April 08, 2010

Marathon by Jules Witcover

A couple weeks ago I noticed a map that flies in the face of the narrative of the Democratic Party put forward by both the chattering class and a fair number of academics. I knew Jimmy Carter was strong in...
Posted by armand at 07:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2010

RIP: Spenser

Robert B. Parker, creator of the Spenser series of detective fiction, died Monday at home. I was a fan of the Spenser books; not literature (in the sense of what is considered high art), but very well written, sparse, funny,...
Posted by baltar at 05:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 11, 2010


I'm not sure why I'm disturbed by this, but I am. Renting textbooks? It's just....wrong. I don't know why. It just is....
Posted by baltar at 08:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 06, 2009

Nobel Prize Season, 2009

Who will join the list of winners for Literature? We'll find out on Thursday. The bookmakers include several Americans among the favorites, but this is such a strange prize one never knows who will emerge with the award....
Posted by armand at 10:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 09, 2009

Atticus Finch's Support for The Man

Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting piece in The New Yorker on the limits of Southern liberalism in the mid-20th century, focusing on how supposed liberals like Gov. "Big Jim" Folsom (D-AL) and fictional lawyer Atticus Finch were more willing than...
Posted by armand at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2009

The Informers, Amsterdam, and the Curious Incident ...

So as is always the case when I'm stuck spending bunches of hours in airplanes and on airliners I caught up on some fiction reading over the last week. So a few quick thoughts on my most recent reads. First,...
Posted by armand at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2009

Interesting Reading List

I'm away at a full-on Geek-Fest Summer Camp for a few weeks. It's an academic retreat that teaches security studies, with a specific focus on military strategy and operations. We spent a couple hours today arguing about Lee at Gettysburg,...
Posted by baltar at 11:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2009

A "Scathing", "Not Unfair" Review of Robert Bork's Latest Book

David Bernstein highlights a "scathing" review by Richard Epstein of Robert Bork's latest book, and in the resulting thread Bork finds notably few defenders - with many criticizing him as a terrible example of originalism, and some saying his haphazard...
Posted by armand at 05:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2009

Day Glo

Check it out! KCB's hubby got his book reviewed on boing boing!...
Posted by binky at 01:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2009

Book Review: "Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World" by Liaquat Ahamed

This book is not about the modern financial crash, but is instead about the global depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s (though the author has a short final chapter that tries to tie the present financial crisis to...
Posted by baltar at 09:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2009

This is Moderately Cool

What the NYT Baghdad bureau is reading right now. Not completely cool, but moderately so....
Posted by baltar at 08:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2009

Mouse Au Vin

A short amusement from Noah Baumbach....
Posted by armand at 12:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2008

Dear US News Media: Learn To Read

Dear Media: I have noticed a recent trend in calling Obama's incoming Cabinet by an old phrase - "The Best and The Brightest." You should note that this phrase refers to a good book, but the book uses the phrase...
Posted by baltar at 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

Debunking Frank's "What's The Matter With Kansas"

It is nice when political science can be applied to politics, and it's important to debunk popular arguments that appear to lack much of an empirical foundation....
Posted by armand at 10:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace, RIP

So last night I ended up watching Gonzo (I'd give it a slight thumbs up) with some friends, after which one of them started talking about the topic of writers and artists and suicide. Kind of creepy to hear that...
Posted by armand at 04:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 01, 2008

Barone (Author of "The Bible") on Palin and the Aleutians

I think that one thing that's often underestimated in terms of why national discourse, especially in the press, about national politics took such a right-leaning slant over the last few decades is the effect of The Almanac of American Politics....
Posted by armand at 08:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Empire Ranks the 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters

Numbers 1 and 2 are pretty damn predictable, but an interesting list on the whole. And hey, it's given me an idea for my next reading diversion (#6)....
Posted by armand at 08:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 27, 2008

Scalia sighting

I'm most of the way through Nixonland, and happened upon this paragraph: (Part of a section describing Nixon's non-public actions to help secure his re-election in 1972) "Meanwhile there were the broadcast networks to flay - four of them, now...
Posted by baltar at 02:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

Summer Reading

I'm partway through Nixonland, and am liking it. Perlstein is trying to wind together a bunch of different strands (social, political, economic, generational, foreign policy, etc.) into a cohesive telling of the seismic shifts in American politics between 1966 and...
Posted by baltar at 11:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 11, 2008

No patience for books?

