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February 28, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 02-28-2016: Papal Divisions [OregonMuse]


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Vatican Library


Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. And to all you young lovers wherever you are, we hope your problems are few. 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.


“Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.”

― Paxton Hood


What Did The Pope Know And When Did He Know It?

So a few years ago (1999) British journalist and author John Cornwell came out with a book entitled Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, the main thesis of which is that the Pope Pius XII was an anti-semite whose actions prior to WWII facilitated Hiltler's rise to power, and, ultimately, the Holocaust.

The book was, to say the least, controversial. A ex-Catholic friend of mine was quite impressed with it, and wanted me, another ex-Catholic, to be impressed with it, too. This was the early days of teh interwebs, but even so, I was able to Google up enough material to not be impressed. Whole books have since been written that refute Cornwell's thesis. Here's the one I found to be the most interersting, Before the Dawn: Autobiographical Reflections by Eugenio Zolli, Former Chief Rabbi of Rome:

This is the remarkable and inspiring story of how the famous and revered Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, became a Christian and entered the Catholic Church after World War II. This classic work outlines the spiritual journey of Rabbi Zolli, through prayer, Scripture meditation and lived experience, from devout Judaism to Catholicism...Zolli took the Christian name of Eugenio to honor Pope Pius XII (Eugenio was his baptismal name) for all he did to save Jews during WWII.

Now if Pius XII was the anti-semite Cornwell claims, than the conversion of Rabbi Zolli and his adoption of Pius' baptismal name makes absolutely no sense at all.

Cornwell has since backed down a bit -- but not entirely -- from his earlier claims. In a 2008 interview, he said:

While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this.... Nevertheless, due to his ineffectual and diplomatic language in respect of the Nazis and the Jews, I still believe that it was incumbent on him to explain his failure to speak out after the war. This he never did.

So Cornwell has gone from making incendiary accusations that Pius XII was a big-ass anti-semite who enabled Hitler to carry out the Holocaust to carping about what he thinks he should have said afterwards. This sounds like mighty weak sauce. And on ace's Pope Francis thread a week or so ago, moron commenter MikeTheMoose pointed me to another interesting book, Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler by intelligence expert Mark Riebling. According to a Breitbart review:

After the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, the German military conspirators sought to reach out to their adversaries, especially the British, to seek aid in overthrowing Hitler. In order to do this, they needed a person who could serve as an intermediary and vouch for their integrity, and so they approached Pius XII, who was highly regarded in Britain...What followed was a series of gripping events, leading to repeated efforts to depose Hitler, all of which were foiled by unexpected turns, deceit, bombs that failed to detonate, and ones that did go off, only to miss their target. In their quest, the anti-Nazi officers received crucial moral and logistical support from Pius XII, as well as from his closest aides.

And there's another book mentioned in that same Breitbart review, The Pope's Jews: The Vatican's Secret Plan to Save Jews from the Nazis by Gordon Thomas, which

...depicts Pius XII...saving the lives of countless Jews through ingenious means. Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican, for example, as well as overseeing a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican citizens.

Thomas reports that priests were instructed to issue baptism certificates to hundreds of Jews hidden in Genoa, Rome and elsewhere in Italy. More than 2,000 Hungarian Jews were brought to Rome, after having been given fabricated Vatican documents identifying them as Catholics. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 Jews were hidden in convents and monasteries across Italy.

And I would add that any one of these operations might be jeopardized if anything was said publicly.

So not only was Pius definitely not "cool with Hitler", he was actively engaged in clandestine operations intended to thwart Hitler's plans to remake Europe.

"Love", Paul reminds us in the 13th chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, "hopes all things" (v. 7). So I'm hoping that the current Pope's left-wing gasbaggery is just a front for some deep cover stuff that he really can't talk about. Maybe he's working some sort of scam on the Castro brothers, where imprisoned Cuban dissidents are going to be freed in exchange for suitcases full of cash that will turn out to be old issues of Granma newspaper cut in the shape of $100 bills. And maybe the "phantom sniper" who's recently been thinking globally and acting locally by picking off ISIS a-holes is a Jesuit sharpshooter, or, better yet, an Israeli sniper on loan from the Mossad.

Somebody could write a book about that.


The Book That Was Too Scandalous For HarperCollins To Publish

So there's this science fiction author Nick Cole, whom I've never heard of until this week. He's written a number of books under contract with mainstream publisher Harper Voyager (a subsidiary of mainstream publishing giant HarperCollins). His latest is CTRL ALT Revolt!, which is about malignant artificial intelligences bent on destroying humanity.

