|Richard Pachter||June 29th 2009|
Miami Herald reviewer
Rethink: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation. Ric Merrifield. FT Press. 240 pages.
Maybe I'm taking a cheap shot here, though I don't mean to. But a book entitled Rethink invites every wise-guy and a well-intentioned reviewer to apply the implied invitation to this endeavor as well.
Merrifield, a Microsoft business scientist (cool title!), presents a series of examples of companies that either were or were not successful in analyzing what he calls the ''hows'' of their business in an effort to discover the true nature of their enterprises. He cites McDonald's, which we may think is in the fast-food business but is really engaged in real estate acquisition and development, according to Merrifield. They identify a location, buy the land, develop the business and then sell it to a franchisee. The food (such as it is) is just the ''how'' not the ``what.''
Amazon.com figured out that it had the infrastructure to be more than a seller of books, then realized that its capacity was so massive, it could be ''rented'' by outside parties, generating more revenue. That was a good thing, obviously, but on the other hand, Merrifield also cites Office Depot which, he writes, fell into the ''how trap'' and neglected the ''what'' of their business by focusing on cost-cutting, labor reductions and other supposed efficiencies at the expense of the attributes that were most meaningful to their customers, including experience and expertise from their employees, in particular. Read more ..
|Robert Justin Goldstein||June 22nd 2009|
Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev. Yale University Press, 2009. 794 pages.
The Haynes/Klehr/Vassiliev (hereafter Haynes) volume contains a great deal of highly valuable scholarship within a massive tome consisting of over 40 pages of prefatory matter, 550 pages of main text and 90 pages of footnotes. Despite raising massive and extremely troubling methodological, historiographical and, sometimes, judgmental questions, it is unquestionably a major contribution. In general, this reviewer finds it convincing, and certainly a book which anyone interested in the post-World War II Red Scare cannot ignore.
Some disclosure is required here: I have a very slight acquaintance with co-author Harvey Klehr, who recently did me a great kindness by loaning me some research materials, even though he surely knew that my political views and scholarship are probably often at odds with his. I also have a very modest, but less slight, acquaintanceship with Ellen Schrecker, perhaps the most prominent historian of the post-World War II Red Scare, with whom Klehr and Haynes have been involved in a sort of academic cold war for many years.
In an earlier joint book, Early Cold War Spies (Cambridge University Press, 2006), which in general I find quite reliable, Klehr and Haynes let their ideological bias and personal pique explode--rather than “peak” through--when (on page 22) they ridiculously declared that Schrecker’s leading study Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, Princeton University Press, 1999, was a “broad academic denunciation of any form of opposition to communism,” which are all “conflate[d]” with “McCarthyism.” My own published views and interpretations are sometimes “conflated” with Schrecker’s and are unquestionably far closer to hers than those of Haynes and Klehr, who have written about half-dozen studies of Russian espionage in pre-Cold War America and are certainly the pre-eminent authorities on the subject. Read more ..
|Jason Weixelbaum||June 15th 2009|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Trading with the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949. Charles Higham. Delacorte Press. 1983, 2007. 277 pages.
Americans are unceasingly reminded of the shared memories of the self-titled “Greatest Generation” that beat back the Nazis and saved the world from fascism. Is there another side to this heroic narrative? Although historians generally commend the United States as an instrumental force behind the undoing of Hitler’s Nazi regime, many prominent American companies and citizens knowingly aided the inception and military efforts of Nazi Germany.
The text, Charles Higham’s Trading with the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949, provides this subject with a significant degree of depth. The work is groundbreaking in the information it presents. Trading with the Enemy has spurred new public dialog and research among historians. Although this book involves similar types of activity to other books in the field, it has a markedly different approach and methodology. These differences present a challenge to researchers and the public in gaining insight into the big picture of this sordid past.
Trading with the Enemy casts a long shadow on the study of World War II era US corporate activity in Nazi Germany. Published in 1983, the information presented in the text has a continuing impact on the study of its subject matter. Like Edwin Black’s IBM and the Holocaust, Higham’s text also lays out an extensive array of details for the reader to digest.
Higham’s thesis is also just as blunt: Many US financial and industrial figures knowingly aided Nazi war efforts. Higham supplies a selective bibliography to support his claims and provides copies of a few key primary sources at the end of the book. Trading with the Enemy is organized by business, exploring the activities of individuals and their related enterprises in each section chronologically. Read more ..
|Michael Cook||June 15th 2009|
Without Arnold Schwarzenegger, the fourth film in the series, Terminator Salvation, is a bit limp, in the opinion of most critics – notwithstanding the car chases, explosions, and high-tech shoot-outs. But, believe it or not, obscured by billowing clouds of smoke and spurts of flame, there is a significant question: Is it better to be a man or a machine?
Without revealing the absurdly convoluted plot, our saviour is Marcus Wright, a prisoner executed in 2004. He wakes up in 2018 as a cybernetically-enhanced participant in a war between us and Skynet, an artificial intelligence system which has become conscious and turned on its creators. Most of humanity has already been obliterated in a nuclear holocaust. The ragged remnant spend their time plotting to win back the planet and screaming at each other over the noise of colliding machines and exploding gas tanks.
Where do the loyalties of half-human, half-machine Marcus lie in this crisis? Well, this is Hollywood and you can guess the answer. T4’s muscles are titanium, but he still has a heart and sacrifices himself to save humanity.
For most viewers, Terminator Salvation is as realistic as Grimm’s Fairytales. At least it has a sensible outcome: humanity wins.
But there are a number of computer experts who sympathise with Skynet rather than with humanity. They look forward eagerly to a time in which homo sapiens will perfect itself and become more and more like super-intelligent machines. And they are already planning for its coming. They call it "the Singularity". Read more ..
|Jeremy Kuzmarov||June 8th 2009|
History News Network reviewer
The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial. Moshik Temkin. Yale University Press. 2009. 344 pages.
In 1927, two revolutionary anarchists of Italian ancestry, Nicolo Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were executed outside of Boston, Massachusetts six years after their conviction on murder charges in one of the most controversial criminal cases in American history. Critics have long claimed that Sacco and Vanzetti were framed because of their radical political convictions.
It has been widely acknowledged that they did not receive a fair trial because of widespread prejudice, fueled in part by the jingoistic and anti-immigrant climate of the first Red Scare. Moshik Temkin’s book, The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial provides new insights on the socio-political resonance of the case and its broader historical implications. He argues that the heated passions that were invoked dispel the myth promoted by many historians that the 1920s were apolitical and the decision to go through with the execution further exemplified the provincialism of many political elites of the era, who rejected a broad international consensus supporting the right of Sacco and Vanzetti to a fair trial.
