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Offline Ghost Spaghetti

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #280 on: October 13, 2016, 08:09:26 AM »
I enjoyed Bonfire of the Vanities. It could have done with losing a little bit of padding, but I never felt the pace felt turgid.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #281 on: November 26, 2016, 05:36:43 AM »
'Deconstruction of a Myth'
By Steven Bigham

Summarizes a theory popular with some academics over the past 100 years that Epiphanios of Salamis, Cyprus was a famous early Christian writer from the fourth century after Christ who rejected icons.

This view is based on specific controversial texts bearing his name which argue unambiguously against icons as idolatrous, et cetera. However, these texts were condemned at the Seventh Oecumenical Synod in 787 A.D. as forgeries resting, among others, upon the arguments and evidence presented in that same century by Saint John of Damascus.

This historical controversy about Epiphanius was revived in the early twentieth century by a group of academics aiming to validate their Protestant views. This book summarizes the arguments of two major academics who took opposite sides on this controversy and lists those who have contributed to either side: whether or not the aforementioned treatises ascribed to Epiphanius are genuine or forgeries written centuries later. 

The author believes that veneration of icons has always been a part of the Christian religion, and makes the case that the documents in question were medieval forgeries fabricated by iconoclasts because otherwise they had no historical precedents for their views. just like the famous so-called Donation of Constantine.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #282 on: November 26, 2016, 05:38:52 PM »
'The New Soviet Constitution:  A Study in Socialist Democracy'
(1938)
By Anna Louise Strong

https://ia802600.us.archive.org/1/items/TheNewSovietConstitution/The%20New%20Soviet%20Constitution.pdf

A sympathetic history and analysis of the second Soviet Constitution, usually referred to as the Stalin Constitution. It has a copy of the basic constitution as an appendix. 

Very different from other books which often begin their approach to anything in Russia from this era with a vitriolic anti-communist prejudice. I think this book would be useful as a model to contrast against capitalist legal systems.

For me, the Soviet system was far superior to the capitalist systems without doubt.

Ultimately, it would be interesting to compare this to the pre-capitalist systems of Old Russia and the ancient Roman legal systems of Justinian and Theodosius. I have read a study of Justinian's religious policy that made clear his legal system involved an absolute separation of church and state. I find intriguing the universality of such principles over such a vast difference of time and place.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #283 on: November 27, 2016, 01:56:41 AM »
'Tibet Transformed' (1983)
By Israel Epstein

History of modern Tibet by a lifelong Jewish (non-Chinese) member of the Chinese Communist Party. The book asserts that Tibet was a very oppressive society where peasants led miserable lives before liberation by the communists who have eradicated these abuses. This book is echoed by the western historian Melvyn Goldstein.

Incidentally, the author is not unaware of imperfections in the Chinese communist system having wrongfully spent five years in prison during the cultural revolution, but forgave his captors who likewise apologized as Epstein viewed the greater good and the cultural revolution overall as a hiccup compared to things like the racist British or Manchu systems or peasant life in Tibet. This book is very critical of the Dalai Lama who has been in exile since 1959 and is about 80 - akin to a Confederate sympathizer after a lost cause wanting to restore a fascist order where rape was routine and the young were mass forced into monasteries.

Another writer I like on Tibet is Anna Louise Strong.

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #284 on: November 27, 2016, 05:26:40 PM »
E.J. Hobsbawm - Industry and Empire
I've never seen the show, but just from reading the synopses on Wikipedia and articles like these, I can tell I'd hate it.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #285 on: December 15, 2016, 07:12:48 PM »
E.J. Hobsbawm - Industry and Empire

I've heard good things about this author but never read anything by him.  In particular, I've read that Habsbawm has written negative analyses of modern nationalism analogous to Benedict Anderson whose book 'Imagined Communities' argues that nations created during and since the nineteenth century (such as Germany, Italy, Greece, and Japan, among others) have had fabricated myths guided by European enlightenment ideology as official histories which are deeply ingrained and indoctrinated through compulsive schools and a justice system for the nonconformists.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #286 on: December 25, 2016, 12:49:56 AM »
'The Unknown Mao'
By Halliday

People often get more conservative as they age is unfortunately true of this author. His Marxist oriented histories of Japan published in the 1970's are likely still second to none - at least in English.

I've read about Mao both for and against finally settling in favor because the Chinese are certainly much better off during and after Mao than before he came along, but concluding he did have some mistakes especially from about 1965 onwards such as the Cultural Revolution.

So I was disappointed to see a book by an apparently former Marxist totally lambast him as killing more people than Hitler, etc, and every other accusation right down the line. The book could have just as well been written by a Kuomintang or Japanese fascist propagandist.

