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3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions! 
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
The book does look interesting, but I wonder why they don't have a real publisher backing the title? The publisher listed is a "custom" or self publishing outfit. I read a lot about a book by which publisher is involved. These self publishing companies are generally a mixed bag with their titles. If I was an author trying to get an important book on the market, I would be more concerned with working with a respectable publisher than trying to milk every copy for as much money possible. There isn't a lot of money to be made in books to begin with. Any ways, long story short, I just thought it odd that a book that looks like a really good read isn't being put out by an actual publisher by rather a custom outfit.




Tue May 02, 2006 6:13 am
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Post Noam Chomsky: Failed States
Noam Chomsky Failed States : The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

This is Chomsky's latest book and I think it will prove worthy of generating copious debate and discussion. Considering our recent read, Harriis' End of Faith uses Chomsky as an example of bad thinking, it makes sense to tackle Noam head-on and see if Sam is right. Everything is on the table in this one: politics, environment, military, science, philosophy, popular culture, economics, planetary survival... something for everyone.

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Publishers Weekly: Ranging haphazardly from the Seminole War forward, Chomsky's jeremiad views American interventionism as a pageant of imperialist power-plays motivated by crass business interests. Disdaining euphemisms, he denounces American "terror" and "war crimes," castigates the public-bamboozling "government-media propaganda campaign" and floats comparisons to Mongols and Nazis. Chomsky's fans will love it, but even mainstream critics are catching up to the substance of his take on Bush Administration policies; meanwhile his uncompromising moral sensibility, icy logic and withering sarcasm remain in a class by themselves. Required reading for every thoughtful citizen.


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From the Book: Forceful, lucid, and meticulously documented, Failed States offers a comprehensive analysis of a global superpower that has long claimed the right to reshape other nations while its own democratic institutions are in severe crisis, and its policies and practices have recklessly placed the world on the brink of disaster. Systematically dismantling America's claim to being the world's arbiter of democracy, Failed States is Chomsky's most focused



Wed May 03, 2006 10:35 pm
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Post Directive 19
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I have killed with ruthless disregard for humanity. I ordered young German soldiers to kill with ruthless disregard for humanity. I personally authorized favorable reports on the use of Zyklon B as a gassing chemical and personally pulled the trigger of a machine gun to shoot civilians on the snowy steppes of the Ukraine. I hanged Polish, French and Dutch civilians during summary and reprisal executions. I am a criminal.

I might be up for Directive 19, but I'm not sure I want the author to make one penny of profit off of me... >:




Thu May 04, 2006 8:31 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
I finished Fisk's book a couple of weeks ago. Overall, it's worthwhile for one category of people, which includes me but excludes most potential readers.

First of all, Fisk jumps around, spending a lot of time on certain times & places while neglecting others. That's fine if you've read several books on the Middle East (as I have) but might be disorienting otherwise.

Second, Fisk is rather anti-violence, and is very critical of most governments. His characterization of government policies would piss off nationalistic Americans, Brits, Israelis, Iranians, etc.

Fisk talks a lot about people's suffering, whether caused by war, oppression, or economic sanctions. Parts of the book are hard to get through, though its a counterpart to most histories, which tend to downplay the sufferings.

Finally, since the book is rather long, and I doubt that many people here would be willing to read it.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend Fisk's book unless you're a leftist who's already read a great deal about the Middle East and can tolerate descriptions of violence.




Fri May 05, 2006 1:40 am
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
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I might be up for Directive 19, but I'm not sure I want the author to make one penny of profit off of me... >:

i think the amazon review noted that the author was dead and it was being released by an uninvolved collaborated that helped write the book.




Fri May 05, 2006 5:54 am
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
As we approach the end of the suggestion period, it might be a good idea for everyone to review the recommendations and come up with a few favorites. So far, I like MadArchitect's recommendation A Peace to End All Peace the best. I have wanted to better explore the history of the Middle East in more detail, this is an excellent opportunity. Also, despite the great discussion on going in "End of Faith" by Harris, I think a title not dealing with religious or atheistic topics may be a good idea for the next reading. Though it will likely be hard to read a book about Middle East peace without some discussion of how Islam has guided the area politically and socially, we can largely avoid most of the hot topic issues I believe.




Fri May 05, 2006 7:04 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
I agree with everything you just said, Riverc0il.

BTW I am advertising on Infidelguy.com for 3 months at a total cost of $300. Hopefully this brings in a few heathens.




Fri May 05, 2006 8:04 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
"A Peace to End All Peace" is still my favorite suggestion of the lot. I may be biased. I'd like to see a broader range of topics covered by the suggestions as well -- it seems like we've got the politics/current events category covered. We could probably stand to have a few more philosophy, science, and arts suggestions.




Sat May 06, 2006 2:03 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
Despite the path I suggested in my last post, the following book ought to be worth consideration -- it won this year's Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction writing.

