Wow. What an amazing, enlightening, inspiring book.
I've never read a book that seems targeted at business management technique or strategy that read...moreWow. What an amazing, enlightening, inspiring book.
I've never read a book that seems targeted at business management technique or strategy that read like a novel. While the plot of this novel is a bit shallow, it makes the material so much easier to read and absorb.
As I read this book, it occurred to me the authors are really saying the key to all productive relationships is humility. But, that's just too vague of a concept (and would make for a much shorter book), so they broke it down into cause and effect discussions from multiple angles to demonstrate evidence of its truthfulness.
I can't help feeling the urge to purchase a copy of this book for every one in my family and those I work with. It's that profound.(less)
Tonight, I finished reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer, the bestselling author of the Twilight saga of young adult vampire novels. The Host is Meyer'...more
Tonight, I finished reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer, the bestselling author of the Twilight saga of young adult vampire novels. The Host is Meyer's first foray into "adult" fiction and I hope this is just a sign of many things to come. I really enjoyed this book a lot.
The HostWhy is The Host categorized as "adult" fiction? What makes it different than the other Meyer books? Well, the themes are more mature, that's for sure. The romance is amped up a couple notches, but I think any 16 year-old would be fine reading it.
A large portion of the story takes place in a complex of underground caves which I thought was a bit of a cop-out from a writing standpoint. Putting the characters into such a limited set of scenery conveniently eliminated a lot of potentially complex variables in the story. Meyer makes an effort to make up for it, though, by defining her characters with abundant detail. The dialogue between the characters was so natural to me, I often found myself laughing out loud as I read because it was so amazing to me how believable the characters were.
Could The Host turn into another series of novels for Meyer? I wouldn't complain, but I kind of hope she doesn't limit herself to it.
The basic premise of the book is that Earth has been invaded by an alien race that embeds itself into the human body as a parasite. The humans that once controlled those bodies are seemingly shut off. The story begins as a young woman named Melanie -- an "uninfected"human rebel who has been hiding from the aliens -- is captured and is implanted with a "soul" (one of the parasite aliens) named Wanderer.
Melanie isn't about to just fade away like humans are supposed to. She makes life for Wanderer challenging and... interesting, but it's Melanie's memories that form the basis for changes in Wanderer's outlook on humanity, love, and life.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way Meyer plays the alien Wanderer as a way of looking through a fresh lens at humans in various circumstances. There were multiple times, as I was reading, I was impressed by the genius of that.
It's available in hardcover wherever your favorite novels are sold. (less)
And now, we get to "Eclipse." I bought it at a Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles because that's where I was when...moreYou knew this was coming, didn't you?
And now, we get to "Eclipse." I bought it at a Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles because that's where I was when I finished the second book.
The third book in the series makes up for the slowness of "New Moon" and, in my opinion, rises above both of the preceding novels to be the best of the crop.
Bella Swan, constantly occupied with becoming a vampire herself so that she can have immortality (and immortal love with Edward) finds herself caught between Edward (who obviously has come back), the affection of Jacob Black, the Cullen family, the less friendly non-human-coexisting vampires, and a pack of werewolves that exist to do one thing: eradicate vampires.
Oh, and she's also trying to finish and graduate from high school.
Yeah. Lots more action in this one. And, we learn more about what these vampires can and can't do, the history of the werewolves, the excruciating process someone goes through being "transformed" into a vampire, and some great history on the Cullens.
I thought this was going to be the end of the series because of the way the book ends, but book number 4 is coming to bookstores Fall 2008.(less)
Oh, you were really surprised when you came across this book review, weren't you? Yeah, I'm a big Glenn Beck fan. Proof of just how nuts I am about Gl...moreOh, you were really surprised when you came across this book review, weren't you? Yeah, I'm a big Glenn Beck fan. Proof of just how nuts I am about Glenn Beck: I wrote a Perl script to convert the live streams on the Glenn Beck Insider site (which include bumper music and other types of material not fit for the "podcast" MP3s) into MP3 or Ogg files I can listen to when I want. Yeah. I'm a fan... a geeky fan.