Does the internet ruin books? For me, no, but it has ruined video and/or TV. If I click on a video and it's more than a couple of minutes long, forget it. For example, this clip of Bill Moyers giving...
Posted by binky at 12:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2008

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Since I know some of you who check us out are Michael Chabon fans, I thought I'd mention that last night I finished The Yiddish Policemen's Union. It's not my favorite Chabon ever, but it is quite good. It was...
Posted by armand at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2008

Fred Kaplan's Daydream Believers

It's a good book on why US foreign and national security policies have gone off the rails in recent years. The core point seems to be this (p.192): The great divide in thinking about American foreign policy today is not...
Posted by armand at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Prince Caspian

So since I'm feeling sickly this week and can only talk for limited periods (allergies - bad bad allergies) I figured it was a good night to stay in and read Prince Caspian again in preparation for next week's release...
Posted by armand at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 03, 2008

The Echo Maker

My most recent novel was this award winner (its honors include the National Book Award) by Richard Powers. While not my favorite Powers, it's a very fine novel, and deals with some interesting questions about who any one of us...
Posted by armand at 05:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 25, 2008

After Dark

Last night I finished reading another Murakami novel, his latest novel, After Dark. It's the fourth novel of his I've read, and the fourth I've very much enjoyed. It's not as grand or sweeping as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or...
Posted by armand at 01:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke Is Dead

I suppose we should note the passing of one of the most influential science fiction writers of the 20th century. Childhood's End was one of my favorite novels when I was a teenager....
Posted by armand at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2008


I seem to have an affinity (addiction) to paper magazines. I get a warm feeling having actual knowledge delivered to my house every week/month. And relatively cheaply, too. Yglesias and Ezra Klein (bigger blogs than this) started a conversation specifically...
Posted by baltar at 12:59 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

February 28, 2008

Ignatius on Sageman's Leaderless Jihad

This sounds like an interesting book. From studying 500 Islamic terrorists Sageman sees them fitting into 3 waves, and an awareness of the changes in who the terrorists are should guide how we deal with them. The first wave of...
Posted by armand at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ignatius on Sageman's Leaderless Jihad

This sounds like an interesting book. From studying 500 Islamic terrorists Sageman sees them fitting into 3 waves, and an awareness of the changes in who the terrorists are should guide how we deal with them. The first wave of...
Posted by armand at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 04, 2008

The Shenon Book on the 9/11 Commission

As Emptywheel notes, this is a big deal, and definitely calls the commission's work into question, no matter what Isikoff says....
Posted by armand at 05:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine

Last week I finished reading Toobin's The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. And if you know people who are interested in the Court's workings and its recent ideological shifts, but who don't know a great deal...
Posted by armand at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 29, 2007

Daniel Handler's Adverbs

When he's not playing the accordian for The Magnetic Fields, or writing ghastly, amusing children's tales as Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler writes rather more adult oriented fiction. His The Basic Eight is one of my favorite books ever. Adverbs didn't...
Posted by armand at 09:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2007

Well that's a fucking pisser

Pratchett has Alzheimer's....
Posted by binky at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 01, 2007

End Of Year Lists

Just an informational post: I found this website which is keeping track of a whole mess of "best of 2007" lists. Everything from books to music to architecture to stereo components. It's a work-in-progress, so new stuff gets added all...
Posted by baltar at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2007

The Keep by Jennifer Egan

While I don't know that the last section of the book was really necessary, I very much liked Jennifer Egan's The Keep, even more than her Look at Me, which I also enjoyed. It's a little complicated to describe, so...
Posted by armand at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2007

IR goodness

There are a couple of excellent discussions happening in the IR-o-sphere, one regarding graduate degrees and the other about Dani Rodrik's new book [Warning, NSFNG]. First, a discussion going between the Duck of Minerva and Lawyers Guns and Money, with...
Posted by binky at 04:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2007

Gould's Book of Fish

The last novel I finished was this book by Richard Flanagan. The fantastic tales, wonder, and mundane eternities are captured in the review at the link. And they are quite interesting. But to me it's his writing that really makes...
Posted by armand at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2007