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins

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Forty years after Kenyan independence from Britain, the words "Mau Mau" still conjure images of crazed savages hacking up hapless white settlers with machetes. The British Colonial Office, struggling to preserve its far-flung empire of dependencies after World War II, spread hysteria about Kenya's Mau Mau independence movement by depicting its supporters among the Kikuyu people as irrational terrorists and monsters. Caroline Elkins, a historian at Harvard University, has done a masterful job setting the record straight in her epic investigation, Imperial Reckoning. After years of research in London and Kenya, including interviews with hundreds of Kenyans, settlers, and former British officials, Elkins has written the first book about the eight-year British war against the Mau Mau.
She concludes that the war, one of the bloodiest and most protracted decolonization struggles of the past century, was anything but the "civilizing mission" portrayed by British propagandists and settlers. Instead, Britain engaged in an amazingly brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that seemed to border on outright genocide. While only 32 white settlers were killed by Mau Mau insurgents, Elkins reports that tens of thousands of Kenyans were slaughtered, perhaps up to 300,000. The British also interned the entire 1.5 million population of Kikuyu, the colony's largest ethnic group, in barbed-wire villages, forced-labour reserves where famine and disease ran rampant, and prison camps that Elkins describes as the Kenyan "Gulag." The Kikuyu were subjected to unimaginable torture, or "screening," as British officials called it, which included being whipped, beaten, sodomized, castrated, burned, and forced to eat feces and drink urine. British officials later destroyed almost all official records of the campaign. Elkins infuses her account with the riveting stories of individual Kikuyu detainees, settlers, British officials, and soldiers. This is a stunning narrative that finally sheds light on a misunderstood war for which no one has yet been held officially accountable.
--Alex Roslin

From Publishers Weekly
In a major historical study, Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, relates the gruesome, little-known story of the mass internment and murder of thousands of Kenyans at the hands of the British in the last years of imperial rule. Beginning with a trenchant account of British colonial enterprise in Kenya, Elkins charts white supremacy's impact on Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu, and the radicalization of a Kikuyu faction sworn by tribal oath to extremism known as Mau Mau. Elkins recounts how in the late 1940s horrific Mau Mau murders of white settlers on their isolated farms led the British government to declare a state of emergency that lasted until 1960, legitimating a decade-long assault on the Kikuyu. First, the British blatantly rigged the trial of and imprisoned the moderate leader Jomo Kenyatta (later Kenya's first postindependence prime minister). Beginning in 1953, they deported or detained 1.4 million Kikuyu, who were systematically "screened," and in many cases tortured, to determine the extent of their Mau Mau sympathies. Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and settlers, Elkins exposes the hypocrisy of Britain's supposed colonial "civilizing mission" and its subsequent coverups. A profoundly chilling portrait of the inherent racism and violence of "colonial logic," Elkins's account was also the subject of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled Kenya: White Terror. Her superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership.

Product Details
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (December 23, 2004)
Language: English




Sat May 06, 2006 2:17 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
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I'd like to see a broader range of topics covered by the suggestions as well -- it seems like we've got the politics/current events category covered. We could probably stand to have a few more philosophy, science, and arts suggestions.

This is true. I am leaning towards a historical reading for next quarter myself, thus my preference on a Middle Eastern title. I also liked this recommendation as well:

The Image : A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, by Daniel J. Boorstin




Sun May 07, 2006 6:35 am
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
Here's a promising book discussing an issue that came up in our discussion of The End of Faith

Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy by Fawaz A. Gerges
From Publishers Weekly
In September 2005, Gerges, an academic turned news commentator, published a rare and thoughtful piece of scholarship, The Far Enemy, that sought to map the different views within militant Islam's explosive underworld. Gerges argued nimbly, drawing upon numerous primary sources and firsthand interviews. After traveling across the Middle East and meeting with former jihadists, he learned that Islamic militants often disagreed on critical issues (including whether to attack the United States) and that their movement was far more variegated than Washington's official portrayal suggests. Published less than a year later, this new volume reads like a quicky follow-up. It covers similar ground, draws upon similar sources and is considerably more limited in its scholarly aspirations



Tue May 09, 2006 10:56 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
I'm midway through an excellent book:
Night Draws Near : Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War
by Anthony Shadid

Most of the accounts of the Iraq War so far have been, to use the term the war made famous, embedded in one way or another: many officially so with American troops, most others limited--by mobility, interest, or understanding--to the American experience of the conflict. In Night Draws Near, Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid writes about a side of the war that Americans have heard little about. His beat, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004, is the territory outside the barricaded, air-conditioned Green Zone: the Iraqi streets and, more often, the apartments and houses, darkened by blackouts and shaken by explosions, where most Iraqis wait out Saddam, the invasion, and three nearly unbroken decades of war.

Shadid is Lebanese American, born in Oklahoma, and he has a fluency in Arabic and an understanding of Arab culture that give him a rare access to and a great empathy for the people whose stories he tells. Beginning in the days leading up to the American invasion and closing with an epilogue on the January 2005 elections, he talks with Iraqis from a wide range of stations, from educated Baghdad professionals who look back on the country's golden days in the 1970s to a sullen, terrified group of Iraqi policemen in the Sunni Triangle, shunned as collaborators for taking jobs with the Americans to feed their families. (Perhaps his most telling and characteristic moment is when he trails behind an American patrol, recording the often hostile Iraqi comments that the soldiers themselves can't understand.) He takes the ground view and gives his witnesses the particularity they deserve, but the various voices share an exhaustion with a country that has seen nothing but war for 30 years and a frustration with a liberator that has not fulfilled its promises of prosperity and order. It's a despairing but eye-opening account, told with an understanding of the Iraqi people--hospitable, proud, and often desperate--that, were it more common, might have led to a different outcome than the one he describes.

If we want a book about the Middle East, I'd recommend this one. It's well-written, informative, relevant, and would give us plenty to discuss.




Sun May 28, 2006 3:43 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
Any further comments on which of the already suggested books should be on the poll? We have enough suggestions already.




Wed May 31, 2006 11:59 am
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
I have two I will trhow my support in for:

Breaking the Spell and American Theocracy.

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Wed May 31, 2006 12:33 pm
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Post Re: 3rd Quarter 2006 ~ NONFICTION Book Suggestions!
The historical and political books do not interest me. The book I'd most like to see on the poll is Ancestor's Tale. I might read Breaking the Spell, but am not sure we should read that book right now. It might be nice to take a break from books on religion, then come back to that one.




Wed May 31, 2006 4:30 pm
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