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November 10, 2019

Sunday Morning Book Thread 11-10-2019

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Academic Bookstore, Helsinki, Finland

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), acidheads, crackheads, cokeheads, methheads, potheads, and teetotallers. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, which even Steve Buscemi would be ashamed to wear.

Pic Note:

This is apparently one in a chain of bookstores:

Designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto—one of the most important members of the Scandinavian modernist movement—the Academic Bookstore‘s flagship location in central Helsinki is a modern masterpiece. Sunlight pours in through the glass skylights, illuminating the white marble and blond wood interior. The shop carries around 450,000 volumes, with a large selection of books in English and other foreign languages. Architecture and design buffs should check out the Designmuseo (Design Museum) nearby.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

Know the difference!

is land.jpg

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Progressive Book of the Week

I picked up an interesting follower on Twitter the other day, to wit: a progressive who isn't a screaming maniac. And he's probably marveling that I'm not screaming at him.

I don't check who follows me, so I think if there are any progressives, they're probably there by mistake, but not this guy. I was running my mouth about the electoral college and he broke into the convo and complimented me even if he didn't agree with me, and told me specifically that he had read through my time line and he was going to be following me. So I glanced through his TL and it's pretty strongly anti-Trump, as one would expect from a progressive. So I followed him back and we swapped some DMs about whether Trump's followers exhibit cult-like behavior. Obviously we don't agree, but the point is, we're actually had a conversation and didn't just yell insults. He actually agreed with a couple of my points.

Call it "interfaith dialog."

Along the way, he indicated some familiarity with AoSHQ, so I think he probably lurks here. I told him about the book thread and then I had an idea:

I would like to ask you to suggest a progressive book that you think that conservatives ought to read and a brief review that would explain why.

If it's interesting enough, I would then publish it on the book thread.

He then responded with this:

I suggest to you a progressive book for your reading pleasure: The Age of Reform by Richard Hofstadter, a book on the reformation movement in America which spans the late 1800ís through the New Deal of the 1930ís up through to 1940. Many of the issues encountered in the reading are remarkably similar to what we see in politics today, polarization, propaganda, divisions, and movements both for and against capitalism. Iíve found in reading this as much as things change, they stay the same. This book doesnít address these elements well from a historical angle (itís debatably inaccurate in detail) and is highly opinionated, but a very well written philosophical one that demonstrates a strong belief for reform.
Available on Google Play, $8.99

The wiki entry for The Age of Reform is a lot more comprehensive than the Amazon blurb:

The Age of Reform is a genuine evaluation of the reform associations from William Jennings Bryan to Franklin Roosevelt. Rather than just provide a copious number of details of each reform movement, Hofstadter instead analyzes the ideas of the average participant, not the legislative or political philosophies. That makes it an innovative historical work. In the introduction, Hofstadter states his point clearly: his purpose is to analyze the reformations in modern perspective and to define the distinctions between each of them. By the book's conclusion, Hofstadter has effectively done so.

The clearest example of his efficacy is in the final chapter on the New Deal. The last section has an abundance of acute disparities between the New Deal and the closely related Populist and Progressive reforms. Despite the vast number of facts and outside sources, Hofstadter effectively organized the book both chronologically and topically. His method of order accommodates the reader in that each reform is divided into chapters that are then divided into specific sections. By dividing up the material into smaller portions, the main points are easily accessed.

Richard Hofstadler was one of America's preeminent historians and public intellectuals of the mid-20th century.

As a historian, his main weakness was that

...he did little or no research into manuscripts, newspapers, archival, or unpublished sources. Instead, he primarily relied upon secondary sources augmented by his lively style and wide-ranging interdisciplinary readings, thus producing very well-written arguments based upon scattered evidence he found by reading other historians.

Despite this, he won a Pulitzer Prize twice, the first in 1956 for The Age of Reform, the second in 1964 for Anti-intellectualism in American Life. The latter is reviewed here, which includes this overview of Hofstadler's life and career:

He was born in 1916, and as a young man he had the standard flirtation with Communism of intellectuals of his generation. He briefly joined the Communist Party USA. By the time Anti-Intellectualism in American Life was published (1963), he was a mainstream liberal, not a radical. In the final pages in the book he seems to catch a whiff of the coming of the student radicalism of the sixties, and he doesn’t like it. After the 1968 student strike at Columbia University, his academic home, he disliked it intensely. It isn’t clear where Hofstadter would have wound up politically, because he died in 1970, at the age of 54.

