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review 2018-02-27 21:24
A Very Prophetic Novel Subject to Interpretation!
It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis,Michael Meyer

It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis, author; Grover Gardner, narrator The time is 1936. The Depression is a nightmare memory which has changed the mood of the country. There is political unrest, a charged atmosphere of distrust for government officials, anger at rich corporate giants, and a general somber malaise is hanging over America. Political candidates represent the people’s fears, and one in particular appeals to their emotions by stressing the idea of helping “the forgotten man”. Although there are those that find his diatribes unbecoming, because of his racist and anti-Semitic remarks, there are more who seem to be glomming on to his message of hope and equal, economic opportunity for those who feel left behind. Socialism, Fascism, Communism and Capitalism are on the radar of all voters. Which ideology will be chosen in this country overrun by opinion and nationalism, where certain groups of people are being vilified and ostracized and others praised as more worthy? Each major party accuses the other of wrongdoing, of being fascists. In the novel, Hitler is becoming more popular in Europe and in America where FDR is facing a myriad of other Presidential pretenders. When the Socialist Brezelius Windrip defeats him and is elected President, there is disbelief. Soon, all Hell breaks loose as he begins to change the face of the country. He wants to give everyone $5000 a year as a minimum, standard wage, (but he doesn’t. He makes promises to promote health care and provide free education. He offers pipe dreams that cannot be fulfilled, and when he is swept into office, with a country divided for and against him, he merely eliminates his detractors using his volunteer band of supporters called Minute Men. He immediately arms and begins to pay them. They eagerly remove those who defy him, by any means they choose. Congress and the Supreme Court Justices are arrested. The M.M.’s, as they are called, are thugs who indiscriminately and gleefully used their power to brutalize and abuse those who formerly had power over them. Windrip used old venerable institutions of education as prisons and created concentration camps. By eliminating those that would not acquiesce to his demands, by putting them into work camps or murdering them after using barbaric methods of torture to get them to confess to crimes or rethink their positions, he gained more and more power. Rebellion was almost impossible as it was easy to suppress. When some well known and respected citizens were arrested and killed for no apparent reason, few protested lest it happen to them too. Racist and anti-Semitic laws were passed. If one disobeyed, arbitrary punishment and horrific methods of torture were used. Windrip’s minion’s brutality rivaled Hitler’s. As people came to their senses, realizing that no one was safe from the whims or wrath of these ill equipped leaders and military men, some attempted to rebel. Journalists began to realize that they might have helped this man get into office and they tried to remedy the situation with editorials. They were quickly silenced, arrested and/or eliminated. No opposition was tolerated. An underground effort formed to help victims of the brutality escape from the country, but the borders were well guarded. Some got to Canada, which was predictive of a time decades later when resisters of the Viet Nam War crossed the border. Soon, there was unrest at the highest levels of government. After a little over two years, Windrip was betrayed and overthrown by his friend and confidante, Secretary of State Lee Sarason. A month later, Sarason was murdered by the new Secretary of State, Dewey Haik who took over and consolidated power even further and was even more ruthless. What kind of a country would the United States become after all was said and done? Which group would emerge victorious? Who were the culprits causing so much dissidence in the country and suspicion of the government? Was it the rich, the corporations or the ignorant who were hungry for power and equality even though they actually were not prepared to handle the authority given without abusing it? Sinclair Lewis never really provides an answer. The book condemns Fascism and Communism but really does not offer a better alternative when it ends, leaving the resolution of the rebellion unfinished. The book was prescient since WWII and its atrocities were not in full swing when it was published. Still, there must have been more of an awareness of Hitler’s vicious policies than I had believed, because many forms of cruelty and maliciousness used by Hitler were arbitrarily practiced in the concentration camps of Lewis’ imagination. Most of the current reviewers are saying this book describes a political climate like our own today, and they proclaim it laid the groundwork for the election of Donald Trump, a President they do not support. It is a well documented fact that the media is biased against him because of his unsophisticated and often immature retorts to their criticisms; also the publishing industry, as well, falls into that category of progressives who do not approve of his election. It is also a fact that these very same people supported one of his opponents, overwhelmingly. This opposition seems to be largely responsible for creating the same atmosphere today, that Lewis wrote about in 1935. They call for resistance to the President for the same behavior they are even more guilty of and are therefore hypocrites, hiding behind an emotional appeal to people who wish to remain ignorant, in the same way as Lewis’s characters did, at first. That said, anyone who followed our recent election would realize that Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Senator who represented Vermont, was more closely related to Berzelius Windrip than Donald Trump. Sanders offered free education to all and wished to impose a mandatory salary for everyone, as well. However, Sanders was against the power of big corporations, so in that way he veered from Windrip who used them to further his agenda. Sanders wanted to represent those who felt they were getting short changed. Trump wanted to represent those who were being ignored. The continued practice of presenting only negative views, without addressing anything positive about the President’s achievements, may very well set the stage for something like “It Can’t Happen Here” to actually “Happen Here!”, especially if people remain complacent or simply behave like lemmings, taking as doctrine the false statements made, simply because they fit their narrative. The book was excellent, but the reviews seem contrived in order to promote the particular political point of view of the reviewer, namely the progressive or socialist one of the extreme left. Just like in the book, our own cast of characters is blown this way and that by the different politicians and their speeches. Our most powerful and famous personages use their bully pulpit to make wild accusations, often without any basis in reality, just because they can’t deal with, or simply refuse, t,o accept the facts. Could someone, like Windrip slowly commandeer power by eliminating individual choice, speech and freedom? The media today has taken to pointing fingers at Trump to make him appear frightening. If they continue to sow dissent and discontent, perhaps there could be someone like that, but it isn’t Trump. His agenda is in no way like that of Windrip’s. Still, it is horrifying to contemplate how easily and quickly a country could be corrupted by a leader who harbored hateful, despotic plans and who had the support of a ready military organization behind him/her. Occasionally, it felt like there was a bit too much dialogue in the audio version, so I believe that, the book should be read in print in order to get the most out of it.

