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April 2006 Archives

April 15, 2006

Phillips - American Theocracy

Kevin Phillips
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century
New York, Viking, 2006

Kevin Phillips writes a lot of books, and it shows.

This is a tripartate narrative that first explains the relationship between the modern Republican party and oil, religion, and debt, and then combines the three into a indictment of the policies and coalitions that support George W. Bush.

It is one of those books that are very hard to read carefully. I found that when Phillips was writing about the things I knew nothing about, his story seemed to make sense. But when he wrote about material I knew well, I suddenly saw shallow research, a reliance on synecdote rather than analysis, and a presentation of the past that was, while not wrong, not complete either.

I have noticed this tendency in other big sweeping tales, and especially in big sweeping tales of the rise and fall of great powers.

As a result I found it a fun book to read, and a book that opens up some very interesting questions. But, because I can't buy the parts of the story that I know, I also can not quite buy the parts that I do not know.

I agree with Phillips that the modern Republican party is fundamentally dangerous because of the way that it combines theological correctness (I love that term!) to combine religious followers with big-business leaders to support ruinous financial structures and dangerously misconceived and mismanaged foreign policy.

I don't agree that Phillips book supports the accurate gut sense that it is based on.

Interesting and worth reading, but not compelling.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Spencer - Tinker

Wen Spencer
New York : Baen ; Godalming : Melia, 2003

Wen Spencer's Tinker is a joy to read. It is literate, fast-paced, compelling and smart. While there are times when the pace gets a little too fast, those are also the moments where our impatient heroine is getting flustered and, in pop military parlance, has let someone get inside her decision curve.

Tinker lives in the American city of Pittsburgh, which has been transferred to the alien planet of elfhome as a side-effect of a stargate in orbit over China. Well, alien is not quite the right word, alternate reality of elfhome might be better.

Spencer ends up tying together some of the cliches from the urban elf sub-genre with the more traditional tales of sidhe and oni and things that go bump in the night to create a coherent and compelling world.

Within this world we meet Tinker, a young lady who is very smart, very charismatic, not quite emotionally mature, and yet combines all of those traits into a compelling and very real character. She gets horny; she flirts; she invents things; she breaks the heart of one of her friends by accident; she is a highly effective person who is not a perfect person. The combination makes for good reading and a compelling lead character.

I could go on, but that would lead to even more spoilers than I have given here.

Highly recommended, and I am off to read more by Wen Spencer.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 03:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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