Saturday, July 30, 2011

Best Book of 2011 (So Far)

Do you like intrigue?

Do you like romance?

Do you enjoy scandal?

Do you enjoy history?

Do you enjoy heroism in the face of evil?

Then you would enjoy the widely praised In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson. This book is based on actual events but it is written like a novel.

The American Family belongs to William E. Dodd who was appointed as Ambassador to Germany in 1933 just as Adolph Hitler is rising to power. Dodd struggles not only with the new Nazi regime but with his own State Department. The family gets to see and experience the terror of the Gestapo and Storm Troopers as Hitler consolidates his power.

The book also focuses on Dodd's precocious daughter, Martha who meets and beds a number of diplomats and players in Berlin. The reader gets to see Germany through her eyes.

I was also fascinated by the reaction of the German people during this pre-World War II period. This book answered my question as to how a person like Hitler could take power.

This book deserves every kudo it has received.

This book is 365 pages of history and is well written. An excellent choice for a student of history or a reader looking for an interesting story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blame for Everyone Offered in Griftopia by Matt Taibbi

I've read so many books about the financial meltdown that I was a bit reluctant to take on Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi. However this was a well written, well researched and well reasoned book.

I wish I could encourage most Americans to read it. It's ideological but it criticizes all parties and political leanings as it should. Government, politicians and financial institutions have made a mess of our economy. We may never recover for decades, if then.

Given the current stalemate in the debt ceiling and budget talks, there is no sign that Washington is the answer to our deepening problems.

I've added some notes from the book below...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Smartest Thing I Read Today

From a NY Magazine column by Frank Rich...

"What haunts the Obama administration is what still haunts the country: the stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought America to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There has been no legal, moral, or financial reckoning for the most powerful wrongdoers. Nor have there been meaningful reforms that might prevent a repeat catastrophe. Time may heal most wounds, but not these. Chronic unemployment remains a constant, painful reminder of the havoc inflicted on the bust’s innocent victims. As the ghost of Hamlet’s father might have it, America will be stalked by its foul and unresolved crimes until they “are burnt and purged away.”

Words of Wisdom

From my quotes of note box...

"When we're young, we want to change the world, when we're old, we want to change the young."
Bill Lyon

"The best way to deal with change is to be involved with it."
Claude Lewis

" There is not a man in the country that can't make a living for himself and his family. But he can't make a living for them and his government, too, not the way this government is living. What the government has to do is live as cheap as the people."

Will Rogers December 20, 1932

Monday, July 4, 2011

Four Beach Book Recommendations for Guys

I have four recommendations, two non-fiction books and two fiction Novels.


Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver.  ★★★
Deaver picks up the mantle of the James Bond 007 series and his first effort is a good one. He does describe a different Bond, younger, more sensitive and without the scars and edge of the earlier 007 characters portrayed in the Ian Fleming and Raymond Benson novels. Deaver is providing his version of Bond. Nice swerve in the story at the end.

Sixkill by Robert Parker. ★★★
This was Parker’s last Spenser novel. The usual cast of characters is here except Hawk. This book has a bit more action and gunplay than the other Spenser books. This is a very good read for the beach or sitting at home on your easy chair. The Spenser series of books rarely disappoint.


Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by Tom Shales and James Andrew Wilson ★★★★
This is a very long book that is over 400 pages. I skimmed it for the gossip and inside stories about the ESPN executives and broadcasters. There are a lot of stories. If you are interested, there are details on how ESPN started and how the business model grew over the years. From the book, it sounds like it was not easy being a female and working for ESPN, especially in the 80’s and 90’s. This book appears to be well researched with plenty of quotes and observations from people involved in the broadcast and management.

If you enjoy boxing, you may enjoy this book. Sugar Ray writes about his bouts with Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler among others. He also discusses his battles with alcoholism, infidelity and abuse he experienced as a young boy.