Okay, so about this book... It is very, very good. In my opinion, this is how all conservative pundits and talk radio jocks should write their books. While a significant chunk of the book is about hot political issues like illegal immigration and global warming, there are chapters about less political topics... like going to the video store or tipping service staff. It's a pretty well-rounded capture of what goes on in the mind of the third-most listened-to talk radio host in all of America.
The layout of the book is also impressive: Every page is printed in 4-color process and the text is accompanied by charts, graphs, and humorous drawings/pictures that go along with the topic at hand. The designers also gave each page a seemingly unique watermark, or background, that gives it a well-handled, worn look- like maybe you've spilled a cup of coffee, or in the case of Glenn, a can of Coke Zero, on it, by accident.
From my perspective, as a rabid fan of Glenn's, I found the book a bit lacking in detail. That is, aside from the packaging of the book itself, there really wasn't much new here for me, content-wise, that I hadn't already read on Glenn's site, heard on his radio program, seen on his television program, or experienced myself at one of his stage shows. But... hey... I'm the exception here. If you've had some exposure to Glenn Beck or none at all, this book is an excellent way to jump in and find out what he's about.
Want to buy the book? Head over to Amazon and get it. It may be hard to find at your smaller local bookstore as it has been one of the top New York Times bestsellers since its release in November of 2007.(less)
Milton Friedman was a highly visible economist, statistician, and policy commentator during the Twentieth Century. Before he died in 2006, he wrote an...moreMilton Friedman was a highly visible economist, statistician, and policy commentator during the Twentieth Century. Before he died in 2006, he wrote and co-wrote several books relating economic theory, policy studies, and statistics. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.
I just finished reading Free to Choose A Personal Statement, written by Thomas Friedman and his wife, Rose Friedman. The book is dense and full of well thought-out arguments for free markets, smaller government, and how policies that adhere to these principles will result in greater liberty and freedom for the people that live under them.
This book is almost thirty years old and it shows. Many of the numbers the Friedmans use in the book are laughable today, especially those they use as salaries for the common man or the cost of an average home.
It’s fascinating, however, they write at the end of the Carter administration that “the tide is turning.”
The failure of Western governments to achieve their proclaimed objectives has produced a widespread reaction against big government. In Britain the reaction swept Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979 on a platform pledging her Conservative government to reverse the socialist policies that had been followed by both Labour and earlier Conservative governments ever since the end of World War II.
“Free To Choose” is organized in chapters that each spend a liberal amount of print on a specific category of policy thinking. The first chapter, “The Power Of The Market” spends nearly 30 pages covering the ideals of a free market, the dangers of price controls, and the role of government with respect to markets. The second chapter is devoted to governments’ role in free trade and overall liberty and economic growth. Hint: Friedman isn’t a fan of tariffs or any other kind of government meddling with trade between nations. He offers a compelling historical argument for free trade by examining the governance and trade policies of Japan during the latter half of the 19th century and India during the latter half of the 20th century.
The third chapter, “The Anatomy of Crisis,” is perhaps the most relevant to readers today. It examines the modern banking system in the United States from the inception of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the depression nobody remembers from 1920-21, and the Great Depression of the 1930s. For those who believe we are currently at risk of suffering from the same mistakes or making greater ones today in our vulnerable financial status, this chapter offers some brilliant insights.
In the conclusion of this chapter, the Friedmans write:
In one respect the (Federal Reserve) System has remained completely consistent throughout. It blames all problems on external influences beyond its control and takes credit for any and all favorable occurrences. It thereby continues to promote the myth that the private economy is unstable, while its behavior continues to document the reality that government is today the major source of economic instability.
The fourth chapter, “Cradle to Grave,” examines the development of the welfare state beginning in Europe in the late 1800s and then in the U.S. in the 1920s. Friedman spotlights health, education, and welfare in this chapter because at the time the book was written, they fell under a single department within the federal government.
The waste is distressing, but it the least of the evils of the paternalistic programs that have grown to such massive size. Their major evil is their effect on the fabric of our society. They weaken the family; reduce the incentive to work, save, and innovate; reduce the accumulation of capital; and limit our freedom. These are the fundamental standards by which they should be judged.
