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Posts from the ‘non-fiction’ Category


#Non-fiction The Room Where It Happened

Finished: 09.07.2020   “The Room Where It Happened”
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: F
Author: John Bolton


  1. I have read John Bolton’s book The Room Where It Happened.
  2. Weak point: It is like pulling teeth…difficult, tiresome and tedious.
  3. Weak point: The book was too ‘detailed’ for the average reader:
  4. dates, time of day, and number of minutes for every meeting,
  5. every conversation, page after page.
  6. Strong point? none
  7. Is this the book Trump wanted to stop selling?
  8. If you have kept up on the news….
  9. Bolton revealed nothing ‘earth shattering’
  10. ….that hasn’t been leaked pre-publication.
  11. Trump should worry about his niece’s book
  12. Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump.
  13. The New York Times said,
  14. “…the memoir was ‘bloated’ with self-importance,
  15. even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton
  16. not being able to accomplish very much”.
  17. I rest my case.
  18. #WasteOfReadingTime

#Non-fiction Bolívar

  • Author:  Marie Arana
  • Genre: biography
  • Title:  Bolivar: American Liberator
  • Published:  (2013)
  • Table of Contents: 18 chapters, 468
  • Timeline:  1783 – 1830
  • SettingSouth America
  • Trivia: M. Arana won the LA Times Book Award biography 2014.
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #20BooksOfSummer20



  1. Bolivar was compared to Napoleon or Julius Caesar.
  2. But Bolivar realized that he could unite South America
  3. …freed of Spanish rule, but could not unite the South Americans.
  4. He had to take drastic steps: Bolivar declared himself ‘dictator’
  5. …in August 1828 due to growing internal conflicts among his commanders.
  6. As Bolivar said: “No one achieves greatness with impunity:
  7. No one escapes the fangs of envy along the way”. (pg 406)
  8. There were several assassination attempts
  9. …thought to be instigated by his old friend, and commander F. Santander.
  10. Bolivar used psychological warfare, surprise,
  11. …deception and fear to defeat his enemies.
  12. But he could not defeat his last foe
  13. ….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.

  1. This was not a boring biography.
  2. Marie Arana is first and foremost a
  3. talented writer and knows how to create
  4. ….a book that would capture the reader’s attention.
  5. She has succeeded in melting all the biographical facts
  6. …about the American Liberator into a unique mold.
  7. The result is a ‘bronze bell’ named ‘Bolivar’ whose
  8. …tremendous sound resonated across
  9. …the South American continent.
  10. #ExcellentRead


Last Thoughts:

  1. I was surprised that Bolivar read Voltaire, Locke,
  2. Montesquieu and his hero Rousseau instead of theorists of war:
  3. Prussian Von Clausewitz (1780-1831) or French Jomini (1779-1869).
  4. Bolivar was a child of The Enlightenment.
  5. The only way I can sum him is to refer to John Locke’s book
  6. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,
  7. …page 220 where Locke discusses ‘power’.


  1. Bolivar saw that the countries in his beloved South America
  2. …were just spokes in a wheel all pointing to the hub, Spain.
  3. He felt that there was the possibility of making this simple idea change.
  4. And so we come to the idea that Locke explained as: ‘power’.
  5. Bolivar had this ‘power’:
  6. “thus we say, fire has a power to melt gold,
  7. …to destroy the consistency of its insensible parts and
  8. …consequently its hardness and make it fluid.” (Locke)


Twitter thoughts:

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!


#Non-fiction Between the World and Me


Finished: 24.06.2020
Genre: epistolary nonfiction
Rating: A++


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.


Literary Awards



#20BooksOfSummer20 The New Jim Crow


Finished: 23.06.2020
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: A

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.


#20BooksOfSummer20 Democracy In Black


  • 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
  • #20BooksOfSummer20
  • Finished: 17.06.2020
    Genre: non-fiction
    Rating: B+


For some...
….not a lot of groundbreaking information on
…American race problem (lackluster scholarship).

For others…
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.


#20BooksOfSummer20 D’un cheval l’autre

Bartabas signe un premier livre « D’un cheval l’autre » (Gallimard, 320 pages, 20 euros).

  • Author: Bartabas (Clément Marty) (1958)
  • Title: D’un cheval l’autre
  • Published: 2020
  • Language: French
  • #20BooksOfSummer20


  1. Bartabas is the performing name of the internationally
  2. acclaimed French horse trainer, choreographer, artist,
  3. film producer and director.
  4. In 1984, he founded the Famous equestrian performing show, “Zingaro”.
  5. Zingaro, the Italian word for Gypsy, is the name
  6. given to Bartabas’ first own cherished horse, a spectacular Friesian,
  7. NB: ...YES!!  This breed is from Friesland, The Netherlands where I live!!
  8. whom he owned for more than 20 years and who also was the first star of his show.
  9. What a beauty !


Bartabas is considered one of the most talented trainers currently living.


