Category: Books

Books: September 2012

1491 : NEW REVELATIONS OF THE AMERICAS BEFORE COLUMBUS – CHARLES MANN

It is always easy for those living in the present to feel superior to those who lived in the past.” – Charles Mann, 1491

I found 1491 when perusing at the Book Bin in Salem. I found it on the featured books shelf and decided to give it a shot after thumbing through it for a few minutes. It took me a while to get through this book, as you may have noticed from the lack of book reviews for the last few months. This is mostly because I was tromping around in the woods for most of the summer and was having too much fun to read.

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Books: June 2012

THE OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA: FIVE CENTURIES OF THE PILLAGE OF A CONTINENT – EDUARDO GALEANO

Our defeat was always implicit in the victory of others; our wealth has always generated our poverty by nourishing the prosperity of others – the empires and their native overseers. In the colonial and neocolonial alchemy, gold changes into scrap metal and food into poison.” – Eduardo Galeano, The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

I picked up Open Veins of Latin America as my second adventure into Galeano’s writing. This book gained a boost of popularity, skyrocketing to #2 on Amazon’s best seller list, after Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gave the book to Barack Obama during an April, 2009 visit. It was a bit of a departure from Days and Nights of Love and War as it was intended to be more of a historical commentary than the prior. It did hold much of the same passion, however. Open Veins was more difficult read, taking me me nearly two months to finish.

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Books: May 2012

ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE – ROBERT PIRSIG

“The place to improve the world is first in ones heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think what I have to say has more lasting value.” – Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This book just grabbed my eye as I was picking up some other titles at The Book Bin in Salem. I had heard the name a few times before and decided to take a chance on it. After I bought it my mother told me that the book was a hot topic when it first came out in the mid 1970s. It took me a while to get through but not because it was a bad read but because it didn’t lend itself to reading quickly. This book is a hunk of stale rye bread; you’ll lose your gumption if you try to do more than slowly chew up one stubborn bit at a time.

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Books: April 2012

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST – STIEG LARSSON

“As the situation developed, the futility of attempting suicide in the middle of a hospital became apparent.” – Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

I finally finished the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson. The third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was very much along the same lines as the first two as far as pace and quality of writing. Fast paced, somewhat decent writing and with a plot capable of holding my attention. Although I didn’t think that this book was exceptional, it was better than the second instalment.

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Books: March 2012

A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES – HOWARD ZINN

What struck me as I began to study history was how nationalist fervor–inculcated from childhood on by pledges of allegiance, national anthems, flags waving and rhetoric blowing–permeated the educational systems of all countries, including our own. I wonder now how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own. Then we could never drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or napalm on Vietnam, or wage war anywhere, because wars, especially in our time, are always wars against children, indeed our children.”- Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States


Howard Zinn was an active anti-war voice following his disillusionment with warfare after flying bombers during the US bombings of Berlin, Czechloslovakia, Hungary and France in World War II. Using his GI benefits from his service he went to school for history and political science at NYU, Cornell and completed a post doctorate fellowship from Harvard. He taught Boston University where he retired after 24 years. Zinn passed away just over two years ago in January of 2010, aged 87 years.

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