The following chapter challenges the popular notions of what “equality” means. The Friedmans distinguish between the following:
* Equality of outcome * Equality of opportunity * Equality before God
Concerning equality of outcome, they write:
Life is not fair. It is tempting to believe that government can rectify what nature has spawned. But it is also important to recognize how much we benefit from the very unfairness we deplore.
This chapter goes on to examine the effects of egalitarian policies as practiced in the US and in other modern societies.
… a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with greater freedom and greater equality. Though a by-product of freedom, greater equality is not an accident. A free society releases the energies and abilities of people to pursue their own objectives. It prevents some people from arbitrarily suppressing others. It does not prevent some people from achieving positions of privilege, but so long as freedom is maintained, it prevents those positions of privilege from being institutionalized; they are subject to continued attack by other able, ambitious people. Freedom means diversity but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s disadvantaged to become tomorrow’s privileged and, in the process, enabled almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a fuller and richer life.
Next, the Friedmans attach “What’s Wrong with Our Schools?”
It’s no surprise their position is that centralized planning is a substantial culprit of the problem with schools. Again, freedom is the answer, they say. Vouchers, for example, tied with freedom to choose public schools, are an ideal way to encourage competition between private and public schools and drive education quality up.
I found this passage about public subsidies of higher education shocking considering what we have observed in 2009:
When we first started writing about higher education, we had a good deal of sympathy for the (justification that public subsidies was an investment in future productivity and economic growth of society). We no longer do. In the interim we have tried to induce the people who make this argument to be specific about the alleged social benefits. The answer is almost always simply bad economics. We are told that the nation benefits by having more highly trained people, that investment in providing such skills is essential for economic growth, that more trained people raise the productivity for the rest of us. These statements are correct. But none is a valid reason for subsidizing higher education. Each statement would be equally correct if made about physical capital (i.e., machines, factory buildings, etc.), yet hardly anyone would conclude that tax money should be used to subsidize the capital investment of General Motors or General Electric.
Milton Friedman is undoubtedly spinning in his grave today.
Following education is the question of “Who Protects the Consumer?” This chapter discusses the development of the Interstate Commerce Commission, The Food and Drug Administration, The Consumer Products Safety Commission, The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Friedmans raise some very valid questions about the government’s role in establishing these authorities and whether they are effective in their stated objectives.
For example, many are familiar with Ralph Nader’s book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” in which he supposedly documents the safety risk the Chevrolet Corvair was to its occupants. This book ignited a firestorm that eventually crushed the Corvair out of production and resulted in new government regulations pertaining to the manufacture of automobiles. It’s difficult to argue that the outcome was a bad thing, but what about the original premise? Was the Corvair that bad? My dad was a Corvair collector and had two that he tinkered with, restored, and drove around on occasion. I always thought they were odd cars because the engine was in the back. The Friedmans point out that ten years after Nader’s book landed, “one of the agencies that was set up in response to the subsequent public outcry finally got around to testing the Corvair that started the whole thing. They spent a year and a half comparing the performance of the Corvair with the performance of other comparable vehicles and they concluded, ‘The 1960-63 Corvair compared favorably with the other contemporary vehicles used in the tests.’”
Next is “Who Protects the Worker?” Here labor unions land square in the crosshairs. Also addressed are government interventions into work such as regulations against child labor, minimum wage laws, OSHA oversight, workers compensation, and more.
Chapter 9 is about inflation. This isn’t very relevant right now, but likely will deserve a re-read in a year or so.
Here, Friedman puts his statistician muscles to work and establishes through numbers a strong correlation between monetary control and consumer prices. When the the Treasury and the Federal Reserve flood the market with money, prices respond by going up.
The final chapter is a nice capstone on the book and discusses how the U.S. Constitution relates to many of the policies discussed and how it is eroded by some.
Appendix A is an interesting inclusion. It is the party platform from the Socialist party during the 1928 presidential campaign. The Friedmans go through each of the 14 items in the platform and demonstrate that despite the Socialist Party not having a chance in Hell of ever having a candidate elected, since 1928, just about each and every one of these ideas put forth by the Socialist Party has been enacted.
That’s something to think about.
