Monday, March 31, 2008

Oldies but Goodies

While I'm reading Retribution: The Battle for Japan 1944-45 by Max Hastings, some past books I liked and I include some mini reviews.

Serpent on the Rock by Kurt Eichenwald
Covered the 80’s and early 90’s scandal at Prudential Securities. What fascinates me is how a large number of employees allowed themselves to be bullied and blackmailed into condoning and even promoting fraud on investors, mainly elderly.

Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four by John Feinstein
Feinstein had a number of great anecdotes, particularly about the coaches from the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

The Church That Forgot Christ by Jimmy Breslin.
Breslin a lifelong and devout Catholic writes a diatribe against the Catholic institution in its handling of the sexual abuse allegations against priests.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Thing about Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields

To tell the truth, the book title is one big hook.

Shields writes about our physical progress and regress from conception to death. It’s a tale of what happens to our body and mind as we get older. He also intersperses anecdotes from his life and those of his father, who is slowing just a bit in his 90’s and provides quotes from a variety of people on aging and death.

As a 55 year old man, I got to wax nostalgic about what I experienced (or missed) from my “youth.” I also got to read what I can expect to experience as I get older. (My hearing, sight, sense of taste and touch will change for the worse.)

Normally I find books like these boring and to be honest, quite depressing. However I enjoyed reading the book from cover to cover. It made me more meditative than melancholy.

"Older" readers may appreciate the information and wisdom found in the book a bit more than younger readers.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Best Blog Reading of the Week

There have been countless stories about the events surrounding the "scandal" around New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer. So much analysis, so much moralizing....

Bill Maher sums up Spitzer's behavior in his own unique and funny way....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Coming Attractions

I was pleased to hear that a new James Bond book, titled Devil May Care will be published shortly. The author is Sebastian Faulkes with whom I am not acquainted. After Ian Fleming died, I had read a James Bond series written by Raymond Benson. Benson's Bond was a pale copy of Fleming's. I have not seen a new Benson book about Bond in many years.

I am a big fan of the Bond series, including the books and the movies...

I was also pleased to read that Max Hastings is writing a book about the end of the Second World War in Japan titled Retribution The Battle for Japan 1944-45. I read through most of Hastings' book Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45, that I heartily recommend. It's a very readable and interesting book for history buffs of WWII.

Two books to look forward to read....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why I Read (and Everyone Should Too)

Over the years, I’ve been asked why I read so much and why I focus on topics like politics, history, religion, philosophy and current events. I read for various reasons including entertainment, to satisfy my curiosity and to improve my skills and talents. I also read to seek knowledge and hopefully truth.

Though I read a lot, I would not classify myself in any way as an ‘intellectual.” I basically collect information. An intellectual collects information also but uses it to generate ideas, inventions, opinions, theories, and philosophies.

I’ve read a variety of polls indicating that many Americans do not read books. Given the slow death of various publishers, many aren’t reading newspapers or magazines either. If you spend a half-hour listening to any talk show, you wonder where and how people form their opinions. (I’m not just talking about callers but the hosts and “expert” guests.)

Many people are also dreadful when it comes to the source of their information. One has to exercise reason and judgment to filter out lies, bias, spin, superstitions, gossip and drivel. Many people don't let facts, science, experience and evidence get in the way when they develop an opinion.

All this leads me to recommending The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby. Jacoby writes about the dumbing down of the American culture and its disastrous national consequences. Jacoby identifies the sources of anti-intellectualism and focuses on the history of the intellectual fight between religion vs. science.

Jacoby is right on target as she describes our greatest failure as voters and citizens...

“The real problem is that we, as a people, have become too lazy to learn what we
need to know to make sound public decisions.”

How many ditto heads have ceded their thinking to Rush, Sean, Bill O' and Ann Coulter?

This is an excellent book whether you are a practicing intellectual or just a seeker of the truth.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Books on Professional Wrestling

It may be hard for some people who see the types of books I read and the subjects that interest me to figure out why I enjoyed professional wrestling. Simply it's soap opera (with violence) for men. Professional wrestling often displays the best acting, choreography and athletics that one can view.

I read Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of ECW by Scott E. Williams. I haven't read a lot of books on professional wrestling but this was a well written and researched one.

ECW was primarily a promotion based in Philadelphia that offered more hardcore and extreme wrestling. Wrestlers would be put through tables, hit with chairs and contest within barbed wire.

Unless you are a die hard ECW fan, this book isn't for you. For the ECW fan, it is a very good history with plenty of anecdotes and inside stories.