What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5810
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by market timer » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:42 am

Couldn't put down Flash Boys until it was finished. Fantastic storytelling from Michael Lewis. Once again sticking with the free material on Kindle Unlimited, I've just started The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck.

jay22
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:56 am
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by jay22 » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:41 pm

market timer wrote:Couldn't put down Flash Boys until it was finished. Fantastic storytelling from Michael Lewis. Once again sticking with the free material on Kindle Unlimited, I've just started The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck.

Read Flash Boys last month. Incredible book!

chaz
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by chaz » Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:50 am

"The Forgotten" by David Baldacci.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Rocky Mountain
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:37 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Rocky Mountain » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:39 pm

I've begun reading: "Feynman Lectures on Physics"

Could take me a while.

User avatar
stemikger
Posts: 4587
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:02 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by stemikger » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:27 pm

The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment by Guy Spier.

Great book about a value investor who wins bids and wins lunch with Warren Buffett. I haven't finished, but so far it's the best book about Buffett I have read. A lot of wisdom and it really makes you think about your own life and if you are living an authentic life (your inner scorecard) or living a life to look good to others (your outer scorecard).
Choose Simplicity ~ Stay the Course!! ~ Press on Regardless!!!

User avatar
Ged
Posts: 3311
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:48 pm
Location: Roke

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Ged » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:53 pm

Rocky Mountain wrote:I've begun reading: "Feynman Lectures on Physics"

Could take me a while.


:D

And after this, what?

Perhaps "The Road to Reality" by Roger Penrose?

User avatar
bertilak
Posts: 5713
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: East of the Pecos, West of the Mississippi

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by bertilak » Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:40 am

Rocky Mountain wrote:I've begun reading: "Feynman Lectures on Physics"

Could take me a while.

For a lighter read, try Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once. (There! I've said it.)

User avatar
bertilak
Posts: 5713
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: East of the Pecos, West of the Mississippi

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by bertilak » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:11 am

Just finished Anthony Trollope's The Warden. This is the first of his Barsetshire series of five (I think) novels.

This is a novel I would not be likely to read, but there was a recommendation and I was in the right mood.

It is the story of a Church of England official in the nineteenth century. He is a precentor (one who leads a congregation in its singing). He is also the warden of a group of bedesman (those, usually old and otherwise homeless men, who pray for others, in this case patients at a hospital. It is a room-and-board plus token salaried position).

The heart of the story is a political movement questioning the amount of money paid to the warden, especially in comparison to the bedesmen, and how this gentle unassuming man and his family are affected by the emotionally brutal nature of the conflict.

I must give a lot of credit to Trollope for making this an interesting and compelling story. His writing is addictive. I plan on going through the next novels in the series. Supposedly The Warden was an early novel where Trollope was just developing his skills and style.

Anyone here familiar with his work?
Last edited by bertilak on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once. (There! I've said it.)

Valuethinker
Posts: 33427
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:23 am

market timer wrote:Couldn't put down Flash Boys until it was finished. Fantastic storytelling from Michael Lewis. Once again sticking with the free material on Kindle Unlimited, I've just started The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck.


Pearl Buck's stories and The Good Earth are very important.

America in the interwar years was very pro Chinese (and therefore anti Japanese). For two main reasons: 1). Madame Chiang Kai Shek, a great beauty (and understood to have had affairs with several American politicians including Wendell Wilkie the GOP Candidate in 1940) and a graduate of Wellesley College (therefore fluent in English and able, for example, to appear before the US Congress).

2). Pearl S Buck. I still shiver when I read this story, The Old Demon about an old Chinese woman during the Japanese war in China (1937-1945) which really began WW2:

http://meredithsuewillis.com/old%20demon.pdf

(I would recommend reading the story rather than letting the wikipedia tell you about it).

Buck's popularity with the American public and her understanding of Chinese culture (I think she was the daughter of missionaries there, and fluent in Chinese) that she conveyed, had an enduring effect.

Despite the Korean War and the Cold War, America and China have managed surprisingly good relations. One of the factors in that must be the cultural memory that Pearl Buck left in mid Century America-- (in effect the Americans backed the wrong side in the Civil War).

We are all, in a real sense, fortunate that the Middle Kingdom, the one between Heaven and Earth, had such a talented explainer.

If you are interested in the period, I highly recommend the below:

http://www.amazon.com/Chinas-War-Japan- ... B00AZRDP32

jebmke
Posts: 7022
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by jebmke » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:55 am

heartwood wrote:I just finished The Heist by Daniel Silva. It was a good read but he's really recycling themes perhaps because he's got a backlist of characters. Many past characters do walk on's with little to do with the story. I could carp more, but still a good read.


