Amph What book are you reading right now?

Discussion in 'Community' started by droideka27, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Oops, you're right. Mistook something else as a third book for the Bridge Trilogy. But no matter since I'll not be reading them.
  2. TryWhistlingThis Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2012
    star 3
    [IMG]

    One of my Christmas gifts. It's set during the Great Depression. I'm only about three chapters in but so far it focuses on Tommy Hagen and Sonny Corleone. Tommy is in College while Sonny is in his early twenties. Michael, Fredo, and Connie are still in School. Nice characterisation so far with some suitably violent and very scenes pretty early on.
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
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    Fabian Essays in Socialism (1889) - The Fabian Society
    Enquiry proves that Socialism is founded upon a triple rock, historical, ethical and economic. It gives, to those who make it, a great hope - a hope which, once it finds entrance into the heart of man, stays in to soften life and sweeten death.

    Socialism is one of those myriad movements of which everyone in the world has heard repeatedly and yet never really understood in even the smallest way. So, it was with interest that I began this book; eight essays by seven different authors, among them such soon to be luminaries as Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw. Surely, after this, socialism will be easy to explicate.

    And it certainly is; socialism, it seems, is communism with all the bite taken out. It is, equal with communism, a brilliant theory that fails to work at all in practice. Again and again through this book, the drum is beaten to indicate that socialism is on the horizon. Thus it is of interest to read the new forwards to each new edition; George Bernard Shaw has the last word, writing a forward for the sixtieth anniversary edition of the book. He’s well over ninety and he seems just as passionate about socialism, if less idealistic and somewhat cynical and chagrined, more to the pity.

    The great revolution never really happened, as we can all attest. Capitalism still reigns supreme on the world market. Certainly capitalism comes in for its fair share of lumps, all of them very much deserved. But would socialism truly work better? The book fails to convince me.

    At bottom, it’s a philosophical break; to my way of thinking, every economic structure tried has failed to create utopia. It has rarely been the structure’s fault; the simple fact is that human nature tends toward greed, venality, corruption. Communism would work, as would socialism, as would capitalism, as would all models, if only men were angels and not men. But we are men; we are not angels. Thus all the flaws, the exploitations, the injustices, that are found in capitalism would certainly equally apply under socialism, a fact Shaw reluctantly begins to own up to in his final forward.

    It’s an oddity, really. On the one hand, there is deep cynicism: the Fabian society believes that capitalism is corrupt through and through and that nothing can restore dignity to mankind but a complete scrapping of all this industry and the building of an entirely new model. Thus, the perspective of the Fabians is quite a dark one, quite a bleak one. However, when talking of socialism, the new model, things take a turn into the relentlessly sunny and cheery; the Fabians begin to believe that all men are basically philanthropists, that no one is lazy, that no one is greedy, that socialism could never be corrupted because mankind will rise to the occasion. One tries to think of a time when mankind rose to the occasion. One is baffled and a little sad.

    Thus the deep schizophrenia of the book can be summed up quite easily. Capitalism has failed because man corrupted it. Socialism will stand because man will choose not to corrupt it. At once, man is the villain and the savior, the devil and the messiah. Quite a moving proposition; quite a utopia to live in. Quite a castle in the air.

    2 ½ out of 5 stars.

    More Book Reviews!
  4. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    did you just generalize fabian socialists to socialism proper and then describe socialism as "communism with the bite taken out"? come on, son.
  5. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Well, I started using the term socialism mainly because I didn't want to have to type out "Fabian socialism" every time I referenced it. And it's worth pointing out that in the book itself, as you can see in the quote I pulled, the Fabians themselves used the two terms ("Fabian Socialism" & "Socialism" interchangeably).

    I think the point I was making was really more that Fabian Socialism or regular Socialism, whichever one, would suffer from the same realities as Capitalism. It's the unflagging optimism of these kind of revolutionary tracts that begin to grate on me, so that was the main thrust of the essay.

    As to the communism with the bite taken out comment, I'd be genuinely interested to hear you explicate why that isn't true.
  6. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5
    Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie. Great read that spends many pages detailing her life in the court of Empress Elizabeth and as the long suffering wife of the future Peter III, all leading up to her usurpation of the imperial crown. The biography skimps a bit on Catherine's actual reign, (though I'm still reading it) but it's still a great read.
  7. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    because there is no clear division between the term "communism" and "socialism" in emic parlance, and the fact that you dont yet grasp this shows either how ill prepared you are for the material or how poorly it got its message across (i havent read this hardly canonical work (where'd you get it from and what drew you to it, btw?) but id guess its probably a combination of both)

    where there is a clear division (in the writings of individuals and mission statements of certain organizations), communism describes a state to be striven for, an endgame result, of revolutionary socialism (the flavor of ideology which created the soviet union and PRC, although not consistantly the ideology driving them), a strain of socialism very distinct from the fabians' piecemeal, under-the-radar, half-measure approach, which might as well be scandinavian social democracy, really, except you get to play at being in a special club and being all tricky.

