What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

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emilyinsf
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by emilyinsf » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:27 pm

Season of the Witch by David Talbot - a history of San Francisco from 1967 to the early 1980's. I am 25% of the way in, and it is great so far. It is told through in-depth studies of various historical figures and groups and is very entertaining. Kept me up way too late last night. For anyone who happens to be in SF, the public library is holding several events related to the book this month.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:08 am

emilyinsf wrote:Season of the Witch by David Talbot - a history of San Francisco from 1967 to the early 1980's. I am 25% of the way in, and it is great so far. It is told through in-depth studies of various historical figures and groups and is very entertaining. Kept me up way too late last night. For anyone who happens to be in SF, the public library is holding several events related to the book this month.


Thank you for that, it looks very interesting. There are many parallels to what Toronto went through (in a much quieter, more Canadian fashion ;-)) in the same period. And of course, below the surface, AIDS was bubbling up in both cities and *that* would bring a lot of the covert into the overt.

Joe Gore's thriller Interface , is set in the same time period (as perhaps was "The Streets of San Francisco" ?). It was a time of great change. Of course SF is now undergoing the next great change, to become the city of the global financial megalopolis- like London, New York, Vancouver. That too is/ will be wrenching.

So the becoming of the city Talbot celebrates is, in turn, passing on to something else. The cycle goes on.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:12 am

heartwood wrote:
Nicolas wrote:My Struggle (Book One) by Karl Ove Knausgaard, English translation from the original Norwegian.


I started the same book a week or so ago. I put it aside to read other books. I may go back to it, but am not sure. The reviews are generally wonderful, but the first hundred pages left me wondering why I was reading it. I'd welcome any encouragement.


I am disconcerted, because I believe the English translation of Mein Kampf is "my struggle (or battle)" ? Does the Norwegian author mean to make some kind of ironic bridge to one of the world's best-selling* (but least read) "I wish we had paid attention when this was published" notorious books?

Or just a coincidence of translation.

EDIT

answered myself by consulting wikipedia. No, it's not accidental. See my reply below to Pezblanco.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by pezblanco » Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:28 am

Valuethinker wrote:
heartwood wrote:
Nicolas wrote:My Struggle (Book One) by Karl Ove Knausgaard, English translation from the original Norwegian.


I started the same book a week or so ago. I put it aside to read other books. I may go back to it, but am not sure. The reviews are generally wonderful, but the first hundred pages left me wondering why I was reading it. I'd welcome any encouragement.


I am disconcerted, because I believe the English translation of Mein Kampf is "my struggle (or battle)" ? Does the Norwegian author mean to make some kind of ironic bridge to one of the world's best-selling* (but least read) "I wish we had paid attention when this was published" notorious books?

Or just a coincidence of translation.



In Norwegian it is "Min Kamp". Given Norway's experience in WW2, I doubt very much that the title is a coincidence.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:48 am

pezblanco wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
heartwood wrote:
Nicolas wrote:My Struggle (Book One) by Karl Ove Knausgaard, English translation from the original Norwegian.


I started the same book a week or so ago. I put it aside to read other books. I may go back to it, but am not sure. The reviews are generally wonderful, but the first hundred pages left me wondering why I was reading it. I'd welcome any encouragement.


I am disconcerted, because I believe the English translation of Mein Kampf is "my struggle (or battle)" ? Does the Norwegian author mean to make some kind of ironic bridge to one of the world's best-selling* (but least read) "I wish we had paid attention when this was published" notorious books?

Or just a coincidence of translation.



In Norwegian it is "Min Kamp". Given Norway's experience in WW2, I doubt very much that the title is a coincidence.


I don't know enough about what the author is trying to do. Yes given the similarity of name in German and Norwegian, it doesn't sound like it can be an accident. Of course I could have read it up in Wikipedia, first:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Strugg ... 5rd_novels)

reading through this gave me a better picture. The 5th volume in fact included a 400 page meditation on the topic, which was cut. And there is a link to reflection upon Anders Breivik.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by steve roy » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:57 pm

nisiprius wrote:Just finished The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain. It was his first big book success. Well, it's readable, and it's funny... but what a sourpuss he is. He hardly seemed to enjoy anything. And while it contains the famous quotation "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness," he does not seem to have much empathy for the actual people he saw on the trip. It is full of descriptions like these.

