What are you reading lately?

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Rickey
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What are you reading lately?

#526

Post by Rickey »

[break1]I've been spending a lot of time in the car lately and i just finished the audio book of "The Great Escape" by Paul Brickhill, the book upon which the 1963 movie is based[/break1][break1] I was pleasantly surprised to see how faithful the movie is to the spirit of the book, although of course the book contains much more detail[/break1]

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#527

Post by Foggy »

[break1]One thing puzzled me though, the other day[/break1][break1] It's presumably a (puerile) cultural reference, but it doesn't translate at all into British English, unless I'm just being dumb[/break1][break1] Anyone care to enlighten me on what I'm missing? "boys[/break1]..called us maggot and faggot and dickhead (sadly, a natural for me, with a last name like Decker)" Probably because it rhymes with "pecker," one of the many fond nicknames we have for our penises. That's just a guess.
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Chilidog
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#528

Post by Chilidog »

I just finished reading "An Empire on the Edge, How Britain Came to Fight America," by Nick Bunker.



It basically tells the story of the lead up to the American Revolution from the British perspective. It looks at the economic and political climate from the 1760's to the the battles at Lexington and Concord.



I wish that the author had gone further into the war, and hope that he will follow up with additional works along these lines.



What I found extremely interesting, is that the while the author does not explicitly make parallels between those times and recent human history (other than a brief comparison to the fall of East Germany), the parallels are quite obvious: from the banking crisis perpetuated by derivative speculations, to the narrow british view of the colonies as merely an economic subset of the realm, to the legal distinctions of treason to the British and terrorism to the US today.

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#529

Post by ducktape »

Chilidog, in the curated YouTube videos I publish for my seniors (I find the good stuff so they don't have to wade through the dreck and horrible comments of YouTube), I found and posted this wonderful BBC-PBS documentary: Rebels and Redcoats: How the British Lost America -- BBC/WGBH production (full video at this link)It tells the story of the Revolution from the other point of view. Really interesting and you (and others) may enjoy it.

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Chilidog
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#530

Post by Chilidog »





Chilidog, in the curated YouTube videos I publish for my seniors (I find the good stuff so they don't have to wade through the dreck and horrible comments of YouTube), I found and posted this wonderful BBC-PBS documentary:

Rebels and Redcoats: How the British Lost America -- BBC/WGBH production (full video at this link)

It tells the story of the Revolution from the other point of view. Really interesting and you (and others) may enjoy it.





i tried to watch it, but the youtube stopped working at 32 minutes in.

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#531

Post by ducktape »

Thanks -- I'll check it.

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#532

Post by Roboe »

Picked up Ian Kershaw's The End: Hitler's Germany 1944–45 from the library today, so I'll be reading that in the coming weeks.



At the same time, I returned a pair of books by a Danish author, who described the rise and fall of the Thy Camp in the summer of 1970. The first book describes how it started out as a desire to experiment with alternative ways of living together, and how it quickly turned into an extended summer festival ala Woodstock (but without the music). The second book describes the dark sides of the movement, with people going off the deep end after too many halucinogenic drugs, ending up in psychiatric wards, suicide, and even murder, and how the camp found itself destroyed from within, as a small group of artists occupied a local church and had to be protected by the police, who they hated and had humiliated previously, from being lynched by the locals.

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#533

Post by Foggy »

Wednesday my boys are out of school and we're going to go see Mockingjay. So this week I read Catching Fire and Mockingjay.



Suzanne Collins is a sick and twisted individual, who has created a world that is literally somewhat worse than Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Even the people in District 13, the supposed good guys who lead the rebellion, live in a government dictatorship that George Orwell would clearly recognize.



Having said that, she's a compelling storyteller. Both books were hard to put down.
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#534

Post by Volkonski »

The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries by Otto Penzler.



A good collection of 68 mystery stories. On my Kindle app so I can read a bit of it on my smart phone whenever I have to wait somewhere.
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Roboe
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#535

Post by Roboe »

Picked up a pair of biographies, one on Joseph Goebbels along with Gitta Sereny's Speer biography.



And I've put down a reservation for Lawrence Wright's book on scientology, since I found out that my local library has purchased a copy.

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#536

Post by TexasFilly »

Just had Foxcatcher delivered to my Kindle. The story has somehow escaped me all of these years. I think at the time it happened I was living in a blur of 70 hour work weeks and raising small children.
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#537

Post by Flatpointhigh »

Had to put aside Another Roadside Attraction to get working on the full-length audio recording of Percy Bysshe Shelley's Lyric Drama Prometheus Unbound for a UPenn/Open Learning MOOC.

