read all of the Flashman books when I can get my hands on them!

Luka and the Fire of Life. Sequel to Haroon and the Sea of Stories. Not quite as strong but still good! Rushdie writes very touchingly about his sons.

All the Pretty Horses, by McCarthy. My least favourite book of his that I've read, but moving and gripping all the same. I enjoy his work quite a lot.

Things Fall Apart by Achebe. I was underwhelmed. I read my first Nigerian book in the form of Americanah, but grand old classic as this is, I liked it less. There was a moral ambiguity in it that I didn't really like. And the main character wasn't all that sympathetic to me. But maybe I'm too white and colonialist to get it, who knows. Tongue
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National Progressive
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« Reply #1064 on: July 17, 2014, 04:31:59 am »

Reading God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens mostly to see what the fuss was all about. To me, they are little more than above-average blog posts in terms of quality and depth-among secularists Richard Carrier provides better arguments while Paine and Ingersoll are more readable.
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Nathan
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« Reply #1065 on: July 17, 2014, 04:34:13 am »

Reading God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens mostly to see what the fuss was all about.

'Nothing much' didn't recommend itself to you as an answer in the first place?
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afleitch
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« Reply #1066 on: July 19, 2014, 11:54:10 am »

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Lief 🐋
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« Reply #1067 on: July 19, 2014, 12:31:04 pm »

I'm reading Tony Judt's Postwar. It's okay so far, I hope it gets better. The first few chapters just seem to be endless lists of numbers and statistics. His actual analysis is interesting, but reading page after page listing the numbers of refugees from each European state is kind of exhausting.
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TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #1068 on: July 20, 2014, 04:32:37 pm »

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bronz4141
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« Reply #1069 on: July 20, 2014, 05:01:16 pm »

I'm currently reading Bob Shrum's No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner on John Kerry's 2004 veep search. I wonder why he chose Edwards over Vilsack and Gephardt.
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Rooney
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« Reply #1070 on: July 20, 2014, 10:34:23 pm »

Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo. Guelzo is without a doubt the finest Ciivl War historian writing today. This book reads like a greatly updated (and far more readable) Battle Cry of Freedom. McPherson has always hit me as too heavy on data, far too light on story. Guelzo finds an incredible balance and also works a new view of Reconstruction into the treatment as well. A fine read and highly recommended. 
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Nathan
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« Reply #1071 on: July 23, 2014, 04:25:31 am »

I just read All That's Left to You, by Ghassan Kanafani, in one sitting. Weird and wonderful--one of Kanafani's multiple first-person narrators is a completely inanimate object. Now back to Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic.
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afleitch
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« Reply #1072 on: July 23, 2014, 06:34:31 am »

Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic.

Yey! Finally a brainy book mentioned on here that I've read. Though it was ten years ago.

I have a soft spot for Socialist-Realism, though artistically it was horribly romantic (which I'm not fond of) but architecturally could be functional (which I do like). I also like Brutalism so whatever...
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Cassius
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« Reply #1073 on: July 23, 2014, 06:44:55 am »

The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan.
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Nathan
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« Reply #1074 on: July 23, 2014, 06:50:52 am »
« Edited: July 23, 2014, 06:55:14 am by asexual trans victimologist »

Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic.

Yey! Finally a brainy book mentioned on here that I've read. Though it was ten years ago.

I'm a little over halfway through. I just got through the bit on Lenin's attempt at constructing and advancing the image of a 'Red Tolstoy'.

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I have a soft spot for Socialist-Realism, though artistically it was horribly romantic (which I'm not fond of) but architecturally could be functional (which I do like). I also like Brutalism so whatever...

In that case like (at least some of) the aspects of socialist realism that you don't, and don't like (at least some of) the aspects that you do. And if you like brutalism you'd love my now-former university campus. I mean that sincerely--it's the best-integrated and (for someone who doesn't like brutalism) overall least objectionable use of brutalist architecture I've ever seen. It helps that the brutalist buildings are mixed in with Colonial revival, postmodern, and in one incongruous case Gothic revival buildings in an interestingly heterogeneous way.
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