I finished this a few weeks ago. Silva is getting lazy. There is no need to re-tell all the old stories as much as he does and the characters are getting very predictable.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

MP173
Posts: 1806
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:03 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by MP173 » Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:35 pm

"The Frackers" by Gregory Zuckerman. "The outrageous inside story of the new billionaire wildcatters."

Just started it but it is a look at the folks behind the new energy explosion in the United States....George Mitchell who was the pioneer of horizontal drilling, Aubrey McClendon and Harold Hamm - two Oklahoma men who have developed huge energy companies (Chesapeake and Continental) and others.

Pretty good so far.
ed

Fallible
Posts: 6145
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:44 pm
Contact:

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Fallible » Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:48 pm

bertilak wrote:
Rocky Mountain wrote:I've begun reading: "Feynman Lectures on Physics"

Could take me a while.

For a lighter read, try Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)


And a bit lighter than that but just as fun and fascinating (consider the source), is What Do You Care What Other People Think?, which runs from Feynman's interest and talent in art to his famous ice-water experiment while investigating the Challenger accident.
Bogleheads® wiki | Investing Advice Inspired by Jack Bogle

anotherITguy
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:03 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by anotherITguy » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:59 pm

Reading The Martian by Andy Weir. Outstanding book so far!

User avatar
ruralavalon
Posts: 11907
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:29 am
Location: Illinois

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by ruralavalon » Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:08 pm

Fallible wrote:
bertilak wrote:
Rocky Mountain wrote:I've begun reading: "Feynman Lectures on Physics"

Could take me a while.

For a lighter read, try Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)


And a bit lighter than that but just as fun and fascinating (consider the source), is What Do You Care What Other People Think?, which runs from Feynman's interest and talent in art to his famous ice-water experiment while investigating the Challenger accident.


I enjoyed both Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, and recommend both.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

astrohip
Posts: 428
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:29 pm
Location: Houston TX

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by astrohip » Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:18 pm

Sophie's Choice, by William Styron. Not my usual cup of tea, but I read an article by Lee Child (Jack Reacher author) who said it's his favorite book. Figured I'd give it a try. About 1/2 way thru, it's... different. Will watch the movie once a finish the book.

[Aside: He uses more obscure words than anyone I've ever read. I'm reading on my Kindle, and probably use the lookup word feature every five minutes or so. :shock:]
"Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being." - R Branson

gkaplan
Posts: 7034
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:34 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by gkaplan » Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:44 pm

I'm currently reading My Promised Land: the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit.
Gordon

S&L1940
Posts: 1540
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:19 pm
Location: South Florida

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by S&L1940 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 6:20 pm

In the middle of Saul Bellow's "Adventures of Augie March"
Puts you deep into Chicago during the depression - vivid stuff
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5810
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by market timer » Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:43 am

Valuethinker wrote:If you are interested in the period, I highly recommend the below:

http://www.amazon.com/Chinas-War-Japan- ... B00AZRDP32

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out, along with Old Demon. I'm hoping to fill in some of the large gaps in my knowledge of Asian history now that I'm living out here.

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 34361
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by nisiprius » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:03 am

On my wife's recommendation, starting Ken Follett's Fall of Giants--first book in his "Century" trilogy. Maybe seven or eight chapters in, very good. As I've noticed in some of his other works, there's a certain... cheesiness... in the interest of a good story, a certain feeling of effort deriving from a storyline that is a little too obviously researched rather than personally experienced. A curious aspect is that one of the braided storylines concerns Welsh coalminers and apart from names there is an amazing lack of... Welshness. All of the dialogue is rendered in straight English and I can't tell whether, for example, the colliery owners are talking to their employees in English or Welsh. As usual in his historical novels I see that Follett includes a strong female character with almost-contemporary feminist sensibilities.

2/3 of the way through J. M. Barrie's Auld Licht Idylls, quite strange and a little slow-going but interesting. It is a series of vignettes about life in very remote, primitive Scottish village in the mid-1800s, published in 1888 and presumably based on his own boyhood in just such a village. With something as far-removed from my own experience it is hard to tell where truth leaves off and whimsy begins, and although he is writing about his own background there is clearly something of the comical antics of the rustic in it. The "Auld Lichts" were the conservative wing of some complicated theological split in the Scotch Presbyterians and in context it refers to the old, dying-out, stubborn conservative members of the community.
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.

Valuethinker
Posts: 33427
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:38 am

market timer wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:If you are interested in the period, I highly recommend the below:

http://www.amazon.com/Chinas-War-Japan- ... B00AZRDP32

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out, along with Old Demon. I'm hoping to fill in some of the large gaps in my knowledge of Asian history now that I'm living out here.


It will seem elementary but I can recommend A Traveller's History of China.

