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review 2020-05-06 01:54
A Thrilling Countdown
The Final Days - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward

Title: The Final Days

Authors: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Publish Date: November 1, 2005 (first published in 1976)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 480 pages

Source: Personal copy

Date Read: April 16-22, 2020

 

Review

 

A thrilling day by day account, starting around late January 1973 and going to August 9, 1974. This book is both a stand alone on what happened to end Nixon's presidency and yet it also a great sequel to All the President's Men. I think this book is better written than Men because there is no focus on Woodward's and Bernstein's working relationship or how to publish articles in the paper while lawyers from the White House and the Washington Post went head to head in court. The sole focus of the story was how the house of cards that Nixon built came crashing down around everyone. 

 

I have to say there are more than a few similarities that a reader can make between Judy Nixon and Ivanka Trump. Man, Judy was a real dope to believe her father past the time of his resignation and how she coddled him when Dick was living up to his name. I can't believe she married an Eisenhower, much less the former president's grandson - what the fuck did he see in her, I don't know. I do know that dear David Eisenhower believed in his father-in-law's guilt and tried to open Judy's eyes; for that she lashed out at David and dug in her heels. David was as astute as to Richard M. Nixon's darker side as his grandfather. Pat Nixon was pretty much drunk the entire time (I mean EVERY DAY), probably since summer of 1972 after the news broke. She didn't even try to get herself involved in her husband's PR campaign. 

 

Seeing how Nixon threw Haldeman and Ehrlichman under the bus, then backed up that bus and drove it over them again and again was fun, especially after reading what these three stooges did in Men. At the same time, John Dean had already turned state's evidence, so watching Dean throw Nixon on under that same bus and driving it over him and his very special personal attorney from Boston gave me a downright giddy feeling. 

 

I was surprised by new VP Gerald Ford's insistence of keeping a low profile, but enough public support of Nixon to show an united front. Ford didn't want the job in the executive branch - he was happy on the legislative side of Washington DC. It was as if Ford was in a wholly different administration while the rest of the White House was crumbling. He was as big of a rube as Judy Nixon. But this book did make me want to read more about his presidency. 

 

A fun and interesting ride through politics.

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review 2020-05-03 07:04
Review: Has China Won? by Kishore Mahbubani
Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy - Kishore Mahbubani

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Public Affairs!***

 

I stopped reading this book about 150 pages in, roughly halfway. I make an effort to not put down a book less than halfway through in order to be fair. Sometimes things start to look up after a rocky beginning. To be clear, I did not put this book away because it was poorly written. Indeed, it was excellently written. But I felt like the author has gotten it wrong when it came to his starting thesis. And unfortunately, if your starting thesis is incorrect, then some or all of your conclusions probably will be too.

 

The author has a very big bias in favor of China. This was evident throughout the Introduction when he basically said that China is the victim of cultural misunderstanding and that America was mostly afraid of powerful “yellow” people (his words, not mine) and mistakenly thinks that all Communism is the same as the Soviet Union was. But I carried on in spite of this obvious bias because the next two chapters were about the biggest mistakes so far that each of the world superpowers has made. I thought, maybe here is where we get a more evenhanded approach.

 

Unfortunately we did not. According to the author, China’s biggest mistake is that it gives too much power to local governments and Beijing is largely powerless to control them. For example, the author mentions that businesses are very wary of working in China because they feel that China takes advantage of them and threatens them with access to the Chinese market if they don’t comply to outrageous. His example is a business that states they had a contract with a Chinese company that they would utilize their services for a set number of years and then buy the company outright for X price at the end of that period. When that date came the company refused to sell. The business petitioned to the courts in Beijing and were told “well pay them more money then and buy the business”. The author attributes this to a lack of centralized leadership. That is blatantly false and biased. That is called extortion. If the courts had said “Sorry, this is an issue with the local jurisdiction” that would prove the author’s point. But they acted like a mob enforcer “Pay more money, then they’ll sell.” The author gives this kind of leniency to the Chinese government over and over again.

 

And still, I continued. I thought that perhaps when the author was describing the largest mistake by America that we would see the same leniency. We did not. The author spends the entire chapter demonizing President Trump and demonizing businesses for blaming it on American war culture. And then throwing in some demonization of America’s lack of social justice for good measure. Americans just want to believe that all Communism is bad, so that’s why we demonize China. Again, this is a flawed premise. The Chinese Communist Party is bad. They have upwards of 1.5 million people imprisoned in labor camps, another half million in re-education centers. Stories abound from survivors of these camps of the rampant abuse and rape that goes on. Defectors from the CCP are executed silently and immediately, potentially thousands of people per year. The CCP has  launched genocidal massacres on Tibetans, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims within the past decade. Don’t try and blow that particular sunshine about good Communism up my behind, thanks all the same!

