recommended reading

for a collection of libertarian poems and thoughtful political essays, I sometimes source Walt Whitman ‘Leaves of Grass’; I have read Aristotle’s ‘Politics’, which has broadened my understanding through his eyes, the teachings of Socrates and of Skepticism generally.   William Schirer’s ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ fills in many gaps of the events of WW2, including the machinations of the allieds- some of which the “winning side” might wish obscured under the clouds of time rather than brought back into the light of day.   Robert Luis Stevenson ‘kidnapped’ is enlightening for an education in Glaswegian scottish brogue, the politics surrounding the various clans and some little of scottish culture. While ‘Treasure Island’ is certainly more renowned of his works, there is something about the political drama attached to ‘Kidnapped’, and the tale of adventure, that might find the volume in the library of Tom Sawyer AND spy novel fans alike.                                       Dickens’ moral cautions to the wealthy on the dangers of exploiting the poor working class should strike a chord with many of us today, as we face the same struggles now as our Victorian London counterparts that he wrote so extensively on.                        Dovstoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” deals with the guilty mind (‘mens rea’ in legal circles) and the need for the actor of a crime to ultimately confess. Who hasn’t watched some form of ‘Les Miserable’, but not read the book? I have watched three variants, AND read the book. We might feel sorry for the beggar, but remember Draco (for whom the word ‘draconian’ was coined) would not have merely put a thieving beggar into debtors’ prison, but rather hung him upon pronouncing his guilt. We judge the constable harshly by the laws and our morality that reflects our values TODAY.                                                  Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)- in his day, writing sympathetically of black slaves was unheard of. Today many of us object to his use of the word “nigger” as a neutral adjective, even though it was common practice for his time. Give Tom and Huck a break and just enjoy the books.                                                                                                                                                  The Ivory leg in the Ebony Cabinet, Thomas Cooley is an education in 19th century literature, psychology, and how it played into racial and gender discrimination. From what they thought of science back then, they “knew” that women were back brained, (white) men were front brain, and blacks were not human at all. psychological dramas often themed houses as a representation of the mind, and where in the house certain protaganists might encounter their conflict and what the outcome might be. Lincoln was ahead of the curve, understanding that a ‘house’ might represent not ONLY a person’s mind, but ALSO that of an entire Nation; he also noted that  a house need not necessarily be divided among its rooms (Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a single room- what we call today ‘open concept’, cabin), as noted in his speech “a house divided cannot stand”.                 Moby Dick- the ‘house’ is a ship, the orator is the exiled son of Abraham (“Call me Ishmael”), the whale- a RIGHT whale, is white, therefore a highly rational, logical creature; the antagonist, Ahab- is not white, therefore insane (his obsession is to take revenge on the whale). We might look upon the tale as a propaganda piece, i.e. a crazed muslim attacking ‘white’ culture, but in the context of the 19th century, this was considered to be rational and correct. If I was to reference a quote from the 1950’s tv series ‘Leave it to Beaver’, it would be “Gosh, Wally; that’s awfully white of you.” It appears that the prevailing themes of 19th century psychology haven’t left us, as it lingers today in ‘entertainment’.                                                                                                                                                 Bring the Jubilee, Ward Moore. The Confederates won the war, blimps are flying in the skies, telegraph machines instead of telephones. A war historian travels back in time to watch the final deciding battle, only to reverse the timeline of his existence. All that remains is a story told from a man who was never born. A lot of thought went into this alternate reality, “what if” scenario:           Once an Eagle: If you want to understand the mindset of the military, and that of corporations that supply the war ‘effort’, this book is a must read. Moreover, it is also on the must read list for 1st lt.’s in the USMC.                                                                                                All the President’s Men- the story of Woodward and Bernstein, and the taking down of Nixon, while defending the Freedom of the Press from the Administration. A cautionary tale relevant to today, in the era of false news.                                                                                                                                      As I attempt to write this list from memory, it is by no means complete in its present state, but will continue to be updated as my recollections grow, and new books are discovered.


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