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Category: Books

The Rise and Fall of Communism

Archie Brown, emeritus professor at Oxford, has put out a lively and informative book that traces the communist movement from its intellectual origins in the Renaissance through the present day. If you were politically aware of the world in the late ’80s, you’ll remember it as a time of incredible sweeping change around the world.…

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Ants On The Melon

After Suzannah was kind enough to respond with the name of the poet I was looking for, I went over to the library and got out Virginia Hamilton Adair‘s anthology. She lived long, and pours it all out into intense little word paintings. She wasn’t afraid to address subjects like sex and death head-on, including…

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German Expressionism

The story of the making of the movie “Fitzcarraldo” is parallel to the plot of the film itself: a madman is seized by a vision — to haul a steamship over a mountain to the river on the other side. Werner Herzog had the idea, and to bring it to life on film he couldn’t use models, special effects, easy locations. It had to be done with a real ship, over a real mountain, in a real South American jungle.

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A Most Wanted Man

In “A Most Wanted Man” the action, such as it is, is almost an afterthought. What’s really going on is the intra- and inter-agency squabbles, the political considerations of distant governments, the histories — to the extent one can really be sure — of the characters. All of that goes into the fleshing out of the scheme; its denouement is simply where you are shocked to find out what went wrong.

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Just After Sunset

Any Stephen King short short story compilation is going to be a mixed bag. He’s been doing it for a lot of years, and some of them were first issued in some sketchy publications. And like some of his novels, the choices aren’t as well edited as perhaps they should have been. Still, they offer…

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A Primate’s Memoir

Here’s an interesting read from biologist Robert M. Sapolsky. A real fish-out-of-water story, it’s filled with amusing anecdotes based on his twenty-plus years’ experience in Kenya studying the behavior of baboon tribes and how their social hierarchy affects the stress levels, and therefore the health, of individuals. Sapolsky somehow developed real personal relationships with the…

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The Wrecking Crew

Not one to mince words, Frank’s 2008 volume, “The Wrecking Crew,” dissects the workings of the conservative movement, including the K-Street takeover along with its long roots in various unsavory, unethical and illegal activities going back to the 1980s. They may not call it a “bad government” movement, but that’s precisely what it is.

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Studs Terkel

Dead at 96. All I’m going to say is that “The Good War” is an unforgettable book.

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Dodge Poetry Festival

The Woodstock of American poetry happens every two years out in Waterloo Village, New Jersey. Today (Sunday) is the last of the four days’ worth of events, and yesterday a friend and I journeyed out there to hear the afternoon and evening sessions. The highlight of the sessions for me was hearing two-time Poet Laureate…

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