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November 15, 2015

Sunday Morning Book Thread 11-15-2015: Tempête De Feu [OregonMuse]


Library of the National Assembly, Palais Bourbon, Paris.jpg
Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée Nationale, située dans le Palais Bourbon, Paris
See It Now Before It Gets Torched By "Yutes".


Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Or kilts. Also, assless chaps don't count. Serious you guys. Kilts are OK, though. But not tutus. Unless you're a girl.


God Bless The French

The events of this week brought to mind this book, Is Paris Burning? by Dominique Lapierre, simply because of the title. It has nothing to do with modern day Europe's craptacular mismanagement of the refugee crisis invasion, but rather is about the Allied liberation of Paris in 1944. As it turns out, it sounds like an interesting book nonetheless. For example, it seems that psychotic ISIS thugs aren't the only ones interested in destroying the symbols of western civilization:

If Hitler had his way, there would be no Notre Dame, none of Paris' beautiful bridges, no Eiffel Tower. The Allies didn't stop him, a brave German general did. At a tremendous personal risk, he resolved not to be the man to destroy the most beautiful city in the world...The title is drawn from a question Hitler asked, when he found out that Allied troops were approaching Paris.

There also was a 1966 film of the same title with an all-star cast of French guys based on this book.


Progressives Give Progress A Bad Name

Last week's book thread had an interesting discussion about wartime influences on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. JTB is reading a book about it:

I came across a book published last summer: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 by Joseph Loconte by Joseph Loconte... In fact, Loconte provides the background of cultural and social changes that contributed to WW I and the disillusionment in religion and faith and established norms afterward. This was the world Tolkien and Lewis experienced growing up and as young men and their reaction to it as they wrote...I don't know if the author intended this, but much of what he describes from a century and more ago is replicated today and the consequences may be worse.

I do know that there are a number of references in Lewis' writings to belief in "Progress" with a capital 'P' in terms that indicate he didn't think it was all that. I was reminded of this when I read this excerpt from an interview of the book's author:

The most widely held view in the years leading up to the Great War was that Western Civilization was marching inexorably forward, that humanity itself was maturing, evolving, advancing to new heights of technological, moral, and spiritual achievement. Many believed that war itself would become a relic of a bygone era. This “Myth of Progress” was proclaimed from nearly every sector of society. Scientists, educators, industrialists, politicians, preachers—they all agreed on the upward flight of mankind. The Myth was not just one story among many. It was the story, the metanarrative of the meaning of human existence. And then, in a way no one anticipated, the Myth dissolved into the trenches and barbed wire and mortars and machine guns along the Western Front. People could not believe that the “civilized” and “Christian” nations of Europe were capable of such slaughter and barbarism.

There is no question that WWI devastated Europe physically, psychologically, and spiritually. And according to The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade by Philip Jenkins, mentioned last week by boulder terlit hobo, church and state worked hand in hand to accomplish this:

The war was fought by the world's leading Christian nations, who presented the conflict as a holy war. Thanks to the emergence of modern media, a steady stream of patriotic and militaristic rhetoric was given to an unprecedented audience, using language that spoke of holy war and crusade, of apocalypse and Armageddon...The disappointed hopes and moral compromises that followed the war also shaped the political climate of the rest of the century, giving rise to such phenomena as Nazism, totalitarianism, and communism.

And The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation by Richard Gamble argues that it was specifically liberal Christians who did the damage:

["They died to save their country and they only saved the world"], the final [line] in G. K. Chesterton's poem, The English Graves, serves...as an interpretive key to a peculiarly important moment in American history: the time of the First World War, when progressive Christian leaders in America transformed themselves from principled pacifists to crusading interventionists...World War I thus became a transcendent moment of fulfillment. In the eyes of the progressive clergy, the years from 1914 to 1918 presented an unprecedented opportunity to achieve their vision of a world transformed--the ancient dream of a universal and everlasting kingdom of peace, justice, and righteousness. American sacrifice was necessary not only to save the country, but to save the entire world.

And don't forget the advent of the mass media. Trimegistus wondered:

Was WWI the first time national governments conducted large-scale, ongoing campaigns of lying to their own people?

I suspect it might be. Not that previous governments were restrained by their virtue, but rather limited by their lack of ability.

Obnoxious A-hole added:

I think a lot of the isolationist sentiment, in the US and Neville Chamberlain's 1938 Munich concessions were the result of widespread resentment at having been lied to during WW I. I would guess that a good deal of the refusal to believe reports of the Holocaust until US troops entered concentration camps was a reaction against having believed overblown stories of German atrocities before and a determination not to be fooled again.

And unlike WWI, this time around the enemy was actually WORSE than what we were led to believe.


Books Feminists Will Probably Hate

What with all the yelling and outrage swirling around the various faux rape stories that have been in the news recently, the thing that flabbergasts me is that when practical suggestions are offered to help women avoid unpleasant sexual encounters, feminists get offended. You'd think that women living in a such a dangerous world, with one-in-five (or is it four?) rapes just waiting to happen at any moment, that they would welcome measures that would help women not get raped. But they don't. Instead, the SJW feminists get their panties in a bunch over the very idea of women doing anything to protect themselves, preferring instead to bitch and moan about how all men are evil rapist scum.

So they're going to just hate books like these:

A Girl's Guide to the Criminal Mind: The Survival Handbook by Alison Summers.

In this survival guide, women and girls will learn from FBI profilers, forensic psychologists, and security experts how to recognize, avoid and escape dangerous individuals.

Famed security expert Gavin de Becker emphasizes that a woman’s “first line of defense is not risking attracting or exposing oneself to a predator in the first place." True of course. And since a rapist’s biggest advantage is surprise, this book aims to take that advantage away. Readers will learn how to think like a criminal profiler.