An Assistant Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Temkin devotes the first few chapters to exploring how the case became a political cause celèbre. He chronicles the dissent of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and labor activists who viewed the case as a reflection of class warfare and structural inequalities in American society. He also analyzes how liberal intellectuals who had predominantly defended the Palmer raids came to support Sacco and Vanzetti’s right to a fair trial, which he sees as a turning point in the growth of the popular front, or alliance between liberals and radicals during the 1930s. Read more ..
|Richard Pachter||June 1st 2009|
Miami Herald Reviewer
Taming The Search-And-Switch Customer: Earning Customer Loyalty in a Compulsion-to-Compare World. Jill Griffin. Jossey Bass. 288 pages.
Prospective consumers are armed with information and dazzled by choices, but their new empowerment provides an opportunity for businesses to build customer loyalty
There are hunters and there are gatherers. With the advent of online commerce, hunters are now ascendant. And why not? Thanks to Google, anyone who can key in a name, even one spelled incorrectly, can suddenly gather information about a product, service or provider in detail that would have been unthinkable just a few years earlier.
For those of us who tend to obsessively research prices and features before making a purchase, it's heaven, but the extra edge afforded by discovering testimonials (or cautions) from users is the real killer app. Some online retailers, most notably Amazon.com, recognize the value of this and encourage buyers to post reviews and ratings of products.
The same situation exists in the nonconsumer sector. In fact, the b-to-b segment is usually tougher in its ratings, since they generally employ more exacting requirements, and technical and legal standards may be involved as well.
It's great if you're a buyer, but if you're a provider, what the heck can you do to, at the very least, participate in the process? And can you control it?
Jill Griffin may not have all the answers, but I was blown away by her deep understanding of this complicated subject and her intelligent and actionable assessment of the necessary strategies. Having a firm grasp of the obvious is all too rare. Read more ..
|Clark Isaacs||June 1st 2009|
An Honorable German: A novel of World War II. Charles McCain. Grand Central Publishing. May 2009. 384 pages.
A German hero of gigantic proportions is depicted by Charles McCain in his debut novel, An Honorable German. Throughout World War II, images of the Nazi war machine were used to denigrate truly patriotic and honorable men who made up traditional military forces who fought alongside those who pledged their allegiance to the Third Reich.
Those who do not understand the call to duty and honor to country will not comprehend the viewpoint expressed by this book. Following orders is a necessity in wartime. Those who take it upon themselves to disobey put themselves at risk with those in power to be dealt with severely. Here, it is the Nazi war machine which runs the country. It has spies placed in the military to tattle on those who do not follow the orders strictly given by the cruel and thoughtless SS.
One of the most famous of all warships, Graf Spree, is described playing an important part in the main character’s career. Max Brekendorf, a proud young German naval officer, serves his country with honor and courage. Max emerges to show he is different than the Third Reich which is bent on conquering the world. Max cares for his men, ship, and country. He is recognized for his bravery by being awarded several medals of the highest order including the Iron Cross 1st Class. His personal life is interspersed within his career. This book does it justice by bringing two facets together for an intriguing tale of courage, defiance, and romance. Read more ..
The Obama Edge
|Rick Shenkman||May 25th 2009|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Exactly one year ago this week the hardback of Just How Stupid Are We: Facing the Truth About the American Voter was published by Basic Books. Is the book still relevant? After Barack Obama's election friends emailed me wondering if I still believed the voters are uninformed. Didn't Obama's election mean they were pretty smart?
Alas, the answer is no, I believe. And I am baffled that anybody could reach a different conclusion after the campaign we lived through. The highlights of the 2008 election included controversies over Obama's bowling score, his middle name Hussein, and Hillary's crying. These were not exactly issues of much weight at a time when the financial collapse of the country was happening before our eyes. And yet they drew extended media commentary.
The media was to blame for the deplorable low quality of much of the campaign. But I am firmly convinced that you get the campaign you deserve. If that is so we should be asking ourselves why did we deserve the campaign of 2008? Was it not because the voters found it easier to debate issues like Obama's bowling score than the complicated questions involving high finance? Read more ..
|Frank Beaver||May 25th 2009|
In Spite of Myself. Christopher Plummer. 656 pages. Knopf. 2008.
The autobiographies of most movie stars, like those by Tony Curtis and George Hamilton, are epics of egotism. I am beginning to wonder if there's anybody from Hollywood's olden days who hasn't been urged on by publishers to turn out a tell-all memoir. The number of autobiographies by film personalities arriving at bookstores in the past several months is nothing short of astounding, and given the aplomb of some of the authors a bit amusing.
Tony Curtis was bold enough to declare himself a royal by titling his memoir "American Prince," while the perennially-tanned George Hamilton claimed his entitlement by naming his book "Don't Mind If I Do." Both are ego exercises, to be sure—typical reminiscences about a mythic rise to celebrity, followed by "insider" reflections on alliances—at work and at play—with other legendary celebrities.
Neither Curtis nor Hamilton hesitates in pointing out his irresistible appeal to females, young and older. Autobiographies like these offer little real insight into motion picture culture and history, and the titillation comes off as excruciatingly bland at best.
Somewhat loftier in intention and less prone to tales of romantic conquest are Robert Wagner's "Pieces of My Heart," Roger Moore's "My Word Is My Bond," and Robert Vaughn's "A Fortunate Life." I found some provincial interest in Robert Wagner's account of his childhood years in Michigan; plus the retelling of the life and tragic death of his wife, Natalie Wood, is deeply poignant. Vaughn's memoir embraces the obligatory celebrity-insider impulse but also recounts the actor's quest for a Ph.D. and his stance as an outspoken early opponent of the Vietnam War and consequent involvement in Presidential Democratic politics of 1968.
For James Bond fans there's a worthy amount of behind-the-scenes lore about Roger Moore's tenure as 007. There's even an aura of wisdom in this autobiography written by a celebrity in his 80s. Yes, Roger Moore is 81! Read more ..
|Clark Isaacs||May 25th 2009|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. C. M. Mayo. Unbridled Books, 2009. 432 pages.
Fictional accounts of history often take liberties with how things really happened, but when C. M. Mayo wrote The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, she first traveled to the places whence the stories emanated. Mayo traversed Mexico, the United States, and many European countries to tell the engaging story of love, betrayal, and ultimately the death of one of the members of a royal family.
Reading achieves in the Library of Congress in Washington led her to other locales where she read many documents in the original language and translated them herself so that her characters could speak words as originally spoken.
With this strong factual foundation, the story of a young prince, Maximilian, and those intertwined in the royal family's lives, becomes a spellbinding tale of deceit and selfishness. Mayo gives us a glimpse into an era not far removed from today. 1866 was a time when healing from the civil war had begun in the United States and also when the French occupied Mexico. Staying clear of entanglement with another battle was foremost in the minds of Americans. A civil war in Mexico was brewing, and this novel gives an inside look at the motives and the opulence, and at the same time, describes the extreme poverty endured by the Mexican people on a daily basis, while the ‘visitors’ lived luxurious lives. These ‘visitors’ included Maximilian; French Generals, and their entourages.
What may appear as free flowing dialog describing actions that did take place is based upon a meticulous approach to real facts. Getting inside a person’s mind and describing their feelings is somewhat difficult. The brilliance of this novel is the manner in which Mayo achieves this incredible task by using flowery language, which is believable considering the turbulent times and the seriousness of the circumstances. Read more ..