America's Constitution: A Biography

So I finally finished reading my non-fiction book of the moment this morning, Akhil Reed Amar's The Constitution: A Biography. It's a superb piece of work that I should buy at some point. I learned a great deal about both...
Posted by armand at 02:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2007

Lessing Wins the Nobel in Literature

So Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize in LIterature. Huh. I was sort of thinking they'd go for a poet this year, and hoping they'd go for Margaret Atwood (out of the names that are often discussed as potential...
Posted by armand at 08:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 09, 2007

Story Changes in the Film of The Golden Compass

Given how the The Golden Compass ends I was perplexed how they were going to turn it into a blockbuster that would make a fortune and attract millions of children. Now I know - they've chopped off that part of...
Posted by armand at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2007

The Night Climbers

On the one hand this sounds like just my sort of thing. Ah, the Oxbridge college. The plink of croquet balls, the twist of black ties, the splash of the Cam over your punt pole. Some might wish that world...
Posted by armand at 02:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

American Theocracy

So yesterday I finished the bit of fiction I'd been reading for the last few weeks. Now I've finished my latest non-work nonfiction, Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy. Though he has of course been a keen commentator on US politics for...
Posted by armand at 06:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 16, 2007


I have now read two of David Mitchell's novels, and while I didn't like this one as much as Black Swan Green, it's still very good. It would seem that Mitchell's ever-rising reputation is justified....
Posted by armand at 09:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Just finished it moments ago. All in all I liked it, but I think the series peaks in books 3-5, and I think the last third of it suffers from some rather severe structural problems. And I truly loathed the...
Posted by armand at 09:46 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

June 20, 2007

Black Swan Green

So I finished the David Mitchell novel I'd been reading - and it's really good. If you think you might be interested in it, here's the book's website....
Posted by armand at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

Becoming Justice Blackmun

So I finally read Linda Greenhouse's book on Justice Blackmun. As she explicitly states at the start of the text, it's not a traditional biography, nor is it comprehensive study of the justice's years on the nation's highest Court. It's...
Posted by armand at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

His death was reported by the publisher Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago....
Posted by binky at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

Supreme Conflict by Jan Crawford Greenburg

I've been eagerly awaiting reading this book. Greenburg might not be Dahlia Lithwick (the Court reporter Armand worships), but she's one of the top Court reporters in the country, and she had an astonishing level of access to executive branch...
Posted by armand at 11:19 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

January 31, 2007

Andrew Jackson's Attacks on Habeas Corpus and Railroad Workers

When Jackson choose to exert his will, things could get ugly. And sadly his love of his own power (and his disrespect for the liberty of others and the rule of law) set a precedent that has affected the country...
Posted by armand at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2007

Just How Stupid Is D'Souza?

Really stupid. Really really really stupid. Others can tear his whining to shreds for the blatant inaccuracies and dishonesty that are present in it. But I want to highlight a ridiculous assertion he makes near the end of his "why...
Posted by armand at 11:27 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 18, 2007

Book Lists

In an attempt to provide content around here while Binky and armand are away, I'll do a book related post. I've done book reviews here in the past, but this will be a list of the books I've got stacked...
Posted by baltar at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2006

America's Kingdom by Robert Vitalis

For any of you interested in Saudi, ARAMCO, or the US-Saudi relationship, Robert Vitalis has a new book, America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier, that is getting rave reviews and much discussion over at Qahwa Sada. If it's...
Posted by armand at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2006

David Welch's Painful Choices

Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change is worth your time if you hope to be able to understand foreign policy, and more to the point, fluctuations in foreign policy. It's almost two books in one as the opening...
Posted by armand at 10:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 24, 2006

Obsessive? Me?

I look forward to seeing Baltar's results. What Kind of Reader Are You? Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are...
Posted by binky at 01:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 06, 2006

It Didn't Take Long, Part III

"State of Denial," page 254. It was all Bremer's fault. No, seriously. That's the claim that the people Woodward interviews are making. A remarkably large number of people are going on record (again, both directly and indirectly) as saying that...
Posted by baltar at 09:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 05, 2006

It Didn't Take Long, Part II.

State of Denial, by Woodward, page 179. This is really a facinating book. It's very different from "Bush at War" and "Plan of Attack" (previous books by Woodward; the first about Afghanistan, the second about Iraq up to the day...
Posted by baltar at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It Didn't Take Long.

