“Could it be that strength, intelligence, and imagination are not prerequisites for power but merely qualifications for slavery? Could it be that the world is not being ruled by experts but by beings who are not fit for anything else—by women?”
Esther Vilar argues that the freedom men think they have in selecting a wife and being head of the household is actually slavery, and that working the same job for forty years to support a woman is no different than a child repeatedly playing the same board game. The Manipulated Man is one of those books that reframes your world view (even if you were already on a red pill bent), making you question what value women offer besides their vaginas.
While men pick a career and work 40 years nonstop because they have to, today’s woman treats her career more as a temporary adventure. She’s ultra-serious about it in her 20s but then tosses it overboard for children upon landing a successful husband. I find that Vilar nails the more traditional societies which still exist today in Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine, and how those crafty women enslave a man through marriage in exchange for popping out a kid and doing a couple hours of housework per day. Keep in mind this book written in the early 70s and referred to a time when the nuclear family was still intact, so she did not predict the degree that Western women would soon enslave themselves in the rat race.
“Theoretically it is possible for a beautiful woman to have less intelligence than a chimpanzee and still be considered an acceptable member of society.”
Vilar argues that for all the liberation that men have given women through inventions like the washing machine and dishwasher, they still choose to spend free time on entertainment over intellectual pursuits. They have no interest in challenging their brains like men voluntarily do. She defines men as animals who work, nothing more. Men work for all their lives while women only work if they have to (if they are ugly or unable to find a husband). In other words, the sign of a damaged or low quality woman is one who doesn’t have the choice to stop working.
“Women’s proven lack of imagination makes clear that they have no a priori need for new inventions. If they did, they would invent things more often themselves.”
For a while now I’ve come to the belief that men need to lead the household and provide for their family to be happy and feel like a man. I want to be proud of being able to take care of a wife and kids. Vilar argues that this pride is no different than a donkey feeling strong as it carries a heavy load.
If the American-style 21st century marriage isn’t working, and the traditional provider marriage exploits men, what should men do? Unfortunately this book doesn’t provide answers, and you start to get the feeling that marriage in all forms is a bad deal for men. Any long-term pact you make with a woman must be carefully weighed. You must ask yourself if you are getting a good return for your labor and time in exchange for vaginal access and a possible heir.
There are a couple things in the book that I disagree with. First, she argues that masculinity and femininity are environmental constructions, sort of like how your typical feminist views gender roles. She thinks there is no genetic component to maleness or femaleness, which can be easily refuted by looking at examples in the animal world. Second, the male archetype she uses in the book is a typical beta male, who is extorted by women without—in many cases—even getting sex in return. One benefit of being a player today is getting low-effort pussy where you get more than you put in. I may be a slave to the pussy but if I’m able to get a constant supply of it and the accompanying sexual pleasure while putting in decreasing amounts of work, is that not a fair deal?
“For man, who was brought up to be proud and honorable, every working day is merely an endless series of humiliations. He shows enthusiasm for products he finds useless, he laughs at jokes he finds tasteless, he expresses opinions which are not his own. Not for a moment is he allowed to forget that the merest oversight may mean demotion, that one slip of the tongue may spell the end of his career.”
I’ve never had a book that made me reconsider so many of my beliefs like this one. It ended up being the most vicious takedown of the female gender that I’ve ever read, five times harsher than anything I’ve written. My mind was buzzing while reading, hungry for a fresh take on the male-female issue. If you still have the problem of respecting women, this book will fix you right up. Not only will you avoid getting entrapped by a woman, but you’ll have a better understanding of what causes their seemingly irrational behavior. Highly recommended.
Read More: “The Manipulated Man” on Amazon
In this 1985 book essay, Neil Postman offers a lamentation on the information culture, addressing the negative effects that certain inventions have had on how humans think and behave. In particular he talks about the television and how it has damaged society’s intellectual discourse by driving people into needing to be entertained by the absurd than wanting to be taught by the rational. Like explained in the book The Shallows, which seems to have borrowed a lot from Postman’s ideas, we learn how inventions concerning langauge change human methods of thinking and also how the medium a message is displayed or shown becomes the actual message.
To give you an example how badly damaged our attention spans have gotten, in 1858 there was a political debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas before a packed house that lasted three hours. One of their other debates lasted for seven hours.
What kind of audience was this? Who were these people who could so cheerfully accommodate themselves to seven hours of oratory? [...] These were people who regarded such events as essential to their political education, who took them to be an integral part of their social lives, and who were quite accustomed to extended oratorical performances.
Commoners really were intellectually sharper in those times, with a grasp of world affairs and political nuance. Can you imagine anyone giving seven hours of their attention today, even when it comes to the election of their president? The “debates” we have on television now allot candidates only a couple minutes to respond to complex questions. With such little time, all that can fit into a response are buzz words, generalities, lies, and snide attacks that make for good headlines the next day. Today’s presidential debates are entertainment. Since American people don’t understand where their candidate stands beyond one or two issues, today’s presidential races are not much more than celebrity contests.
Postman argues that unless information you receive is actionable, it will have no benefit to your life and should therefore not be consumed in the first place…
How often does it occur that information provided you on morning radio or television, or in the morning newspaper, causes you to alter your plans for the day, or to take some action you would not otherwise have taken, or provides insight into some problem you are required to solve?
Such information is merely entertainment, but it is being packaged by the media as news or educational. The result is that you are awash in useless information, facts, and images that serve as distractions, turning you into a vessel to receive advertisements. Their only real use is to be good at trivia…
Where people once sought information to manage the real contexts of their lives, now they had to invent contexts in which otherwise useless information might be put to some apparent use. The crossword puzzle is one such pseudo-contact; the cocktail party is another; the radio quiz shows of the 1930′s and 1940′s and the modern television game show are still others; and the ultimate, perhaps, is the wildly successful “Trivial Pursuit.” In one form or another, each of these supplies an answer to the question, “What am I to do with all these disconnected facts?” And in one form or another, the answer is the same: Why not use them for diversion? for entertainment? to amuse yourself, in a game?
What Postman says about television can easily be said about the internet. Though the internet has brought back the written word, it has not increased discourse. Looking at the top blogs today, most of it is sensational gossip, celebrity news, top 10 lists stocked with pleasant images, and content that is designed to make you consume and click instead of reflect and think. In other words, they serve as entertainment just like television, which still retains strong viewership among young people.
While blogs like mine have actionable information, the traffic I get is just a drop in the bucket compared to the more commercial sites. Americans want to be entertained as much as they want to learn, a habit that is being spread to other parts of the world. Postman argues that this rush to absorb new technology is insanity because it makes the assumption that humans are on a pre-ordained path to technological utopian bliss. More thought should be put into how we incorporate certain inventions into our lives.
America is engaged in the world’s most ambitious experiment to accommodate itself to the technological distractions made possible by the electric plug. This is an experiment that began slowly and modestly in the mid-nineteenth century and has now, in the latter half of the twentieth, reached a perverse maturity…
This book made me reconsider how I present my own work. Blog readers today increasingly want bulleted lists, bold summary statements, shorter posts, and images. Before hitting the publish button I should ask myself if it’s “too long” and if the majority of my readers have the will to read a 1,500 word article without skimming through it. On the internet we are bombarded with so much information, so many headlines and links, that no one can be bothered to spend more than five minutes on a particular article or video. Our eyes are rapid scanners, frantically searching for exciting stimulus that can be easily understood without too much thought. Our generation is the skimming generation. The great intellectuals of previous centuries, with their pictureless expositions, their “blocks of text,” would be responded with a “tl;dr” today. They wouldn’t be noticed unless they can pack it in a list with numbered headings and stock Getty photos.
Overall this was a brilliant essay that makes you think about your brain and how it’s being affected by technology and mass media. The solution isn’t quite getting a cabin in the woods, but we have to recognize that something is lost when we spend the bulk of our free time with the goal to be merely amused. Postman died before the internet came of age, and though I think he would see it as promoting more interactivity than television, it has come at a cost at developing human beings with poor attention spans and the inability for deep thought.
A river that has slowly been polluted suddenly becomes toxic; most of the fish perish; swimming becomes a danger to health. But even then the river may look the same and one may still take a boat ride on it. In other words, even when life has been taken from it, the river does not disappear, nor do all of its uses, but its value has been seriously diminished and its degraded condition will have harmful effects throughout the landscape.
Guys have been telling me to read this book for years. It got my attention from the beginning…
This book is written specifically for people who have a more masculine sexual essence, and their lovers, who will have a more feminine sexual essence—since you always attract your sexual reciprocal. [...] If you want real passion, you need a ravisher and a ravishee; otherwise, you just have two buddies who decide to rub genitals in bed.
The author, spiritual guru David Deida, claims that relationships can’t succeed without a masculine pole and a feminine pole, so the book is geared for masculine men who are already in relationships with feminine women. His relationship advice for maintaining this polarity actually packages a lot of red pill thinking into a purple pill that won’t offend the mainstream (no one would call this book “misogynist”). Instead of blaming women entirely like I may do here, he shares equal blame between the sexes.
Each chapter provides a rule that men must follow. Sample rules include…
- Know Your Real Edge and Don’t Fake It
- Never Change Your Mind Just to Please a Woman
- Do It for Love
- Don’t Use Your Family As an Excuse
- Don’t Analyze Your Woman
- Choose a Woman Who Is Your Complementary Opposite
The book wasn’t beta as much as it was soft. Some of the things he said were so off the wall that I didn’t know if I wanted to gag or roll my eyes. He also had a bad habit of repeating meaningless generalities. I’d be getting blown away by one paragraph where I’d ask myself “Wow who is this guy?” but then be violently brought back down to earth in the next with some new-age crap that didn’t make sense. It doesn’t help that he constantly repeats how you should give you unbound love to women or the world. For example:
“…you will lovingly surrender your position and ravish the moment, penetrate to its core and find yourself identical to it. Feeling through and through and through is your only freedom.”
“Your ultimate desire is for the union of consciousness with its own luminosity, wherein all appearance is recognized as your deep, blissful nature, and there is only One.”
Behind the floral language, however, was excellent advice on how to maintain a relationship. But a relationship with whom? An American woman? The book may be dated: how many truly feminine women are there in the United States? I think the passage of time has inadvertently made this book a great guide for relationships with foreign women. A lot of the tips it contains would definitely have helped maintained my little harems in Eastern Europe.
The book had many great quotes. Here’s a sample…
- “Men who have lived significant lives are men who never waited: not for money, security, ease, or women.”
- “If you choose to go with your woman’s suggestion even when deep in your heart you feel that another decision is more wise, you are, in effect, saying, “I don’t trust my own wisdom.” You are weakening yourself.”
- “Your close men friends should be willing to challenge your mediocrity by suggesting a concrete action you can perform that will pop you out of your rut.”
- “If you feel it is demeaning for a woman to be the “object” of your polar attraction, then you have probably disowned your masculine core.”
- “Successfully completing a lesser purpose doesn’t feel very good for very long, because it is simply preparation for advancing toward a greater embodiment of your deeper purpose.”
- “As women get older, they typically take on more and more masculine tasks and responsibilities in our culture, so their radiance begins to decrease. In other cultures, this is less true.”
- “Once she feels your neediness and she feels that you need her more than she needs you, she will never trust your masculine core.”
- “If you are a man who is living the fullest, willing to play his edge and grow through difficulties, then you will want her to test you. You may not like it. But you don’t want her to settle for some bozo who depends on his woman’s response to be happy.”
The author points out that there is a cost of dating feminine women: they’re irrational and prone to emotional outbursts that seem to have no cause, but can usually be traced back to wanting to be loved by the masculine. He describes how to pass shit tests that feminine women will throw at you. Another topic the book covers that I don’t touch much on here is finding purpose. Is life a series of little goals that somehow make the man, or are they distractions and filler for the one thing that will define your life? I’m more in the former camp while the author is in the latter, but he gives some good insight into the problem.
Through her touch, her loving, and her attractiveness, she can also give you energy, so that your whole body becomes like an erection, full and alive, and ready to penetrate the world into love.
The best way to describe this book is a guy with some beta energy giving you an alpha kick in the ass. Once you get past the soft language you’ll find yourself inspired to get a feminine girlfriend, especially from reading the first half. It’s a rule book for masculine males who want a fulfilling relationship that involves love. At the same time it’s a celebration of feminine women and the men who love them. The author has several solid concepts, that although wrapped up in psychobabble and spiritual nonsense, will help you in your relationships. Therefore I highly recommend you read this book, but please don’t get mad at me when you come across a kooky passage.
Dan Ellsberg is a marine veteran who found civilian work as an analyst for the government contractor Rand during the cold war. He did simulations and other studies about the use of nuclear weapons in a possible war. As the Vietnam War was ramping up, he was handpicked to work two steps under the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon where he had access to top secret war files. This book is a memoir of how he participated in the planning of the war, how the government continuously lied to the American people, and how he took steps leak classified documents that he hoped would end the fighting.
One morning just before eight o’clock John came back from McNamara’s office minutes after he’d gotten a call and dashed out. He said to me, “A Blue Springs drone has gone down in China. Bob is seeing the press at eight-thirty. We have ten minutes to write six alternative lies for him.”
I was surprised at the amount of secrecy that goes on between branches of government, where they are just as concerned with hiding information from each other as from the public. It’s as if we have governments within the government with their own interests that don’t at all serve the people of the United States. Government institutions, especially in large countries, tend to become their own metastasizing tumors that are not accountable by the public, something that was shown in the book Breakdown Of Nations.
