What I’ve been reading

1. Michael H. Kater, Culture in Nazi Germany.  The best general introduction to this still-important topic.

2. Alev Scott, Ottoman Odyssey: Travels Through a Lost Empire.  Imagine setting off to write a book about Turkey, finding your access shut down, and then coming up with what is probably an even better travelogue about the former fringes of the Ottoman Empire.  I will buy the author’s next book.

3. James Walvin, Freedom: The Overthrow of the Slave Empires.  Perhaps not original, but a highly readable and very much conceptual overview of how the slave trade developed and was then overthrown.  Recommended.

4. Chester Himes, If He Hollers, Let Him Go.  Pretty brutal actually, a kind of pre-integration African-American noir, dating from 1945.  People should still read this one.

5. John Steinbeck, East of Eden.  At first I enjoyed this one, but after a while I grew bored.  If it came out today, by John Anonymous, how many people would think it was a great book?  (“Most of those who wrote the Amazon reviews” you might reply.  Maybe, but what other current books do they like?  Barbara Kingsolver?)  If Sally Rooney’s Normal People, or some time-synched version thereof, came out in the 1920s or 30s, how many today would claim it is an absolute masterpiece?  I am happy to recommend that one.

Arthur M. Diamond, Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism is a good introduction to what the title and subtitle promise.

Gareth Williams, Unraveling the Double Helix: The Lost Heroes of DNA.  A good, detailed look at thought on DNA-related issues, before Crick and Watson published the solution.

I will not have time to read Anthony Atkinson’s Measuring Poverty Around the World, his final book, but as you might expect it appears to be a very serious contribution.

Linda Yueh’s What Would the Great Economists Do? How Brilliant Minds Would Solve Today’s Biggest Problems, now out in paperback, is the closest we have come to producing a modern-day version of Robert Heilbroner’s book.  As with Heilbroner, it is from a somewhat “left” perspective.

Comments

'to this still-important topic'

Why would it still be important? Or is the fascination with a genocidal totalitarian ideology irresistible for those devoted to liberty and who write love letters to big business?

*Tyler doesn’t mention the Nazis for months*

Prior: Tyler’s ignoring Nazis

*Tyler says the Nazis are still important *

Cue the Prior snark.

You were fired. It was ages ago. Get over it.

'Prior: Tyler’s ignoring Nazis '

A link will be fascinating to see - good luck finding one to support that assertion.

'You were fired. It was ages ago. Get over it.'

Fascinating to see how many (sockpuppets - Jeff R. lässt grüßen?) like to repeat this falsehood. Almost as if some(one?)'s interest in asserting a falsehood is enough to try bring it up to big lie standards.

Which, oddly enough, was a notable part of Nazi culture.

Because you are the one who is lying.

Well, you can provide the link concerning any lying regarding 'Tyler’s ignoring Nazis.' Should be easy to show, particularly in contrast to the lie about being fired, that is regularly enough repeated here. Without proof, obviously, which is what makes a lie so easy to recognize.

The amusing thing is, I have worked for a private employer at GMU, the GMU Foundation, and for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as noted several times. The people lying could at least go to the minimal effort of trying to make up some detail, and pick one of the three to be play a role in their fantasy.

You are lying about not being fired. All we have is your word and that isn't worth much based on your unhealthy obsessions with shitting on this site and this country.

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Arthur M. Diamond, Jr. - "Openness to Creative Destruction ..."

"He argues that some fears about adverse effects on labor market are unjustified, since more and better new jobs are created than are destroyed, and that other fears can be mitigated by better policies"

Yeah sure, "jobs are destroyed". How about "people are destroyed". No? How about "families are destroyed"? No? Ok, how about "communities are destroyed"?

Ah, just wave the hand, it will all work out on average. Sure.

The poison is in the dose, and the destruction is in the pace.

Oh, and what if too many get destroyed and they can vote? Or they have guns?

It will all work out.

The masses will arm themselves? If you don't have faith in the invisible hand, you must be a jack-booted Marxist. Put away your AOC and Bernie posters, little boy.

Me? A Marxist? You must have put your rose-colored glasses on backwards.

We have yet to see the full impact of AI, automation, and open borders with the third world. Sure, automation has been happening for at least 200 years.

I think one issue is the pace of change. Can we keep up?

We'll find out.

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"Arthur M. Diamond, Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism"

I assume that this is Mr C trying his hand at satire?

Sustaining disruption?

I clicked on it. Sounds okay, and - MIE: blurbs!

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Very under-appreciated. memories are short. Chester Himes was woke before there was a cliche expression for it. Cotton Comes to Harlem is quite relevant in terms of wokedness, The film version is also very good, but I'm not Roger Ebert, so that's just my 2 cents.

While we're on the subject of underappreciated old-school "negro" novelists, don't overlook Jean Toomer. I could also recommend Claude Brown.

+1 for Chester Himes.

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I will buy the author’s next book.
Did you buy this one?

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Cowen likes Sally Rooney? Or do I misinterpret his comment? Anyway, I like her too. I can't identity with the twenty-somethings she writes about, but I gather she captures the essence of the generation (like Fitzgerald in his day?). I do like her writing style, in particular dialogue without quotation marks. Where does the dialogue end and inner thoughts begin? I have seen her interviewed (from her home in Dublin). She has lots to say about lots of subjects. For an introduction to her, read her short story Mr. Salary. It can be found online. Also, she has several short stories in the New Yorker.

