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When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail
Eric Jay Dolin

Lord of Chaos (The Wheel of Time, Book 6)

Lord of Chaos - Robert Jordan READ: 2/01

RE-READ: 3/13

Much better than I remember it. The Dumani wells final was spectacular! I was sitting in a 3 hour line for Record Store day and had the tail end of this book to finish. Shortest 3 hour wait ever.

6 books into the re-read!

The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time, Book 5)

The Fires of Heaven  - Robert Jordan READ: 2/01

RE-READ: 1/13

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time, Book 4)

The Shadow Rising - Robert Jordan READ: 2/01

RE-READ: 1/13

Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind

Serenity: Those Left Behind - Will Conrad, Brett Matthews, Joss Whedon Huge fan of the TV Series, so I had to check this out when I saw it at a used bookstore.

I enjoyed it, but tempered my expectations. Don't anticipate the same magic as the TV series -- because the actual actors aren't involved which is where the real magic comes from.

But if you need a quick Firefly fix, this book certainly is up to the task.

The Dragon Reborn: Book Three of 'The Wheel of Time'

The Dragon Reborn - Robert Jordan READ: 1/01

RE-READ: 9/12

The Great Hunt: Book Two of The Wheel of Time

The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan READ: 1/01

RE-READ: 8/12

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1)

The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan RE-READ: 8/12

And so I begin the re-read of this series so I can reacquaint myself with the story. Now that the final book has been completed I can read these and not worry about waiting a couple decades for the arc to finish.

READ: 1/01

Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book)

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson This book reads like a Car topped out a 180 MPH that hits a steep hill and slows down because nobody is hitting the gas.

Look, I love me some Sci-Fi. I love all the gizmos, ludicrous speeds, and boldly goings. Yes, the attraction to the genre is reading about all these amazing concepts. 'Snow Crash,' without a doubt, has brilliant ideas and runs with it: Sumerian Mythology contains code to hack into the Human mind...Ok, I'll read about this!

BEGIN "Pomp and Circumstance"
However, Sci-Fi doesn't get an exemption from the requirement of spinning a good yarn. This takes Characters and Plot. For me, a great story in Sci-Fi uses the backdrop of the genre to accentuate the themes, plots, and characters. The story shouldn't be about the backdrop. When it does, it reads like a RPG manual.
END "Pomp and Circumstance"

The 2nd half throws character development out the window and the plot turns vaudevillian because of gratuitous Deus ex Machina. I can't help but wonder at times if this was all intentional, that the author wanted to turn the whole story into a parody of itself.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein Brilliant!

An exhaustive account of the dominating economic force over the past generation. Yes, we are bombarded about the wonders of 'Free-Trade' and 'Privatization' but 'Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' is a formidable missing voice among the din of adulation.

Anyone willing to sell their soul --and their Country's-- for the utopia of unfettered markets and the liberating ecstasy of hollow Government, really needs to read this book.

Meticulously referenced, 'Shock Doctrine' makes a strong objective case that a new narrative needs to be heard.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)

A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin Re-read: 02/12

Read: 06/06

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin Re-Read: 2/12

Continuing my refresher course in 'a Song of Ice and Fire' so I can start "A Dance of Dragons"

Read: 03/03

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)

A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin Re-Read: 1/12

It has been so long since 'A Feast for Crows' was published that I am re-reading the series starting with 'A Clash of Kings.' I need to get acclimated with the events of the story before reading 'A Dance with Dragons.

Read: 2/03

War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning - Chris Hedges This book is a force that gives one meaning!

Filled with deeply personal accounts, Hedges exposes the difference between the Myth and Reality of War. Not afraid of introspection and the self-analysis that comes with it, the author delves into War's effect on the human psyche with brutal sincerity.

Everyone knows -- or thinks they know -- the physical destruction War causes. Not only does the book dwarf any idea one had about the sheer amount of physical destruction, it illuminates the destruction of culture, memory, and language which arguably is even more devastating.

I recommend this book for everyone, especially in the time of 'Endless War' we find ourselves. Anyone that is so quick to dispense War as a solution should really read this book and do a bit of self-reflecting.

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media - Edward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky Probably the worst kept secret out there: Mass Media serves special interests.

If you are like me, you already suspect as much so why would you want to read a book stating the obvious? Empowered observation, that's why.

Manufacturing Consent establishes a 'propaganda model' and applies it to events that have been label by critics as examples of media overstepping its bounds challenging authority. Considering the book was written in '87, the resonating events included are Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) and Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.) Why pick these events? According to the authors, these events would pose the most severe challenge to their model. Not to rest on their laurels, the authors use an exhaustive list of sources which equates to about 100 pages of appendices and end notes.

A bonus of the book is the included history lesson. I really didn't know too much about the US affairs in Central America during the '80's. Maybe that is the whole point? In any case, the history is truly fascinating.

I do recommend this book.

Ignorance is not bliss, especially if the democratic process is supposed to function in any meaningful way.

Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway Hemingway and another one of his happy endings.

Baseball Prospectus: The Essential Guide to the 2009 Baseball Season

Baseball Prospectus 2009: The Essential Guide to the 2009 Baseball Season - Steve Goldman, Christina Kahrl, Nate Silver Yep, I'm a baseball junkie what can I say.

If you see beauty in the numbers, this is the annual tome for you.