What are you currently reading?

The favourite book threads can be a bit generic. I find it is much more fun to add some randomness - so what books do you happen to be reading at the moment?

I have five books that I am waiting for from Amazon. So they will get added to the following pretty soon.

But in the meantime - looking at my bookshelf - I have these on the go...

I am just about to start 'The Downfall of Money' (a new book about the hyperinflation in 1920's Germany).

I have 'Limits To Capital' by David Harvey. But not sure if I can be bothered starting it since these giant Marxist critiques of economics are pretty difficult to wade through. And I never feel as if I learn anything concrete. But it is an area I am interested in. So - who knows...

Just about to finish the new book out called 'The Everything Store' which is an indepth business biography of Amazon.

Have started 'Gross Domestic Problem' which is a look at the politics, problems, assumptions and issues surrounding the most important number in economics (ie Gross Domestic Product).

After the Amazon book - I will start a book called 'The Org' which is a management/sociological look at the reasons behind the organisation of most businesses.

After that I will dive into 'Brick by Brick' which is a business/management book discussing the dramatic turn around in the fortunes of Lego (and the company that makes it) over the past 15 years.

I have a large book which is a collection of blog posts by Seth Godin that I am going to work through whilst I am at work. Along with a few football books. I tend to dip in and out of 'easy' books whilst at work.

The five books from Amazon will get shuffled into the above as well. And I have an on again/off again interest in working through some philosophy books.

So - the philosophy books (such as a recent one on Aristotle and some old ones from Colin McGinn) may get thrown into the mix. But I am not sure.

Equally - I am not sure how many more Marxian critiques of capitalism I can be bothered with (at the moment).

Sorry for the ramble! Just wanted to give you a dip inside my messy head!

So - what books are you currently reading?

Cardguy

PS The books I am waiting for from Amazon.

One is 'Heart' by Dick Cheney which is a medical biography of Dick Cheney's history of heart problems. Alongside a history of the advances in heart surgery over the past 50 years.

Another is 'The Book of William' by Paul Collins. Paul Collins is my favourite writer - and this is a book discussing the interesting story behind the first folio of Shakespeare's work. With the emphasis being on what has happened to each of those priceless copies over the past 400 years.

Another book I am waiting for is a book detailing the history behind the quest for Perpetual Motion. Along with a detailed discussion of many of the most famous designs and why they won't work. It also details the account of a perpetual motion machine which has baffled scientists to this day.

I was particularly pleased to come across this book since it seems like a fascinating subject for a book. I love eccentric histories like this. Here are the details for those interested:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0760709262/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And the last book is an autobiography by the founder of 'Viz' comic. Which is a very famous comic here in the UK which is incredibly rude and very funny. It was created by a guy who is from the same area of the UK as me, and he went on to make (and possiblee lose?) millions. The comic peaked before eventually losing about 90% of their readers. Should be some interesting stories in there...

I usually have a bunch of books on the go - but I'll admit that things are a little more hectic right now than they usually would be.
 
I'm in the middle of The Claws of the Dragon:Kang Sheng-The Evil Genius Behind Mao-And His Legacy of Terror in People's China, which I'm pretty sure is the longest title for any book I've picked up. I suppose they figured nobody would know who the hell this was and to be as descriptive in the title as possible.
 
Kang Sheng? Never heard of him. Will go look him up now.

Also - what is the verdict on Chairman Mao?

Do people see him as being evil (ala Stalin and Hitler). Or as misguided - as is is the case with a figure like Lenin or Castro?

Maybe Lenin was evil as well? But for some reason he seems to get a free pass from most people.

It is a thin line between evil and misguided. Since both can result in the death of millions. But I hope you can appreciate the difference I am focusing in on.
 

Therapsid

Pelican
There's something of a double standard with dictators.

Mao's death toll is dominated by the millions who starved during the Great Leap Forward.

But normally, deaths by starvation, even when they're the product of government policy, aren't considered tantamount to genocide.

I'm not praising Mao here by any means.

But, for example, Churchill presided over a famine in Bengal in 1943 which killed several million people. He was criticized even at the time for his government's role. Was that genocide?
 

roberto

Pelican
Gold Member
Therapsid said:
But, for example, Churchill presided over a famine in Bengal in 1943 which killed several million people. He was criticized even at the time for his government's role. Was that genocide?
You'd be exceptionally hard pressed to categorise that along with Mao, Stalin, Hitler et al.

The information on the scale of the famine and the availability of food locally was patchy and unreliable at best. A similar famine at the same time was occuring in Greece (at the time Nazi occupied) If indeed it was genocide, it was accidental genocide by mis-management and negligence (compounded of course by the war, which also caused immeasurable difficulties in actually doing anything constructive such as sending food over). Not cold blooded mass murder like the concentration camps.

Is genocide not defined as the deliberate extermination of a race of people? That's certainly not what happened in Bengal.
 

Therapsid

Pelican
roberto said:
Therapsid said:
But, for example, Churchill presided over a famine in Bengal in 1943 which killed several million people. He was criticized even at the time for his government's role. Was that genocide?
You'd be exceptionally hard pressed to categorise that along with Mao, Stalin, Hitler et al.

The information on the scale of the famine was patchy and unreliable at best. A similar famine at the same time was occuring in Greece (at the time Nazi occupied) If indeed it was genocide, it was accidental genocide by mis-management and negligence (compounded of course by the war). Not cold blooded mass murder like the concentration camps.

Is genocide not defined as the deliberate extermination of a race of people? That's certainly not what happened in Bengal.
I didn't declare it a genocide. I was posing the question.