I'm on page 71 of "State of Denial" by Woodward. Rumsfeld has managed to be a complete idiot once, and a partial idiot twice. Chronologically, we haven't even gotten to August, 2001. Gonna be a long book. (Oh, Woodward's usual...
Posted by baltar at 06:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2006

Stupidity on the March

Or, Harry Potter is evil, part 10,376: Laura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction books are an ''evil'' attempt to indoctrinate children in the...
Posted by binky at 09:27 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 30, 2006

Naguib Mahfouz

The author of the fabulous Cairo Trilogy has passed away, after a long life and brilliant writing career: Naguib Mahfouz, who became the first Arab writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novels depicting Egyptian life in...
Posted by binky at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

Brian Ulrich Recommends Ansari's Confronting Iran

I think I'll definitely be reading this book. It appears to be a fascinating examination of the current conflict between the United States and Iran, with a focus on highly negative images of the other, constructed national identities, and misperpereptions...
Posted by armand at 07:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

Dance Dance Dance

So after finishing this Haruki Murakami novel published in 1994 I searched around to read what others have written about it, and honestly I don't think many of the reviews get it quite right. But this line on it Amazon...
Posted by armand at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2006

Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy, Paul Rahe (ed.)

If I had $75 to spare I'd likely buy this book. I'm neither a trained historian nor a political philosopher, so if you want a quick description of what this book's really about and where it fits in current philosophical...
Posted by armand at 07:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2006

Cursed is the Peacemaker by John Boykin

If any of you are interested in a good, fast read on Lebanon during an Israeli invasion, and US/Israeli interactions during such an event, I recomend John Boykin's Cursed is the Peacemaker. It's primarily the tale of Phil Habib, when...
Posted by armand at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

Rowling to Kill 2 Characters in Book 7

Let the prognostications of death and destruction begin (just as Professor Trelawney would want it)! Who is Rowling going to kill off in Book 7?...
Posted by armand at 10:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

The Subtle Knife

The Golden Compass might have been slightly better as a novel, taken individually. But The Subtle Knife has what you want in the middle book in a three book series - growth in the themes and stylization, intriguing new characters,...
Posted by armand at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

The Best in Mass-Market Novels

This post from Drezner is almost a week old, but I figured I'd link to it in case you were interested in taking a stroll through the comments thread before picking out some summer beach reading. The question is what's...
Posted by armand at 07:09 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 19, 2006

Philip Tetlock's Expert Political Judgment

Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know examines who makes decisions, how they make decisions, what good judgment is and what types of people show the best ‘judgment”. If you are interested in these questions,...
Posted by armand at 03:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 17, 2006

The Golden Compass

Okay, I am going to have to read books 2 & 3 in the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman because book 1 (The Golden Compass)was quite good. This book is mostly an adventure story that sets up the...
Posted by armand at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2006

Charles Peters Does Two-Level Games in 1940

I read Five Days in Philadelphia (by Charleston native Charles Peters) over the weekend. I was under the impression that the history was focused upon how Wendell Willkie secured the Republican nomination for president in 1940. It starts off that...
Posted by armand at 04:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006


This post was originally titled "Packer and McMaster", but "Awesome" is much better. No one will understand either title of this post, but it just follow me here. George Packer writes for the New Yorker. He is a journalist who...
Posted by baltar at 09:51 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

SciFi, Fantasy and Opposition to Centralized Governments

Ilya Somin has this post on the fact that many science fiction and fantasy books, regardless of the personal ideological beliefs of their authors, feature a common opposition to centralized forms of government....
Posted by armand at 02:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

Don't Ever Assign Plan of Attack in Your Classes?

I've assigned Woodward's Bush at War as required reading a number of times. It's obviously very easy for students to get through, and it raises a host of questions that spark debates about the sources of foreign policy. But I've...
Posted by armand at 10:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Chernow's Alexander Hamilton

Sunday night I finished reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, what I must presume is the finest biography of “the founder of American government” yet written. It’s a remarkable piece of historical writing and analysis, and if you are interested in...
Posted by armand at 08:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2006

Menand on Fukuyama Breaking from the NeoCons

I really don't get the fuss about Francis Fukuyama's latest book. To me, many of the ideas in it are pretty obvious (but then I always thought going to war in March 2003 was a bad idea). And in terms...
Posted by armand at 09:35 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 31, 2006

