Finished: 09.07.2020 “The Room Where It Happened”
Author: John Bolton
- I have read John Bolton’s book The Room Where It Happened.
- Weak point: It is like pulling teeth…difficult, tiresome and tedious.
- Weak point: The book was too ‘detailed’ for the average reader:
- dates, time of day, and number of minutes for every meeting,
- every conversation, page after page.
- Strong point? …none
- Is this the book Trump wanted to stop selling?
- If you have kept up on the news….
- Bolton revealed nothing ‘earth shattering’
- ….that hasn’t been leaked pre-publication.
- Trump should worry about his niece’s book
- Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump.
- The New York Times said,
- “…the memoir was ‘bloated’ with self-importance,
- even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton
- not being able to accomplish very much”.
- I rest my case.
- Author: Marie Arana
- Genre: biography
- Title: Bolivar: American Liberator
- Published: (2013)
- Table of Contents: 18 chapters, 468
- Timeline: 1783 – 1830
- Setting: South America
- Trivia: M. Arana won the LA Times Book Award biography 2014.
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly reading plan
- Bolivar was compared to Napoleon or Julius Caesar.
- But Bolivar realized that he could unite South America
- …freed of Spanish rule, but could not unite the South Americans.
- He had to take drastic steps: Bolivar declared himself ‘dictator’
- …in August 1828 due to growing internal conflicts among his commanders.
- As Bolivar said: “No one achieves greatness with impunity:
- No one escapes the fangs of envy along the way”. (pg 406)
- There were several assassination attempts
- …thought to be instigated by his old friend, and commander F. Santander.
- Bolivar used psychological warfare, surprise,
- …deception and fear to defeat his enemies.
- But he could not defeat his last foe
- ….he succumbed to tubercleosis in 1830 at the age of 47 years old.
Strong point: Bolivar reads like a great novel!
Strong point: Epilogue: great summation with references to modern South America.
- This was not a boring biography.
- Marie Arana is first and foremost a
- talented writer and knows how to create
- ….a book that would capture the reader’s attention.
- She has succeeded in melting all the biographical facts
- …about the American Liberator into a unique mold.
- The result is a ‘bronze bell’ named ‘Bolivar’ whose
- …tremendous sound resonated across
- …the South American continent.
- I was surprised that Bolivar read Voltaire, Locke,
- Montesquieu and his hero Rousseau instead of theorists of war:
- Prussian Von Clausewitz (1780-1831) or French Jomini (1779-1869).
- Bolivar was a child of The Enlightenment.
- The only way I can sum him is to refer to John Locke’s book
- An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,
- …page 220 where Locke discusses ‘power’.
- Bolivar saw that the countries in his beloved South America
- …were just spokes in a wheel all pointing to the hub, Spain.
- He felt that there was the possibility of making this simple idea change.
- And so we come to the idea that Locke explained as: ‘power’.
- Bolivar had this ‘power’:
- “thus we say, fire has a power to melt gold,
- …to destroy the consistency of its insensible parts and
- …consequently its hardness and make it fluid.” (Locke)
Bolivar: History of liberated South America …. is not for the fainthearted.
What a man…he could outride, outwit and outfight any enemy!
#SurgicalStrikes and countless stragagems later Bolivar is not afraid to take up the pen….
#ManInLove with Manuela…
#ReadMoreBiography Blood trickles down the roads, heads roll out from under the bushes. This is not magical realism… this is history!
Genre: epistolary nonfiction
Between the World and Me is written in the
form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son.
It thus falls into the category of epistolary nonfiction.
The book itself is broken into three parts, and
each part includes an epigraph from a prominent black writer
Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, and James Baldwin, respectively.
Part1: Coates’s life prior to birth of son
Part 2: is set after the birth of Samori
Part 3: Coates’s visit to Mable Jones, the mother of Prince Jones, whose death Coates discusses
After the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. and
the hopes of Barack Obama
we have the hard truths of Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Coates is a realist. This realist approach enables Coates
to see the way white supremacy works through institutions,
ideas, interests, and identities.
