DOASKDOTELL Book Tidbits

 

These are more books that I can imagine as movies or perhaps TV miniseries. Many other novels are mentioned in my movie reviews as on the book review page.

 

Fiction:

 

Chandler Burr.  You or Somebody Like You.  New York: Ecco, ISBN 978-0-06-17156-5. Hardcover, 318 pages.  It starts with the world of Hollywood, agents, and personal lives. The title sounds generic enough for an indie movie. Burr is well known for his work on the biological roots of sexual orientation,

 

Allan W. Eckert, The HAB Theory, orig. Pub around 1976, now from iUniverse, Author’s Guild Backinprint Edition, ISBN 059500820-8, 2000, 500 pgs, paper, reprint. HAB is the acronym for the character "Herbert Allen Boardman." This thriller supposes that the world can come an end because of a sudden pole shift. There is a lot of intrigue and violence along the way as people try to unweil and hide the secret (sort of like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code). Toward the end, the president of the United States has to take very authoritarian measures to keep some sort of legacy for a future reborn civilization. The lights do go out. In its day this was a very effective thriller.

You can browse this at iUniverse (do a title search in the bookstore).

 

Mr. Eckert's reprint The Crossbreed, orig, Pub 1968, now from iUniverse, Author's Guild Backinprint Edition, ISBN 0-595-08992-5, shows the author's versatility, this time with a quasi children's book that goes for "equal time for cats." It is a harrowing tale of a crossbreed domestic cat and bobcat, born in southwestern Wisconsin in dangerous circumstances from a feral mom, found when starving and adopted by a boy when rowing, and the boy will then have to deal with a hostile "Paw." The cat will go on quite an odyssey, sometimes by box car, all the way to the bayous of Louisiana. He will learn than man is sometimes his enemy on his return home to Wisconsin, where the boy has become an older teenager. Will the cat bond with the boy again? The book makes the psychological life of a cat, given enough territorial opportunity, seem almost human. This book contains some of the most vivid descriptive action writing that I have ever seen, and it has to be a favorite for English classes. Remember that in 1993, Time magazine had an issue called "do animals think?" Yes, they do. 

 

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Lucifer’s Hammer orig. 1982; Random House Mass Marketing Paperback, ISBN 0449208133; there have been multiple editions with each author’s name.  Here the Hamner-Brown comet strikes the earth about a third the way through the book. The strike bifurcates the story into before and after, and the book describes what it would be like for civilization to recover. Much of the story happens in the California San Joaquin Valley. Ironically, a main character Harvey Randall is a filmmaker. There is a harrowing scene where a diabetic hikes alone through the cold Sierra mountains after the strike; there is massive flooding and damage to nuclear power plants. The book looks forward to the movies Armageddon (1998), about an asteroid, and Deep Impact, 1998, about a comet; both films at this link

 

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, Conflict of Interest (2003, Hyperion, 0-7868-6620-9 hardcover; also paper, about 330 pgs) is a legal thriller whose title sounds like it could delve into nouveau problems, like those posed by the Internet. Instead the conflicts run inside and among families. The center of the plot concerns the disappearance of a special needs kid who apparently witnessed a convenience store holdup and has been accuse of it. At the other dipole end is Joanne Kulhman, a southern California prosecutor with complex family problems of divorce and her own kids.

 

J. K. McClarren, Mexican Assignment, 1957; Funk & Wagnallis, 246 pages. The McClarrens were family friends as I grew up in Arlington. VA, and this book came out during my eighth grade. Mr. McClarren was Assistant Director of Information at the United States Department of Agriculture at the time. This may have been the year that I got all books for Christmas. I guess there has always been an issue when federal officials write and publish their own books -- they can, with pre-clearance -- as even CIA employees have -- and Internet blogging would obviously become an issue, as I have noted elsewhere on this website.  The subject matter of this novel, however, turned out to be timely four decades later: foot-and-mouth disease (aftosa). Remember the outbreak in Europe in the pre 9/11 months of early 2001, when they made people sanitize their shoes at airports? That went away. It's been supplanted by concerns about mad cow, but especially other zoonosis like avian influenze. A recent graduate from Texas A&M must travel to Mexico, fight local customs and power politics to investigate the epidemic. Today, agricultural habits in the developing world (as in China and southeast Asia, where people live in close proximity to their animals, and in Africa, where there can be ties to HIV) are seen as an issue for the economic well-being and even population survival across the entire planet. Public health is a collectivist concept. This novel seems a propos in view of recent reports about poultry smuggling, which could spread avian flu (see this link).

 

Donna Cousins, Landscape (2005, iUniverse, 257pgs, paper) gives us a family-man protagonist, Mark, who will fight an Erin Brokovich type of fight, this time against a covert criminal enterprise. Mark loses his job in financial services, goes through the institutionalized outplacement services, and decides to buy his own business. He is even approached for another regular job hours before the closing. Shortly after acquiring the landscaping business, he finds that it is a front for a criminal enterprise, reaching all the way into government, in illegal hazardous waste disposal, that could wind up in people's yards. Have you ever wondered about the county services that pick up your trash and recycle bins?  If he blows the whistle, his family will be threatened. There is some precarious action and mild violence. The stakes are extreme, if somewhat predictable. I would wonder about a novel like this where the protagonist is an unmarried man with other blood family members at risk, family responsibility that he did not "choose" in marriage and kids. This novel reads like a "Lifetime" or even Family Channel cable movie.

 

Richard Condon, Mile High (about 1969, Doubleday ISBN: 0385273185) is a clever novel about the Prohibition era, where the mob conspires to have Prohibition enacted in order to profit from it. The title of the novel refers to a castle high in the Adirondacks, although only two peaks in the Adirondacks are over 5000 feet.

 

Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God. (1937, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, ISBN 0060931418, 193 pages, paper with embedded dust jacket, Foreword by Edwidge Danticat, Afterword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Detailed review forthcoming. Gate's afterword says on p 199 that the author wrote in Moses, Man of the Mountain, "freedom was something internal ... The Man himself must make his own emancipation. Her first novel was said to be a manifesto against the 'arrogance' of whites assuming that 'black lives are only defensive reactions to white actions.'" But of Dust Tracks on a Road, Gates writes that Hurston's work is that of a "writer's life" and not the "Negro problem."  The dialogue in the novel is in idiomatic speech and spelling. The film (2004, ABC / Touchstone / Harpo Films, dir. Darnell Martin, 113 min, produced by Oprah Winfrey) is lush and conveys the life of a young 1920s "negro" woman Janie Starks (Halle Berry) who, while wanting to transcend the limits placed on her by society, still looks to relationships with men to do so. She says she feels free when her first husband dies (of premature heart failure), and she begins a somewhat disapproved romance with hairy-chested Tea Cake (Michael Ealy). They enjoy like along Lake Okeechobee in lower Florida (site of Belle Glade, which would become controversial in the 1980s as a site of a mini AIDS epidemic), picking and roasting cucumbers. A hurricane comes (it's surprising that it would make the lake flood -- it has become almost dry today with drought), and in the confusion Tea Cake is bitten by a rabid dog. But the course of his illness "hydrophobia" makes him unpredictable, leading to a final confrontation and tragedy.