Vietnam was a boondongle from the start. Instead of learning from French mistakes , we dived head long into an engagement that was not winnable. There were many warnings to withdraw but our Kings—I mean Presidents—felt that by withdrawing, America’s prestige and power would be damaged, so they threw good money after bad and ended up losing anyway.
After witnessing first hand what was happening in Vietman during a tour there, Ellsberg became motivated to use his access to let the American public know what was really going on. He first leaked a couple of secret memos to the New York Times that were contributing factors to Lyndon Johnson not seeking re-election. When his successor escalated the war, Ellsberg went one step further and released the Pentagon Papers.
This is the system that I have been working for, the system I have been part of, for a dozen years—fifteen, including the Marine Corps. It’s a system that lies automatically, at every level from bottom to top—from sergeant to commander in chief—to conceal murder.
The Pentagon Papers was a classified history of Vietnam that contradicted the public story. It detailed how all Presidents involved in the war lied to the public without any intention of winding it down like they promised. At 7,000 pages long, it took Ellsberg a year to secretly copy it (today it would take 10 minutes to disseminate via USB key). He offered it to Congressmen but they didn’t have the balls to take it public. Eventually he gave it to a wary New York Times. They published a massive series on the papers that the Nixon administration unsuccessfully tried to silence in a case that made its way to the Supreme Court. It was the big story of the time that ruined the careers a lot of government men.
But did it end the war? It did not. The administration continued to escalate the war with its bombings in Cambodia and civilian centers in North Vietnam. When asked some time afterward what effect the leaking of the Papers had, something that almost sent him to prison, Ellsberg remarked that it made absolutely no difference. The public simply lost interest in the war, wanting to believe that we were on our way out when we weren’t. Just like the secret war we’re conducting today in Yemen, the public simply doesn’t care. You can have 100 Ellsbergs leak 100 Pentagon Papers today via Wikileaks and not much would change except the leakers would be locked up without trail and tortured.
The government learned that the best way to deal with a damaging leak was just to ignore it. Do you remember the Trapwire story not long back? It’s a network of surveillance cameras that monitor the public for “suspicious behavior” and reports back to a central office. It goes along nicely with the NSA vacuuming all our private data. The government didn’t address it and after a couple days it went back under the radar. It’s not so much the government is strong-arming us into submission—it’s that we’re voluntarily bending over due to apathy and not wanting to be inconvenienced.
A modern president’s practical ability to drop secretly several hundred thousand tons of bombs on a country with which we were not at war was a considerable tribute to the effectiveness of the postwar secrecy system. It gives our presidents a capability to initiate and escalate war in secret that was scarcely possessed by monarchs of the past.
What I liked most about this book was the personal story of how Ellsberg became when he hated. He was against the Vietnam War from the start, but later carried out duties that helped with the bombings that killed untold civilians. I believe his leaking of classified data was a way of personal redemption for the human carnage he participated in. It was a story of one man fighting his inner demons to do what was right, taking shots at a powerful government that couldn’t seem to squash him. It was an interesting book to read with a story that every American should know.
The author of this book, Ryan Holiday, created fake scandals for clients such as Tucker Max and American Apparel in order to get blogs to write about them. Since all major blogs like Gawker, Huffington Post, and Business Insider care about page views before anything else, he handed them controversial “scoops” that sent massive traffic. Subscribing to the school of “no publicity is bad publicity,” Holiday crafted scenarios that caused anger and indignation in order to increase the likelihood of the content spreading.
You get an inside look into how news is disseminated today via top blogs that are read by journalists and media influencers. You may not read Gawker, but those who run the news cycle do, so you can’t escape the influence that they have in the news you eventually receive. The bloggers who write for those sites are not journalists who adhere to stringent standards and ethics, but struggling hipsters who will exaggerate any story in order to hit a certain page view count (their salary is often tied to the views their writing receives).
One story that Jezebel launched a while back was how the producers of The Daily Show were not treating women fairly. It “traded up the chain” to big media until it was discovered that the Jezebel writer used dubious sources and got it all wrong. It was too bad for the show that the “update” post received a mere pittance of the views that the original story got. The blogging game is to break the story first, even if you happen to be wrong, and then correct it with a little paragraph in the end that few people will read. The name of the game is page views, and bloggers will do anything to get them.
This book makes you skeptical of what you read. With every story you need to ask yourself who benefits? What player in the story is getting coverage that will send his site traffic? What angle did the blogger take to juice the post’s views? Is what I’m reading actually news? It also gives you the basic knowledge on how to hack the system itself in the case you run a blog and want some of that sweet outrage traffic.
“Build a brand by courting controversy, breaking big scoops, driving comments, and publishing constantly.”
My favorite part of the book was reviewing the history of newspapers and how blogging is going through a similar progression. When newspapers first came out, they weren’t yet based on the subscription model, so they had to sell papers on the corner through the strength of their shouted headlines alone. This encouraged the papers to mislead in order to make the one-off sale. Blogs aren’t much different. In a sea of headlines, the blog with the juiciest bait will get the click. The result is a bunch of blogs going for the lowest common denominator in order to attract eyeballs and, in turn, advertising revenue. Holiday suggests that the integrity, honesty, and usefulness of today’s blogs won’t be improved unless they move to a subscription model like the newspapers did. In that system, you’re not a slave to the headline, and are able to pursue more in-depth and honest pieces that won’t fluctuate your day-to-day sales or traffic.
Holiday loses me when he starts whining about how bad bloggers are for falling for tricks from guys like him. Of course he’s angry after he made a lot of money for his clients, and one can’t help but smile to see that his clients got bit by the same types of sensational lies that he pushed himself. The drug pusher who was part of the problem is now telling everyone to go to rehab. While I was annoyed by this, I’ll forgive him since he attacked Jezebel quite a bit in the book. I also liked how he wasn’t afraid to take shots at annoying blogger personalities like Jeff Jarvis, Ariana Huffington, and Michael Arrington.
“The central question for the Internet is not, is this entertaining? but, will this get attention? will it spread?”
This book is most useful if you have a blog, but it should hold your attention even if you’re a reader of them. It’s an interesting insider look into a media world that—while barely ten years old—has completely shaped how information and news is shared.
I was excited about this book because I wanted to learn the effect that culture has on language in order to connect it with my recent experiences abroad. Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed. The title should actually be “How Humans Perceive Color.” For 214 pages out of 305, the book focuses on the human eye. I thought I was reading a book about vision, not language, and in its many thousands of words I only picked apart a few things that were helpful, spending way too much time for very little intellectual gain. The end of the book tried to bring things home with psychological studies, but they proved nothing and only raised more questions than they answered. The book offered no real-world application, just something a mind can masturbate to. It’s like taking an advanced level linguistics class that tries to connect the dots, but fails horribly.
“Each language reflects the qualities of the nation that speaks it.”
“People find names for things they feel the need to talk about.”
This book did get me thinking about the vocabulary that comes with game and the act of pickup, like the words approach, cockblock, wingman, flake, and so on. If another language doesn’t have those words like we do, then you must conclude that the game culture there isn’t as advanced and that people probably still rely on traditional dating to pair the sexes. A place like Brazil, with a lot of pickup vernacular in Portuguese, predicts that pickup would be something like a national sport (it is), but in the languages of Eastern Europe it’s much less common, meaning you shouldn’t be surprised that many guys need to get drunk before even starting a conversation with a girl. I believe the more game terms a culture has in its own language, the more game you’ll need to have sex in that country.
There are a few interesting nuggets contained in the book:
- Tribes that have a language without a future tense tend to die out faster since they have no way of experiencing hope, suggesting it’s an emotion necessary for long-term human survival.
- The difficulty of a language is relative. Spanish is easy if you know English, but hard if you know Russian. A Slavic language that is impossible for me to learn is cake for those who know another Slavic language. Turns out that there is no scientific way to compare the complexity of two languages—it’s all relative.
- Language does not limit thought. You can teach theoretical physics to an Amazonian tribe in time—you’d just have to make up new vocabulary. The bible has been successfully translated and understood in over 400 languages.
- Some richness and tone is lost in translation, but rarely meaning. A Japanese guy who never approached a girl in his life would have no problem understanding me when I say “I got cockblocked by a 2″ if I phrased it thusly: “An ugly girl suddenly interrupted a conversation I was having with a desirable girl.”
Ultimately I felt this book was false advertising. I thought he would tell me how language influences culture, but it stuck mostly on color while touching briefly on how spatial perception and gendered nouns may also influence how people think. I may have to wait a decade or two until this part of linguistics beefs itself up with more substantial examples and conclusions.
When a language forces its speakers to pay attention to certain aspects of the world each time they open their mouths or prick up their ears, such habits of speech can eventually settle into habits of mind with consequences for memory, or perception, or associations, or even practical skills.
Do you want to read more book reviews? Click here for the previous set.
I needed a break from land-based war books so I checked out this one about Americas fight with Japan starting with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and ending with the Battle of Midway. I’m used to history books with heavy analysis so I was initially taken aback with all the eyewitness testimony, story telling, and smooth prose. While it lacked tight specifics on the drive to war, it turned out to be a page turner that I couldn’t put down. The action was superb and peeking ahead at the battle results on Wikipedia didn’t at all dampen my enjoyment.
Japan attacked America because we got in the way of their imperialistic ambitions in Asia by choking off their supply of key resources like oil and steel via our Asian bases primarily centered around the Philippines. Japan believed it was their godly destiny to control Asia at the same time we worked with the British to control or at least influence big chunks of it to further our economy. I would never take the viewpoint that the Japanese were just in their Pearl Harbor attack, but we did partake in Asian land and sea grabs for our own benefit. Judging by what the Japanese did to their subjects, it actually turned out we were a kinder ruler.
I didn’t know how badly America was getting spanked by the Japanese. For the first few months of the war they had near total reign over the Pacific. If you isolated that early period, it wouldn’t have been a stretch for you to conclude that we were doomed to lose. Since of course we did win, thanks mostly to our superior intelligence network and code-breaking ability, this book is actually a great comeback story in disguise that got me feeling a little proud about being born in the USA. With our recent use of a Hollywood-style “sky crane” to successfully land a rover on Mars, it seems like there’s nothing the American can-do spirit can’t overcome.
“America was like a gigantic furnace. Grey had said: ‘Once the fire is lighted under it there is no limit to the power it can generate.’ [...] Between 1940 and 1943, Britain tripled its war production; Germany and Russia doubled theirs; and Japan increased its war production fourfold. In that three-year period, the United States multiplied its war production by twenty-five times. [...] By 1945, the U.S. Navy would be larger (as measured either by number of ships or tonnage) than the combined fleets of every other navy in the world.”
In my previous review post I wrote how underestimating the enemy seems to be the most common path to defeat in war. That fact reared its head in this story, with Americans initially underestimating the Japanese and then, after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese underestimating American soldiers, who they thought were soft and lazy.
“The [Japanese] subhumans of 1941 had mutated into the superhumans of 1942. Many Allied soldiers apparently believed that the Japanese possessed preternatural senses and abilities. Like bats, they could see in the darkness. Like panthers, they could move soundlessly through the underbrush. Like ants, they could communicate with their own kind by some unspoken brainwave. Unlike men, they had no fear of death.”
How far the Japanese man has fallen! From alpha warriors to beta huggers of life size dolls—I don’t think we’ve ever seen a collapse of human males in such a short amount of time. By comparison, the transformation of the Vikings to the effete Scandinavian men of today took hundreds of years.
“A trail of foam marked the track of each torpedo as it closed the range toward the ship. Some were ‘porpoising’–alternately breaking the surface and then diving. Johnston watched the submerged missiles with dismay, and realized that the Lexington was not going to dodge them all. ‘Their wicked noses look to me like death incarnate. I have the illusion they are alive, and breaking water to peek at us, only to dive again after having made sure of their courses.’”
A surprising strength of this book was its maps: they were easy to understand and had helpful arrows detailing the battle action. Most history books seem to have maps that can only be read by cartographers, so I felt the visual guides greatly enhanced the fighting scenes.
Pacific Crucible is ultimately one of the best history books I’ve ever read. I hoped it wouldn’t end. It’s an amazing story of victory in the face of initial defeat that makes you feel nostalgic for what America used to stand for, values that sometimes show up every so often today. Highly recommended.
From the very first page, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography makes you want to hit the gym. Reading the amount of work this man put into being the world’s best bodybuilder will make you want to prove your own worth by lifting some heavy-ass weight. I was on a little break from the gym because I was vacationing on an island (a sound excuse, I figured), but within a couple days of cracking open the book I found a hotel with a dinky gym where I could lift. It’s one of the most motivating fitness books I’ve read.
The first half of the book is a first-hand account of what it really takes to be at top of your field, with all the roadblocks, vultures, and haters that come along with it. Within these pages lies the best feature of the book: Arnold’s belief system. You find out the thoughts that have led to his incredible success in body building, acting, and politics. Even if your current goal isn’t related to those, they will bitch slap you upside the head and get you moving. Arnold’s inspiring attitude makes him more American than Austrian, so it’s no surprise that he loved the United States.
“I could tell if a girl was repelled by my size. And when I’d catch her looking at me in disbelief I would casually raise my arm, flex my bicep, and watch her cringe. It was always good for a laugh.”
You probably already know that Arnold was a ladies man. He viewed them as distractions to his goals, primarily serving as objects for his sexual pleasure. He relaxed that stance in his later years but a look into how he fathered his maid’s child while married to Maria Shriver shows that he wasn’t entirely domesticated. Players will wink and nod at a few passages of the book that concern how he approached women and sex.
