June 05, 2015

An Antidote to Al Mohler's Summer Reading List

Al Mohler has recently posted his yearly summer reading recommendations (check them out at this link). While Mohler's choices aren't bad, they're a bit too safe for my tastes. Do you really want to read another book on World War II? Why not try something a bit less obvious?

In response to Mohler's very tame list, I've created one that's a bit less conventional.  Consider the following my antidote to Al Mohler's summer reading list:


1. 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask by Thomas Woods
News flash: The Indians didn’t save the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them to grow corn. The “Wild West” was more peaceful and a lot safer than most modern cities. And the biggest scandal of the Clinton years didn’t involve an intern in a blue dress.

Surprised? Don’t be. In America, where history is riddled with misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies about the people and events that have shaped the nation, there’s the history you know and then there’s the truth. In 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, New York Times bestselling author Thomas E. Woods Jr. reveals the tough questions about our nation’s history that have long been buried because they’re too politically incorrect to discuss . . .

2. All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power by Nomi Prins
All the Presidents’ Bankers is a groundbreaking narrative of how an elite group of men transformed the American economy and government, dictated foreign and domestic policy, and shaped world history.

Culled from original presidential archival documents, All the Presidents’ Bankers delivers an explosive account of the hundred-year interdependence between the White House and Wall Street that transcends a simple analysis of money driving politics—or greed driving bankers.

Prins ushers us into the intimate world of exclusive clubs, vacation spots, and Ivy League universities that binds presidents and financiers. She unravels the multi-generational blood, intermarriage, and protégé relationships that have confined national influence to a privileged cluster of people. These families and individuals recycle their power through elected office and private channels in Washington, DC.

3. Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld by Jake Halpern
The Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about rogue debt collecting than about any activity besides identity theft. Dramatically and entertainingly, Bad Paper reveals why. . . . Introducing an unforgettable cast of strivers and rogues, Jake Halpern chronicles their lives as they manage high-pressure call centers, hunt for paper in Las Vegas casinos, and meet in parked cars to sell the social security numbers and account information of unsuspecting consumers.

4. By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission by Charles Murray
American freedom is being gutted. Whether we are trying to run a business, practice a vocation, raise our families, cooperate with our neighbors, or follow our religious beliefs, we run afoul of the government—not because we are doing anything wrong but because the government has decided it knows better. When we object, that government can and does tell us, “Try to fight this, and we’ll ruin you.”. . . By the People’s hopeful message is that rebuilding our traditional freedoms does not require electing a right-thinking Congress or president, nor does it require five right-thinking justices on the Supreme Court. It can be done by we the people, using America’s unique civil society to put government back in its proper box.

5. Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight by M. E. Thomas
Confessions of a Sociopath—part confessional memoir, part primer for the curious—takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes them tick while debunking myths about sociopathy and offering a road map for dealing with the sociopaths in your life. M. E. Thomas draws from her own experiences as a diagnosed sociopath; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and scientific literature to unveil for the very first time these men and women who are “hiding in plain sight.”

6. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman
The narrative brims with details unearthed from within a notoriously mysterious subculture, whose semi-legendary tricksters—such as Topiary, tflow, Anachaos, and Sabu—emerge as complex, diverse, politically and culturally sophisticated people. Propelled by years of chats and encounters with a multitude of hackers, including imprisoned activist Jeremy Hammond and the double agent who helped put him away, Hector Monsegur, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy is filled with insights into the meaning of digital activism and little understood facets of culture in the Internet age, including the history of “trolling,” the ethics and metaphysics of hacking, and the origins and manifold meanings of “the lulz.”

7. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe 
In the early 1960s, a struggling company called Marvel Comics presented a cast of brightly costumed characters distinguished by smart banter and compellingly human flaws: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men. Over the course of half a century, Marvel's epic universe would become the most elaborate fictional narrative in history and serve as a modern American mythology for millions of readers.
For the first time, Marvel Comics reveals the outsized personalities behind the scenes, including Martin Goodman, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and generations of editors, artists, and writers who struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and—over matters of credit and control—one another. Marvel Comics is a story of fertile imaginations, lifelong friendships, action-packed fistfights, and third-act betrayals—a narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop-cultural entities in America's history.

8. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U. S. Surveillance State by Glen Greenwald
In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the twenty-nine-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency's widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy.

9. Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces by Radley Balko
The last days of colonialism taught America’s revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other—an enemy.

10. So, You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.


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