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Beiträge von M Clark
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Rezensionen verfasst von
M Clark

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Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP
Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP
Preis: EUR 20,28

5.0 von 5 Sternen Turns the Tea Party into the "Cancer Stick Party", 14. August 2016
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This book exposes the influence of both the Koch brothers and Big Tobacco on the founding of the Tea Party movement. Jeff Nesbit was actually present for the very first meetings of the Koch team with the Tobacco industry to plan their approach for defeating tobacco regulations. The book is based upon the 14 million documents that were forced to be released as a result of the big legal settlements with the Tobacco industry.

The book came out during the 2016 primary season so does not comment on the influence of Donald Trump. it does, however, talk about how Trump's VP was aligned with the Koch brothers.

If I were a member of the Tea Party, I would feel totally exploited and used as a result of reading this. It reveals the Tea Party as being the Cancer Stick party since Tea Party supporters were, without their knowledge, being manipulated to do the bidding of Big Tobacco.

Historical Capitalism: With Capitalist Civilization
Historical Capitalism: With Capitalist Civilization
Preis: EUR 13,38

2.0 von 5 Sternen Not worth the effort, 14. August 2016
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This seems to be my year for reading books where authors are complaining that we are not making progress. For example, Hans-Hermann Hoppe argues that democracy was a mistake and monarchy was much better and Robert Gordon, in "the Rise and Fall of American Growth" argues that our rapid progress stopped growing so quickly after WWII. Now, Wallerstein argues that capitalism has not really brought progress to society.

The book forces the reader to look at capitalism with new eyes. Unfortunately, the author's turgid writing style means that those new eyes are often just drooping with weariness. The writing style is Marxist, which can be tolerated, but the real weakness is the lack of historical examples to justify Wallerstein's judgements of history.

The book is boring and a struggle to get through

For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto
For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto
Preis: EUR 3,17

4.0 von 5 Sternen A clear definition of Libertarianism, 12. August 2016
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Since the Libertarian party has been getting so much attention during the 2016 election as a possible alternative to the candidates from the two major parties, it seemed like a good idea to try to learn more about the positions of the party. I started with their 2016 party platform but found it nothing more than the equivalent of a few powerpoint bullet points.

I was therefore happy to have found this book from Rothbard since it tries to layout the Libertarian position on everything from drugs, abortion, foreign policy, and even air and noise pollution. Although I still have many questions about their positions, after finishing this book I feel I have a real understanding of the principles of the party. The book begins with a discussion of the basic principles of the Libertarians and then, chapter for chapter applies those principles to specific topics in a well reasoned fashion. It is also easy to read depite many of the political discussions being dated to the situations in the 1970s.

The author, Murray Rothbard, is considered to be one of the founders of the Libertarian movement and had been involved with other key movement figures like Ayn Rand and the Koch brothers. According to other books about the movement, most of those relationships ended in disagreements. This book was published originally in 1973 as an attempt to layout the Libertarian principles. It succeeds very well.

Reading the book, it was hard to escape the impression that Libertarian thinking fit perfectly for a comfortably living academic who now has his own and wants to keep everyone else away. It is hard to imagine this philosophy appealing to people that are poor or downtrodden or not strong enough to protect their own interests like the women killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire or coal miners who had been forced to "sell their souls to the company store."

It is easy to imagine the movement as an association of people arguing about true principles rather than as an association of people that could actually build a society that functions. One conservative (William Buckley) described them as a group of people that would argue constantly about privatizing garbage disposal. I can imagine their get-togethers having the same level of discussion as a get-together of Trotsky and Lenin followers.

It is debatable whether many of these Libertarian approaches would work in practice. For that reason, it would be really useful if a group of Libertarians would form a community somewhere based upon their principles to see if they could really make this work. For example, many of their approaches for providing community services and infrastructure is based upon an assumption that so many firms would be competing to supply you with water and remove your garbage that those businesses would provide perfectly efficient services to you. Ironically, Rothbard's love of firms in the earlier chapters is dismissed by his attacks of our current big businesses with their tendencies to drive towards monopolies and to feed at the government trough.

The Libertarian society painted by Rotbard would likely be a very litigious society since many of Rothbard's remedies for air and noise pollution involve suing the person who caused this attack on your personal property.