So for plot development purposes, Cole thought that his AI had to have an actual reason for coming after the human race, and the reason he chose was: abortion. See, the AIs are cognizant of human social problems (they watch a lot of reality TV), and they realize that humans do not hesitate to eliminate that which they perceive to be threats, or even inconvenient. And so, the AIs reason, they must "abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed 'inconvenient.'" So Cole wrote this reasoning into the plot and submitted the manuscript to his HarperCollins editor.

And you won't believe what happened next (well, come to think of it, maybe you would):

I was told by my agent that my editor was upset and “deeply offended” that I had even dared advanced this idea...I was immediately removed from the publication schedule which as far as I know is odd and unprecedented, especially for an author who has had both critical and commercial success. This...happened before my agent had even communicated the editor’s demand that I immediately change the offending chapter to something more “socially” ( read “progressive” ) acceptable.

So there wasn't even any discussion, no "hey, we don't like this" or "could you change that"?, which is what I thought editors normally do. No, there was none of that, it was just wham, bam, "eff your book, and while we're at it, eff you too." Even though Cole wasn't some n00b upstart, but had a longstanding relationship with the publisher, one that made them money.

"You're not clapping loud enough, Comrade Cole!"

I suppose we could ask, by treating abortion as anything less than a holy sacrament, was Cole so naive that he didn't think he'd get such a negative reaction? Well, perhaps. But his novel wasn't some major pro-life polemic, the part about abortion was only a minor plot point, and it occupied only a small part of only one chapter. But, since the gatekeepers of mainstream publishing are mostly liberal white women, that was enough to get him in hot water.

Also, I have questions about the contract. Can publishers just sign a contract with an author and then turn around and say "eff you, go away"? Unless there's some sort of "out" clause, why wouldn't the Special Snowflake editor's treatment of Cole have put HarperCollins at risk of a breach-of-contract suit? I'm just throwing that out here, I have no idea of the ins and outs of book contracts, so perhaps you moron authors can put me some effing knowledge.

Anyway, this may all be water under the bridge now. Cole just took his novel that had sent his editor to her fainting couch and published it himself on Kindle. Heh. "Eff you? Right back atcha, HarperCollins."

The Evil Lord of Evil himself weighs in on this here, and, as you'd expect, his take is a lot better than mine, not the least because it's full of "inside-baseball" type sweetness. Here's a taste:

Once I started being really vocal I was shocked by how many well-known, established authors I met who had the wrong politics who were keeping their heads down out of fear of damaging their careers. I’m talking living legends, and I’m all like “Whoa… You?” There are lots more than you’d think. We’ve got like a secret handshake and a decoder ring and everything now.

Read it all.

I wonder how Brad Thor gets away with being an outspoken conservative? Perhaps he's too big to fail.

HarperCollins is a private firm. It can publish (or refuse to publish) any book they choose. I have to say this because the totalitarian lefties, all of whom are totes OK with government intrusion into every facet of your life, will suddenly go all libertarian when they have to defend the entrenched, political culture of the publishing industry. Obviously I'm not going to advocate legislation or lawsuits to counter the left-wing industry bias (which, incidentally, the born-again apostles of laissez-faire would do at the drop of a hat, if they were the ones getting short-shrifted). All I'm doing here is calling attention to the planet-sized left-wing gravity well of book publishing, and to supply evidence for this bias despite the left's tedious denials that such bias exists.

As for what to do about it, conservative authors need to realize (and I'm sure most of them do) that the cards are stacked against them, that their political views could be dangerous to their careers, and to make their plans accordingly.


The Rotting Corpse of Communism

Communism, and in particular the Bolshevist variety epoused by the commie thug Lenin and his followers, holds to a closed, material universe ("dialectical materialism" is their name for it). In this view, there is no supernature god, God, or eternal life and that what happens here stays here.

So it seems appropriate in a grisly sort of way that when Lenin finally shuffled off this mortal coil, his successors did not bury him, and thus consign him to the disintigration of his body into component atoms, thus erasing him from existence, but rather chose to preserve his memory the only way they knew how, but using state-of-the-art mortician's science to stave off the elements of decay. In this way, Lenin was given a sort of pseudo-immortality, the only immortality that dialectical materialism can afford.

Lenin died in 1924. So they've been preserving him and displaying him for 92 years. Boris Yeltsin supposedly wanted to finally bury the body and be done with it, but he never got around to it, and Putin nixed the idea, according to wikipedia, saying that a reburial of Lenin would "imply that generations of citizens had observed false values during 70 years of Soviet rule."

Yeah, no kidding. Isn't that the point?

