Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Solution is the Problem

September 1, 2017

The most powerful story in the world is the one that says that economic growth is the solution to the world’s social and political problems.  However, using today’s technology, that solution creates a greater problem, the destruction of the world’s ecosystem. That’s  a point convincingly made by Yuval Harari in his book Sapiens; A Brief History of Humankind.

The only time that the rapid rise in greenhouse gases slowed, he says, was during the 2008 recession which caused a slowdown in economic growth. Now that economic growth is greatly increasing greenhouse gases continue to increase. Not only do the wealthy economic elite want the growth to continue, but so do the masses of the world.  When the billions of Chinese and Indians, for instance, reach lifestyle parity with Americans and Europeans, the ecosystem will collapse.

Some believe that evolving technology caused this, but that new technology can also solve the problem.  However, others think for that to happen political and economic leaders will have to cause it to happen.

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How Long Should a Novel Be?

July 25, 2017

When David O. Selznick produced Gone With the Wind, some Hollywood movie moguls told him it that was too long.  Running time is 3 hours 46 minutes. It has an intermission. His response was that the answer to the question of how long should a movie be, was reportedly, “As long as it is good.”  I would say that reasoning also applies to novels.

I just finished two critically acclaimed novels that some probably feel are long, but, to me, they were not longer than they were good. Compared to two of the greatest novels ever written, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind and Tolstoy’s War and Peace, both running more than a thousand pages, A Gentleman in Moscow, hardcover at 462 pages,  and All the Light We Cannot See, hardcover at 522 pagesare really not all that long.

Both are excellent reads. If I had to rate them, I’d list Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See first.  To me, it has greater emotional depth. It’s historical background is World War II. Towles’  A Gentleman in Moscow is, in a sense, more entertaining. It has a lot of laughs, even if its background is the reign of one of the most notorious dictators of all time, Joseph Stalin. The “gentleman” is Count Rostov, who was sentenced to house arrest at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow.  I recommend both if you’re into historical fiction.

 

PAGE TURNERS BOOK CLUB FEATURES “THE NEWSMAN” SATURDAY AT 1 P.M. AT MILDRED TERRY LIBRARY

January 6, 2016

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JOIN ME SATURDAY, JANUARY 9TH,  AT 1 P.M. FOR A DISCUSSION ABOUT MY MEMOIR “THE NEWSMAN” AT MILDRED TERRY LIBRARY.

The book is this month’s selection by the Page Turners Book Club. If you want to read the book first, it is now an e-book and can be purchased very reasonably on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. Local public libraries also have a copy of the book. I will take questions about writing it during the Page Turner’s session.

 

TIME WILL TELL

August 11, 2014

GEORGE WILL’S COLUMN ON NIXON EMPHASIZES THE ROLE OF  LAPSED TIME IN PROVIDING THE WHOLE TRUTH OF A HISTORICAL EVENT

As I read George Will’s latest column in the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer , I had to reflect on the experiences I  had in Dr. Craig Lloyd’s Columbus College’s (now Columbus State University) historiography class. When I researched for a paper on the role that yellow journalists William Randolph Hearst’s New York  Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World  newspapers played in starting the Spanish-American War, what really stood out was that, generally,  histories written contemporaneously could not be trusted as much as those written years or decades after the events depicted.

That doesn’t mean that contemporary history doesn’t have value. Many historians believe it  is very valuable, but new information revealed over the years can revise what was believed to be factual when written contemporaneously.

Now, forty years after Watergate, we learn why former President Richard Nixon risked his presidency by ordering that notorious burglary.  George Will reported in his column that ran in the Sunday Ledger-Enquirer that  Ken Hughes, who studied the Nixon tapes for more than ten years, points out in his book, Chasing Shadows: the Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate, that “Nixon ordered the crime in 1971 hoping to prevent the public  knowledge of a crime he committed in 1968.”  Will says Nixon’s prior crime in 1968 was to interfere, as a private citizen, with U.S. government diplomatic negotiations concerning the Vietnam War.  He said Nixon was worried that supposed documents in a safe in the Democratic headquarters would reveal “his role in sabotaging negotiations that might have shorten the war.” 

A lot of historical documents are sealed by public figures for opening at a future date after the owners of those documents have been dead for, say,  50 yearsSo, historically, the microscope of  time plays a big role in giving us the  whole truth about  historical events.

Finally, “Reading” “Huckleberry Finn”

October 1, 2012

After reading that writers like Ernest Hemingway lavished praise on Mark Twain for writing  “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” I decided that I needed to read the book all the way through.  

 Hemingway wrote in 1934: “The good writers are Henry James, Stephen Crane, and Mark Twain. That’s not the order they’re good in. There is no order for good writers…. All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”  

H.L. Mencken wrote in 1913, “I believe that ‘Huckleberry Finn’ is one of the great masterpieces of the world, that it is the full equal of ‘Don Quixote‘ and ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ that it is vastly better than Gil Blas, ‘Tristram Shandy,’ ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ or ‘Tom Jones.’ “

If those two great American writers had such nice hings to say about “Huckleberry Finn.” I figure I need to read it, and I have found the best way for me to do it. I am listening to the audiobook version as I walk two miles every day.  Patrick Fraley does a brilliant job of reading it, using many different voices to portray the characters. I’m beginning to see why some people consider it the “Great American Novel.”  As you probably know, it has been banned a number of times over the years.  The first time that happened Twain was pleased, saying the banning would sell an additional 25,000 copies.  No doubt subsequent bannings have also sold a lot of copies.