Rothbard paints the Libertarian movement like other utopian movements but claims that his utopian vision is the one utopia that will really work since he feels it is the only movement based upon real human nature. The last chapter at the end of the book discusses how to make a Libertarian world come about. His proposed techniques are admittedly borrowed from Marxist movements and include many strategies that have since been implemented by the Koch brothers and the tea party movement. He also sees the need for a "crisis moment" to occur in order to get the world to adopt the Libertarian agenda. If he were still alive, Rothbard would clearly be made happy by the crisis of the 2016 election. He sees hope that "government itself has been desanctified in America. No one trusts politicians or government anymore; all government is viewed with abiding hostility, thus returning us to that state of healthy distrust of government ...."

One challenge for the Libertarian political party having a presidential candidate would be what would happen if he would actually win. Since Rothbard explains that the Libertarian movement is against government in general, it would make it very difficult for any true Libertarian to take the presidential oath to preserve the constitution.

In summary, this book is recommended as a logical and easy to read explanation of Libertarian thinking. ( )

flag M_Clark | Aug 12, 2016 | edit |

I agree with almost nothing in this book, and find the arguments facile, the examples contrived, the analogies false, and the general intellectual tone shallow and utterly unconvincing.

The best criticism comes from the book itself (p. 217): "Every reader of detective fiction knows that private insurance detectives are far more efficient than the police in recovering stolen property." That is the caliber of the argument throughout: it's easy to pretend X, therefore X is the case.

But, none of that means this is a bad book. It's a good book: well-organized, easy to follow, covering a lot of ground simply, clearly and coherently. It's written for the ones who have already drank the Kool-Aid and so provides talking points, not really arguments, and it's a breeze to get through.

If you want to know how radical libertarians think, this is a very good place to start. Much of the content is dated (the book was originally published in 1973), so read fast and be prepared to skip large sections.

The Life of Andrew Jackson
The Life of Andrew Jackson
Preis: EUR 9,62

4.0 von 5 Sternen A readable biography of Jackson but lacking in real analysis of his actions, 2. August 2016
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Life of Andrew Jackson (Kindle Edition)
This is a very readable biography of one of the most important presidents in US history. it provides a compact overview of all aspects of his life and his presidency. It is very sympathetic towards Jackson and leaves you with a very positive impression of Jackson as a man and as a president. What the book does not provide is an analysis of Jackson that evaluates what Jackson did was actually a positive thing for the country and its people. For example, the entire discussion of the fight about the US Bank is sketched as a fight on by Jackson's charisma without any judgement as to whether his destruction of the bank was good or not. Furthermore, almost all footnotes tend to be quotes from Jackson's correspondence which naturally justifies and defends all of Jackson's own actions.

This book is nevertheless recommended as an easy introduction to Jackson. It is worth reading today because so many of the things that Jackson did or were involved with still have resonance today

Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy
Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy
Preis: EUR 16,16

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5.0 von 5 Sternen America's political future is doomed due to gerrymandering, 23. Juli 2016
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This is one of the most important books about American politics published in the past years. It discusses the topic of gerrymandering on a state-by-state basis explaining how the gerrymandering took place and what the consequences are as a result. Forget what all of the pundits have to say since, as a result of gerrymandering, prospects for the Democratic party are bleak until after 2030. ( )

Republican Platform 2016 (English Edition)
Republican Platform 2016 (English Edition)
Preis: EUR 0,99

2.0 von 5 Sternen Everyone should become familiar with the Republican platform despite the terrible qulaity of this e-book, 23. Juli 2016
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
I know that nobody traditionally reads party platforms, but I have been reading them because throughout history they are a leading indicator of changes that get introduced in the next 10 years. It is also worthwhile spending time trying to understand the thinking of each of the parties.

Because I enjoy reading them, I was very happy to see it published this year as an e-book rather than just in PDF format. I made it much easier to read and comment on. Unfortunately, this e-book is terribly formatted with numerous sections that look like they screwed up with their cut and paste work. I will be asking Amazon for a refund or a replacement.

Although I give this book two stars, I still want to recommend it to everyone as a good introduction to modern Republican thinking. There are actually some good ideas in the platform and some nice surprises (e.g. conservation sentiments and support for treating mental illness). These nice passages are, unfortunately, surrounded by near-hysterical diatribes. There are two few really new ideas included since the only proposals in many areas are to undo what Obama had done. if the platform had not been allowed to disparage Obama or worship Ronald Reagan, it would have been a much shorter document.

