I went a bit nuts and ordered a bunch of books. Now there is a pile eliciting groans from my desk. It includes:

Blue Thunder: The truth about Conservatives from Macdonald to Harper, by Bob Plamondon

Lords of Finance, by Liaquat Ahamed

Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein

The House of Wittgenstein, by Alexander Waugh

Whatever it Takes, by Paul Tough

Wired for War: The robotics revolution and conflict in the 21st century, by PW Singer

Minder Over Ship, by David Marusek

They are all non-fiction except the last one. I have heard great things about LoF. Nixonland is probably the one I’ll like the most. The Waugh is the one I probably will learn the least from. Wired for War probably sounds cooler than it is. Whatever it Takes is probably very good for me. Blue Thunder is probably most professionally responsible. Any advice?

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  1. Alphabetical, by title? Or if you don’t like that result, you could switch to by author.

  2. What does an experimental police helicopter have to do with Stephen Harper and John A. MacDonald?

    • I guess I’ll have to read it to find out.

  3. I am half way through whatever it takes. i had to put it down for a while unfortunately given some other deadlines, but and am really enjoying it and can’t wait to finish it.

  4. I’d go for “House of Wittgenstein,” myself. Haven’t read it but I loved “Wittgenstein’s Vienna.” Music, philosophy, neurosis, apocalypse — what could be more topical?

  5. “House of Wittgenstein” — what is that? “House of Frankenstein” with jokes?

  6. Was that Roy Scheider movie really called Blue Thunder? An underappreciated chapter of the Scheider oeuvre, whatever it was called, and certainly better than Val Kilmer’s helicopter movie. I greatly enjoyed Nixonland but in the end it’s more a social history of America in the ’60s than a serious book about political strategy. Not necessarily a criticism, just that’s what it is. I’d read Paul Tough’s book next, even though it does seem dangerously virtuous.

    • Agree with you about Nixonland. Where I thought it fell short was in drawing a direct (or maybe indirect) line between the politics of Nixon (and the era) and the politics of today.

      I do think there is a great book in there somewhere. As you suggest, Perelstein does a fine job of narrating the social dynamic of the 1960s and then marrying that to the politiss of the day. What I always wanted to the book to do was take it to the next step – explain to me where we are now and to what extent this historical context is responsible.

      But a decent read nonetheless.

  7. I usually go with the one I think I’ll like the most. Otherwise, it just keeps calling to me while I try to read the others.

  8. Well, the Ottawa Public Library always accepts donations, so that’s probably your best bet; the Salvation Army Centre’s giving more priority to clothing rather than books, and even though it’s starting to get warmer, Gatineau Park’s campgrounds aren’t quite open yet, so you won’t be able to use them for campfire kindling.

    Or . . . were you actually planning on reading them?

  9. I’ve only read Nixonland out of those, but I loved it…as PW says, it’s a social history of the US during the late 1960s/early 1970s, but if you’re not knowledgeable about that time (as I wasn’t, at least not as much as I thought I was) it’s fascinating.

  10. Blue thunder is actually quite good. I had fun. (They’re going to use that against me when they try to institutionalize me)

  11. Has anyone read the Marusek? Mind Over Ship is a sequel to Counting Heads, the first half of which was the most interesting cyberpunk novel I’ve read in a long while. The second half wasn’t so good, but I love the title.

    • Wait for my new novel — Mind Over Little Sh*t — about my grandson who is not a cyberpunk. A regular punk instead.

  12. My advice is to read “Wired for War” but not to think of it as a book about robotics. Think of it as being about less-mentally-capable semi-autonomous instruments (analogous to, e.g., corporations.) Use the book as a way to think broadly about agency and instrumentality. (I haven’t read the book, btw.)

  13. Whatever it takes is an excellent book – part biography of Geoff Canada, part intellectual history of poverty reduction strategies, and part case study, written in an easy and very engaging style. I hope you will be happily surprised. You should write about it too, as these efforts are not well known in Canada.