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TollandRCR
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#538

Post by TollandRCR »

Redeployment by Phil Klay, a first novel that won the 2014 National Book Award. It is a collection of short portraits of Marines in combat in Iraq and at home. The subject matter is quite emotional, so the spare writing is welcome. It reminds me a bit of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, a beautiful book about a platoon in the Vietnam War.



ETA:



Washington Post review



The Guardian review







Our fighting men and women deserve many things, from ticker-tape parades to decent veterans’ benefits to truthful rationales from the policymakers who send them into harm’s way. But at the very least, they deserve the right to challenge the perceptions of anyone who wasn’t there.

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Sugar Magnolia
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#539

Post by Sugar Magnolia »

I grabbed a copy of Gone Girl at the grocery yesterday and finished it up this afternoon. About 5 pages before the end, an ad for the movie came on and says it will be on OnDemand in a couple of weeks. Worth watching the movie or just leave it at reading the book? I really liked the book.

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#540

Post by Roboe »

Over the holidays I've been reading a pair of collections of letters & diary notes from Danish soldiers of the Great War. Or rather, members of the Danish minority in Schleswig (which Denmark had lost after the war in 1864) and who suddenly found themselves serving in the Kaiser's army, fighting for a cause that wasn't theirs.



One book focused on a single soldier, who survived the horrors of Verdun and the Somme on top of being buried alive during a trench collapse, the other on 10(!) brothers who were all called up - 4 of them perished during the war, 2 came home with injuries that killed them within a few years, 2 came home with permanent injuries, and the last 2 made it through unscathed. Both sets of letters are mainly trivial, enquiring as to how the farm land is doing, asking for money and/or food/supply packages to supplement the meager army rations, discussing potential leave to help with the farm work, and general gossip. As the war progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for them to obtain leave, as they were both from the border region with Denmark. A lot of young men went north of the border in order to escape their call-ups, but even more stayed and did their duty, out of the sense that their families might get hurt if they didn't, combined with the fact that noone knew how the war would end, and if the German Empire had won, they'd might at last get a vote on whether or not the region could return to Denmark.



What makes both books even more poignant is the fact that there's plenty of photographs included. It's kind of sad seeing a photograph of one of the brothers, only for him to be cut down by a machine gun salvo, as he was rushing from shell-hole to shell-hole, two pages later.

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#541

Post by ducktape »

As WWI fades into history, it is so important for us to be able to visualize these young men as real people, not just black-and-white (or sepia-toned) photos in history books. I grew up knowing Alan Seeger's poem I Have a Rendezvous with Death (which he did) from my grandmother's poetry book, and only recently learned that he was Pete Seeger's uncle. In any case, I wanted my members to be able to think about WWI on its centenary year, because many of them had fathers or uncles (in some cases, brothers) who fought in it. This is the BBC documentary The Last Platoon that was run about 10 years ago, when a few veterans were still alive. The Last Platoon

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#542

Post by TollandRCR »

Also for the centenary, Jacqueline Winspear,The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War. Her stories of Maisie Dobbs are set in the war or its aftermath. It is a slow, gentle novel of love and friendship.
“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.” Kurt Vonnegut

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#543

Post by magdalen77 »

I'm not reading anything so serious. I've finally started reading the rest of Charles Stross' Laundry books. The Laundry is the UK's version of MI5 and MI6 for preternatural beings and beasties. I have all of the books and novelettes, but up until last weekend I'd only read The Atrocity Archives, the first book. Since last Friday I've finished the second book (The Jennifer Morgue) and two novelettes. I'm currently reading the third book, The Fuller Memorandum. I enjoy Stross; he has that dry and snarky British sense of humor.

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#544

Post by ducktape »

I also found On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery recently when it was on Amazon' Kindle Deal of the Day, and I picked it up because I recently found that a dear friend is buried there, so I thought I'd learn more.



I've learned a lot, although I've just reached the beginning of the 20th Century in the story. Arlington actually didn't belong to Robert E Lee, as I had always thought -- his wife had a life interest in it from her father, who was Martha Washington's grandson and George Washington's heir, and then it would go to their oldest son, Custis. Union Quartermaster General Meigs made it his life-long project and the Union tried to secure clear title by refusing to accept the property tax payment from Mary Lee because it was being made by her agent and she hadn't appeared in person, and foreclosing for non-payment of taxes. It's hard to imagine that, in the middle of the Civil War, the wife of the general of the enemy would try to pay property taxes to the US government, but it happened.