“Normal people can be happy with a regular life. I was different. I felt there was more to life than just plodding through an average existence.”
The second half of the book gives basic nutrition and body building advice that was of course less interesting and more technical. It did cause me to make a couple tweaks to my lifting program that seem to have a positive benefit, such as taking shorter rests between sets (45 seconds instead of 120 seconds).
Ultimately this short book was a captivating story of how the fruits of a man’s labor, combined with the right beliefs, can help you achieve what you set out to do. I highly recommend it.
“Bodybuilding changed me entirely. I think I would be a different person now if I’d never trained, if I’d just worked somewhere. It gave me confidence and pride and an unlimited positive attitude. I can apply my success to everything.”
“Science is not just about research teams in lab coats working under the direction of an eminent scientist. It can be pursued by lone individuals slogging it out in hard times and hard places—feeling lost and over their heads, yet challenged to bring new knowledge out of their difficulties.”
This is a memoir of American linguist Daniel Everett who spent over a decade studying the Piraha Amazonian tribe and their language. I got pulled in quickly because of the extraordinary experience this man had while trying to map out one of the world’s least understood languages, one that has thwarted many linguists before him.
Linguaphiles will like this book most. You get to see how Everett learned a language from absolutely nothing, with no grammar book, no Pimsleur audio course, and no dictionary. Many times you can feel his frustration while struggling to figure things out, followed by the exhilaration when he finally got it. The book has an interesting twist in that the author is actually a missionary whose main goal was to learn enough of the tribal language to create a Bible translation. But after a short while you wonder who is converting who.
“I thought again of the challenge of the missionary: to convince a happy satisfied people that they are lost and need Jesus as their personal savior.”
I identified with the author because we’re both doing similar things. He’s trying to decode spoken language while I try to decode sexual language. The ups and downs he felt in the book is not unlike what I’ve felt and recorded in my South American memoir. The only advantage in his methodology over mine is that he has focused on only one area to study, going deeper than many before him, while I hop around every couple of months. I can’t imagine staying in a country for over ten years like he has.
One unexpected surprise is that you learn a lot about Brazil, its interior inhabitants, and how they balance their Amazonian heritage with Brazil’s rapid modernization. An inadvertently funny part of the book is how a Brazilian boat crew ferrying his deathly ill wife put on soccer jerseys, anchored the boat, and went for a two hour futebol match on land.
The book takes a nerdy turn towards the end when Everett challenges Noam Chomsky’s linguistic theories based on what he learned from the Piraha’s language. Chomsky, while a genius, pulled a lot of his theories out of his ass without any fieldwork. Everett has found an exception to his “universal” grammar and recursion theories, but Chomsky’s fanboys have attacked back and tried to discredit Everett. The book also touches on some philosophy, particularly on existence, truth, and the present moment. It’s a potent memoir that was educational, funny, and thoroughly entertaining. Recommended.
“There is no ‘real world’ that we can actually perceive without the filter of language telling us what we are seeing and what it means. [...] We perceive the world, both as theoreticians and as citizens of the universe according to our experiences and expectations not always, perhaps even never, according to how the world actually is.”
This is the fictional story of a 40-something British expat lawyer working in Moscow. He meets a Russian girl on the metro and ends up pursuing her, but things are not as they seem as she gets him involved in a shady business deal that makes him question his deepening affections for the girl. The journey of intrigue and deceit he gets thrust into was interesting but also predictable. You can easily see the hammer coming down on him from a hundred pages away.
I definitely recognized the interaction between the British protagonist and the Russian girl, making it clear to me that the author had experience dating in Russia. His descriptions on the culture—the face control, the overweight oligarchs, and of course the women—were accurate. He also nailed the concept of Russian friendships and how it’s expected to ask and receive a neverending stream of favors. I quickly noticed that my “friends” in Ukraine saw me as a resource that can be extracted like a mineral in the ground. As a man who is stubbornly reluctant to ask for help, I found those friendships to be rather one-sided and unfulfilling.
“In my experience, you could roughly gauge the level of depravity in a Slavic city by the time it took, after you arrived, for someone to offer you women.”
Snowdrops was a quick read that held my interest. I enjoyed the crisp writing, the tightly woven analogies, and the fast-paced—albeit predictable—story. The ending was a bit stale, but if you’re interested in checking out Russia or Ukraine, I recommend this book. It will show you firsthand what this part of the world can do to a Western man, but for a more potent picture, you need to read The Exile.
Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill, looked into the life of Enrique Prado, a man who worked for Miami drug lords before making it into the upper reaches of the CIA. Wright focuses on a murder that Prado may have committed while working for a drug cartel and how the CIA later protected him from prosecution.
This book reinforces the concept of how justice is a malleable concept in America. Laws are selectively applied, especially in the face of the CIA (you can see more evidence of that in the books Into The Buzzsaw and Dark Alliance). Out of all the organizations that make me ashamed to be an American, the CIA is at the top. It’s a government within a government that does absolutely whatever it wants with no possibility of punishment, and there’s nothing that will change that.
“Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible. The deniability that protects the government also shields the bureaucrats who run it. In such a system, it’s nearly impossible to detect mistakes, incompetence, or corruption.”
What I love about this book is that it fucks over a lot of people who I’m sure wanted to keep certain events quiet. Sorry Enrique, no peaceful retirement for you. The problem is that there isn’t much heart coming out of the pages—it’s mostly fact driven narrative that overloads you with meetings and dates, making it read more like a news reel than a compelling story. Nonetheless, at only 124 pages long it was a fast-paced read. If you hate the CIA then you’ll enjoy it.
“Learning the skills of salesmanship takes time and effort. You have to practice them over and over again until they become second nature. Not all young people today understand that. They look at a successful businessman and they don’t stop to think about all the mistakes he might have made when he was younger.”
This is the entertaining autobiography of Lee Iacocca, a famous American businessman who made his mark in Ford by developing the Ford Mustang. He later went on to work at Chrysler to turn the company around when it was on its death throes. This book mostly focuses on his business experience, his takedown of “King” Henry Ford II, and his political views, written in a straight-shooter, conversational style.
The book contains a lot of great business and leadership wisdom, with just the right amount of arrogance that seems to breed great men who know how to get shit done. However, I didn’t buy his argument that the reason Chrysler needed a loan guarantee from the government was because of oppressive regulation. In America we see a lot of examples of rabid capitalists who are the first to line up for loans and bailouts. They preach government deregulation when profits come in, handouts when they don’t.
My biggest complaint of the book is that the tone got a little too defensive and negative in the second half where he tried to answer all his critics. He went from providing value to trying to settle scores. It also was written during a time when Japan was crushing the US, so his warnings about their booming strength was greatly overblown. Nonetheless, if you like the business side of things or are an entrepreneur at heart, you’ll enjoy this quick read.
“In a disposable society like ours, there are no real heroes. Nobody lasts very long.”
This book, written by a former FBI agent, starts off by claiming that there are three ways that humans react to danger: freeze, flight, or fight. This doesn’t mean danger in the form of a saber tooth tiger, but an uncomfortable question, situation, or revelation. In response to those, a person will give off “pacifying behaviors” that displays the discomfort, like touching one’s body. The reason that pacifying behaviors is universal to humans is because self-touching releases endorphins and soothes the brain.
Let’s imagine for a second that a woman is touching her hair while you talk to her. That actually is not a direct sign that she’s attracted to you—it means she’s nervous. Ironically, you want a girl to initially display pacifying behaviors that show she’s under stress because it implies she’s intimidated by you and sees you as higher value than herself. It’s when a girl is too comfortable and putting out high-confidence displays (something the book discusses) that she may not be attracted to you.
When I roll solo to a club I regularly touch my neck, chin, and stroke my beard. According to the book, I do these things to comfort myself. Once you consider that I’m alone in a crowded, dark place where my senses are being bombarded by loud music, heavy crowds, and flashing neon lights, this makes sense. I touch myself less when I’m with a friend because he is giving me comfort that I don’t get when I’m alone.
Some things you’ll learn in this book:
- Blocking the eyes with your hand, even in a subtle way, is a powerful display of disbelief and disagreement.
- Any touching of the face, head, neck, shoulder, or extremities is meant to self-pacify.
- The direction of a person’s feet is where they actually want to go.
- Hands on knees while seated means the person wants to leave.
- Leg crossing while standing is a high comfort display.
- Interlaced hands behind the head is a display of comfort and dominance. So is placing hands on a table while standing.
- Interlacing of fingers is a low-confidence gesture, except when thumbs are extended straight up.
- Head tilting is a powerful way to say “I am very comfortable.”
- We squint when we are angry or when we hear something we don’t like.
- Lip compression is a sign of negative sentiment.
- Nose pointed up is a high confidence display.
The biggest problem with the book was that it was boring to read. I felt like the author was adding in fluff to hit a page count, but I got a lot of value from learning about low confidence displays, such a sticking your thumbs in your pocket while leaving your hands out. I did this from time to time but not anymore (a more confident alternative is to put your hand in your pocket while leave your thumbs sticking out). In the “fake it till you make it” school of thought, you can force yourself to do all the behaviors the book describes as high confidence until they automatically happen.
Another reason to check this out is to know how to successfully lie to the authorities. The book says that liars often freeze and think maintaining laser eye contact is a way to appear honest, something I have thought is actually the best way to lie. Instead I should gesticulate and be animated, as if I’m being forceful with the truth, and to refrain from pacifying behaviors.
Body language in general is not something that I worry too much about when it comes to talking to girls. You can tell much more strongly where you stand by her verbal response and the ratio of her talking—if it increases or decreases as time goes on. I’ve always thought that body language analysis is not worth the effort. If you can run tight game while also examining her body parts to see what they’re doing, then power to you, but just keeping the conversation flowing keeps my brain occupied enough. This book will actually better serve you in correcting your own body language, but not so much for reading others.
I became interested in this book after finding out that Hollywood was making a new Gatsby movie. While reading it I ignored the well-accepted fact that it is one of the greatest pieces of American literature ever written and tried to see if it would hold its own for a year 2012 reader.
The story centers around the mysterious Jay Gatsby and the popular parties he throws, though no one seems to know who he is or what he does for a living. We soon find out that he’s throwing those parties to get back a girl he lost during a time he was in poverty.
The book felt a bit like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, dominated with dialogue of bored rich people who are obsessed with status. The conversations were nuanced enough that I wondered if I was missing something that I would have picked up had I read the book closer to when it was originally released 90 years ago, but a lot of modern concepts of seduction can still be found, such as social proof, building interest through scarcity, and displaying dominance in seemingly banal conversations to establish alpha cred.
I wasn’t too impressed when starting the story, but my eyes soon felt like they were gliding across the pages, hinting to me how much work the author put into editing the prose. Not many old books can keep me engaged like this one did.
I don’t mean to insult the story by praising the writing. It’s interesting with a bittersweet ending, where we find out what happened to the most popular man in New York. Analyses of this book point to the decadence of the 20s as the driving force of the book’s story, but I think a modern day reader who dabbles in game can find new meaning to the book by simply asking, “What happens when a man goes beta to get an old girlfriend back?”
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This book aims to explain the nature of man and masculinity, using both historical and present-day examples to paint a picture of what makes a man. Today, anyone with a penis is biologically considered a man, so the author delineates the difference between being a man and “being good at being a man.”
“A man who is more concerned with being a good man than being good at being a man makes a very well-behaved slave.”
In the past, you were a man through survival and warfare. If you were surviving or fighting in battle, you were a man. Today, any retard who can speak in complete sentences and push buttons on a smartphone will survive. Anyone who knows how to use a credit card can see the world in comfort. Even combat is becoming robotic and detached, like playing a video game.
In spite of modern progress, men still want to be men. Their attempts at masculinity come out in other forms, like bodybuilding, training in MMA, becoming a policeman or fireman, trying to bang a lot of women, and simply reading war histories or the biographies of great men. The Way Of Men explains how all of us seek a path to expressing our masculinity in a world that is trying to punish and control it.
“Men are dropping out and disengaging from our slick, easy, safe world. For what may be the first time in history, the average guy can afford to be careless. Nothing he does really matters, and—what’s worse—there is a shrinking hope of any future where what he does will matter.”
The book picked up steam in the second half where the author’s voice strengthened when talking about the damaging effects of modern culture on masculinity. One thought provoking question he asks is: what do men have to gain with a feminist utopia? You quickly realize there is almost no benefit to the pile of crap that the ism ideologies are trying to force upon you today (and don’t say easy sex, which I have debunked in the past). They’re not making you more of a man, they’re not making your family stronger, and they’re not increasing your happiness. The minute it takes a woman to show a man what it takes to be a man is when men stop being men. And that’s what’s happening now.
“Aren’t most men today spoiled mamma’s boys without father figures, without hunting of fighting or brother-bonds, whose only masculine outlet is promiscuous sex?”
This book was important to me because it described the why of my current existence (and likely yours as well). Why do I get satisfaction from collecting flags and notches? Why do I like sticking my dick in a lot of different vaginas? Because in today’s world it’s one of the easiest ways to express my masculinity. While I’m sure I possess some genetic features that pushed me towards this outcome, I’m a man of my environment. I would have probably had a different “hobby” if I was born a couple generations ago.
“One of the great tragedies of modernity is the lack of opportunity for men to become what they are, to do what they were bred to do, what their bodies want to do.”
This book should be required reading for all American men, containing brilliant insights I had not previously considered. It clearly shows how your masculinity is being muzzled in order to achieve an experimental result that doesn’t serve your interests. Highly recommended.
