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Arts & Entertainment "Beauty in art is often nothing but ugliness subdued." The written word, the spoken word, performance art, visual art. What is "Art?" From television advertising to opera, comic books to classic literature, vacation snapshots to the Sistine Chapel Frescoes; we are exposed to art every day. What is art to you?

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Old 01-09-2011, 02:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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This week I've mostly been reading...

No big lists of books please, just a heads up on what you are currently enjoying.


Author is: Pat Gilbert

Passion is a fashion.. one of Joe Strummer's better known witticisms,
I never knew that his real name was John Mellor though... .

This is an updated copy that take into account Strummers death. Previously the only biog worth it's salt was Donn Letts' film 'Westway to the world' but this goes much deeper into the backgrounds and the influences of the band... I picked it up for £3 in HMV.. total bargain and I'm still reading it..
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Old 01-09-2011, 02:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Mao's Great Famine, by Frank Dikotter.



Review

`Frank Dikötter has written a masterly book that should be read not just by anybody interested in modern Chinese history but also by anybody concerned with the way in which a simple idea propagated by an autocratic national leader can lead a country to disaster, in this case to a degree that beggars the imagination ... The book is extremely clearly written, avoiding the melodrama that infused some other recent broadbrush accounts of Mao's sins ... Dikötter's superb book pulls another brick from the wall.' --Jonathan Fenby, Observer

`A work of brilliant scholarship finally reveals the full extent of the horrors visited on the Chinese people by Mao during the Great Leap Forward ... Meticulous ... It is hard to exaggerate the achievement of this book in proving that Mao caused the famine.' --Michael Sheridan, Sunday Times

'Gripping ... Dikotter's painstaking analysis of the archives shows Mao's regime resulted in the greatest "man-made famine" the world has ever seen.' --Daily and Sunday Express


Product Description

Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up and overtake Britain in less than 15 years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives. Access to Communist Party archives has long been denied to all but the most loyal historians, but now a new law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era. Frank Dikotter's astonishing, riveting and magnificently detailed book chronicles an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented. Dikotter shows that instead of lifting the country among the world's superpowers and proving the power of communism, as Mao imagined, in reality the Great Leap Forward was a giant - and disastrous - step in the opposite direction. He demonstrates, as nobody has before, that under this initiative the country became the site not only of one of the most deadly mass killings of human history (at least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death) but also the greatest demolition of real estate - and catastrophe for the natural environment - in human history, as up to a third of all housing was turned to rubble and the land savaged in the maniacal pursuit of steel and other industrial accomplishments. Piecing together both the vicious machinations in the corridors of power and the everyday experiences of ordinary people, Dikotter at last gives voice to the dead and disenfranchised. Exhaustively researched and brilliantly written, this magisterial, groundbreaking account definitively recasts the history of the People's Republic of China.
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Old 01-09-2011, 02:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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^ Blimey thats impressive Jizz ,,,,,,,, I,m reading an old Tate + Lyle cookbook I bought in last weeks boot sale ,,,,,,,,cica 1964 cost me 10p ,,,,,,,,, gonna make some chocolate brownies this weekend
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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^^ Is it good then Jizzy? I read one of the more recent histories of Mao and it was terrifyingly brutal under his regime. It's great to see writers making use of new archive material to add to what we think we already know.

^Ah chocolate brownies.. a book with a happy ending.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Really interesting but it's just taking me ages to read it, hardly any free time to sit and have a read at the moment!
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I know what you mean, I'm constantly on the computer or the phone etc and I just bought a couple of books to purposely switch off from it all. It's great, I haven't enjoyed the peace so much in ages, I find it's good for my concentration too.
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Old 01-09-2011, 04:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sadly, all I've been reading lately is Teakdoor. But the last book I read was this one, and highly recommend it.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a 2007 book by Canadian author Naomi Klein

Quote:
The book argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman have risen to prominence in some countries because they were pushed through while the citizens were reacting to disasters or upheavals. It is implied that some man-made crises, such as the Falklands war, may have been created with the intention of being able to push through these unpopular reforms in their wake.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Japanese Crime novels.