  1. In choosing performers and horses,
  2. Bartabas seeks personality more than mere skill.
  3. “I meet horses and respond to their charm.
  4. In 2002, he founded the Academy of Equestrian Arts in the Grand Ecurie  (stables)
  5. of the Palace of Versailles in order to ensure the continuation of the art.



  1. For the first time Bartabas tells us about the horses who touched his life.
  2. Bartabas traces his memoires with “la pointe du cœur”. (…from the heart)
  3. …a text filled with passion and poetry!
  4. The horses are called…..
  5. Zingaro, Quixote, Dolaci, Felix, Horizonte, Le Caravage and many more.
  6. I opened this book with some trepidation.
  7. I know at a certain time
  8. …a owner must say goodbye to a beloved animal.
  9. Let me assure you
  10. …Bartabas describes even this phase in the life of his
  11. horses with a delicacy that will not break your heart
  12. ….it will uplift it!
  13. #CoupDeCoeur  (…this book is a delight!)


Last thoughts:

  1. Words: There is a whole new vocabulary about
  2. …all things horse...I had to look up.
  3. That made reading feel slow…stop and go.
  4. Chapter Chaparro included the description of
  5. …a horse being brought to the abattoir.
  6. I skipped this one, no need to read that.
  7. Descriptions: there are many paragraphs in which
  8. Batabras poetically describes the movements of the horse
  9. during its training. It is nice, but after a while it loses something.
  10. Intimate: chapters are all love letters to his beloved horses.
  11. Lesson learned from Batabras about horses:
  12. “Horses are not born just for someone who wants the perfect horse.
  13. One must try to reveal the treasures they conceal
  14. …and even celebrate their faults.” (pg 51)
  15. The author adds: “…this is my approach to horses and people.”




Books You Should Read About Black Lives

  1. Something has to change in USA.
  2. Racism isn’t worse…it is just getting filmed!
  3. I can only start to understand what has to change
  4. …by reading.
  5. Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.
  6. Books about Black Lives.
  7. Here is the list
  8. ….if you are interested, good suggestions for a book club?
  9. If you’re reeling from the news and want to do something,
  10. deepening your understanding of racism and the black experience
  11. in America is one way to start.
  12. Check out the books below, which range from established classics
  13. to newer works and include memoirs, practical guides
  14. to talking about race, in-depth reporting on police brutality,
  15. and groundbreaking works of inter sectional feminist theor
  16. UPDATE: 11.06.2020.     America is reading again…TOP  10 bestsellers



UPDATE: 05.06.2020   (Amazon links included by titles)


  1. Are Prisons Obsolete?Angela Y. Davis
  2. The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison – R. Ellison
  3. The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander – Review
  4. (NAACP Image Awards (Outstanding Non-fiction, 2011)
  5. Between the World and MeTa-Nehisi Coates – READING
  6. Citizen: An American Lyric Claudia Rankine
  7. Black Feminist ThoughtPatricia Hill Collins
  8. Sister Outsider: Essays and SpeechesAudre Lorde
  9. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism Bell hooks
  10. We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black MotherhoodDani McClain
  11. They Can’t Kill Us AllWesley Lowery
  12. So You Want to Talk About Race Ijeoma Oluo
  13. HeavyKiese Laymon
  14. Their Eyes Are Watching – Zora N. Hurston
  15. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About RaceReni Eddo-Lodge
  16. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
  17. The Hate Race Maxine Beneba Clark  5 star ***** read
  18. The Fire Next TimeJames Baldwin  5 star *****  read
  19. Brit(ish) – Afua Hirsh – my review
  20. Tears We Cannot Stop – M. Dyson – my review
  21. Blood in the WaterHeather Thompson (Pulitzer Prize 2017)my review
  22. Stamped From the Beginning I.X. Kendi (National Book Award 2016)my review
  23. GhettosideJill Levoymy review
  24. Just Mercy Bryan Stevenson
  25. The New TestamentJericho Brown (excellent poems!!)my review
  26. Democracy In Black – E.S. Glaude jr. – my review
  27. Brown is The New White Steve Phillips – my review
  28. My Vanishing Country – B. Sellers (2020) – my review
  29. How to Be an Anti-Racist Ibram X. Kendi – my review

#Election 2020 (4) A Very Stable Genius

  • 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



  1. I enjoyed this book very much and
  2. …at the same time it depressed me.
  3. How did we let a man like Trump anywhere near the White House?
  4. C.J. White House Press Secretary in the series
  5. …West Wing uses the phrase “full lid”.
  6. Press conference:  “You have a full lid on Christmas day.”
  7. This is to say that there will be no more news from the White House today. 
  8. Well, this book just  “blew the lid off The White House”!
  9. The book  reveals some  startling and spectacular insights
  10. …about Trump that we don’t see in the newspapers.
  11. A Very Stable Genius will find its audience
  12. …..hopefully before November 2020!
  13. #VoteBlueNoMatterWho



Trump:  A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America

  1. Legacy
  2. Damage flowing from his every word and gesture
  3. World leader
  4. Translated bluster into hard policy
  5. …withdrawal Paris climate accord, nuclear deal with Iran
  6. Character
  7. A name calling pigeon-chested schoolboy (Kim Jong-un, as Rocket Man)
  8. Foreign policy
  9. Trump looks like Bambi on ice.
  10. Homeland policy
  11. Pouring $$  into a fake emergency to stir up is political base (Finish the Wall!)
  12. while the rest of the country is in the middle of a storm!
  13. White House
  14. Staff chosen from ‘central casting’ as
  15. ….Trump seeks ‘the look’ (do the job and look the part).
  16. Revolving doors as advisors come and go.
  17. West Wing is in a constant state of damage control.

