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ISBN: 0679720197
The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers

The gist of this book can be summed up in the following quote: “Great Powers in relative decline instinctively respond by spending more on ‘security,’ and thereby divert potential resources from ‘investment,’ [compounding] their long-term dilemma.” Sound familiar? The key word is “relative.” That’s super if you’re growing at 4% a year, but if there are other countries growing at 8%, then you’re losing power. It doesn’t even have to be that great a difference: “A country whose productivity growth lags 1 percent behind other countries over one century can turn, as England did, from the world’s undisputed industrial leader into the mediocre economy it is today… not because it wasn’t growing, but because others were growing faster.”

Therefore world power is in constant flux. The unique set of circumstances that vaulted the United States to ridiculous heights in the 20th century are no longer present, leading to gradual loss in power and industrial capacity that becomes another’s gain. A country’s resources, technology, education, culture, and a multitude of other factors determine its economic growth rate, and that will never be the same as other nations.

“Those who do not advance, go backwards and who goes back goes under.”

This is a dry, technical, and long-ass book that took me forever to read because I was usually camped out in front of Wikipedia to learn more about the events mentioned. Nonetheless, I think every man must read it to understand the workings of state power and what amounts to the foundations of modern human society. It helps you wade through today’s bullshit news cycle to look at the big picture and determine what’s really going on in the world.

ISBN: 0061965588
A People’s History Of The United States (strong recommendation)

The previous book had me leaning more pro-war and pro-state. I become convinced that resource grabs were simply the way things should be done in a cruel world to ensure survival of states. This book brought me back down to Earth, showing the human costs of those actions in the United States, specifically in regard to the obscene greed of its upper class (top 1%).

The analysis here shows that from our founding, the United States is a country created by the rich white man for the rich white man. All other groups, such as blacks, Native Americans, women, laborers, and the landless poor, have been suppressed, killed, or marginalized to continue the great sucking of wealth and power to the elite that continues today right out in the open. Only when the elite’s very stability is threatened do they make concessions to those groups. For example, Zinn argues is that they gave blacks “Civil Rights” not out of moral duty, but because black agitation was increasing unrest at home and the amount of criticism they received abroad, jeopardizing their long-term wealth-stealing goals.

One thing that strikes me about this book is that today’s problems, such as Wall Street raping the treasury, the government getting into wars against countries that haven’t attacked us, and special interests fighting tooth and nail against increasing our standard of living, are essentially yesterday’s problems, and not much has changed. That’s just testament to what the book calls the most ingenious control system that has ever existed. Our two-party political system is perfectly tuned to distracting the white man against the black man, labor against professional, right against left, and immigrant against natural-born, while the top 1% continue growing their wealth at unprecedented rates. The author makes it clear that both Democrats and Republicans are complicit and that the “apparatus” is rigged, contributing to what Malcolm X called the world’s biggest “con game.” If you’re a fan of 1984, past actions of the United States will ring familiar.

This book will help you redirect your anger from the Mexicans, from the religious nuts, from black people on welfare, to the real cause of this country’s problems: the top 1%, who are immune to our laws and will stop at nothing at taking every dollar they can possibly grab. I highly recommend this book for any American citizen. It’s what you didn’t learn in high school.

ISBN: 0802132138
Malcolm X Speaks

I thought of Malcolm X as a violent and racist figure of the Civil Rights movement, a portrayal the media was pushing at the time of his ascendance, but I was wrong. From reading the speeches in this book it’s obvious he was the ultimate truth teller, breaking down hypocritical and oppressive American policies better than anyone else at the time.

He believed in basic human rights for black people, rights that the Constitution should have already given them, but advocated violence when those rights were denied. He definitely didn’t believe in holding hands to sing “We Shall Overcome” while his people were being lynched and firehosed, making Martin Luther King and the rest of The Big Six seem more like Uncle Toms who got tricked by the government to tame down their demands in exchange for being figureheads in their people’s movement.

You don’t have to be black to read this book. If you hate the US Government then you’ll be nodding your head throughout, though of course black people will be able to identify with it more. Choice quotes:

“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep. This is what they did with the [1963] march on Washington.”

“Three hundred and ten years we worked in this country without a dime in return—I mean without a dime in return. You let the white man walk around here talking about how rich this country is, but you never stop to think how it got rich so quick. It got rich because you made it rich.”

“When you take your case to Washington, D.C., you’re taking it to the criminal who’s responsible; it’s like running from the wolf to the fox.”

“Nobody can give you independence. Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. If you can’t take it, you don’t deserve it.”

“It takes power to make power respect you.”

It’s sad that his life ended prematurely. I think he had the potential to make real changes not only for blacks but all oppressed people, including the lower class.

ISBN: 0061718955
Medium Raw

If you liked Kitchen Confidential, then you’ll like this follow-up, where Bourdain continues to tell food stories with his sharp humor and honesty. The fact that I’m the opposite of a foodie yet still enjoy Bourdain’s writing is a testament to his strong personality. Quotable gems:

“Whatever riches they may have acquired or may yet acquire, there is and always will be the lingering and deeply felt suspicion that come tomorrow, it will all be gone. No amount is enough or will ever be enough, because deep in the bone they know that the bastards could come knocking at any minute and take it all away.”

“Luck is not a business model.”

“It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.”

ISBN: 0060556579
The Red Queen

This book shares theories of sexual selection, first starting with animals, particularly birds and chimps, and then humans. While it won’t help you with your game, it’s a fascinating look into how sex is a huge evolutionary driving force. It pushes the fact that animals don’t just evolve to compete with other animals, but to compete with members of the same species, and it’s that sexual evolution that has made big-brained humans what they are.