Daily Dose of Culture

If you want to raise your IQ, or win some money on TV game shows, go check out the hundred best first lines from novels (via tbogg). It is unclear what the criteria for this is. Makes you want to...
Posted by baltar at 01:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

Alan Hollinghurst's The Folding Star

The Folding Star is the third of Alan Hollinghurst’s novels that I have read. This one and The Swimming Pool Library are fine. More than fine really, since Hollinghurst’s prose is magnificent – The New Republic has described it as...
Posted by armand at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Team of Rivals

It'll be some time before I can give it the full attention it deserves, but from having read only about half of it I can already recommend (and very highly recommd at that) this examination of Abraham Lincoln and his...
Posted by armand at 04:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 11, 2006

People are idiots

And this is a prime example: Random House will refund readers who bought James Frey's drug and alcohol memoir "A Million Little Pieces" directly from the publisher, a move believed to be unprecedented, after the author was accused of exaggerating...
Posted by binky at 02:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

It Can't Happen Here

Saw a comment about this book today: PICTURE THIS: A folksy, self-consciously plainspoken Southern politician rises to power during a period of profound unrest in America. The nation is facing one of the half-dozen or so of its worst existential...
Posted by binky at 10:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2005

Thank God I Have My Own Copy

Although, I was considering titling this post "We're Fucked," since amongst the three of us who study war, revolution, authoritarianism, political leadership and the middle east, our book list is a lot more scary that some undergrad at UMass-Darmouth working...
Posted by binky at 05:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 29, 2005

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The plot of this novel, the second by Jonathan Safran Foer, centers on the reaction of nine year old Oskar Schell to his father’s death on 9/11. But really it deals with the aftermath of tragedy and painfully strained relationships...
Posted by armand at 10:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 13, 2005

Harold Pinter?

I agree with Will Baude. If you are going to give the Nobel Prize for Literature to an aging British playwright, Pinter wouldn't have been my choice....
Posted by armand at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2005

Another Murakami Gem

I've already praised his work on the blog twice before, so it should come as no surprise that I continue to love everything I read by Haruki Murakami. If you've got the September 26 issue of The New Yorker, I...
Posted by armand at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Is Armand Becoming Anya?

It suddenly hit me today that just hours after rereading The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, I bought The Book of Bunny Suicides. Am I suddenly so unnerved by the cotton-tailed critters that I hope they choose to brutally...
Posted by armand at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Banned Books

We've been tagged in the meme of the week. My limited results in the extended entry....
Posted by binky at 12:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005

How Soccer Explains the World

This book by Franklin Foer is, frankly, not all I hoped it would be. This is an incredibly rich area for research, but this text comes off as a breezy tome, focused more on what soccer represents and how it's...
Posted by armand at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 11, 2005

Murakami, Burroughs and Dick

It occurs to me that I haven't posted in quite some time on the fiction I've been reading lately, so here are a few brief thoughts on three novels. Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is excellent and I recommend...
Posted by armand at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

Armand and Lord Voldemort

Apparently, we share the same personality type. We are both INTPs according to the Myers-Briggs Typology.Harry Potter Personality Quiz by Pirate Monkeys Inc....
Posted by armand at 01:13 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

Organizing Book Stores

I largely agree with Jesse. I think. Organizing book stores on the basis of the personal characteristics of the author is, at the very least, confusing. Just what do you do with the works of James Baldwin in stores like...
Posted by armand at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It was good. Rowling certainly has a way with building a story and ingeniously inserting all kinds of details in creating her own (or Harry's own) universe. I didn't like it as much as Order of the Phoenix, a few...
Posted by armand at 02:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

The Skull Mantra

Yesterday I was sitting on my back porch thinking that there is no greater solitary pleasure than reading. [you, with your minds in the gutter. stop it.] A few seconds later I felt guilty and elitist for thinking that, remembering...
Posted by binky at 03:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Book Review: The Last Valley by Martin Windrow

The Last Valley, by Martin Windrow, was named by the Economist as one of the best books of 2004. It is primarily a discussion of the military defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, but like any...
Posted by baltar at 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2005

The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch

Since I liked Manual Labor so much I decided that I would read another Busch novel - a quite different Busch novel. Historical dramas aren't usually what I reach for when I want to be alone with a good book,...
Posted by armand at 02:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

