Fear (Bob Woodward)

Another political book pre-order. I’m getting burned out on these so no more of this kind of book. At least for a while.

Nothing in this book surprised me. I guess the only interesting thing about this book is that it was written by Bob Woodward. He brings a certain amount of credibility due to his history. And he has said that he has tapes from the interviews that led to this book. But by now, nothing in this book is surprising to me.

The book starts off with some scenes from the election but most of the book consists of vignettes from Trump in the White House. Take-aways? Trump’s incompetent, hot-headed, impervious to logic, stubborn, pissed off, incapable of focus, and only about him and his ego. Like I said, nothing surprising

I really don’t recommend this book. I didn’t learn much from reading this book and I read to learn.

On to something else…

Everything Trump Touches Dies (Rick Wilson)

I pre-ordered this book a while ago in a weak moment. There’s another book on the topic that showed up today. But after that, no more political books for a while. That said, I really enjoyed this book, not least because Wilson is a great writer. He has a real way with words and phrases (and a vocabulary larger than mine).

Wilson has many years experience as a political strategist and consultant. He cops to the fact that some of the ads he worked on in the past were negative but after Trump he discovered his conscience and is now a “Never Trumper.” His experience informs his writing. Aside from being entertained by his wordsmithy, I learned some stuff.

He starts out denigrating what he calls “Vichy Republicans,” those who sold their conservative souls to ride the Trump wave and the aftermath. In the second section he expounds on the victims of the Trump curse. Republicans, the media, The Trump Base, the grownups in the oval office who would ostensibly steer trump away from his more rash actions. Part three takes apart the villains who are a part of the Trump movement – members of his administration, the Trump family, crony capitalists, right-wing media, his advisors and lawyers, white supremacists.

Finally, he wraps up with his take on what should be done to bring the Republican party back to what he thinks it really should be and imagining his party and our country after Trump. Here he takes his imagination off the leash (“The Mad Max Outcome”).

The book takes down a lot of people, including democrats, but most of the vitriol is aimed at those who aided and abetted Trump. I found the book educational and entertaining and recommend it to people on all sides of the political landscape.

Bruce Lee (Matthew Polly)

One of my favorite books of all time is American Shaolin. It’s the recounting of the author’s experience dropping out of college and moving to China to become a Shaolin monk. Highly recommended.

The author of that book is Matthew Polly. When I was on vacation this summer and browsing in a local bookshop I came upon Polly’s latest book Bruce Lee. I knew from reading his first book that he had a special place in his heart for martial arts and he also walked that walk. I figured he would bring his love and enthusiasm to a biography of Bruce Lee.

The book is well researched and goes in depth on Lee’s entire life. It starts from his early life in America and China including his career as a child actor. It explores the conflict of being Chinese not born in China and the choice between being a martial artist versus a movie star. And it goes into detail about his rise to fame and his untimely death, including speculation on its most likely cause.

I found this book compelling and enjoyed reading it. I recommend it as highly as highly as Polly’s first book.

12 Rules For Life (Jordan Peterson)

I admit I was curious. While looking for information on the carnivore diet I came across a video from Jordan Peterson. He’s now one of the poster boys for that way of eating but he seemed erudite in his discussion. So I decided to read his book. Before reading it I also found out he’s somewhat of a darling of right wing folks. I also saw a lot of hate from the left wing folks. I figured the book would be interesting.

I found his rules to be quite traditional. They are informed by religious texts (primarily the Old Testament of the Christian Bible), 19th century writers (Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and others), and his own clinical experience as a clinical psychologist. His rules are simple but the explanation of each one (a chapter per rule) is quite long and cover more than just the surface of each rule.

In my opinion, his rules can be quite helpful for people who are in trouble and looking for a way to set their life right. And the arguments are compelling in that light. I didn’t, however, find much that spoke to me. Still, it was interesting to read how he develops his points. I think that if all you know of Peterson is from YouTube videos (both those for and against him), this book will be helpful in understanding his ideas in more depth.