#MustRead …and I hope taught in high-schools/college.
This book was on my bookshelf for a few years.
But the cover was so confronting…I kept putting off reading this book.
Then the tragedy on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis….happened.
As I listened to many experts discussing this crisis…
David Simon was interviewed.
A Former Baltimore Sun crime reporter, David Simon is is also the creator of both the Baltimore-based show, The Wire (2002).
Simon was asked what is the first thing US must do to start improving the systemic racism in USA.He was the ONLY person who mentioned: “Stop the war on drugs”.
That was the trigger to finally learn more about this strategy.
This is the emergence of a new caste system—a system of social excommunication that has denied millions of African Americans basic human dignity.
“The New Jim Crow” is an eye-opener….#MustRead.
- Author: E.S. Glaude jr.
- Title: Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul
- Published: 2016
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly reading plan
- Finished: 17.06.2020
….not a lot of groundbreaking information on
…American race problem (lackluster scholarship).
The history of the United States is usually
taught in school from the perspective of the dominant white culture.
The lessons lay out some of the struggles,
… but without fully explaining the causes
…particularly the racist policies and actions of the U.S. government.
Books about black lives (including this one) can be eye-openers!
It just depends what you’ve been taught or experienced.
- Author: Bartabas (Clément Marty) (1958)
- Title: D’un cheval l’autre
- Published: 2020
- Language: French
- Bartabas is the performing name of the internationally
- acclaimed French horse trainer, choreographer, artist,
- film producer and director.
- In 1984, he founded the Famous equestrian performing show, “Zingaro”.
- Zingaro, the Italian word for Gypsy, is the name
- given to Bartabas’ first own cherished horse, a spectacular Friesian,
- NB: ...YES!! This breed is from Friesland, The Netherlands where I live!!
- whom he owned for more than 20 years and who also was the first star of his show.
- What a beauty !
Bartabas is considered one of the most talented trainers currently living.
- In choosing performers and horses,
- Bartabas seeks personality more than mere skill.
- “I meet horses and respond to their charm.
- In 2002, he founded the Academy of Equestrian Arts in the Grand Ecurie (stables)
- of the Palace of Versailles in order to ensure the continuation of the art.
- For the first time Bartabas tells us about the horses who touched his life.
- Bartabas traces his memoires with “la pointe du cœur”. (…from the heart)
- …a text filled with passion and poetry!
- The horses are called…..
- Zingaro, Quixote, Dolaci, Felix, Horizonte, Le Caravage and many more.
- I opened this book with some trepidation.…
- I know at a certain time
- …a owner must say goodbye to a beloved animal.
- Let me assure you
- …Bartabas describes even this phase in the life of his
- horses with a delicacy that will not break your heart
- ….it will uplift it!
- #CoupDeCoeur (…this book is a delight!)
- Words: There is a whole new vocabulary about
- …all things horse...I had to look up.
- That made reading feel slow…stop and go.
- Chapter Chaparro included the description of
- …a horse being brought to the abattoir.
- I skipped this one, no need to read that.
- Descriptions: there are many paragraphs in which
- Batabras poetically describes the movements of the horse
- during its training. It is nice, but after a while it loses something.
- Intimate: chapters are all love letters to his beloved horses.
- Lesson learned from Batabras about horses:
- “Horses are not born just for someone who wants the perfect horse.
- One must try to reveal the treasures they conceal
- …and even celebrate their faults.” (pg 51)
- The author adds: “…this is my approach to horses and people.”
- Something has to change in USA.
- Racism isn’t worse…it is just getting filmed!
- I can only start to understand what has to change
- …by reading.
- Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.
- Books about Black Lives.
- Here is the list
- ….if you are interested, good suggestions for a book club?
- If you’re reeling from the news and want to do something,
- deepening your understanding of racism and the black experience
- in America is one way to start.