Haruki Murakami and William Trevor in The New Yorker

Out of the many (many, many, many, many ....) things I read on a regular basis, The New Yorker is always my top priority. Of course I adore New York, so I like to keep up on the major happenings...
Posted by armand at 12:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Pestilence and Old Friends

A nasty sinus thing has taken over my body for the last several days, and the massive amounts of Benadryl I've been taking have left me too spacy for posting. Instead, I've been under blankies drinking gingerale and reading -...
Posted by binky at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2005

Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty

The Booker (now Man Booker) Prize juries have never steered me wrong. I’ve read 4 of the last 15 winners and every one has been a superior work of fiction – Ondatje’s The English Patient, Roy’s The God of Small...
Posted by armand at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2005

Book Review: Pol Pot, by Philip Short

Philip Short's Pol Pot is a controversial book. The New York Times review and (even more strongly) the Washington Post's review both praise Short's writing and style (from the WP: "His text sparkles with shrewdly plausible inferences mortared into a...
Posted by baltar at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Book Review: Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

Ghost Wars describes the over twenty year history of the US government's involvement in Afghanistan. There is nothing really earth-shattering here, just details of historical points where different decisions by the US would likely have derailed 9/11 (but hindsight is...
Posted by baltar at 03:16 PM | TrackBack

March 06, 2005

Manual Labor by Frederick Busch

I praised the writing of Frederick Busch in one of my first posts on this blog after reading The Children in the Woods, an excellent collection of short stories. I read one of his old (published in 1974) novels last...
Posted by armand at 06:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 28, 2005

"The Rescue Artist"

Sunday's New York Times Magazine featured this excellent feature on Jonathan Safran Foer. I loved his Everything is Illuminated, and am eagerly awaiting Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. From this article it sounds like it should be a fascinating work...
Posted by armand at 03:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 21, 2005

Arkansas by David Leavitt

If you read this blog for awhile, or you know me, you might know that I have a particular fondness for good short fiction - see here, here and here. I'm always intrigued when I read a new writer, and...
Posted by armand at 09:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2005

Book Review: David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest

Halberstam's book (already discussed here and here) is a review of the political decisions that were made between about 1960 (when Kennedy takes office) and about 1965 (when the decisions were made to Americanize the war and increase troop strength...
Posted by baltar at 12:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 28, 2004

Girl With Curious Hair

I consider myself to be a big fan of David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest was amazing, even if it did take me months to get through it. And A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is a truly great...
Posted by armand at 03:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

Franzen and Remnick in The New Yorker

When we started this blog that I was making a weekly habit of recommending particularly good novels (click on the "Books" archive if you want to read my thoughts on the likes of Hotel World, The Rotter's Club, and The...
Posted by armand at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2004

Choke by Chuck Pahalniuk

Yesterday I did something I very rarely do. I put aside a novel I was half-way through and decided I wouldn't read any more of it. Given that, perhaps it is unfair to criticize it harshly. All sorts of books...
Posted by armand at 12:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 26, 2004

Alexander Hamilton's Foreign Policy

I just finished reading John Lamberton Harper’s American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy. I recommend it for those interested in Hamilton, but beyond that it sheds a good deal of light on foreign policy and...
Posted by armand at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 25, 2004

Spider Boy

Remember back when many of the country’s finest weeklies regularly included top-drawer short fiction? Neither do I, but at least The New Yorker still provides this valuable service. And as to their recent offerings, Joyce Carol Oates’ “Spider Boy” (in...
Posted by armand at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2004

Daniel Handler's Rick

The New York Times bring us up to date on the latest activities of Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket and author of The Basic Eight)....
Posted by armand at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2004

Bamford's "A Pretext for War"

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies by James Bamford. (Amazon link: Pretext for War (2004)) Brief Review: Nothing anyone hasn’t seen before. Neo-cons push US into war, force intel community to go along....
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September 17, 2004

The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler

For a year or two this Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket, in his musical moments he’s the accordianist for The Magnetic Fields) work was one of my favorite novels. My love of it may have faded a tiny...
Posted by armand at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2004

Elizabeth Drew Reviews the 9/11 Report

Wow. Drew is nobody's idea of a screed-writer. She's been in the business of writing on Washington's decision makers and the decision-making process for decades, and while the quality of her work tends to be very high, it is also...
Posted by armand at 01:41 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