So he was a liberal, not really a progressive. Perhaps he would be a progressive today. I think that's likely. Though today's progressives would probably call him a fascist.

There were a number of old-school liberals like this who hated the incursion of the "New Left" movement, hippies, student radicals and anti-war protestors, the SDS, all that. Al Capp, the author of the comic strip "Li'l Abner", was another one. The section on Capp's wiki page covering the 60s makes for interesting reading.

Anyway, The Age of Reform is long OOP, in addition to Google Play, Amazon has The Age of Reform: From Bryan to FDR on Kindle for $13.99, or used dead tree editions for considerably cheaper. But the good news is that this book, published in 1955, is now in the public domain, so you can download various e-versions from for free.

Who Dis:

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Last Sunday's 'Who Dis' was Joanne Woodward.

Moron Recommendations

This one came up in one of the morning threads:

370 The book is riveting.

Not a spoiler; the whale ship sinks in the first chapter. The whole rest is about their efforts to get back.

The captain was one of the survivors and actually was given another ship to captain afterward. I think maybe that one sank too.

Posted by: TexasDan at November 04, 2019 11:05 AM (yL25O)

A later comment made it clear that this book being discussed here is In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick:

In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. In the Heart of the Sea—and now, its epic adaptation for the screen—will forever place the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.

It also says these are the events upon which the book Moby Dick was based.

(This sounds familiar. I seem to remember they made this into a movie. Let me check... Yes, they did)

Philbrick has written a series on the Revolutionary War that sounds like it might be interesting. The first is Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution:

In the opening volume of his acclaimed American Revolution series, Nathaniel Philbrick turns his keen eye to pre-Revolutionary Boston and the spark that ignited the American Revolution. In the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party and the violence at Lexington and Concord, the conflict escalated and skirmishes gave way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was the bloodiest conflict of the revolutionary war, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists. Philbrick gives us a fresh view of the story and its dynamic personalities, including John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and George Washington. With passion and insight, he reconstructs the revolutionary landscape—geographic and ideological—in a mesmerizing narrative of the robust, messy, blisteringly real origins of America.

This is followed by Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution and then In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown


And here's another novel about manly seafarin' men, The Last Voyage: Captain Cook's Lost Diary.

From Christopher Taylor's review on GoodReads:

In this book, Innes proposes that Cook wrote a second, more personal diary for his own thoughts and fears which he kept from the public and was lost over time...The details of sea life, captaining a vessel, the demands of controlling men's passions and baser interests, discipline, and the various problems of simply sailing a small ship around 2/3rds of the planet's surface are well told here with humor, intelligence, and fun. But in the end, it is a dark and sad story in which a very great man was lost to the world through some stupid misunderstandings and human corruption.

So the diary is fictitious, but it's fun to speculate what Captain Cook would have written.

First published in 1981, this book is now OOP. But used copies are available.


173 I'm reading "The Passage" by Justin Cronin. Basically if Stephen King wrote World War Z and replaced the zombies with vampires you would have The Passage. It's excellent, it's huge. I'm in the middle at this point so this is not a final review.

Posted by: Max Power at November 03, 2019 09:57 AM (QCc6B)

Oh yeah, I thought this looked familiar, I watched the TV adaptation on Fox.

The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Naturally, The Passage: A Novel is the first of a series. And, even though you'll be paying $9.99 for the Kindle edition, it's almost 900 pages, so that's a lot of story for your buck.

Mrs. Muse and I were dissatisfied with the series, though, because after spending 10 episodes introducing us to and developing the characters, in the last 5 minutes of the last episode, the action shifts to 90 years in the future. So everybody we knew except Amy, the main character, is now dead. We said "well, screw this" and that was the end of that. I see The Passage didn't get picked up for a second season, anyway, which kind of spoils our flounce-out if there's nothing there not to watch? Anyway, perhaps the book handles it better, but we just felt kind of cheated.


26 I backed Neon Revolt's book, Revolution Q: The Story of QAnon and the 2nd American Revolution, and received a pre-release copy. The book argues that there is a secret war underway between Patriots and a Cabal aimed at doing whatever it takes to retain power. The book offers an interesting lens through which to interpret and understand current events and recent history. It will be released November 6.