Well, I was going to quote them but I've changed my mind. What he has to say about the Mosque of St. Sophia, which he calls "the rustiest old barn in heathendom," and about the region generally, is actually so very sour that my quoting them at length might well give offense.


Amazing factoid: The Innocents Abroad was Clemens's/Twain's best-selling book in his lifetime.

For my money, his best book is Life on the Mississippi. And yeah. Ol' Mark could be remarkably sour.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:26 pm

steve roy wrote: Amazing factoid: The Innocents Abroad was Clemens's/Twain's best-selling book in his lifetime.

For my money, his best book is Life on the Mississippi. And yeah. Ol' Mark could be remarkably sour.

I agree about his sour attitude.

Life on the Mississippi is his second or third or maybe fourth best book, the best is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When I retired that was the first book I picked to reread.

Other top candidates are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Roughing It.

This makes me wish that we still had polls on this forum :( . How else can we thrash out these important issues?
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Nicolas » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:34 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
pezblanco wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
heartwood wrote:
Nicolas wrote:My Struggle (Book One) by Karl Ove Knausgaard, English translation from the original Norwegian.


I started the same book a week or so ago. I put it aside to read other books. I may go back to it, but am not sure. The reviews are generally wonderful, but the first hundred pages left me wondering why I was reading it. I'd welcome any encouragement.


I am disconcerted, because I believe the English translation of Mein Kampf is "my struggle (or battle)" ? Does the Norwegian author mean to make some kind of ironic bridge to one of the world's best-selling* (but least read) "I wish we had paid attention when this was published" notorious books?

Or just a coincidence of translation.



In Norwegian it is "Min Kamp". Given Norway's experience in WW2, I doubt very much that the title is a coincidence.


I don't know enough about what the author is trying to do. Yes given the similarity of name in German and Norwegian, it doesn't sound like it can be an accident. Of course I could have read it up in Wikipedia, first:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Strugg ... 5rd_novels)

reading through this gave me a better picture. The 5th volume in fact included a 400 page meditation on the topic, which was cut. And there is a link to reflection upon Anders Breivik.


Charlie Rose asked the author about this during his recent interview. But I forgot what his response was. Maybe I can find a link to it somewhere. If I do I'll edit this reply with the link.

Edit: Here's the link to the 25-minute interview. As I said, he addresses this question directly. The pertinent section starts at 18:07 remaining in the video. And later in the interview he talks about Breivik.
http://charlierose.com/watch/60570546

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bengal22 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 8:45 am

Purity by Jonathan Franzen

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Christine_NM » Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:01 pm

Headhunters by Jo Nesbø

Not a new title, but much more original than the older book I read by him, The Snowman. Headhunters is almost Ruth Rendell, but not as complex.

(Norwegian letters courtesy of fontmeme.com alt codes click, copy and paste.)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by steve roy » Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:26 pm

Yup. "Huck Finn" is Twain's best fiction ... and best book if you swallow the comedy ending with Tom Sawyer. But "Life on the Mississippi" packs a punch with me, the first half anyway.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by peterinjapan » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:20 am

Cell by Stephen King. and The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:29 pm

Christine_NM wrote:Headhunters by Jo Nesbø

Not a new title, but much more original than the older book I read by him, The Snowman. Headhunters is almost Ruth Rendell, but not as complex.

(Norwegian letters courtesy of fontmeme.com alt codes click, copy and paste.)


I saw the movie (Headhunters) based on the book when the movie was first released. Based on your somewhat brief description of the book, the movie differs in some respects, most notably the movie's graphic violence. The movie is good, though. It's on Netflix.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Christine_NM » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:22 am

gkaplan wrote:
I saw the movie (Headhunters) based on the book when the movie was first released. Based on your somewhat brief description of the book, the movie differs in some respects, most notably the movie's graphic violence. The movie is good, though. It's on Netflix.


