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Old 01-14-2017, 05:47 PM   #51
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Unwinding sounds good to me. It's on my list and it's even at my local library branch.
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Old 01-14-2017, 06:01 PM   #52
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein

Wow this is a long book. 810 pages. But unlike Nixonland this one is a bit on the boring side I thought. It covers the time period from when Nixon resigned to the Republican convention were Ronald Reagan narrowly lost to Ford for the Republican convention.

Like Nixonland there is a general symbolic theme that runs though the book and defined the titular character to the time they lived in. For Nixon it was the him the outsider and the elites and by extension the growth of Conservatives seeing themselves as permanent outsiders looked down on by the elites of the US. For Ronald Reagan it was the "suspicious circles" who were always questioning a too good to be true story or myth that seemed a bit too perfect. They were the people who pointed out that America was built on genocide and slavery instead of free enterprise, God, and hard work. Or those who thought the world's rules applied to the US instead of the US being exceptional and being a country who can do no wrong, or rather, if the US did it it wasn't wrong.

I guess the book is a bit boring because Reagan himself is a bit boring. A serial fabulist who continuously exaggerated or edited stories about his past; how he was the hero of his local school, exactly how he met his wife, how he got his jobs, he was always conscious how others saw him and continuously adjusted his image to match them, hence the constant confabulations. He had always had a simple morality, one of good guys and bad guys which lead him to be a communist originally. As his movie career floundered and his was taken under the wing of corporate giants who used his movie star good looks to help them mold their corporate images he became more and more enveloped in the simple morality of right wing of free market capitalism and John Birch far right wing social issues. Where the suspicious circles saw complexity and cynicism in the world, Reagan projected a simple morality of America being good and an optimism that by implication erased the evils that the suspicious circles continuously brought up. You would think that would make Reagan an interesting against type character but he was an empty vessel, he only wanted to have the attention of others, and what they craved was simple morality, so that's what he gave to them.

If you wanted to know about the Ford Administration, or about Reagan himself then I'd recommend this book, otherwise I'd put it last in the trilogy of Rick Perlstein. It's certainly readable, but be prepared to slog unlike the Nixon book were Nixon's suspicions, machinations, and paranoia along with America's keep you engaged the whole time, this doesn't.

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Old 01-14-2017, 06:02 PM   #53
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

i read or heard somewhere that obama recommended it among others, and the topic seemed most interesting to me of all the books he recommended. it follows the story of Homo sapiens from the cognitive revolution to the agricultural revolution to the uhh, you know, all the revolutions, and the beginnings of mythology and its purpose in bringing people together to work towards bigger and bigger goals, and how society and norms have shifted and changed. i absolutely loved it. i get bored pretty easily and i thought it was an easy read
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Old 01-19-2017, 06:01 AM   #54
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Blueprint for Armageddon is AWESOME.
Just finished it literally like 5 mins ago. It was good but not amongst my faves, I think mostly because a bunch of it I already had some knowledge of. There was a lot that was new as well of course but the basic themes of the horrors of trench warfare, gas attacks, the transformation of the armed forces from 19th century to 20th century warfare, the scale of the casualties, etc, were all familiar to me. This was not the case for the other HH series I have listened to, for instance my knowledge of the Punic Wars was VERY limited before listening to the series ("There was a guy called Hannibal who crossed the Alps and he had elephants I guess?" about covered it).

The series also suffers a bit for a lack of characters, with the exception of Woodrow Wilson and perhaps Joseph Joffre it was hard to get a sense for what any of the people were like.
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Old 01-22-2017, 06:36 AM   #55
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

So I don't intend to turn this thread into my blog of making my way through Hardcore History, but I listened to Prophets of Doom the last few days, about the Münster Rebellion. Really wild story. Even though it's ultimately a horrifying event, with thousands of people dying, I was cracking up laughing at a lot of it. Especially as an atheist, it's funny because the plot is driven by religion with the absurdity turned up to 11. Becomes farcical pretty quickly. It's the best standalone ep of HH I have listened to yet. I listened to it after googling for what people's fave eps generally are, that one was mentioned a lot. Ironically, it was one of the ones Carlin was least happy with after finishing it. He actually re-recorded the whole ep and then still didn't like it.
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Old 01-22-2017, 11:41 AM   #56
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Prophets of Doom was def entertaining,
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Old 01-22-2017, 12:02 PM   #57
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Thor's Angels and the series on the fall of the Roman Republic are both incredible.
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Old 01-22-2017, 12:19 PM   #58
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Hillbilly Elegy sucked. I live in Ohio, don't get a lot out of a documentary book.
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Old 01-22-2017, 12:22 PM   #59
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

How do you guys read all this **** without going into a deep depression?
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Old 01-24-2017, 07:58 PM   #60
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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I had to do a lot of it through audiobook. I got lucky that Amazon had a kindle sale on the book for 2 dollars and then they give a discount of the audible audiobook if you have the kindle book so all and all it came out to 5 dollars.