This well-written book claims that the internet is changing the way we think by shortening our attention spans and preventing deep focus, making our brain addicted to shallow information that’s received in small cocaine pellets. It also claims that it’s decreasing our dependence on memory. The internet is doing all the remembering for us, atrophying critical memory centers of the brain.
“When we outsource our memory to a machine, we also outsource a very important part of our intellect and even our identity.”
The author argues that a technology like the internet has a deep influence not only on our lives but conscious human thought, keeping us in a state of distracted hunger. On the other hand, he concedes that deep thought is an anomaly for humans. Ancient humans skipped from one sensory cue to the other like what the internet enables us to do now, which is why we’ve taken so well to it. It tickles our primitive brain.
“Every click we make on the Web marks a break in our concentration, a bottom-up disruption of our attention—and it’s in Google’s economic interest to make sure we click as often as possible. The last thing the company wants is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. Google is, quite literally, in the business of distraction.”
I was pleasantly surprised that the book reviews brain functioning, neuroplasticity, and how important inventions like the alphabet, map, clock, and printed text changed the way we think and communicate. I learned how our brain is impacted by everyday things we take for granted.
I bought this book because I’ve become concerned that I’m getting addicted to the internet. I’ve had to stop myself from compulsively checking a loop of email, blogs, and social networking sites for new information as if I was possessed by a demon, making me wonder if my internet habit isn’t that much more useful than watching television. Chances are you don’t even remember 5% of things you read on the internet yesterday, let alone a couple hours ago.
I also know I can’t be the only one who has lost the ability to concentrate on long articles on the web. I’m forced to use Readability’s “Send To Kindle” feature to read articles later without being plugged into the internet. It’s just too tempting to have a million windows open and hop around them like I was a kid in a candy store where I rather be entertained with short-form content and pictures.
Overall, this book does an excellent job of reviewing brain research and interviewing experts to explain what the internet is actually doing to us. No matter how great an invention is, there will be downsides that must be examined.
The Rule Of Empires examines imperial rule in seven failed empires: Roman Britain, Umayyad Spain, Spanish Peru, British India, Napoleonic Italy, Britain’s Kenya colony, and Nazi-occupied France. It argues that a main reason empires fail is by enfranchising their subjects, who demand greater rights and power.
“Stable imperial rule is an impossibility in an era when self-determination has become a basic human right and transnational flows of wealth, people, ideas, and weapons mean that no community is truly isolated. [...] By the turn of the 19th century it became increasingly difficult to consign Europeans to the kind of subhuman subjecthood that was central to profitable imperial extraction. [...] The voting western European public considered themselves civilized and moral and would not tolerate a return to the excesses of earlier imperial eras.”
In the past, a ruler could get support from his citizens to invade another country by saying he was doing it for the strength of the nation, but this reasoning today will not get you majority support. Modern empire builders have to say they’re doing it for the good of the subject people instead of for national glory, ultimately making extractive empires politically unsustainable.
A common trend in the fall of these empires is that the locals get tired of paying tribute to their masters, a bunch of people die, sometimes over the course of a hundred or more years, and then the masters leave because it’s no longer profitable or acceptable (from a humanitarian standpoint) to run the empire. The author therefore places great detail in how empires of run. Instead of giving you battle detail, he goes through empire organization and administration, even at the level of tribute-collection methods. This book is better suited for budding bureaucrats than warriors.
The author repeatedly stresses that the overall point of conquest is to enrich the empire through looting or colonization. The cost of invading should be more than offset by booty gained. He argues that since America does not plunder, it is not an empire. It invades countries at its own expense ($3 trillion cost for Iraq war will be paid by Americans, not Iraqi oil), meaning that it will starve itself unless it is better able to exploit its imperial subjects, either by stealing their resources or labor.
In the end he brought things full circle with an epilogue about the recent Iraq war…
“Operation Iraqi Freedom was an attempt to use imperial methods in an age when formal empires are no longer practical, viable, or defensible.”
Even if formal empires are legitimate today, the occupation of Iraq was “unquestionably one of the most pathetically inept imperial regime in recorded history.” Events from America’s nation-building efforts are almost slapstick and would get laughed at by any of history’s famous conquerors. We’re great in showing strong bursts of military power, but horrible at extraction.
Overall, this book is extremely pedantic with a level of detail that wore me down. It does not have sub-headers for its mammoth chapters, just one river of text that doesn’t seem to end, making it feel more like an academic work than fun Saturday afternoon reading. The timeline is also not linear—within chapters the author jumps around until you’re not sure what exactly you’re reading. The chapter on Napoleon was especially sloppy, making me feel like I was looking at raw research notes. It’s definitely not a history book for newbies, but it kept my interest because so much of the information was new to me. If you don’t mind to read what feels like a raw data dump, then you may like this.
Why do I insist on reading these mammoth history books?! Because Wikipedia doesn’t have enough detail. I want to be in the driver’s seat as the greatest men in history made decisions that shaped their world. In that respect, this book doesn’t disappoint.
Russia Against Napoleon dispels the myth that Russia won simply because of weather or luck, assertions that have remained over time as mostly Western authors have written the history of the Napoleonic Wars. The author closely examines the Russian side and how their superior military planning and strategy defeated Napoleon, whose stale tactics and rough diplomacy were outwitted at almost every turn by the Russian Tsar Alexander.
Russia’s plan for 1812 was actually one of scorched earth retreat, aimed to wear out Napoleon—and the strongest army ever seen in Europe at the time—without losing a lot of men. Besides some relatively minor mistakes, it couldn’t have gone much better for the Russians. Their disciplined rearguard killed the morale and strength of an increasingly hungry Grande Armée, who were forced into a too-little-too-late retreat that cost Napoleon most of his men.
What I liked most about this book was that it gave you a birds-eye view of statecraft, as if you were in the same room when war decisions were being made. It made you almost feel like you were getting to know the leaders on a personal level. Other things the book taught me:
- Even the most brilliant of men will make poor decisions.
- War is fluid: the victor does a better job in taking advantage of his opponents mistakes.
- Wrong decisions in hindsight seem like the absolute best move at the time.
- There existed a formula to winning wars of the past: get an advantage over terrain, attack when you have the upper hand, and exploit enemy mistakes.
- Underestimating your enemy is how many wars are lost.
- There’s nothing wrong with retreat. Better to preserve your army for a future battle when you have an advantage than face total annihilation.
- Even in time of a war where your country’s future hangs in the balance, men can’t help undermining their side due to jealousy, resentment, ego, and pride.
This book is not without its problems. There are so many characters that you get confused easily and are not sure who is who. The amount of detail was too much for me, almost to the point where I couldn’t believe that we knew so much about events that happened 200 years ago. For example, the author talked about specific farms that the armies got their horses from and how it impacted the cavalry of each side. There was a lot of discussion about bureaucratic logistics and accounting. The book also didn’t have any maps, so unless you know 19th century European geography, you’ll only have a vague idea of where the battles were taking place.
My eyes would often fall heavy when reading, but I was pleased when I finished it. This is the type of book that you go out and celebrate when you’re done.
This book is like a shorter and less eloquent 48 Laws Of Power but for leadership. Some of the things I learned from it:
- You can’t do it all yourself—you must assemble a team. Leaders mobilize resources instead of trying to do it all.
- Leadership is nothing more than influence. If you have followers, you’re a leader.
- “Leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.”
- People naturally follow others who are stronger than themselves.
- Leaders give hope that tomorrow will be better.
- A leader’s potential is determined by his inner circle.
- People don’t follow causes, they follow leaders.
- The greater the leader, the more responsibilities he must take on and the more he must give up.
- “Success is the greatest threat to tomorrow’s success.” What gets you to the top won’t keep you there.
This book had a few negatives. First, it got a little too self-help with what to me was common sense. Second, some of the pages seemed to be filled with fluff just to hit a certain page count. Lastly, the “Applications” section at the end of each chapter was impractical. For example, some activities involved asking a friend to monitor you for a week on random leadership traits.
In spite of the book’s flaws it does provide a lot of value by sharing helpful anecdotes, quotes, and explanations that teach you about leadership concepts. I think you’ll get the most use out of it if you’re a manager in a corporation and want to move up the ladder than if you have a little internet business on the side. Overall it’s a quick, entertaining read that is a good starting point if you want to learn more about leadership. I definitely have a better idea of what it takes to make a strong leader than before.
Professional use of propaganda started in World War I. When the war ended they simply shifted its use against consumers to sell them more crap under the banner of “public relations.” The reason that the word propaganda began having negative connotations was because the American government kept calling out “German propaganda” as having deceit and lies, forever anchoring the word to its more underhanded uses.
The father of propaganda and author of this book, Edward Bernays, is either evil or a genius, depending on how you look at it. He was one of the first guys to apply what was known about the mind to the task of trying to influence the masses. His whole motivation for doing so was because he felt that societies can only function when an intelligent elite guides the decisions of the ignorant masses.
“It is on the men inside, working under conditions that are sound, that the daily administration of society must rest. [...] The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
In other words, the modern use of propaganda is a way to control the masses and help them navigate a confusing, dangerous world. Bernays believed that superior human beings should “help” inferior humans with how they think and how to live their lives.
“Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses. Is this government by propaganda? Call it, if you prefer, government by education.”
There are many corporations who you are loyal to. Ask yourself, how did this loyalty develop? Why did you first buy their product? In a crowded market of many options, the reason you chose to deal with a particular corporation is because they “educated” either you or a friend who recommended them to you. Corporations are gigantic entities with loyalty only to the dollar, meaning that a person’s rabid love of an entity like Apple or Chipotle is an unnatural connection that came about by manipulating the subject in ways that he refuses to understand. It’s brainwashing on a mass scale, aided by science.
Consumers think they are making decisions based on sound cost-benefit analysis, but there are men in suits somewhere who targeted you, your desires, and your insecurities in a way that increased the chance you would give them money.
A good example of modern propaganda is fashion. A bunch of guys in a room decide what newfangled creation they want to sell and by cooperating with television, celebrities, magazines, and influential web sites, they push a certain “style” that requires its victims to buy clothes they don’t need. Corporations know who influence your decisions and go after them to push their products.
“Men are very largely actuated by motives which they conceal from themselves.”
The book is more like a long brochure that Bernays hoped to hook future clients with. Once you get past the first 30 pages it becomes a chore to read. His writing style didn’t make things any easier, but understand that what he laid down here served as a rudimentary blueprint for manipulation on a large scale. It’s a short read that you can knock out in a couple days.
This is a true story of a guy who had his colon impacted. He describes the many surgeries he went through and all the funny moments that entailed have a gigantic section of his digestive tract removed. It’s one of the more amusing short stories I’ve read.
The author, a struggling actor, gets the chance to write for Seinfeld thanks to his connection to Larry David. The problem is that he’s the most beta and neurotic guy I’ve ever read in print—he actually makes George Constanza seem confident and alpha. Nonetheless, once you get past the slow beginning where he shares his life story, you get to read about how Seinfeld was made along with some behind-the-scens moments. Only check this out if you’re a Seinfeld fan.
I’ve also recently put up several of my short work on Kindle. Simply do an Amazon search for “roosh single” and you’ll find four of them.
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This doozy of a book, clocking in at 1,280 pages, chronicles the rise of Adolf Hitler from homeless vagabond to warlord of Germany, which he came to control for 12 years. Hitler was legally granted power by the state thanks to his political genius, his use of terror, and his masterful lies, where a million things had to fall in his favor for him to succeed. Statistically it shouldn’t have happened, but it did and the entire world had to deal with it.
“That one day he would build [Germany] and rule it he had no doubts whatsoever, for he was possessed of that burning sense of mission peculiar to so many geniuses who have sprouted, seemingly, from nowhere and from nothing throughout the ages. He would unify a chosen people who had never before been politically one. He would purify their race. He would make them strong. He would make them lords of the earth.”
He laid out his full plans in Mein Kampf, a blueprint for how the war would proceed. If Western leaders at the time read the damn thing they wouldn’t have pursued the policy of appeasement, led by the British. The later performance of the Brits during the war was admirable, mostly thanks to Churchill, but it could have been prevented had they not let Hitler take over Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Rhineland, whetting his appetite for conquer.
While a pass should not be given to the German people, imagine a politician feeding your ego by saying you’re a member of the master race who deserves more land and wealth after your country just got whipped in a war and had to bow down to concessions you thought were humiliating. Hitler was selling the dream and the people happily bought. The bitter irony is that upon the German defeat, “subhuman” Slavic Russians came pouring into Germany to begin the biggest mass-rape in world history of the so-called master race.
The book became more interesting as the war hit, but even then it focused more on diplomatic and political developments than battle action, giving you an eagle eye view on how statecraft is done. Very little detail is given to the major battles of the war. If you like battle scenes, this book will be unsatisfying.
The reader gets a clear picture of how Hitler’s disastrous decision to invade Russia spelled the beginning of the end. Here was a man who thought he was infallible and unbeatable, walking into the Russian war machine that, after some initial defeats, came back to crush Germany (there was a lol moment when the Germans realized that Stalin had twice the number of divisions they thought he had). Even when Hitler’s officers warned him about Russia’s power or his own stupid war tactics, he dismissed them. His judgement could not be questioned.
The Nazi terror wasn’t just against the Jews. The Germans literally enslaved conquered peoples to work in factories, camps, and farms. They also had a medical testing program that, for example, wanted to see how long a man would survive after being dipped in freezing water. The chapter on what the Germans did to civilians and POWs is a sad stain on the human race. Mass executions were the norm. Only the Germans, with their famed efficiency skills, could have killed so many people in such an expedient manner.
