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February 23, 2020

Sunday Morning Book Thread 02-23-2020

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Rare Book Room, Henry Charles Lea Library, University of Pennsylvania

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), stumblers, fumblers, mumblers, and other maladroits. 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, if you're looking for evidence that we're hurtling toward a very unpleasant dystopian future, you've hit the jackpot.

Pic Note:

*No one* expects the Spanish Inquisition:

Henry Charles Lea, Philadelphia publisher and civic reformer, was also America's first distinguished historian of the European middle ages, focusing on the Inquisition and ecclesiastical history and magic and witchcraft. His library became a specialized working collection out of which Lea wrote his History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages (1888), History of the Inquisition of Spain (1906-1908), and other studies including substantial work on the Inquisition in Spanish America.

All of Lea's books on the history of the Inquisition are available on Kindle for cheap.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

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"Yet somehow, those guys keep
getting elected."

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Page from a book about witchcraft from the 1400s

More photos from the Lea Library here

Trump's Books -- Part 2

As I said last week:

If I were a reporter assigned to cover Trump, the first thing I'd do is try to find out as much as I could about him. I'd try to find out what he thinks and why he thinks what he thinks. And one of the ways I could accomplish this is to find out what books he has read, what books he recommends and which books are his favorites.

I wonder how many of the reporters yelling questions at the president as he walks to his waiting helicopter have actually done this?

Anyway, I found this article that contains a list of Donald Trump's 10 favorite books. The author doesn't say how she knows this is the definitive top-10 list, so I'm taking her word for it here.

Last week, I covered the surprising number of books on the list about China. There are still some surprises left. Such as Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein

Topics include the meaning of life, wealth, personality, academic freedom, human rights, socialism economics, good and evil, and much more.

And then there's The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, the classic self-help book that teaches the reader to

· Believe in yourself and in everything you do
· Build new power and determination
· Develop the power to reach your goals
· Break the worry habit and achieve a relaxed life
· Improve your personal and professional relationships
· Assume control over your circumstances
· Be kind to yourself

Sounds like President Trump has put a lot of this into practice.

Another surprise is Essays and Lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I'm not sure what to say about this book or how to speculate why PDT might have liked it since I'm completely unfamiliar with the author and with the philosophy known as Transcendentalism.

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, is no doubt useful in the world of business as well as politics:

The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics. Although it is relatively short, the treatise is the most remembered of Machiavelli's works and the one most responsible for bringing the word "Machiavellian" into usage as a pejorative. It also helped make "Old Nick" an English term for the devil, and even contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words "politics" and "politician" in western countries.

Finally, The Art of War by Sun Tzu is at the top of the list of Trump's favorite books. I can see why. It's principles are general and flexible enough that they can be used in any human conflict or competition, not just military.

I downloaded a copy and glanced through it. I thought this was notable:

The 14 Deceptions:

01. pretend to be incompetent
02. disguise when troops are about to be deployed
03. when near, appear far
04. when far, appear near
05. offer the enemy what it wants
06. create disorder and strike
07. when the enemy is prepared for attack, prepare to defend
08. avoid engaging an enemy that is stronger than you
09. enrage the enemy into making mistakes
10. feign inactivity to put the enemy off guard
11. when the enemy is at full strength, tire them out
12. where there is unity, sow discord
13. attack where the enemy is unprepared
14. appear where and when unexpected

Are these not Trump, or what? I think he uses them all, especially numbers 1,6,9,13,and 9. Yeah, I said 9 twice. Because I think Trump really likes #9.

We should be really thankful that everyone in the MSM/infortainment complex are all so caught up in how super-smart they are so it will never occur to them to realize that if this is Trump's favorite book, then maybe they should read it and try to understand the principles it espouses to get a handle on how Donald Trump thinks and why he does what he does. But not only do they not do this, but Trump knows they will never do this, so he's not shy about telling the press what he's doing.

But if reading an entire book is too taxing, then maybe they should understand this famous Sun Tzu quote:

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

Or, as Donald Trump would say, "the leaks are real, but the news is fake."

Who Dis:

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Last week's 'who dis' was Ava Gardner, and, judging from the thead comments, not her best photo.

Bookshelf Inserts

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You can see more here. Very cleverly done. The Bladerunner themed insert looked like it took a lot of work. (h/t Shibumi)

Books By Morons

The plot of the new novel by moron author A.H. Lloyd is based on a phenomenon not often discussed, namely, vampires in Michigan. In fact, that's pretty much the title of the book:

Vampires have a saying: life is good but unlife is better.

Dwight Emerson "Zip" Zimmer might find this out for himself - if he isn't killed first.

There he was, playing in a weekend band in Marquette, Michigan and trying to put his life together when a beautiful and mysterious woman approached him after one of his bar gigs. The next thing he knows, he's in the middle of a torrid love affair and caught in up in a bloody vendetta between the Vampires of Michigan.

Author A.H. Lloyd's eighth novel takes readers on a wild ride of nonstop action from the mean streets of Detroit to the shores of Lake Superior. Violent, sexy and wickedly funny, the Vampires of Michigan is a fresh take on the timeless story of boy meets undead girl.

In his e-mail to me, Mr. Lloyd did not mention whether any Yoopers were harmed in the writing of this novel.

The Vampires of Michigan can be had for a mere $2.99.


Oh, and speaking of Michigan:

They Don't Publish Books Like This Any More:

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(h/t hogmartin for the photo)


Moron Recommendations

Plucked this rec out of one of this week's rant threads:

Just finished a fascinating biography about the perpetually-indebted Jefferson and his family post-presidency entitled "Twilight at Monticello." I love that he was *proud* I'm having left the White House pooor than when he entered -- proving to his countrymen and posterity that he was neither corrupt nor in politics for personal gain.

Would recommend.

Posted by: ShainS, vote Bernie 2020 -- Make Gulags Great Again! at February 19, 2020 12:29 PM (HHmur)

It really is amazing how many of our congressmen and senators get very wealthy after election. It's like just living in Washington DC enables them to start soaking up money like a sponge. My favorite example of this is (now retired) senator Harry Reid, dirt poor guy from Searchlight, Nevada, got into politics and left congress a millionaire. Amazing how that works. I don't think our country will ever really be fixed until this phenomenon is addressed.

Anyway, Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson sounds like an interesting history:

Twilight at Monticello is something entirely new: an unprecedented and engrossing personal look at the intimate Jefferson in his final years that will change the way readers think about this true American icon. It was during these years–from his return to Monticello in 1809 after two terms as president until his death in 1826–that Jefferson’s idealism would be most severely, and heartbreakingly, tested.

Based on new research and documents culled from the Library of Congress, the Virginia Historical Society, and other special collections, including hitherto unexamined letters from family, friends, and Monticello neighbors, Alan Pell Crawford paints an authoritative and deeply moving portrait of Thomas Jefferson as private citizen–the first original depiction of the man in more than a generation.

Touring Monticello, which I have done, is a real treat, and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity. I was especially impressed with Jefferson's alcove bed, that was positioned between his bedroom ("bed chamber") and study ("cabinet") where he got most of his work done. I'm not sure this is the most efficient use of indoor space, but it sure looked cool and I'm sure it suited his purposes.

The Kindle edition of Twilight at Monticello is $9.99.


11 I read The Whisper Man by Alex North. This is a scary, well-plotted thriller about young boys going missing in a small town where five similar cases happened twenty years ago. The perpetrator of those cases is in prison, so who is the new murderer? A very enjoyable mystery.

Posted by: Zoltan at February 16, 2020 09:14 AM (PevXk)

This one sounds pretty intense:

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes...And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window...

The Whisper Man will cost you $13.99, about the same price as the hardcover and paperback editions.


101 JTB, have you ever read any Edward Rowe Snow?

Posted by: Mary Poppins' Practically Perfect Piercing at February 16, 2020 09:51 AM (Ki5SV)

I had never heard of this author, but according to his wikipedia page,

Snow is widely known for his stories of pirates and other nautical subjects; he wrote over forty books and many shorter publications. In all, he was the author of more than 100 publications, mainly about New England coastal history.

Mr. Snow was also a major chronicler of New England maritime history. With the publication of The Islands of Boston Harbor in 1935, he became famous as a historian of the New England coast and also as a popular storyteller, lecturer, preservationist, and treasure hunter. Forty years later, he was still publishing.

On Amazon, he has many seafarin' books, but few on Kindle. One that is, though, and which is very appropriate for this blog, is Pirates and Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast

Here is a volume devoted exclusively to the buccaneers and pirates who infested the shores, bays, and islands of the Atlantic Coast of North America. This is no collection of Old Wives' Tales, half-myth, half-truth, handed down from year to year with the story more distorted with each telling, nor is it a work of fiction. This book is an accurate account of the most outstanding pirates who ever visited the shores of the Atlantic Coast.

These are stories of stark realism. None of the artificial school of sheltered existence is included. Except for the extreme profanity, blasphemy, and obscenity in which most pirates were adept, everything has been included which is essential for the reader to get a true and fair picture of the life of a sea-rover.

Bold, daring adventurers, whose deeds are still discussed from the far reaches of North America to the tropical islands of the West Indies, parade through the pages of this volume. There is hardly a square mile of sandy beach from the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland to Key West, Florida, which has not felt the imprint of the buccaneer's boot.

Shiver me timbers! The Kindle edition is only $4.99. Arrrr!

Other titles include Mysteries and Adventures Along the Atlantic Coast, Storms and Shipwrecks of New England, and A Pilgrim Returns to Cape Cod,

...which was originally published in 1946, is an engrossing tale that chronicles Edward Rowe Snow’s 235-mile trek through Cape Cod that same year.

Owing to its historic, maritime character and ample beaches, Cape Cod, which extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of mainland Massachusetts in northeastern USA, is a popular tourist attraction particularly during the summer months.

Filled with information on the maritime history of this area, with the author’s usual emphasis on the lighthouses, life-saving and shipwrecks, this book provides a wealth of information on the area.

This one is available on Kindle for $4.99.

Snow passed in 1982 at the age of 80.


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.

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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digg this
posted by OregonMuse at 09:00 AM

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