 

In the end, this author thinks China is a great place and America is inherently racist with a psycho for a President. To me, that indicates that all conclusions that he draws will be flawed. So while the author asks a lot of interesting questions, the answers will likely be unsatisfying.

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review 2020-05-01 22:53
Hives, colonization, and what makes one rebel
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie

This was a ride and a half and I did not expect it to be this good or turn out this serious.

 

You know everything HAD to have gone to pot for the ship to end in one body, sure. I was ready for an action/adventure sci-fi romp, and in a way, it is that. What surprised me was how hard it goes into the social issues inherent in colonization, how it explores the notion of identity and how it can be more than one thing, going double for entities that work more like a hive. "I'm at war with myself" is a very psychological statement that seems to be a theme for many characters, and ultimately gets very literal in this sci-fi set up.

 

There is also the constant coming back to the duality system of belief, the idea that fate is as it's tossed, and so you might as well choose your step, one after the other (sounds a lot like Taoist beliefs to me, plus the idea of hitzusen). What I found interesting is how it delves into thoughts and intentions vs actions, and obliquely (or at least, what I took from the whole sample of characters) how in the moment of truth you don't know who will be that will make the selfless choice (because when it comes right down to it, sometimes people don't even realize it was the moment of truth till it passed), but also, that past choices define next ones, but not in the way one would suspect (because sometimes, the feel that you chose wrong might make you very, very set and vigilant to choose differently afterwards)...

 

Aaaand, yeah, I got right down philosophical. I think it was all that loooong interrupted chat between Toren and Anaander Mianaai. It made me go "oh, shit" in so may directions. Very interesting.

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text 2020-04-24 08:03
Social Distancing, Quarantined or just staying home because of #COVID19? Here's a free ebook to pass help the time.
 
 
The Local Rag – News to Die For.
 
 
 
 
Jim Mitchell is a journalist and the publisher and editor of a community newspaper, The Sentinel.
 
He gave up a career with big media because he couldn't justify their choice of what to cover, couldn't tolerate the way they edited his stories, and would not be implicit in misleading the public to benefit some hidden corporate agenda.
 
When he bought The Sentinel, he thought all that would end. Being the owner of "the local rag," he could select the stories, edit the copy, and make sure the interests of the community were served.
 
He would print the truth - no slant, no bias, no spin, and he'd make a living doing it.
 
He was wrong.
 
Right from the beginning, Jim's brand of reportage rankles some powerful people, people who pay his bills. Then there's the new competitor, a multinational media conglomerate that's expanding its generic community newspaper format into The Sentinel's market area.
 
Soon it's a struggle for The Sentinel to make a profit and for Jim to keep true to his uncompromising ethics.
 
When his best friend, Anthony Bravaro decides to run for mayor Jim hopes he'll be an honest politician.
 
Hope turns to dismay as Jim watches the quest for power turn a good man bad. Tony's campaign tests Jim's professional objectivity and personal integrity.
 
When Jim confronts his friend with damaging information that could end his run for public office, he finds out how far Tony's prepared to go to win the mayor's seat - farther than he could ever have imagined.
 
OFFER ENDS APRIL 26, 2020 MIDNIGHT
 
 
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review 2020-04-08 21:35
AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF by Stephen Graham Jones
After the People Lights Have Gone Off - Stephen Graham Jones

There are hundreds of reviews and ratings for AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF and there's not much I can add to what's already been said.

 

I love how this man writes and his powers of description. It takes concentration to properly read his prose and during this time of near constant distraction, (there's a pandemic going on), the fact that he captured my attention and held it, really says something.

 

There's a ton of variety here, my favorites being DOC'S STORY, SECOND CHANCES, THE SPINDLY MAN, UNCLE and THE SPIDERBOX. There's also an excellent introduction from Joe R. Lansdale, wherein he talks about some of his favorite stories.

 

I enjoyed the hell out of this collection and maybe it's just the thing to distract you during this uncertain time?

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF

 

*I bought this paperback with my hard-earned cash. *

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