Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Book notes

Wandering through a bookstore today, I saw a new book by John McCain: Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember. Gee, I wonder if one of those "inspiring stories" is how he got shot down over North Vietnam while bombing a lightbulb factory.

On a more positive note, the paperback edition of Norman Solomon's brilliant book, War Made Easy, is now out. You simply must read this book, and, since it is really an essential reference work, own it if possible.

And finally, I'm pleased to announce one of those rarest of rare occasions - over the weekend I actually managed to finish a book that had been sitting on my own bookshelf for several months now. John Sayles' 1977 novel Union Dues, only recently back in print, is the tale of a teenager who runs away from his home in the coal-mining country of West Virginia and becomes involved with radical politics in Boston in 1969. If you're a Sayles fan, and who isn't, you'll definitely enjoy it, even if you're like me and rarely open a book marked "fiction." Sayles has a way of writing about coal mining, or meat-packing, or plotting the next revolutionary action, or riding in a car with two Boston cops, and making you think he's got it exactly right, even if you actually have no idea if he does. The debates that go on in the "Third Way" group that the protagonist gets involved with may seem dated in some ways (as do the predictable "free love" activities), but the essence of the debate - what is "ultra-left," are actions (whether they be strikes or revolutions or whatever) only justified when they have a reasonable chance of "success," will the failure of actions still be an "advance" or will it be a setback, and so on - is timeless (or, at least, timeless until the success of the world revolution).

Why stop here? There's more...

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