Author Edwin Black is going to have a big Saturday.
His latest appearance on C-Span’s Book TV, devoted to his new book Nazi Nexus, will be rebroadcast on May 23 at 2:15 pm EST. The documentary based upon Black’s bestselling, award-winning book, War Against the Weak will be screened at a Florida film festival a little more than an hour after the television appearance concludes.
Nazi Nexus details the direct corporate complicity in the Holocaust undertaken by five leading American commercial icons: Ford Motor Co., General Motors, the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, and of course International Business Machines. The author maintains that when one connects the dots, the emerging picture makes clear that while there always would have been a “Hitler Holocaust,” American corporate involvement pivotally influence the size and scope of the genocide. Or as the author stated in a recent series of syndicated articles: “Adolf Hitler was completely responsible for the Holocaust. But Hitler had help.”
Newsweek called the research woven into the book, “Simple and Stunning.” The Miami Herald called Nazi Nexus “Powerful and Astounding.”
The C-Span Book TV rebroadcast nationally will be particularly handy for South Florida residents who follow Black’s work because C-Span experienced a near total cable blackout during the original airing.
Black’s C-SPAN presentation of Nazi Nexus was delivered during a Yom Shoah memorial, that is, a Holocaust Day commemoration, recorded several weeks earlier at the Park East Synagogue in New York before a leading grass-roots Holocaust survivor group known as NAHOS—the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors. Black’s original event was cosponsored by the State of California Center for the Study of the Holocaust, and a coalition of other groups, as well the Spero Forum, the Auto Channel, Energy Publisher, and History Network News. Read more ..
|David G. Major||May 18th 2009|
The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad. Walid Phares. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 304 pages.
The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad is the third book in Walid Phares's trilogy that began with Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West (2005-2006) and continued in The War of Ideas (2007). In the first book, the author uncovers the historical evolution of the jihadi movements and strategies against America and the West. In the second book, Phares explains how the jihadists delayed the Western counteroffensive for decades until 9/11. In the third book, he proposes strategies and policies to win the confrontation.
Redefining the War
In his first chapter, Phares puts the finger on the wound: We must define the war. In fact, he calls for a "re-definition" of the eight-year-old confrontation that began officially on September 11, 2001, but has started historically decades earlier. The classical definition used by the United States government, "war on terror" has served its purpose even if it wasn't intellectually accurate. The foes of America and other democracies, namely the jihadists, aren't confining themselves to military activities and acts of terror. Rather, they have a global agenda they seek to attain which would lead to collapse of international law. Though many have doubted the ability of democracies to eventually win the confrontation with the jihadi forces, the author maintains that the free world can still win. But to win, he argues "you must define the threat and the enemy." At a time when the United States and Great Britain's governments are gradually dropping the term "war" from the lexicon of foreign policy, the author reviews the pillar-arguments of the debate and suggests identifying the actual enemy by referring to its ideology and goals, not to cater to our public relations needs. It is neither a war "on terror," nor is it just an overseas effort against individuals and particular organizations. It is a confrontation with an ideological movement which uses terror as one of its means, Phares correctly argues. Read more ..
Author Edwin Black will make his latest appearance on C-Span’s Book TV on May 16 at 7 pm EST and again on May 23 at 2:15 pm EST. This time his presentation covers his new book Nazi Nexus. The book details the direct corporate complicity in the Holocaust undertaken by five leading American commercial icons: Ford Motor Co., General Motors, the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, and of course International Business Machines. The author maintains that when one connects the dots, the emerging picture makes clear that while there always would have been a “Hitler Holocaust,” American corporate involvement pivotally influence the size and scope of the genocide. Or as the author stated in a recent series of syndicated articles: “Adolf Hitler was completely responsible for the Holocaust. But Hitler had help.”
Black’s C-SPAN appearance recorded several weeks earlier at the Park East Synagogue in New York before a leading grass-roots Holocaust survivor group known as NAHOS—the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors. Black’s event was cosponsored by the State of California Center for the Study of the Holocaust, and a coalition of other groups, as well the Spero Forum, the Auto Channel, Energy Publisher, and History Network News.
After the book lecture, Black conducted a dramatic, no-holds-barred question-answer session with Holocaust survivors on a range of Holocaust-era issues. The author was given a standing ovation at the end of the presentation.
Newsweek called the research woven into the book, “Simple and Stunning.” The Miami Herald called Nazi Nexus “Powerful and Astounding.”
Find C-SPAN Book TV information on the appearance here.
Find further information on Nazi Nexus here.
Buy the book here.
If you have news of an author appearance, send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Robert M. Price||May 11th 2009|
The Real Messiah: The Throne of St. Mark and the True Origins of Christianity. Stephan Huller. Watkins, 2009. 288 pages.
Stephan Huller’s The Real Messiah is a stunning work. I have followed the development of his research and theorizing for several years and have found myself more and more amazed at this man’s ocean-wide command of ancient sources and equally at his ability to see old things afresh as if never glimpsed before. No reader is obliged to accept every theory Huller offers as the price for learning very much from him. And no reader has the right to dismiss his more shocking theses just because they are unheard of.
The Real Messiah presents the idea that Jesus did not consider himself the Jewish Messiah, or sacred king, but instead predicted the imminent unveiling of someone else as Messiah. This would mean the historical Jesus was a fore-runner figure like John the Baptist—a charismatic figure but hardly the center of his own message. Muslims understand Jesus in just this way today. Perhaps, Huller argues, they are closer to the truth than Christians have given them credit for. Is such an idea really so outlandish in view of the fact that Jesus is shown in the gospels frequently talking about the coming of “the son of man” in the third person (“he”) not in the first (“I”)? The gospels report him as saying that the greatest among his followers was as a small child; Huller infers that Jesus had a specific youngster in mind. The tradition of the Coptic Church in Egypt has always held that this is exactly what Jesus meant, and that the boy who accompanied him, whom he named the greatest of his disciples, was the future evangelist Mark. Read more ..
|Luther Spoehr||May 5th 2009|
Stanford in Turmoil: Campus Unrest, 1966-1972. Richard W. Lyman. Stanford University Press. 2009.
In 1966, when I was an undergraduate there, Haverford College set out to find a new president to succeed the austere, formal Hugh Borton. They came up with John R. Coleman, an outgoing, accessible leader who turned out to be the right man for that time and place. Haverford was small—fewer than 600 undergraduates—and intense, and although the spectrum of its campus politics was relatively narrow, ranging from anti-war liberal to anti-war radical, its disputatious undergraduates demanded a lot of their elders. Coleman’s warm inclusiveness and respect for students’ seriousness made the institution a far more civil place than many other colleges in that agonized and angry time.