“Nazi degradation sank to a level seldom experienced by man in all his time on earth.”
Nazi Germany was a time for crazy people to shine. In most countries the medically insane are not given state power, but in Germany they were the cream that rose to the top. Sixty million people died as a result of Hitler’s war, about 2.5% of the world’s population.
This book contains no American propaganda saying that we won the war. While we played an important role, the Russians won it for the allies in Europe. The reason Stalin got so much of Eastern Europe was because of the immense sacrifice the Russians made in the war, more so than any other country.
What I liked most about the book was that it highlighted the mistakes that leaders made which contributed to setbacks and losses for their side. The 20/20 hindsight nature of history makes it clear to see how randomly made decisions can have profound consequences that weren’t previously considered. War really is a chess game that requires you to see several moves in advance if you want to come out victorious.
This isn’t a history book for newbies because of its exhaustive attention to detail. It’s essentially a Nazi diary that often gives you hourly updates as events unfolded, almost like watching a live news feed. It took a couple hundred pages alone just to get to the war. The minutiae was tiring at times when the author gave mini biographies on tertiary characters who played the most minor of roles, but it was always just interesting enough that I wanted to continue reading. If the point of a history book is to inform and transport you back into time, then this is one of the best there is.
This is a book about how tiny Belgium came to colonize the vast Congo in the early 20th century thanks to their crafty king. Using marketing and political genius, he grabbed a land rich in rubber, ivory, and minerals, enslaving the local population to fill up ships headed back to Belgium. Researchers estimate that 10 million Congolese died. Such a large percentage of the population had perished that the Belgians had to let up on their brutal methods to prevent their extinction.
Today’s consensus view is that what the Belgians did were horrible, but if we were Europeans living a couple centuries back, would we have thought slavery was evil? In another 500 years, what behavior that we do today, without question, will be seen as evil by humans of the future? How much are we a product of our times?
Initially there was little sympathy for the plight of Africans because they used slavery themselves. It made it easier for Europeans to write them off as “savages.” The great white man got little resistance in their efforts to “civilize” them, ironically by being uncivilized savages themselves through mass murder and torture, in particular the chopping off of hands as both a punitive and accounting measure. I find it interesting how every atrocity has its own flavor. The Nazis had the gas, the Communists had the frozen gulags, and the Belgians with the cutting off of the hands.
“In the Congo, as in Russia, mass murder had a momentum of its own. Power is tempting, and in a sense no power is greater than the ability to take someone’s life. Once under way, mass killing is hard to stop; it becomes a kind of sport.”
In perhaps a low point for humanity, the Belgian king brought a couple hundred Africans and put them on display for the world fair:
“When the king was told that some of the Africans were suffering indigestion because of candy given them by the public, he ordered up the equivalent of a zoo’s don’t-feed-the-animals sign. The placard said: ‘The blacks are fed by the organizing committee.’”
This occurred less than one-hundred years ago.
Some men who visited the Congo began to spread the word of what the Belgians were doing, leading to one of the most successful humanitarian movements of the 20th century. The second half of the book describes the series of events that eventually led to Congo’s independence. This is where the shining light of America—the CIA in particular—makes its appearance to keep corrupt dictators in power that are friendly to U.S. interests, with the Congolese forever suffering.
In the end this isn’t just a history book but a story of will, how one man from an insignificant country landed a colony the size of America east of the Mississippi to become exceedingly wealthy. He used much of that wealth to construct magnificent monuments that today will impress many foreign tourists in Brussels. On their organized tours through the capital, however, they will not learn that the targets of their many photographs cost millions of African lives.
“The urge for more can become insatiable, and its apparent fulfillment seems only to exacerbate that early sense of deprivation and to stimulate the need to acquire still more.”
Say hello the real life version of 1984. An American working in Moscow’s United States embassy after WW2 was kidnapped on the street and declared a spy. He was put through unspeakable suffering and torture until being shipped off to the gulags where it became a game of survival. The U.S. government completely sold him out and even lied to his family about the circumstances involving his capture, all to maintain smooth American-Soviet “relations.”
In this book I learned what to do in case I get imprisoned:
- Keep yourself busy by creating little tasks, no matter how meaningless they may be.
- Try to outwit your captors to have the feeling that you still have control over your life. Don’t give them the satisfaction. (“I often wanted to cry for relief but I knew that if they saw me crying through the peephole then they would know I was beginning to crack.”)
- Review all your memories to take your mind off the suffering you’re facing.
- Never lose the will to survive. Many gulag prisoners dropped dead for no apparent reason because they lost that will.
What struck me about this book was how there was a system created for the sole purpose of crushing the human spirit. And it worked. It’s hard to comprehend how so many millions of lives were destroyed because of the power that Stalin was able to attain.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re the type of person who is prone to complaining about stupid shit and have lost touch with reality in your comfortable iPhone existence. It was one of the more powerful books I’ve read.
“I believe it was at that time that my eyes and my mouth began to settle into a grim cast which is still my normal expression when I am not excited or laughing, and even then I am told it lingers around my eyes. My iron mask never came off, and I can see that it never will.”
This book is meant for guys in high school and college who have not received good advice on what to major in. It tells you which majors to avoid (liberal arts, business, psychology) and which to study (STEM), assuming you want a good income without depending on your parents or the government.
It is no accident that majors involving math have the best opportunity for employment:
“It is through math you will achieve financial stability and an increased chance of life-long happiness.”
Majors with math—particularly engineering—are hard and avoided by most college students. Even college administrators are eager to push you into a useless liberal arts degree because of the lower cost for them in doing so (no laboratories or special computers needed). Lots of parents let their students major in something dumb like Communications and then wonder why their kid can’t find a job four years later.
If the main source of employment for your major is teaching, like in philosophy or women’s studies, that means your field is a ponzi scheme that requires ever more students to keep it going. Ultimately, it offers no tangible value to society. The author cites starting salary figures to support his arguments, but one only needs to read a college graduate sob article to see that just about all the unemployed have a liberal arts degree.
“Why spend $5,000 a quarter on tuition to pay some old, bitter washed-up professors who got suckered into this “profession” 20 years ago to tell you about “Women’s Studies” when you can simply pick up a book at the library and read it for free?”
The author doesn’t pull any punches, trashing majors such as education, political science, and general biology. He holds strong contempt towards the university elite for not giving the young generation skills needed to survive on their own.
“The real reason they make you take prerequisites is to generate more money for other departments, notably departments of worthless majors. Understand worthless degree programs are like zombies. They always need new bodies to enter the program, otherwise the program goes away. So to ensure there’s enough demand to keep these worthless programs going, they force all of you non-worthless degree people to take some token class in those fields.”
I knew the author was plugged into the manosphere because of his many attacks on the women’s studies major (here’s his blog). If you have any doubt that the author is one of us…
“A ‘sexual abuse center’ or ‘shelter’ is usually set up on campus, not primarily for genuine victims of sexual assault, but rather to create jobs for otherwise unemployable women’s studies majors. Worse still, in order to receive additional funding these feminists will lower the bar in terms of what constitutes ‘sexual assault’ on campus to include innocuous things like an unwanted advance from a guy, thereby making it seem like there’s an ‘epidemic’ of sexual assaults on campus.”
The author argues that today’s economic stagnation is partially caused by kids picking the wrong field of study. Those who major in liberal arts become parasites on society because they take away value through their need of massive help in the form of government programs.
“It’s nice and kind to think about society and do charitable things, but the single best thing a person can do for society is simply support themselves and enjoy life.”
I’ve been out of college for ten years but still thoroughly enjoyed this book, which gave me a renewed perspective on the Occupy protesters and the anger they have at holding a psychology degree that can only get them a job at Starbucks. The finance industry should rightfully be blamed for raping taxpayers, but who should be blamed for educating American youth in majors that can’t get them a good job?
The first thing I did after reading this short book was buy a copy for my 15-year-old brother.
This book chronicles his life from birth until his assassination. It’s primarily a biography but also throws in a lot of his beliefs and politics, much of which I read in Malcolm X Speaks. Here we get a good look at the events of his life that led to his activism.
One surprise of the book is his description on female psychology when he was essentially a gigalo to a white woman.
A woman should occasionally be babied enough to show her the man had affection, but beyond that she should be treated firmly. All women, by their nature, are fragile and weak: they are attracted to the male in whom they see strength.
Sophia always had given me money. Even when I had hundreds of dollars in my pocket, when she came to Harlem I would take everything she had short of her train fare back to Boston. It seems that some women love to be exploited. When they are not exploited, they exploit the man.
Yes, Malcolm X was a player. He toned it down after converting to Islam and becoming a dedicated husband, but he never forgot about a woman’s true nature:
Now, Islam has very strict laws and teachings about women, the core of them being that the true nature of a man is to be strong, and a woman’s true nature is to be weak, and while a man must at all times respect his woman, at the same time he needs to understand that he must control her if he expects to get her respect.
He correctly described the entitlement of American women:
I don’t know how many marriage breakups are caused by those movie and television-addicted women expecting some bouquets and kissing and hugging and being swept out like Cinderella for dinner and dancing than getting mad when a poor, scraggly husband comes in tired and sweaty from working like a dog all day, looking for some food.
If only he knew how bad things have gotten in 50 years.
Malcolm X has become a sort of role model for me, not as much as for what he did for black people, which of course was admirable, but for his relentless, fearless pursuit of the truth in the face of intense criticism and later, death threats. He had a cause that he believed in, that knew would lead to his end, but he kept going anyway. He wasn’t in it for the money or the women, but a belief on how a better world should be. If I can accomplish just 1% of what this man did, it would be something I’d be immensely proud of.
“I have been more reassured each time the white man resisted me, or attacked me harder—because each time made me more certain that I was on the right track in the American black man’s best interests.”
If you’ve never heard of Frank Abagnale, he was perhaps the greatest American con man of his time. He stole millions while impersonating a pilot, doctor, and lawyer, all before he was 21. Through uncanny street smarts and masterful social engineering, he was able to attain a high-wheeling lifestyle full of travel, women, and expensive clothes, solely by using his cons.
Even when he had enough money and could retire in some tropical locale, he kept doing things for the challenge and personal glory. For some men it’s never enough—they keep going until their ruin. Frank was caught and inevitably sent to jail, but he got a second chance in working for the government to catch guys like him.
The lesson I took from this book is to realize that every system, no matter how secure it looks, has a flaw which can be gamed. When I travel, I look for such flaws or loopholes in the dating culture, where a woman is likely to put out quicker due to some behavior you show to her. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t.
I initially hesitated to read this book because I already saw the movie, but it turned out to be an entertaining read that did a good job of describing Frank’s motivations and thought while performing his brilliant scams.
“The transaction also verified a suspicion I had long entertained: it’s a not how good a check looks but how good the person behind the check looks that influences tellers and cashiers.”
“As long as a man knows what he is and who he is, he’ll do all right.”
I enjoyed The 50th Law so much that I went ahead and bought 50 Cent’s autobiography, focusing on his life before hitting it big with his first album Get Rich Or Die Trying. He talks about how he learned to hustle on the streets of Queens by selling crack, later applying those “business” techniques to when he wanted to be a rap star.
50 gives you a first person view of the inner city and how a life of crime, after doing the cost-benefit analysis, is the best option. Rising above the ghetto, while a romantic notion for those in the white middle class, has about the same odds as winning the lottery. I’m not saying that to excuse thuggery and law-breaking, but this book shows how much men are a product of their environment.
“When we got there, I saw a bunch of niggas with baseball bats and two-by-fours. A few niggas had knives and brass-knuckled fists; one guy had a dog chain. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, Awww, fuck that. Let me out—I’ma shoot all these motherfuckers just on principle. They were out there like it was the seventies, like we were going to rumble or some shit.”
It wasn’t as educational as 50th Law, but sort of like how 30 Bangs was to Bang, it gives you an idea how 50 developed his beliefs. I highly recommend it for its entertainment value, especially if you already like 50. I knocked it out in only a couple days.
“The hard times only seemed hard when I was going through them. Now, they’re just memories. Besides, if I didn’t go through the hard times, I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the good times.”
I’m not a hacker or computer programmer but I picked up this Kevin Mitnick autobiography on impulse. Surprisingly, I couldn’t put it down.
Like Frank Abagnale, Mitnick was always obsessed with finding a hole in the system. He started hacking into the telephone system and then later computers. Most of his hacks were not due to code but to social engineering, where he pretended to be someone with authority to extract secret information. It took a lot of charm and social know-how to pull of his hacks, something that is at odds with the stereotype of hackers being fat guys in the basement poring over volumes of code (though in the book he describes such guys). With his ability to create false papers and identities, to use cloned cell phones, and to gain access to just about any computer network, Mitnick came pretty close to a real life James Bond figure.
His hacker stories were interesting without being too technical. Only in a few instances did it really go over my head, but I understood them enough to get the main idea. When he wasn’t describing his hacks he went over the many stints he had in jail, including time in solitary confinement. Even when he knew getting caught again would send him back for a long time, he couldn’t resist one more challenging hack. Because of the way his brain was wired, he would find hacks when not consciously trying. Hacking became a part of him.
What interested me most about the book was the amount of failure that went into a specific hack. There’s a lot of “rejection” when you fail to get access or get discovered by a system administrator. Mitnick didn’t care—he just kept trying until he got in. If one approach didn’t work, he simply tried another. I notice this mindset in a lot of players that I meet.
