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1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions 
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
A few general comments: I forgot to mention earlier that I would not be adverse to reading "Freakonomics", though it wouldn't be my first choice. I'm been trying to read more economics lately, but I'd prefer to read some more classical expositions before digging into something potentially controversial like "Freakonomics". It's certainly one I'll consider voting for if it makes the ballot, though.

Also, I picked up a book on the Haitian revolution today, which should more or less sate my appetite for Haitian history. I'll still read along if the other book gets picked, but don't go including it on the nomination lists just for little ol' me.

GOD defiles Reason: Since this is our first quarter to be more inclusive to theists than before, I'm not strongly disagreeing with that except to say that this is the suggestion thread going through the suggestion process and not yet in the selection and voting process.

Good point, and I should qualify my earlier statements by saying that it's not my intention to suppress any suggestions. It's just my understanding that Chris wants us to discuss the pros and cons of each suggestion so that we're more informed going into the actual selection process. That's really the best way we, as non-moderators, have of voicing our input into the process of narrowing down the suggestions into the five nominations that make it on the final ballot.

It's up to each of us individually to keep our discussions productive rather than pointless little squabbles. We can do that no matter who the author is, if we choose to do so.

That's a good point as well. My concern is simply that we pick a book that encourages that.

marti1900: Inventing the People, by Edmund S. Morgan

Glad that you brought this one back up. I was reading the first few chapters when I made the suggestion, and while I said that I would probably be finished with the book before by the time the Q4 reading selection was decided, I got distracted by a dozen other books and haven't made much progress since then. Which is simply to say that, I'd still be reading along with everyone else if this book ended up getting picked for the Q1 reading.

Full House by Stephen Jay Gould

No! I've had more than my fill of the Olsen twins, thank you kindly.



(Kidding.)




Wed Nov 09, 2005 7:49 pm
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Imperial Grunts : The American Military on the Ground by Robert D. Kaplan

www.amazon.com/gp/product...s&v=glance



I have read the first couple chapters and am hoping to share this with you guys so I am holding off. Kaplan is known as someone higher ups read (particularly since Colin Powell gave one of his books to Bill Clinton in the early 90s). I know some have read at least one of his books, among them "Mediterranean Winter: The Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece" (2004); "Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos" (2002); "Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus" (2000); "The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War" (2000); "An Empire Wilderness: Travels Into America's Future" (1998); "The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the 21st Century" (1996); "The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite" (1993); "Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History" (1993); "Soldiers of God: With the Mujahidin in Afghanistan" (1990); and "Surrender or Starve: The Wars Behind the Famine" (1988). Just read this excerpt or watch his booktv indepth interview and decide for yourselves.

www.booktv.org/indepth/in...chedID=339

Excerpt.



Thu Nov 10, 2005 12:29 am
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
I would read Marti's suggestion of Full House by Gould. I would also read/re-read any of Gould's books.




Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:50 pm
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Isn't Gould dead?

"...the great events in life come from the books, rather than the people, one comes across." - Robert D. Kaplan, Mediterranean Winter: the Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece




Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:20 pm
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Yes.




Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:30 pm
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
But his books are not....


Mr. P.

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Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:17 am
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Under the Banner of Heaven by by Jon Krakauer

We discussed reading this book recently. I think with adding multiple nonfiction books we should give this one a shot. I can't picture this topic not making for some great discussion material.




Amazon.com
In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged. The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. While Krakauer's research into the history of the church is admirably extensive, the real power of the book comes from present-day information, notably jailhouse interviews with Dan Lafferty. Far from being the brooding maniac one might expect, Lafferty is chillingly coherent, still insisting that his motive was merely to obey God's command. Krakauer's accounts of the actual murders are graphic and disturbing, but such detail makes the brothers' claim of divine instruction all the more horrifying. In an age where Westerners have trouble comprehending what drives Islamic fundamentalists to kill, Jon Krakauer advises us to look within America's own borders.




Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:09 am
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Gladwell mentions Gift of Fear and quotes De Becker in "blink". So I'm not the only one seeing a connection!




Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:41 pm
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Krakauer's a reputable writer, and I'm sure the book is well-researched. My only concern is that, given the true crime focus of the book, it's likely to skew any understanding of Mormonism derived from it. If it gets picked, maybe we should run a optional, concurrent reading that's specifically about the doctrives and development of Mormonism -- in the interest of balance.




Wed Nov 23, 2005 2:27 pm
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Anyone is welcome to initiate a book discussion to run concurrently with one of our quarterly selections. But please keep in mind that we don't have a large number of active members. If we spread ourselves too thin by suggesting members read too many books we'll have barren discussion forums.

I don't see a reason to try to find a book to counter the Mormon book. Trying to balance everything is too much work. Isn't it enough that we're getting people to read and discuss quality books? Within any particular book forum members can raise points where they disagree with the authors. I cannot see us effectively reading handfuls of books concurrently just so that we're sure we cover all sides of the subject.