 

Larry Kramer. The Normal Heart (1985) and The Destiny of Me, Grove Press, isbn 0-8021-3692-3, 248 pages, paper. Kramer's famous angry plays inspired by AIDS.

 

Nevil Shute, In the Wet (1953, repub 1986 by Ameron, ISBN 0884113183) was a favorite of mine during the fall of my senior year in Washington-Lee (Arlington, VA) in high school, and I read it (already in a 1960 paperback) as the first book report for English. I think Australian and Canadian literature was counted as "English" as allowed by the teacher.  Like the more famous "On the Beach," this book was, for its time, a futuristic look at the British empire, already well on its way to gradual dissolution (like the film "Wah Wah" later). There is an old clergyman, and a homeless man who foretells the future through the "medium" of a aborigine quadroon Australian bush pilot. 

 

H. G. Wells. Meanwhile (or The Picture of a Lady) (1927, now Stratus, ISBN 0755104129, was another book report that year, and is a very curious, rambling book from a well known sci-fi and social commentator storyteller. This is a "stream of consciousness" story of what happens when the author gets a glance of an attractive lady, who may be an earlier girl friend, and starts to reminisce about world affairs, about England's place in the world. There was a particularly bookish discussion of "Stoics and Epicureans," the former driven to extremes by the consequential logic of their own philosophy. 

 

Dan Fry, To Men of Earth (about 1968, Understanding) was a classic little book by a physicist who claims he was abducted while on active duty near White Sands, NM (which I visited in 1979 when moving to Texas). He then would take in "A-lan" (messenger), in his house in California, teaching him to drive, getting him false papers--a bit like the Kent's adoption of Clark in Smallville. Alan warned of great calamity to the earth. Mr and Mrs Fry ran a commune of "saucer houses" near Tonopah, AZ (above I-10) in the 1970s, and I went to several of the Understanding conventions (like "Man in Space"). The property is no longer there (I visited in 2000) and appears to have been replaced by a cotton farm.

 

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (1957, introduction by Leonard Peikoff, published today by Penguin, ISBN: 0452011876, about 1200 pages) is a classic and one of the longest novels ever written (I don't know if it is longer that Stephen King's unabridged The Stand). Lions Gate Films reportedly has a project to produce a commercial release by 2008. The story is epic, as the leaders of the world go "on strike" and retreat in the mountains. The "second handers" kidnap and torture John Galt -- well, "Who is John Galt?" Remember when Eddie Willers asks that at the beginning. Dagney Taggart is the heroine. The novel centers around the railroad business, and even if the details are out of date it rings true, with the vivid descriptions of trains and terminals in some places. Oil (Wyatt's Torch) and other major industries come up, and there is a genuine sense of mystery. I read this in 1969 while I was in the Army.

 

Irving Wallace, The Plot (1967, Simon & Shuster, ISBN: 0671584006) is a sprawling but forgotten Cold War novel that was supposed to become a movie but never did. Various characters are presented in detail, one chapter per character, and the plot doesn't start until almost half way through the novel. The plot structure is interesting, as a lot of interest "what is going on" is built up slowly. The novel refers to the Profumo scandal in Britain. For Wallace novels that became movies, go to this link.

 

David Day: Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia: A Reader's Guide to the World of The Lord of the Rings (New York: Fireside, 1991, ISBN 0-684-83979-2, 279 pages, paper) gives a fascinating visual map of the "dominions" of Tolkien's worlds and his explanation of how our world came into being from prehistory.

 

Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson. The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule them All (Chicago: Open Court, 2003, ISBN 0-8126-9543-3  paper 240 pages indexed) is an analysis of Tolkien's philosophy as it appears in the LOTR. Tolkien sounds morally conservative, with a certain deference to ideas of natural law, community, and common virtue, with different layers of afterlife possible. Tolkien would make a good comparison to Clive Barker's Imajica. Sam is the hero of the story, as he keeps Frodo in line in their Jonathan and David like relationship. The Ring is not itself evil, but it can transmit evil. (Yet, Frodo when tempted, screams, "The Ring is mine!")  Review of the LOTR movies (franchise) is at this link.

 

James Frey. A Million Little Pieces (New York: Anchor, 2003, ISBN 1-4000-3108-7, paper 403 pages) looks a bit like something from James Joyce or maybe T. S. Eliot's "Love Song" that we read in freshman English at William and Mary. The paragraphs are not indented, so the text has a run on appearance. It was part of Oprah Winfrey's Book of the Month Club -- this memoir of drug addiction and recovery, quite explicit with all the vomiting and so on -- then the author admitted that some of it was a fabrication, rather in the spirit of "Shattered Glass" or "Fabulist." This resulted essentially in unpublication of the book and a legal settlement with refunds to consumers, unprecedented. Here is the CNN story. Anyway, this book belongs in the fiction column on this page.

 

Meyer Levin. Compulsion (1958? 1996 republished Carroll & Graf, 0786703199, 412 pgs) is a novel of two homosexual men who murder a small boy, in a pattern that somewhat resembles the Loeb-Leopold case in Chicago in 1924, although the details are very much changed. The book created a sensation in the late 1950s when the subject matter was shocking, and it became a film from 20th Century Fox (dir. Richard Fleisher) in 1959, which would lead to litigation. Today the story would probably seem to be an aberration that panders to stereotypes. The title of the book suggests that the crime was committed for "kicks" and that notion was particularly titillating at the time of publication. See movie and drama reviews of the Loeb case here.   

 

Stephen King. Cell (2006, Pocket Books, ISBN 1-4165-2451-7, 448 pages, paper), not to be confused with the New Line film of the same name, presupposes a "pulse" (again, don't confuse with the movie by that name) sent to cell phone users to infect them, leading to immediate meltdown of society, at least in Boston for starters. Graphic artist Clay Riddell is the protagonist (could Jake Gyllenhaal play him?) Who sent the pulse? A "tinpot government"? Can concrete and steel burn to the ground.  This is a little like the movie "28 Days Later," too. The book contains an excerpt from "Lisey's Story". More details (including mention of the coming Dimension film directed by Eli Roth) are at this blogger entry.