“Free To Choose” is available in paperback at a MSRP of $15.00. It’s not a quick read, but definitely an informative and educational one. (less)
Alright, I promised before I would deliver a review of the book, The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes. You can get this book from Amazon.com.
The Forgott...moreAlright, I promised before I would deliver a review of the book, The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes. You can get this book from Amazon.com.
The Forgotten Man is a look at the events of the Great Depression in the United States during the 1930s from the perspective of policy. I found it to be a fascinating look into the lives and viewpoints of people who were involved in the landmark political events during this decade.
The book begins in 1927. Floods in the midwest caused widespread damage through a burgeoning heartland. Herbert Hoover -- Commerce Secretary for U.S. president Calvin Coolidge -- went to areas affected by the flooding to be of help. Hoover's presence on the scene of natural disaster like this set a new precedent of federal government involvement in disaster response.
Hoover was a paradox in the Coolidge administration and joining him in the Coolidge Cabinet was Andrew Mellon who served as Secretary of the Treasury. I'd heard of Andrew Mellon before. I think we all have. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grants funding for museums, performing arts, information technology and more. I'm sure I've heard the name a gazillion times announced as a major donor responsible for various public television programming.
I think Hoover and Mellon, personify the two core attitudes about policy in the late 1920s and going into the beginning of the Great Depression. Hoover's political philosophies were exemplified by his actions. He was an engineer who seemed to delight in architecting and managing solutions to problems. As a government official, he transferred that enthusiasm onto the government and a belief the federal government should be involved in helping people with big problems.
Hoover was elected president in 1928 and inaugurated in early 1929. In office for only a few months, Hoover presided over what became known as Black Tuesday in October 1929 -- the crash of the U.S. stock market many believe set off the Great Depression.
Like Coolidge, Hoover was a Republican. Hoover retained Andrew Mellon as his Secretary of Treasury, but Mellon had different policy ideas than Hoover. He was clearly more conservative and, as a result, became an unpopular figure as the country plunged into the worst economy ever.
Hoover was, of course, superceded by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 who then presided for an unprecedented 4 terms.
While Hoover was a moderate Republican who had leanings toward building a larger federal government with increased social programs, Roosevelt was a moderate Democrat who was popular among the rich business elite of the northeast.
While Hoover had smart businessmen in his camp to keep him somewhat tethered to more conservative policy, Roosevelt brought in clearly progressive and academic people to run the federal government with him. Roosevelt's cabinet used the Great Depression as an excuse to grow the government's role in people's lives. Many were fans of Joseph Stalin's rule in Russia and aspired to make the United States more like that country. This was, of course, before word got out that Stalin was slaughtering millions of people to "make things work."
The Forgotten Man traces the political, business, and personal lives of dozens of remarkable players during the 1930s. Besides the presidents and their cabinet members, outspoken religion leaders like Father Divine and business leaders like Wendell Wilkie are covered in amazing depth.
The book covers the contention between Roosevelt and the aging Supreme Court and Roosevelt's fuming animosity toward utility companies and the rich men that ran them, or pretty much any rich men at all. There were trials, witchhunts, and smear campaigns all orchestrated by the Roosevelt administration against men who had lost much of their wealth after The Crash, but still had more money than most people.
After reading this book, I think F.D.R. did a horrible job of managing the country during his first two terms in office. This book doesn't really expose much of Roosevelt's third and fourth terms, but we know Roosevelt is revered as a hero that helped The Allies win World War II. Before that, however, he seemed to have no clue how to effectively dictate healthy domestic or foreign policy.
I found out about this book after hearing about it on Glenn Beck's radio show. Glenn found this book particularly relevant today because the conditions of the financial markets today is similar to conditions prior to Black Tuesday. It is a frightening prospect to think we could see such an extreme and disasterous downturn in our economy and possibly see the country plunge into another lengthy depression. This book illustrates the best cure for a depression is not a leader that tries to bring government services to every man, woman and child, but a leader who will exercise conservative economic policy and limit federal spending.
Prior to reading this book, I really didn't know much about the political struggles of the Great Depression. All I really knew about F.D.R. was related to his wartime years. I generally believed stupid financial markets, bankers, traders, etc. were largely responsible for the Great Depression. Now... not so much.