Perhaps the thing I struggle most with is the ferocity of the Japanese war with China and their almost inhuman cruelty towards the Chinese. It's as if, piqued at not being treated as an equal power with the white powers in 1919 at the Treaty of Versailles, the Japanese tried to get their own back by behaving as badly as any western imperialists had done in the 19th century. Of course their behaviour in Korea and Taiwan before WW2 was not saintly. And the whole rationale for 'going for broke' in 1937 and trying to conquer all of China-- as if that were possible. Reminding me of the Nazi German attack on the USSR (although that had clear ideological roots, Hitler genuinely believed he was in a fight to the death with world Bolshevism so he had to attack first).

When you get to the separate histories of Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Korea then that is a separate matter again. Also the story of the transition of (some) of them out of brutal dictatorships into modern democracies is amazing (Taiwan and South Korea).

My grasp of Australian and NZ history is equally shaky.

The story of how the USA followed the French into Vietnam (having ended WW2 with a strong moral principle that the French and British would *not* be able to reestablish their colonial empires) is in itself fascinating-- a series of missteps that dragged them into a quagmire.

User avatar
in_reality
Posts: 4329
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:13 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by in_reality » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:24 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Perhaps the thing I struggle most with is the ferocity of the Japanese war with China and their almost inhuman cruelty towards the Chinese. It's as if, piqued at not being treated as an equal power with the white powers in 1919 at the Treaty of Versailles, the Japanese tried to get their own back by behaving as badly as any western imperialists had done in the 19th century. Of course their behaviour in Korea and Taiwan before WW2 was not saintly. And the whole rationale for 'going for broke' in 1937 and trying to conquer all of China-- as if that were possible.


Perhaps it goes back to the Yuan Dynasty's attempted invasion of Japan that was stopped on two separate occasions by massive typhoons. The inhabitants of the islands the Chinese did conquer suffered quite inhumanely.

Anyway, when Admiral Perry sailed in to Japan firing off cannons and shelling to make Japan cave in to US demands, it seems to have scared them enough to stop the 265 years of the Tokugawa Shogunate. At that point in 1865 or soon after, the drive to militarize was surely decided and a new government came into power to pursue that.

In any case, the estimates on the loss of life in China during their great leap forward seem to surpass (estimates vary but generally show more loss than) their wartime losses at the hands of the Japanese. It even surpassed the loss of life caused by the Nazis.

These events are so unfortunate. Even the loss of one life to me seems incomprehensible. I can't really understand the magnitude of suffering.

When my mother died, I tried to express my sense of loss at civilian casualties in ongoing US conflicts. I just meant to express how much my mother meant to me. I think my family took it the wrong way. I was pretty upset. Well, at least two family members are still talking to me. These events are very unfortunate and complex.

Valuethinker
Posts: 33427
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:37 am

in_reality wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
Perhaps the thing I struggle most with is the ferocity of the Japanese war with China and their almost inhuman cruelty towards the Chinese. It's as if, piqued at not being treated as an equal power with the white powers in 1919 at the Treaty of Versailles, the Japanese tried to get their own back by behaving as badly as any western imperialists had done in the 19th century. Of course their behaviour in Korea and Taiwan before WW2 was not saintly. And the whole rationale for 'going for broke' in 1937 and trying to conquer all of China-- as if that were possible.


Perhaps it goes back to the Yuan Dynasty's attempted invasion of Japan that was stopped on two separate occasions by massive typhoons. The inhabitants of the islands the Chinese did conquer suffered quite inhumanely.

Anyway, when Admiral Perry sailed in to Japan firing off cannons and shelling to make Japan cave in to US demands, it seems to have scared them enough to stop the 265 years of the Tokugawa Shogunate. At that point in 1865 or soon after, the drive to militarize was surely decided and a new government came into power to pursue that.


My understanding is that there is some kind of deep rooted inferiority/ superiority complex going on between China and Japan. China is a much older civilization, but Japan has thrust ahead in the last 200 years. Korea was treated simply as a primitive colony and any opposition brutally crushed. Ditto Taiwan.

Restoration (Meiji) Japan was all about achieving technological and social parity with the West. Western countries were both formally and informally racist at the time (example: in the nicest suburb of Vancouver, English Bay, the property deeds specifically prevented sale to a non white ie Chinese or Japanese). At the Treaty of Versailles there was a particular slight (it was about the wording of 'equal races' or some such that was not included in the text). Japan got the German territories in the Pacific and China that it had seized at the beginning of WW1, but did not receive equal standing with other western powers. Despite that Great Britain and USA were willing to enter into a series of naval treaties (the Washington Naval Treaty and others) to restrict construction of battleships and heavy cruisers, with Japan.