    honestly your post is akin to someone from a society where socialism is the dominant ideology reading an anti-communist tract put out by father coughlin in the '30s and claiming capitalism isnt workable on the basis of that alone, ignoring the fact that coughlin's proposed mode of capitalism (third pathist, cryptofascism) wouldn't even be accepted as truly capitalist, let alone laudable to even most capitalists of his day, nevermind the present

    nevertheless if you want a better understanding of socialism i would recommend starting with the ur-classic: marx's communist manifesto. any strain of socialism or social democratic ideology in the present day can trace back in some way to marxism
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Dec 28, 2012
  8. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    I honestly don't recall where I first heard of the book. I found it on some list of the great books; I'm always feeding those lists into a massive database and then randomly picking ones to read and it's in the database, so it came out of some list of great books I found on the web.

    I don't want to argue that I'm not ill prepared for the material. The approach I take is that of a layman approaching the great works of art (or the lesser works of art that are described as great; like this book, for example) and seeing what I think about them, more or less from the perspective of a novice. I pick up knowledge as I go, but it just depends on what I read. I'm not terrifically conversant in all the details of the philosophies, as you seem to be. My post is more or less a subjective reaction to the book itself. I would say a couple of things though.

    First of all, your remark that Fabian Socialism is piecemeal, under-the-radar, half-measure compared to Communism doesn't seem much different from my remark that Fabian Socialism is "communism with the bite taken out." I'm finding it kind of difficult to see how those aren't essentially the same statement. I'm saying that socialism is equal to communism and that Fabian Socialism in particular is communism (read: socialism) with no real teeth. Fabian Socialism, from my layman's approach, seems to be a watered down version of the more radical strains of communism. It is, as I said, relentlessly optimistic and built on a foundation that socialism can function purely based on a voluntary structure, where everyone simply becomes socialist out of the goodness of their hearts. It's not nearly as pragmatic as something like the Communist Manifesto, which I've read bits of, but long ago. I think the best bit of criticism I've ever read of the Fabians was, and I forget who said it, that "they want the revolution to come, but not tomorrow, as that would be too upsetting." I don't know; on this issue, it just seems like we're saying the exact same thing, only in different ways. Unless I misunderstand your point.

    I do think part of the issue is that I use the term socialism to refer to Fabian socialism; you seem to think that when I say "socialism" that I mean socialism as a whole when I really only mean the particular strain of socialism that I'm focusing on at the moment, which is the Fabian branch. I mean, I'm using this book as my hook, so it should be fairly obvious that I'm talking about socialism as it's represented in this particular book. And, again, that's the term that's used in the book. The essays in the book are about "socialism." It may not be your socialism, but it's the Fabians' socialism and that's what they call it and that's what I call it too. Obviously, as with anything, there's far too much breadth in socialism for anyone to "boil it down" to just one thing or just one perspective. But in this post, when I say "socialism," I'm talking specifically about the Fabian version.

    I'd also take issue with your characterization of my post as being like someone condemning capitalism based purely on a tract about something that isn't really capitalism. I'm condemning Fabian Socialism for its faults, which is an over-cooked optimism and an idealism that is far too heady, in my opinion; again, this would seem to line up pretty exactly with your criticism of Fabian Socialism. If you think the Fabians are piecemeal and half measure, I'm not sure why you have a problem with my characterization of them. But the basis of my larger criticism, to the degree that there is a larger criticism, of socialism proper is a simple one that I've learned from knowing human beings, namely that human beings are venial, greedy and corrupt and they will eventually screw up any system they get their hands on. I'm not claiming that Socialism, as a whole and in the particular Fabian branch, isn't workable, at the end of the day, because of what's in the book; I'm claiming that it's not workable, as capitalism isn't, because of what's in humanity. It tends to corruption because we tend to corruption. The Fabian model is very much a denigration of Capitalism and a lauding of Socialism. It's not that simple. It's not that simple whether you're talking about Fabian Socialism or regular socialism or anything else.

    God, this is great. Thank you so much for actually responding to one of my essay posts; I often feel that no one is even reading them. Getting someone to actually respond to the ideas in the essay is fantastic.
  9. King_of_Red_Lions Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2003
    star 3
    Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck

    I listened to the audio book.