With a kid and a house I don't get an hour to myself much less the hours it would take to read a large book so I'm always looking for audio books that I can listen to while I'm doing other things.
Ive just started getting into audio books for similar reasons. My job also requires me to a good amount of driving which is great for audio books.

Does Amazon typically offer discounts like that? Meaning if I buy the book, you get the audio discounted?
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Old 01-24-2017, 09:53 PM   #61
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

If you buy the Kindle version. It's called Amazon Matchmaker
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Old 01-24-2017, 10:20 PM   #62
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

I've been listening to free stuff on librivox. They don't have new books though, just stuff in the public domain.
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Old 01-25-2017, 08:25 PM   #63
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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If you buy the Kindle version. It's called Amazon Matchmaker
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I've been listening to free stuff on librivox. They don't have new books though, just stuff in the public domain.
both good to know, thx
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Old 01-31-2017, 10:26 PM   #64
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell 1938

This is the true life account of George Orwell's six months fighting as part of a Marxist anti-Stalinist worker's party in the Spanish Civil War. Part of the narrative is about his time in the trenches and battles or skirmishes mostly, and then getting caught in the middle of the deadly intraparty power struggles on the Republican side. There's a fair amount of drama in his personal story and he relates it with a dry wit and detachment that might seem like a caricature of the brave, modest, competent English soldier if it weren't so convincing.

Although at an intellectual level he tends to present ideas with perhaps too much of a humble lack of certainty, it's clear that his driving feeling is sympathy for the underdog, an appreciation of the better parts of human nature, and a reflexive hatred of tyranny.
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I have no particular love for the idealized 'worker' as he appears in the bourgeois Communist's mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.
Speaking of "bourgeois Communist" the politics of Spain at this time are a bit different than the titles might suggest, or perhaps I've been generally misled. The Communists here are not really a workers party at all. It's more like they are just grifters in cahoots with the Capitalists. That's partly because of local conditions in Spain, but partly because the USSR, the primary Republican benefactor, apparently felt like a real workers' revolution wasn't going to work. Or perhaps because they were protecting their relationship at the time with France. The real party of the workers and the peasants and the people were the Anarchists. Without spoiling everything I'll just say that they weren't the favorites of outside interests.

I know this isn't giving up any secrets: it's a must read. It was pretty lame of me to go this far in life without reading it.

Last edited by microbet; 01-31-2017 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:13 AM   #65
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Been reading Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. Def a great way to unwind in times like these.
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Old 02-05-2017, 05:50 PM   #66
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Down and out in Paris and London George Orwell 1933

Orwell describes his time working as a dishwasher in Paris and tramping in England. It's an intimate look and not from on high. Orwell is desperately poor and sometimes works himself ragged and sometimes goes days without food. Full of interesting characters who Orwell works and travels with, it's a compelling narrative. But, it's also a commentary on the social and economic conditions of the time. There is also some searching for remedy though it was not meant to be a prescription of any kind and one specific suggestion for the workhouses at the end of the book is something that had already been in operation in the US to some extent for some time. Mostly it's not about solutions, but about understanding and then passing that along to an audience that I think was and still is largely and obstinately ignorant.

Read it if you haven't.
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Old 02-05-2017, 06:29 PM   #67
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Been reading Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. Def a great way to unwind in times like these.
Lots of surprising parallels between the Democratic primary of '68 and 2016. Dems manage to nominate a thoroughly unlikeable party hack who alienates the liberal wing of the party and loses the general.
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Old 02-05-2017, 06:41 PM   #68
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Lots of surprising parallels between the Democratic primary of '68 and 2016. Dems manage to nominate a thoroughly unlikeable party hack who alienates the liberal wing of the party and loses the general.
Yeah that was crazy. With Vietnam sucking and the incumbant potus bowing out it would have been hard to win, but lol having primaries and completely ignoring them.
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Old 02-06-2017, 10:13 AM   #69
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Lots of surprising parallels between the Democratic primary of '68 and 2016. Dems manage to nominate a thoroughly unlikeable party hack who alienates the liberal wing of the party and loses the general.
So you're saying in 2020, the Dems will decide to pick the more "risky", very liberal candidate who will get absolutely wiped off the map by an incumbent President who is using the apparatus of the State to commit felonies on his behalf?
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Old 02-07-2017, 08:48 PM   #70
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution by Richard Beeman (2010)

An objectively non-partisan annotated Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution w/ Amendments, and Federalist Papers selections. Should be mandatory reading not because it's necessarily masterful (it's very good though), but because it's the best bite-size summary of the Constitution and its history and import that I'm aware of.

