Che Guevara. Just the mention of his name amongst latinos invokes a myriad of reactions and discussions of his legacy, character, and political releva...moreChe Guevara. Just the mention of his name amongst latinos invokes a myriad of reactions and discussions of his legacy, character, and political relevance. Che is the most provocative figure in South American history and yet, you would be hard pressed to find any mention of him in public schools. Let's face it. Ernesto Guevara is too extreme, too liberal, too Anti-American, too Communist, and too violent for most people to respect his legacy. Some remember him for the role he played in Cuban military tribunals and executions, or for how his obsession with armed struggle against imperialism finally got him killed in Bolivia, or how his commitment to end social and economic inequalities through revolution inspired such movements around the world. After reading this biography, I see Che as an inspirational figure in his personal ideology, his courage as a revolutionary and guerilla fighter, and his selflessness and discipline in pursuit of his goals and the greater goal of equality for the people of South and Central America.
As a biography, 'Che' is as good as they come. Coming in at just under 800 pages Jon Lee Anderson has left no stone unturned researching Che's life. In preparation for this book, Anderson was given unprecedented access to letters from family and friends, interviews with those closest to Che, and even played and instrumental role in the discovery of Che Guevara's remains close to an airstrip in Vallegrande ending a mystery that took three decades to solve. The depth and the insight provided in this biography makes it hard to imagine that anything new can ever be discovered about the life of this revolutionary.
My admiration for Che doesn't come without first stating my categorical rejection of many of his beliefs and ideologies. Guevara believed in Communism and it's ability to bring economic and social equality to the poor and indigenous populations of Cuba and other countries enslaved by the capitalist agendas of Western power. But much of that ideology was based on his preconceived truth that citizens in a Communist society would always be satisfied with ""moral incentives"" for productivity in the workforce, and that the new socialist men are always more than happy to volunteer their labor and ""willingness to sacrifice"" for the greater good. His hatred of the United States and rejection of it's imperialist policies blinded him from seeing the benefits a capitalist society can bring. His infamous military tribunals and executions hardened his reputation and painted the Cuban revolution as band of ruthless war criminals. Most saw these executions as indefensible instead of being a necessary step toward quelling counter-revolutionary movements and dissent from pro Batista sympathizers.
In pop culture, Che represents revolution against oppressive forces.To have a little 'Che' in you means to rage against the machine, to fight for your rights and your beliefs, and to take matters into your own hands. To execute Che's legacy in literal terms would be to promote violence against the government and to adopt the Marxist views of socialism he championed. For me, the simple fight for equality in a world plagued by injustice is enough to invoke the spirit of Che and what he stood for. It is in that simple interpretation of the complex character of Ernesto Guevara that I find inspiration.(less)
This was my least favorite of Dan Brown's books. It was an easy read, but I found myself lost in all of the technical details of the technology based...moreThis was my least favorite of Dan Brown's books. It was an easy read, but I found myself lost in all of the technical details of the technology based plot. There were some twists and turns but I found it to be predictable towards the end and I endured some really boring chapters involving Susan's endless hours spent in the NSA's office. Wait for the movie if they ever make one.(less)
Probably the most thoughtful analysis of presidential leadership I have ever read. David Gergen always gives such a balanced critique of politics in s...moreProbably the most thoughtful analysis of presidential leadership I have ever read. David Gergen always gives such a balanced critique of politics in such a non-partisan way, it gives him unchallenged credibility in a crowded world of political hacks and overzealous journalists. Gergen's style is a breath of fresh air.(less)
This book completely blew me away. I supported Hillary during the primaries and thought I really knew her then. I realize now that I knew nothing abou...moreThis book completely blew me away. I supported Hillary during the primaries and thought I really knew her then. I realize now that I knew nothing about her, and respect is too small a word to describe the admiration I have for her. She's also a very talented writer. Funny, full of wit, inteligent and great at capturing her feelings about events that have taken place so long ago. She was so honest about her feelings of betrayal that it helped me establish a whole new found respect for her. This may be the best autobiography I have ever read. (less)
Empire's Workshop reminds us of the often forgotten or untold sins The U.S. has committed in relation to Latin America for the past two centuries and...moreEmpire's Workshop reminds us of the often forgotten or untold sins The U.S. has committed in relation to Latin America for the past two centuries and how our exploitation of the continent evolved to become Bush's preemptive national security policy, the basis for the Bush Doctrine. Sure, there is a lot of history to cover if you consider yourself a novice in South & Central American history, but Grandin fills in the blanks pretty well.
