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December 09, 2010


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"Cadillac Desert" was my favorite book a decade ago because it opened my eyes; and because it was so masterfully written. It should be required reading for every Arizonian.

Hey! Where in your list is "The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart."?

For an overview of the big picture, I would suggest including Bertrand Russell's timeless, "A History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day."

What happens when an empire picks up its tent and moves to greener pastures? John Julius Norwich's "Byzantium" trilogy is a fun read covering the millenium of that empire's history. It is a history that is taught to few Americans.

To me, the central lesson of this history is to not surrender the freeholding, economic center of an empire to a weakening concentration of wealth into the hands of ever fewer.

Regarding Russian history: My girlfriend is Russian, so I have recently been studying their history and language. After scanning a few short histories of Russia, I discovered Orlando Figes, "Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia". Mr. Figes will connect you to this history in fascinating ways.

BTW, I 'read' "A History of Western Philosophy" via the audiobook read by Geoffrey Sherman. Audiobooks combined with an iPod make an excellent gift; especially for those of us who are wearing out their eyes. :)

"The truly great history of Phoenix or Arizona has yet to be written." - Rogue

¿Y en qué lengua originario está que usted piensa la historia de Arizona será escrita?

I'm thinking of re reading Ed Abbey's "The Monkeywrench Gang" and narrating a few vignettes to my grandchildren. Were I more talented, I'd write a large print financial sequel to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Even though it would be a childrens' story it might impart a great deal more knowledge than John Q. Public currently retains. The other books listed would appeal to my Mensa-type brother but I'd rather target kids and low-wattage adults!

Hi Jim,

"A History of Western Philosophy", "Natasha's Dance", and Norwich's Byzantine Trilogy are all very approachable.

Also, please don't associate me with Mensa. 'IQ' is a very poor measure of any quality of real value.

Rate's Russian girlfriend, "Rate, Darling, what are you doing on the internet at four in the morning?"

Rate: "First of all, Dear, call me RC, not Rate."

Rate's Russian girlfriend, "Don't change the subject, what are you doing on the internet at 4 am?? "

Rate, " I'm posting a bunch of comments on Jon's blog."

Rate's Russian girlfriend, "Alright, if you don't want to answer, that's fine, but you don't have to lie."

Rate, " OK, you caught me, I was reading news updates about Lindsay Lohan and all the Kardashians."

Rate's Russian girlfriend, "See, now was that so hard? Good night, or should I say morning? Don't forget to take the dog out for a walk. Call me when breakfast is ready."

Rate, "Yes, dear"


Wow, azrebel, are there really guys like that?

Though, I'll admit that you're right about one thing: I walk her big, ugly hound a lot! That dog loves me!

Also, I'm currently on EST.

Andrew Bacevich's "Washington Rules" and "The Limits to Power" are stunning and sobering discussions of our failing empire.

don't mind telling you, I'm missing Emil. ( : - (

Thanks a metric ton, azrebel. Until today, apparently I had escaped all knowledge of "the Kardashians". Your dialogue above took me to Wikipedia where I was reminded of why I avoid American television; except for a few shows on the Comedy Channel.

Folks have been standing in line to buy Palin and Bush's books. Is there a better bellwether of the dumbing down of our country?

I agree with you Jim. Plus, I would like to formally nominate the residents of Glendale, AZ as the biggest schmucks in the state. They continue to allow their city to hand out untold millions to sports franchises, which in 5 to 10 years, will leave them holding the bag along with two empty arenas. The sheep are asleep and they don't even know they're being sheared.

Blood And Thunder, by Hampton Sides. I couldn't put it down, and since I'm not a literary critic I'm certain that it's good.

I miss Emil, too.

"Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War" by Karl Marlantes. Intense quasi-autobiographical account of being a marine in the jungle.

A "novel" that is "quasi-autobiographical" about a Marine. Hmmmmm. Perhaps, the true autobiography was not interesting enough to be published? How could a Marine in Vietnam not have an experience interesting enough so that an accurate account would be sufficient for publication?

I know a Marine who was in charge of a base swimming pool in Vietnam. His greatest danger was telling a General that the pool was closed and he could not go swimming. His story would need to be "quasi-autobiographical".

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. A stunning, mouth dropping examination of the destructive economic empirebuilding and "manifest destiny" of Milton Friedman's free market economics.

Speaking of 'Nam, I meant to add Philip Caputo's masterful memoir,"A Rumor of War." In the prologue, he writes that he hopes the book will help America avoid another hopeless, destructive adventure. He adds, "But I doubt it." And of course Jim Webb's classic, "Fields of Fire."

Speaking of books, the Rep just did a nice piece on Jon the mystery writer . . photo and all! They referred to him as a "contrarian" while at the Rep. Better they should have called him a soothsayer because (long ago) he predicted how and why Phoenix and environs would crater.

John Boehner should try reading some of these books; however, I fear they might make him cry...

BTW AZRebel, Glendale only has one arena. It is usually empty only during a Coyotes game ;-) LOL! How ironic but that is what a losing team does to a franchise.

The stadium, on the other hand, has a pretty good track recording going for it even during this losing season. Nonetheless, I agree these handouts from Glendale for the Coyotes is beyond ridiculous; almost as ridiculous as Hockey in the desert.

LOL, I almost forgot . . . "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" by Milan Kundera.

"The truly great history of Phoenix or Arizona has yet to be written."

Good News! David Mapstone has written a grant proposal to write a new history of Phoenix and Arizona.

Now he just has to live through the end of 'South Phoenix Rules'.

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