Just finished "Out" by Natsuo Kirino. I'm not much into female writers but this Japanese gal can weave a plot pretty good.




Plot Summary
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The Life of Pi:

Interesting, then boring, then good, then WEIRD, then good again.

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Old 01-09-2011, 08:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Of the work in embodied philosophy and cognitive linguistics, this by far the most careful, cogent, and through exposition. It is not light reading--it assumes a high level of education and a high degree of familiarity with Western philosophy, but it is profoundly rewarding.

Johnson develops a theory of image schemas as the preconceptual links between our embodied experiences and our sophisticated abilities to use language, including the theory of conceptual metaphor he codeveloped with George Lakoff. He offers many different sources of evidence ranging from gesture to studies of epistemic modality in logic and linguistics to phenomenology to aesthetics and art. The second half of the book largely explores the philosophical, historical, and psychological elaborations of the notion of a schema.

Amazon.com: The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason (9780226403182): Mark Johnson: Books
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jizzybloke
Mao's Great Famine, by Frank Dikotter.
You bloody intellectual...

Quote:
Originally Posted by somtamslap
The Life of Pi:
Quite fancied a read of that...
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:06 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm currently reading two books. It's fairly standard for me to have more than one going at a time. Some I finish in days, others take me months.

1) James Ellroy- My Dark Places
The copy I have must have been an early promo or something. There's no fly-leaf and no synopsis, so I just started reading it this morning with no clue what it was about. It's an easy read. The first 70+ pages read like a police procedural. When I found out it was based on his mother's murder, that made it all the more interesting and strange.

From Wikipedia: "My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir is a 1996 book, part investigative journalism and part memoir, by American crime-fiction writer James Ellroy. Ellroy's mother Geneva was murdered in 1958, when he was 10 years old, and the killer was never identified. The book is Ellroy's account of his attempt to solve the mystery by hiring a retired Los Angeles County homicide detective to investigate the crime. Ellroy also explores how being directly affected by a crime shaped his life - often for the worse - and led him to write crime novels."

2) Daniel H. Wilson - Robopocalypse
Got about ten pages into this one the other night before falling asleep. Seems promising, something along the lines of World War Z but with robots instead of zombies. Written by the robotics engineer who previously penned How to Survive a Robot Uprising, it's being adapted for the screen by Senor Spielbergo.

3) The Financial Times and the Economist.
What can I say, I'm a miserable bastard. I find that the FT has the best international news of the papers I can get delivered to my apartment. The Economist is a bit of a struggle to get through on the short train rides I take, but if I can finish one before the next issue arrives I usually feel quite proud of myself.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A collection of good motorbike road trip tales in Africa and South America experienced by the author. They were originally magazine articles. Quite funny and readable, he gets pissed and falls off a lot, but it'll probably only take a couple of days to read.
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Two on the go at the moment-

"Saigon" by Anthony Grey, fiction

"Yalta, the price of peace" by S.M. Plokhy, the historic encounter and it's consequences.

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Old 07-09-2011, 03:19 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Finished that Dan Walsh one, 'twas alright and some interesting and funny bits but its too fractured due to being a collection of articles, should have re-wrote them as a cohesive whole...bit lazy really.

Anyway, I've just started reading Ted Simons "Jupiters Travels" about the author who rode a motorbike around the world solo in the late seventies and visited 54 countries. It's got excellent reviews on Amazon and the like and is considered to be one of the best motorbike travel books written.

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Old 07-09-2011, 03:22 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Haven't started it yet, but it's cued up in my Kindle (it got surprisingly good reviews):

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Old 07-09-2011, 09:36 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Just finished "The Upside Of Irrationality" by Dan Ariely, and "What Do You Care What Other People Think" by Richard Feynman.
Just started Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue: English And How It Got That Way" which is really very interesting.

