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Good selections this month. I'm torn because I can see the value of A Beautiful Mind and Under the Banner of Heaven, in that they both have more narrative drive than the others will have. Sometimes our discussions flag after a while with books centered on topics rather than people. On the other hand, there will probably be less to say about the two I've mentioned. By the way, I don't anticipate that Krakauer's book will be anti-Mormonism. This would be an easy slant to take, but I'd be disappointed if Krakauer settled for it. I would hope that his book is an exploration of extremism, which could pertain to anyone, even liberals!
I've read Beautiful MInd already. It's good. Cutting to the chase, I'll cast two votes for Empire of Illusion and one for Under the Banner of Heaven.
Last edited by DWill on Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Joined: Oct 2005 Posts: 6113 Location: Canberra
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Fantastic choices Chris, and hard to separate. I've spent some time looking at Amazon reviews, and would encourage others to do the same. One of the benefits of recent Booktalk discussions on Dawkins has been that while people agree with evolution, they often do not understand it in detail, so reading The Selfish Gene has enabled this depth of understanding. Similar benefits really apply for all the books up for selection here, extending and deepening people's understanding of issues they are aware of.
For my own learning, I plan to read Who Was Jesus by Acharya S. In my opinion she is the most brilliant religious scholar now writing, presenting an uncompromising empirical analysis of the fraudulent basis of Christian faith and providing an amazing arsenal of facts about the evolution of religion. I'm sure Acharya would be pleased to join discussion on Booktalk if her book was selected, and that would be great for those interested. It is not 'flogging a dead horse' because there is a great amount of new material here, but I can understand that the religion theme has limited appeal.
Similarly, I would like to read On The Nature of the Psyche by Carl Jung, for its analysis of archetypes and the unconscious, but this really is a specialist area, and I don't think would produce enough interest.
My three votes go to Empire of Illusion.I really fear the USA is cracking up in some serious ways, and this book fingers the lies peddled by the corporate state. How can the USA spend trillions on security and yet allow one of its best cities, New Orleans, to go under due to simple incompetence at maintaining levees? The basic concept of security is way out of kilter. Explaining the dream world of mass illusion is a great reality check. Reading books like Empire of Illusion (and Who Was Jesus) is absolutely essential to gather the evidence base about the reality of how far the current society is from where it needs to be.
The other books, on the Mormons and on Nash, are good options too. I read A Beautiful Mind and thought it was superb, as a humane study of genius and insanity. The Mormon book also touches on the problem of illusion, but in a particular limited and egregious cult. My interest in it would be, rather like in Acharya's book, in the guidance it provides for cult deprogramming. For this goal, Empire of Illusion has a broader sweep and more incisive message, so gets my votes.
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You may notice that there is a new book being announced up at the top in the current books block called, "The Genius of the Beast" by Howard Bloom. Years ago we read two of Howard Bloom's books and had a total of 3 live author chats with him. The discussions and the live chats were some of the bext experiences in our 8-year history.
While surfing around on Facebook the other day I came across Howard's Facebook Fan Page. I noticed that he had this new book coming out at the end of November of 2009 so I read a bunch of reviews and got excited.
So I emailed Howard and struck a deal with him. Howard has a large fan base. Howard agreed to help us pull in a bunch of new members specifically to discuss his book in December 2009 and January 2010. Within 30 minutes of him sending out an email to his 300+ fans 5 of them responded saying they would love to participate in an online discussion of "The Genius of the Beast."
Howard also agreed to another live chat near the end of the discussion period - so sometime at the end of January 2010. I'm hoping that a large group of our existing members will jump on this opportunity to participate in this discussion and author chat. Read the book reviews please. Howard is an incredible author and we can't help but to have a vibrant discussion whenever we tackle one of his gems.
Adding "The Genius of the Beast" to our calendar in no way impacts our current non-fiction book poll. In our current poll we're selecting a non-fiction book for November & December 2009. So please don't think my adding this book to the schedule somehow takes negates our democratic polling process. This book will be in addition to our group selections. I just hope you all participate as I'm pretty fired up about this book.
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