- Check out the books below, which range from established classics
- to newer works and include memoirs, practical guides
- to talking about race, in-depth reporting on police brutality,
- and groundbreaking works of inter sectional feminist theor
- UPDATE: 11.06.2020. America is reading again…TOP 10 bestsellers
UPDATE: 05.06.2020 (Amazon links included by titles)
- Are Prisons Obsolete? – Angela Y. Davis
- The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison – R. Ellison
- The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander – Review
- (NAACP Image Awards (Outstanding Non-fiction, 2011)
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates – READING
- Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine
- Black Feminist Thought – Patricia Hill Collins
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – Audre Lorde
- Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism – Bell hooks
- We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood – Dani McClain
- They Can’t Kill Us All – Wesley Lowery
- So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
- Heavy – Kiese Laymon
- Their Eyes Are Watching – Zora N. Hurston
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
- The Hate Race – Maxine Beneba Clark 5 star ***** read
- The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin 5 star ***** read
- Brit(ish) – Afua Hirsh – my review
- Tears We Cannot Stop – M. Dyson – my review
- Blood in the Water – Heather Thompson (Pulitzer Prize 2017) – my review
- Stamped From the Beginning – I.X. Kendi (National Book Award 2016) – my review
- Ghettoside – Jill Levoy – my review
- Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson
- The New Testament – Jericho Brown (excellent poems!!) – my review
- Democracy In Black – E.S. Glaude jr. – my review
- Brown is The New White – Steve Phillips – my review
- My Vanishing Country – B. Sellers (2020) – my review
- How to Be an Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi – my review
- Author: Carol Leonnig, Philip Rucker
- Title: A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America
- Published: 2020 (480 pages)
- Genre: non-fiction
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- I enjoyed this book very much and
- …at the same time it depressed me.
- How did we let a man like Trump anywhere near the White House?
- C.J. White House Press Secretary in the series
- …West Wing uses the phrase “full lid”.
- Press conference: “You have a full lid on Christmas day.”
- This is to say that there will be no more news from the White House today.
- Well, this book just “blew the lid off The White House”!
- The book reveals some startling and spectacular insights
- …about Trump that we don’t see in the newspapers.
- A Very Stable Genius will find its audience
- …..hopefully before November 2020!
Trump: A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America
- Damage flowing from his every word and gesture
- World leader
- Translated bluster into hard policy
- …withdrawal Paris climate accord, nuclear deal with Iran
- A name calling pigeon-chested schoolboy (Kim Jong-un, as Rocket Man)
- Foreign policy
- Trump looks like Bambi on ice.
- Homeland policy
- Pouring $$ into a fake emergency to stir up is political base (Finish the Wall!)
- while the rest of the country is in the middle of a storm!
- White House
- Staff chosen from ‘central casting’ as
- ….Trump seeks ‘the look’ (do the job and look the part).
- Revolving doors as advisors come and go.
- West Wing is in a constant state of damage control.
- Author: S. Hennessey, B. Wittes
- Title: Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office
- Published: 2020 (433 pages)
- Genre: non-fiction
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- Politics is not beanbag….it’s hardball.
- If you want to make an informed choice at the
- ballot box in November 2020 start by looking
- under the hood of Trump and his
- … Administration in the White House.
- This is not a book. This is an achievement
- The Electoral College ushered Trump into office 2016
- …despite losing the popular vote (3-4 million votes).
- If Trump wins again in 2020…the question is:
- has the public accepted as tolerable Trump’s presidency that
- …is fundamentally about the vanity of one individual?
- Be afraid, be very afraid in these dystopian times.
- Stream-of- consciousness, (example East Room Speech dd 07 February 2020)
- Proudly illiterate; misspellings, Kansas City Chiefs
- …Super Bowl winners…from Kansas or Missouri?
- Trump does not speak to persuade, never makes an argument
- …but constantly repeats epithets (Sleep Joe, Shifty Schiff) and
- …slogans (MAGA, KAGA. Do Nothing Dems, Hoax, Witch Hunt)
- to keep the base mobilized and validated.