Coleman’s appointment also seemed to confirm the Pendulum Theory of Presidential Hiring: search committees seek to make up for the perceived deficiencies in the departing executive by hiring his opposite. So imagine my surprise when, 43 years later, Richard Lyman reveals that Haverford had offered him the presidency first. Reading this in the light of my own vague recollection of Lyman’s buttoned-up persona, I couldn’t help but wonder what Haverford had seen that made Lyman seem the right man for the job. That question stayed with me as I read the rest of his book. Read more ..
|Terrence Sterling||May 1st 2009|
Author Edwin Black will drop by Borders Books in Rockville MD for a brief autographing of his new book Nazi Nexus. The visit will be the first scheduled visit to a Borders by Black in years. His appearance was sponsored by History News Network and cosponsored by the National Association of Child Holocaust Survivors, State of California Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Spero News, The Auto Channel, Energy Publisher, The Cutting Edge News and Dialog Press.
Black, who makes hundreds of appearances each year at universities, churchs, synagogues, and at special institutes, has avoided bookstores in general preferring traditional lecture venues for his book tours. He was recently featured in a Miami Herald article about best selling authors who become incessant "road warriors" on book tour.
"At this time when book retailers--large and small--are suffering the ravages of the economic downturn--like every other segment--authors should make an effort to support their favorite bookstores. The Rockville Borders is one of my favorite and has been for years." The author will not make remarks or a presentation but will merely drop by for a brief autographing and will answer any questions.
More than that, Black is using the opportunity to introduce the latest edition of his award-winning international bestseller IBM and the Holocaust. The new edition just released, and the Rockville Borders is the first in that chain to get their hands on copies. Nearly a million copies of IBM and the Holocaust have been sold in 14 languages in 60 countries. The investigation of IBM will be among the topics discussed in a 90-minute presentation on Nexis Nexus which will air on Book-TV May 16 at 7 PM EST.
If you have news of an author appearance, send the information to email@example.com
State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies. Don Graham. TCU Press. 2008.
Lights, camera, action! On September 24, 1900, Thomas Edison’s men began filming the shambles that was Galveston. Only two weeks before, a powerful hurricane had devastated the island city. The earliest image of Texas in the movies thus started “with a documentary of disaster.” So begins Don Graham’s smart little history, State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies.
During the industry’s infancy, the leading movie producer in Texas was Frenchman Gaston Melies, founder of San Antonio’s Star Film Ranch. Between 1910 -1911, Melies produced over seventy films, including The Immortal Alamo (1911), the “first significant movie made in Texas.” Actor Francis Ford (brother of legendary film director John Ford) appeared in Melies’s feature, as did a group of cadets from the Peacock Military Academy, who played General Santa Anna’s troops.
But Texas was not destined to be the motion picture capital. California beckoned. Despite Melies’s “valiant efforts to turn San Antonio into a mecca of moviemaking,” Graham observes, “it was another town in the West, Hollywood, that soon dominated the nascent film industry.” In late 1911, Melies departed Texas for the West Coast.
Graham divides his study into six chapters, several of them cleverly titled: “When the Shooting Started,” “The Strong Silent Type,” “A Handful of Texas Steers,” “Grade A Texas Beef,” “Tex Messaging,” and “Schmaltz Across Texas.” He assesses a number of motion pictures, iconic, middling, and minor. Read more ..
|Rachel Beitsch||April 20th 2009|
Jerusalem Post reviewer
The Accidental Zionist. Rabbi Ian Pear. New Song publishers. 296 pages.
'Know with whom you are speaking" is one of the many lessons Rabbi Ian Pear learned in his younger years, and is one of the primary tactics he employs in his inspiring and down-to-earth new book The Accidental Zionist: What a Priest, a Pornographer and a Wrestler Named Chainsaw Taught Me about Being Jewish, Saving the World and Why Israel Matters to Both.
This may seem like a mouthful, but Pear makes it go down easy as he unabashedly poses and attempts to answer a fundamental question: "Why has Judaism failed?" In a free-spirited but well-structured argument speckled with personal anecdotes, the rabbi of Jerusalem's Orthodox Shir Hadash congregation outlines the purpose of Judaism as the dissemination of ethical monotheism - that is, ethical behavior in the service of God - on a global scale, and the Jewish people as the messengers of this cause. He defines and describes the importance and advantages of this philosophy, and goes on to show how a halachic lifestyle is the ideal method of training Jewish adherents to embody and thus adequately spread this message.
This may seem like a mouthful, but Pear makes it go down easy as he unabashedly poses and attempts to answer a fundamental question: "Why has Judaism failed?" In a free-spirited but well-structured argument speckled with personal anecdotes, the rabbi of Jerusalem's Orthodox Shir Hadash congregation outlines the purpose of Judaism as the dissemination of ethical monotheism - that is, ethical behavior in the service of God - on a global scale, and the Jewish people as the messengers of this cause. He defines and describes the importance and advantages of this philosophy, and goes on to show how a halachic lifestyle is the ideal method of training Jewish adherents to embody and thus adequately spread this message. Read more ..
|Richard Pachter||April 13th 2009|
Miami Herald reviewer
Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails. Scott McKain. Thomas Nelson. 272 pages.
It's a strange time, uncertain and frightening. But it's a logical outcome for an economy fueled by funky credit, inflated real estate, cooked books, regulatory dereliction and more. Add the Internet, the commoditization of, well, nearly everything, and sundry international instabilities and you have quite a mess. We have quite a mess but life goes on and so does commerce, one of the surest expressions of human behavior.
Mindful of this context, the author of a new book implores us to discover ways to make our products and services (and the marketing thereof) more relevant and compelling by being different.
This is familiar ground. Seth Godin immediately comes to mind, with his purple cows and meatball sundaes. But Scott McKain takes a slightly different approach, starting with a trip to his hometown (in common with John Mellencamp) -- Seymour, Indiana. He visits some local businesses and notices the scant variation among the offerings of the various (though unvaried) chains of restaurants, insurance companies, whatever.
For some people, that's a good thing. A sales rep I knew confounded his more adventurous colleagues by insisting upon dining only at chains during their frequent road trips. One of his frustrated fellow travelers complained that they'd hit cities like Memphis and New Orleans with great local grub and this guy (senior in rank, alas) would invariably gravitate to the ubiquitous and familiar. But if you're not a chain, what can you do to survive and succeed? Read more ..
|Richard Pachter||April 6th 2009|
Miami Herald reviewer
King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising. Kenneth Roman. Palgrave Macmillan. 304 pages.
For anyone serious about the craft of advertising, there are several essential books. Two of them, Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising have permanent places in my own ever-shifting library. The author of both volumes had been a cook, a spy, an Oxford dropout, savior of Masterpiece Theatre and chairman of the United Negro College Fund. He grew up in England (and considered himself a Scot), made his name and fortune in the United States, but never became a citizen (though the head of the CIA offered to make it happen).