Now, admittedly, this is not the casual, drunken campus party hookup encounter than results in regret sex, shame, recriminations, and Title IX lawsuits, but still, there's useful information here for self-defense.

And then there's Summers' other book, The Girl's Guide to Predators:

Psychologists estimate that all women will be put in harm's way, in one form or another, by a predator during their lifetime (Really? -OM). At their most extreme, the predator is a sociopath who lures woman into psychologically-damaging relationships that are almost impossible to walk away from safely. More common is the garden-variety narcissist or the man with anti-social personality disorder. Then there are the stalkers...

The thought had occurred to me that if feminists were really interested in protecting women from dangerous men, they would be striving to create a culture where the expectations were that you waited until marriage to commence sexual activity, which would usually result in children, and you stayed married afterwards. Does this always work? Obviously not, but the cultural arrangements that have become common since the 1960s are decidedly less stable than traditional families and while everyone is harmed by this, it always seems to be women that end up being hurt the most. For example, do you know that there is evidence that suggests that domestic violence is much higher in lesbian couples? Funny, feminists don't like to talk about this.

And while we're at it, given the propensity of women to be drawn to or actively seek out dangerous (but exciting) men who then hurt and abandon them, wouldn't it probably be better for all concerned if families were more involved in the mate selection/marriage process ? After all, do we really want lifetime relationship decisions to be left to horny teenaged boys and dreamy, infatuated girls?


Whatever Happened To Portugal?

Ever since learning about New World exploration in grade school history class, this question has always sort of nagged at me. During the 1400s and 1500s, this tiny little country on the Atlantic Ocean was in there slugging it out with Spain, Italy, and England for world dominance. It bestrode the world like a colossus. Its sailors and navigators explored the world and set up colonies in Africa, South America, and the Far East. But look at Portugal today. It's not much more than a provincial little socialist backwater. Back in the day, when Portugal spoke, people listened. But these days, nobody cares. Except maybe tourists.

So what happened?

Disasters, that's what. Big honking disasters:

On All Saints’ Day in 1755, an earthquake stemming from a fault line in the Atlantic Ocean ripped through Lisbon, destroying most of the city and reverberating through much of Europe and North Africa. As if the earthquake weren’t enough, a tsunami then hit the wounded city, followed by an inferno – sparked by candles in the wreckage – that burned for days.

Wait, an earthquake AND a tsunami AND a massive firestorm? This sounds like a bad SyFy disaster movie. Throw in a sharknado and some flying piranhas and you'd have ratings gold right there. But, it all really happened. And This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason by Mark Molesky argues that the effects were profound and devastating. The rest of Europe reeled in shock:

But perhaps the earthquake’s most important legacy was the debate it provoked among Enlightenment thinkers. In an optimistic age, when the violence of the wars of religion had receded into the past and Europe was on a scientific and material upward trajectory, the earthquake was a grim reminder of the chaos underlying the natural world. In the years following the quake, theologians, politicians, writers, and philosophers all weighed in on pressing questions: How could a beneficent, all-powerful God permit a holocaust like this? Was God to blame for the earthquake or should thinkers focus solely on understanding the natural causes of earthquakes and tsunamis? Was Lisbon’s decadence – or its flagrant Catholicism – to blame?

Nothing like a good kick in the pants to call into question everything you had ever thought was certain and true.

And then there's this guy:

Molesky...illustrates an early modern example of a leader using a disaster to consolidate power: in this case, Secretary of State Pombal, who became the de facto head of government in the wake of the disaster and shoved through reforms, weakened royal power, and imprisoned many of his political enemies.

Never let a crisis go to waste. I guess they knew that back then, too.


Books Of Note

I first saw the film Colossus: The Forbin Project many years ago on some network TV "movie of the week" show. I kind of liked it, I thought it was intelligently done, and the ending was delightfully grim. Found out some time ago that the movie was based on the 1966 novel Colossus by D. F. Jones, the Kindle edition of which, as of Friday night, is available for FREE. It the sale has ended, the price is back up to $3.99, still not bad. Colossus is kind of the ancestor of SkyNet, a self-aware super-computer with control over nuclear weapons. And when it meets up with Guardian, the Soviet counterpart, the hijinks are zany and they indeed ensue, right quickly.


___________

The world is going mad. Among conservatives these days, that's not so much an observation as it is an article of faith:

If someone just 20 years ago had said...that we’d someday elect an anti-American president who would intentionally flood our borders with millions of illegal immigrants and Islamist “refugees,” that we’d soon celebrate as “heroic” a former Olympic champion for mutilating his body and pretending to be a woman, that we’d have five extremist lawyers on the Supreme Court unconstitutionally force the radical redefinition of marriage to mollify people with same-sex fetishes – you might call that person crazy.

Into this sewer wades David Kupelian with his new book The Snapping of the American Mind: Healing a Nation Broken by a Lawless Government and Godless Culture

But despite the grim and disgusting subject matter, Kupelian is not on team Let It Burn:

“I don’t give up hope,” said Kupelian... “I mean, you could say, if there’s no hope then what do you do? You go off, you drop out, you live for yourself, for your family, and you try to live a good life. No; too many people have fought and bled and died to help this country and to help strangers in foreign lands. There’s still half the country that has not had their mind snapped.”

I just hope his solution isn't "we need to vote in more GOPe guys."

Thanks to 'CBD' for this.


___________

Mike Hammer sends along a link containing the covers of valuable paperbacks. Like this one here. And here are some more pulpy covers. Including one by Elmore Leonard, Forty Lashes Less One.

___________

Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.


___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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