But I see your point, Mad. Maybe we can simply have an active discussion where we all honestly explore and discuss the book. I don't think we can afford to have the few active members we do have off reading additional books as opposed to focusing on our main books.




Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:00 am
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Chris OConnor: If we spread ourselves too thin by suggesting members read too many books we'll have barren discussion forums.

I wouldn't think of running it as anything but an optional reading for those who are interested in comparing (reputable) points of view. But I do think it would be good for the official selection, as it's bound to add another layer to discussion, even if only two or three people are reading both books and comparing.

Trying to balance everything is too much work. Isn't it enough that we're getting people to read and discuss quality books?

Maybe from the viewpoint of BookTalk's activity, but at the same time, I think balance is a value that we should attempt to encourage as much as possible. In as much as BookTalk still purports to be a freethinkers' forum, it's more in keeping with the tone of the site if we encourage people to compare points of view. Otherwise, we run the risk of treating the official selection as something of an authority.

But this isn't the sort of thing I'd suggest with every book. In this specific instance, it appears that Mormonism is being discussed specifically in light of a group of murders -- that's a rather extroidinary set of circumstances, and I think it demands a little balance. It may be that Krakauer handles it with the appropriate tact. I just think that we should be careful to do so, regardless of whether or not the author does.

Maybe we can simply have an active discussion where we all honestly explore and discuss the book.

That may be the case. But then, again, this is one of those books that could easily play to the hostility that a lot of BookTalk members already have for religion. I'd much rather see us read books that provoked complex reactions, not those that simply renew arguments that have been circulating here since before I joined the site.




Thu Nov 24, 2005 2:20 am
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Post Re: 1st Quarter NONFICTION Book Suggestions
Looks like I will be out of town in isolation, so I hereby withdraw my nomination.

"...the great events in life come from the books, rather than the people, one comes across." - Robert D. Kaplan, Mediterranean Winter: the Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece




Tue Nov 29, 2005 12:36 pm
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Post Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
This caught my eye in an email newsletter I get from Borders.com.

Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

I have always found Lincoln admirable. This book may just show us how a diverse group can come together to overcome the disarray our political system has become.

And we can learn about a man that just about everyone respects.


Quote:
Amazon.com
The life and times of Abraham Lincoln have been analyzed and dissected in countless books. Do we need another Lincoln biography? In Team of Rivals, esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin proves that we do. Though she can't help but cover some familiar territory, her perspective is focused enough to offer fresh insights into Lincoln's leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln's political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration--Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general--he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin's fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods.
Ten years in the making, this engaging work reveals why "Lincoln's road to success was longer, more tortuous, and far less likely" than the other men, and why, when opportunity beckoned, Lincoln was "the best prepared to answer the call." This multiple biography further provides valuable background and insights into the contributions and talents of Seward, Chase, and Bates. Lincoln may have been "the indispensable ingredient of the Civil War," but these three men were invaluable to Lincoln and they played key roles in keeping the nation intact. --Shawn Carkonen

The Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals doesn't just tell the story of Abraham Lincoln. It is a multiple biography of the entire team of personal and political competitors that he put together to lead the country through its greatest crisis. Here, Doris Kearns Goodwin profiles five of the key players in her book, four of whom contended for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination and all of whom later worked together in Lincoln's cabinet.

(The numbers refer to the cover photo)

1. Edwin M. Stanton
Stanton treated Lincoln with utter contempt at their initial acquaintance when the two men were involved in a celebrated law case in the summer of 1855. Unimaginable as it might seem after Stanton's demeaning behavior, Lincoln offered him "the most powerful civilian post within his gift"--the post of secretary of war--at their next encounter six years later. On his first day in office as Simon Cameron's replacement, the energetic, hardworking Stanton instituted "an entirely new regime" in the War Department. After nearly a year of disappointment with Cameron, Lincoln had found in Stanton the leader the War Department desperately needed. Lincoln's choice of Stanton revealed his singular ability to transcend personal vendetta, humiliation, or bitterness. As for Stanton, despite his initial contempt for the man he once described as a "long armed Ape," he not only accepted the offer but came to respect and love Lincoln more than any person outside of his immediate family. He was beside himself with grief for weeks after the president's death.
2. Salmon P. Chase
Chase, an Ohioan, had been both senator and governor, had played a central role in the formation of the national Republican Party, and had shown an unflagging commitment to the cause of the black man. No individual felt he deserved the presidency as a natural result of his past contributions more than Chase himself, but he refused to engage in the practical methods by which nominations are won. He had virtually no campaign and he failed to conciliate his many enemies in Ohio itself. As a result, he alone among the candidates came to the convention without the united support of his own state. Chase never ceased to underestimate Lincoln, nor to resent the fact that he had lost the presidency to a man he considered his inferior. His frustration with his position as secretary of the treasury was alleviated only by his his dogged hope that he, rather than Lincoln, would be the Republican nominee in 1864, and he steadfastly worked to that end. The president put up with Chase's machinations and haughty yet fundamentally insecure nature because he recognized his superlative accomplishments at treasury. Eventually, however, Chase threatened to split the Republican Party by continuing to fill key positions with partisans who supported his presidential hopes. When Lincoln stepped in, Chase tendered his resignation as he had three times before, but this time Lincoln stunned Chase by calling his bluff and accepting the offer.

