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Suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. non-fiction discussion 
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Brilliant

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So when do we usually begin the voting?



Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:38 pm
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Given that today is 9/11, I'll make one more suggestion.

The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America

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Susan Faludi has written a brilliant, unsentimental, often darkly humorous account of America's nervous breakdown after 9/11. The intrusions of September 11, she observes, broke the dead bolt on our protective myth, the illusion that... our might makes our homeland impregnable... and women and children safe in the arms of their men.Drawing on political rhetoric and accounts from the New York Times and the major networks, as well as Fox and talk radio, her book makes clear just how sexually anxious Americans became in the aftermath of that terrible day. But the tragedy had yielded no victorious heroes, so the culture wound up anointing a set of victimized men instead: the firemen who had died in the stairwells of the World Trade Center.The woman's role, she argues, became that of victim. Husbands had lost wives, but it was on the surviving wives of September 11 that America's grief was fixed. When some widows-the Jersey girls-rejected the victim's role by asking pointed questions about governmental incompetence, they were quickly ostracized by the press.After September 11, we read that Donald Rumsfeld had been a wrestler at Princeton-and that became his legend in news accounts. Even the president clearing brush in Crawford, Tex., became the stuff of legend in the National Review, which juxtaposed Bush's refreshingly brutish demeanor with the way the president sizes up the situation and says, 'You're mine, sucker.' A late chapter on Jessica Lynch rehearses how the myth of the imprisoned woman rescued by male warriors was manufactured by the government and the media. But I wish Faludi had appraised the more important Abu Ghraib scandal. Arguably, the photographs of Private Lynndie England standing over naked Arab men shocked many of us out of any remaining childish belief in our own heroism. The last third of the book traces how the American male's determination to see himself as protector (and the woman as dependent) derives from colonial Puritan wars against the Indians and the cowboy conquest of the West. In the end, Faludi judges our invasion of Afghanistan to be inept and tthe war in Iraq disastrous. It is essential, she says, not to confuse the defense of a myth with the defense of a country. A nation given to childish fantasy ends up with a president dressed like Tom Cruise, a chest beater in a borrowed flight suit.



Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:18 pm
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Thanks for the suggestion Julian, I'd be interested in discussing this book.

Thanks also for your previous suggestions, they're the kind of topics I'm interested in, and they cover very different subjects.

This one would appeal to me: http://www.amazon.com/Reinventing-Knowledge-Alexandria-Ian-McNeely/dp/0393065065/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219873036&sr=1-1


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Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:12 pm
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There aren't enough suggestions in this thread to create a poll yet so please join this discussion and help us find our next non-fiction book. It is VERY helpful if you look over the book suggestions made by other members and comment on whether or not you would participate in a discussion of each book. A book suggestion by one member with no other members saying they too would enjoy reading and discussing that book stands little chance of seeing itself on a poll.



Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:16 am
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Seeing as several people have shown an interest in environmentalism I'll add the following book to our small heap of suggestions:

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America (Hardcover)
by Thomas L. Friedman

http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Flat-Crowded- ... F8&s=books

Product Description

Thomas L. Friedman's phenomenal number-one bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see the world in a new way. In his brilliant, essential new book, Friedman takes a fresh and provocative look at two of the biggest challenges we face today: America's surprising loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11; and the global environmental crisis, which is affecting everything from food to fuel to forests. In this groundbreaking account of where we stand now, he shows us how the solutions to these two big problems are linked--how we can restore the world and revive America at the same time.

Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world's middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is "hot, flat, and crowded." Already the earth is being affected in ways that threaten to make it dangerously unstable. In just a few years, it will be too late to fix things--unless the United States steps up now and takes the lead in a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation that Friedman calls Code Green.

This is a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth; it is also our best strategy for the renewal of America.

In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution we need is like no revolution the world has seen. It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; it will be hard, not easy; and it will change everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. But the payoff for America will be more than just cleaner air. It will inspire Americans to something we haven't seen in a long time--nation-building in America--by summoning the intelligence, creativity, boldness, and concern for the common good that are our nation's greatest natural resources.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge--and the promise--of the future.



Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:21 am
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A new release hitting the shelves Sept. 15th...

The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (Hardcover)
by Andrew Bacevich

http://www.amazon.com/Limits-Power-End- ... F8&s=books

From Publishers Weekly

In this caustic critique of the growing American penchant for empire and sense of entitlement, Bacevich (The New American Militarism) examines the citizenry's complicity in the current economic, political, and military crisis. A retired army colonel, the author efficiently pillories the recent performance of the armed forces, decrying it as an expression of domestic dysfunction, with leaders and misguided strategies ushering the nation into a global war of no exits and no deadlines. Arguing that the tendency to blame solely the military or the Bush administration is as illogical as blaming Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression, Bacevich demonstrates how the civilian population is ultimately culpable; in citizens' appetite for unfettered access to resources, they have tacitly condoned the change of military service from a civic function into an economic enterprise. Crisp prose, sweeping historical analysis and searing observations on the roots of American decadence elevate this book from mere scolding to an urgent call for rational thinking and measured action, for citizens to wise up and put their house in order.



Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:23 am
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The Forever War (Hardcover)
by Dexter Filkins

http://www.amazon.com/Forever-War-Dexte ... F8&s=books

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Filkins, a New York Times prize



Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:32 am
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Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time (Paperback)
by Greg Mortenson

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Cups-Tea-Mi ... F8&s=books

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers' hearts.



Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:41 am
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The Post-American World (Hardcover)
by Fareed Zakaria

http://www.amazon.com/Post-American-Wor ... F8&s=books

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. When a book proclaims that it is not about the decline of America but the rise of everyone else, readers might expect another diatribe about our dismal post-9/11 world. They are in for a pleasant surprise as Newsweek editor and popular pundit Zakaria (The Future of Freedom) delivers a stimulating, largely optimistic forecast of where the 21st century is heading. We are living in a peaceful era, he maintains; world violence peaked around 1990 and has plummeted to a record low. Burgeoning prosperity has spread to the developing world, raising standards of living in Brazil, India, China and Indonesia. Twenty years ago China discarded Soviet economics but not its politics, leading to a wildly effective, top-down, scorched-earth boom. Its political antithesis, India, also prospers while remaining a chaotic, inefficient democracy, as Indian elected officials are (generally) loathe to use the brutally efficient tactics that are the staple of Chinese governance. Paradoxically, India's greatest asset is its relative stability in the region; its officials take an unruly population for granted, while dissent produces paranoia in Chinese leaders. Zakaria predicts that despite its record of recent blunders at home and abroad, America will stay strong, buoyed by a stellar educational system and the influx of young immigrants, who give the U.S. a more youthful demographic than Europe and much of Asia whose workers support an increasing population of unproductive elderly. A lucid, thought-provoking appraisal of world affairs, this book will engage readers on both sides of the political spectrum.



Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:43 am
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While reading that book, I just came across a quote from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. That's not too surprising, though I hadn't heard of the book until it was brought up as a book suggestion on this site.



Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:11 am
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The book I would like to suggest is The Pagan Christ: Is Blind faith Killing Christianity? by Tom Harpur. Amazon site is
http://www.amazon.com/Pagan-Christ-Blin ... 0802777414

This book produces an astounding level of polarisation, with fundamentalists virtually calling for it to be burned, and others suggesting it is highly enlightening, especially about the repressive evil nature of the church. Harpur is described as Canada's leading religious journalist, and was a professor of New Testament in Toronto. Many of his claims are disputable, and have been discussed here at Booktalk, such as his questioning of the gospel account of the historical Jesus as a repackaging of old Egyptian ideas. I think it is interesting as a way to investigate what we mean by faith, and how faith can be resurrected from the lies and fraud of the church.

Harpur also has a related book http://www.amazon.com/Pagan-Christ-Reco ... gy_b_img_b which has 59 customer reviews at Amazon.



Tue Sep 16, 2008 3:29 pm
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Scanning the list of books already read, I did not find one on logical reasoning, logical fallacies, or the like. I would be interested in tuning up my own reasoning ability, and also I think that such a book might be of benefit in a place (booktalk) where rationality is so highly esteemed. If anyone knows of a good candidate, please identify it. Here is one I found at random, with an Amazon review:

Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking, by D.Q. McInerny

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812971159?ie=UTF8&tag=booktalk08-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=0812971159


A beautifully written book. It illustrates well the luminosity and simplicity of the principles of human rationality in both its form (the style is elegantly straightforward) and content (clear, finely argued, principled ideas). Reading this book is like drinking a fine cup of tea.

This book serves as an introductory guide to the principles of reasoning with the purpose of the application of logic to life. Through a brief study of the tenets of logical thinking McInerny elucidates the essence of logic and its concrete expression in argumentation. The final section of the book helpfully covers many of the fallacies of logic with clear examples.

McInerny's prose is itself the strongest case for the validity and exigency of rational thinking and moral rhetoric. Though I do not accept without qualification the core of McInerny's all too modern presuppositions (universality of the laws of reason, correspondence and coherence theories of truth etc.), this book, and what it graciously argues for, is a much needed corrective to the excessive postmodern rejection of rationality as such.

Before you pick up any other book on logic, read this one first. Or, if you want a simple guide to help hone your reasoning skills, this may be the best book out there. It can also serve as a handy reference on your shelf. Once you read it, you may find yourself reading it again. I am.



Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:19 pm
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If we're going to read a book on clear thinking this one looks more promising for discussion.

Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders (Paperback)

In the daily battle for our hearts and minds--not to mention our hard-earned cash--the truth is usually the first casualty. It's time we learned how to see through the rhetoric, faulty reasoning, and misinformation that we're subjected to from morning to night by talk-radio hosts, op-ed columnists, advertisers, self-help gurus, business "thinkers," and, of course, politicians. And no one is better equipped to show us how than award-winning philosopher Jamie Whyte.

In Crimes Against Logic Whyte take us on a fast-paced, ruthlessly funny romp through the mulligan stew of can, folderol, and bogus logic served up in the media, at the office, and even in your own home. Applying his laserlike wit to dozens of timely examples, Whyte cuts through the haze of facts, figures, and double-talk and gets at the real truth behind what they're telling us.



Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:40 am
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I really am looking for at least another 5 or 6 people to make posts to this thread We have far too few suggestions and comments. The time is here for picking our next non-fiction book, but the suggestions are sparse and the comments almost nonexistent.



Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:09 pm
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Too true, usually when I promote a book it is all I know on how to comment. Myself and a few others have provided one, two, or even three top selections and most were willing to comment if they disagreed or had better options.

I am open to anything that I have enough time to plan ahead to read/purchase.

I think that the vote should take place on the main page with all recommendations listed as possible options, or have each person who promoted multiple book select only one.



Sun Sep 21, 2008 11:46 pm
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