#Election (3) Unmaking of the Presidency

  • 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



  1. Politics is not beanbag….it’s hardball.
  2. If you want to make an informed choice at the
  3. ballot box in November 2020 start by looking
  4. under the hood of Trump and his
  5. … Administration in the White House.
  6. This is not a book. This is an achievement
  7. The Electoral College ushered Trump into office 2016
  8. …despite losing the popular vote (3-4 million votes).
  9. If Trump wins again in 2020…the question is:
  10. has the public accepted as tolerable Trump’s presidency that
  11. …is fundamentally about the vanity of one individual?
  12. Be afraid, be very afraid in these dystopian times.
  13. #MustRead


  1. Speech:
  2. Stream-of- consciousness, (example East Room Speech dd 07 February 2020)
  3. Proudly illiterate; misspellings, Kansas City Chiefs
  4. …Super Bowl winners…from Kansas or Missouri?
  5. Trump does not speak to persuade, never makes an argument
  6. …but constantly repeats epithets (Sleep Joe, Shifty Schiff) and
  7. …slogans (MAGA, KAGA. Do Nothing Dems, Hoax, Witch Hunt)
  8. to  keep the base mobilized and validated.
  9. Lies:
  10. Trump does not ‘tap dance around the truth….he is a pathological
  11. …liar about everything!!  (example SOTU address dd 04 February 2020)
  12. Mueller Report:
  13. Trump feels like ‘victim-in-chief’.
  14. Kingship:
  15. I have the absolute right….to even pardon myself!
  16. Management style:
  17. Governs in eruptions;  Trump attacks opponents via Dept of Justice
  18. New York Times  Editorial Board dd 13 February was very clear:
  19. TRUMP does NOT have the authority to run the DOJ
    — like a goon squad at one of his failed casinos.
  20. 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.
  21. Foreign Policy:
  22. Shoot-from-the-hip deal-making,  does not want to listen to his Generals.
  23. Many foreign interlocutors simply ignore what the president says.
  24. But I don’t think the Turkish President Erdogan will EVER forget Trump’s
  25. ….brash personal letter in which he warned
  26. …not to be a “tough guy” or a “fool,” and
  27. …said he risked being remembered as “the devil”.  #OUCH



#Non-Fiction Surrender

  • Author:  Joanna Pocock
  • Title:  Surrender  (360 pg)
  • Published: 2019
  • Genre:  non-fiction (memoir)
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #WorldFromMyArmchair ( North American West)


  1. Joanna Pocock is writing realism in her essays
  2. about nature, environment and herself (memoir)
  3. ..but not in the traditional style.
  4. She details the the damage done to the environment (mining)
  5. ….that made me shudder.
  6. She details information about the people
  7. …in her life (family) and who she met in Missoula Montana
  8. …and on her road trips.
  9. Shock: Wolf trappers…Ms Pocock is on the side of the wolves!
  10. The Three Percenters…”3%-ers ” militia movements are growing.
  11. She shares her feelings during her adventure.
  12. “I was aware …that the land in the American West was not mine.”
  13. “…I felt at first lost and had no real concrete reason to be here.”
  14. But she did know that the West…had changed her.
  15. She would seek to give herself over to wilderness however she could.
  16. Best chapter:
  17. Joanna’s experience at the Ecosex Convergence in Washington state!
  18. Goal: make sex less shameful and environmetalism more sexy.
  19. Truly, this was a terrific section of the book.
  20. Ms Pocock stood among the other attendees, dressed in jeans and
  21. a warm fleece…surrounded by people
  22. in gauzy  “I Dream of Genie” numbers…!
  23. Joanna was open to the tribal approach at this jamboree
  24. …but ” I slipped out before the cuddle circle got going”.
  25. #Hilarious



  1. Montana has been the “last best place” for so many people.
  2. Ms Pocock’s book goes far beyond the pristine wilderness.
  3. She stands between youth and old age (52 yr.)
  4. There are moments Joanna does not want to be back in London
  5. …but does not know what to do about it.
  6. Marriage and children are ties that bind,
  7. …yet sometimes the ties can chafe – and strangle.
  8. Sometimes….all you can do is  Surrender
  9. …to your circumstances.
  10. #BrilliantWriting
  11. 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!