 

James Rollins (aka Jim Czajkowski) Sandstorm (2004, Avon, 587 pages, paper) starts out with destruction of an artifact a London science museum, and pretty soon we are dealing with meteorites and mysterious sinkholes and buried objects in the Arabian desert, and threats to the world. Early on there is a domestic EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack, with an accurate description of what could happen. As the tag-time like investigators go to Arabia on their "Raiders of the Lost Ark" like adventure, they find a fascinating artefact: a lost city Ubar, supposedly lost in a mysterious sinkhole, that leads to a bizarre underground lake, and Arabian dhow, and water in unusual allotropic form, able to house buckyballs of anti-matter inside, a potential revolutionary energy source. And there is a Queen of Sheba ("She") reproducing herself in secret for generations by parthogenesis (with the anti-matter); an explanation of Siberian Tunguska, and lots of connections between lesser Old Testament characters like Job. The writing and high-concept rather resembles Clive Cussler ("Sahara"); all it needs is Dirk Pitt. It certainly has all the maps and geography.

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House on the Prairie (1935, Harper & Row, illustrations by Garth Williams, 1953, 335 pages, large print, hardbound)  became the tender NBC and Hallmark television series in 1974, dealing with the life of a prairie family (the Ingalls) in 19th Century American Great Plains. One of the stars, Michael Landon, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer in 1991, an illness with rapid progression that started when he was on a ski trip and which was widely reported in the media. The book is often read in public school ESOL classes.  It uses familiar and endearing language (Ma and Pa) as if in first person, but the speaker almost never says "I". The family wanders through the midwest, which is often described as flat like a grass ocean, and encounters all of the problems of pioneer frontier life. At one point, they meet a "bachelor" with whom they barter labor, and the comment is made that an unmarried man does not need his own house as soon. A particular issue is the attitude toward Native Americans, who are sometimes described as an enemy and people to be feared, and not as "deserving" of the land since they will not cultivate it with formal agriculture. There is a confrontation with the Army regarding on which land families can settle without coming into legal problems over indians. In pioneer America, families looked out for their own, and had no clue as to the modern understanding of the need to respect the original rights of other peoples and other races. One can say that about slavery, and one can say this about Israel and Palestine today.  Since the author's middle name is Ingalls, I suppose that this is more autobiography than fiction, but it reads a bit like a novel and is likely to be partially fictitious or exagerrated. Most of the television series was fictitious.

 

Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. Warday: And the Journey Onward (1984, Henry Holt, ISBN 0030707315) is a novel that hypothesizes a sudden nuclear attack on New York City. The government of the country breaks apart into dominions, and the protagonists travel the country in various modes and witness the cultural fragmentation. A kind of complement to Stephen King's "The Stand" with war rather than bioterror starting the purification. Another good comparison is the film "The Day After."

 

William S. Gray, Dorothy Baruch, Elizabeth Rider Montgomery, Dorothy Baruch, Marion Monroe, A. Sterl Artley, Mary Hill Arbuthnot. Illustrated: Eleanor Campbell. Miaram Story Hurford;   Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends. In three parts: We Look and See, We Come and Go, The New We Work and Play. Grosset and Dunlap, repub from 1940-1956. Reprinted from the famous Elson-Gray first grade readers. It certainly brings back memories. Blogger review. 

 

Poetry

 

Merton Thompson, Poetic Ramblings (1994, Morris Publishing, SD) is an interesting collection of many short poems, many with a political and conservative and minimal government bent, along the Reagan kind of "rhetoric." There are poems like "Vietnam War" "America Answers" "The Persian Gulf" "The Middle East". My copy is a sample, and it does not have am ISBN on it that I can find.

 

Kahn, Ronnie and Anderson, Yohann.  Songs and Creations (1982) was a collection of songs and poems that the author often performed at senior homes. I met one of the authors on a bus in the Catskills in the summer of 1978.  

 

Non-Fiction

 

John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage: Decisive Moments in the Lives of Celebrated Americans, 1955; Harper; 266 pages. This was required reading for Va. and U.S. History in 11th Grade at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington VA during the 1959-1960 school year, in Simon Korczowski ('s) history class. Senator Kennedy would be elected president in 1960. This particular history teacher was notorious for making his exams all essay (except for one time when the school board made him give a multiple choice test for 20% of the midterm -- today, of course, the Virginia SOL's are largely multiple choice, although there are free response essay questions on SAT's and AP exams and even on the SOL's there is at least one free-response writing sample, where history knowledge could be appropriate).  The teacher, an ex-Army office hero in WWII and  Korea, had become a passionate progressive and reformist, very much a political liberal despite his military background, and I think he believed he was training the next generation of social activists (including me). He was notorious for marking points off on exams for leaving things out of answers, and he demanded extreme intellectual objectivity from students in answer essay questions about controversial issues from the past. (If you go to Colonial Williamsburg's Revolutionary City, you get an idea of what these controversies could be.) Some of his pet questions (often worded a bit annoyingly in a pedantic future tense) included: analyzing mercantilism in colonial times, discussing the role of the Negro (an acceptable term in 1960) in the revolutionary war and again during the Reconstruction, discussing the Dred Scott Decision, discussing Plessy v. Ferguson comparing it to Brown v. Board of Education, discussing the Fall Line, tracing the positions of major political parties (including the Whigs).  This kind of intellectual objectivity and personal disjunction becomes a theme of the book, but it also contradicts the behavior expected of most people in a competitive economy where people are paid to sell the goods, services or intellectual positions of others in order to provide for a family!

 

Now, the teacher assigned this book as required reading during the later part of the school year, in May of 1960, and we had to write in in-class book report (I think it was open book). I remember getting an "85" on it. (That was a C in W-L's grading scale at the time.) He would mark down if "I didn't learn anything." The book has nine detailed profiles: John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, Sam Houston, Edmund G. Ross, Lucius, Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, George Norris, Robert A. Taft.  One could add to the list today: Rosa Parks, for example. Or the heroes of 9/11. The last chapter is called "The Meaning of Courage" and Kennedy dissects some of the paradoxes in his concept of courage. This may be the part that the history teacher wanted us to get. Kennedy writes:

 

"It (courage) is not intended to justify independence for the sake of independence, obstinacy to all compromise or excessively proud and stubborn adherence to one's own personal convictions.... Finally, the book is not intended to disparage democratic government and popular rule... The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in its people--faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment--faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right."  

 

Carolyn Kennedy gives an annual award to a public servant who fights for his or her convictions despite adversarial political pressure. The latest award was given on the NBC "Today" show on May 22, 2006.

 

Barack Obama and campaign. Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-307-46045-5. 280 pages, paper. Obama's foreword, platform and speeches. The Philadelphia speech gives a lot of subtle points on race. Blogger.

 

Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster. The Century (1998, Doubleday, ISBN 0-385-48327-9, hardcover, 604 pages, indexed) is an anthology providing pictorial and first person accounts of world history in the 20th Century. It was published about two years before the final Y2K turnover. There are twelve chapters, paralleling the episodes of history. They have colorful titles, like "Shell Shock" for World War I, 1914-1919, a "fratricidal bloodbath." The Spanish flu could have used more coverage, but there is a photo of public health signs of the time, "if you have a cold and are coughing and sneezing, do not enter this theater." The 50s are titled "Mass Markets" and present the upper middle class workplace as the "manipulation of demand." The Reagan era is called "New Morning." Refer to the film The Century of the Self.