Highly recommended reading for all Americans.(less)
America's most indispensable man. I agree. Political types love to quote Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, but I don't often hear...moreAmerica's most indispensable man. I agree. Political types love to quote Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, but I don't often hear or read quotes from George Washington. In my opinion, more people need to study the words, the life, and the decisions of our first president.
What is there to know about George Washington?
Washington was the last president to not belong to a political party. His top advisors (Jefferson and Hamilton) went on to lead opposing political parties (Republican and Federalist, respectively). How refreshing it would be today to have an executive leader that adhered, not to a party platform, but to the defence and promotion of principles embodied by the U.S. Constitution and Christian religion.
George Washington was revered by the public as a good, trustworthy man and a loyal patriot, devoted to the establishment of the United States as a sustainable republic. When was the last time you felt that way about an elected leader?(less)
Hey, everyone, it's the latest book from Glenn Beck! Of course, it wasn't written BY Beck, except for maybe the author's introduction and a few paragr...moreHey, everyone, it's the latest book from Glenn Beck! Of course, it wasn't written BY Beck, except for maybe the author's introduction and a few paragraphs here and there. His name is only on the book to boost sales. That being said, this is a great piece of work.
Contained within are twelve stories you've probably never heard of or read before. Considering this is a book from Glenn Beck, maybe you're inclined to think each of the stories in this collection shines a nice, flattering light on some Tea Party activist or Founding Father. No, not really. The individuals in this stories have been mostly forgotten by history despite their significant contributions to our country's past.
This book will leave you with equal parts awe and disappointment because that's where the truth lies. America and Americans have done some really amazing things and some really lousy things. The important thing is that we can learn from our history and this book assists with that. (less)
What an eye-opening glimpse into the past! This historical account, based on journals and books written by first-hand witnesses, details the experienc...moreWhat an eye-opening glimpse into the past! This historical account, based on journals and books written by first-hand witnesses, details the experiences of the Dodd family in Germany between 1933 and late 1937. William Dodd was called by President Roosevelt to serve as Ambassador to Germany. He took with him his wife, his son, and his daughter, both in their twenties. Most of this book seems to have been taken from the accounts told by Martha, Dodd's daughter, as she was the most prolific writer about the experiences.
The Dodds interacted with some of the worst creatures of the Nazi regime before they became such.
This story is clearly a warning to all who read it. Governments that do not fear the people are at risk of becoming feared by the people. There are multiple instances in the book where Nazi officials vocally complained about things Americans were doing. The U.S. Government's response was simply that those individuals were private citizens and their actions were protected by the U.S. Constitution as Free Speech. I am grateful for the reverence those American officials had for our rights then and hope we can continue to have such noble officials in our service in the future. (less)
I purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of ope...moreI purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of open source software. I chose to present this topic because I realized many up-and-coming technical workers and enthusiasts either weren't alive when many milestone events occurred or weren't cognizant of them or their significance.
This book far exceeded my expectations. I was an early adopter of Linux and open source software in the early 1990s, so I was witness to some of the innovations and big events that took place, but I had no idea about the details. Moody's book delves deep into the evolution of the early Linux kernel, how it lacked any networking capability at all, the controversy surrounding adding a network stack to the kernel, and other issues that came up that ultimately shaped Linux, its maintainer Linus Torvalds, and his lieutenants.
While the bulk of Moody's story explores the roots of Linux and its early history, it also explores other relevant open source projects that have made a significant mark such as GNU, Apache, Sendmail, Samba, and BIND. I learned several things about these projects and those involved that I hadn't known before.
Telling the history of the open source movement would not be complete without coverage of the companies that made open source their business or changed their business because of open source. It's disappointing how many of them are gone now, but when this book was published (2002) most were still ticking. Gone now are organizations like Netscape Communications, Caldera, Pacific Hi-Tech, and VA Linux/VA Research, but their roles in the movement can not be forgotten.
The only downside of this book is that Moody hasn't prepared an updated revision in the decade or so since it was published. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of the open source movement saw Microsoft as the enemy, the obstacle to the movement's success, and Moody covers this well. In the years since, however, I think the movement has started to recognize that Microsoft is not the roadblock they saw it as. It seems like every year for the last fifteen years, someone has declared it to be "the year of Linux on the desktop," but while Linux has gained more desktop users, it's still nowhere near that kind of a conquest... And that's okay.