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1. From the Amazon summary: "In the years preceding WWII, a wide variety of artistic forms were used to instill a Nazi ideology in the German people and to manipulate the public perception of Hitler’s enemies." It's amazing what propaganda will do, even turning civilized people into barbarians. Civilized Germans viewed Hitler as a ridiculous buffoon, with his antics. Yes, his speeches were performances, as in the theater. To be effective, propaganda must be subtle. Civilized Germans could laugh at the buffoonery, convincing themselves that an ignorant clown like Hitler could not be a danger to themselves much less the world.

I don't know. One wonders how supposedly civilized, cultured Europe could "throw" a conflagration such as WWI and repeat same less than a generation later.

In WWI, the German armies, war machine, acted pretty much same as the German armies in WWII. Was the rape of Belgium a fabrication?

Likely, it's in the Hun's DNA.

OT, I finished reading The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and Her Greatest Rival, by Kate Williams. Depressing. Very detailed. It adds feminism to the incipient nationalism, dynastic motivations, religious wars, etc. roiling Europe at the time.

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So Russia is going to make their own Chernobyl documentary. In this one (it is reported) it will be CIA dirty tricks that cause the meltdown.

Propaganda in an information age.

It is amazing and frightening that this might work. All a liar needs to do is create a "flux" of falsehood at the right moment. Followers will repeat the lie immediately, and perhaps now millions of times. Opinions are shaped. Truth is unmoored.

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Must be the first time Tyler has ever uttered the words "I will not have time to read..."

Or admitting that a story that includes the growth of a refrigeration company using then cutting edge technology and an attempt to ship fresh produce across a continent led to him growing bored. Though in all fairness, maybe he liberated the book before reaching the part showing the rise of what would be become one of America's largest business sectors.

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I actually don't know what Tyler means by that. Guesses? Does he just mean he is choosing not to read it?

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i just finished up reading the subtle art of not giving a fuck and it turns out to be one of the best self-help books that I've ever read in my life. and here are self help books that one must read.

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On the Ottoman Empire, I've just been looking through a book that changed my views about a number of issues when I read it years ago, and first found out that this had happened, unbelievably....

"Twice a Stranger: The Mass Expulsions that Forged Modern Greece and Turkey " by Bruce Clark...

"In the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, nearly two million citizens in Turkey and Greece were expelled from homelands. The Lausanne treaty resulted in the deportation of Orthodox Christians from Turkey to Greece and of Muslims from Greece to Turkey. The transfer was hailed as a solution to the problem of minorities who could not coexist. Both governments saw the exchange as a chance to create societies of a single culture. The opinions and feelings of those uprooted from their native soil were never solicited.

In an evocative book, Bruce Clark draws on new archival research in Turkey and Greece as well as interviews with surviving participants to examine this unprecedented exercise in ethnic engineering. He examines how the exchange was negotiated and how people on both sides came to terms with new lands and identities.

Politically, the population exchange achieved its planners' goals, but the enormous human suffering left shattered legacies. It colored relations between Turkey and Greece, and has been invoked as a solution by advocates of ethnic separation from the Balkans to South Asia to the Middle East. This thoughtful book is a timely reminder of the effects of grand policy on ordinary people and of the difficulties for modern nations in contested regions where people still identify strongly with their ethnic or religious community."

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4. I suggest "There was a Country" by Achebe. If you think US has a monopoly on racism or ethnic clashes.

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5. It's not only Steinbeck. Very few, if any, popular American writers have managed to stand the test of time. Once famous authors like Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Norman Mailer and John Irving are unknown to everyone but lit majors. Even more contemporary writers like the execrable Cormac McCarthy are quickly fading from the literati consciousness.

The only genre of American literature likely to be read, studied and admired in the future is likely to be what can be called "southern gothic", unique to the American south. The work of MacKinlay Kantor, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Calder Willingham Jr., and lesser lights like Harry Crews and James Dickey will endure forever as a genre unduplicated anywhere else. Their products will remain significant as long as literature exists.

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I just read East of Eden last summer, not expecting much from it (maybe that is the key), and I liked it. I found it calming. I liked the way the characters, especially the male characters, talked. It doesn't resemble the way anyone talks in real life, especially nowadays, but I wished they did. It is deliberate and focused on matters of substance in a searching, well-disposed way. I found the depiction of old California to be interesting enough in itself. If it were published now would it be considered great? Probably not, but was it ever considered really great by top end sorts of people? I doubt it. I've taken up a number of these older American authors in my forties after never reading them because I'd always read about how bad or insignificant they were, and found them much better than I was anticipating. An American Tragedy I read because it was on a list I was following, expecting it to be abysmal and I couldn't believe how good it was. Lewis and even Tarkington I found to have qualities that left more of an impression on my memory than 90% of the books I read. What other current books do I like? I haven't read Barbara Kingsolver. I don't read many newer books. I did read the first four volumes of Knausgaard and they were all right, but it wouldn't have occurred to me that they were better than East of Eden. I have the same reaction to Rushdie that Cowen had to Steinbeck. I was unable to get through Will Self when I tried him. I did like a book by an author named Kathleen Ann Goonan called In War Times though it ultimately fell short in construction and intellectual power. It contained several strains that appeal to me. I also liked the book 20th-Century Ghosts by Joe Hill, Stephen King's son, though the stories in that were published from 1999-2005 and feature video store employees, low circulation magazines that print fiction, tenured professors who dream of someday publishing in the New Yorker and other things that have already don't exist anymore, so maybe even that isn't contemporary. In short I guess the kind of people who can still like Steinbeck are by nature those who are incapable of keeping up with intellectual movements and advances certainly in these times. The question was posed, perhaps not with the intention of inviting answers, but clearly I liked the book well enough that I felt compelled to say something in its behalf.

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