 

Matthew McCann Fenton and Kelly Knauer.  America: An Illustrated Early History. Time, 2007. Covers 1776-1900.  Blogger review here.

 

Ken Burns and Goeffrey C. Ward. Baseball: A Narrative History. Knopf/Borzoi, 1994. ISBN 0-679-40459-7. 580 pgs hardcover is a heavily illustrated companion to the PBS film. Interesting are many sidebars, such as one by George Will on 50s baseball. There are lots of pictures of older stadiums, and frank discussions of the moves and expansion teams, a trend that started in 1958 with the moves of the Dodgers and Giants to California, and in 1961 with the expansion of the American league with the Senators went to Minnesota. In the 60s, 70s and 80s new stadiums would be sterile and symmetrical, with creative architecture coming back in the 90s with Camden Yards in Baltimore. There is one old picture from Griffith Stadium, the right field wall, then heavily advertised, in NE Washington.  

 

Robert S. McNamara (with Brian Van DeMark), In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995, Times Books ISBN 0812925238) is a confessional by the academic precocious wunderkind Defense Secretary of the Kennedy-Johnson years.  History shows that Johnson gradually descended into a sump, passing the point of no return in 1965 over involvement in Vietnam, although Kennedy started in in 1963, and the scandal over the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 was a major blunder. McNamara confesses that "we" grossly misjudged the intentions of the Vietnamese people (both north and south) and of the effectiveness of technology in countering guerilla war. The telling chapter "The Lessons of Vietnam" starts on p. 319.  Of course, I have heard counter theories (like refugees from the North going South).  But this whole line of thinking affected the entire period of my own young manhood. The Democrats could be as corrupt as Mr. Nixon would become. Merry Christmas, Mr. McNamara.

 

David Horowitz. The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America's Future (1998, The Free Press, ISBN 0684850230, 214 pages, hardbound) views the "virulent anti-American Left" as a threat to democracy.  He recounts liberal arguments that are couched deceptively and hide personal responsibility. He regards homosexuality as natural and "socially abnormal" but believes that gay people must be equal before the law and try to assimilate into modes of personal responsibility.

 

Walter Cronkite, A Reporter's Life (1996, Ballantine, ISBN 0-345-41103-X, 384 pages, paper) is a memoir from the renowned CBS anchorman, going back to his depression-era youth in Texas. It has a simple black-and-white cover and pictures, and sixteen chapters. Historical accounts by people who "made it" in a public manor -- as here with the Fourth Estate, the established press -- never seem quite as down to earth as really personal accounts. The early sections are more descriptive, and have interesting details, as about his first exposure to journalistic ethics. He gets fired in Kansas City for insubordination but gets restarted with United Press. He talks about the technology of early recording devices for making phonograph 78 records at one point. He moves through history, sometimes as a war correspondent. He shares some perspectives. FDR knew already that Pearl Harbor was coming, but didn't share it with commanders. LBJ did not level with the American people about Vietnam or about the sacrifices required, allowing a favor-ridden draft system with deferments to take the heat. He mentions a theory that environmental degradation could dumb us down to the point that we do not see our own end, or that global warming of polar seawater could unleash new pathogens and pandemics. Early on, the talks about the homosexual community in Kansas City as "quite extensive" even in the 1930s and mentions transgendered Christine Jorgensen. Later he pooh-pooh's Oliver Stone's cinematic account of the JFK assassination as a conspiracy wide ranging into various groups including homosexuals. A book like this needs to be written now after 9/11. 

 

Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation (1998, Random House, ISBN 0-375-50202-5, 412 pgs, hardcover). Brokaw, of course, is famous as an anchor for NBC news for years. This book is his tribute to the generation of Americans whose sacrifices and courage helped win World War II and the world of liberty (relatively, at least) that we all too often take for granted today. Early on, Brokaw makes the point that the parents of a young person born around 1920 might have expected a prosperous life for the kid, but Depression and totalitarian enemies would force people back into teamwork. The book is expository, and gives the stories of over 50 individuals.  It is divided into eight sections according to theme (including "Ordinary People" "Heroes" "Women in Uniform and Out" "Shame" "Love, Marriage, and Commitment" "Famous People"). The overriding issue is, of course, the psychological between individual freedom and the survival necessity of people bonding together in some kind of solidarity to face an enemy. That is, wartime sacrifice. And this was necessary despite racism in our country, that still led to a segregated military and to the "camps" for Japanese Americans (some of whom were actually deported back to Japan). Solidarity was sometimes expected even of these. And people accepted the idea of marriage and family as mandatory values in life without any conscious questioning. There is a sense that individual freedom is partially a function of the ability of a society to afford it.  The book mentions gay rights only one, on p. 316 in the discussion of Chesterfield Smith. One can extrapolate a sense of the cultural war today. Hyper-individualism is sometimes seen as a way to marginalize those who need some kind of familial solidarity to give their lives meaning. See brief writeup on a recent "Tom Brokaw Reports" on racial balance and education in Jackson MS at this link.   

 

Bill Moyers: A World of Ideas: Conversations with thoughtful men and women about American life today and ideas shaping our future. (1989, Doubleday/PBS, ISBN 0-385-26346-5, 514 pgs, paper). Betty Sue Flowers, Editor. Moyers is a well known minister with many public affairs programs on Public Broadcasting. In this anthology he presents interviews with about forty thinkers, ranging from Noam Chomsky to Joseph Heller to Isaac Asimov. The book is in two parts: "Our Changing American Values" and "American Values in the New Global Society."

 

R. Foster Winans, Trading Secrets: An Insider's Account of the Scandal at The Wall Street Journal (1986, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312812272) gives a full account of a young reporter's descent into temptation and insider trading. He started his career in Trenton, NJ but got his chance at the Journal, which in 1983 had older technology with tight deadlines. His problems started with a few technical slips under deadlines, and that helped set up the tempations. Life consisted of breakfast meetings and other arrangements as he wrote "Heard on the Street." His sexual orientation is a bit of an afterthought, as is his treatment of the AIDS crisis of that decade. The chapters have colorful names, like "Full Boil" and "Big Kahuna." The end came suddenly, when he got a phone call from his boss on March 1, 1984 late in the afternoon, and an SEC investigator was in the room. He was fired by a note under his door at home for "conflict of interest" and would do probation. Of course many of the other "scandals" were much larger. But it gives a good perspective on journalistic integrity and the pressures to cheat, so well David Callahan's The Cheating Culture.

 

Perry Deane Young. God's Bullies: Power, Politics and Religious Tyranny (1982, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, ISBN 0030597064) is a expose of the Moral Majority, which became very vocal during the early Reagan years. The author includes a scathing chapter on gay "righters" living in the closet, believing that ordinary "queers" aren't smart enough to beat the system, an anticipation of later debates about "homocons."