When David Ogilvy, the most famous advertising man of his era, died, it merited front-page notice in the New York Times. He introduced the range-riding Marlboro Man, the eye-patched Man in the Hathaway Shirt and Schweppes' Commander Whitehead (and ''Schweppervesence''). He turned Dove (``one quarter cleansing cream'') into a powerhouse brand, catapulted American Express from a charge card for travelers into a multifaceted worldwide brand and established one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world. He's also credited with creating a ''corporate culture'' decades before the term was coined. Read more ..
|Richard Pachter||March 30th 2009|
Miami Herald Reviewer
Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connections to Hitler's Holocaust. Edwin Black. Dialog Press. 192 pages.
Author Edwin Black is a child of Holocaust survivors. When he first saw an IBM card-sorting machine as part of an exhibit at the United States Holocaust Museum, he vowed to learn more about this machine and the role of its manufacturer. The result was 2001's IBM and the Holocaust, a devastating account of the venerated American firm's hand-in-hand collaboration with Adolf Hitler's Nazi government in identifying, organizing and exterminating Jews and others who were deemed non-Aryan and undesirable. Black's exhaustive investigation, abetted by an international research team, resulted in worldwide headlines—and stonewalling, obfuscation and denials by its subject—which continues to this day.
Black's next book, War Against the Weak (2003), studied the role of the fake science of eugenics and its rise in the United States in the early 20th century, which provided the rationale for Hitler's racial policies. In shocking detail, Black related the subjugation, sterilization and murder of thousands of Americans solely on the basis of their race, country of origin or failure to pass culturally biased ''intelligence'' tests. This was fueled by xenophobia and ignorance, and supported -- astonishingly--by corporate names like Carnegie, Rockefeller and others.
Black's new Nazi Nexus uses these earlier works as primary sources. But this new volume offers a compact and highly concentrated dose of history that powerfully demonstrates the deleterious effects of the convergence of avarice and ideology, American-style. Read more ..
|Ronald Radosh||March 23rd 2009|
United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror. Jamie Glazov. WND books. 264 pages.
After 9/11, the social-democratic political philosopher, Michael Walzer, asked the readers of Dissent magazine a tough question: “Can there be a decent Left?” His essay was in reality an appeal for its creation, since Walzer was smart enough to realize that so many who spoke in the name of the Left that horrific year were anything but. But now, so many years later, little has changed. If anyone has any doubts about this, there is no better place to start than Jamie Glazov’s important new book, United in Hate.
Glazov discusses both the philosophical underpinnings of the leftist world-view and the current form it’s taking in the U.S. Starting from the premise that existing reality in democratic America has to be destroyed and that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” large segments of the left today seek to forge an alliance with America’s enemies, once the Communist world, now the forces of radical Islam. Glazov traces and seeks to analyze the causes of this movement from the left’s support of “the red flag of proletarian revolution” to that of the “black flag of Islamic jihad.”
In many cases, Glazov shows how the same people who once sang the praises of Stalin as an anti-fascist leader now praise Islamic terrorists who seek to attack the West. While many learned from 9/11 that the West had real and very dangerous enemies, major figures of the once pro-Soviet Left apparently felt rejuvenated, viewing the attack on the twin towers as the revenge of the masses for American oppression of the Third World. For these people, Glazov writes, 9/11 was a “personal vindication,” since they saw “only poetic justice in American commercial airplanes plunging into American buildings packed with people.” Read more ..
Tracking the Nazi Nexus
|Edwin Black||March 9th 2009|
This article is based on the just released book, Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connection's to Hitler's Holocaust (Dialog Press). Buy it here.
Adolf Hitler was completely responsible for the Holocaust. But Hitler had help.
When zealous Nazis were motivated to wage war against an imaginary generation-to-generation Jewish conspiracy… when Nazis created ghastly extermination plans to help ensure their master race would rule the world… when the German military was enabled to smash across Europe with lightning speed in heavy Blitz trucks, bomb mercilessly from the air in advanced JU-88s, and create carnage across the seas with deadly torpedoes… when Josef Mengele saw the scientific need to undertake heinous medical experiments on twins in Auschwitz… when the Reich was enabled to identify the Jews everywhere in Europe and then systematically pauperize and destroy them… when all these terrible things were done, the shape and scope of the horror was pivotally determined by major American industrial giants.
Now the dots can be connected. They create an undeniably Nazi nexus between iconic American corporations and the greatest crime of the twentieth century: the Holocaust.
Who gave Hitler the initial basis for transmogrifying centuries of outgroup religious hatred into a new twentieth century political anti-Semitism? It was Henry Ford, acting directly through the Ford Motor Company. In 1920, the gullible but mercurial Ford acquired a forged typescript convincing him of an evil international Jewish cabal determined to subjugate the world through devious manipulation of the world’s governments, newspapers, and economic systems. The revelations were contained in the notorious and fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
To purvey this new brand of Jew hatred to the world, Ford purchased a failed newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, which serialized The Protocols for 91 weeks. His company then published the series as a book, The International Jew. Using the techniques of mass production, Ford was able to escalate the Protocols from a negligible, randomly circulated irritant to a national sensation of 500,000 copies. Devoting the national sales force and the assets of the Ford Motor Company to the task hatred made Henry Ford the first to organize political anti-Semitism in America. Indeed, he was the hero of anti-Semites the world over. Read more ..
|Lawrence Wittner||March 9th 2009|
Lawrence S. Wittner. Review of Jeffrey T. Richelson's "Defusing Armageddon: Inside NEST, America's Secret Nuclear Bomb Squad". Norton. 2009. 416 pages.
The vast destructive potential of nuclear weapons is not limited to wars, for nuclear devastation can be triggered by accident or by determined individuals. The good news purveyed by Jeffrey Richelson's new book, Defusing Armageddon, is that the U.S. government has been hard at work for decades seeking to prevent such devastation. The bad news is that, in a world bristling with nuclear weapons and other nuclear materials, the possibilities for nuclear catastrophe are immense.
Richelson, a senior fellow with the National Security Archive, has employed declassified documents, interviews, and published materials to produce a full-fledged history of NEST, the Nuclear Emergency Search (later changed to Support) Team that began to take shape in the mid-1970s. Drawn from government agencies, government and corporate nuclear labs, and think tanks, NEST members specialized in everything from detection of radioactive material to geography, from explosives to psycholinguistics. They were soon jetting about the United States and the globe in response to a variety of nuclear threats.
Much secrecy still surrounds NEST's operations, many of which involved very limited communication with local officials at the time. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist acts, NEST was placed on alert for a nuclear attack on midtown Manhattan without any notification to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, his police commissioner, and senior FBI officials. Read more ..
|Robert Justin Goldstein||March 3rd 2009|
The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War, Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko, Yale University Press. 2008. 232 pages.
Probably the last occasion which directed the attention of most non-specialist historians, and certainly most lay folk, to issues related to the motivations and impact of American “atomic bomb diplomacy” during and after World War II was the 1965 publication of Gar Alperowitz’s metaphorically “explosive” book, Atomic Diplomacy from Hiroshima to Potsdam, which argued that the primary drive behind the use of nuclear bombs against Japan was to politically intimidate the Russians in the postwar world.