Yes I can see where the violence would be impressive in a movie. It is not so graphic when you are reading it. I mentioned Rendell because of the weirdness of the characters. Each one has own pathology going on. Tons of clues on what will happen and why, but you don't recognize them right away. Excellent read. I had not got halfway through when I posted, so was necessarily brief. And I don't want to do spoilers.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by emilyinsf » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:37 am

Valuethinker, it is quite interesting. Talbot recently did an interview about the current transition on a blog called Bernalwood if you care to read his thoughts.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Crimsontide » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:19 pm

The Clash of Generations - Scott Burns and Laurence J. Kotlikoff. Scariest financial book ever written...

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 15, 2015 5:25 am

emilyinsf wrote:Valuethinker, it is quite interesting. Talbot recently did an interview about the current transition on a blog called Bernalwood if you care to read his thoughts.


Thank you!

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 15, 2015 5:28 am

Crimsontide wrote:The Clash of Generations - Scott Burns and Laurence J. Kotlikoff. Scariest financial book ever written...


Again and again in Kotlikoff's earlier book I concluded he was guilty of exaggeration.

It would take us into forbidden terrain too quickly to really thrash out the detail here.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:51 pm

The Winning of the West, by Theodore Roosevelt. Written in 1889. This is a four volume history of the conquest of the Old West from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi in the years 1769 - 1806, ending with a brief discussion of the Far West explorations of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Zebulon Pike expeditions. Very thorough and detailed, with footnotes to his sources, but contains language referring to Native Americans that is offensive today.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by jginseattle » Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:28 pm

Personal. A Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. Very entertaining.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by htdrag11 » Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:53 pm

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff.

http://www.amazon.com/13-Hours-Account- ... s=13+hours

According to the military contractors, the CIA Chief "Bob" in Benghazi might have caused the death of the Ambassador and the communication tech by moving too cautiously. Bob was decorated later in 2013. :oops:

The movie will be out next year, directed by Michael Bay, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4172430/?ref_=nv_sr_2

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by gkaplan » Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:00 pm

I just finished When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh. While vacationing in Rome, Inspector Roderick Alleyn comes face to face with murder when one of the members of his tour group is killed and a shady tour guide mysteriously vanishes.

When in Rome is unusual in that Alleyn is alone on this case, not having his usual CID crew with him, since he is on vacation. Alleyn does consult with Detective Inspector Fox by telephone to discuss the case, but Fox has no speaking role to speak of. The only other time Alleyn might have been alone on a case, although I can't remember for sure, since it has been about five years since I read the book, may have been in the 1943 Colour Scheme when Alleyn is in New Zealand on a wartime quest for enemy agents.

As always, this is a delightful read from Ngaio Marsh.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by black jack » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:45 pm

"A Splendid Exchange," by William Bernstein.

A wonderfully informative trip through history following the thread of trade goods and networks (as opposed to, say, politics or wars).

I have an MA in history (circa 1980s), and am thrilled (and a bit abashed) by how much I'm learning from this book.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:20 am

bertilak wrote:Kim is sitting on an end table waiting for me to get serious about it. You may think it odd that I can slog my way through Bronte, Hawthorne and Trollope, enjoy doing so, and then get stuck on the language of a kid's book, but that's what happened. I only made a few pages headway and gave up. There were too many words I didn't understand, Indian words. Indian underworld slang, even, I think! I think one is supposed to pick up on them from context and incrementally build one's vocabulary but it went too fast for me. I will get back to it since the time period, location and back story (the "Great Game," a term invented by, or at least popularized by Kipling) are of interest to me.

Well, I did get back to it and am glad I did. It is a wonderful (literally) book. Somehow the language just came easier to me this time.

Kim is often mis-categorized as a children's book. It is no more so than is Huckleberry Finn; I'd say less so*. Some people complain that the book is imperialistic and/or racist. Again, it is no more so than is Huckleberry Finn. Both books are simply honest and true to their time and place. It should be noted that Kim is (still) very popular in India.

What's so great about Kim?

  • The backstory: India in the 19th Century Raj, the "Great Game."
  • Adventure Story: Travel, Danger, Intrigue.
  • Coming of age story: Boy becomes man (by age 17). Boy becomes exceptional man.
  • Voyage of self discovery.
  • "Buddy" story: Kim and the lama make a unique pair. Each complements, and depends on, the other: Kim on the material side and the lama on the spiritual side.
  • Kipling's descriptive language: I found myself, while following the plot, drifting into the experience of travel along the Grand Trunk Road, or by train, or through the mountains towards Tibet. Then there are wonderful descriptions of the unforgettable characters (e.g. a horse-trader/spy, spell-casting women, and of course Kim and, especially, Teshoo the Red Lama Kim is disciple to).

Kim is one of The Modern Library's 100 best novels, and rightly so. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. Kim was the most well-know of his works. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

    The prize citation said: "In consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

I am surprised I made it to my age without having read Kim! One has missed a big part of English literature without having read this book. Many people read it dozens of times at various stages of their life. I know I will be reading it again. I feel I have just scratched the surface. Next time I will already know the characters.

Recommendation: After reading Kim track down Quest for Kim by Peter Hopkirk. Hopkirk is probably the most famous author of books on the Great Game, including one by that name. In Quest for Kim Hopkirk tracks down sites of importance in Kim's story. He also digs into the history of numerous real-life people characters in the book are based on, who played a part in the Great Game or were otherwise important to the background of the story. Some of these were known to Kipling and some to his father. One WAS his father.

P.S. If you have an image of The Jungle Book in mind, you have the wrong image! No "boy talks to animals" involved.
___________
* note: I think Huckleberry Finn is betrayed by its last chapter (or two?). Perhaps Twain felt duty-bound to add in some slapstick, or perhaps his contrary nature made him do it.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:51 am

bertilak wrote:...What's so great about Kim?...
Never read it, I'll put it on my "to-read" list. I generally like Kipling (obligatory: "Do you like Kipling?" "I don't know, I've never kippled.") though not in a big-fan read-everything kind of way. Not sure how I missed Kim, though. Orwell's essay about Kipling is great. I did read something very offbeat by Kipling a few years ago: American Notes, not to be confused with the Dickens book of the same name.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:15 am

Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. Very surprising. I thought it might be interesting to give it a try, since it was the first book ever to outsell Uncle Tom's Cabin. It turns out to be very, very, very well written (in my opinion). Since Wallace had not visited Palestine, it is in some sense a fictional universe or a very well imagined piece of historical fiction. He spent a lot of time doing library research in U.S. libraries on the historical background. I have no idea what modern scholars think of its accuracy, but I found the picture of the life and times to be totally convincing. Annoyingly, he uses words like "khan" and "lewen" that he sort of describes, which is a good thing--but they must either be very obscure and never made it into English or the modern spellings must be different because I can't find 'em in a dictionary or online.

It's full of telling little details like
As to Simonides and Esther, they had arrived from Antioch only a few days before this their reappearance--a wearisome journey to the merchant, borne, as he had been, in a palanquin swung between two camels, which, in their careening, did not always keep the same step.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:04 pm

The Accidental City, by Lawrence N. Powell. A political, economic, and social history of New Orleans convering the French, Spanish and U.S. governance through 1815. Contains an interesting discussion linking the city's founding and location to the French financial manipulation that created the Mississippi bubble.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by graveday » Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:03 pm

I am re-reading 'Penguin Island' by Anatole France. I am also realizing that just knowing this book exists has helped me remain sane in an insane world.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by stratton » Sun Oct 25, 2015 12:29 pm

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith which is a pen name for some unknown named J. K. Rowling.

Pretty good. The first book in the series had a lot about the background of the main character. The second book built up another main character and this book concentrates more on the story so it moves faster.

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...and then Buffy staked Edward. The end.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Wildebeest » Sun Oct 25, 2015 6:11 pm

The Better Angels of our Nature Why violence has declined by Steven Pinker is not exactly a page turner and it took me 4 months to finish. I had not realized that we live it safest time for mankind at least if we can believe the statistics Steven Pinker presents. (140 pages of notes and 32 pages of references)

If this indeed is the case that mean that according William Bernstein the stock market returns and bond returns will be lower. If it means we are all safer, that is a price I am happy to pay.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by nisiprius » Sun Oct 25, 2015 7:16 pm

I'm starting Mr. Standfast by John Buchan, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. It features the same protagonist, Richard Hannay. I'm not at all sure I'll finish it, but we'll see. I did read The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle (which was weird). I'm quite bemused by a little bit of... high-quality tradecraft. In one chapter, Hannay is told by a woman who is obviously very important,
From a little gold satchel she selected a tiny box, and opening it extracted a thing like a purple wafer with a white St Andrew's Cross on it. 'What kind of watch have you? Ah, a hunter. Paste that inside the lid. Some day you may be called on to show it ...
A few chapters later, the day arrives:
He extricated from his trousers pocket an ancient silver watch, and regarded it with disfavour. 'The dashed thing has stoppit. What do ye make the time, Mr Brand?'

He proceeded to prise open the lid of his watch with the knife he had used to cut his tobacco, and, as he examined the works, he turned the back of the case towards me. On the inside I saw pasted Mary Lamington's purple-and-white wafer.

I held my watch so that he could see the same token. His keen eyes, raised for a second, noted it, and he shut his own with a snap and returned it to his pocket. His manner lost its wariness and became almost genial.
Yeah, right. What better way can two secret agents recognize each other? Can you imagine, testing acquaintances by finding an excuse to pry your watch open and turn it at an awkward angle so that they can see that there is "a thing like a purple wafer with a white St Andrew's Cross" pasted inside?

And if the other person is not a secret agent and doesn't have a matching purple wafer with a white St. Andrew's Cross pasted inside their watch, what is the other person going to think?

"Oh, look at that purple wafer with a white St. Andrew's Cross pasted inside the lid of your watch. Very nice. Mine has an green wafer with a red dragon on it, would you like to see it?"
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:14 pm

nisiprius wrote:I'm starting Mr. Standfast by John Buchan, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. It features the same protagonist, Richard Hannay. I'm not at all sure I'll finish it, but we'll see. I did read The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle (which was weird).

I have a book of John Buchan short stories that I am only part way through (7 out of 18 stories). I pick it up every so often. I was surprised by the great variety of themes. Each story is something new. If you don't favor one, the next might be just up your alley. But, they all do seem a little "weird," in a good sort of way. The guy was very inventive. The Scottish Highlands are a favorite setting, but not always.

You might have trouble tracking down the book I have as it was published by the Folio Society in 2008. I got it off eBay. I also have a set of five Hannay novels, of which I have only read Thirty Nine Steps. This set was also from the Folio Society, published in 2003.

I have a LOT of Buchan to get through!

If you decide you like the Hannay books, check out Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. Basic Plot: English aristocrat/hunter goes stalking Hitler. It was made into a 1941 movie called Man Hunt directed by Fritz Lang. (Movie adds a love interest -- sort of.) Actors in the movie:
    Walter Pidgeon
    Joan Bennett
    George Sanders
    John Carradine
    and, believe it or not, a very young Roddy McDowall in a minor but memorable part
Roddy McDowall realy shows his acting chops! You can see why he went on to a very successful acting career.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by reggiesimpson » Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:01 pm

The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman. Or how to travel if one has a death wish.
I actually had the great fortune to travel on one of his modes. The Bombay (Mumbai) commuter trains back in 1978. Of course I was blissfully unaware that 7/8 people die each day thru simple mishaps. In my case as the train was traveling at a high rate of speed the double doors just opened by themselves. No one even batted an eye!

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VictoriaF
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:38 am

I have just finished Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One's Looking by Christian Rudder. Rudder is co-founder and president of OkCupid who posts some interesting data analysis in a blog OkTrends. I expected the book to be a distillation of the blog posts and checked it from the library instead of buying it. There are some charts based on the OkCupid data analysis, but they had been updated for the book and the book covers far more than dating patterns. I might actually buy it as a reference.

The main point of the book is how much information can be derived about us, and used to evaluate us, without us suspecting how it's done. For example, a company called Klout evaluates how popular we are and a company Salesforce.com uses our "klout" to decide if we qualify for a job there (pp. 216-217). At the time of writing the book, Rudder's klout score was 34, or lower than the salesforce's threshold of 35--and that's considering his popular blog!

Facebook runs algorithms based on the "likes" clicked by its users to calculate their IQ. The algorithm indicates that most high-IQ people like curly fries. That by itself is a curiosity. But if your potential employer is selecting personnel based on this (or other) algorithm, your ambivalence to curly fries may cost you a job.

Victoria
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TareNeko
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by TareNeko » Tue Oct 27, 2015 12:26 pm

Just finished the "God Particle" by Leon Lederman. Excellent read. Lederman's wit makes it a very fun read. The book is more than 20 years old now. That being said, it covers the history of thinking about atom, and how much work went into discovering it. The part where he explains various experiments can be overwhelming, but still very enjoyable. It lacks some details, though not a big problem considering the book was written to enlighten general public and also advertise/support Superconducting Super Collider. There are other books out there to touch on more details (such as Lawrence Krauss - A Universe From Nothing).

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Ninegrams » Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:20 pm

Just finished "Endgame Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness" by Frank Brady. As someone who started playing chess in large measure due to the rise of and tremendous interest in Bobby Fischer back in the 60's & 70's, I found this book illuminating, fascinating ( and sad ). He was a childhood hero of mine who had a walk-in sized closet full of demons to match his incredible intellect and talent. Truly an enigma and arguably the greatest player of all time. The book is an outstanding read IMO, about as evenhanded as one could be by an author who obviously has very warm regard for Fischer and is considered to be probably the foremost chronicler of his life.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by bertilak » Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:37 pm

bertilak wrote:
nisiprius wrote:I'm starting Mr. Standfast by John Buchan, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. It features the same protagonist, Richard Hannay. I'm not at all sure I'll finish it, but we'll see. I did read The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle (which was weird).

...
I have a LOT of Buchan to get through!

Nisi,

Your post reminded me that I was getting behind on my Buchan so I cracked open Greenmantle. I am only three chapters into it. I already read Thirty-Nine Steps, but that was some time ago.

What struck me is that the Hannay Novels and the short stories are very different from each other. The Hannay books read like the kind of thing you would bring with you on an airplane (or train, when the books were written). They are "page turners" but I don't think Buchan expected you to take them seriously.

The short stories have much more substance to them. Maybe you would take them on an cross-Atlantic ocean cruise. When you have finished one you feel like letting it settle in (while you stare at the sea?) before going on to the next.
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steve roy
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by steve roy » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:32 pm

"The First King of Hollywood, Douglas Fairbanks (Sr.)"

Highly entertaining book and well written. Helps to be a silent film buff, but even if you're not, a pretty good read. "Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood" and "The Three Musketeers" are up on YouTube, so you can see what made the man one of the top three stars in his time. "Robin Hood's" first twenty minutes is worth looking at for the stupendous sets, costumes and art direction. (The flick was state-of-the-art in 1922.)

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by steve roy » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:50 pm

Re Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur:

Wallace had some fame as a Civil War General, most of it bad. General Grant blamed him for screwing up at the Battle of Shiloh, not reversing his opinion until the end of his life while writing his Memoirs. Wallace suffered for a long time as the "General who loused things up", which included losing a battle in 1864 to the Confederate Jubal Early, but here (again) Grant vindicated Wallace in his autobiography, saying fighting Early on the outskirts of Washington (1864) prevented the rebels from taking the city.

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pezblanco
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by pezblanco » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:32 pm

steve roy wrote:Re Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur:

Wallace had some fame as a Civil War General, most of it bad. General Grant blamed him for screwing up at the Battle of Shiloh, not reversing his opinion until the end of his life while writing his Memoirs. Wallace suffered for a long time as the "General who loused things up", which included losing a battle in 1864 to the Confederate Jubal Early, but here (again) Grant vindicated Wallace in his autobiography, saying fighting Early on the outskirts of Washington (1864) prevented the rebels from taking the city.


Also remembered in New Mexico history as the governor who lied to Billy the Kid about giving him a pardon for his crimes if he would testify against some other outlaws ... which caused more or less the sequence of events leading to Billy's last jail breakout and his subsequent death at the hands of Pat Garrett.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by graveday » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:12 pm

Ninegrams wrote:Just finished "Endgame Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness" by Frank Brady. As someone who started playing chess in large measure due to the rise of and tremendous interest in Bobby Fischer back in the 60's & 70's, I found this book illuminating, fascinating ( and sad ). He was a childhood hero of mine who had a walk-in sized closet full of demons to match his incredible intellect and talent. Truly an enigma and arguably the greatest player of all time. The book is an outstanding read IMO, about as evenhanded as one could be by an author who obviously has very warm regard for Fischer and is considered to be probably the foremost chronicler of his life.