In summary, I highly recommend this book as a way of gaining critical insight into the landmark years of the 1990s that defined the open source movement.(less)
I'd heard Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's story in bits and pieces on the radio and on Glenn Beck's TV shows, but I still had no idea how good it would be...moreI'd heard Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's story in bits and pieces on the radio and on Glenn Beck's TV shows, but I still had no idea how good it would be. This is yet-another book penned with the help of a professional author, but they really managed to leave the book feeling like it was straight out of Marcus's mouth.
The basic premise of this book is that Marcus Luttrell was a member of a Navy SEAL team -- an elite military force -- stationed in Afghanistan in 2005 and sent on a mission to spy on a remote village looking for a high-value military target and, if seen, take him out. The mission was compromised and, after a prolonged firefight with Taliban fighters, Marcus was the only one of his small 4-man team left alive. A helicopter full of SEALs sent to rescue Marcus and his fellow SEALs was attacked by the Taliban as well making this battle the single most-deadly fight in Navy SEAL history.
Marcus was listed as Missing In Action for several days as his family in Texas impatiently waited for news from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Marcus ran, fell, and crawled seven miles while being tracked by Taliban fighters and made his way to a small village where, surprisingly, he was cared for.
There's an immense amount of backstory about the preparation the typical Navy SEAL has to go through to get to be a SEAL. At first, I wasn't sure why this was necessary, but it makes sense later in the story when you consider what kind of people these soldiers were, what they had to endure in their training, and what their experiences had been prior to fighting America's enemies.
Not only did I learn a heck of a lot about Navy SEALs, I also learned a lot about the terrain, culture, and politics in rural Afghanistan. Marcus spends a good amount of time writing about ROE (Rules Of Engagement), the news media, and other issues soldiers have to take into consideration when dealing with enemies (and potential enemies) in battle. It was very eye-opening. (less)
I recently finished reading the book Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis and would like to present a mini-review of it.
This isn't a new book. It's been out for quite a while and has even spawned an A & E miniseries by the same name which is available on DVD. Could be a good Christmas gift. (*hint hint*)
Without going into too much of the detail of specific historical events surrounding the Revolutionary War and the creation of the Declaration Of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, Ellis's book explores the character and personality of some of the major players involved in these events.
Ellis doesn't really sugarcoat much. He tries to show the merits and flaws of each of the people he profiles in the book. Drawing from letters, journal entries, and newspaper articles written by, to, or about the people, this book shows some brutally honest aspects of the people and the times they were living in.
It was fascinating to follow the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as they bonded closely during the first congress meetings up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence (which Jefferson penned after Adams recommended him.). They continued as close friends as they reprepsented colonial interests abroad in France and England. Politics divided them during Adams' presidential administration and the election of 1800. It would be many years before they re-connected via letter-writing after they both retired from public life.
The book also talks about Washington, Hammilton, Burr, and Franklin as well, but the relationship of Adams and Jefferson is what really stood out to me, maybe because it parallels the left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican battles we see in politics today. The story gives hope that, in the end, we can find common ground. (less)
"Unintended Consequences" by John Ross is a scary, scary book. It's frightening partly because while the book is a work of fiction, so much of the sto...more"Unintended Consequences" by John Ross is a scary, scary book. It's frightening partly because while the book is a work of fiction, so much of the story is based in actual history. There's surprising amount of actual true stories in this novel, a lot of it stories most of us haven't heard before.
Did you know admired military men President Eisenhower, General MacArthur and General Patton participated in an operation in 1933 where they led troops against American citizens in the US and many innocent men were injured or killed as a result? Yeah, I didn't know it either, but it's documented: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army
I knew there were some pretty ridiculous federal anti-gun laws restricting the sale of automatic weapons (e.g. machine guns,) but what I didn't know is that the great-granddaddy of these laws, the National Firearms Act of 1934, was ruled unconstitutional in a federal court very soon after the law was enacted. The Supreme Court later reversed the lower court's decision, thereby upholding the law, but this was partly because there was no attorney defending the original defendants. The case went to the Supreme Court with a government prosecutor arguing for the government and nobody to represent the other side. The prosecutor got away with quite a bit he wouldn't have had there been a halfway intelligent lawyer there defending.