 

Marcia Clark, Without a Doubt. (1997, Viking, ISBN 0-670-87089-7, with Teresa Carpenter). I remember the low speed choice of O. J. Simpson on California freeways in 1994, and I remember the car radio talk shows of "British Lady" Victoria Jones in the DC area, as a major, if diversionary, episode of mid 1990s American legal history unfolded. "We the jury ... find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder..."  Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor, obviously was not pleased. We had a small black and white TV in someone's cubicle at work to watch the verdict. I remember the screams of joy in the African American community for what sounds like an inappropriate result. We remember all the characters, like Brian Kato Kaelin. I remember the Newsweek headlines, "What a Mess!"  That was an important era for me as I wrote my own book, and enjoyed relative freedom.

 

Blogspot discussion of O.J. Simpson's ghostwritten "If I Did It, Here's How It Would Have Happened", publication by Regan withdrawn, discussion of a Newsweek analysis on Jan. 22, 2007.  The Goldman family (of the victim) has purchased rights to control and collect money from any book like this; CNN story is here. On Aug 14, 2007 AOL-AP ran a story (by Jacob Adelman) saying that a literary agent Martin Literary Management had picked up the book; story here. (May require AOL content subscription; may require purchase; recheck on search engine.)

 

Aphrodite Jones. Michael Jackson Conspiracy, with Foreword by Tom Meserau (2007, iUniverse, ISBN 978-0-9795498-0-9, 296 pages, hardcover, includes many illustrations). The author is a crime reporter, and this book maintains that the case against pop start Michael Jackson was largely trumped up for political ambitions by the district attorney and, moreover, by ambulance chasing by certain trial attorneys who might have gained with civil suits later. (I deal with the ambulance chasing concept in one of my scripts.) The Foreword is by the defense attorney. The issue of frivolous litigation is discussed, as there was one employee who wanted to sue Jackson for "staring" at him. It is also a story of appearances -- Jackson's life certainly attracted comments that his interaction with younger boys looked like "inappropriate behavior." Yet, when the factual testimony from witnesses (such as Macaulay Culkin) was rendered, the case fell apart and Jackson was acquitted by the jury. Pity if this happens to someone with less money. It reminds one of the Nifong North Carolina scandal, which will certainly inspire more books and movies. The book discusses Martin Bashir's documentary Living with Michael Jackson, discussed at this link.  There was also another film, Man in the Mirror. Blogger link for this book is here.

 

Sharon Darby Hendry. Soliah: The Sara Jane Olson Story. Minneapolis: Cable, 2002. ISBN 1-893088-35-9. 367 pages, paper with extensive forewords and illustrations. This is the biography of Kathleen Soliah, who was part of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in the 1970s, She was indicted for participation in bank robberies by fled and assumed an alias, married, and lived in Minnesota until her arrest in 1999, followed by extradition to California, a recanted guilty plea (after 9/11) and eventual sentencing.  The early part of the book gives valuable history of the extreme Left in its resistance to the Vietnam war, including the draft, and the extreme indignant moralism of the Left, which led it into terrorism, where it used very blunt tactics to attack the "decadent capitalist rich." It was determined to force a "cultural revolution" by expropriation and force. The book goes into detail about the Patty Hearst kidnapping (Hearst's autobiography is called Every Secret Thing (1982), co-written with Alvin Moscow.) Blogger review.

 

Don Davis. The Milwaukee Murders: Nightmare in Apartment 213: The True Story. (1991, New York, St Martins Paperbacks, 290 pages, ISBN 03129288408. This is a "historical" account of serial killer Jeff Dahmer, who invited gay men back to his apartment and murdered and dismembered them, one of the most horrifying serial crimes in history. He was sent to prison for life without parole in a state (Wisconsin) without a formal death penalty, but was put to death by other inmates in about three years.

 

Richard Kienenger (pn. Eklal Kueshana), The Ultimate Frontier (1970, rep 1992, Adelphi Org., ISBN 0963225200) is an autobiography of a famous New Age, reincarnation and karma mystic, who had a grand plan to set up permanent communes in a stripped down world. One of them was in Stelle, IL (near Kankakee), which I visited in 1982. When it was set up, men who lived there were expected to be the sole support of their families, but that was dropped. Another commune, Adelphi, was set up east of Dallas. He would hold forums at a Unitarian church in Dallas in the 1980s, and I remember one young man who always attended enthusiastically. He spoke of the surrender of mysticism as dualistic, not the yielding of a passive vessel. But he insisted that men become married. There was some similarity of his ideas to that of the Rosicrucians (AMORC). (See also Dan Fry, above, on "fiction" -- objectively, I'm not sure where it belongs!).

 

Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph. D., Remember: Be Here Now (Lama Foundation/Hanuman Foundation, about 1978) was a counter-culture paperback of mystic writings and illustrations, some of them about the Lama Foundation, on the slope of Mt. Wheeler near Taos, New Mexico. I went to two workshops: a writer's workshop in 1980 (we sat on sleeping bags in a wooden dorm), and a spring work camp in 1984. Communal dinners, crossing faiths and cultures, were delicious, and the women in the kitchen building (with the inscription "Remember") would sing as you approached. I understand that the property was consumed in a forest fire in 1996 (according to the US News and World Report, p 38, Nov 25, 2007, article by Jay Tolson, it has been rebuilt), and I don't know if it was reconstructed. The book slyly mentions using some illegal drugs (pot) in rituals in a couple spots. They were used by visitors at Lama, but only lightly. 

 

Orest Bedrij, One (1976, 1978) was a cultist book on personal spirituality, that seemed to focus on self-elevation. I remember it from the year 1978 in New York City when I paid so much attention to the idea that there is no "better half" when pursuing my relationships. That is curious since title would suggest groupthink. The book gave varying impressions among my friends then (of them thought of it as grand rationalization for being alone a lot), but I traveled by train to upstate New York with a friend to meet him in the summer of 1978.  He has several newer books on Amazon (like "You").

 

Itzhak Bentov. Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness (1970s, Destiny Press, Vermont) This book was interesting in proposing a theory, using a pendulum as a metaphor, that one could prove it has to be possible for a particle to travel faster than the speed of light. Of course this idea is supplanted by many other ideas.

 

Jeffrey Mishlove. The Roots of Consciousness (1975). This was an encyclopedia of paranormal phenomena, including UFOs, firewalking, telekinesis, and various theories in modern physics, one of which was the Bell Theorem, which claimed that information could travel instantly (faster than light) anywhere even if matter and energy could not. This book was supposedly part of a PhD dissertation.  

 

The Zarkon Principle (1975, Signet/Everest) by an author using the same pen name, was given to me in Dec 1976 by a friend in Understanding. It provides a theory of extraterrestrial visitations and how mankind can transcend matter in reconciling good and evil. 