The main lesson learned from this book is provocative and open for debate, but the author makes a great case to support the main conclusion: If Washington was unable to bring prosperity, stability, and real democracy to Latin America, which was within it's 'sphere of influence' for so long, what makes it think it can bring it to the Middle East and other areas of the world? Dick Cheney's argument of the United States' leading role in bringing freedom to Latin American countries defies belief in the face of indisputable facts to the contrary presented in this book.
The material in this book also presents a sharp contrast to the anti Hugo Chavez rhetoric we hear in American media. Considering the Imperialistic policies of the U.S. have brought Latin America economic injustice, untold massacres of populations, human rights violations, and centuries of exploitation it is no wonder Chavez' politics are so anti-American. One cannot help but empathize with his views and see his economic, domestic, and socialist policies as pragmatic.
Please read this book if you are at all interested in this topic. You will learn a lot of new things.(less)
2009 has been an incredible year for Harvey Milk. Last month, President Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom and recently Governor Schwarzenegger ho...more2009 has been an incredible year for Harvey Milk. Last month, President Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom and recently Governor Schwarzenegger honored Milk by designating May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in California. It is the year which saw 'Milk', a critically acclaimed film based on his life, win 2 Academy Awards bringing Harvey's heroic story to a new generation. A year which saw the biggest gay rights march on Washington in history be led and organized by Harvey's most talented protege and good friend, Cleve Jones. More than 30 years after his assassination his lasting legacy is a testament to his impact on the gay movement, but it's the lack of progress since his death which is demonstrative of how crucial great leadership is in the advancement of civil rights.
This book is more than the biography of one man. It's a biography of the inception of the LGBT movement, and of a turbulent 1970's San Francisco; the most volatile political time in the city's history. Randy Shilts spends much of the book detailing the internal divide between established gay leaders and the anti-establishment ideals that Harvey Milk represented. What's key is there is much to be learned from the tactics Milk employed in fighting the Briggs initiative and in his refusal to simply support friendly liberal politicians in a effort to gain incremental equality. Milk believed that sucking up to leftist heterosexual Democrats got the movement nowhere, and his own candidacy for public office and action in office proved that theory.
Harvey's activism helped defeat California's proposition 6, a ballot initiative which moved to ban homosexuals from teaching in public schools. His sponsorship with supervisor Silver of the gay rights ordinance passed almost unanimously and extended employment non-discrimination protections to gays citywide. Even more importantly, Harvey Milk served as the de facto leader of a movement struggling to gain momentum against the uprising of anti-gay activists like Anita Bryant and the evangelicals who sought to repeal gay ordinances in places like Dade county.
Many people still debate whether Dan White's murder of Harvey was a simple civil dispute or a calculated political assassination. White certainly demonstrated his disdain for the gay movement in his countless public statements referring to gays as 'degenerates and incorrigibles', and didn't keep his hatred for Milk a secret after Milk failed to support initiatives White needed for his own district. If by killing Harvey, White hoped to stop the gay rights movement in it's tracks, he succeeded. But most of those closest to White believe he singled Milk out as being solely responsible for convincing Mayor Marscone to deny White's request to be reseated as city supervisor. His anti-gay sentiments may have only fueled his decision to murder Harvey Milk in cold blood.
This book is a great read for those who want to learn more about the history of our struggle. It's also a great cross section of big city politicking and local campaigning but most importantly this book is incredibly inspiring and a must read for any activist.(less)
After months of putting it off, I was finally able to read this book. It turns out I could have waited longer. The hype surrounding the Twilight serie...moreAfter months of putting it off, I was finally able to read this book. It turns out I could have waited longer. The hype surrounding the Twilight series, so far is overrated. I know I haven't read the last book 'Breaking Dawn', which I am told is worth the prerequisite of slogging through the first three stories, but I'm skeptical on how it might save the series.
