Monday, September 1, 2014

August Books

Thought I'd get more done this month, with three weeks of holidays and two transatlantic trips, but I spent too much time riding this and then endlessly reliving the "best day ever" with the BG. No regrets.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Punk rock and hip-hop. Disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown composers known as Minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was a laboratory where all the major styles of modern music were reinvented—all at once, from one block to the next, by musicians who knew, admired, and borrowed from one another. Crime was everywhere, the government was broke, and the city’s infrastructure was collapsing. But rent was cheap, and the possibilities for musical exploration were limitless.
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is the first book to tell the full story of the era’s music scenes and the phenomenal and surprising ways they intersected. From New Year’s Day 1973 to New Year’s Eve 1977, the book moves panoramically from post-Dylan Greenwich Village, to the arson-scarred South Bronx barrios where salsa and hip-hop were created, to the Lower Manhattan lofts where jazz and classical music were reimagined, to ramshackle clubs like CBGBs and The Gallery, where rock and dance music were hot-wired for a new generation. As they remade the music, the musicians at the center of the book invented themselves: Willie Col√≥n and the Fania All-Stars renting Yankee Stadium to take salsa to the masses, New Jersey locals Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith claiming the jungleland of Manhattan as their own, Grandmaster Flash transforming the turntable into a musical instrument, David Byrne and Talking Heads proving that rock music “ain’t no foolin’ around.” Will Hermes was there—venturing from his native Queens to the small dark rooms where the revolution was taking place—and in Love Goes to Buildings on Fire he captures the creativity, drive, and full-out lust for life of the great New York musicians of those years, who knew that the music they were making would change the world.  

The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999

The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999This unique and lively history of Balkan geopolitics since the early nineteenth century gives readers the essential historical background to recent events in this war-torn area. No other book covers the entire region, or offers such profound insights into the roots of Balkan violence, or explains so vividly the origins of modern Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania. Misha Glenny presents a lucid and fair-minded account of each national group in the Balkans and its struggle for statehood. The narrative is studded with sharply observed portraits of kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals, and politicians. Glenny also explores the often-catastrophic relationship between the Balkans and the Great Powers, raising some disturbing questions about Western intervention.

Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America

Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made AmericaAmerica is a smuggler nation. Our long history of illicit imports has ranged from West Indies molasses and Dutch gunpowder in the 18th century, to British industrial technologies and African slaves in the 19th century, to French condoms and Canadian booze in the early 20th century, to Mexican workers and Colombian cocaine in the modern era. Contraband capitalism, it turns out, has been an integral part of American capitalism. Providing a sweeping narrative history from colonial times to the present, Smuggler Nation is the first book to retell the story of America--and of its engagement with its neighbors and the rest of the world--as a series of highly contentious battles over clandestine commerce. As Peter Andreas demonstrates in this provocative and fascinating account, smuggling has played a pivotal and too often overlooked role in America's birth, westward expansion, and economic development, while anti-smuggling campaigns have dramatically enhanced the federal government's policing powers. The great irony, Andreas tells us, is that a country that was born and grew up through smuggling is today the world's leading anti-smuggling crusader.
In tracing America's long and often tortuous relationship with the murky underworld of smuggling, Andreas provides a much-needed antidote to today's hyperbolic depictions of out-of-control borders and growing global crime threats. Urgent calls by politicians and pundits to regain control of the nation's borders suffer from a severe case of historical amnesia, nostalgically implying that they were ever actually under control. This is pure mythology, says Andreas. For better and for worse, America's borders have always been highly porous.
Far from being a new and unprecedented danger to America, the illicit underside of globalization is actually an old American tradition. As Andreas shows, it goes back not just decades but centuries. And its impact has been decidedly double-edged, not only subverting U.S. laws but also helping to fuel America's evolution from a remote British colony to the world's pre-eminent superpower.

Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders

Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial OffendersUncover the truth under all the BS
In the daily battle for our hearts and minds--not to mention our hard-earned cash--the truth is usually the first casualty. It's time we learned how to see through the rhetoric, faulty reasoning, and misinformation that we're subjected to from morning to night by talk-radio hosts, op-ed columnists, advertisers, self-help gurus, business "thinkers," and, of course, politicians. And no one is better equipped to show us how than award-winning philosopher Jamie Whyte.

In "Crimes Against Logic" Whyte take us on a fast-paced, ruthlessly funny romp through the mulligan stew of can, folderol, and bogus logic served up in the media, at the office, and even in your own home. Applying his laserlike wit to dozens of timely examples, Whyte cuts through the haze of facts, figures, and double-talk and gets at the real truth behind what they're telling us.

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