 

Jesse Ventura, I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up (2000, Signet, ISBN 0-451-2008601, paper, 306 pgs). Jesse the Bod, aka George Janow, won the Minnesota governorship with the Reform Party quasi libertarian in 1998. I remember the celebration well in a St. Paul bar, with LPMN members laughing at the results as they came in. But I would get to meet him a few times as I lived in Minneapolis, most notably at the HRC dinner in late September 2001, just after 9/11, when the discussion was about the idea that it was safe to fly. His political ideas sound like common sense, but are are harder sell in today's troubled times.

 

Jesse Ventura and Dick Russell. Don't Start the Revolution Without Me! (2008, Herman Graf / Skyhorse, ISBN 978-1-60239-273-1, 312 pages, hardcover, with color photos, 16 chapters) An updated autobiography of "The Bod", much of it told from the viewpoint of his extended "vacation" in Baja with retrospects to his time as governor of Minnesota, and afterwards. He talks about being socially liberal and fiscally conservative, questions conventional wisdom on both the JFK assassination and 9/11, questions the war in Iraq but admits Saddam Hussein could have had other undetected connections. Most of all, he is critical of the two party system and its self-serving, non-responsive nature. He supports gay rights indirectly by saying government should recognize civil unions only, and supports a draft in time of a real war.  Blogger review. 

 

Jesse Ventura.  American Conspiracies.  (2010, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1-60239-802-3, 228 pages, hardcover, 14 chapters), with Dick Russell.   He sees plots all the way from John Wilkes Booth to 9/11, certainly JFK.  He also offers an ominous view of government intentions in the future. Venture was Independent (“Reform”) governor of Minnesota 1999-2003.

 

Donald Trump. How to Get Rich. New York: Ballantine, 2004. ISBN 0-345-48103-8. This book is a bit flippant, but it gives some good career advice. The Donald is somewhat an exponent of Malloy's "Dress for Success" strategy. He talks about his first The Apprentice season, with a blurb about each candidate, and he says of Troy McClain "it takes a brave man to have his legs waxed." Troy did it for the team, remember. I have the impression that Trump does hire other candidates into different jobs. For example, when I was in Atlantic City in May 2004, McClain was on the radio doing ads for the Trump casinos.  

 

Donald Trump. Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education in Business and Life”, foreword by Robert Kiyosaki, and was co-written by Meredith McIver, ISBN 978-1-59315-530-8, hardcover, 198 pages. Fifty short essays. Blogger.

 

Cameron Johnson, with John David Mann and David Back  (Foreword). You Call the Shots: Succeed Your Way --and Live the Life You Want --with 19 Essential Secrets of Entrepreneurialship. New York: The Free Press, 2007. ISBN 10-4165-3606-X. 260 pages, indexed. Johnson, 23 as of early 2008, describes how he got rich as a teen with a series of practical businesses (even going to boarding school with minimal Internet access) and just average "geek" skills, in the course of giving his "19 rules." His story begins with meeting Donald Trump at age 9. If The Apprentice comes back, watch out! Blogger review.   

 

Price Prithchett, Ph. D. The Employee Guide to Mergers and Acquisitions (2000, Pritchett Rummler-Brache, Dallas 09440020604) is a curious 22-page booklet given out to employees before mergers by companies. It advises employees that their lives are in their own hands.

 

Evelyn Ruth Duvall, Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers (1956, New York: Associated Press) tried to present 1950s sexual morality in "acceptable" terms for high schoolers to read. We had a copy of it at home. Some of the discussions, about prostitution, for example, were constructive (although in a libertarian world it would no longer be illegal). There was a notorious section that distinguished between "latent homosexuality" and "overt homosexuality," a semantic note that became a critical focus in my confrontation with the William and Mary Dean of Men in November 1961, leading to my almost immediate expulsion. The author's intentions, given the time, were benign, however.

 

Peter Wyden, Growing Up Straight (1968, New York, Stein and Day) was the classic offender that tried to show how sissy boys (like I was) could still grow up "sexually normal." Making everybody normal in this one aspect seemed to be society's highest priority.

 

Peter Fisher, The Gay Mystique: The Myth and Reality of Male Homosexuality (1972/1978, Stein & Day, 0812870050) was a famous book in the post Stonewall days. It debunked a lot of popular McCarty era myths about gay men (such as the idea that they all have hairless bodies). It also warned about private agencies (like "Fidelifacts") that still kept tabs on things, like who was "gay" in the closet. This was a leftover from the old days when the police raided gay bars and published the names of those arrested or detained in newspapers.  

 

M. Scott Peck. The Road Less Traveled. Touchstome, 2003, ISBN 0743243153, orig. 1978, a famous self-help book, where he balances the consciousness of the "me generation" with deeper other-centered values in religious (Gospel) traditions. There is some of the same kind of thinking about personal growth that Rosenfels developed.

 

M. Scott Peck. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil  (2003, ISBN 0671528165) the sequel, deals with people who know they are wrong but insist that they are being right. "Evil people (have) an unshakable will to be right and will not consider the possibility that they are wrong." This sounds like the definition of self-righteousness, and in its extreme form it leads to something like radical Islam and the Taliban. 

 

Peter Tauber, The Sunshine Soldiers. (1972/ repub 2003, Higganum Hill, ISBN 0963518569). The book's cover reads "Army Basic training is an initiation into traditional American society. The ritual goes back to the founding of this nation. But in the Sixties the authoritarianism has change." The book is a diary of going through Army basic during the draft and conscription plus deferments driven Vietnam era. I provide a somewhat similar, if more sobering account, in my own DADT Chapter 2.  I once called the author around 1973, before I moved into New York City. The title of the book is a bit of a tongue twister.

 

Margaret L. Schwartz: The Pumpkin Patch: A Single Woman's International Adoption Journey. Louisville: Chicago Spectrum Press, 2005. ISBN 1-58374-118-6, paper. 332 pgs, bw illustrations. Three Parts and an Epilogue.  A single woman delays motherhood because of her career and decides to adopt, an discovers the Ukraine. Bureaucracy and politics of oversease countries probably greatly increases the demand. She mentions how in some cultures childless women are deserted by their husbands. On p 299 she writes:

 

"I guess the problem is that I am dealing with adult emotions. Everything we do or say is closely judged, analyzed or accepted by those closest to us. Children don't think as we do. All they know is that I feed them when they are hungry, hold them when they are hurt, and discipline them when they are naughty.... I can't imagine a greater gift than being loved by a child . I am a better person for it, and I pray every night I remain worthy of that love."

 

Blogger comments (this book and the next) here.  

 

Kenneth B. Morgen, MD. Getting Simon: Two Gay Doctors' Journey into Fatherhood (Bramble Books, 1995, ISBN 1883647045) is a personal account of how a male gay couple in Maryland adopted a son. The book gives a lot of material on the legal hurdles. They (the couple) never question their desire to become parents; a fatherhood instinct is taken for granted.

