This book in a sentence: "No one knows what the hell they're doing, so don't give them too much power."
The lessons in this book would be great for a p...moreThis book in a sentence: "No one knows what the hell they're doing, so don't give them too much power."
The lessons in this book would be great for a precocious yet bratty child. Every time his/her parents tell him/her (oh screw it, I will refer to this child as "It") they are doing something for It's own good, little It can reply "Oh really? And just what is 'good' for me, huh? How were you able to determine what 'good' is anyway? Have you ever thought that your idea of good will curtail my inherent freedoms, inevitably leading to a state of affairs where I am no more than your slave and you are my master?"
Little It could then retreat to his room, use the wood from his bed to build a barricade whilst demanding to know the identity of John Galt and refusing to eat It's peas.(less)
Exhaustive history of the oil industry in the Caspian region. The author focuses on the period between 1980 and 1995 when the region really opened up...moreExhaustive history of the oil industry in the Caspian region. The author focuses on the period between 1980 and 1995 when the region really opened up to foreign investment. There a lot of players involved over long periods of negotiation , but the author includes a time line to help the reader keep things straight. The lengths to which the companies involved went to close the deals made me realize how large the stakes in oil exploration are. (less)
Great read. Do the details of America's energy policy seem convoluted and too complex to comprehend? Are you unable to overcome the cognitive dissonan...moreGreat read. Do the details of America's energy policy seem convoluted and too complex to comprehend? Are you unable to overcome the cognitive dissonance caused by a President who talks about spreading democracy in the Middle East, but then goes on a tour of his ranch whilst holding hands with a Saudi despot? Then you'd be doing yourself a favor by picking this up. In 200 short pages, the author lays out how our economy's dependence on foreign oil has caused the nation's energy policy and foreign policy to cross paths, often with dubious and ideologically ironic results. Lots of nuts and bolts information regarding consumption and available reserves, as well as an overview and analysis of the geopolitical maneuvering to gain prominence in oil-producing regions. (less)
Excellent introduction and analysis of the presence of child soldiers in the conflicts of the emerging nations. I felt that Signer does a very good jo...moreExcellent introduction and analysis of the presence of child soldiers in the conflicts of the emerging nations. I felt that Signer does a very good job of explaining what conditions result in childern going to war, how they are indoctrinated and used, and why their presence in the conflict zones tend to lengthen and intensify those conflicts. (less)
This book attempts to explain the recent success of the Republican party and the failure of the Democrats. The premise is simple: the Republicans are...moreThis book attempts to explain the recent success of the Republican party and the failure of the Democrats. The premise is simple: the Republicans are comprised of two major factions, the pro-business limited government camp and the evangelical morally conservative camp. The recurring dynamic between these two groups is that they are willing to make concessions to secure political victory. The Democrats, on the other hand, are comprised of eight groups each competing to set the agenda. Since many of the groups draw their identities from single issues, compromise is seen as selling out. Working for electoral victory is almost an afterthought. They lack the political flexibility and unitary desire to win that would allow them to meet the high level of organization exhibited by the Republicans.
This is an inside account of the evolution of the Democratic Party since the 60s. The author, who identifies himself as once being a member of the New Left, gives a personal and detailed history of a party that has moved from a core base founded on organized labor to a coalition of various leftists and moderates. The author also goes on to discuss how the extremism and incompetence of the Republican Party under the current administration has caused many people to reconsider the Democrats as a legitimate counterweight to that extremism. The author contends that the Democrats could be on the verge of forming the workable, election winning, progressive coalition that has eluded them for so long. Although I agree that is a possibility, I don't know if the Democrats, as a whole, posses the presence of mind to realize that, let alone the cohesion necessary to translate that potential into reality.
I think this is a great book for people who want to better understand the significant organizational differences between these two parties, as well as get a better understanding of the internal and external challenges that have plagued the Democrats for the past few decades.(less)
Good primer on the foreign policy strategy of the Bush administration. Actually, "strategy" might not be the right word, as it implies there is some s...moreGood primer on the foreign policy strategy of the Bush administration. Actually, "strategy" might not be the right word, as it implies there is some sort of unifying structure to it. Perhaps "attitude" should be used instead. As in "the Bush administration's misinformed notion that America can unilaterally reform despotic regimes into liberal democracies though a combination of tough talk, refusal to normalize relations, and in some cases, precision bombing, resulted in an attitude that alliances were a waste of time, everyone in the world wants American-style democracy, and you are either good or evil." That sounds about right.
This book is a brief history of the ideological seeds that found roots in Bush's White House and resulted in things like the Iraq War and North Korea's acquisition of nuclear weapons. (less)
A very short book about the doublefaced nature of the Clintons, mostly Bill. The premise of the book is that Clinton has used the concept of "triangul...moreA very short book about the doublefaced nature of the Clintons, mostly Bill. The premise of the book is that Clinton has used the concept of "triangulation" to achieve and maintain power. Simply put, triangulation is taking like a populist but acting like an oligarch. The author, Christopher Hitchens, makes the points that Clinton came to power on a message of helping those in need, and when in office, he essentially eliminated the existing welfare system, abandoned universal health care, rented out the Lincoln Bedroom for donations, and generally abandoned his platform in an effort to stave off criticism from the Right. Hitchens also details how Clinton has used intimidation and alienation to deal with his critics.
Overall, I think Hitchens doesn't make a good case. Although I agree with his premise, if I was someone who wasn't already aware of these indiscretions I wouldn't find his arguments compelling. First, the book feels more like anecdotes than a investigative piece of journalism. The details are vague, and the prose is at times confusing. I enjoy Hitchens' commentary pieces in various periodicals I've read, but I think this book is lacking.(less)