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« EMT 08/30/20 | Main | Different Moral Universes Include Different Levels Of Politeness »
August 30, 2020

Sunday Morning Book Thread 08-30-2020

hpowells books 04.jpg
Powell's Books, Portland, OR

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), gloaters, yodellers, teetotallers, motorboaters, and random floaters. 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 any of these pants, as we see here being worn by the bridal attendants at Pete Buttigieg's wedding.

Pic Note:

Powell's Books is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country:

Powell's Books is an independent bookseller serving Portland, Oregon, since 1971. Through and our expansive online community, we also reach readers around the world, people who are as excited about books as we are.

We are grounded by our company's core values, which have guided us through the ups and downs of the bookselling industry. Each and every employee's love of books drives us forward.

Our mission is to be the world's best destination for readers, a place that fosters a culture of reading and connects people with the books they'll love.

Fortunately, Powell's isn't in the path of the riot. At leasr not yet.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

The smallest discernible movement of a computer mouse, equal to 1/200th of an inch, is called a MICKEY.

I thought a MICKEY was the smallest number of years that Disney could ask for to get their copyright(s) extended.

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."

--Oscar Wilde

powells books rare book room 01.jpg
Rare Book Room, Powell's Books

Who Is The Worst President Ever? The Answer May Surprise You

Author Robert Spencer (no, not Richard Spencer, the white soclalist racist who endorsed Joe Biden), known for anti-jihad books such as The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World's Fastest-Growing Faith is evidently weary of the usual 'Greatest Presidents' books and wants to establish some new evaluative criteria, which he explains in his newly published book, Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster:

Most historians of the American presidency—walking in lockstep with today’s hard-Left academic establishment—favor presidents who were big-government statists and globalists. They dislike presidents who lowered taxes, protected American workers, and avoided getting the United States entangled in foreign conflicts that had nothing to do with protecting the American people. It is through that prism that they see all of American history...

This book, therefore, rates the presidents not on the basis of criteria developed by socialist internationalist historians, but on their fidelity to the United States Constitution and to the powers, and limits to those powers, of the president as delineated by the Founding Fathers. America’s presidents are rated on the extent to which they put America First—not in the sense of a narrow isolationism, but whether they really advanced the interests of the American people...This book offers what should be the only criteria for rating the occupants of the White House: were they good for America?

With this criteria, it's not hard to imagine who Spencer would think the best president is. But the worst? I don't know, but perhaps Dwight Eisenhower should be downgraded a bit. According to this review of Spencer's book, in 1954, Eisenhower said his guiding philosophy was:

“I have just one purpose, outside of the job of keeping this world in peace…and that is to build up a strong progressive Republican Party in this country. If the right wing wants a fight, they are going to get it. If they want to leave the Republican Party and form a third party, that’s their business, but before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won’t be with them anymore.”

To be fair, 1954 was about the time when the John Birch Society was claiming that Dwight was a self-conscious agent of the Soviet Union, so I suppose we can cut him some slack for being a bit testy. Still, he really didn't do anything to push back against any part of the New Deal expansion of government put in place by FDR, and the long-term consequences of his inaction are still being felt today. Eisenhower pretty much set the tone for a go-along-to-get-along Republican party that simply echoed whatever the Democrats were saying, only at a lower volume. The GOP allowed the Democrats define the narrative and to set the terms of every policy debate.

And then, in 1964, Eisenhower wrote:

I am increasingly disturbed by the steady, obvious drift of our nation toward a centralization of power of the Federal Government.



And in this fact is found the primary reason why I sincerely urge all voters, no matter their present political affiliations, to take a fresh, thoughtful look at the basic Republican philosophy and Republican performance as compared to that of the Democrat.

Because limited government is tight!

But at this point, a reasonable person might ask, what's the difference? Eisenhower had spent his entire presidency blurring the two parties so that it was virtually impossible for his audience to make the distinction he was encouraging them to see. And Goldwater was not all that popular even in his own party, and he was about to be crushed by the corrupt LBJ. After that, the GOP was nothing but Nelson Rockefellers as far as the eye could see.

So I don't really know who Spencer would rate as the worst president. You can spend $9.99 for the Kindle edition of his book and find out.

Who Dis:

who dis 20200829.jpg

(Last week's 'who dis' was loveable mop-top John Lennon and his songbird wife, Yoko Ono.

Moron Recommendations

12 Good morning fellow book lovers. I finished the book "Crossings" by Alex Landragin last Sunday; read it all in one sitting, in one day. Highly recommend - I started talking about it in last week's thread. It's three stories woven together, and the conceit is that the author, who purports to be the bookbinder, "stole" the manuscript from a client who died while he had it in his shop. The manuscript says these are all true tales - of a woman who lived seven generations, and the people she affected. The stories are fantastical tales which intertwine and can be read in order, or, in a special order published in the preface. Either way it is a delight!

Posted by: CarolinaGirl at August 23, 2020 09:06 AM (Kh9rg)

This looks like an ingeniously constructed novel:

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.

The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.

With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.

The Kindle edition is $14.99. I want to read it, but I'll wait until it goes on sale.


82 This week I finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. What a good book. It's about a Russian count who is declared a Former Person after the Bolshevik Revolution. He is allowed to live because of a poem attributed to him, but he is sentenced to live the rest of his life in the Moscow hotel where he has been living, only instead of living in his luxurious suite, he is moved to a 100 sq. ft. room in the attic, and is never allowed to set foot outside the hotel. In spite of all that, he manages to live a full and fulfilling life, if not an easy one.

It's a beautiful story of patience, acceptance, friendship, and love. I highly recommend it.

Posted by: bluebell at August 23, 2020 09:42 AM (/669Q)

There's not really anything the Amazon blurb can add to this. A Gentleman in Moscow is a yuuge bestseller, at least on Amazon. The Kindle edition is $13.99.

Towles' first novel is Rules of Civility, a novel about "a young woman in post-Depression era New York who suddenly finds herself thrust into high society—..."

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.


221...I see that there is a new book out the infamous Japanese Unit 731. I doubt I'll read it anytime soon since I'm depressed enough about current conditions without paying money to become more depressed.

Posted by: Anonosaurus Wrecks, Tyrannosaur Wrangler at August 23, 2020 10:42 AM (+y/Ru)

Here's the book he's talking about, Marutas of Unit 731: Human Experimentation of the Forgotten Asian Auschwitz, and it's not for the faint of heart. Joseph Mengele was a rank amateur compared to these guys:

Euphemistically labeled as the "Water Supply and Prophylaxis Administration" and "HippoEpizootic Administration" of the Imperial Japanese Army, Unit 731 and Unit 100, as well as their subsidiary branches, performed human experimentation on the innocents under the leadership of Dr. Ishii Shiro...

For the scientists to treat the prisoners less like humans, they called them "Marutas" or logs. The experimentations included their reaction to bubonic plague, typhoid, paratyphoid A and B, typhus, anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, infectious jaundice, gas gangrene, tetanus,...epidemic hemorrhagic fever,...and many other viruses and bacteria. To observe the real-time effects of these deadly diseases and bacteria, these prisoners were often subject to vivisections without the use of anesthesia.

Ugh. This is real horror movie stuff. And then:

These "medical doctors" who performed routine human experiments were allowed to escape persecution, unlike their Nazi counterparts in Europe. Most of them were rewarded handsomely with great careers after the war. Not only did they not face any consequences, but most of them also lived successfully after the war was over.

I think what happened here was that at some point, the Japanese war crimes trials were discontinued, thanks to the post-war realignment. The USSR was asshoe, as was China, and we really needed an ally in the region. So we just sort of swept everything, including the horrors of Unit 731, under the rug of realpolitik.


20200830 book pic 02.jpg

Books By Morons

I first mentioned lurking author James Bartlett's mysteries set in the world of professional golf a couple of years ago. The main character is former golf tour professional (and now reporter and writer) Pete Hacker.

This latest entry is P.G.A. Spells Death and Hacker has landed a sweet new gig as a TV golf broadcaster. Amazon says It’s another golf-crazy mystery from the author Golfweek Magazine calls "the Dick Francis of golf."

Golf writer Hacker is now TV golf broadcaster Hacker with a sweet new gig on a national network. He has to learn the ins and outs of televising golf, and how to deal with the hyper-intense executive producer and director, Ben ‘the Assassin’ Oswald, as they get ready to broadcast the PGA Championship, staged at international developer Conrad Gold’s luxury club in upstate New York.

And then the bodies begin to pile up. First is a fellow announcer on the crew, then the assistant to Oswald in the control room. So as Hacker trades quips in the booth with Billy Joe ‘the Boz’ Bosworth, he’s gotta figure out who’s killing the network guys, one by one.

$3.99 on Kindle.

Previous books in this series include Death in a Green Jacket and Death is a Two-Stroke Penalty. The latter is available for $0.99.


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.

20200830 book pic 01.jpg
(Click to see larger image)

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