Category Archives: Book Reviews

Orwell Reads the Finale of 1984

Bouncing around YouTube on a Friday night:

What Books Changed Your Mind in 2006?

I chronicled my favorite business-y books of 2006 on my business-y blog.
Here’s the political books:
Whose Freedom?: The Battle for America’s Most Important Idea by George Lakoff. Lakoff is a Berkeley linguist best known for introducing the concept of ‘framing’ into political discussion. You also know it as ‘marketing’. His most accessible book is Don’t Think of an Elephant where he details the cognitive differences between conservative and progressive/liberal politics. In Whose Freedom he takes apart the concept of ‘freedom’ – an underpinning of the US Constitution – and then shows where we all agree – and where you can use/abuse the concept for your own political gain. Sometimes dry but never dull. –
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War by Andrew Bacevich. This book is amazing. Written by a military historian trying to reconcile his experience in Vietnam up through the Reagan years and into our current Project for the New American Century. Is American society inherently war-mongering? Why are US citizens so easily seduced into war and carnage? Bacevich runs through American military history from colonization to Baghdad and shows the common threads, warnings and themes that allow US citizens to fail to fully challenge military engagement. Not a partisan book at all. Bacevich tears apart illusions from both side of the aisle and illustrates the rehabilitation of the military post-Vietnam. I was born right after the last helicopter left so I really didn’t ‘get’ much of this context until after reading this book.
Exception to the Rulers by Amy Goodman and David Goodman. The host of the only independently produced news show in the US (and her brother) are back with a stunning collection of stories and examples to explain exactly why we are all in this handbasket together.
Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast. Ex-pat journalist Palast rakes the muck with a scarring investigation into nearly every pie the US has its finger in right now. You won’t believe why the US is really in Iraq.
The United States v George Bush et al. by Elizabeth de la Vega. A former federal prosecutor writes a hypothetical indictment [full text of indictment] and conspiracy trial against our dear leaders. I’d love to produce a staged version of this. Searing.
An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy book. Novelist and activist Arundahti Roy is a great antidote to Thomas Friedman’s ‘India is coming to eat you.’ Roy remains a compelling voice for human rights and common sense as globalization continues our race to the bottom. Sad, angry and persuasive.

Light Holiday Reading

My holiday reading list:

Guns, Germs and Steel: When I kept talking about American Theocracy (oil panic, crazy debt, crazy Christians) everyone kept thinking I was talking about this book. So I got a copy. I want to read it before we get the PBS special which I hope is available on DVD.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail (by the author of Guns, Germs and Steel)

The Plan by Rahm Emanuel et al: Everybody’s favorite trashmouth Israeli-American ex-premier danseur Chicagoite has put together a treatise on his vision for the Dems.

Iraq Study Group Report: I feel like it is required reading if I’m going to be sufficiently informed.

United States v George W. Bush et al: Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega’s hyopthetical indictment and hearings against the whole gang.

Ya know, light holiday reading.

American Theocracy: Preface and Part III, Chapter 8

I’m celebrating Easter and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ by reading the Kevin Phillips’ new book American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed MOney in the 21st Century.

Phillips posits that the Republican party has been hijacked by oil interests, radical religion and the ‘borrower-industrial complex’.


3 biggest threats to the United States

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Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11

Kristine Borjesson is back with a new book about media, politics and perception. Her previous book, Into the Buzzsaw is pretty mindblowing.

When I watch network news, it’s just so hard to watch. It isn’t attractive. They all look alike, they all sound alike, they all say the same things. And I don’t care how much makeup Robin wears, or how high she teases the back of her head and smiles and whatever. She’s not interesting, and she’s not covering interesting stories. Literally — the other day, she was covering something about dogs. It was obviously a throwback to one of those [ideas that] “the key stories are vets, pets, tits and tots.”

Added to the wishlist.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

(from last weekend in Nashville)

It is weird that as much as I love the movie Fight Club, I’d never read the book on which it was based.

There was a copy in my sister’s second bedroom so I was grabbed it and read almost all of it last night and then finished it this morning before I got on the plane. What I really respect is the intense love of the language of the book and how much of that idiom made it into the movie. The ending is different but still as satisfying as Ed Norton and Helen Bonham Carter watching as the buildings of credit card companies collapse. Other differences are the original source of the first soap and how the main character meets Tyler. I was surprised at the complete lack of physical description of Tyler. Most men in this country would love to have Brad Pitt’s body (either as their own or for their very own) so I was surprised Tyler wasn’t more fleshed out phsycially – but it makes sense and the book is surprisingly durable for being written many years ago. FIght CLub is one of those books I wish I’d written. The marriage of violence, crippled masculinity and consumerist rage were right up my alley.

I was also surprised to find that Chuck Palahniuk is an out gay author. He evidently is wary of being ghetto-ized as a gay author but it is refreshing.

I’d still like to adapt it into a stage play.

Book Meme

1. How many books do you own?

Probably in the 200 range right now. I purged many college texts a year ago. I don’t trust people that don’t own books.

2. Last book read?

Chain of Command by Sy Hersh and  Hegemony or Survival by Chomsky. Light summer reading.

3. Last book purchased?

Hmmm… I think Start Making Sense which I got for donating to Alternet. 

4. Name five books that mean a lot to you.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Need to return to this soon.

The Portable Coach by Thomas Leonard. A mind-changing book from a missed master.

Blowback by Chalmers Johnson. Single-handedly changed my entire worldview.

The Empty Space by Peter Brook. Musings on theatre: the sacred and the profane.

The First Folio of Shakespeare. The closest thing we have to his original intent.

5. Tag five more people. 

Um… Dunner, Sven, Chris, Richard and Cerda. And Beastmomma.