More sensitive and balanced pro-communist books which are critical of Moa include Sam Marcy's essays and Jonathan Authur's book 'Socialism in the Soviet Union'.  Both written in 1977 and both criticizing Chinese propaganda against the USSR from 1965 onwards as doing the CIA's bidding. These two books by a Trotskyite and a Stalinist respectively come to essentially the same conclusions and are quite worthwhile in understanding this era of the 60's and 70's.

An opposite perspective and perhaps equally worthless as Halliday's book is a book by Mobo Gao which says the Cultural Revolution and Mao were without mistakes.

'My China Eye' is the autobiography of Israel Epstein and published in 2005, the year the 90 year old Jewish author died. Magnificent book.  Like many other Chinese communist leaders, he was imprisoned during the cultural revolution, but he did not lose faith in the overall benefit of communism for China. Zhou Enlai apologized to him, and he subsequently continued his career in China. The author was a journalist and later an active participant on the communist side in events in China from before and during the 1930's, 40's, 50's, on up until his death.

It contains an interesting view of the Tiananmen Square riots of 1989 as involving instigators coordinated through the American CIA which definitely has a history of such in communist China.

The fact that the author was a friend of Deng Xiaoping and editor of an edition of his selected works set me reflecting about Deng. I think I still disagree with much or most of his foreign policy such as his alignment with Reagan and against the USSR in the 1980's, but I think it is an error to view his domestic policy as wrong generally or to view Deng as a dictator. That would exist in right wing propaganda rather than reality. Deng's policy is also what made China into an economic powerhouse without exploiting people.

Deng Xiaoping was denounced during the cultural revolution, but the conclusion that that era was exactly the height of Mao's errors set me to reevaluate Deng letting his actions speak for themselves.

One other error of Mao's in his early days was to reject participation in the Comintern since he took power in the Chinese Communist Party about 1935. The logical conclusion of this unfortunate policy was Nixon's later exploitation of the Sino-Soviet split in the 70's to side with China to weaken Russia. The Stalinist Wang Ming was Mao's chief communist rival in the 1930's who wanted China's participation in the Comintern to maintain international unity. He later wrote an interesting book entitled 'Mao's Betrayal' which never the less does not include the reckless accusations in Halliday's book the 'Unknown Mao'.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #287 on: December 28, 2016, 03:26:17 AM »
'Timaeus' (by Plato)
With Commentary By Calcidius

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674599178

Just received this book today. Have not yet had a chance to read it.

First time in English translation, the author being from the fourth century after Christ when early Christian flat earth cosmology was in its heyday, this book strikes me as very likely flat earth oriented or at least useful to those ends because his commentaries are said to contain astronomical knowledge which is appropriate for a commentary on the Timaeus who was an associate of Plato's that gave a discussion about cosmology which Plato recorded.

Significantly, the sixth century (A.D.) flat earth Christian Egyptian monk Cosmas Indicopleustes mentions the existence of the Americas referring to them as Atlantis because they are mentioned in Plato's book containing the discourse of Timaeus.

Specifically, Cosmas believed the arctic ice shelf is at a higher altitude than the rest of the world and effectively constitutes a mountain around which the sun revolves once per day, and the shadow cast by this mountain constitutes night in the part of the world away from the sun. He referred to the part of the world on the other side of this mountain from Europe and Asia as what globularists would call the antipodes. He said these antipodes contain a very large island called Atlantis which was mentioned in Plato's Timaeus.

Calcidius's edition of Plato's Timaeus which includes his commentary on it strikes me as the kind of book that takes its place alongside Euclid's 'Elements' among the best of the ancient Greek philosophic and scientific writings.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2016, 03:43:30 AM by Dionysios »

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #288 on: January 02, 2017, 11:33:45 PM »
'Our Enemies in Blue'
By Kristian Williams

By far the best book on this subject. Covers all aspects of police in america including a comprehensive history from a radical left perspective. Among other pluses, an extensive 25 page topical bibiliography of the most useful books is particularly good.

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Offline rooster

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #289 on: January 03, 2017, 01:41:59 PM »
Covers all aspects of police in america including a comprehensive history from a radical left perspective.
I don't trust any history with a hard slant.

Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #290 on: January 04, 2017, 05:46:54 PM »
Yeah, that book sounds like trash to me. A good non-fiction book should try to keep the bias to a minimum.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 05:48:28 PM by Hollocron »

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Offline Snupes

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #291 on: January 08, 2017, 02:28:17 AM »
Been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm only about halfway through, but it's fantastic. A slow burn, for sure, but it feels more like a living, breathing world than the vast majority of books I've read.
Quote from: garygreen date=1480782226
i also took an online quiz that said i was a giraffe.  and i guess you're dumb enough to believe that i must be because the internet said so.