His ultimate downfall was that his inability to stop hacking constantly supplying the Feds with clues. After getting caught for the last time, he served a few years in jail and is now rehabilitated as a security consultant. Entertaining read.
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This is an entertaining book about how Alexander conquered the Persians to create one of the largest empires of the ancient world. The author takes you along all the key battles while giving you insight into the personality of perhaps the most known man to have ever lived.
What struck me most about Alexander was that all he cared about was glory and conquest, not money or women. He was the human incarnation of the saying, “If it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing,” and simply wanted to accomplish what no other man had done. He even preferred winning when disadvantaged because he know it would increase his glory. He wanted to be a legend, and on that front he succeeded.
Even though he killed an untold number of people, I couldn’t help but root for him along the journey. Perhaps an unfortunate quirk of human nature is that we love winners, no matter what they have to do in order to win. Those who consider him a murderous tyrant must realize he was a man of his time, no more brutal than other generals who conquered the lands before him.
The only problem with this book is that writer goes on historical tangents that don’t relate to Alexander, needlessy listing names of historical extras and foreign lands without giving you much context to work with. Other than that, I had trouble putting this book down. If you like reading about war or history, you’ll enjoy it.
“Alexander was seeking the glory that comes from taking an unexpected risk—and winning.”
“Brave deeds are what true men do.”
“To truly understand Alexander we must realize that—perhaps more than any man in history—he hated to lose. Alexander was and is the absolute embodiment of pure human ambition with all its good and evil consequences.”
“This is a book about Chinese obfuscation and subterfuge. It is about gaming, strategy, and tactics.”
The author of this book worked as a consultant for American importers who wanted to manufacture in China, acting as translator, inspector, and local expert. He has written a surprisingly entertaining book about how the crafty Chinese try to squeeze importers through a variety of tricks, either by producing goods using inferior raw materials or gradually raising the cost of production. With some of the stories I was on the edge of my seat wondering which party was going to get screwed, and at times it read like funny travel memoir with episodes of tourist scams and culture clash.
“Chinese factories often engaged in quality fade—the incremental degradation of a product over time. They quietly reduced the amount of materials or else manipulate the quality of raw inputs. The changes were gradual, almost imperceptible. The importer was neither asked for permission nor told.”
I can never look at common items the same way. Essentially everything you buy that is made in China is prone to faulty, deceitful, and unsanitary manufacturing practices. In one of many examples, a Chinese factory changed the formulation of liquid soap so that it congealed under cold temperatures, coming out of the bottle in clumps of jizz. The importer could no longer say with confidence what the ingredients were after the factory owner tinkered with the recipe. Through trickery and superior negotiation skills, Chinese factory owners made importers so dependent on them that in essence they becomes the boss while the Americans became middlemen, mere agents.
In a passage from Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” which took place in the early 20th century, a poor young mother goes to the store to buy milk that has a blue tint. It was obviously tainted, but there were no regulations or enforcement in place to ensure she was getting a quality product. There is an assortment of agencies now to help prevent that sort of thing, but just a tiny percentage of goods coming from China, some of it food, is being inspected. We’re back in the wild west where buyer must beware. While you probably trust big brands, you shouldn’t trust the factories those brands outsource to.
The book also points out that shaming companies who outsource isn’t the answer to America’s problems. If just one company in your field successfully outsources work, you will go under if you don’t find a cheaper way to do business. A problem is that Americans don’t give a damn about Made In USA, and will happily purchase the Chinese product if it’s a nickel cheaper. Every American whining about there not being enough manufacturing jobs—while shopping in Walmart or Target—have to do some soul searching, because it’s that behavior which began the exodus of jobs to Chinese shores.
It was bittersweet to read about the economic implications of China’s success because ultimately globalization is a zero-sum game. One country’s gain is another loss. While Americans currently get to pay less for goods than the rest of the world, they give up their factory base in the process. Cheap crap at Walmart will end once our credit line runs out. Then we will have no cheap imports or jobs. We’ll have to depend on China for the most basic of necessities. China is in it for the long-term while Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, quarterly report to quarterly report.
“Importers were thinking checkers, while manufacturers were playing chess.”
All that’s left is checkmate.
“My goal became to control and master fear, rather than erase it.”
This is a memoir of an Englishman who grew up having intense anxiety and fear of physical confrontations. He decided to face his fear by becoming a bouncer, ending up in a rough club called Busters. The book features exciting tales of bouncing and fight stories combined with his personal development.
The bulk of this work features simple stories of him beating people into a pulp. The knockouts never got old and I laughed out loud many times throughout the book. With this great power of destruction came his transformation into a bully, where he was ready to hit anyone at the slightest provocation. In spite of that, you root for him to continue knocking people out.
Towards the end of the book, the author talks a lot about the physiology of fear and how to deal with it. Many times he stated how he had trouble dealing with the fear before every fight, that a new match could lead to his end. He repeatedly stresses that fear can be tamed but not completely eradicated.
This is a book of one man facing his fears and getting what he wanted out of life. My only complaint is that he goes off on little side-jaunts while in the middle of the action, but otherwise it’s a captivating story that I recommend.
“Your own mind can be your worst enemy and that as soon as you give in to these thoughts, even a little bit, they grow stronger and stronger, feeding on each little victory, making you weaker and weaker.”
This is the Parisian version of Stuff White People Like, best for people who are planning a trip to France. I bought it as a temporary substitution for going to the country. The book portrays French people as insecure and snobby, obsessed with what other people think of them (I guess you could say the same thing about Americans). Overall I found it interesting from a cultural standpoint and sometimes funny, but it’s a better read if you know some French since the author sprinkles many French words throughout without giving English equivalents.
“Rule number one is that jeans are never to be worn with sneakers in Paris. A person walking the streets of Paris wearing jeans and New Balance shoes is American.”
Guilty as charged!
(I thought the author’s biography was interesting. He seems like a go-getter.)
The Pomodoro technique is for managing your time and getting shit done, based on doing uninterrupted 25-minute periods of real work that you time using a basic kitchen timer. I already do a remix of this technique from various productivity tips I’ve implemented in the past ten years where I work for periods of 60 or 75 minutes instead of 25 (I also take longer breaks). When it comes to writing books, I find that 60 minutes should be the minimum work unit because of the time it takes to get into the writing “mood.” For regular office tasks which the book seems geared to, 25 minutes should be sufficient.
It also contains a system for helping you deal with distractions and eliminating bad work habits like getting up for a drink you don’t need or “quickly” checking something on the internet. This book reads like a technical report, but it contains a lot of useful tips if you’re interested in improving your productivity.
I read this book because I’m converting to Islam. Just kidding, I read it before launching Fat Girl Jihad so I could make better jokes. However I did read it with an open mind to try and understand one of the world’s largest religions.
The book was mostly a disappointment. It offered a rosy propagandist view of Islam that did a horrible job of batting down counter-arguments to some of the religion’s problems. The story of Islam presented here is just as silly as Christianity’s, but you got to respect how efficiently the religion commits its disciples through a ridiculous amount of prayer and a yearly fast. Having to pray five times a day means god and his potential punishments will be constantly on your mind. You become obsessed with god.
The argument made here is that Islam is awesome and peaceful and any negativity you perceive is from media distortions, extremist groups, and misrepresentations by backward cultures. In other words, Islam can do no wrong. Unconvincing elementary school logic is used throughout, such as: “If [Muhammad] was addicted to sex, he would have married all young women. Instead, they were mostly old and/or widowed. Each wife had a special status in the community.”
The most disturbing part of Islam is that it declares humans to exist merely to serve god, placed above your family and even your own life. Every negative thing that happens to you in life is god’s way of testing your faith to him. You are his pawn, his slave, and he is the puppet master of your existence. Your earthly life is his way of testing you to see if you should be admitted to Paradise, but entering is a little tricky.
When you die, your soul enters a sort of purgatory, or soul storage. You chill there for a while until Judgement Day when you line up in a huge hall where every human who has ever lived, regardless of their faith, waits to be judged by god. That “day” of judgement actually takes 50,000 years, so all those suicide bombers who are aching for their 72 virgins, which the book does not mention, still have to wait a little while longer. Can I take my Kindle while I wait?
Another problem with Islam is that your life is more or less pre-ordained by god. It is his will for you to be who you are, which is why most believers say “god willing” when they want to improve their lot. This squelches most forms of ambition and achievement in its followers. While Muslims don’t prefer poverty, it’s better to accept god’s will than work your way out of it since you’ll be rewarded in the afterlife anyway.
Islam believes that a woman’s natural state is very seductive and distracting to men, and that efforts must be made to temper their allure so that men will not be urged to sleep around outside of marriage. For example, during prayers women must line up all the way in the back so that men do not get excited at seeing them bend over in front of them. While I consider that extreme, I do agree with Islam’s view that a woman’s vagina must be protected before marriage. As American culture has shown, a woman should not be trusted with what to do with her vagina from the standpoint of securing long-term relationships (they give it up easily during their prime years when they should be using it as leverage to land a male provider).
In most countries that practice Islam there are no unchaperoned dates. There is no drinking at the club and no sex before marriage. The man pays a dowry to invest himself into a marriage with his virgin bride. While virgins make for horrible casual sex partners, I would pick them over the slut for long-term commitment any day. Islam gets it right in this regard.
Finally, this book documented the first historical case of trolling: “Some Jews actually pretended to convert just so they could gain entry into Muslim meetings and ask confusing questions to sow doubt into the minds of recent converts.” Obviously the trolls did not succeed (do they ever?). I suspect it only inoculated the believers against further criticism.
I’m glad I read the book from the standpoint of being more learned about Islam, but I can’t say it was an enjoyable read.
I’ll be honest: I picked up this book so that I could learn more about Russian culture in order to bang the women. On that respect, the book failed. It was what it said it was, a cultural history that reviews the intersection of art, the common man, government, and foreign influence, starting with Peter The Great when he built Russia’s first “European” city, St. Petersburg. It gives a blow by blow account of various artists and dandies with muted action and cutesie anecdotes.
The book started off describing the Russian duality of being Russian versus being European, which comes from Peter’s modernization push in the early 18th century. At one point, Russian aristocracy were better at speaking French than their own language, but the whole thing about Napoleon invading the motherland soured them on French culture.
I got so bored with this book that I had to stop reading (it’s almost 800 pages long). I don’t want to be harsh and say it sucks, but it definitely didn’t serve my sexual needs. Unless you’re interested in old Russian culture and art on a scholarly level, skip it. It will not help you bang Russian broads in the year 2012. I repeat: it will not help you get your Russian flag.
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This is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. The author does a great job of turning ancient history into a page turner full of drama and intrigue. Assuming your Roman history knowledge is as poor as mine (public schools), over 90% of the information in this book will be new. It describes six of Rome’s most important periods: the revolution inspired by Gracchus, the rules of Caesar, Nero, and Constantine, the Jewish rebellion, and the events that led to Rome’s fall.
What I got most out of the book was identifying the rhyming nature of history. Do any of these points sound familiar?
- “In becoming a superpower, Rome, so it was said, abandoned the very values with which it had won its supremacy.”
- Roman rulers used “self-defense” pretexts to invade other countries, with hawks criticizing doves for not being patriotic.
- War benefited the Roman elite before the masses.
- The aggressor nation will state conditions to avoid war that are impossible for the antagonist country to comply with.
- “The battle ahead was about liberty and justice winning out over tyranny.”
- Roman elite hated to make concessions. They’d fight to the death instead of give an inch to the well-being of the masses. They felt that they earned it, even though they used hook and crook to amass their wealth.
- The people seen as “barbarians” gradually wore down the empire, causing it to spend itself into bankruptcy.
There is a constant battle between the elites and masses, with ebbs and flows of power over an empire’s life. Great leaders pick a side to further their own glory, changing the course of history. What’s sad about America is that we haven’t even made it to the 250 year mark yet are already suffering from signs of decline. Carthage, an empire that most people have never heard of, survived for 700 years. Hell, there are coffee shops in Italy that are older than America.
If you liked The 48 Laws Of Power, reading this book is like going directly to the source. Buildings grow taller and technology get ever more advanced, but the human need for power and domination remains the same. Men must seize power when the opportunity arises because if they don’t, they will languish alone in bitterness to watch others take what they could’ve had.
“Rome had been on a slippery slope of moral decline ever since the sack of Carthage in 146 BC. Without the fear of that Mediterranean power to keep it in check, Rome had free rein to indulge in the selfish passions of greed and domination. Now, in the sack of Rome, that process had come to its logical, revolutionary conclusion. All human, earthly cities—even the new Christianized Rome of Constantine—were transitory and ephemeral…”
This book is like a sequel to The 48 Laws Of Power, using 50 Cent’s story as a backdrop on how power can be gained or lost. If you loved 48 Laws, which most of you have, just stop reading this review and buy The 50th Law right now. It’s written in the same style, where real-life examples are used to bring home the author’s points. A lot of what the book had was review for me, but I was still unable to put it down, soaking up the wisdom as fast as I could. Here are some points you’ll read about:
- Expose yourself to what you fear.
- Soft environments make you soft.
- If you depend on others for too long you lose the ability to take care of yourself.
- You should be even more vigilant when things are going well.
- Constantly adapt to your circumstances.
- Don’t try to please others.
- Always be willing to walk away.
- Embrace death. Let it motivate you.
- There is no perfect opportunity to strike.
- You are only free when others are unable to disappoint you.
- More preparation will not necessarily lead to a better outcome.
- Talent and good intentions are not enough; be fearless and strategic.
- Resist the temptation to want to depend on others.
- “Never be a minion, always be an owner.”