 

Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, After the Ball: How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 90’s (New York: Plume, 1989) was notorious for its criticism of gay effeminacy and excesses, and seems by today's standards to give in to "what other people think. It articulated a Self-Policing Social Code,” “I’ll drop my search for Mr. Right and settle for what’s realistic.” That sounds like the mandatory socialization of the straight world!

 

John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (1980, repub. 2005, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226067114. This has always been a famous book in dealing with the problems of homosexuality and Christianity. This book was reportedly very important to Andrew Sullivan in developing his own modern philosophy. It was always a favorite of pastors in mainstream progressive churches, even in Dallas in the 1980s.

 

Frank Browning, The Culture of Desire: Paradox and Perversity in Gay Lives Today (1993, Vintage, ISBN 0679750304, 256 pgs, talks about the messages implicit in the erotic interests of gay men. Browning says a lot about the psychological effect of homoerotic interest in intimate work environments, especially the military, and this book came out when President Clinton's plan to lift the ban on gays in the military was being debated. He discusses Joe Steffan's expulsion from the Naval Academy in 1987 as having happened because the midshipman confessed desire, not for having sex. In fact, Browning views actual gay sex, however covert and denied, as fitting in to the patterns of mandatory socialization and hierarchal control of military culture. The book's back cover has a famous "Marky Mark" shot. Browning uses the word "queer" to great and intended effect.

 

Urvashi Vaid: Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1996, Anchor, ISBN 0385472994, 464 pgs) The term "virtual equality" is interesting because it characterizes the psychological appearance that some of the more "conservative" approaches to gay equality (like the ability to serve openly in the military, gay marriage, and gay parenting) creates. If you think critically about these approaches, you see that they really don't produce complete equality. True. That leads to her detailed defense to traditional leftist coalition politics among oppressed minorities, so inimical to the new gay Right. The book had quite a high profile when it first came out, about the time of Romer v. Evans (Colorado Amendment 2).

 

Irwin Schiff. The Federal Mafia: How It Illegally Imposes And Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes, And How Americans Can Fight Back. Las Vegas: Freedom Press, 1990. ISBN 0-930374-09-6, 304 pages, large paper. Schiff had also written How Anyone Can Stop Paying Income Taxes. Schiff had his legal run-in with the fibbies in the 1980s, which he details. In twelve detailed chapters, with a lot of "advice" as well as personal history. I met Schiff in northern Va in 1996 at a LPVA convention about the time I had submitted the first draft of my first DADT book to an agent, an event at which Harry Brown was present.

 

Emil Wiesel. Night (1986, Bantam, 108 pages, paper). This harrowing personal account of a teenage boy at Auschwitz and other concentration camps is often read in high school English. The narrative starts in Sighet, Hungary (Transylvania) when a clown Moshe the Beadle comes back with rumors of the terrors to come. The teen can barely grasp that an outside entity (Nazi Germany and the SS) can come to town and take their way of life away from them because of some ideology that claims they are not as fit as others to go on living -- an ideology far more painful than simply the fact that the alien entity is a military enemy. The boy's family is herded into a ghetto, then a little ghetto, and finally transported by train to the camps. The worst is slow to come, although on p 33 he notes that immediately the barbers shaved not only all of the prisoners' heads but also all of their body hair, so that they lost their sense of individuality.  He would develop an infection and lose a leg, which would fall off in frostbite despite surgery, as the SS herded them around to escape approaching Allies. He was in the hospital for two weeks after liberation, and on the last page he notes that in a mirror he looked like a corpse. Some good vocabulary in the book ("lorry"). The common version is short, but the original book was over 800 pages.

 

Bill Severn. Teacher, Soldier, President: The Life of James A. Garfield, New York: Ives Washburn, 1964, 177 pages, hardcover). Garfield had the shortest (and "accidental") presidency, as he was gunned down by a disgruntled job seeker in 1881 after four months of office. But what is interesting is his personality and ambition. A geek by the standards of the day, be became a kind of young Renaissance man late in his teens. Clumsy at odd jobs, he was very determined, and at age 17 (around 1848) he was teaching public school in Ohio, and, according to the custom of the times, living in the homes of parents. He would go to college, and teach again. Imagine a whiz kid from "It's Academic" or perhaps David Madden from "Jeopardy" (or maybe young free speech litigant Joseph Frederick, who is an English teacher now) as your English or even math teacher and you get the idea of his kind of charisma. He got what amounts to a "direct commission" in the Union Army in the Civil War, and actually, once a senator, helped eliminate the $300 buyout from conscription, a big moral issue of the day. He was accused of corruption which he probably did not commit, and he was accused of helping author the so-called "Wade-Davis Manifesto" which would have been very punitive for the South. As an intellectual, he may have been a bit distant from the practical demands of role-model leadership, although as a teacher he was generally well-liked (despite some discipline problems).

 

Garry Kasparov. How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves from the Board to the Boardroom. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007, 224 pages, hardbound, ISBN 1-59691-387-8.  Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov relates the history of his world championship, especially the multiple matches with Karpov, and the lessons to be learned for a creative life. At the end, he starts a discussion of his struggle for liberty (the "United Civil Front") in the increasing authoritarian regime in Russia of Vladimir Putin. Blogger discussion.

 

John Elder Robinson. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's. With foreword by Augusten Burroughs (the author's younger brother and subject of the movie "Running with Scissors").  New York: Crown, 2007. ISBN 978-0-307-39598-6. 288 pages, hardcover. An autobiographical account of the little known older brother of the famous writer. Robinson gives some perspectives of his own experience with a milder form or autism, and his overcoming it with a career in engineering video games and eventually rehabilitating cars. His ideas about empathy and how people with Asperger's perceive others are certainly important reading. For example, on p. 192:

 

"People approach me, uninvited, and make unsolicited statements. When they don't get the response they expect, they become indignant. If I offer no response at all, they become indignant at that. So there is no way for me to win. Given that line of reasoning, why talk to people at all? Well, many autistic people don't, possibly for that very reason."   

 

Blogger discussion of this book is here

 

Tony Attwood. The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2007. ISBN 1-85302-577-1, hardcover, 400 pages. A textbook on Asperger's syndrome with medical and clinical details, with lots of discussion of education and vocational issues all the way through college.

 

Danya International: The Journey Through Autism: An Educator's Guide and An Educator's Guide to Asperger Syndrome. These were failed free of charge to people who requested them at the DC health fair. Each paperback large-page booklet is about 70 pages, and is aimed toward teachers of special education students. There is a viewpoint that these are biological neurological pervasive developmental disorders. Asperger is presented as more severe here than it is often portrayed elsewhere.

