all images and links open separate tabs
Once upon a time, before the #metoo movement was center stage, before fake news was every day parlance, another organism was growing layers underneath our news cycle. The Smear. How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote. This book came out only seven months ago, and was perfectly timed. I heard Sharyl Attkinson in multiple interviews discussing the book. She was a previous investigative correspondent with CBS News; she’s not some ‘Fox News hack.’ If you’re on the Left and blame the Koch brothers or if you’re on the right and blame George Soros, you’re misguided and barely skimming the surface. This book goes as far back as the 80’s and is fairly bipartisan. It does lay out the multiple layers of the Clinton machine, David Brock’s flip-flopping, the evolution of Media Matters, and their subsequent take down of Glenn Beck from Fox News; the slew of advertisers attacked; the inevitable removal of Bill O’Reilly. It’s just sickening, because it’s so multi-layered and downright corrupt. It seems there’s no turning back other than being really truthful and honest in our own lives. The average person just doesn’t investigate anything; and everything heard or seen is taken at face value. The repercussions have added up. This is a great book to understand why we are in the mess we’re in. Who do you trust? What do you trust? I don’t ask this to be conspiratorial but to motivate one to dig deeper.
Ever wonder how politics turned into a take-no-prisoners blood sport? The New York Times bestselling author of Stonewalled pulls back the curtain on the shady world of opposition research and reveals the dirty tricks those in power use to influence your opinions.
OK, let’s stay peeved. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. A 500-Year History This book came out in September 2017, so the book benefited by riding the coattails of growing angst and resentment. I love history and was intrigued with how he approached it. I couldn’t get past the underlying tone of disdain. Kurt Andersen is one of these liberals who cries out they’ll leave the country if such’n’such is elected. He quite frankly believes America was founded by a religious cult and some of us are still living under the haze of it. We are susceptible to illusions. Damn delightful.
Over the course of five centuries—from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy sixties, from conspiracy theories to our fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials—our love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we’ve never fully acknowledged. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams and epic fantasies—every citizen was free to believe absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. With the gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in liberty has gone off the rails.
Ok, let’s stay morose. Actually I couldn’t. I only got halfway through. Every Man Dies Alone I hate to say this and it feels selfish to say considering the true story and inevitable heartwarming ride-of-a-read this is said to be, but it was boring. Reading it felt like I was watching a black and white television show of disparate scenes; there was no through line despite consistent characters, and I often pictured sketch comedy potential.
In a richly detailed portrait of life in Berlin under the Nazis, it tells the sweeping saga of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed at the front. With nothing but their grief and each other against the awesome power of the Third Reich, Otto and Anna Quangel launch a simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.
Ok, I am due some junk food reads… My brain is exhausted with all the non-fiction, plus the emotional toll some of it can take. More is certainly not better in most cases. One certainly can’t sip out of a gushing fire hydrant. In doing that digging deeper I mentioned earlier, I question my motivations sometimes. I’ve been wondering why I feel so invested in certain topics and research? Generally, I’m not being paid to; I’m not getting a degree in the topic; nor am I needing to be formidable in a debate. Hmm…
The ‘bookish’ upside to the month have been two podcasts. Obviously. From Wondery, the network behind Tides Of History, History Unplugged, Fall Of Rome and Dirty John. The Cold War by American History Tellers. The Cold War was decades before me, and I only have a peripheral understanding of it, so I was anxious to listen to this narrative styling of facts. Can’t recommend it enough. It’s new and there are only 8 episodes.
The other podcast has been out awhile, thus I’ve been able to pick and choose and hop around. I’ve also designated it as my bedtime story time 🙂 Our Fake History A podcast about myths we think are history and history that might be hidden in myths. I’ve come to anxiously anticipate it in the evenings. I love peeling apart more layers to topics I already believed myself quite familiar with: The Greeks and mythology; Joan of Arc; Rasputin; the Crusades; Robin Hood, etc…
Well that’s that. Arm yourself with what you see fit!