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #292 on: January 08, 2017, 11:26:47 AM »
Finished reading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell last night. Kind of been dipping into Peter N. Carroll and David W. Noble's The Free and the Unfree, which is a light history of America from colonialism up to and including Nixon and Watergate.

Not sure what I'm going to read next. I have vague notions of reading about 10 different books at the moment, including The Aeneid, Balzac's Lost Illusions, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, re-reading Pynchon's V., and re-attempting Ulysses—which I previously got some way into and then stopped.

Edit: Decided to go with Plato's Symposium, translated by Christopher Gill.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 09:09:51 PM by Crudblud »
I've never seen the show, but just from reading the synopses on Wikipedia and articles like these, I can tell I'd hate it.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #293 on: January 08, 2017, 11:50:39 PM »
'Foundations of Many Generations'
By Eschini (1940)

http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/library/books/Foundations%20of%20Many%20Generations%20(E.%20Eschini).pdf

Been checking out this rather disappointing particular flat earth book & came to the following conclusions:

1) It presents nothing original.

2) Published in 1940, I noticed the book is unfortunately political and repeats propaganda against Stalin and the Soviet Union.

3) The author relies somewhat on religious arguments. Earlier flat earth books did as well, but those were largely not political which indicates to me a degeneration of religion and perhaps of the flat earth movement as well at that time.

4) Finally, the online edition includes a letter from the author to Samuel Shenton apparently written in the 1960's which accepts space travel propaganda at face value.  the author's propensity to thoughtlessly and uncritically include bandwagon anti-communist propaganda in his 1940 flat earth book is consistent with his likewise uncritical acceptance of moon travel propaganda in the 1960's.

This book has value primarily as an indicator of the dearth of published intelligent flat earth material circa 1940.

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #294 on: January 10, 2017, 05:33:52 PM »
Honoré de Balzac - Lost Illusions (trans. Herbert J. Hunt)
I've never seen the show, but just from reading the synopses on Wikipedia and articles like these, I can tell I'd hate it.

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #295 on: January 11, 2017, 02:17:53 AM »
Covers all aspects of police in america including a comprehensive history from a radical left perspective.
I don't trust any history with a hard slant.

It does not go into stuff like the Pinkertons cooperation with police departments which seems to be well covered in several labor history books.

It is very informative (among other things) about the permeation of police forces by the klux klan and its modern manifestations.

'Our Enemies in Blue'
https://www.akpress.org/our-enemies-in-blue.html

Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #296 on: January 11, 2017, 02:50:11 AM »
E.J. Hobsbawm - Industry and Empire

I've heard good things about this author but never read anything by him.  In particular, I've read that Habsbawm has written negative analyses of modern nationalism analogous to Benedict Anderson whose book 'Imagined Communities' argues that nations created during and since the nineteenth century (such as Germany, Italy, Greece, and Japan, among others) have had fabricated myths guided by European enlightenment ideology as official histories which are deeply ingrained and indoctrinated through compulsive schools and a justice system for the nonconformists.

My favorite (non-theological) Greek writer is Paschalis Kitromilides who is a student of Hobsbawm and Benedict Anderson. He wrote a fascinating essay which is now more difficult for me to locate online for free.  It's entitled: 

'Imagined Communities and the Origins of Nationalism in the Balkans'

It argues convincingly that modern Greece was fabricated in the 1800's to serve British colonialism. Until the late 1700's, the Ottoman Orthodox Christian community considered themselves Roumeli or Eastern Romans. Kitromilides says that the modern Greek, Serb, Romanian, and Bulgarian nations were totally fabricated or invented in the late 1700's by European propaganda that instilled racist and anti-Muslim nationalisms in christian communities still governed at that time by the Ottoman Empire. This propaganda and the nations and governments which it formed were subservient to western colonialism. Greece was given German kings and a pro-British government. The schools and monasteries in the new Greece incorporated and instilled the propaganda and lies of the new system which stubbornly persist still today.

'Greece:  The Hidden Centuries'
By David Brewer

This British historian of Greeks under the Ottomans has many of the same conclusions as Kitromilides. In an interview, David Brewer was asked what he thought Greek people would think of his book. He replied that a good number will hate it because it demolishes deeply ingrained myths.

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Offline rooster

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #297 on: January 13, 2017, 03:39:15 AM »
Been reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm only about halfway through, but it's fantastic. A slow burn, for sure, but it feels more like a living, breathing world than the vast majority of books I've read.
I love Neil Gaiman. I haven't read this one yet, but it was next on my list.

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #298 on: January 21, 2017, 10:42:59 PM »
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
I've never seen the show, but just from reading the synopses on Wikipedia and articles like these, I can tell I'd hate it.