Posted by: Hans G. Schantz at October 27, 2019 09:15 AM (FXjhj)

This seems a bit overblown to me, but it might be interesting:

Neon Revolt, author of the popular website and over five hundred articles discussing Q, delivers the most definitive book on QAnon in the world

Revolution Q is a mind-bending survey of the Q movement written by one of the most qualified voices in the Q space to date. Drawing on his skills as a master storyteller, Neon brings the reader straight into the front lines of the information war that is currently raging on all around. [b]This is a war between two factions: Patriots, whose only allegiance is to Life and Truth, and the Cabal, an ad hoc network of sinister fiends desperate to maintain control over the masses, and who will do whatever it takes to stay in power.[/b] What emerges from all this all is a portrait of a struggle unlike anything humanity has ever known; a struggle between Light and Dark, between the highest Good and terrifying Evil few can truly comprehend.

I don't know enough about QAnon to even have an opinion, so I will limit my usual running off at the mouth to just this: I have an instinctive distrust for these sorts of Manichaeistic explanations where you have all the guys in black hats crowded onto one side and all of the guys in white hats bunched up together on the other. Reality is usually a lot more complicated.

But for those who are interested, Revolution Q is available for $9.99 on Kindle.

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Books By Morons

'Ette author Libby e-mails:

My mystery novel, DEATH IS THE COOL NIGHT (by Libby Sternberg), was a quarter finalist in the 2019 BookLife contest. This is a contest run by Publishers Weekly for self-published books. They gave it a wonderful blurb: "Superior prose carries this story of a brooding pianist alcoholic who worries that he might be guilty of killing a loathsome conductor. Musicians and murder make for an especially neurotic entanglement of suspects. Bravo!"

She's recently revised the Kindle version, and will do the print one soon.


In other news, I've released the third in a sweet romance series set along the Delaware coastline. Called ANNE'S FAMILY PLAN (by Libby Malin), this book tells the love story of a civilian physical therapist and a "fast burner" pilot at Dover AFB. I was fortunate enough to get lots of info from my own USAF pilot son to help with verisimilitude, something the BookLife folks picked up on in their blurb for it: "This book features an uncommon plot and unique take on modern-day romance and one that highlighted some pervasive, but little seen, aspects of military life…The standard love-story trope is elevated here into something intriguing, quickly capturing and keeping the reader’s attention."

The Kindle version is available now at the sweet and low launch price of 99 cents and will be in print soon.



Conservative author Rolf Nelson has just published a coming-of-age novel set in the universe of his previous novel, which I'll get to shortly. His new one is called Komenagen: Slog

Skaffington White is a sixteen-year-old nobody in New Philly as far as the rest of his high school class-mates are concerned. Bright and honest enough to be a discipline problem at school, under-appreciated by his accountant father and mousy mother, he was just putting in seat-time at school until he could graduate. At least until a drug raid gone wrong left him an orphan with three younger siblings. None of his extended family was willing to take in what the government described as an entirely too independent problem child…. How could he get a new start in life that didn’t go through Enlightenment Foster Care Facility Number Four, with level two treatment? Could a wilderness trek for the pitiless Plateans offer a way out, or will it lead only to a cold, lonely death on a barely terraformed planet? How much worse can the wild of a new world be than the impersonal bureaucracy of “civilization”?

This is the backstory to one of the central characters in his previous novel, The Stars Came Back:

Helton Strom is just a guy between contracts when he runs afoul of both officialdom and space pirates. He is left with nothing but the clothes on his back, and not even a citizenship to his name. Is the ancient, broken-down military surplus starship and the young lady living aboard it the key to a bright future, or will his repairs and new mercenary friends reawaken the demons lurking in the ship’s murky and lethal past?

THE STARS CAME BACK is part space-western, the story of folks just trying stay alive, seeking work to earn money for repairs to get to the next job, with no shortage of action and adventure along the way. It is part military sci-fi, with a company of mercenaries, spaceship combat, mortar and rifle combat, spear-and-shield battle, and PTSD. And it is part philosophical investigation, pondering the lessons of Achilles, if a computer can have a soul, what freedom means, and how one stops a bar fight with earplugs.

Written in a format similar to a screenplay, the book includes various graphics, including the blueprints of the ship.

It's amazing to me how much Firefly has influenced the science fiction genre.

The Kindle edition of each book is $4.99, not a bad price.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, insults, threats, ugly pants pics and moron library submissions 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.

If you like, you can follow me on Twitter, where I make the occasional snarky comment.

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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posted by OregonMuse at 09:00 AM

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