Published on the verge of major American escalation in Vietnam, when at least in retrospect, historians, the news media and the general public, often lived in an age of political innocence (but then, was it not ever thus?), this argument that the bomb’s use had any goal other than to end World War II as quickly as possible and with the least possible loss of American lives was a concept that left many “shocked, shocked.”
Adding to Alperowitz‘s mixed reception was the lack of availability of key government records, which made it difficult to even “trust but verify” his account, which was heavily based on interpreting scattered fragments of statements and documents.
Adding to Alperowitz‘s mixed reception was the lack of availability of key government records, which made it difficult to even “trust but verify” his account, which was heavily based on interpreting scattered fragments of statements and documents. Read more ..
|Murray Polner||February 23rd 2009|
They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons. Jacob Heilbrunn. Anchor Books. January 2009. 336 pages.
“I myself was once attracted to neoconservatism,” Jacob Heilbrunn tells his readers. “As a teenager and adult, I found that it supplied me with a beguiling but ultimately artificial clarity about the world.” Why he abandoned the faith goes unexplained but “They Knew They Were Right” is, despite some unnecessary characterizations, an astute and comprehensive group portrait of men and women who think of themselves as neocons.
Some of the book draws on the familiar (see, for example, Peter Steinfels’s earlier and more critical book “The Neoconservatives,” 1979), such as the early neocon generation’s City College years when Communists and Trotskyists, eating brown bag lunches, positioned themselves in rival cafeteria alcoves and taunted one another while the vast majority of students ignored them. The Trotskyists rightly expressed their revulsion at Stalin’s mass murders but also managed to overlook Trotsky’s authoritarian bent. After graduation they continued fighting while splintering into minuscule, ideological sects.
The neocons who emerged from that cafeteria never had any use for liberalism and never understood why Jews consistently vote Democratic. (78% voted for Obama). But liberal and moderate Jews have always been a mystery to neocons. It was the late Milton Himmelfarb, a Commentary contributing editor who famously wondered why Jews lived like Episcopalians yet voted like Puerto Ricans. Read more ..
|Richard Pachter||February 16th 2009|
Miami Herald Reviewer
What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis. HarperCollins. 2009. 224 pages.
Unless I missed an earlier one, this is the first religious tract about Google. Jeff Jarvis, a high-profile blogger, journalism teacher, entrepreneur and editor preaches that with few exceptions, businesses ought to embrace and embody the qualities that he calls (ugh!) ''Googley.'' Essentially, this involves total transparency and user empowerment through blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet conveyances.
For many industries, following Google's lead is a great idea. As detailed in numerous books, aggregated intelligence is a powerful force and by enabling it, businesses can enhance and accelerate product development, marketing and other vital functions. It's also an ideal way to handle customer support and service.
Jarvis cites his own case of being burned by computer manufacturer Dell and his subsequent (and oft-linked) blog posts, which he humbly suggests might possibly have contributed to the company's fall from grace (and profits). He followed up with measures to address his concerns and prevent others from suffering as he did. Ultimately, Dell adopted a number of Jarvis's ideas, though he extravagantly disavows any responsibility for their implementation.
Ironically, Google itself largely fails to embrace the transparency Jarvis says is so vital. The company, he writes, ''is as opaque and as secretive as the Pentagon.'' Guess Google isn't sufficiently ''Googley,'' according to its acolyte. Read more ..
Edge on Museums
|Mike O'Sullivan||February 9th 2009|
Museum collections are mostly kept behind the scenes, with only a small part of a museum's holdings on display at any time. But a new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History is shedding light on ancient treasures from Latin America, once hidden away in the museum's vault. The exhibit is called Visible Vault.
The exhibit was a response to two dilemmas. Extensive renovations required temporary removal of the museum's permanent exhibit on ancient Latin America. Many other artifacts were seldom seen by the public, a problem for all museums with large collections.
The solution combines a conventional exhibit with an innovation. Behind modern display cases are storage containers with more than 600 items from the museum's permanent holdings. The container fronts have been removed and the contents can be seen, but otherwise, the objects remain as they would in storage.
The exhibit showcases ancient treasures from Latin America, from such well known civilizations as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, and lesser-known ones, including the Toltec, Mixtec, Moche and Nazca peoples. The objects include an Aztec stone carved as a human skull, gold Inca drinking vessels and a ceramic pot from Teotihuacan - the ancient site in Mexico, with its front molded in the shape of a jaguar. Read more ..
|Luther Spoehr||January 27th 2009|
W. Barksdale Maynard. Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency. Yale University Press. 2008. 416 pages.
Woodrow Wilson’s time at Princeton—as undergraduate, faculty member, and, most notably, president—has hardly been neglected by his biographers.
Years ago Hardin Craig and Henry Bragdon devoted individual volumes to the subject; single volume biographies and, of course, Arthur Link’s multi-volume biography have also highlighted the importance of Wilson’s academic experience to understanding the patterns and passions of his political career. Most recently, James Axtell’s excellent “The Making of Princeton University: From Woodrow Wilson to the Present” (2006) pays considerable attention to the subject.
Despite all these predecessors, however, W. Barksdale Maynard’s “Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency,” is a most welcome addition to the literature. It examines in detail Wilson’s formative undergraduate years, as a member of the Class of 1879; his tenure as charismatic professor (1890-1902); and his initially successful, ultimately failed term as Princeton’s president (1902-1910), which placed him on the road to the New Jersey governorship and then the presidency. Maynard demonstrates that Wilson’s Princeton experiences were central both in shaping his ideas about education (ideas which often ran counter to increasingly important trends in this era of the “emergence of the American university”) and in providing an arena where he could test and try to realize those ideas. Read more ..
Book to Film
|Martin Barillas||January 26th 2009|
Cutting Edge Senior Contributor
War Against the Weak – The Movie was released on January 24 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the film based on investigate reporter Edwin Black’s opus on the origins of the eugenics movement in the United States, and its connections with Nazism. Hollywood luminaries Clint Eastwood, Kate Winslet and Mickey Rourke will be attending the festival and receiving awards at the prestigious event being held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in Santa Barbara, California.
Following in the footstep of the award-winning book, War Against the Weak – The Movie has already been nominated by the festival for its Social Justice award. After years of intense research and collaboration with author Black, and painstaking filming from Long Island to Auschwitz by noted director Justin Strawhand and producer Pete Demas, the gripping film version of the groundbreaking investigation into the eugenics movement comes to the big screen. The production company's announcement comes as the movie begins the film festival circuit in preparation for mass distribution.
Based on the best selling book by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Black, the film brings together thousands of hours of research in seven countries to tell the horrifying story of Eugenics -- the quest to create a master race and eliminate 90 percent of the world’s people. A new Dialog Press paperback edition of the book is now available at bookstores everywhere. Read more ..
|Richard Pachter||January 19th 2009|
Cutting Edge Reviewer
The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch. Michael Wolff. December 2008, Broadway Books. 464 pages.