To leave out 'Twilight' & 'New Moon' altogether and only critique 'Eclipse' for what it is would be simple. 'Eclipse' was mostly boring and uneventful until the conclusion, which wasn't that earth shattering either. I found myself hating Bella, who spends most of her time moping around and being miserable that she isn't a vampire and can't be with her star-crossed lover in every way. She decides to continue to overstimulate her relationship with her best friend/werewolf until he gets the wrong idea, offends her when he rightfully acts upon her mixed signals, and subsequently becomes the most tortured character in the series. As a reader I understand the impenetrable bond of Bella and Edward and sympathize with Jacob's futile attempts to win Bella's affection, but let's be honest. Bella is a flake. I wondered why are these two characters who are otherwise respectable heroes infatuated with such an undeserving and unremarkable human being? I'm not sure I've ever disliked a protagonist so much, while simultaneously still liking the story.
'Eclipse' is the worst book in the 'Twilight' saga (assuming 'Breaking Dawn' is all it's cracked up to be) and leaves much to be desired for the concluding chapter. Meyer has put together a not too imaginative story dripping with teen angst and has exploited our thirst for the timeless tale of vampires. love, and conflict. This is how she keeps us reading. Not because the characters and story line are that intriguing, but because there is a mostly untapped market for this genre especially amongst young adults. 'Twilight' is like the synthetic 'True Blood' to our thirst for vampire fiction. It quenches the thirst, but leaves us wanting more.(less)
My decision to read TOR was based mostly on the Lincoln hysteria Obama induced after his election last fall. Obama specifically identifies the book as...moreMy decision to read TOR was based mostly on the Lincoln hysteria Obama induced after his election last fall. Obama specifically identifies the book as something he will consult for the type of leadership and governing style he will adopt as president. After reading it I can certainly see why! This book not only provides a great cross section toward the character of Abe and each member of his diverse cabinet, but also tells the story of the Civil War, and the legendary administration that saved our country.
There's been talk in modern times that Lincoln may have been gay. In the 19th century, homosexuality was not defined like it is today, so we can't even be sure that Lincoln himself was aware of what his emotional attachments or alleged sexual relationships with other men meant in that regard. Goodwin simply provides the evidence: Lincoln felt more emotionally connected with his friend Joshua Speed than any other woman in his life and they shared a bed for four years. Lincoln's relationships with women were 'awkward' and his stepmother described him as 'not very fond of girls'. Most importantly it seems his only true emotional intimacies were with men, something he could never share with any of the women in his life. Nothing we know about him can prove he ever engaged in a sexual or romantic relationship with other men, but it may be possible, however unlikely that he did.
This book also kept me entertained with the high drama surrounding Mary Lincoln who was the reigning diva of the age. The stories of Lincoln's two young boys in the White House were both adventurous and heartbreaking with the tragic death of Willie due to typhoid. The former president lived a life marked by loss, and struggled to cope with the horrific images of war he witnessed on the battlefield. It should therefore be no surprise many historians describe him as having an 'incapacitating depression' and those who knew him described him as a 'melancholy man'
Much can be learned from Lincoln's political genius, his mastery of men, temperament, and personal conviction. This is one of my favorite novels. (less)
This is a book well suited for any true democrat. Reading this after the election and the departure of #43 is kind of redundant, since I feel the need...moreThis is a book well suited for any true democrat. Reading this after the election and the departure of #43 is kind of redundant, since I feel the need to debunk Bush's incompetence is kind of a moot point. But Huffington is great at proving the right wrong on every issue. It's like a 'Democratic Ideology for Dummies"". But if you need a good way to celebrate kicking Bush out the door, read this book! You won't regret it!(less)
I really liked this book. I looked forward to reading it everyday! I've noticed Dan Brown books seem to fit a certain mold of storytelling. They all h...moreI really liked this book. I looked forward to reading it everyday! I've noticed Dan Brown books seem to fit a certain mold of storytelling. They all have a sharp twist at the end, a similar breakneck pace, and the antagonist/protagonist roles go through the same situations. When you compare the fact finding/adventure/action packed sequences the characters go through in DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons, and Deception Point, you see they are identical. Brown seems to take his format then he has a best seller. A great read though. Lots of political implications as well.(less)