Black Swan: A Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery (Book 5) by Chris Knopf

Chris Knopf begins Black Swan with an epic set piece.  During a ferocious October storm off the coast of Long Island, Sam Acquillo pilots the Carpe Mañana to safety with the help of his companion Amanda Anselma.  His dog, the ever faithful and frisky Eddie Van Halen lays below decks, asleep in medicated bliss, avoiding the dangers of the open seas.  The craft eventually gets piloted to Fishers Island, New York, a bizarre socioeconomic enclave on Long Island, home to Old Money and a xenophobic underclass.  (Chris Knopf visited the theme of natural disasters and social friction in Elysiana, a … Continue reading Black Swan: A Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery (Book 5) by Chris Knopf

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Brothers in Arms: The Story of Al-Qa’ida and the Arab Jihadists by Camille Tawil

“I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton (1970), screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola. “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things … I would not refer to him as a dictator.” Vice President Joe Biden (2011) “God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos: He will set them … Continue reading Brothers in Arms: The Story of Al-Qa’ida and the Arab Jihadists by Camille Tawil

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A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

Near the end of his life, Count Leo Tolstoy wrote two lengthy essays on the topic of religion.  Hesperus Press includes these two essays, “A Confession” (1879 – 1882) and “What is Religion, and What Does its Essence Consist of?” (1902).  The edition includes a foreword by novelist and Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore with an introduction by famed Tolstoy translator Tony Briggs. Tolstoy would revisit the religious theme in “Father Sergius” (written in 1890, published in 1898), an excruciatingly introspective tale of sensual temptation, religious duty, and personal mutilation.  With “A Confession” and “What is Religion?”, Tolstoy works within … Continue reading A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

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Essays on Capital, First Series: Essay Number Zero

By way of an introduction … “It is simply misleading and vulgar to say of Marx, as Edmund Wilson in To the Finland Station and many others have done, that he was really a latter-day prophet[.]” – “Piety without content,” Susan Sontag [1961] “Marx’s thought marks a watershed.  Its roots reach back to Joachim of Fiore and further, to the inspired utterances of the Old Testament prophets.” – Reasons for Our Rhymes: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of History, R. A. Herrera [2001] “Better dead than Red.” – Anti-communist saying [c. 1950s] Karl Marx is a controversial, misunderstood, and often … Continue reading Essays on Capital, First Series: Essay Number Zero

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Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (1867), by Karl Marx

Two years after the American Civil War ended and nearly two decades after revolutions ravaged the European continent, Karl Marx, a secular Jew living in exile in Great Britain, published the first volume of Capital: A Critique of Political Economy.  Two more volumes would follow.  The plan involved an outline for six volumes, a monumental undertaking even to someone as prolific as Marx was.  Friedrich Engels would go on to edit and compile the second and third volumes in addition to editing future editions of Volume 1. Volume 1 of Capital can be seen bookending Marx’s fecund writing career.  He … Continue reading Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (1867), by Karl Marx

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White House Years (1979) by Henry Kissinger

Tears of a Courtier Political memoirs are works of self-justification.  In the case of Henry Kissinger, he packages these self-justifications in the first volume of his memoirs, White House Years (1979).  As a major partner with President Richard Nixon, Kissinger, working as the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (more commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor), he followed Nixon’s wishes to direct the nation’s foreign policy from the White House.  Kissinger transformed himself from a Harvard academic to a diplomat engineering international relationships (political and military) of world-historical importance. During this period, Nixon and Kissinger could … Continue reading White House Years (1979) by Henry Kissinger

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The Art of Reviewing Special Edition(TM): The 20 Minute “Avatar” Review

Every blog needs a large-scale project. The Art of Reviewing will explore reviewing as an art form and as a valuable element to understanding society.  During this project, I will profile specific reviewers of merit.  Several specific cases also explore other facets of reviewing. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s making the rounds on Ye Olde Nettertubes.  It’s a twenty-minute review of James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Here’s the review, in two parts: *** COMMENTARY This review is a bit long and a bit cynical, but it makes a number of valid points.  It is an artful combination of pop … Continue reading The Art of Reviewing Special Edition(TM): The 20 Minute “Avatar” Review

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