Some of the interesting planks are a desire to return to Glass-Seagall and the ever-popular proposal to study a return to the gold standard. The gold standard chessnut seems watered down from the 2012 platform but has now been joined by the wish to get rid of the income tax entirely. The one plank that seemed to be missing was a plank to burn Hilary Clinton at the stake since that seemed to be the main point coming out of the Republican convention.

Awake ye people..., Freedom is calling (English Edition)
Awake ye people..., Freedom is calling (English Edition)
Preis: EUR 3,67

4.0 von 5 Sternen Recommended for anyone interested in Bavarian history, 14. Juli 2016
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"Awake ye People..." is an historical novel about the Bavarian uprising in 1705 that culminated in a massacre in the Sendling district of Munich. After Bavaria's defeat at the battle of Blenheim, Munich and Bavaria were occupied by the Austrians who extracted heavy taxes and forced many Young Bavarian men into their armies. This led to uprisings throughout Bavaria leading to an unsuccessful attack on the Austrian garrison Munich.

Steve Burns tells the story of these uprisings in the form of an historical novel. Over several nights, ten years later, one of the survivors of the massacre meets Voltaire in a tavern in Paris. He tells about the uprising from the perspective of different participants.

As a novel, the book is not impressive. You do not care about any of the characters and they all seem to react in fixed ways. As a clever way to tell the history of this Little-known uprising, the book actually works well since it allows the author to describe the suffering and decisions of the participants from their own perspective.

The book is recommended to anybody interested in German of Bavarian history.

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World)
The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World)
Preis: EUR 25,74

4.0 von 5 Sternen An outstanding social history of America, 14. Juli 2016
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The theses of the book is that American grew fast and furious during the period from 1870 to 1940 but that growth has slowed since then. His idea is, obviously, deliberately provocative.

The book itself tends towards tedium since much of what Gordon does is to show charts or tables and then explain them. If you have read the table, then the text becomes redundant. If you have read the text, then the table is redundant. Towards the end of the book, I ended up reading the text only since the charts were often difficult to follow on my e-reader.

One of the hidden delights in the book is the footnotes. Although many of them are just simple references to his sources, Gordon has some nice personal touches when he describes how much his own family had paid for things like the family car. He is also the first person I have ever seen that has footnoted the label on a bottle of Worstershire sauce.

The book is strongly recommended because of its outstanding social history of America during this period

Finding Florida
Finding Florida
Preis: EUR 16,06

5.0 von 5 Sternen Everything you learned in school about Florida history was wrong, 14. Juli 2016
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Finding Florida (Kindle Edition)
This book explains why everything you learned in your Florida history classes was wrong. It also describes how brutal and racist much of Florida's real history actually was. Although I finished the book several weeks ago, it has stayed in my mind so much that I am compelled to add an even stronger recommendation to read the book.

Some of the highlights for me were:
1) The origins of the myth of Ponce de Leon and De Soto. I remember my school books preaching the myth. Allman's book debunks almost everything we learned
2) The way that Florida became part of the USA is very similar to the strategy used by Russia to take over the Crimea. Although the school books teach that Florida was eventually purchased, somebody failed to get a receipt for the purchase. Allman claims that Florida was never purchased.
3) The role of Florida in the Civil War where large parts of the state were permanently occupied by Union troops. One of the few Civil War battles fought in the state was less than decisive for the southern troops because they were too busy massacring black Union soldiers.
4) Reading the White Supremacist backgrounds of the families for which Florida cities and counties were named for. For example, Gainesville was named for a general responsible for the death of hundreds of peaceful black and Seminole settlers in northern Florida. Broward county was named after somebody who wanted to send all blacks out of the state and one of the Brevards was responsible for numerous racist myths that went into the Florida textbooks.

One of the Florida newspapers performed a fact-check of the book when it first came out and only raised minor issues of facts.

Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (English Edition)
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (English Edition)
Preis: EUR 15,93

5.0 von 5 Sternen A great political history, 14. Juli 2016
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This history of Nixon's rise to the presidency is the perfect reading for this year's election. Brilliantly written, it tells the history of America in the 1950s and 1960s describing how Richard Nixon played off the social divisions and helped fan the flames of today's political polarization.

The discussion of Nixon's political campaigns provides a new perspective on our current presidential campaign with its attempts to capitalize on the divisions in society. Its description of the political conventions is also a good prelude to the conventions for the 2016 campaigns.

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