After the war, Custis Lee sued the US (several times) to get it back, and ultimately the courts ruled that it had been improperly seized. He then sold it to the Federal Government and everyone was happy, except the Confederate veterans whose comrades had no cemeteries and who weren't included in the efforts to properly retrieve, identify, and bury the Union War dead.



What I've recently learned is that the Spanish-American War was the thing that was used to bind up many of the remaining Civil War wounds between the North and South. Confederate cavalry general "Fighting Joe" Wheeler was serving as a Congressman from Alabama, and at 61, he volunteered to serve in the war. McKinley appointed him a major general of volunteers, and he commanded the troops in Cuba and also later in the Philippines. At one point in Cuba, he is reported to have forgotten where he was and shouted "Let's go, boys! We've got the Yankees on the run now!" Fitz Lee, Robert E Lee's nephew and also a former Confederate general, also was appointed a major general. He was the Consul General in Cuba who had requested that the USS Maine come to Havana in the first place.



In any case, bringing in some Confederate generals and filling the ranks with Southern boys as well as Yankees (and Buffalo soldiers) did a lot to bind the wounds, especially since the war was "a splendid little war" that didn't kill very many troops. At the end of it, McKinley had negotiated a peace with Spain that called for the US to pay for Puerto Rico which had been seized during the conflict, but he had a lot of opposition in Congress. McKinley went on a "good will tour" through the South and, among other things, promised that Confederate dead would have a place in Arlington and the other national cemeteries that had been established, and that created a wave of good feeling that turned the tide so that the treaty was ratified.



If you're a history buff, it's a good read.



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#545

Post by Adrianinflorida »

Part way through the first volume (through 1968) of Pierre Trudeau's biography, written by John English. I remember him from when I was a kid, in the early to mid 70s, and had no real understanding of his background in his younger years. Now I see why even Right Wingers in the States still detest him. That said, he was an enigmatic man, but his charisma was amazing, sort of a Bill Clinton figure, but on a grander scale.

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#546

Post by RoadScholar »

Finally procured a copy of Jefferson's book printed in my home town. Sometimes I take things like a book or a Hard Times business token to the address where they were created (the intersection of Gay and Water Sts. is still there) and see what traces remain of the object's origins.

Sometimes the building is still there. For instance, the building that housed Cole's Grocery when Frederick Douglass walked past on his way to work as a caulker at a shipyard in Fell's Point before he escaped bondage is still there, and standing outside with one of Cole's tokens in my pocket is quite a feeling.

Usually, though, no trace remains but the object itself.
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#547

Post by Maybenaut »

image.jpg image.jpg

Finally procured a copy of Jefferson's book printed in my home town. Sometimes I take things like a book or a Hard Times business token to the address where they were created (the intersection of Gay and Water Sts. is still there) and see what traces remain of the object's origins.

Sometimes the building is still there. For instance, the building that housed Cole's Grocery when Frederick Douglass walked past on his way to work as a caulker at a shipyard in Fell's Point before he escaped bondage is still there, and standing outside with one of Cole's tokens in my pocket is quite a feeling.

Usually, though, no trace remains but the object itself.

Virginia is still here :)
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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#548

Post by RoadScholar »

Indeed. Locations in cities erode the quickest.

I am very fond of Virginia. As a matter of fact, the U of V will be getting a few volumes of mine in my will.
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#549

Post by TollandRCR »

Christopher Vials, Haunted by Hitler: Liberals, the Left, and the Fight against Fascism in the United States. University of Massachusetts Press (December 31, 2014). Full disclosure: Chris is a colleague (a newly minted Associate Professor of English) and a collaborator in several AAUP efforts.



In the first two pages of his introduction Chris considers Sarah Palin, Westbrook Pegler, and Pat Buchanan, as well as remarks by Tony Kushner and Sinclair Lewis. His interest is in the culture of the United States over the past seventy or so years as it was expressed in the written and spoken word. This approach is very different from that of a political scientist or historian.



His thesis is that a theocratic strand of the Christian right is the closest functional equivalent to a fascist movement in the United States. I agree with that, as do most of my students here in Arkham at Miskatonic University.
“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.” Kurt Vonnegut

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#550

Post by Addie »

I am rereading Robert Wilson's 2002 spy novel The Company of Strangers. I've read a few of his books set in Portugal and Spain since first reading A Small Death in Lisbon. Imo, he's one of the very best, in any genre, writing today, a master at intricate, intelligent plotting that pulls the reader in deep. I realized this morning that I'd never read the novels set in Africa. I plan to, but has anyone here read them who would suggest one to start with? Thanks.
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