Scan the online comments accompanying most current stories about the travails of the newspaper business and you'll invariably encounter declarations that most problems are caused by a dearth of "conservative" views. Forgetting for a moment that the definition of this ideology has become amorphous (believe it or not, "conservative" once included small government, individual freedom and lack of government interference in personal issues!), the idea that media in general and newspapers in particular are "liberal" is laughable. Most are owned by large corporations whose interests are hardly radical, socialist or anything other than determinedly capitalist. They are in business to earn revenue, not for ideology.
A few big city daily newspapers that lose tons of money are, indeed, kept afloat for mostly ideological reasons. Both are "conservative" and one, the New York Post, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the subject of this new biography by journalist and sometime-entrepreneur Michael Wolff. According to the author, the money-losing Gotham tabloid is less a propaganda vehicle than a means of providing its freewheeling CEO with a political presence in that media capitol. But with the company's acquisition of the Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones, owning the Post, which bleeds an estimated $50 million a year, may be an unnecessary extravagance. Read more ..
|Mel Ayton||January 5th 2009|
Brothers In Arms. The Kennedys, The Castros, and the Politics of Murder. Gus Russo and Stephen Molton. Bloomsbury. 2008. 560 pages.
Gus Russo and Stephen Molton have produced a well-researched and compelling study of the role Cuban, Soviet, and American intelligence agencies played in keeping track of Lee Harvey Oswald, the self-styled revolutionary credited with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in the years before Dallas. Brothers in Arms provides details of how the Soviets passed information about Oswald on to the Cuban intelligence agencies, who in turn decided Oswald may be of some use in their attempts to hit back at the United States for its efforts in trying to topple the Castro regime. Their investigation into the movements of Cuban Intelligence agent Fabian Escalante Font--before and after the assassination--is also central to their thesis that the assassination can be placed firmly at Castro’s door. The authors have utilized hundreds of documents from KGB, Cuban, Mexican Secret Police, and recently unredacted U.S. government files, and combined them with their own interviews of the players in the JFK/Castro conflict to support their thesis.
Additionally, one would have thought that there was nothing more to learn about Lee Oswald, especially in his relationship with his wife Marina, but Russo and Molton have done exactly that, and they also provide the reader with additional insight into the character and motives of the assassin. The authors are particularly informative about Oswald’s activities in the Soviet Union and his friendship with Cuban students in Minsk. Particularly revealing are the snippets of information about Oswald which reveal how the assassin manipulated Cuban and American intelligence agencies into believing he had an important role to play in what turns out to be his own fantasy game of building himself up to be some sort of important figure. Read more ..
TCEN Journal of Genocide Review
|Edwin Black||December 29th 2008|
from Patterns of Prejudice
The Business of Genocide: The SS, Slave Labor and the Concentration Camps by Michael Thad Allen. The University of North Carolina Press, 377 pages, 2002.
Hitler’s WVHA ran the concentration camps. Known in German as SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt, and sometimes misreferred to in English by several equally vague terms, including the “SS Economics Administration,” this almost innocuously named agency administered and organized hundreds of camps and sub-camps into a machinery of misery and death. Responsible for the “Extermination by Labor program,” the WVHA’s mission can best be discerned by Himmler’s 1943 exhortation, “Whether or not 10,000 Russian women collapse from exhaustion while digging a tank ditch interests me only in so far as the tank ditch is completed for Germany.”
Even though several authors, most notably Johannes Tuchel, have thoroughly documented the working of the WVHA, additional in-depth revelations would be welcome. I had hoped to find such depth in Michael Allen’s The Business of Genocide. Instead I found a shallow, often superficial, attempt, touching on much, penetrating little.
Unhappily, Allen distracts us with many pages exaggerating the importance of bureaucratic in-fighting, and glossing over how this relatively small but pivotal SS organization exercised its enormous life and death power over the millions trapped within its merciless grip. Hence, across 285 pages, we learn much about the tedious organizational evolution of the WHVA—consolidations and rivalries were common throughout all Nazi structures—but not enough about the real business of genocide to justify the book title. How the WVHA, especially its Office DII, interfaced with other Reich agencies and the camps to implement its day-to-day terror is not explained. Indeed, what Allen omits about the WVHA’s operations could fill a book--the book he tried to, but did not write. Read more ..
TCEN Journal of Genocide Review
|Sheldon Kirshner||December 22nd 2008|
Mitchell Bard. 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust. September 2008, The Lyons Press. 256 pages.
In an orgy of anti-Semitic violence and hatred, mobs ran amok throughout Germany and newly annexed Austria on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938—burning 1300 synagogues, vandalizing schools, institutions, and cemeteries, wrecking some 7500 Jewish-owned businesses, killing nearly 100 Jews, and injuring hundreds more.
In the end, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps during Kristallnacht, an ugly precursor to the Holocaust which broke out in Germany about 70 years ago.
Even by Nazi standards, it was a horrifying event. According to British historian Ian Kershaw, “It was the only occasion during the Third Reich when the German public was confronted directly, on a nation-wide scale, with the full savagery of the attack on the Jews.” He adds, “Never before and never again did the persecution of the Jews stand at the forefront of the public’s attention…”
This telling quotation appears in Mitchell Bard’s illuminating book, 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust. Largely based on eyewitness testimony—often previously unpublished—these chilling accounts are supplemented by Bard’s supple analysis of what came before, during, and after this shocking, brutal outburst of primitive anti-Semitism. Read more ..
America With No Plan for an Oil Interruption
|Walid Phares||December 8th 2008|
Cutting Edge Terrorism Analyst
Storm petrels are birds renowned for warning of forthcoming cataclysmic tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons. Those who tried to warn the West in general and the United States in particular of threats lying ahead are identified as "human storm petrels" of our times.
In the late 1940s, a diplomat assigned to the U.S. embassy in Moscow saw the rise of a Soviet menace. He warned Washington about it. He was ignored.
In the 1990s, along with a number of experts on Jihadism, I tried to warn America about the gathering clouds of Salafism and Khomeinism. The strikes of September 11 vindicated those whom I called the "messengers" in my latest book, Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.
Today, new storm petrels are warning us about another type of storm—a sudden vast crisis in oil supply. One of these leading commentators is Edwin Black. In his recently published book, The Plan, the author informs the nation that an abrupt cessation of oil flow to the United States is more than possible—and America is not ready. It has no plan.
Black states it clearly: If events in the Middle East stop oil supplies, the United States and its economic underpinnings as we know them will be transformed. Our way of life will be radically affected. Back in 1973, OPEC waged a boycott on Western consumers in the wake of the October war between Israel and the Arab countries. Europeans remember the dramatic consequences during their cold months. Americans remember the long lines at the pumps. Today Westerners can project the magnitude of a repeated crisis on industries, social structures, and daily lives. The meltdown is only a reminder of the precariousness of capitalist societies when deprived of their needed energy. Read more ..
|Robert Parmet||December 8th 2008|
Frank J. Trezza. Brooklyn Steel-Blood Tenacity. September 2007, Publish/America. 189 pages.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard has had a long life. A shipyard along the East River, it was owned and operated by the United States Government from 1801 to 1966, purchased by New York City in 1967, and then reopened in 1971 as an industrial park.