    The Beekeeper by Maxence Fermine

    A beautifully written story about chasing one's dreams.
  10. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    [IMG]

    Queen Of Thorns

    Pathfinder tales cover everything from small to epic in scope and not one of them has sucked.
  11. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    okay so much of this post is just addressing the fact that you apprently used "socialism" in your post to mean "the fabian programme". so i guess just in the future be more specific. because it really sounded like you had terrible grasp of the concept of socialism. turns out it was just the fabians that had a terrible grasp of it

    btw are the fabians even active anymore? ive only ever heard of them being active in australia and they sounded more like a charity group than a political one. oh and of course there's the far right wing glenn beck crowd that claims obama is a fabian socialist (which would be better than nothing, i guess)

    my recommendation of the manifesto stands: its worth reading from wholecloth with fresh eyes. i got very different things out of it when i approached it as a school assignment vs when i later read it in its entirety as an adult. marx even gives a bit of an indication of what he thinks about "socialists" like the fabians. and besides, its short. verso puts out a pretty nice, concise edition with a forward that provides some useful background by eric hobsbawm, probably the greatest living marxist historian
  12. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I'd really like to read a book like that, but I do hate when authors interject their own opinions ... How good is it?
  13. Darth McClain Arena Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2000
    star 6
    It does sound interesting. To be honest, though, I'd rather read a book where the author puts in his own opinions than a generic synthesis of scholarly opinion.
    MASTERPRENN likes this.
  14. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    yeah name an author whose opinion doesnt end up in the writing. you dont dislike authors giving their opinions - you dislike them being upfront and guileless about it
    MASTERPRENN and Bacon164 like this.
  15. SWpants Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2004
    star 4
    About to start on Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card
  16. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    It's interesting so far, though I took a break from it to read 1453: the Siege of Constantinople on a car ride to and from my relatives. The interjections are mainly the author trying to connect early Mesopotamian cultures facets with modern cultural motifs (early water god and ablutions with baptism, etc).
  17. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    True :p I prefer the ones who weave it in subtly to the ones who are really blatant about it.

    That doesn't sound so bad. I think I'll add it to my list :D (Which means I may or may not get to it before I'm 50 :p )
  18. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    @Rogue and NYC: it's more that he occasionally personally injects himself into the narrative (and he does write it as a narrative, which has pros and cons in history) to offer his opinion on a topic. He does at least make it clear that these interjections are his opinion, rather than passing them off as the scientific consensus on the matter (Gavin Menzies, I'm looking at you).
    NYCitygurl likes this.
  19. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy. A good biography of Julius Caesar. Goldsworthy is able to present Caesar's rise with the power of narrative but also packs in a lot of analysis and context, and engages in my preferred practice for history -- when there's a controversy in the sources, he presents it, and usually evaluates it and presents a tentative conclusion about which is more likely, without relying on his conclusions too heavily. Highly readable and informative -- a good basic biography for anyone interested in Caesar.
  20. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 6
    Ayako - Osamu Tezuka. Hey, remember all of that fun all-ages stuff this guy did that made him a beloved, Disney-esque icon in Japan? Neither does Vertical publishing! Instead, all you get is his bleak gekiga work from the 1970s and 80s, because only depression and nihilism constitute art.

    Sorry, that's not fair. This is, by all metrics, an excellent comic and an excellent book. But holy hell, this is lacking even the barest bones of the informal, humorous style Tezuka's most well-known for, a style that creeps into his more well-known serious treatments (Black Jack, Buddha, hell, even Apollo's Song). It's a very serious, very grim, very misanthropic look at how nasty man can be to his fellow man. There are exactly three characters occupying the philosophical high ground here, and two are ludicrously minor. The third, the titular Ayako, is basically the stand-in for the dog which would be here, as TVTropes would describe it, to be kicked. Everyone sucks, you hate them all, and you can't look away because it's just so damn well done.

    Is that my issue with this book? Yes and no. It's my issue with this book because Tezuka's stuff is either out of print or untranslated, for the most part, and Vertical appears to be insistent on ramming his bleak stuff down the snooty old-school manga fandom's throats, with nary a lighthearted release in sight. Even more recently than this, they're offering The Book of Human Insects, which is like Ayako except lackluster, and a republication of an out-of-print classic work! Oh, wait, that classic work is Message to Adolf and it's about Nazi Germany. We enthusiasts don't dare stop buying, for fear of a full lack of publication of his work, but secretly, I suspect, we're all beginning to hate them for it. Maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm the human insect.

    ... I'm going to go read some Donald Duck by Carl Barks.
  21. AmazingB Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2001
    star 7
    Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

    Amazing.
  22. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    really? is it? because the reviews ive read have been less than amazing. not even astounding, even. "surprisingly good" at best
  23. SWpants Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2004
    star 4
    Book 7 of Wheel of Time: Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  24. Force Smuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 5
    Lost Tribe of the Sith Collection
  25. DarthMane2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 4