Also the collapse of civilian power in the 1920s, and then the Great Depression. Japan, then an exporter of cheap products like textiles, was particularly badly hit. Japanese politics descended into military control. The official ideology was expansionist: to survive, Japan had to control its sources of raw materials (particularly oil (Indonesia) and tin and rubber (Malaya)) and guarantee access to large markets like China and India. This was a replay of western ideas of Imperialism in the 19th century, that Britain, Netherlands and France all clung to dearly until WW2.

The huge earthquake which hit Tokyo in the 1920s, the most devastating in modern times, also had an impact.

The 'War with China' faction in the Japanese military effectively started its own war with China with the Manchuria Incident in 1931. They did so as I understand it without the consent of the Imperial Cabinet and government. However once in, Japan was just dragged along to the successful seizure of Manchuria and Beijing. My sense is in 1937 they thought it would be just as easy-- Empire on the cheap. What the book I cited shows is they underestimated Chiang Kai Shek's nationalist government, and China's will to fight.

That Pearl S Buck story "The Old Demon" causes my eyes to tear over as I think about it, because it's about that Chinese peasant will to survive. Chinese history is full of terrible convulsions and conquests by foreign invaders. And yet China, and the Chinese, always come out the other side. The period 1750-1950 was just another one of those interregnums between the rise of strong Chinese dynasties.

In any case, the estimates on the loss of life in China during their great leap forward seem to surpass (estimates vary but generally show more loss than) their wartime losses at the hands of the Japanese. It even surpassed the loss of life caused by the Nazis.

These events are so unfortunate. Even the loss of one life to me seems incomprehensible. I can't really understand the magnitude of suffering.


I accept that about the Great Leap Forward- -I believe authoritative estimates are of 30-40 millions starved to death before someone dared to tell Chairman Mao how badly things were going. Hitler managed to start a war which killed c. 100m*, what makes Hitler so horrifying is the calculating and scientific way in which target populations were selected and exterminated. It was that twisted mix of 19th century ideologies of racial purity and supremacy with 20th century industrial techniques. (sorry I have just been to Wansee Villa in Berlin, and seen the minutes Hitler's bureaucrats prepared, so this is all top of my mind).

It is I believe, in modern China, very impolite to mention the Great Leap Forward. I know of a group of Australians who caused great harm to a working group (of many nationalities, including the Chinese) by approaching it in the Australian 'can't you people take a joke?' manner.

Along with Stalin's collectivization of the Kulaks and subsequent purges (perhaps 10-15m) the Great Leap was among the bloodiest internal actions in human history. Similarly in the 19th Century, the Taiping Rebellion in China probably killed more (as a percentage of population then alive) than either. Cambodia Year Zero probably killed more Cambodians as a proportion of the total population.

But pointing out what Chinese did to Chinese doesn't ameliorate what Japan did to China. By analogy, yes Stalin killed 10-15 million of his own citizens, but that does not make us think any less horror of Hitler killing 28 million citizens of the USSR. Pointing out that Stalin was an awful man doesn't make Hitler any less awful. So yes the Great Leap Forward (whose purpose was not actually killing, but rather a foolish attempt to divert agricultural effort into industry) was one of history's great tragedies. The Chinese Revolution 1945-49 (and the aftermath to the mid 50s) was also bloody. But so was the Sino-Japanese war, and there's no doubt Japan started it.

When my mother died, I tried to express my sense of loss at civilian casualties in ongoing US conflicts. I just meant to express how much my mother meant to me. I think my family took it the wrong way. I was pretty upset. Well, at least two family members are still talking to me. These events are very unfortunate and complex.


I am missing a piece of your personal story. Better that I PM you.

I am sorry that it has led to misunderstandings within your family. I have experienced first hand the passions that the Catholic v. Protestant thing creates in Northern Ireland, from essentially one people.

The Middle East is such a complex area (Shia v. Sunni etc.) that it's hard for most westerners to get their heads around it. We keep looking for a good guy wearing a white hat and a bad guy wearing a black hat, but it's just not that simple. Again I am reminded of Northern Ireland, but the complexity is squared or cubed.

The British Empire, lets face it, committed some impressive genocides-- in North America, in Australia, in Africa. By what we might call malign neglect similarly so in Ireland and in India. This stuff went on into the 20th century, for example the great famine in Bengal in 1943. The stuff about the postwar insurgency in Kenya is now coming out and it's not pretty (and the government has suppressed evidence).

* direct and indirect. Direct casualties c. 50m: 28m USSR, 6-8m Poles etc. The bigger number includes China, also things like the famine in India in 1943-44 (which killed 1-2 million).

Alex Frakt
Founder
Posts: 10731
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:06 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part V

Post by Alex Frakt » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:09 am

This is getting off topic. It's about time to start a Part VI anyway. So I'm going to lock this one and we can continue afresh on the new thread. The new thread is here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=147398

Locked