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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Ironically, the City of Angels
    Quote Originally Posted by whereinthehellami View Post
    Currently reading "Girl on a train" by Paula Hawkins. It is a fun, quick read.

    Just finished a jog thru some of Arthur C Clarke's books. I really liked "Rendezvous with Rama". I thought it captured the essence of good sci-fi, filled with wonder and exploration.

    Next up was "Childhood's End", which I liked on the whole but struggled with the pacing of the middle of the book. But there were some ideas in that book that made me want to look to the stars again for questions and answers.

    Lastly, I read "The Songs of Distant Earth", and wouldn't recommend that one. Neat idea but Clarke's weakness of character development comes through and it became a struggle to finish.
    I have not read Childhood's End since probably fifth grade, but at the time, I loved it. I'm sure as an adult, I would likely have technical critiques such as you mention, but back then, it blew my mind!

    I have plugged this series in The Walking Dead thread, but I'd recommend anyone interested in zombies or spec ops stuff to check out the Arisen series. It's a collaboration between two authors, one of whom was known more for (relatively) accurate military thrillers and one who covers the sci-fi/drama stuff. If you can suspend disbelief to get you to the zombie apocalypse, it's a great book(s). The caveat is that it's published serially, so the wait between installments can be painful. The other caveat is that I've not liked the two recent sections as much, and I suspect that the absence of one of the two writers is the cause. However, there's still a ton that's really fun. You can find it on Amazon; there may be other places, but that's where I stumbled across it. And because the installments are so inexpensive, you can try it for almost no cost (like maybe 2 or 3$?). Actually, with Amazon, if you read it and hate it, you can just return it on the kindle, if it's not too much later.

  2. #42
    On the fiction side of things, I'm planning to start Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land soon. It seems like a good choice given how much I liked The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress last year.

    In the non-fiction, sports category, the next two up are Forever's Team and The Secret Game.

    In the non-fiction, not-sports category, I'm going to finish the second half of The Problem of Political Authority by philosopher Michael Huemer. I set it down for a while because I had other priorities and am already familiar with the content, but it's very good. I find that philosophers tend to write with one of two styles: either careful, precise arguments or gobbledygook faux-esoteric language obscuring a lack of actual substance. This book uses the former and I'd recommend it to anyone who has an interest in political philosophy.

  3. #43
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Quote Originally Posted by swood1000 View Post
    No, I had no idea that was available. Thanks for the tip! Is the reading quality pretty good?
    Hey, just FYI, found this thread on reddit, and it has narrator recommendations:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiobooks/...t_of_librivox/

    Thought you might find it useful

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    Hey, just FYI, found this thread on reddit, and it has narrator recommendations:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/audiobooks/...t_of_librivox/

    Thought you might find it useful
    Great. Thanks!

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    Just finished two books by Jim Corbett, the great naturalist/hunter that lived in India in the early 20th century. Man eating tigers and leopards were common then, and Corbett brought several to book, including a tigress that killed 436 people! Also a leopard that killed 400. Names of the books are "Maneaters of Kumaon", and "The Temple Tiger." Really good, suspenseful reads!

  6. #46
    Books I'm reading these days are all over the place.

    Richard Engel, And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East
    Manisha Sinha, The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition
    Bill Walton, Back from the Dead (clever title, double entendre, or something)
    Daniel de Vise, Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show
    David Crystal, Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation (which will probably lead me to read his 2 earlier books, Spell It Out and The Story of English in 100 Words

    I'd like to second OF's comment about Bonekemper's book...

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    About halfway though Edward Bonekemper's The Myth of the Lost Cause -- a pretty devastating (and convincing) attack on the idea that the Civil War was precipitated by something other than slavery and the South's desire to defend it.
    ... and add some observations on this perennial topic of slavery and the Civil War.

    For many who to this day think of themselves as "real Southerners," what they insist on calling "The War Between the States" (or sometimes more pointedly "The War of Northern Aggression") wasn't about slavery. Such folks, by the 21st century, have either become a little embarrassed by slavery, or they're at least, if reluctantly, aware they're supposed to be embarrassed by it. So their rendering is that the South seceded to defend state rights. Here they conveniently and enthusiastically substitute a pseudo-constitutional defense of the right to secede for the straightforward reason that secessionists - over and over in 1860-61, publicly and passionately - actually gave for seceding: we must protect slavery. To repeat, carefully: slavery's protection was the reason to secede. State rights was the justification for the right to secede. Two related but distinct things. Even planters who opposed secession did so because they believed secession would lead to war and the destruction of slavery. Prescient, they were. (On this, see James Roark, Masters Without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil War and Reconstruction, ch. 1.)