Just about to buy "Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes" by Andrzej Łobaczewski.
Currently I'm reading about this book on the web, and I think it's one of the most important works of out time......and I don't say that lightly ! Previously I used to avoid books that had anything to do with "evil", but this book is very different. If you are wondering at how people like Mao Tse Tung and Stalin came into power, here is an explanation, and a possible solution. Basically, these people are sociopaths, or psychopaths. Here is what a Swiss psychiatrist said about the book Political Ponerology:
I have never read anywhere else the things Łobaczewski speaks about. No other book has treated the subject in this way. It was immediately useful for me in my work. The things he affirms about perverse/pathological behaviour - in conflicts in business as well as in the political sphere where we see more and more conflicts and more and more people of this type - immediately helped me to better understand, for example, the functioning of these individuals who create conflicts in their work and who, wherever they go, pollute the atmosphere.
"When psychopaths are the policy makers in government and the CEOs of big business, the way they think and reason - their 'morality' - becomes the common culture and 'morality' of the population over which they preside. When this happens, the mind of the population is infected in the way a pathogen infects a physical body. The only way to protect ourselves against this pathological thinking is to inoculate ourselves against it, and that is done by learning as much as possible about the nature of psychopathy and its influence on us. Essentially, this particular 'disease' thrives in an environment where its very existence is denied, and this denial is planned and deliberate."
Read a review of it here: The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade: Make Us Believe that Evil Comes from Others -- Science of the Spirit -- Sott.net

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Old 07-09-2011, 11:17 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Just finished a four-volume quartet by Simon Scarrow on Napoleon and Wellington. About 1,000 pages per volume. Really excellent! Volumes three and four were particularly good, as the first two volumes were setting the stage. 9/10.
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Old 07-09-2011, 11:25 AM   #19 (permalink)
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^ That,s impressive DK I am afraid I would never have the attention span to be able to accomplish that , but admire anyone who can
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Old 07-09-2011, 11:41 AM   #20 (permalink)
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^Had major surgery a while ago. Having been cut open like a lab rat, I've had some time on my hands while (slowly) healing up. Also read the first two volumes of Rick Atkinson's trilogy on the early battles (North Africa and Italy) of WWII. Waiting on the final volume, but it takes him about seven years to pump out each volume. Both reads are amazing in their independent confirmation that virtually all generals are hugely flawed individuals.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:15 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Yes....generals are still only human beings suffering from the human condition.
To complement your reading about battles in Africa in WW2, you might like to read about Jasper Maskelyne (1902–1973). He was a British stage magician in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of an established family of stage magicians.
He worked for British military intelligence during the Second World War, creating large-scale ruses, deception, and camouflage.
His largest illusion was to conceal Alexandria and the Suez Canal to misdirect German bombers. He built a mockup of the night-lights of Alexandria in a bay three miles away with fake buildings, lighthouse, and anti-aircraft batteries.
In 1942 he worked in Operation Bertram, before the Battle of El alamein. His task was to make German Field Marshal Rommel think that the attack was coming from the south when British General Montgomery planned to attack from the north. In the north, 1,000 tanks were disguised as trucks. On the south, the Magic Gang created 2,000 fake tanks with convincing pyrotechnics. There was a fake railway line, fake radio conversations, and fake sounds of construction. They also built a fake water pipeline and made it look as if it would never be ready before attack.
See article in Wikipedia:

Jasper Maskelyne - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There is some controversy about his role though.

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Old 07-09-2011, 03:39 PM   #22 (permalink)
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^Thanks, Dancer. I have read a lot about a variety of deception operations in different wars, but don't recall this guy's name. Will see what I can find on him in Amazon.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:50 PM   #23 (permalink)
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oops...double post
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:52 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Can't remember the name of the book, but it was very entertaining. The one I quoted before I altered this post may not be it.The wikipedia page has some links though.
At one stage, they thought that the Germans had not seen their fake tanks, and a German tank column was approaching. So they faked a couple of flashes, as if the sun had accidentally reflected off their armor. The Germans saw and turned around, which was just as well, as the war may have gone quite differently. It was a crucial moment in a particular battle.

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Old 07-09-2011, 03:58 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Thanks. Looked for it on Amazon, but they don't stock it. They do have sites that have it new and used, but none of them ship overseas. I will have somebody in the US get it for me.
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