Anyway, my point in bringing this up was to mention that the British-Canadian poet Robert W. Service wrote a poem called 'The Ballad of Lenin's Tomb', and whoever would think that would be a fit subject for a poem?

The poem's narrator meets this scary-looking Russian dude in a bar (with an eyepatch and a face like "a flaming scar") who tells him a macabre tale.

It's a longish poem, but here's a taste:

Where Lenin lies the red flag flies, and the rat-grey workers wait
To tread the gloom of Lenin's Tomb, where the Comrade lies in state.
With lagging pace they scan his face, so weary yet so firm;
For years a score they've laboured sore to save him from the worm.
The Kremlin walls are grimly grey, but Lenin's Tomb is red,
And pilgrims from the Sour Lands say: "He sleeps and is not dead."
Before their eyes in peace he lies, a symbol and a sign,
And as they pass that dome of glass they see - a God Divine.
So Doctors plug him full of dope, for if he drops to dust,
So will collapse their faith and hope, the whole combine will bust.
But say, Tovarich; hark to me . . . a secret I'll disclose,
For I did see what none did see; I know what no one knows.

You can read the rest of it over at the People's Cube site.

And by the way, Lenin is not the only commie thug-in-chief whose embalmed body is on display for the masses. The human remains of Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh have also received the same treatment from their respective countries.

I've always thought that Lenin's body on display is emblematic of the whole communist enterprise. And by that I mean, it's a lifeless, rotting corpse that requires extensive artificial support in order to prevent it from completely falling apart.


Look What I've Found

Here's yet another eBook discount service: BookPerk. It works a little bit differently than the other ones I've mentioned. BookPerk requires you to download an app onto your mobile device and all the deal notifications are sent to it. And when you purchase one, it's stored in the app's own library, which comes with its own e-reader. Most of the deals seem to be for $1.99 or $0.99. And like the other notification services, the deals are almost always from indie writers, and you'll rarely see the latest bestsellers from popular "mainstream" authors such as Stephen King or John Grisham, no, you'll still have to pay $15.99 for those. But still, you can get some great books at very good prices.

Bookperk offered a free eBook for signing up (also for free), so I chose a Tony Hillerman mystery, The Blessing Way, which normally sells for $8.99.

Although I don't know if I'm going to continue with the service. I don't really like the idea of having to install yet another e-reader app to read their books.

So for the sake of completeness, here are the other ebook discount notification services:

1. BookBub
2. eReaderIQ
3. EarlyBirdBooks

Let me know if any of you morons find any others.


What I'm Reading

This was a freebie I got from eReaderIQ, the historical novel A Victorian Gent by Andrew Wareham, the first of his "Making of a Man" series.

Naïve Dick Burke is hoodwinked into marrying a man-hungry aristocrat’s daughter who just seven months later produces a son!

Suckerrrrrrrrrr!

It’s the start of a long humiliation that sees Dick flee to America as the Civil War looms. Siding with the Union, the conflict could be the making or the breaking of him, as could his alliance with Elizabeth, an attractive and feisty American businesswoman.

The series should be read in order, according to the Amazon blurb. Which shouldn't be hard because there are only 2 installments, so far.

Another historical novel that caught my eye when I was looking at Wareham's book was Vae Victis: To The Victors Go The Spoils And Woe To The Vanquished by Tom Higham.

Vae Victis in Latin means "Woe to the Vanquished". The entire quote is, "To the victors go the spoils, and woe to the vanquished." Set in first century B.C. Rome and Gaul during Julius Caesar's eight year war on Gaul, this book was painstakingly researched by the author in both Latin and French as well as English, to gain an intimate view into the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of the armies and peoples on both sides of the conflict.

So what is it actually about?

The tale begins with him watching a famed gladiator fight for his freedom in the arena. Later, as the war in Gaul unfolds, he describes the fighting in detail, up close and personal. The reader sees the battles through his eyes, hears the sounds of the battles through his ears, feels the weapons in his hands, smells the blood soaking the ground. The reader is taken along into the battles alongside of the combatants, first with the Roman soldiers, and later with the valiant warriors of Gaul.

After all that, I still don't know what it's about, other than there's lots of fighting (and a love story, too), and the Amazon description is too long. But it was the phrase "painstakingly researched" that drew me in. I want to hear Vercingetorix speak in such a way that brings to mind 1st century B.C. Gaul, and not 21st century America.

So yeah, I plunked down my $2.99. The publication date of this novel is Feb. 2016, there's no indication that it's the first of a series, and I don't see any other books by this author. But even so, I figure it's worth the risk.

___________


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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