What I’ve been reading

by on July 30, 2013 at 4:44 am in Books | Permalink

1. The Childhood of Jesus, by J.M. Coetzee.  Two-thirds of this is superb, although as a whole it doesn’t quite hang together.  It’s still much better than most of what is published.

2. David Soll, Empire of Water: An Environmental and Political History of the New York City Water Supply.  A good overview of the history, plus it makes it clear just how much the growth of the City required somewhat rapacious behavior with respect to the water rights of upper New York State.  The early history of the Groton Reservoir is interesting too.

3. Mark Leibovich, This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!, in America’s Gilded Capital.  I feared this would bore me with atheoretical mud-slinging and gossip, but it is actually an astute look at “behavioral public choice” and how a lot of D.C. politics actually operates.  If you think you might want to read it, you should, although you can stop somewhere in the middle just fine.  My main objection is the subtitle.

Jan July 30, 2013 at 6:22 am

3) I am almost finished with it and no discussion of valet parking yet!

William McGreevey July 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

It’s proving hard for me to care about Tamster Haddad and the many other minor/major characters that get ample attention in the first 16% of the book (I am reading in on a Kindle so I know I am at the 16% mark). Is ‘Meet the Press’ really all that important?

Chris S July 30, 2013 at 9:34 am

Keep at it for another ten percent or so.

“Is ‘Meet the Press’ really all that important?” This is difficult to answer in the general case, but from the perspective given in the book: YES, it is important because everyone in DC thinks it is important. Turtles all the way down.

Scott July 30, 2013 at 9:48 am

Didn’t find it to be very interesting – was hoping he would really get into the details of DC (was envisioning game change for the everyday lobbying/politicking set) but it’s much more of a friendly account of DC social interactions. The author tries to play himself as an inside-critic type, but he’s very, very deferential (what “society hostess”, or whatever you call those people, cares about being called pathetic and egotistical in a book; the point is she’s in it) and doesn’t really say anything that’s surprising to anyone (doesn’t want to alienate anyone, I suspect, which cuts into his credibility). Most of the book repeats accounts how much all of these people love each-other, which is interesting in a sort of amateur-anthropology sense but again, not a lot of new information. He’s got the perspective right though – it’s DC vs everyone else, and these people clearly know it.

John July 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

A minor quibble–it’s “Croton,” not “Groton.”

Euripides July 31, 2013 at 4:55 pm

#1, if you want to know what many believe to be the true accounts of the childhood of Jesus, I would recommend starting with, Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich. She was a nun in the 1700s and claimed to have experienced visions from the life of Jesus who directed her to have the accounts written in a book. Her books have an imprimatur, which states that while they are private revelation, there is not an iota in the book that is in conflict with scriptures or church teaching.

You can judge for yourself, an excerpt can be found here:

i naively thought at that time_1 August 2, 2013 at 3:23 am
crown and the case_4 August 2, 2013 at 3:23 am

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