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What non-fiction book should we talk about next? 
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 What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Got ideas? Let's hear 'em.

What would you like to discuss next? Please try to give the title, author name and maybe a statement about why you're suggesting the book. Oh, and ideally give us a link to. It is assumed that you will participate in any book discussion you actually suggest. ;-)



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
I'm thinking about reading this, mentioned recently in an article in the NYT.

The Origins of Totalitarianism
by Hannah Arendt

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Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history

The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

https://www.amazon.com/Origins-Totalita ... itarianism


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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Good suggestion, Geo. The author name is ringing a bell. Did we read anything by her over the years? I'll look...



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Responsibility and Judgment
Hannah Arendt
Non-Fiction
#40: Nov. & Dec. 2007


Discussion Forum

So we did indeed read and discuss one of her books. And from the looks of it we had a pretty good discussion. Two of the members that were the most active in the discussion are no longer participating here on the forums, but the fact that the book generated quality discussion is great to know.

Thanks for the book suggestion, Geo. :)

Does anyone else want to comment on Geo's suggestion of The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt? Or possibly you have your own suggestion? Feedback on the suggestions other people make is extremely helpful.



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
The New York Review of Books has just circulated its 1978 interview with Arendt on totalitarianism, available at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1978/10 ... interview/

The whole question of whether Donald Trump is taking the world down a totalitarian path is the big question of politics today. Arendt is the most astute analyst of the totalitarian impulse, through suffering as a Jew under the Nazis, through her secret love affair with the great Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, and most importantly through her acute logical analysis of the phenomenon of totalitarianism grounded in her rigorous experience as a philosopher of the logic of culture.

The line I best like in her preface to The Origins of Totalitarianism is "The subterranean stream of Western history has finally come to the surface and usurped the dignity of our tradition." Here we see the depth psychology of analysis of unconscious forces as drivers of culture and politics enabling the emergence of totalitarian politics.


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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
One of the comments about Arendt's book:

"The masses versus the classes - Unlike social classes, Arendt explains, the masses are amorphous and easily swayed. They’re moved by superficial rhetoric and empty fervor rather than united by a common identity or shared economic interests."


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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Great comment. Lately I've been putting a lot of thought into the confirmation bias and how I think it is the most influential factor in how humans form or defend their beliefs. But I have to run...



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Chris OConnor wrote:
Great comment. Lately I've been putting a lot of thought into the confirmation bias and how I think it is the most influential factor in how humans form or defend their beliefs. But I have to run...

There's that Biblical verse I always like to quote: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" I think we are wired to see other people's flaws while tending to ignore our own. Through politics and modern modes communication that move at the speed of light we are stuck in this left vs. right dichotomy, the eternal conflict.


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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
I like the Arendt choice - very timely.
I recall reading excerpts from the book in some political science class a few decades ago and wouldn't mind a good reason to revisit and discuss it again.



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
If you have a hardcover, you can take it to the bank, judging by Amazon's price. I'm sure it's thought-provoking, but could we be provoked by a shorter booK? At 500-plus pages, how likely are we get far into it, much less finish it off? But politics is in the air, for sure. How about something by Eric Hoffer, such as The Ordeal of Change? It is said to develop themes about mass-movements that Hoffer laid out in The True Believer. A pithy book at about 140 pp.


https://www.amazon.com/Ordeal-Change-Er ... 1933435100



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
You may be right DWill. I didn't realize the book was that long and we don't have a great record for finishing books lately :hmm:
I read "The True Believer" many moons ago and I recall it giving me much to ponder. I could get into "the Ordeal of Change" or any other good selection that will shed some light on the current political climate of the USA and/or Europe.



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
By all accounts Arendt's tome is not the easiest book to read. I would be perfectly happy with anything by Hoffer. I was going to suggest The True Believer, but since I've already read it, I would be even happier to go with the Ordeal of Change.


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To read, or not to read...

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 Re: Non-fiction side discussion about Trump?
I'd like to make a suggestion, not for the "official" non-fiction book, but one for the "additional" non-fiction category. I.e. this would be a side discussion apart from the "official" selection. (Unless we want to make this one official?)

Normally after a U.S. Presidential election I'm so fed up with it I don't want to read any more about it. But this time was so raucous that I suggest we read a book about - wait for it - yes you guessed it - Donald J. Trump. Interested? Here are some suggestions.

Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher. This appears to be a compilation of efforts by about 20 journalists from the Washington Post. I think this has been recommended to BT previously. Great reviews...

The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston Great reviews...
”David Cay Johnston has given us this year’s must-read Trump book.”
—Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC’s The Last Word

Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi. How I love Matt Taibbi - blistering insights mixed with bizarre humor... Here's his description of Goldman Sachs.
Quote:
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/ne ... e-20100405



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Trump Revealed was as objective as it could be. Trump gave the authors 20 hours of his time for interviews, though in the end Trump said he didn't like the book. It was just a feeling he had about it because of course he doesn't read. I posted about the book here and would be happy to talk about it.



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Post Re: What non-fiction book should we talk about next?
Away from politics, I'd like to read Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. The book's available as a PDF. That makes it more convenient to discuss selected chapters that have the most interest, instead of trying to tackle the whole book. Dennett is really good, a superb teacher and explicator. He gets into heavy subjects but is good at keeping his prose light.



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