February 2016 Non Fiction Reading

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February 2016 Non Fiction Reading

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feb 7, 2016, 12:00pm

I've finished Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser.

This is a thematic history, in this case looking at how women heads of state have lead their forces into war or battle. It starts with Boudicea, and looks at the ways these women have been viewed by their supporters and their enemies. There are some usual representations that seem to be forced on these women, not all of them at all representative of the truth. So there is a tendency to present a woman leader as either chaste or a virago, even when the facts don't fit either stereotype. The evolution of the myth around some of these women is also most interesting. Different ages have viewed Boudicea as rebel who sets off a bloody uprising through the patriotic establishment figure. Both of those can;t possible be the whole truth, the way she's viewed probably says more about the times making those judgements than it does about her in fact. The book comes to the present day with 3 female heads of state being discussed in democratic era, Golda Meyer, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher. It seems to me that these most recent lady leaders actually have a harder task than their predecessors, they are cast by men as only a women, but by women as being an honourary man because they've succeeded in a man's world. Not very details on each of the women discussed, but enough to put them into a social and cultural context. There are plenty of references and further reading if this did pique your interest.

feb 8, 2016, 10:42am

I've started Between Silk and Cyanide, written by one of the key British codemakers of WW2. There is a lot of minutia, but also lots of great phrasing and sly humor. Leo Marks was a playwright after the war, so his facility with the language equals his skill with letters and numbers. I'm skipping his explanations of coding itself, as my mind doesn't bend that way anymore. This was published in 1998, probably having to wait until the material was declassified. Lots of fascinating war stories.

feb 18, 2016, 6:50am

I finished the excellent collection of memoir stories, The Things They Carried about the Viet Nam War. While I would usually shy away from a war memoir, this one was superb.

feb 18, 2016, 4:03pm

Just finished The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell

An interesting thought experiment, but the author assumes the reader has prerequisite knowledge of scientific and technical ideas and jargon that the layman just does not have.

feb 20, 2016, 5:24pm

Finished Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers by Dominic Selwood -- an Early Review book.

feb 21, 2016, 6:27pm

Recently finished Traveling the 38th Parallel by David and Janet Carle and A Life and Death Decision by Scott Sundby.

Books in progress include Empire Statesman by Robert Slayton and How War Came by Donald Cameron Watt.

Just starting or about to start Putin's Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha and Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang.

feb 24, 2016, 4:51pm

I finally finished Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman, and I'm almost through with My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.

>1 Helenliz: That sounds really interesting! I'm adding it to my list.

feb 24, 2016, 11:31pm

Partway through Accidental Saints, which is well-written, although the author's edgy style makes it tough to read in more than small doses, so I'm happy for the modest-sized chapters!

Started I'm the Teacher, You're the Student today, after listening to the author's Great Courses lectures on Victorian Britain. Got into the book immediately!

feb 25, 2016, 2:48am

I'm really, really enjoying Harold Nicolson's Diaries and Letters, Vol. 1, edited by his son Nigel. Wonderful.

feb 29, 2016, 6:16am

feb 29, 2016, 7:23am

Finished Myth-Making and Religious Extremism and Their Roots in Crisis. The book deals with several predominant myths over time and cultures. It was thought provoking although sometimes a little glib particularly with the present state.

Redigerat: feb 29, 2016, 12:25pm

I'm about half-way through The Lentil Underground and I keep skipping around in The Big Necessity looking for progressive ideas.

>4 Jacksonian: I've got The Knowledge waiting for me. It reminds me of a particular character in Lucifer's Hammer, which I might just have to re-read at the same time.

mar 1, 2016, 5:45pm

Finished reading Peter Ackroyd's Foundation a week or so ago, and promptly started reading Peter Bernstein's Wedding of the Waters.

mar 3, 2016, 11:26am

I recommend Dirty Secrets of the World's Worst Employee - honest and entertaining story of the author's professional journey.

mar 3, 2016, 9:44pm

mar 4, 2016, 8:56pm

mar 6, 2016, 11:30pm

Finished Mind Wide Open by Steven Johnson

mar 7, 2016, 7:47am

Finished a LTER, Peddling Mental Disorder. The book is superb in its taking on of the pharmaceutical industry for its disease mongering and drug pushing. It also acknowledges that society, doctors, and psychiatrists are all complicit and even encourage this approach. My difficulties with the book lie in the narrow definition of science, the complete dismissal of psychoanalysis, and ignoring of all other mental health care professionals. The suggested solutions, while correct, are very improbable.

Redigerat: mar 8, 2016, 9:35am

>21 snash: Your book reminds me of one I read last year by English consumer crusader, Ben Goldacre, who is examining the sales techniques of drug companies in general. It was quite enlightening. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients

What stood out was how pharmaceutical companies attempt to create a disease perception in the public's eye, so that they can offer a chemical solution.

mar 8, 2016, 10:11am

>22 2wonderY: 2wonderY This book was essentially the same information with specific examples, particularly in 5 specific "disorder" classifications.

mar 9, 2016, 7:54am

@jillbone our readings seem to be running fairly parallel.

Michael Pollan

Mel Bartholomew

I also skimmed The Knowledge and found it pretty useless. There are much better compendiums of survival skills and community integrity. I saw it as his personal should-do list, but it really wasn't worth publishing. His bibliography included teotwawki science fiction novels, which made me chuckle.

mar 14, 2016, 1:59pm