- Trump does not ‘tap dance around the truth….he is a pathological
- …liar about everything!! (example SOTU address dd 04 February 2020)
- Mueller Report:
- Trump feels like ‘victim-in-chief’.
- I have the absolute right….to even pardon myself!
- Management style:
- Governs in eruptions; Trump attacks opponents via Dept of Justice
- New York Times Editorial Board dd 13 February was very clear:
- TRUMP does NOT have the authority to run the DOJ
— like a goon squad at one of his failed casinos.
- What has Attorney Bill Barr done for Trump?
—misled the public about the findings from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III,
—cleared Trump of obstruction of justice,
—embraced Trump’s claim that the FBI was “spying” on him,
—worked to discredit the Russia probe,
—disputed the inspector general’s finding that the probe had a proper basis
—commissioned another probe in pursuit of his desired outcome
—declined to investigate the Ukraine allegations
—announced softened sentencing recommendations for Trump pal Roger Stone
—after Trump demanded it.
—investigating the prosecution of another former Trump aide, Michael Flynn.
- Foreign Policy:
- Shoot-from-the-hip deal-making, does not want to listen to his Generals.
- Many foreign interlocutors simply ignore what the president says.
- But I don’t think the Turkish President Erdogan will EVER forget Trump’s
- ….brash personal letter in which he warned
- …not to be a “tough guy” or a “fool,” and
- …said he risked being remembered as “the devil”. #OUCH
- Author: Joanna Pocock
- Title: Surrender (360 pg)
- Published: 2019
- Genre: non-fiction (memoir)
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- #WorldFromMyArmchair ( North American West)
- Joanna Pocock is writing realism in her essays
- about nature, environment and herself (memoir)
- ..but not in the traditional style.
- She details the the damage done to the environment (mining)
- ….that made me shudder.
- She details information about the people
- …in her life (family) and who she met in Missoula Montana
- …and on her road trips.
- Shock: Wolf trappers…Ms Pocock is on the side of the wolves!
- The Three Percenters…”3%-ers ” militia movements are growing.
- She shares her feelings during her adventure.
- “I was aware …that the land in the American West was not mine.”
- “…I felt at first lost and had no real concrete reason to be here.”
- But she did know that the West…had changed her.
- She would seek to give herself over to wilderness however she could.
- Best chapter:
- Joanna’s experience at the Ecosex Convergence in Washington state!
- Goal: make sex less shameful and environmetalism more sexy.
- Truly, this was a terrific section of the book.
- Ms Pocock stood among the other attendees, dressed in jeans and
- a warm fleece…surrounded by people
- in gauzy “I Dream of Genie” numbers…!
- Joanna was open to the tribal approach at this jamboree
- …but ” I slipped out before the cuddle circle got going”.
- Montana has been the “last best place” for so many people.
- Ms Pocock’s book goes far beyond the pristine wilderness.
- She stands between youth and old age (52 yr.)
- There are moments Joanna does not want to be back in London
- …but does not know what to do about it.
- Marriage and children are ties that bind,
- …yet sometimes the ties can chafe – and strangle.
- Sometimes….all you can do is Surrender
- …to your circumstances.
- Chapeau au bas for Joanna Pocock!
Feedback to Word By Word:
Claire, every memoir is different and it depends on the level of openness the writer dares to achieve especially concerning very personal thoughts. Joanna Pocock had the perfect balance: personal issues, feelings for nature and skepticism about some cultural practices in the American West. I learned so much from this book!
Feedback to WhatsNonFiction:
I’m sure you will love this book! Joanna Pocock has done her homework and she incudes many reference to the books she read about the American West, evironmentalism and essays by other authors she admires…for instance Rebecca Solnit “A Book of Migrations”. Trivia: Did you know the Appalachian Mountains is the second most biodiverse region in the world after the Amazon? I did not know that!