Although, frankly, I don't believe Churchill lost any sleep over the Bengali people who starved to death.

My sense is that famines under regimes we don't like are called genocides while those in regimes we do favor are considered merely tragedies.

Famines are becoming increasingly rare. One of the most recent was in Malawi in 2002.

If Malawi had been a country the West was in conflict with, like for example Zimbabwe under Mugabe, everyone would have heard about it. It would be considered an atrocity, instead of a tragedy.
 

roberto

Pelican
Gold Member
Therapsid said:
roberto said:
Therapsid said:
But, for example, Churchill presided over a famine in Bengal in 1943 which killed several million people. He was criticized even at the time for his government's role. Was that genocide?
You'd be exceptionally hard pressed to categorise that along with Mao, Stalin, Hitler et al.

The information on the scale of the famine was patchy and unreliable at best. A similar famine at the same time was occuring in Greece (at the time Nazi occupied) If indeed it was genocide, it was accidental genocide by mis-management and negligence (compounded of course by the war). Not cold blooded mass murder like the concentration camps.

Is genocide not defined as the deliberate extermination of a race of people? That's certainly not what happened in Bengal.
I didn't declare it a genocide. I was posing the question.

Although, frankly, I don't believe Churchill lost any sleep over the Bengali people who starved to death.

My sense is that famines under regimes we don't like are called genocides while those in regimes we do favor are considered merely tragedies.

Famines are becoming increasingly rare. One of the most recent was in Malawi in 2002.

If Malawi had been a country the West was in conflict with, like for example Zimbabwe under Mugabe, everyone would have heard about it. It would be considered an atrocity, instead of a tragedy.
The 'you' was not referring to you personally.

Of course, you are correct when you say that political spin defines things to the viewpoint of the masses. One man's terrorist, etc.

I still believe that in this case, the complications of the war, and the difficulties this posed in enabling anything major to be done about the famine provide a large amount of mitigation against any charge of genocide in this instance. Whether Churchhill lost sleep or not (again, I suspect you are right), he didn't intentionally set out harm the Bengali people.

Were the Zimbabwe example to become a reality, and Mugabe to hinder/prevent supplies reaching the affected, that would be more akin to genocide.

Hell, that's already happened.
 

RX2

Sparrow
Currently reading SENECA - Letters from a stoic
It's one of those books I don't want to finish because of how much I like it.

Check out his essay "On the shortness of life"

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/04/24/on-the-shortness-of-life-an-introduction-to-seneca/

"It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so our life is amply long for him who orders it properly."
 
cardguy said:
Kang Sheng? Never heard of him. Will go look him up now.

Also - what is the verdict on Chairman Mao?

Do people see him as being evil (ala Stalin and Hitler). Or as misguided - as is is the case with a figure like Lenin or Castro?

Maybe Lenin was evil as well? But for some reason he seems to get a free pass from most people.

It is a thin line between evil and misguided. Since both can result in the death of millions. But I hope you can appreciate the difference I am focusing in on.
Unless you're big on reading about communist China, you probably wouldn't have heard of him. He was sort of Mao's Luca Brasi who ran his secret police for a time and helped kick off the Cultural Revolution from behind the scenes. He lived a very colorful life and appears to be as close to a movie villain as you can get.

From what I've read, Mao was an extremely charismatic rebel rouser who was so convincing, he believed his own bullshit even when facts proved otherwise. unlike Stalin, who purposely murdered millions of his own people to stay in power, Mao did it mostly through crazed idealism and massive incompetence. The fact that he was able to maintain power as long as he did is a testament to his personal magnetism, because almost everything he tried after the CCP took over China failed in disastrous and comical ways. Oddly enough, the men that surrounded him seem far more interesting and capable when he let them actually do their jobs.

I suppose intentions do play some role in people's legacies, but generally speaking, it's best to look at their actions and the results. Considering he was mostly responsible for around 20 million deaths from the Great Leap Forward alone, not counting the craziness that he caused with the Cultural Revolution, he's right up there with Stalin. It's not exactly the type of legacy anyone would want.
 

Bushido

Ostrich
Gold Member
Therapsid said:
There's something of a double standard with dictators.

Mao's death toll is dominated by the millions who starved during the Great Leap Forward.

But normally, deaths by starvation, even when they're the product of government policy, aren't considered tantamount to genocide.
Maybe but you need to remember the spirit in which these policies were conducted. Like what happened in Cambodia, ideology trumped human life. Even if we put aside the Great Leap Forward, millions of Chinese died in Mao's work camps. His regime also tortured and executed millions of "counter-revolutionaries" (basically anyone who Mao wanted dead). Mao's China was a regime of terror and for that he is up there with Stalin, Pot and Hitler. A lot of information is still coming out about Mao that was top secret until recently.

This book is on my reading list:

http://www.amazon.com/Mao-Unknown-Story-Jung-Chang/dp/0679746323
 

pitt

Hummingbird
Gold Member
I am currently reading Anti-Fragile by Nassim Taleb. So far, so good, I am impressed.

Beyond Borders what are you currently reading? Jump on the thread.
 
Mainly:
Bang by Roosh V
Finding You Way Without Map or Compass by Harold Gatty


Also skimming/re-reading:
Day Bang by Roosh V
Unstoppable Confidence by Kent Sayer
 

Frontenac

Kingfisher
Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy. I recommend it to anyone into modern-day military thrillers.

Read 400/800 pages sitting in a tree-stand during deer season.

I've also read American Sniper. Good book, but once he got to Iraq, it was a little less-exciting, just because it was "clock-in, shoot terrorists, punch-out". I enjoyed the early parts about the SEAL training though.
 
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