And thus begins a series of posts here that read like great history. Were I the author of this book I would be extremely pleased by your review.
Were I not to read all the great subsequent write-ups I would be the poorer for it.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Wildebeest » Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:45 am

I had gotten That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo on audiobooks ( while listining in the car) and I had actually gotten the book from the library as well because I drive may be 1- 1 1/2 hours a day.

I listened to the audio book to the finish after reading the last half first. Some books are so much better listening to than reading. ( I prefer reading so I can "speed read"/skim over the boring parts). I have a new appreciation for Richard Russo. I had had read Empire falls many years ago and it had not impressed me. Now I got Nobody's Fool, The Whore's child,Straight Man etc and I thought especially Straight Man was hysterically funny.

Love the public library ( a little less when I found we support it with $ 200 a year with our real estate tax assesment)
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Blues » Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:14 am

Just finished "Career of Evil" by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). A somewhat meandering and (overall) disappointing read.
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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by XCskiguy » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:29 am

Just finished Without Remorse by Tom Clancy.

I think this is an older book. An ex-military guy happens upon a drug dealing, prostitution ring and decides to take action against them. At the same time he gets asked to join a special forces invasion in Vietnam. As I type this I realize that this sounds like a hard to believe, cheesy plot but I could not put this book down.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:10 am

nisiprius wrote:I'm starting Mr. Standfast by John Buchan, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. It features the same protagonist, Richard Hannay. I'm not at all sure I'll finish it, but we'll see. I did read The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle (which was weird). I'm quite bemused by a little bit of... high-quality tradecraft. In one chapter, Hannay is told by a woman who is obviously very important,
From a little gold satchel she selected a tiny box, and opening it extracted a thing like a purple wafer with a white St Andrew's Cross on it. 'What kind of watch have you? Ah, a hunter. Paste that inside the lid. Some day you may be called on to show it ...
A few chapters later, the day arrives:
He extricated from his trousers pocket an ancient silver watch, and regarded it with disfavour. 'The dashed thing has stoppit. What do ye make the time, Mr Brand?'

He proceeded to prise open the lid of his watch with the knife he had used to cut his tobacco, and, as he examined the works, he turned the back of the case towards me. On the inside I saw pasted Mary Lamington's purple-and-white wafer.

I held my watch so that he could see the same token. His keen eyes, raised for a second, noted it, and he shut his own with a snap and returned it to his pocket. His manner lost its wariness and became almost genial.
Yeah, right. What better way can two secret agents recognize each other? Can you imagine, testing acquaintances by finding an excuse to pry your watch open and turn it at an awkward angle so that they can see that there is "a thing like a purple wafer with a white St Andrew's Cross" pasted inside?

And if the other person is not a secret agent and doesn't have a matching purple wafer with a white St. Andrew's Cross pasted inside their watch, what is the other person going to think?

"Oh, look at that purple wafer with a white St. Andrew's Cross pasted inside the lid of your watch. Very nice. Mine has an green wafer with a red dragon on it, would you like to see it?"


Buchan was a real polymath-- also Governor General of Canada at one point.

A theatrical version of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The 39 Steps is playing in London and has done so for years -- it is very entertaining.

The warnings about a jihad were timely: the Germans collaborated with the senior spiritual leader in Istanbul to announce a "jihad" against French and English colonial possessions in the Middle East during WW1. Hence the contemporary-ness of his thriller. This is not in any sense to be confused with current usage of the term (the historical connections are complex and not easily summarised in a couple of sentences).

Until Eric Ambler (Mask of Demetrios/ Coffin for Demetrios, Journey into Fear etc.) Buchan set the tone for the spy thriller: muscular he man characters, sort of Edwardian James Bond. Right wing political slant (right wing in the context of the time, again, avoid direct mappings to modern political situations).

Ambler changed the spy thriller. He was a journalist, and a communist sympathiser (until the Stalin Show Trials of 1938-39) and his heroes were ordinary men, caught in the gears of things they don't understand. Some of his early works are masterful.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/a/eric-ambler/

http://www.amazon.com/A-Coffin-for-Dimi ... B001VE5NH4

Le Carre acknowledges his debt to him, although he has taken the spy thriller in another direction (ordinary people, bureaucrats in the spy machine).