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text 2017-10-22 00:00
#30DaysofReadathon - Day 10 through 1
Is It Just Me? - Miranda Hart
The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado - Holly Bailey
Fever 1793 - Laurie Halse Anderson
The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow - Olivia Newport
Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan,Fiona Staples
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street - Michael Lewis
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World - Michael Lewis
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - Michael Lewis

Last round.....


Day 10 Rainbow - IG post from COYER Summer 2017 edition https://www.instagram.com/p/BXm9lPTBN_U/?taken-by=tearainbook


Day 9 Spines - another IG post from COYER Summer 2017 edition https://www.instagram.com/p/BXtcs5LhArT/?taken-by=tearainbook


Day 8 Funny - Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart (and it is a shame she isn't more loved by folks in the US)


Day 7 Sad - The Mercy of the Sky by Holly Bailey (the part when she wrote of the rescue and recovery at the elementary school killed me)


Day 6 Time - Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (a great middle grade book about a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia)


Day 5 Place - The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport (Chicago during the World's Fair)


Day 4 Plans - my bedroom will be center stage for my reading - it is the only place I can get some quiet.


Day 3 Break - I plan on taking a break to sleep. A short catnip can give the reader a better recharge than drinking caffeine. I plan to get a few hours over the course of the read-a-thon.


Day 2 New - Saga series by Brian Kl Vaughan and Fiona Staples


Day 1 Stack - Books by Michael Lewis I have read and recommend:


                       Liar's Poker

                       The Big Short


                       Flash Boys




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text 2017-03-31 16:25
March 2017 Reading Wrap Up
Major Conflict: One Gay Man's Life in the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell Military - Jeffrey McGowan
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade - Ann Fessler
Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act - Rick Steves
Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh

 Overall a not great reading month, with some serious low-level ratings. A lot of disappointment in the content of some of these books. But I am either on track or ahead on some challenges, so at least I am not falling behind while traveling around.


