Category: Books

Opposition research

I’m one of those people who can simultaneously read two or three books at once and follow them all. I’ve decided to peek into the alternately laughable and terrifying world of idiot literature. I’ve compiled a list, from the catalogue of the Canberra public library (books are expensive enough in Australia, I’m not going to waste money on these freaks.) They will include, but will certainly not be limited to:
The Age of Consent by George Monbiot
No Logo by Naomi Klein
Dude, Where’s My Country? by Michael Moore
Not Happy, John! by Margo Kingston
Living History by Hilary Rodham Clinton
The Population Explosion by Paul Ehrlich
The New Rulers Of The World by John Pilger
Why Do People Hate America? by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies.
Orientalism by Edward Said
Living Faith by Jimmy Carter
And just to prove that leftists do not have a monoply on idiocy,
The Death Of The West by Patrick Buchanan
I’m starting off with a grotesque tome entitled The Empire of Ignorance, Hypocrisy and Ignorance: What’s Wrong With America And How We Can Fix It by one Julian Ninio, a native of France (natch). He claims to be a US citizen and a Harvard MBA, but this is belied by his writing, in which he displays the cognitive and reasoning skills of a boiled potato. The book is fulsomely dedicated to Noam Chomsky, if that tells you anything.
If anyone can figure out a way for me to make money off this, please let me know. Maybe like one of those March of Dimes walk-a-thons where people pledge money for each mile you walk? Five dollars per idiot isn’t too much to ask, I think.

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Just so

From the acknowledgements page of Bittersweet: The Story of Sugar by Peter Macinnis:
I specifically acknowledge the Australian Government, which taxed all my photocopy charges, the books I bought while researching this, my notebooks and writing paper, my travel, the power that drove my computer, my software, and the shoes I wore out, and then, without having lifted a finger, had the temerity to level a tax on the finished book equal to the amount I get in royalties, and after that will filch half of my royalties in income tax. This service made it very much easier for me to understand the complaints of the sugar growers who had rapacious and parasitic tax-happy regimes to contend with.
I’m sure they were glad to help.

Everything you always wanted to know about the USA

For my own amusement, I decided to have a look through Culture Shock! USA, which purports to be a guide to the manners, customs and culture of the United States.
It didn’t take long before I was boiling over with rage. The author, Esther Wanning, claims to be American, but the entire book is written from the point of view of a Guardianista Eurosnot. Hardly a page goes by without some sort of casual leftist slur, pop psychobabble, or anti-American and anti-corporate whining. I present to you a selection of quotes from the paperback edition. Emphases, alas, are mine.

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On bookstores.

Apologies for the extended absense. I was stricken with that deadly (to bloggers) virus of sloth, writers block and indolence….
I spent a good portion of my day today wandering around the CBD district of my home city of Adelaide, as I had various chores to do. En route to the various places I had to be, I popped in and browsed at the various bookstores that I know and love, but haven’t had a chance to visit…..

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Constantinople, not Istanbul

I’ve just finished John Julius Norwich’s A Short History of Byzantium. Brilliant, marvelously written book about a part of the world that for reasons unknown goes un-taught in most history classes. Norwich’s writing style is breezy and clear, but does not fall into the “history lite” trap of many popular historians. He has a wonderful way with metaphors and descriptions, as when he introduces us to the wife of Emperor Leo VI:
…an ill-favoured girl of asphyxiating piety…
Amusing historical anecdotes are plentiful as well:
Some time towards the end of his reign, old Anastasius–so the legend goes–was consumed with curiosity to know which of his three nephews would succeed him. Superstitious as always, he invited all three to dinner, and had three couches prepared on which they could afterwards take their rest. Under one pillow he slipped a piece of parchment, on which he had inscribed the word REGNUM: whichever nephew chose that particular couch would, he believed, assume the throne. Alas, two of the young men, whose mutual affection seems to have gone somewhat beyond family feeling, chose to share the same couch; the marked one remained unrumpled.
The whole story is bound up with the histories of Islam, Turkey, Persia, Bulgaria, Italy (including Venice, the Papal States and Genoa), France and the Crusades. The book is a condensation of Norwich’s earlier trilogy on the same subject, so it moves extremely quickly. More than a millenium of fascinating history is tightly packed into 382 pages: from the founding of the empire by Constantine the Great in 330, to Constantinople’s fall to the Ottomans in 1453. The book is full of wars, dynasties, great palaces, conspiracies, religious madness, regicides, massacres, and political intrigues of, well, Byzantine complexity. But astoundingly, Norwich always manages to keep things clear for the reader.A model of what a history book should be, and right up there with Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror on my list of all-time favorites. Buy it.

Don’t play Mists for me

After over 700 pages, I have reluctantly put down The Mists of Avalon for probably the last time. I’m sorry to have to quit a book before it’s ended, but I have had enough. More than enough. I’ve heard that Bradley’s is a “feminist” interpretation of the Arthurian legends. I can’t imagine how this is possible, since the female characters in this book fall into two categories:
1. Blank, brainless wisps who are forever bewailing their fates and being manipulated.
2. Nasty, vengeful harridans who are doing said manipulating.

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