Plus, everyone should have an annotated, dog-eared, highlighted and marginalia'd Constitution if they want to argue about like, almost anything in the United States.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:47 AM   #71
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition-1742-2004

https://www.amazon.com/Deliver-Vote-.../dp/0786718439

A short book at 230 pages, it gives a short overview of voter fraud in America. Some of the highlights are that in early American history voter fraud was the norm not the exception. Voters, for the most part, expected their votes to be bought as a kind of exchange for doing their civic duty. In some places people used it as a kind of tax return, a day when they'd get a big lump sum payment. As such it was hard to root out the corruption because both the voter and the politicians wanted it. Also the reason why political info isn't allowed with X feet is because local bosses would have thugs who wandered in front of voting booths and menacingly put party literature in your hand telling you how to vote. They'd then go in after your vote and make sure you voted correctly.

Also it mentions some key moments in voter fraud history. One being that the St Louis Arches were originally a real estate scam by the city real estate agents and the city during the Great Depression to build a federal monument to Thomas Jefferson and the only reason they have the arches today is the real estate agents paid the local head honchos to rig the referendum to build a monument to Thomas Jefferson. Eventually it came out that the vote had actually failed but ballot stuffing had put the yes's over the no's and the federal government ruled that the city had entered into a contact by passing the referendum even if it was completely fraudulent. The real estate agents made mint and the proposed monument never happened until some 20 years later the arches were proposed as something they might as well do with the property.

An interesting thing that surprised me that major voter fraud was a very recent thing. LBJ actually carried a photo of some of his political friends with a stuffed ballot box made a day before the election which helped him eek out a win over a rival.

Absentee ballots, are of course, a huge vector for voter fraud and the book recommended keeping them to a minimum because people would get the list of who were absentee balloting, know when the absentee ballots were sent out, and walk around mail boxes collecting them, or they would have a "ballot collector" who would be counted on to "help" X amount of people vote a certain way. Many times those people were paid to vote a certain way or were elderly people who didn't even know they were voting, they just knew a nice man would come and help them with their mail.

The book does cover a lot briefly, from coal companies intimidating voters up to the 1980s, to Louisiana corruption, to the Chicago machine, to tips on how to do voter fraud like waiting until other districts report so you know how many ballots to stuff, alphabet voting (writing up ballots by copying the voter registry, usually in alphabetical order), to voting for a person and when the actual person shows up telling him he hadn't registered to turn him away.

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Old 02-16-2017, 06:07 PM   #72
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

So I have 2 free audible credits and have narrowed down my selections to 4. Any input from you guys that have read some of these as to which I should go with?

Dark Money - Jane Mayer
This Changes Everything - Naomi Klein
Listen Liberal - Thomas Frank
The all new Don't Think of an Elephant - George Lakoff
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:57 PM   #73
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

I think Klein is a hack so wouldn't recommend that one personally.

The Lakoff book would be interesting.
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:00 AM   #74
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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I think Klein is a hack so wouldn't recommend that one personally.

The Lakoff book would be interesting.
Why do you think she is a hack?
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:22 AM   #75
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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So I have 2 free audible credits and have narrowed down my selections to 4. Any input from you guys that have read some of these as to which I should go with?

Dark Money - Jane Mayer
This Changes Everything - Naomi Klein
Listen Liberal - Thomas Frank
The all new Don't Think of an Elephant - George Lakoff
I reviewed Dark Money itt. I think it's crucial and a must read, though if you've read something similar it might not be so much. It's very informative and well written.

I read Listen Liberal shortly before I started reviewing books here and liked it quite a lot. I think you'll also like it as I think we're both somewhat in the choir ready for the preaching on that one. Others might not like it so much. It's kind of flip and humorous and someone who is predisposed to think Frank is a punk for one reason or another might not enjoy it, which is part of the point. D-money is way more serious and should be read by the choir, people in the pews, people who hate church, and everyone else.
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