Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Excellent Recent Reads: 

1. "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. Excellent follow-on on his themes in "Guns, Germs and Steel" with the addition of excellent research and perspectives on why there is still hope and time. The most interesting chapter? Perhaps the comparison of the Greenland Norse, who perished en masse, to the Inuit, who survived. The difference? Willingness to adapt to the world around you, for one. Excellent thoughts for our troubled ecology. A MUST read.

2. "A Great and Noble Scheme" by John Faragher. Indepth, sensitive consideration of the Acadian Expulsion/Genocide at the hands of New Englanders. Finished this just before a long trip to Eastern Canada (part of the reason for my paucity of blogging this summer--it's been damn busy in Vulfworld). An amazing description of the tragedy of the first planned genocide in the New World. Faragher introduces an excellent analytical tool for calculating the true impact of any forced movement of people, by projecting their population growth forward and comparing the survivors to how many would have been alive. Followed up by yours Vulfy, Faolin and the little wolves with a visit to Grand Pre and their modern Acadian museum (one of North America's top ten museums, IMHO).

3. "1776" (and "The Johnstown Flood") by David McCullough. Wow. I already liked Washington a lot (since reading "An Imperfect God", http://www.amazon.com/An-Imperfect-God-Washington-Creation/dp/0374529515/sr=1-1/qid=1157524767/ref=sr_1_1/002-9168815-0000005?ie=UTF8&s=books), but this book really brings out his humanity--his boneheaded decisions and his thickheaded courage. We live in an entirely different country now. (There was an excellent side comment by McCullough on how the British regulars were astonished at the wealth in the then-countryside of Brooklyn--what more can these rebels want?). The Johnstown Flood occurred because some mega-rich folks wanted a summer lake resort, and didn't bother making sure a dam was safe. None of them ever did time, but they killed thousands. An amazing story, and like 9/11, more than 2,000 people were killed due to the conscious neglect of our Conservative rich.


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