This is an inadvertent manual on how to quit the grind and be your own boss. Read the list again; it’s practically a blueprint for location independent living.
One thing the book did was give me newfound respect for 50 Cent. I’ve always thought him to be a simple, if not silly, rapper, but turns out he’s one of the sharpest men that has ever come from the hood. If you forget about him selling crack to his community, he’s a classic American success story (he makes Drake seem like a member of the table tennis team).
With 50 Cent’s story in my head after reading the book, I wanted to make shit happen. You want to be a success like 50. In that respect, this book is definitely more motivating than 48 Laws.
The book also has tons of motivational quotes, which I think is worth the price of admission alone. My only complaint is that Robert Greene has stuck to his style of writing in generalities, almost like a cheesy psychic. He has an outcome that he wants to go for and will speak in vague terms to back that outcome up. You wonder if he just made it up as he went along. Nonetheless, this book gets my stamp of approval and should be required reading for all men.
“People who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are.” —James Baldwin
“I was born alone and I will die alone. I’ve got to do what’s right for me and not live my life the way anybody else wants it.” —50 Cent
“The kid in the school yard who doesn’t want to fight always leaves with a black eye. If you indicate you’ll do anything to avoid trouble, that’s when you get trouble.” —50 Cent
“When fortune wants to advance a new prince… she creates enemies for him, making them launch campaigns against him so that he is compelled to overcome them and climb higher on the ladder.” —Niccolo Machiavelli
“Events in life are not negative or positive. They are completely neutral. The universe does not care about your fate; it is indifferent to the violence that may hit you or to death itself. Things merely happen to you.”
A black man of Jamaican descent goes to Japan to teach English for several years. In the process he bangs over 40 women, goes through several abortions with his girlfriends, comes to grips with his inner demons and whoring ways, and finally begins the progress of settling down. This book offers very detailed cultural and sexual observations of Japan, along with brutally honest personal introspection.
Not only is the author an ass man who uses both day and night game to achieve his sexual goals, but he also likes banging raw. He uses sex slang similar to what I use to describe scores with my friends (it’s impressive how many metaphors he came up to describe a boner). He even has game moves that ring familiar. For example, he likes whipping out his dick, something that is part of any Virgle Kent sex story. His main opener, “You look like you speak English,” is something I’ve used many times in the past. The book was like a friend telling me his sexual exploits and addiction to Asian women, with asides that give you facts and analysis on the culture. It’s refreshing to see a natural player who grew up independent of the current game wave.
“Running counter to natural human thinking, the Japanese appear in general to minimize pleasure and maximize pain. All of life is an unending, character building shugyou (endurance course) to develop one’s strength.”
He paints a picture of Japanese girls that are not entirely favorable: bad teeth and breath, immature personalities caused by poor social development, inhibited natures, and backwards thinking from believing in ancestral rules meant to “save face.” On the other hand, Japanese girls have hyper-clean pussies that are easy to bring to orgasm. They’re also so insecure that they can’t leave the house without makeup or name-brand fashions. Most importantly, they love foreign men (especially white and black men).
The author eviscerates Japanese men. They are the most beta of the beta, sexual androgens who are more in love with their boss than their woman. The married ones essentially outsource sex with their wives to foreign men by turning a not-so-blind eye to the practice. The others simply withdraw from society into a world of manga, video games, and porn.
Like with many other Japanese expats, he came to find the country and its people hard to deal with, leaving after seven years…
“The thrill was gone and it was no longer exciting to have this revolving army of women flowing to and from my apartment. I had simply outgrown the need.”
There are two flaws in this book. First, he’s an admitted feminist. He constantly complains about how Japanese women are being subjugated by the men. At the same time he takes advantage of Japanese women for sexual gain, he cites studies that show Japanese women are being taken advantage of by the culture. He actually thinks feminism in Japan would lead to an increase in birth rates, not bothering to look at the low birth rates in countries where feminists dominate.
Second problem is the book is way too long. With most tension popped by the second half, I felt like I was reading a blog with long entries instead a book more tightly tied together. My interest waned towards the end as it seemed like escapades were being repeated. Other than these complaints, I consider this book a fun sequel of sorts to An African In Greenland, with enough sex stories to give you a complete picture on how it’s like to get laid in Japan. Reading it makes you feel like you’re already halfway to getting your Japanese flag.
(This review refers to the abridged version of this book which you can download here.)
“It is only in small states that there can be true democracy, because it is only there that the citizen can have some direct influence over the governing institutions; only there that economic problems become tractable and controllable, and economic lives become more rational; only there that culture can flourish without the diversion of money and energy into statis pomp and military adventure; only there that the individual in all dimensions can flourish free of systematic social and governmental pressures.”
In other words, smaller is better. The author makes a convincing argument that a country’s misery stems from its bigness, not its lack of power. The size is like a cancer, slowing killing the host until it either devours itself from within, gets subdued by another rising power, or splits into smaller states.
“The proposal of the national theory to cure the world’s misery by eliminating the evil-doing nation would lead us nowhere. For the moment one evil-doer disappears, the vacancy, as post-World-War-II developments have amply shown, will promptly be filled from the unsuspected but ever willing ranks of the previous defenders of better causes.”
The common denominator in nations committing atrocities is simply having the power to commit those atrocities. Aggressive humans will start wars because they think they can win and won’t be punished for it. The author believes that the problem lies with possessing great power, a phenomenon that occurs in large super states. If you reverse the trend towards bigness by keeping countries small, you’ll have more responsive governments that are less likely to try to dominate the world.
Small states have limited resources and power, making them unable to engage in a modern war that can cause more destruction than all medieval wars combined. The small state will also be more flexible and responsible in solving social and economic problems. A modern example of this is Iceland, which has already recovered after a collapse of its economy three years ago.
“Great power attracts by its very nature the strong rather than the wise, and autocrats rather than democrats.”
Big states don’t serve the individual, only a handful of artificially created population segments. It serves “society,” not you. This allows the super state to naturally drift to totalitarianism because it’s the most efficient means to control a large population of diverse tribes.
Written fifty years ago, this book not only predicted American imperialistic ambitions as a logical behavior of world power, but also the problems that coincide with those ambitions. The author, now dead, believed that America would spend itself into oblivion, resulting in an increase of state power that attempts to control the citizenry.
This book argues that the American media is controlled by a handful of globalized companies obsessed with profit and ratings instead of truth. Several journalists contribute articles on a wide array of geo-political incidents that American people have been hoodwinked on, arguing that “responsible journalism” is now nothing but a euphemism for protecting institutions and the government.
“Oil context, geographical context, ruling-class context, historical context—all are hidden from the average American.”
A few things you’ll learn about…
- The great oil game and how that affects modern conflicts in the Middle East.
- Illegal activities by the CIA (Cocaine Importing Agency) in Bolivia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, and Afghanistan.
- How the Washington Post sends sensitive stories to the government for approval before publication.
- Strong evidence that TWA 800 was accidentally shot down by a Navy missile during a training exercise.
- Government strategy for relentlessly pursuing those trying to uncover the truth.
- How globalized companies that own media outlets depend on American hegemony for ever increasing profits, ensuring they will never take on the American government.
“The word ‘conspiracy’ is commonly used now to malign those who raise unpopular questions about sensitive issues. The fact is conspiracies do exist.”
Reading a book like this makes me feel that a curtain is lowered in front of all of us, that everything we hear in the “free media” is theater, not much unlike Russian or Chinese media. I have long since stopped accepting any report that gets most of its facts from the government. No one, including your leaders, should get the benefit of the doubt. Make them prove it.
This is a book that might as well be titled, “Introduction To The Red Pill.” In five chapters (Purpose, Wisdom, Sex, Money, Health), Frost gives you tips to escape the grinding Western cog. At the same time he offers a window into his journey to self-improvement and of dumping the 9-to-5.
This book is best served as an introduction to those either not heavily exposed to Manosphere writing or those who are new to it, since he spends roughly equal time arguing for the lifestyle as providing details on duplicating it. I consider it more of a gateway drug to digging deeper in other works, depending on what you need to work most on. For example, I mostly agreed on the section where he advocated for the Paleo diet, but I would still need to look up additional Paleo resources in order to fully implement it into my life.
If you’re knee-deep in my blog and others, the information will seem introductory in nature, but for beta males it’s an eye-opening work that will question the choices they’ve made in life, and then put them on the right path. Therefore I recommend it mostly for newbies who have not yet started their self-improvement journey. It will offer a stern wake-up to those who are coasting along and waiting for magic to happen.
This an ambitious work aimed to help men live better lives, and the first that I’ve seen that combines all features of “red pill” thinking into one work. While I think the book could use some more action item specifics, it was a strong effort that will help guys who aren’t yet there. I don’t think authors should be supported merely for self-publishing on their own dime, but Frost should be rewarded for trying to connect the lifestyle dots in this book, something that very few other authors have attempted. You can read his blog here.
“My problem was a lack of purpose. I was, like so many in this generation, adrift. I had no mission. No destiny. I was a sack of flesh and DNA waiting to expire, no matter what my job title was or what degrees I had.”
“We are the TL;DR generation.”
“We are rebelling against a culture of laziness, mediocrity and spiritual poverty. We are rebelling against a world that encourages us to be passive, risk-averse and unremarkable.”
“Women like being hurt. What they like to give, they love to be robbed of.”
I couldn’t help but read what is arguably the oldest game book is existence, written by Ovid around 2 CE. Ovid teaches you how to be a gentleman who understand’s what turns women on. While a lot of his advice is meant for a time where chivalry was rewarded, it’s not surprising to see that many of his lessons still hold true today. Here are some of them:
- Don’t let her think she’s the only girl you’re working on.
- Go where the women are.
- The best place to meet women is the theater. It’s a target-rich environment with a wide variety to choose from.
- The second-best place to meet them is the circus because you sit so close to other people. Start an elderly chat about the animals.
- Some women want to sleep with men they fear.
- Touch her by pretending to flick dust off her blouse.
- Always try to speak with confidence. If you’re drawing a blank, make it up.
- Loosen her up with wine; it’s fuel to the fire of attraction. But don’t get too drunk because you’ll make mistakes.
- Be careful of beer goggles. Don’t judge her appearance until you get her out in the day light.
- All girls want sex but they pretend they don’t.
- There is no optimum strategy for disabling the maid cockblocker, but definitely don’t give her too much attention. Also don’t assume that someone close to you like a blood relative won’t block you.
- Ignore her on her birthday. She will only think of the man who didn’t buy her a gift.
- Keep her hopeful by making promises, then break them (i.e., flake on her).
- Don’t be stuffy and business-like. Be engaging and say what you want to say.
- Be persistent. She won’t tell you to seduce her.
- It’s her loss if she rejects you.
- Mirror her body language.
- Make sure your clothes are well-fitted. Don’t look like a goof.
- If you want to say something risky, pretend you’re drunk. You can use that as an excuse in case it’s not received well.
- Customize your game depending on the girl you’re talking to.
- Display your strengths to her while minimizing your weaknesses.
- Compliment the parts of her that you think she’s insecure about.
This book could also be called Bang Roman Empire for its specific venue advice on where to find women.
Besides the novelty factor of reading an ancient game manual, the book itself was a chore to read. The list I shared with you above is the gist of the whole thing, though I must add that beta game is definitely the heart of Ovid’s style, even though it’s more tactical than the more pathetic variant we see practiced today. Back then, strategic compliments and effusive charm got the job done before there were one-night stands and the ability to isolate girls away from her entourage (in Ovid’s time women married exceptionally young, so every one of his approaches was on a married woman).
I wonder what someone in 2,000 years will think of us if they discovered a copy of Bang. My guess: “They had sex? Gross! Now where did I leave my sexbot…”
This book is an autobiographical account of Ernest Hemingway’s young life in Paris during the 1920s while mired in poverty trying to get his writing career off the ground. I became interested in it after watching Woody Allen’s excellent movie Midnight In Paris, about a modern man’s journey back in time to Paris during the same time that Hemingway and friends produced their finest works. The movie portrays Hemingway as a blunt, serious man who speaks in powerful bursts of straight talk.
The prose wasn’t exactly gripping, but I found it far more interesting than his boring work The Sun Always Rises. It simply contained thoughts and events of a writer’s life, along with descriptions of his friends Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the latter of which would have been more prolific had it not been for his controlling, jealous, and bipolar wife.
You’ll be interested in A Movable Feast if you want to learn more about Hemingway or the artists who were famous during his time. Overall it was a pleasant read.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
More an essay than a book, Time For Outrage puts the onus on you to fight the system. You can’t complain about injustices in the world unless you are fighting those injustices. Do something, and do it now. This essay is like your cranky grandfather telling you to stop being a pussy and fight for what you believe in.
“‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’—adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage. Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”
I’m doing my part by ragging on shameful women.
Your brain makes decisions without conscious thought by using two mental processing systems. One is fast and intuitive (system one), controlled by your unconscious, and the other is slower and deliberate (system two), controlled by your conscious. Your brain does everything it can to process decisions using the first system since it takes less energy, but it’s often prone to error. People who are less rational and intelligent are more prone to using the first system for more complex situations, making them more likely to fall for logical traps and biases.
For example, when you’re driving you use system one, but when you’re looking for a specific address you switch to system two, which explains why you turn down the music or stop talking to a passenger (system two doesn’t like to be distracted). Since system two takes a high amount of self-control and mental energy, it actually can make you feel tired and depleted. This is why a night of talking to girls can make you feel exhausted even though you did very little physical activity (you’ve been using system two for many continuous hours). Your brain will do everything possible to avoid such dutiful thought, preferring to stay in auto-pilot, which takes the least amount of energy. In the book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield called this “resistance.” Your brain doesn’t want to stay in system two long enough to complete a large project like a book.
