Yes, I’m still alive! It’s been a whirlwind few months and I just haven’t had time to post. I do apologize. Here’s what I’ve been reading:
1.Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden: I started this long one and simply couldn’t put it down. It was tough because the content is riveting and heartbreaking at the same time, but I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. The history books that I was forced to read in school never mentioned this war so I didn’t have much to go on in terms of context.
Ernie Cheatham was my favorite hero in this book but there were many. I visited the Vietnam Memorial in DC shortly after finishing this book, as well as viewing the excellent Ken Burns documentary. The memorial is very well done, and was a stark reminder for me of the sacrifices made by so many.
2.Guests of the Ayatollah also by Mark Bowden: As soon as I finished Hue, I picked this one up from the library. This was also a period in history that wasn’t mentioned in school, so I knew very little about it going in. Mark Bowden is a terrific writer and his writing brings you in immediately.
3.Killing England by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard: Very well done overview of the War for Independence. If you’re a history buff, this may not be as detailed as you might like, but for this history ignoramus, it provided a good overview.
I just finished a really interesting book by Hanna Rosin called “The End of Men and the Rise of Women”. I know, I know, but it’s not what it sounds like. I’m not a feminazi and it’s not a feminazi book. Trust me, I did my best to hide the cover while I was on the train lest others judge me.
Rather than a feminist manifesto, Ms. Rosin makes a pretty convincing case in the book that men are falling behind women in terms of economic progress because of their failure to adapt. In other words, when women flooded the workplace decades ago, they adapted themselves to perform in new arenas and in new roles, both at home and in the workplace. Conversely, men failed to retool themselves to fit into this new space. The majority of men couldn’t cope with the feminization of the workplace and instead of fitting themselves into it, they stuck to the old way of doing things. Thus, they’ve been left behind.
Employers now look for what are called “soft skills” such as interpersonal relations and teamwork, skills which are intrinsically female. Ms. Rosin argues that men have the capacity to embrace these skills as well, but they are resistant to do so. Again, they get left behind.
I’m definitely oversimplifying the arguments but this is the gist of them. The book is a fascinating sociological study over time of how we’ve gotten to this moment, both in domesticity and in the workplace.
I saw Ms. Rosin on Bill Maher’s show, which peaked my interest in her book. Interestingly, the book was written in 2012 so it’s already a few years old, but still so many of her ideas are playing out today. There’s no better evidence of her theory than the rise of Trump and his supporters.
I literally just finished reading “Killing the Rising Sun” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. I’ve read the other books in the “Killing” series, with the exception of the Jesus one, and they’re all good at keeping my attention. This one was no different. I finished it in two days. The authors have a way of combining all of the different narratives that keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next, even though we know how it ultimately turned out.
This book covers the end of World War II and the transition to rebuilding afterwards, with the focus on Japan. I’m a big fan of Douglas MacArthur and enjoyed the portions devoted to his exploits both during and after the war. He certainly had a big ego but he got the job done when it needed to be done, without apology. We need more of that in our leaders today.
The book also caused me to consider what the world would be like if Japan had prevailed in the war. It’s hard to imagine. There’s a show on Amazon Prime called “The Man in the High Castle” that contemplates this and it’s an interesting series.
I also finished “The Nightingale” recently (Kristin Hannah). It was a good story about two sisters living in occupied France during World War II. I’m not into fiction as much as non-fiction but the story was good. Predictable, but good. It was recommended to me by a colleague who was reading it for a book club. It appears to be very popular and was hard to get from the library.
Waiting for “Exit West” and “A Man Called Ove” from the library but it may be a while. Happy reading!
Just finished reading “A First-Rate Madness” by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi. I heard Dr. Ghaemi on Michael Smerconish’s Sirius show recently, so I put myself on the waitlist for his book at the library. I started it on Saturday and couldn’t put it down.
The premise of the book is that successful leaders had some form of mental illness which made them successful, especially during wartime and periods of uncertainty. Alternatively, leaders who were considered “normal” were terrible wartime leaders. The theory is that challenges and/or adversity in the form of depression, mania, bipolar disorder, etc. developed resilience in these individuals, as opposed to “normal” people who never had to stare down such difficulties.
The author outlines specific examples such as Hitler, Lincoln, Chamberlain, Bush, and Churchill to illustrate the point. It really is a fascinating read and gave me a lot of food for thought.
Now on to “Seinfeldia” by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.
So I just finished Richard Engel’s “And Then All Hell Broke Loose” about the history of the tension in the Middle East from inception to present. It was a great overview of those conflicts especially for someone like me who has a very limited knowledge of it. It’s amazing to realize how our government paved the way for ISIS by both its action and inaction over the last few decades. Highly recommended. I tore through it in a few days.
I just started “Underground Airlines” by Ben Winters. I’m intrigued so far by the story of a fictional world where slavery is still permitted in four states (called “The Hard Four”). The protagonist is a former slave who now works for the government as a bounty hunter, tracking and locating escaped slaves so that they can be returned. It’s a totalitarian state horror scenario where the slaves have tattoos on their necks indicating who owns them. Tough read so far but it’s an interesting one given the societal climate we’re in currently.
I’m on the waitlist at the library for Lenny Dykstra’s book “House of Nails”. I heard an interview with him recently. He’s certainly obnoxious but at least he owns his lifestyle and mistakes.
I just finished two books I wanted to share. They’re very different from each other, but both very good.
The first was “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter”, written by Kate Clifford Larson. The book was about Rosemary Kennedy, one of Joe and Rose Kennedy’s many children. She was born mentally disabled but the family didn’t realize it for a few years. The Kennedy parents sent her to many different schools, teachers, and facilities before she underwent a lobotomy in her early 20s. Apparently, at that time, there was a social stigma attached to the disabled and handicapped, especially for prominent families. It seemed to me that the Kennedys did the best they could for Rosemary but unfortunately, the lobotomy worsened her condition. She was then sent away to a facility in the Midwest where she spent the rest of her life. Her family visited her sporadically and more so in her later years. It was a sad book and an interesting commentary on society from that time.
The second was “How Not to Die”, written by Michael Greger, M.D. This book is essentially a guide as to what foods are best for fighting and/or preventing certain ailments. Apparently, flax seed is the ultimate superfood and helps with everything from cancer prevention to menopause symptoms. You have to store it very carefully and grind it shortly before using, which I didn’t know before reading this book.
I tried reading “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer about the Koch brothers, but it was too detailed and unfortunately didn’t hold my attention.
I’m waiting for Richard Engel’s new book from the library so that’s next on my list.
Whoa, mind blown Childhood’s End. I finished this three-part series last night and it left me pondering many questions. What are we? Are there others out there? How often did Charles Dance have to redo his make-up? Could I be any more terrified of kids than I already am? (yes).
I thought the series was really well done and loved that it didn’t have the typical “happy ending”. Instead, earth blows up and the “world” goes on. The shame is that only true nerds like me will watch this series and ponder these questions.
Just started watching Making a Murderer on Netflix last night. I finished episode two and was ready to binge watch the rest but couldn’t stay up. I’m at the part where Steve Ayers is now being accused of murder and it doesn’t look good for him. Based on what the sheriff’s department did to him with the rape case, I’m skeptical of the convenience of Avery’s blood in the victim’s car and her key in his home. However, is it believable that the police would go so far as to plant actual blood on Avery’s property and the victim’s, and move the victim’s remains? I’m on the fence so far.
I’m just starting to read “Killing a King” about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Great read so far. I hope to finish it in a few days. The next book on the docket is about Germans during WWII. It’s a 600 pager so that’ll take a while.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.