    Embarrassed by slavery, modern "real Southerners" desperately need to avoid the unpleasant fact that the vast majority of 19th-century white Southerners were not at all embarrassed by slavery, ordained as it was, so they believed, by God and nature, the "natural condition of the African race." Because they believed slavery not in the least abominable - indeed, the very opposite, "a Christian gift to an inferior people" - they wouldn't in 1861-65 have imagined divorcing the protection of slavery from the very purpose of the Confederacy. So the seceders were perfectly frank in their proslavery and their racism - no need whatsoever to be embarrassed. But that worldview has had to be, uh, softened somewhat, hidden, written out of memory. The result, as Bonekemper and many other historians have pointed out, was mythmaking, the myth of the Lost Cause. Note that this myth began tentatively during the latter stages of the Civil War, and "blossomed" in the years/decades after the war. It has borne its florid odor for about 150 years now.

    A myth is first and foremost a story, not necessarily nor even usually a lie (in the normal understanding of that word). Although myths are not usually deliberate lies, they do morph into "historical lies," accounts that do not match facts and reality. The key to understanding the refusal of self-perceived and self-deceived "real Southerners" to accept the centrality of slavery to secession is this "embarrassment factor." It is the key to understanding why modern white Southerners desperately need to glom onto the state rights explanation of secession. True enough, Southerners did believe in state rights. So did Northerners, though their understanding of state rights didn't extend to secession. But in the decades after 1865, Southerners more and more came to mis-remember what their forbears actually said, repeatedly, easily, firmly, non-controversially: we secede because Lincoln and the Republicans threaten slavery.

    Lincoln's election led to Southern panic; protection of slavery led to secession; secession led to war. (It's an entirely different debate about how immediately Lincoln and his new party did in fact threaten slavery, but secessionists mistook Republican antislavery for abolition.)

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    A good read on the flip side of that Bonekemper book is "War Crimes Against Southern Civilians", by Walter Brian Cisco. Tells the story of how the southern populace, both black and white, suffered at the hands of "Lincoln's glorious redeemers".

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westport, CT
    This is an awesome thread...
    Love the diversity
    I will throw in my 2 cents:

    Just finished the 4 book series by Elena Ferrante (pen name; nobody knows who the real author is!)
    1. My Brilliant Friend
    2. The Story of a New Name
    3. Those who Leave and Those Who Stay
    4. The Story of the Lost Child

    An absolutely wonderful series about two Neapolitan girls and their friendship from age 7 to 70. Now that I have finished the series I find that I really miss my time with Elena and Lila.

    Don't miss reading "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi. Remarkable story of a young neurosurgical resident coming to grips with his own death.

    "The Opposite of Loneliness" by Marina Keagan. A brilliant Yale grad who died shortly after graduation. This book is a compilation published by her teachers and family after her death. Her first job would have been writing for The New Yorker. She would have had an outstanding career. Sad.

    "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough. Not a big fan of biographies but this was wonderful!

    "The David Foster Wallace Reader" The first story is worth the price. Great to read if you can't commit to reading "Infinite Jest".

    "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller. Poet turned fiction writer. Brilliant post apocalyptic story of survival.

    FYI I don't "read" any of my books. They're all on Audible and I love it! Can't be in the car without my books!

    Enjoy!!!

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rougemont Nebulae
    Great thread. Let me distinguish between what's on my nightstand and what I'm actually reading. On the night stand is David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames, C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, Robert Jourdain's Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy (because I still harbor the delusion that I'm the world's greatest undiscovered guitarist (now where's that push-up bra, you steal that OPK?)), Bill Bryson's Neither Here Nor There: travels in Europe and Christopher Hitchen's Essays Arguably all in various states of progress and/or suspended states of consumption and reflection. But the book I'm really into at the moment, and I'm shocked honestly because first, I should have read it in high school and second, because it is thoroughly enjoyable is Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. I really love this book and I'm not sure I can explain why. I think I need to start taking a testosterone supplement, grab my axe and roll out some AC/DC. Goddam this getting old sucks. Curse you Sylvia!! I don't want to get in touch with my feminine side!