The problem with psychological studies, which this book is based on, is that it doesn’t duplicate real-world behavior. Most of the artificially created experiments are done in classrooms on Western students who want to get their study credit as quickly and easily as possible. I think they hint at how the brain works, but ultimately psychological studies are based on research that is not transferable or directly observable outside of the university. Plus even the author admits that most psychologists are morons when it comes to statistics, continually putting out studies with sample sizes so small that they say absolutely nothing.
Psychology also doesn’t give action items that can improve other people’s lives. This book says things like “Don’t be so trusting of your instincts” or “Be skeptical of sales tactics,” but those are vague pieces of advice you can pick up in an old issue of Readers Digest. More about psychology can be picked up in the biographies of great men than a compilation of studies.
I know you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but have they helped your life? They were fun reads that gave you knowledge like “the tipping point,” but little to apply it with (e.g., how to create a tipping point). This particular book will not help you with your career, love life, or personal life. It was like reading trivia.
Ultimately the field of psychology has done little to make people happier or to uncover life’s wisdom. While reading this book’s run-down of cute classroom studies, I’m thinking, “Yeah, so?” An active life well-lived is all you need to understand how human beings think. Ironically, self-help business books like The 48 Laws Of Power or The 50th Rule, which are based on history and the experiences of man, give you far more wisdom that mainstream psychology books.
I got the point of this book in its first 100 pages and stopped reading.
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This book is about how the CIA turned a blind eye when Nicaraguan Contras (rebels) were selling cocaine in the United States to fund its war against a new Nicaraguan leader who was hated by the U.S. government. Tons and tons of those drugs were piped direction into inner cities, where they were processed as crack and sold to black people. The book provides more than enough evidence to show the government knew this was happening. They let it proceed because they felt overthrowing the Nicaraguan government was a cause worth sacrificing Americans who were already living on the margins of society.
At the same time Ronald Reagan was teaching you to Just Say No, he was letting cargo planes of drugs enter the U.S. (many owned by CIA contractors) in a program run by Oliver North, all because he was chafed by Congress’ decision to pull funding on the Contras, “freedom fighters” that were composed of human rights abusers and corrupt officials who looted Nicaragua when they had held power.
“The administration had allowed South Central’s biggest cocaine trafficker to call the United States his home.”
At the same time, crack hysteria by the media set the stage for the creation of extreme drug laws that locked up users and small-time dealers for long mandatory sentences. The government allowed the drug to enter the inner cities while locking up black men en masse who touched it, all while letting the big-time traffickers go. The black community was hit three times: they were flooded with drugs, they were further impoverished while buying those drugs (helping fund a war in Central America), and finally they were jailed in massive numbers, ensuring destruction of the lower class black family unit.
People who want to blame black people for their failings or addictions can do so all they want, but it doesn’t make it right that the government allowed this to happen. From the beginning they knew where those drugs were going but carried out their illegal program anyway. Things Malcolm X said over two decades prior about white participation of black destruction eerily went down exactly according to his words.
The media was complicit in all this:
“One truly remarkable thing about the crack scare was the degree to which the national press—particularly the New York Times—walked in lockstep with the federal government on the issue, fanning the flames of hysteria and unquestioningly parroting the official line, a media phenomenon usually seen only in times of armed conflict.”
Attacking crack and being “tough on crime” was a great way to score votes at the polls, leading to many easy re-election campaigns in the second half of the 80s. You couldn’t find a politician who didn’t think crack was going to destroy the country.
Once this “dark alliance” was exposed, the government repeatedly lied and stonewalled. The Justice Department should be renamed the Obstruction of Justice Department. The DEA is the Drug Enabling Agency. It was almost amusing how many government agencies did the very opposite of their publicly stated missions.
This book confirmed to me that the CIA is independent of U.S. law, with tentacles in ever major media organization and federal agency. It’s an enterprise that funds its own projects through illegal means if need be, using contractors, front companies, untraceable bank accounts, and layers of agents to evade detection in order to support programs that the American people would unquestionably be against. They are the most powerful group in the world, with no accountability and near unlimited power to accomplish its covert goals in the name of preserving “American interests.” They especially love using drug money to support paramilitary groups that aren’t big fans of human rights (Laos and Afghanistan are other countries suspected of CIA involvement when it comes to drug trafficking).
The depressing part is that this is only one program that got exposed, though every once in a while there is a mistake that suggests the CIA is still involved in drug trafficking. The author’s efforts to expose the CIA sadly contributed to his suicide. He wrote a powerful book that makes you lose whatever remaining faith and trust you had in the government. Highly recommended.
This book is basically a summary of Dark Alliance with additional reporting that gives more insight into the life of Gary Webb until he committed suicide. It describes how the mass media, particularly the Los Angeles Times, wrongly attacked Webb’s credibility and ensured he could never again get a job in journalism. They set up a straw man saying that Webb failed to prove that the CIA sold crack cocaine, when in fact Webb never said that (his argument was that the CIA knew where the drugs were going but didn’t put a stop to it). The media were ten times more focused on combing through Webb’s past than actually advancing the CIA-contra link that he provided solid evidence for.
I felt like the book was forced to adopt a more nuanced view on the CIAs role in drug trafficking. It’s one of those things where unless you have a copy of a drug contract printed on CIA letterhead and signed by the director, you have insufficient evidence and therefore are a loony conspiracy theorist. On the other hand, when the U.S. wants to invade a country, all it needs is to find one disgruntled soldier to say that he saw weapons of mass destruction to get the war drum beating. If you want to take down the CIA you need HD video with sound and nothing less.
Gary Webb was just doing his job, but unfortunately he had some existing character weaknesses that made his banishment from the profession he loved result in depression and then tragedy. It looks like he died in vain, for nothing has changed.
I met the author of this book in Rio, after already having been a fan of his blog. We talked a little about life, business, and travel, surprised that so many of our beliefs were similar yet our paths so different. He poured his energy into music and business while I poured mine into women and writing. I hold him up to be a business role model, a guy on the same page as myself who brought value to his customers over several years and was greatly rewarded for it.
I bought his book the day it came out and read it in a couple hours. It’s an inspiring and practical story of how he took a hobby and turned it into a business that later sold for $22 million, including the gut-wrenching mistake he made that cost him $3.3 million. He tells you what worked for him, knowing full well that his strategies go against what they teach you in business school. I highly recommended it if you want to start your own business.
“When someone’s doing something for the money, people can sense it, like a desperate lover. It’s a turnoff.”
This book was a strong inspiration to Charles Bukowski, so I thought it deserved a read. It’s a semi-autobiographical story of an insecure young man trying to crack it as a writer in Los Angeles during the Great Depression, written in a stream-of-consciousness style. Most of the book revolves around his attempts to get paid for his writing while trying to seduce a Mexican girl who happens to be in love with another man.
I couldn’t sympathize with the protagonist because he had absolutely no game. He came across as a loser with a level of betatude that made me cringe at several points throughout the novel, not at all deserving to get the Mexican girl. The little action in this book stems from his attempts to come to terms with his feelings for her while she uses him as a tampon again and again.
The bright side of this book is the prose; the writing completely won me over. It’s up there with the best I’ve read, though it’s hard to describe why. It’s not too descriptive, it’s not too floral, but it just flows, and you want to keep reading even though you don’t care about the story or the characters. If you like Bukowski or Henry Miller then you’ll like this book.
This is a historical fiction novel using the Siege of Leningrad as a backdrop, when the Nazis surrounded the city for nearly three years in an attempt to destroy it. It’s about two men (a soldier and a teenager) who got into trouble with the Russian secret police. Their “crimes” would be usually punishable by death, but a general decided to spare their lives if they can find a dozen eggs so he can use it for his daughter’s upcoming wedding. Under normal times this is not a hard task, but during the blockade, when people were resorting to cannibalism to survive, eggs were worth their weight in gold.
In a capable story that is both entertaining and engaging, the reader is whisked from one scene to the next in the characters’ futile attempt to find eggs. It’s a good book written by someone who followed his writing workshop notes to a T, but it’s not great for two reasons. The first is that the main character is a pathetic beta who falls in love with a girl who is stronger and more masculine than him. At several points in the book I was hoping he’d die.
The second problem with the book is that the author keeps interrupting the best action with lame and irrelevant side stories. Just tell me the fucking story and spare me from your hack attempt to build suspense.
Other than that I recommend the book as a fine read, especially if you have any interest in Russian history or World War II.
I was looking for a language learning blueprint that could help me learn any language. I believe I found it with this book, which was written by a guy who has mastered 25 languages. He gives you practical advice on how to tackle new languages with the goal of helping you gain fluency.
The book had two strong tips that I immediately implemented while studying Polish. The first was to take a stack of blank notecards wherever you go and write down the things you wanted to say but couldn’t so that you can later get a translation. This tip understands that you won’t later remember at home what you wanted to say at the grocery store, for example. I’ve even started taking pen and paper to me with the club, writing down game lines that I want my Polish teacher to help me translate.
The second tip was using mnemonics to memorize tough vocabulary. He teaches you how to make a story out of each word, that while labor intensive on the surface, is the fastest way I’ve found to get words to stick in my brain.
My only complaint with the book is that it was somewhat contradictory. At one point he says don’t worry about grammar, but at another he’s saying to do your best to learn proper grammar. It was a minor issue in an otherwise fast read of one man’s journey through the world of language learning. If you’re trying to learn a language right now, this book will definitely motivate you.
This book is one foot soldier’s experience in World War II, from his landing in France after D-Day to his injury a few months later. The story unfolds battle to battle as the author tells you how the war was fought and what he did to survive. Instead of talking about war through the sweeping eye of a historian, this book gets at a micro level of detailing logistical issues like transport and reloading on ammunition in the thick of battle.
What struck me most about this book was how an inconsequential act, like picking up a pack of cigarettes, would lead to death. Just one inch to the left and you might have lived. More than anything else, reading about war teaches me how insignificant human life really is.
While it contained a lot of technical descriptions that sometimes made it hard to visualize the battle scene, If You Survive was a riveting story that avoided editorializing about the evils of war. It simply told you how it is.
The crux of this book is that Lenin and his cronies managed to take over a country with a small minority of support from the people. Once in power they resorted to permanent use of terror and absurd governance that almost destroyed a “great” nation.
Lenin made it up as he went along, especially since the idealistic writing of Marx didn’t work out so well in practice. He was great at winning the game of politics but horrible at managing a country with a goal of increasing his people’s standard of living. His efforts to abolish money for a barter system and to eliminate the laws of supply and demand seem comical in hindsight. He treated Russia as one big laboratory that destroyed the economy and resulted in a famine that cost millions of lives along with untold human suffering. His crackpot schemes make you feel sorry for the Russian people.
Many historians say Stalin was one of the most ruthless men the world has ever seen, but his whole ideology came from Lenin. The only thing that stopped Lenin from killing millions more people was his premature death.
“Soviet Russia was the first state in history to outlaw law. This measure permitted the authorities to dispose of any individual who stood in their way.”
This book has a couple of strange features. The first is that it’s suspiciously pro-Jew. I don’t care either way of Jewish participation in the rise of Russian communism, but the author went out of his way to make sure they came out favorably. Secondly, the author is vehemently anti-Communist, repeatedly asserting that life under the tsar was better for Russians. I looked into his Wikipedia biography and turns out that he is indeed Jewish, with ties to both the CIA and Council of Foreign Relations. When he was accused of writing “the Polish version of Russian history,” he called his attacker an anti-Semite.
Overall this was a dry work full of facts that kept me engaged only because of my interest in Russian history, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading propaganda.
Call me a sexist but I hesitated to buy this book because it was written by a woman. I can’t think of the last time any woman has given sound life advice that has helped a man, but the 5 out of 5 stars it got on Amazon convinced me to drop my cash on it. That was a mistake.
This book has several problems:
- Straight-up bullshit, such as “When we train our minds to accept whatever arises, ideas grow, and we nourish the garden of our imagination.” I think I saw that sentence on the back of a milk carton.
- Real-life examples are about women, often the “busy mom” variety.
- Beta male advice about caring for others, saying yes all the time, leaving thank-you notes for trivial reasons, and paying tolls for random strangers.
- Cheesy hands-on exercises that I doubt the author did herself.
The author admits she has brought forth no new wisdom at all, but collected a bunch of feel-good tips she gleaned from Buddhism and other self help works. This book is entry-level self help for women who need an easy follow-up to Eat Pray Love. The best thing about it is the title.
I already read this book twice before but wanted to hit it one more time. From reading Russian history in the past year, I feel like this book was “based on a true story.” The only difference between the Bolsheviks and their stranglehold on Russia for so many decades and 1984 are names and technology. If the communists wrote a manual on power I believe it would not be far off from this.
Unfortunately for us, 1984 does act as a manual for countries where “freedom” and “liberty” rein today.
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.”
Even though WTC7 looks like a controlled demolition, it fell because of office fires.
Even though WTC7 looks like a controlled demolition, it fell because of office fires.
Even though WTC7 looks like a controlled demolition, it fell because of office fires.
I have to ignore what my eyes and gut tells me and tote the Party line. Nineteen terrorists, box cutters, Osama, jealous of America, and so on.
“The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed… The object of war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.”
1984 is easily my favorite book. I like to revisit it occasionally to help remind me of government’s true goal, its boot pressed against my face.
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