Saturday, March 03, 2007

greets from vail & book reviews

howdy from the little hotel room i’m sharing with my cousin doug here in vail colorado! Spent the last 2 days hitting the slopes. yesterday was unbelievably cold, today the sun shone her face and warmed things up (just a little bit). i'm going to get my shoulder checked out on monday and dammit until then i'm going to live it up!

i looked at my blogs for February and I have to say I’m a little embarrassed to only come in at 5 posts for the whole month. Sheesh! Truth be told i was sick for a fair shake of the month but i'm fine now (except for my aching shoulder) so with a surge of residual catholic guilt i resolve to blog more in march and the months ahead. things are very much at a cross-roads now at work so that may require a bit more attention than before but c'est la vie, i'll do my best.

so while often i review albums and concerts i haven't really shared much about what i've been reading, which is a fair bit in recent months since i've discovered ebooks. ebooks are nothing short of stellar- now when i run i can focus on learning something as well. fantastic stuff!! here's a few reviews of books i've been reading:

the rise of theodore roosevelt / theodore rex
both are fantastic reads by edmund harris (pulitzer prize winner) about a man who is one of my heroes. while he certainly had his faults, his commitment to conservation, fair play, action and overall zeal for life is nearly unmatched. i've read a lot of history lately and only does richard a. clarke come close to harris' ability to bring the zeitgeist of the times and the complexity of a historical figure to life. it's probably a 1000 pages combined for both books but it passes as quickly as any fiction book i've read simply as a guilty pleasure.

against all enemies
speaking of richard a. clarke, hats off to the man for his superb re-cap of america's counter-terrorism history. danny erwin turned me on to this and i wish i would have read it (ok, it was an ebook so technically i only heard it) much sooner than what i did. i learned a great deal about how the U.S. has made mistakes in the middle-east dating back to the reagan administration and certainly extending to out nearly unforgivable involvement today. it's not all dark days, he paints what i'd like to believe is a realistic view of our struggles to battle terrorism and understand middle-eastern politics and culture. fair bit of nostalgia here for the clinton administration, who seemingly made a lot (but not all) of the right moves containing an increasingly aggressive al qaeda.

korea's time in the sun
read this during our honeymoon and learned a great deal about the modern history of korea including korean relations with japan, china, the u.s. and other nations. very heavy read from a man who betrays no sign of being anything other than a college professor. before reading this book, i had scarce idea that korea considered china it's "big brother" in a confucian sense and the power of the confucian mentality to hold back commerce in favor of the yangban scholar-led government. it tells the story of korean heroes throughout the time who challenged the yangban and traditional models which stifled opp'ties for the common folk, the most notable of which is king sejong who devised the hangul writing system to make reading and writing available to all people among other egalitarian and noble accomplishments. the book additionally chronicles the atrocities committed by the various military-led governments of korea as well as the oppressive practices of the chaebols (large conglomerates) which have catapulted korea to industrial success at the severe cost of intensely unfair labor conditions for many along the way. it wraps up with a look at modern korean politics and the flood of anti-north korean rhetoric which grossly mistates the real happenings up the peninsula. as with clarke's book, you see the folly of the bush administration as the progress made by the clinton administration in foreign relations with kim jong il are rolled back years by the reckless "axis of evil" crap that was fed to the american people and the world at large. not an easy read, but well worth it.

other stuff i've read lately
the google story (david vise, mark malsee)
the art of happiness (dalai lama)
the solitaire mystery (jostein gaarder)

in progress
american gods (neil gaiman)
the new psycho cybernetics (maxwell maltz)
voltaire almighty (roger pearson)


Mai said...

awesome. right now i'm reading pankaj mishra's "an end to suffering" which is about buddhism and its spread in the west. it's non-fiction but almost reads like fiction, it's so well-written. am also just trying to get through the stack of new yorkers that always manage to pile up on my nightstand. i like the idea of ebooks for those keep-hands-free situations but i gotta say i'm old fashioned when it comes down to it: i like the feel of a book in my hands.

B. said...

yah, ebooks are the sh*t. but if you are hearing them, maybe you mean audiobooks? i read ebooks on a pda, and i find it vastly superior to paper books. self lit, auto bookmarking, etc etc etc. some cool stuff:

the discoverers by daniel boorstin
parasite rex by carl zimmer
cryptonomicon by neal stephenson

dc said...

yeah i meant audiobooks, have read cryptonomicon and *really* enjoyed it. i liked snow crash the best of the neal stephenson stuff thus far, but diamond age was good too!

the others sound good, thx for the tips!

B. said...

gotta agree. snow crash is one of my favorites, while i found the diamond age to be almost too hard core sci-fi. the quicksilver trilogy was a bust for me. never got too engaged in the incredibly long story. don't know what neal was thinking.

dc said...

we're on the same wave length man. diamond age went a little too deep sometimes and favored concept over story, IMO. snowcrash was just pure fun and great story. none of his newer stuff has really grabbed my attn enough to make me want to invest in the 800 small font pages i'd have to wade through.

i'm really enjoying "american gods" right now, i'll post something on it when i finish but it's an interesting concept and engaging story. lemme know if you've found any good sci-fi lately!