Best part of my reading this month is finally visiting the British Library and its long standing exhibit (the BL is between special exhibits at the moment)! Unfortunately, visitors can't take pictures of the documents/books in the exhibit so I don't have any to show you. I am going back for the upcoming exhibit on the Russian Revolution, which turns 100 this year. The British Library will also do an exhibit on Harry Potter this year.


Highlights, Lowlights, and Challenges

Best Books: Major Conflict by Jeffrey McGowan; Moneyball by Michael Lewis; The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler; Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steves


Worst Books: The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp; Elegy for a Disease by Ann Finger; Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan


Library Love Challenge: 8; 19/36 for the year

Pop Sugar Challenge: 8; 18/52 for the year

BL/GR Reading Goal: 42/150


1. Polio: An American Story by David Oshinksy (Pop Sugar prompt - On the TBR a long time) - Currently reading, not counted in my stats yet


2. The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp (Library Love Challenge) - .5 star


3. Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire from Valley Forge to Afghanistan by Scott McGaugh (Pop Sugar prompt - set in wartime) (Library Love Challenge) - 3 stars


4. Major Conflict: One Gay Man's Life in the Don't - Ask - Don't - Tell Military by Jeffrey McGowan (Library Love Challenge) - 3.5 stars


5. The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler (Pop Sugar prompt - Difficult Topic) (Library Love Challenge) - 3.5 stars


6. Cat Trick (A Magical Cats Mystery)  by Sofie Kelly (Pop Sugar prompt - Cat on the cover) (Library Love Challenge) - 1 star


7. Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio by Anne Finger - DNF


8. Travel is a Political Act by Rick Steves (Pop Sugar prompt - Involves Travel) (Library Love Challenge) - 4 stars


9. Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan (Pop Sugar prompt - Set in a Hotel) - 0 stars


10. Echoes in Death (...In Death #44) by J.D. Robb  (Pop Sugar prompt - Published in 2017) - 1.5 stars


11. Moneyball by Michael Lewis (Library Love Challenge) - 4 stars


12. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (Pop Sugar prompt - bought on a trip) - 3 stars

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review 2017-03-22 19:51
Review: Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis

This was a fun read for those baseball fans that are bewildered by how baseball teams build and manage said teams. My husband enjoys watching the Oakland A's, which is the subject of this book; but like other Lewis' works, this one is more about the culture and industry than just the this one team. I honestly wished other team managers/owners see the value in at least some of the ideas of Billy Beane and apply them to their own teams (*cough* NY Yankees *cough*  - yeah, maybe we could have avoided the problem that is A-Roid). I also like the fact that Lewis drags Bud Selig through the mud a little. Petty yes, but still fun reading. There was a lot of math involved and detailed descriptions of what stats actually mean, so I had a slower time reading this book than previous Lewis works.

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text 2017-03-10 19:44
Friday Reads!
Sleigh Bells in the Snow - Sarah Morgan
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh
In the Midst of Life - Jennifer Worth

I'm taking the kids on a day trip to a city we have never been to, so I will have six hours on a bus to read to my heart's content. I don't want to bring a library book (with the possibility of leaving or ruining library property on the trip), so I picked Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan off my physical TBR pile to read. The cover of my copy of the book is much different (less romance, more British chick-lit) than the one in the database. I will have In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth as a stand by if I finish the Morgan book before we get back to base (also from the physical TBR).


Currently reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis and it is great - a business book that is not about the financial world and is about one of my favorite sports. However, statistics play a MAJOR role in the storytelling, and it can be some dense reading (So. Much. Math.). So I am interspersing chapters from Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire from Valley Forge to Afghanistan by Scott McGaugh - a great military history read about medics, doctors, and nurses that went to war.



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