DelFattore's "The Fourth R"

The Fourth R: Conflicts over Religion in America's Public Schools by Joan DelFattore, copyright 2004. Amazon Link Brief Review: Religious and secular parents, children, administrators and politicians have disagreed about the correct/right role of religion in public education for over...
Posted by baltar at 01:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2004

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse

A couple of months ago my friend Crystal wrote me that she saw this book and thought of me (as to what that says about me, you be the judge). It has one of the best titles ever (for those...
Posted by armand at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Carter on Boot on Franks

Phil Carter's comments on Max Boot's review of General Tommy Franks' new book are well worth reading. They contain a number of important insights about planning the war again Iraq (or the failure to plan it). Carter also rightly critiques...
Posted by armand at 01:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2004

The Corrections

I just finished Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. This novel has received a host of raves, and it won the 2001 National Book Award. While it's always hard to say which work is really the best of any year, I'm thinking...
Posted by armand at 03:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 12, 2004

McMaster's Dereliction of Duty

"Dereliction of Duty: Lydon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam", by H.R. McMaster. Copyright 1997. Amazon Link Brief Review: President plays politics with foreign wars in order to further domestic agenda....
Posted by baltar at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2004

Eric Muller Critiques Michelle Malkin

Law professor Eric Muller is examining Michelle Malkin's controversial new book defending racial profiling and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II over on The Volokh Conspiracy. You can find some of the highlights here, here, here, here,...
Posted by armand at 02:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 03, 2004

The Army's Homework

Phil Carter notes some intriguing changes in the Army's professional reading lists. While there are some things on these lists that give me pause (why on Earth is the Clash of Civilizations required? is a Friedman book the most we...
Posted by armand at 04:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2004

The Moor's Last Sigh

My book recommendation for this weekend is Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh. If you've never read Rushdie you really should give him a try. His use of language is stunning: the little constructions he makes up, the lush, vibrant...
Posted by armand at 03:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2004

The Kings and Queens of Short Stories

OK, in a shameless attempt to get a little action in the comments section I’m going throw out a question. Who are your top 5 writers of short fiction? You can construe top 5 to be either the 5 “best”...
Posted by armand at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2004

The Political Parties in the College of Cardinals

OK, since Baltar's a little interested I'll run down Allen's views of what he sees as the 4 parties in the College. These are important because while from a typical US perspective most are dominated by "conservatives" they have different...
Posted by armand at 11:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 06, 2004

The Next Conclave

I read John Allen's Conclave two weeks ago. It's an interesting look at the process of electing popes, the current state of the Catholic hierarchy, the "political parties" in the church, and the leading candidates to succeed John Paul II....
Posted by armand at 11:20 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 03, 2004

The Rotters' Club

My book recommendation for this weekend is one of my favorite novels of the last few years, Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club. It deals with the trials and tribulations of four guys growing up around Birmingham, England in the early...
Posted by armand at 10:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

Nau's At Home Abroad

I skimmed Henry Nau's At Home Abroad: Identity and Power in American Foreign Policy over the weekend. Nau is basically arguing that too often studies of foreign relations give a special place to the influence of material power without considering...
Posted by armand at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2004

Woodward's "Plan of Attack"

Yes, others have read and discussed this. I get to do it too. Short version: Bush looks decisive, Rumsfeld looks autocratic, Feith looks like an idiot, Cheney and Wolfowitz look fanatical, Rice looks ineffectual and Powell comes off looking like...
Posted by baltar at 03:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 30, 2004

Baer's Sleeping With the Devil

If you are not yet appalled by the Saudi government, and by how the American political system deals with it, you might want to read (or skim) Robert Baer’s Sleeping With the Devil. Because you really should be appalled by...
Posted by armand at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2004

Frederick Busch

I believe that finding a writer who has a talent for saying ordinary things in extraordinary ways is one of the greatest little pleasures of life. With that in mind, I suggest the fiction of Frederick Busch as this week’s...
Posted by armand at 05:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2004

Hotel World

If I'm recommending a movie today, I should recommend a book too, especially since it's almost beach season. So let me point your attention to Hotel World by Ali Smith. Is it really beach reading? Sure. It is a slender...
Posted by armand at 01:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack