Books finished in December:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)
Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class (Wildavsky Forum Series), by Robert Frank. Good short version of Frank’s ideas about positional goods, inequality, expenditure cascases, taxes, etc.
The Men Who Stare at Goats, by Jon Ronson. Did the US military have a program that tried to teach soldiers how to stare animals to death? This and related questions are explored in Ronson’s book about supernatural methods and the military. It is funny but does raise real questions about knowledge, on part of both the protagonists and the reader.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The classic story of the good, but boring Dr Jekyll who transforms himself into the vital and evil Mr Hyde. Jekyll comes to loath him, but has become addicted. I enjoyed it.
Reports from Nuremberg, by Harold Burson. Radio reports from the Nuremberg trial. We hear the formal indictment, which consisted of four charges:
2. Crimes against the peace, planning, preparing , initiating and waging a war of aggression in violation of int treaties.
3. War crimes. Wanton destruction of towns, villages and cities not justified by mil necessity.
4. Crimes against humanity. Extermination, enslavement and deportation of peoples, persecution on political, racial and religious grounds.
Will try to prove in open court.
24 names. 20 present. 12 sentenced to death, 7 to prison terms, 3 acquitted, 2 trials did not proceed. Get to know the courtroom and the people involved through the radio report. The apparent normality of the accused is mentioned explicitly.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not sure what to say that this story was about, but an entertaining, absurd plot. Very short.
Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age, by Steven Johnson. Peer networks to save the world! The book lacks a discussion of possible trade-offs (like “Everything bad is good for you” had). Not Johnson’s best.
All of These People: A Memoir, by Fergal Keane. Journalist Fergal Keane’s stories of trouble in Northern Ireland, South Africa, and personal life. Fitting to read now, as Nelson Mandela just passed away. I did not know that the apartheid regime in South Africa was engaged in torture. Keane makes a point of always being understanding of his subjects. I do not know Keane as a journalist, but the book was ok.
The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris. Tim has to walk. Why or where to he does not know, despite his efforts to find out. Existentialism.
Then We Came to the End: A Novel, by Joshua Ferris. Office life. Read about half of it. Some funny bits.
Ratings and additional books are in the library.