"Unintended Consequences" asserts that the National Firearms Act was passed as a result of the repeal of Prohibition. All those tax agents that had been prosecuting moonshiners and speakeasies during the era of Prohibition couldn't lose their jobs once Prohibition was repealed, so the National Firearms Act was passed to give them something to enforce.
John Ross covers lots of history in this book, from 1934, through World War II and straight into Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma City federal building bombing (which was blamed on a "gun nut.") Ross paints the US government as abusive, out of control, and downright evil in how they selectively enforce gun laws. The ATF is shown as frequently entrapping otherwise law-abiding citizens.
When a gun dealer and enthusiast who obeys every gun law to the letter crosses the ATF by embarrassing an agent attempting to entrap him at a gun show, the ATF plans its revenge on him. They plan a raid of his house and his friends' houses when they're out of town and plan to plant illegal evidence. What they don't anticipate is that he hasn't actually left town yet and he catches them in the act. This is the final straw for these men. They declare war on the government. (less)
This biography is not nearly as good as The Real George Washington, but it is still worth recommending to everyone. This book uncovers a great deal ab...moreThis biography is not nearly as good as The Real George Washington, but it is still worth recommending to everyone. This book uncovers a great deal about Jefferson, the life he lived, and the kind of man he was.
It is my belief, after reading this book, that Thomas Jefferson is exactly the kind of president the United States so badly needs today. (less)
The world is full of cowards and cowardly ideas. While this book does a great job of highlighting those, it also does a good job of pointing out plent...moreThe world is full of cowards and cowardly ideas. While this book does a great job of highlighting those, it also does a good job of pointing out plenty of brave alternatives.(less)
I purchased a copy of "John Adams" by David McCullough at a local grocery store a couple months ago and finally finished it this last week. The book w...moreI purchased a copy of "John Adams" by David McCullough at a local grocery store a couple months ago and finally finished it this last week. The book was first released in 2001 but, since then, the HBO television network has produced an award-winning mini-series based on the book and a repackaged reissue of the book was released..
John Adams I was very intrigued by John Adams after reading about him in the Joseph Ellis history narrative "Founding Brothers." What intrigued me most was his steadfast relationship with his wife Abigail and his on-again, off-again friendship with Thomas Jefferson.
"John Adams" peels away another layer and reveals an incredible amount of detail about the man and his roles in the early years of our country.
What impressed me most in the book was how relatively "solid" Adams was in his beliefs and his philosophies. Around the time he was elected the second president of the United States, there was a great amount of fervor within those involved in politics them to rally around political parties. Adams' political philosophy probably made him more of a federalist than a republican, but he refused to affiliate with either of the predominant movements at that time. This made him both popular and unpopular with both parties, but gave him a tremendous amount of freedom as president to do what he felt was right. Reading about this demonstrated to me just how counterproductive a two-party system can be, especially for executive-branch candidates.
John AdamsSo much of Adams' political beliefs are needed today. He was a frugal, sensible man who didn't see politics and public service as a life of celebrity or extravagance. He never felt he was above anyone else as was demonstrated by his pitching in to help fight fires when they broke out while he was in office. It's amazing to me to imagine the president of the United States standing in a chain line passing buckets of water down so that a burning building could be extinguished. Today it would be called a "publicity event" or some such nonsense.
When I finished the last chapter of the book, which covered Adams' death and the services and recognition paid to him afterward, I couldn't help but cry for a couple of minutes. After reading the book, which contains hundreds of excerpts of letters and speeches from Adams, I felt I had made some progress toward knowing the man. While I knew from the beginning he had died almost 200 years ago, reaching that part of the book and realizing everything he had done, said, and influenced in the 89 years of his life hit me like a pile of bricks. We owe a large debt of gratitude to this man.
In related news, the HBO miniseries (which I have not seen) is coming out on DVD this Tuesday, June 10, 2008. You can get it from Amazon.com.(less)