So most tines when I read non-fiction I start out well, then get bogged down and end up only reading a third to half of the book. Well, I decided to stick with Book 5 for 2012 American Emperor:Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America by David O. Stewart and I finally finished it tonight! I renewed the book from the library about three times! The book follows Burr’s life basically from the duel with Alexander Hamilton through to his death and focuses mainly on Burr’s plans to conquer the Spanish possessions in Florida and then invade Mexico and set himself up as Emperor. The book was a little slow in parts but overall it was well written. While I have read before about Burr’s treachery and his association with that weasel General James Wilkinson (see another non-fiction book setting on my shelf An Artist in Treason about Wilkinson which I have stopped about a third of the way through) I had not read much about Burr’s trial for treason which I found very interesting. A couple of other parts of the book that I found interesting included a discussion of the Louisiana Purchase most times I just think, oh Jefferson bought this area in 1803 and never think about the assimilation of the people who lived there into the US! It was hard for the Creoles to adjust. The other was the time it took to get from place to place. The description of Burr’s return trip to Washington from New Orleans in 1805 took from July to November and the description of having to almost cut your way through the forest as you traveled made me realize what an ordeal it was to travel! It took Wilkinson three months to get from New Orleans to Washington for Burr’s Treason trial!
So I finished book 4 for 2012 The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America by one of the senior editors of the New Republic Jonathan Chait. Oh wait that’s Book 4 what about Book 3 I forgot to write about it! What was it oh yeah, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Guess I learned a lot, huh! Anyway that book was really good and did have some great ideas for remembering things. Joshua Foer became intrigued by the National Memory Championship and interviewed some of the participants trying to find out what made these people so adept at remembering. What he found out is that they are just like everyone else but they know the tricks of how to remember. From there Foer enters the world of the memory experts and trains to compete. The book follows his journey as he uncovers the secrets that date back to early Greek and Roman times, discuss folks with great memories like S, and some that can’t remember at all and through his journey he discover that a big part of being human is remembering! It amazes me that the world record for memorizing a deck of cards is around 37 seconds! But the tricks of the trade are interesting and some of them are useful for remembering things other than PI to a gazillion digits!
Mother Jones: Kevin Drum: Republicans Don’t Care About the Deficit
As Drum and Krugman point out the Republicans don’t care squat about the deficit and why should they they created most of it and since it makes government look bad and they hate government why is it a bad thing!
Book 36 for the year was Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew: How Conservative Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves and Beggered the Nation kinda sum it all up doesn’t it!!The book does sum it all up and tells the tale of how the Republicans have destroyed our functioning government. It’s quotes like these that caught my eyes over the last few chapters:
From the first John Hart book I read Down River I was a fan and so are lots of others. Hart is the only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels. (Down River and The Last Child) He has also won the Barry Award and England’s Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year. So I was excited when I found his new book Iron House in the library last week and Book 34 for 2011 Iron House did not disappoint! Here’s a quote from Bill Ott’s Booklist Review:
So a couple of years ago after reading Paul Levine‘s book Illegal I sent him a message on Facebook and told him that I liked the book but sill missed Jake Lassiter! He emailed me back and told me that his next book was going to be a Lassiter novel. Well, that book, appropriately named Lassiter is Book 33 for 2011.Jake Lassiter is a “low-rent” Miami attorney, whose clients are usually not from the upper echelon of the Miami social scene. Lassiter also previously played for the Miami Dolphins and was featured in a series of seven books that started with To Speak for the Dead in 1990 and ended with Flesh & Bones in 1997. I’ve read six out of the seven – Number 1 is the only one I haven’t read. And now thanks to reissusing of the books as e-books for the Kindle, that can be read for only $2.99!
So one of my favorite mystery series is Parnell Hall‘s Stanley Hasting series. Well now Mr. Hall wishes to be the “King of Kindle” and as such he has placed his books at the Kindle store at bargain prices. In addition, he has put up a series he wrote under the name of J.P Hailey. These books feature a down on his luck lawyer, actor, and cab driver named Steve Winslow. Book 20 for 2011 is the first of these books The Baxter Trust” and while it may not be great literature, it is great fun!
So I finally finished the second book for 2011 and it was a Kindle ebook and non-fiction The Devil We Know:Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower by Robert Baer. Baer is an ex-CIA operative in the Middle East and considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Middle East. The book chronicles Iran’s rise to superpower in the Middle East and the range of their influence, which extends from control of southern Iraq to Lebanon and the Palestinians. At times the book is scary because you see that the policies of the US have only helped to extend Iran’s influence in the Gulf! But his final synopsis which has the US negotiating with Iran and maybe even becoming allies is potentially (in my opinion) the best course for US policy. The book also explains the differences between Shia and Sunni particularly as it comes to terrorism. The book is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in politics and US policy in the Middle East! I would certainly read another book by Baer and may pick up Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude at the library!!
WooHoo! Finally I finished the first book of 2011 – Alan Jacobson’s Crush. It was another book read on the Kindle. I am also reading on the Kindle The Devil We Knew by Robert Baer a book about Iran that we gave to Peter for Christmas, that is really good! Anyway back to Crush. The novel is set in the wine country of California and is the second book in the Karen Vail series. Karen Vail is a profiler who works tracking serial killers. The first book is The 7th Victim, which I saw at Barnes and Noble a while back and made a note on my phone about to look for at the library. But when I got the Kindle I checked out some of the books that I had made notes about and there it was it was for a good price but Crush was a better price FREE! So I’ve read the series out of order!