Besides the 2 BBC adaptations with Sir Alec Guinness: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy and Smiley's People, the best rendition of the Le Carre-esque atmosphere of bureaucratic paranoia was the series "Sandbaggers" with the incomparable Roy Marsden

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sandbaggers

avoid reading the plot summaries if you can, the series is just best seen from episode 1 to the end (the author was killed in a light plane over the Baltic and the series had to be wound up).

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:13 pm

Wildebeest wrote:The Better Angels of our Nature Why violence has declined by Steven Pinker is not exactly a page turner and it took me 4 months to finish. I had not realized that we live it safest time for mankind at least if we can believe the statistics Steven Pinker presents. (140 pages of notes and 32 pages of references)

If this indeed is the case that mean that according William Bernstein the stock market returns and bond returns will be lower. If it means we are all safer, that is a price I am happy to pay.


I'd have to read his data but I am sceptical that: 1). we have enough statistics about past times to make good assertions 2). he correctly describes the modern world.

I think Pinker is in danger of being Panglossian? Think some of the civil wars going on in Africa right now. Or ISIS and the Middle East. They are doing a more than passable modern version of the 30 Years War.

Or the violence in the slums of Rio and Sao Paolo. Lagos. Karachi. Etc.

Technology always runs out in front. There are something over 100m AK47s and relations (AK74 etc.) in existence (I have read a number of 200 million). We have given any 12 year old child soldier the firepower of a WW1 infantry platoon.

Where you have strong states you have (relative) peace (not sure how Russia with its crime rate fits into that model). In most of the affluent countries (but consider South Side Chicago) most of the time-- and yet a mere 75 years ago we were lining up for the greatest military slaughter in human history *and* one of its most pivotal examples of mass murder for political/ ideological ends. This in the most "civilized" continent in world history. Meanwhile the most developed country in Asia was engaged in a war which would cause the deaths of perhaps 10 million Chinese.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 29, 2015 5:38 pm

XCskiguy wrote:Just finished Without Remorse by Tom Clancy.

I think this is an older book. An ex-military guy happens upon a drug dealing, prostitution ring and decides to take action against them. At the same time he gets asked to join a special forces invasion in Vietnam. As I type this I realize that this sounds like a hard to believe, cheesy plot but I could not put this book down.


Ahh yes. Isn't this Mr. Clarke?

He reappears in Clear and Present Danger, and perhaps a couple of others. Played (well) by Willem Defoe in the movie of the same name (Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan).

The mission in Vietnam is based upon the Son Tay rescue raid, I believe (it specifically mentions it, as I recall). There are a couple of factual books about Son Tay-- it laid the pattern for the attempted mission at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. To this day, I am not sure if it has been officially acknowledged what happened: Bull Simmons and his men came upon a barracks full of "advisers" (ie Russian or Chinese troops) and killed them all. Simmons stood with his .38 at the door and shot them down one by one as they came running out of the barracks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation ... e_note-125

note 44 - nationality of the soldiers killed has never been officially stated. In the Cold War, you could kill the other side's proxies, but Americans were not supposed to kill Russians or Chinese, nor vice versa. So in no one's interest to publicize what had happened.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:21 pm

Havana Nocturne, by T.J. English. This is a history of the American underworld's gambling operations in Cuba through 1959. The focus is on Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Santo Trafficante, and the corruption of the Batista dictatorship.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Nov 02, 2015 1:08 pm

ruralavalon wrote:Havana Nocturne, by T.J. English. This is a history of the American underworld's gambling operations in Cuba through 1959. The focus is on Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Santo Trafficante, and the corruption of the Batista dictatorship.


A fascinating period. I don't know if you ever read Joan Didion's (factual) "Miami" but that is kind of a book end to this (the 1980s in Miami).

There is much about that period that reaches into America's modern history. There's another book about Las Vegas's history and my mind has gone blank, but covers the same period (1930s to 1980s Las Vegas). Many of the same people.

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Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Post by ruralavalon » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:24 pm

Dumb Witness, by Agatha Christie. Poirot receives a letter from a dead woman asking for his help. He can't refuse.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

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