    Soon to be added to the nightstand Engle and Corbett's books mentioned upthread. Thanks!

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by BLPOG View Post
    On the fiction side of things, I'm planning to start Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land soon. It seems like a good choice given how much I liked The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress last year.
    Just curious ... I hope you got the 1991 unabridged version (about 70,000 words were cut in the first published version).

    I LOVE Heinlein's stuff. I grew up on his juvenile novels -- even today I would recommend Have Space Suit, Will Travel to any adult.

    His Destination Moon is amazing ... his account of the first landing on the moon is eerily similar to the actual moon landing of Apollo 11 -- in both cases, the automated landing sequence is about to bring in the craft in on a rocky surface that would probably cause a crash and the pilot has to override and land manually -- both in the story and real life managing to get the craft down with seconds of fuel remaining.

    You've picked two of his best, but I would also urge his future history. Start with Methuselah's Children to meet Woodrow Wilson Smith (aka Lazarus Long), then follow that with Time Enough for Love and To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

    Nobody did better Time Travel stories -- his short story All You Zombies is a masterpiece.

    Heinlein hasn't fared very well in Hollywood. He was actually brought in to work on the script of Destination Moon, but eventually quit in disgust. Verhoeven completely missed the point of Starship Troopers (a great novel and a much less militaristic shoot-em-up than the film) and even with Donald Sutherland in the lead, The Puppet Masters is a forgettable film.

    I do recommend Predestination -- a 2014 Australian version of All You Zombies, starring Ethan Hawke.

    I'm really excited about a production of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which is in the works, directed by Bryan Singer.

    Various scripts for a screen version of Stranger in a Strange Land have been floating around for decades, but for some reason, the story can never get off the ground.

    But plenty of great Heinlein to read -- the novels mentioned above ... Double Star, Friday, The Number of the Beast, The Door Into Summer, Glory Road ... the short stories ...

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Tommac View Post
    Harlan Coben's first Myron Bolitar novel, Deal Breaker, in which Myron is a former Duke basketball star. After a NBA career ending injury, Myron becomes a professional sports agent and detective for his clients. Mryon Bolitar novels are suspenseful and comical. Great reading.
    I love Harlan Coben, his Myron Bolitar series in particular. I believe it was a thread such as this several years ago that put me onto this series, and I've read them all. Then I started with his other books. I find his quick-wit and one-liners make for page turners, particularly when I'm not interested in anything too deep.

    Having said that, I'm reading his newest book, "Fool Me Once". Think it came out in March.

    Also read this year:
    • "Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole
    • "The Code Book" by Simon Singh
    • "Matterhorn" by Karl Marlantes
    • "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout
    • "Power Forward" by Reggie Love
    • "Life is Not an Accident" by Jason Williams

  12. #52
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Quote Originally Posted by gumbomoop View Post
    Here they conveniently and enthusiastically substitute a pseudo-constitutional defense of the right to secede for the straightforward reason that secessionists - over and over in 1860-61, publicly and passionately - actually gave for seceding: we must protect slavery.
    This can't be emphasized enough. At the time, secessionists were very clear and public about their motivations. Just look up "Declarations of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Union". I believe other confederate states similarly explained their actions and motivations, and it was the threat to slavery that was foremost. So modern day apologists seem to think they know better what motivated 19th c. politicians more than those politicians did themselves. Interesting.

    I have heard two interesting assertions made regarding secession.
    1. The Constitution made no provision for secession by a state or states. It only provided a means of amending itself.
    2. That a number of states would never have signed on to the Constitution if they thought they could never, later, withdraw from it, should they wish to do so.


    I am not a historian, so I cannot opine on the merits of those assertions, but I do find them very interesting.

  13. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by cspan37421 View Post
    This can't be emphasized enough. At the time, secessionists were very clear and public about their motivations. Just look up "Declarations of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Union". I believe other confederate states similarly explained their actions and motivations, and it was the threat to slavery that was foremost. So modern day apologists seem to think they know better what motivated 19th c. politicians more than those politicians did themselves. Interesting.