3. Abraham Lincoln
When Lincoln won the Republican presidential nomination in 1860 he seemed to have come from nowhere--a backwoods lawyer who had served one undistinguished term in the House of Representatives and lost two consecutive contests for the U.S. Senate. Contemporaries attributed his surprising nomination to chance, to his moderate position on slavery, and to the fact that he hailed from the battleground state of Illinois. But Lincoln's triumph, particularly when viewed against the efforts of his rivals, owed much to a remarkable, unsuspected political acuity and an emotional strength forged in the crucible of hardship and defeat. That Lincoln, after winning the presidency, made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family, the cabinet, was evidence of an uncanny self-confidence and an indication of what would prove to others a most unexpected greatness.

4. William H. Seward
A celebrated senator from New York for more than a decade and governor of his state for two terms before going to Washington, Seward was certain he was going to receive his party's nomination for president in 1860. The weekend before the convention in Chicago opened he had already composed a first draft of the valedictory speech he expected to make to the Senate, assuming that he would resign his position as soon as the decision in Chicago was made. His mortification at not having received the nomination never fully abated, and when he was offered his cabinet post as secretary of state he intended to have a major role in choosing the remaining cabinet members, conferring upon himself a position in the new government more commanding than that of Lincoln himself. He quickly realized the futility of his plan to relegate the president to a figurehead role. Though the feisty New Yorker would continue to debate numerous issues with Lincoln in the years ahead, exactly as Lincoln had hoped and needed him to do, Seward would become his closest friend, advisor, and ally in the administration. More than any other cabinet member Seward appreciated Lincoln's peerless skill in balancing factions both within his administration and in the country at large.

5. Edward Bates
A widely respected elder statesman, a delegate to the convention that framed the Missouri Constitution, and a former Missouri congressman whose opinions on national matters were still widely sought, Bates's ambitions for political success were gradually displaced by love for his wife and large family, and he withdrew from public life in the late 1840s. For the next 20 years he was asked repeatedly to run or once again accept high government posts but he consistently declined. However in early 1860, with letters and newspaper editorials advocating his candidacy crowding in upon him, he decided to try for the highest office in the land. After losing to Lincoln he vowed, in his diary, to decline a cabinet position if one were to be offered, but with the country "in trouble and danger" he felt it was his duty to accept when Lincoln asked him to be attorney general. Though Bates initially viewed Lincoln as a well-meaning but incompetent administrator, he eventually concluded that the president was an unmatched leader, "very near being a 'perfect man.'"




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Thu Dec 01, 2005 12:37 pm
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Post Odysseus in America
Here's an earlier suggestion I think worthy of reconsideration:

Odysseus in America : Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming by Johnathon Shay, MD, Ph.D. Staff Psychiatrist, Boston VA Outpatient Clinic.

Odysseus in America is an ingenious attempt by Dr. Shay to utilize this ancient mythological classic as a guide for understanding the terrors that soldiers face when returning home from war.

Dr. Shay employs the best of Classicist literary scholarship and psychiatric medical wisdom with a deeply felt love for scarred soldiers finding their way back home from battle.

A Documentary Film by the same name has been made based on the book.

Shay holds doctorates in medicine and a neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia as well as an undergraduate degree from Harvard. Between college and medical school, he also did graduate work in sociology at Columbia University.

From 1987 - 1991, he was a Psychopharmacology Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical School. Dr. Shay has been a visiting scholar-at-large at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, presented a Secretary of the Navy's Guest Lecture at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. and is a frequent lecturer to active duty military audiences on the prevention of psychological and moral injury in military service.

Dr. Shay now holds the Chair of ethics, leadership and personnel policy in the U.S. Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and is an adviser to the Army's personnel Chief of Staff at the Pentagon.

Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 12/1/05 4:03 pm



Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:59 pm
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Post Re: Odysseus in America
This suggestion thread will be closed and an actual poll thread created. After much discussion I do agree that reading multiple nonfiction books in 1st quarter might be a bit much. Let's do 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction for Q1 and see how we handle it. If the community grows and appears to be ready for multiple nonfiction we'll add one or more additional nonfiction books in Q2.




Tue Dec 06, 2005 12:55 am
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