Two years later, Frank Trezza found a job there as a marine electrician for Seatrain Shipbuilding. Under conditions that he describes in vivid detail in his autobiography, Brooklyn Steel-Blood Tenacity, he worked on four VLCCs (very large crude carriers), an ice breaker barge, eight ocean going barges, and two roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ros) until two herniated discs and nerve damage along his right leg incurred on the job forced him into retirement from Seatrain.
Determined not to be sidelined permanently, Trezza later worked at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire, and a European defense contractor in South America. In 1999, at age forty-six, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Southern Maine, interestingly, at the same time his son received a BA in political science from the same school.
Trezza provides a brief historical perspective on the Yard toward the end of his account, yet what he essentially presents is autobiography--the story of how he and his wife, Milagros, managed to survive with three children through difficult circumstances. Read more ..
TCEN Journal of Genocide Excerpt
|Mitchell Bard||December 1st 2008|
An Excerpt from: 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust; The Lyons Press, 256 pages, 2008.
Kristallnacht. November 9-10, 1938. The night of the broken glass in Nazi Germany.
It is difficult to say that the destruction of buildings and books were more catastrophic than the physical attacks on Jews, the arrests, and the incarceration of men in concentration camps. But the destruction of synagogues, Torah scrolls, and prayer books attacked the very spirit and the soul of the Jewish people. Although the treatment of Jews varied from time to time and place to place in Germany, the existence of houses of prayer for decades and, in many cases, centuries, were symbols of the longstanding Jewish roots in Germany.
As the birthplace of the Reform movement of Judaism, Germany also represented one of the cradles of Jewish religious intellectualism. For Orthodox Jews, the attacks on the synagogues were devastating blows to their hearts. Jews who were not observant, however, were also shocked and hurt by the devastation because they too understood the importance of the symbols to their religion and peoplehood.
Orders to destroy synagogues throughout Germany and Austria went out on November 9-10, as seen in the following order given by a group commander on November 10: “All Jewish synagogues in the area of Brigade 50 have to be blown up or set afire ... The operation will be carried out in civilian clothing ... Execution of the order will be reported ...” Read more ..
|Fred Siegel||November 24th 2008|
Bernard-Henri Levy. Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism. September 2008, Random House. 256 pages.
The terms Left and Right were coined in 1789 to describe seating arrangements for the National Assembly during the early stages of the French Revolution. Those seated to the podium’s right wanted to preserve parts of the past; those on the left hoped, in the name of progress, to invent a new future. But the maneuverings of politics soon muddied the initial transparency of these terms into an enduring illegibility. The ideas of the bloody minded right-wing reactionary Joseph de Maistre, the intellectual arch-enemy of the Revolution, for instance, became an inspiration for the early socialists—and so it has gone ever since.
The flamboyant French litterateur Bernard-Henri Lévy, widely known in Paris as BHL, acknowledges the problem. In his new book, he writes that “the famous split between Left and Right that has structured French politics... has become harder and harder to believe in.” That is because, to his dismay, much of the Left, cuckolded by history, no longer believes in progress or modernity. He describes the contemporary Left, with its signature scowl of anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-liberalism, as “that great backward falling corpse which the worms have already started to chew.”
Despite his disdain for much of the current Left, and despite the fact that many of those closest to his point of view in France endorsed the presidential candidacy of the “right-wing” flag bearer Nicholas Sarkozy, a personal friend, Lévy refused to abandon the Socialist ticket. His dilemma, he told Sarkozy, was that no matter how much he liked, respected, and even agreed with the French president, he couldn’t support him because “the Left is my family.” Lévy’s new book is an effort—part memoir, part essay, part polemic—to explain the nature of those family ties. Read more ..
|Jeremy Kuzmarov||November 17th 2008|
Michael Schwartz. War Without End: The Iraq War in Context. 320 pages. September 2008, Haymarket Books.
The Iraq War has been among the greatest disasters in modern American history. Michael Schwartz’ illuminating new book War Without End: The Iraq War in Context provides a comprehensive overview of the ideological roots of the war and its harrowing social costs for the Iraqi people. He argues quite convincingly that rather than it being purely a matter of administrative incompetence and mismanagement, the ideological zealotry of leading neo-conservatives was a principal cause of the American failure to establish political legitimacy after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He shows how neo-liberal policies and the rapid privatization of state resources backed by a doctrine of massive force helped to exacerbate the suffering of ordinary Iraqis who increasingly turned to resistance against U.S. power and rule and remain disdainful of the occupation.
According to Schwartz, a professor of sociology at Stony Brook University, America’s war aims were clear from the outset: to create a strategic base for the establishment of control over the Middle East’s prized energy reserves and to usher in an economic transition from the “socialist dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein to an unfettered free-market capitalist state capable of serving as a model for the region. In the aftermath of the invasion, Lieutenant L. Paul Bremer and his staff moved to rapidly privatize state resources, including the formerly state-owned oil industry and all sectors of the economy including the health and educational systems. They rewarded multinational corporations like Haliburton and Bechtel with major contracts to help rebuild the country’s infrastructure, which had been devastated during the shock and awe campaign and previous wars and economic sanctions. Read more ..
|Mel Ayrton||November 17th 2008|
Paul Donnelley. Assassins and Assassinations: History's Most Infamous Plots. February 2008, New Holland Publishers. 192 pages.
Assassins and Assassinations: History's Most Infamous Plots is a compelling study by Paul Donnelly revealing the strange and complex world of the assassin. Throughout, the author shows the shocking ease in which psychopathic, professional or personal assassins can carry out their appalling act of murder---sometimes with devastating effect on the societies they attack. He has also shown how assassination in many parts of the world has not only been a normal and rational political act but has often been effective in the transference of power.
From the Wolf’s Lair of Hitler’s ‘1000-year Empire’ to the inner sanctums of the Kremlin, from the murderous world of organized crime to the political plotting of American and European anarchist groups and Islamic jihadists, assassins have attempted to change the course of history. Donnelley delineates the sinister history of this common and deadly profession with dozens of cases---chosen for their pertinence to world events and the effect they had on the society of the day. Particularly interesting are those cases which are usually not found in books about this subject, including Hitler’s would-be assassin Johann Georg Elser and Irish patriot Michael Collins’ assassin, Denis O’Neill.
Assassins and Assassinations is triumphant in two ways. The first is stylistic. Unlike similar books on the subject Donnelley writes with authority but does not tire the reader with turgid prose. The second triumph is ethical. Donnelley does not allow himself to pander to the constant harpings of conspiracy theorists who see every American assassination as an act of government betrayal. Instead, Donnelley focuses clearly on the facts and treats speculative accounts as nothing more than the efforts of the conspiracy-minded who always prevent facts from interfering with their prejudices. Read more ..
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