    I have heard two interesting assertions made regarding secession.
    1. The Constitution made no provision for secession by a state or states. It only provided a means of amending itself.
    2. That a number of states would never have signed on to the Constitution if they thought they could never, later, withdraw from it, should they wish to do so.


    I am not a historian, so I cannot opine on the merits of those assertions, but I do find them very interesting.
    At the risk of derailing he thread, you miss the third option -- the original argument against succession. It's the one Abraham Lincoln made in his First Inaugural in 1861.

    The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was to form a more perfect Union.

    Legal scholars have pointed out that Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation (1778) provide that the union of the states was "perpetual" -- and four of the 11 members of the Confederacy signed onto that perpetual union. In fact, Virginia and South Carolina were the first two states to agree to perpetual union. The Constitution was technically just a modification of the Articles (which allowed for the change in the document provided the alterations were approved by all 13 legislatures ... as the Constitution was).

    It's all a moot point anyway -- the US Supreme Court ruled (with just one dissent) in the 1869 case Texas vs. White that succession was illegal under the U.S. Constitution.

    But I'd rather talk about books in this thread. I've read the Cisco book about "war crimes" committed against the South. It is a well documented report on the degradation that Union Army committed against the South -- stealing food (and burning what they couldn't take with them), stealing livestock, burning private property and horror of horrors, freeing thousands of slaves, which were private property.

    Where the book gets ridiculous is Cisco's argument that the devastation was unwarranted. He never seems to understand that there was a war going on ... in his view, it's just these poor, innocent Southerners doing nothing, who are attacked on their property without reason. His book starts with the assumption that succession was legal and the North had no right to invade and try and force the South back into the Union.

    I also think he's wrong to lay all these "crimes" at the feet of Lincoln (as Cisco does). The greatest devastation was the work of Grant, who unleashed Sherman in the deep South and Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley to destroy the Southern infrastructure. The great destructions didn't really start until 1864 ... it was not something conceived by Lincoln, but by U.S. Grant, who was determined to wage "hard" war on the successionists, especially the slave owners previously safe on the plantations. It was "hard" war ... not "total" war -- there are almost no instances where civilians were murdered or raped as a matter of union policy (although that did happen in the anarchy left by the passage of the armies ... often by deserters of both armies).

    But Southern slave owners complaining about the damages in the war they provoked is on the same level as Germans complaining about the war crimes of the Allies for indiscriminate bombing of their cities (and such complaints are out there).

    To get a different perspective on union "war crimes", I would suggest you read Victor Davis Hansen; Soul of Battle. One third o that book his related to Sherman's March -- and how Sherman led one of the three greatest armies of liberation in world history.

  14. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    ... the original argument against succession.
    Friendly amendment: secession, secessionists, etc., in your post. Might be AutoIncorrect doing its treason.

    For a very few years Confederates seemed to have succeeded in seceding, but in losing the war, they were unsuccessful in their secession.

  15. #55
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Skinker-DeBaliviere, Saint Louis
    Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist. A tad embarrassing, in fact, that in my line of my line of work, it took me two years to get around to it, but better late than never. The takedown of The Help alone is worth the price of admission.

    A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it.
    ---Roger Ebert


    Some questions cannot be answered
    Who’s gonna bury who
    We need a love like Johnny, Johnny and June
    ---Over the Rhine

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Quote Originally Posted by gumbomoop View Post
    Daniel de Vise, Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show
    ...
    Dan is a neighbor of mine - and an in-law of Don Knott's. (For laughs, check out the author photo credit...)

    -jk

  17. #57
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    At the risk of derailing he thread, you miss the third option -- the original argument against succession. It's the one Abraham Lincoln made in his First Inaugural in 1861.
    Quick note before getting back on topic - I wasn't trying to enumerate all options. Just throwing out a couple of interesting assertions and seeing who might be able to shed some context on them or analysis of them. But thanks, that was interesting.

    Second quick note: had no internet service this morning; tried a few different things, including unplugging my router and restarting - and when that didn't work, boy, just think of how much of one's daily work and personal life depends on an internet connection! Eventually I went through a process to formally reboot the router, and thank goodness that worked. It's not like I could have ordered a new router from Amazon! I'd be crawling my way back to a brick and mortar store to buy a less-preferred brand at a much less-preferred price!