 

Jason McElwain and Daniel Paisner. The Game of My Life: A True Story of Challenge, Triumph, and Growing Up Autistic. New American Library, 2008, ISBN 978-0-451-22301-2, 244 pages. The story of "J-Mac," an autistic teen, now functioning, who stunned everyone with a performance at the end of a high school basketball championship in Greece, NY.  Before gradually developing the ability to function, J-Mac had a fascination with basketball and developed this unusual motor skill while living in his own world. Blogger discussion.

 

Carley, Michael John. Asperger’s from the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Perigree, 2008. 252 pages, paper. ISBN 978-0-399-53397-6; Introduction and 7 chapters.  Blogger.

 

Johnson, Tory.  Fired to Hired: Bouncing Back from Job Loss to Get to Work Right Now.  Berkeley.  ISBN 978-0-425-23055-8, 300 pages, paper, 11 chapter.  Blogger.    Three Rivers Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-307-38129-3, 311 pages, paper, indexed, 20 chapter

 

Tyre, Peg.  The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do. Blogger.

 

A few mini tidbits. Emily Post's Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage (Funk & Wagnalls) goes all the way back to 1922 with a major edition in 1945 and has amazing (by today's thinking) adherence to stuffy, prudish upper class manners, all the way to how to serve a seven course dinner, even the fish course (who can eat that much)?

 

James A. Wiedemer. A Homeowner's Guide to Foreclosure: How to Protect your Home and your Rights. Dearborn, Dearborn Financial Press, 1992, paperback, orange, large pages, about 200 pages.  This book was written shortly after the Texas real estate meltdown and savings and loan crisis at the end of the 1980s, and is rather sobering, with a lot of information about the dangers of deficiency judgments, which can even effect sellers of property with unqualified assumptions. There is also discussion of FHA, VA and conventional workout -- but this is older than the current subprime crisis.

 

Allan C. Carlson. Family Questions: Reflections on the American Social Crisis. New Brunswick NJ: Transaction Books, 1988. 293 pages, hardcover. ISBN 088738206. In 7 parts. A book that reflects on the decline of the nuclear family as a socializing force, due to technology and "self-absorption"; it has an interesting discussion of the "family wage," which was an invention to "protect the family unit from the logical consequences of radical individualism" (p 111) and was even championed by Henry Ford. Arguments like this would be made sporadically in the 1990s by conservatives, but have come back into use recently because of demographic problems, especially in Europe, differentiated with immigrants.

 

Allan C. Carlson and Paul T. Mero. The Natural Family: A Manifesto. Dallas: Spence, 2007. ISBN 1-890626-70-8, is 256 pages hardcover. Is procreation practically mandatory?  Website. Please, not another “manifesto.”  Blogger.

 

Jeff Sharlet. The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.  New York: Harper Perennial,  2008. ISBN 978-0-06-056005-8, 454 pages, paper. The author lives with a cabal “Ivanwald” in Arlington VA, a homosocial estate of religious men who believe that fundamentalist Christianity justifies their power. But their beliefs are much more individualistic than Carlson’s, above. The group has set up the President’s Prayer Breakfast for years, and runs a network of “thinktank” organizations that make conservative public policy proposals look official.  Yet, in an early scene, Sharlet notices the smooth chest of a young adult male member. There is tension beneath the surface when there is so much emphasis on merit.  Blogger.

 

Bruce D. Clayton, Ph. D. Life After Doomsday: A Survivalist Guide to Nuclear War and Other Major Disasters. Boulder: Paladin Press, 1980. ISBN 0873641752. 186 pages, hardcover, large pages, well illustrated, indexed. A book motivated by the Cold War but it seems strangely applicable today, as it tells more aggressively-minded people how to set up and defend "survivalist" communities after cataclysms, reminding one of today's Sci-Fi series "Jericho." The book is dedicated to the survivors of Pompeii!  

 

Hendrik Van Loon's The Story of the Bible (1928/1936, Garden City Publishing) is a classic history, which describes the chosen people as just The Jews and is filled with the author's own woodcut-like drawings of events (a few in color). Every chapter starts with an embellised, enlarged letter. "The pyramids were a thousand years old..."  The other Sunday school staple if the 1950s was Egermeier's Bible Story Book (1923 to 1947), filled with opulent color illustrations almost to make a filmstrip. And Burton Throckmorton's Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels (Thomas Nelson, 1936/1952) was the basis of a televised American University course in the 1950s, and today we would really question leaving out John.

 

 The long term pastor of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC in the 1940s and 50s, and who oversaw the 1955 sanctuary building on 16th Street, not too far from the White House, authored Interpreters Needed (1951, Judson Press), a series of sermons. An important quote from p. 29:

 

"Many Americans wondered why Hitler was able to rise so rapidly to power in Germany in 1933, when presumably the nation was predominately a nation of church members. The answer is to be found in the fact that the German churches majored upon doctrinal and theological matters, while giving very meager attention to any political or sociological interest."

 

Banuch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History (2003, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-01131-70), 568 p, indexed) gives a history of the Palestinians back into the 19th Century, when they fell into disadvantage. After World War I, they began to have to compete with Jewish settlers, and after World War II, when the state of Israel was established, many of their villages were wiped out. For them, this was a cataclysm, which would extend into the long history of conflict in the late 20th Century. The authors discuss the Palestinian extended family, or hamula, and claim that this was also undermined. On the other hand, Israel is itself 20% Arab, and the authors suggest that a philosophy of individualism and non-discrimination could ease tensions. One has the impression that much of the history of this area comes from considering people only in national or religious groups, and not as individuals. Yet, much land was taken from individual Palestinians, as it is today with many of the strikes on the West Bank, driving the personal shame that helps encourage the suicide bombers.

 

Clint Bolick. David's Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary. (2007, Washington DC, Cato Institute, ISBN 978-1-933995-02-1, 188 pages, indexed, paper (also available in cloth), 11 chapters. The book makes the distinction between judicial activism and judicial review, and traces the evolution of fundamental rights in some detail, and these are more explicitly spelled out in some state constitutions. He opens with a detailed discussion of the case of Juanita Swendenburg, a wine grower from Virginia, whose case tested, among other things, the right of states to use the 21st Amendment (which had repealed Prohibition but given states other rights to regulate alcohol). There is a more detailed discussion on blogger.  

 

Andrew Warhola. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). New York: Harvest / Harcourt, 1975,
ISBN 0-15-671720-4, 241 pages. With a Joyce-like introduction and 15 iconic chapters of Andy's self-absorbed philosophy of life.  More details are on blogger here.

 

Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams: The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Out Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos. New York: Riverhead, 2006. Paper, 385 pages, indexed. ISBN 978-1-59448-255-7. The authors have appeared on the McLaughlin group, and they have a very thorough and intellectually satisfying grasp of the place of humans in the cosmos. We are, in a sense, a building block upon which it depends, even if we are "alone," with the Midgard concept. They are not optimistic that we can find aliens like us, but that is not the point. Their view does generate an interesting perspective on what we call "public morality." Blogger review.


review of movie "Wah Wah" (above)   

 

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