    Re-railing the thread:

    Back in the day Librivox used to publish top downloads, but I can't find it. Maybe I'm confusing it with project gutenberg, but I wanted to check out some top lists to guide my next audiobook download. Does anyone know of a site that provides these for Librivox?

    As an aside, I suspect that someday soon, our various devices will read project gutenberg books to us with a decent computer voice, either through a text to speech app or some feature of the OS. Anyone know of one for Android that already works?

  18. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by gumbomoop View Post
    For many who to this day think of themselves as "real Southerners," what they insist on calling "The War Between the States" (or sometimes more pointedly "The War of Northern Aggression") wasn't about slavery. Such folks, by the 21st century, have either become a little embarrassed by slavery, or they're at least, if reluctantly, aware they're supposed to be embarrassed by it. So their rendering is that the South seceded to defend state rights. Here they conveniently and enthusiastically substitute a pseudo-constitutional defense of the right to secede for the straightforward reason that secessionists - over and over in 1860-61, publicly and passionately - actually gave for seceding: we must protect slavery. To repeat, carefully: slavery's protection was the reason to secede. State rights was the justification for the right to secede. Two related but distinct things.
    [...SNIP...]
    Lincoln's election led to Southern panic; protection of slavery led to secession; secession led to war. (It's an entirely different debate about how immediately Lincoln and his new party did in fact threaten slavery, but secessionists mistook Republican antislavery for abolition.)
    Like Olympic Fan, I want to be careful not to derail the thread here, but I would make a couple comments about these two bits of your post.

    First, I think you are being uncharitable to Southerners. "A little embarrassed"? "Reluctantly...aware they're supposed to be embarrassed by [slavery]?" Come on.

    Second, your distinction about reasons and justifications is correct, but I think you might be ignoring the fact that it's possible to have more than one reason for doing things. When you say slavery was the reason to secede, I wonder if you are taking that as the conclusion of reading on the topic or as the reason explicitly given in the various articles of secession. Those were somewhat varied and although several mentioned slavery, other reasons were explicitly mentioned as well. It would also be a naive analysis to exclude unmentioned reasons that were part of the realpolitik - North Carolina, for instance, seceded last and was surrounded by other secessionist states. That undoubtedly played a factor in the state's decision. Moreover, as you make a distinction about reasons and justification, one must also make a distinction between secession and war.

    That point about how immediately Lincoln/Republicans threatened slavery is an interesting one. Aside from Lincoln's endorsement of the Corwin amendment, there is also evidence that much of the anti-slavery movement of the time was not abolitionist per se, but actually aimed at preserving a white electorate in the expanding western states without shared interest with the South. This point is important because it adds some nuance that could (I'm not making the argument that it does; that discussion would be far too complex to have here and I don't know the answer anyway) bridge the gap between the two positions you outlined in your post. It would mean that slavery was the reason for secession, but not necessarily or exclusively protection of Southern slavery; it served as a proxy for Southern interests which it secured (via political mechanism, not in any economic sense which is an economically ignorant view).

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    Just curious ... I hope you got the 1991 unabridged version (about 70,000 words were cut in the first published version).
    Fortunately, I found out about the unabridged version (and Heinlein's own preference for it) in time.

  19. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Dan is a neighbor of mine - and an in-law of Don Knott's. (For laughs, check out the author photo credit...)

    -jk
    Ha! Small world. Tell Dan I've enjoyed the book, all the literal and metaphorical behind-the-scenes stuff. Would never have guessed most of it. But of course that's why he wrote the book, to tell the untold story!

    Didn't know about the in-law thing, but your mentioning it gives me an excuse to ask a technical/definitional/picky question. Let's say female person A is the sister [duh] of female person B. Person B is married to male person C. This makes person A a sister-in-law to person C. Does that make male person D, the spouse of person A, also an in-law (i.e., brother-in-law) of person C? Or do we say that person D is a "brother-in-law by marriage" to person C?

    Please provide detailed maps of the family trees of, say, 10 families, so I can get clear on this.

  20. #60

    New rhread

    Just a note to say that I have begun a new thread to respond to BLPOG's post #58 above, so we can avoid further hijacking this Reading thread. Join the new thread, if you want to discuss slavery, secession, etc.

    [Edit -- Uh, the title of this post should be "New thread." I'll blame it on AutoIncorrect.]

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