I like how the book describes why the sex act even exists, a question I hadn’t contemplated (answer: parasite resistance). It explains less complex questions such as why men are a knowledge-hungry gender (answer: in the past, gaining enough knowledge to outwit other males got more sexual partners, so that trait persisted over time). The term “social proof” isn’t specifically used, but there are explanations as to why it’s such a powerful attractant. It also suggests that men are so power-crazed because in the past those who sought and gained it were the only ones who procreated. The author even describes how and why a woman’s body declines horribly after 30.

I’ll admit it was a dry work, and even with my biology background some of it still went over my head, but I’ve only scratched the surface at the amount of insight this book contains.

“The nature of the human male, then, is to take opportunities, if they are granted him, for polygamous mating and to use wealth, power, and violence as means to sexual ends in the competition with other men—though usually not as the expense of sacrificing a secure monogamous relationship.”

Here’s a Nelson laugh to beta males: “[The modern woman] strives to acquire a provider husband who will invest food and care in her children while finding a lover who can give those children first-class genes.”

And a fuck you to feminists: “The assertion that ‘culture’ explains human variation will be taken seriously when there are reports of women war parties raiding villages to capture men as husbands.”

ISBN: 0976805421
Starting Strength

I was turned on to Starting Strength by this excellent article, which explains how what you’re doing in the gym is probably not making you stronger. The book was highly detailed (nearly 60 pages on how to do a squat) and helpful with explaining proper technique, though the programming section was a bit sparse (here it is in a nutshell). While I’m no gym newbie, I am one of those guys who have been going for a while on and off and can’t say I’m getting stronger. I’m going to try this program out and report back in a few months.


Three Cups Of Deceipt

I remember a couple of years ago I’d see “Three Cups Of Tea,” a book about a white man helping build grade schools in Afghanistan, prominently displayed in bookstores. The book launched the author and his charity to lofty heights, but unfortunately it was a scam. The guy who wrote Into The Wild denounces him in a short but strong book with backing interviews and evidence. If you hate fakers and phonies like me, this book will give you a massive hard-on.

Americans are a trusting people, and here we have just another case of them getting scammed by some purported do-gooder who is nothing more than a con artist. I do have one tip for everyone: be very wary of people helping others outside their race. When a white man is gung-ho about helping Muslims or blacks or whomever, an eyebrow should be raised. No, both eyebrows!

ISBN: 0486290735
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (free on Kindle)

The first half was interesting as we learned about how Ben built his wealth, but then it became a painful slog. I can’t recommend it. I did like this quote though:

“Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day. This, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself, and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a thousand guineas.”

ISBN: 0850364787
The Communist Manifesto (free on Kindle)

The only reason I read this was so I can drop it in conversation and have people think that I’m an intellectual. Unfortunately it’s an excruciating read. If you want to get the gist of it then check out the Spark Notes. The most important thing I learned from this book is not to read any more books over 100 years old.

ISBN: 1422157997
HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself

I feel quite ripped off from this purchase. The first article by Peter Drucker was helpful (you can read it for free here), but then it was a nonstop stream of corporate-speak bullshit and self-help mumbo jumbo that is old news to anyone who’s worked in an office for a year or two. This compilation had more to do with how to be a better corporate manager than “managing yourself.” Waste of money.

Do you want to read more book reviews? Click here for the previous set.

51 Comments
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johnny
johnny
9 years ago

Starting Strength is the shit and the beginner programming is plenty if you haven’t done big lifts like this on the regular before. But you have to be in the gym all the time, eating a ton and increasing the weight EVERY SESSION for this to work. It’s much harder than it sounds.

You might not end up with a sport model’s body, but you will be much stronger than some dude on the cover of Men’s Health.

Frost
9 years ago

Surprised you’re just getting to the RQ now. Great book.

Regarding US history, check out the Mencius Moldbug archives over at Unqualified Reservations. You’ll never read Zinn the same again…

Cheers,

Frost

A.nonny.mous
A.nonny.mous
9 years ago

Roosh, Howard’s Zinn’s book is filled with more holes than swiss cheese. His crap was debunked long ago by various sources. He’s basically a conspiracy theorist who managed to convince the left to give him a sinecure at BU so he could ramble on and on.

samseau
samseau
9 years ago

“The most important thing I learned from this book is not to read any more books over 100 years old.”

No way! Most of the books worth reading today are over 100 years old. You should read some good old fashioned philosophy and throw away this pop-intellectual trash.

Let’s go Plato, Kant, Hume, Spinoza, Leibniz, some Presocratics like Parmenides and Heraclitus, Rousseau, Hobbes, Aristotle, Locke, a touch of Hegel, Schiller, and Kierkegaard, but no Nietzsche because he’s too cliche.

And for some contemporary philosophers you could check out Karl Popper.

And this list is just for starters! You haven’t exercised your mind till you try benching the Critique of Pure Reason.

hydrogonian
hydrogonian
9 years ago

@3

Is that right? Have you read his books? Doubt it. Thats because referring to the contents as “debunked” shows a complete lack of understanding, or even knowledge, of the contents.

Its amazing that his books are so full of crap, as you say, yet are required reading for AP US History Courses at some of the top secondary private and boarding schools in the country. These are schools that are 100% funded by the top 5% and it’s where they send their kids to get their educations. This book in particular is required reading specifically because its true and not “debunked”.

Some “conservatives” will believe whatever they are fed by the most dubious of sources. You sound like a whining uneducated poor conservative who consistently votes against his self interest yet will fight to the death to protect the worldview of the people who own your mind yet who don’t respect you and will fight “tooth and nail” to prevent you from having a sliver of their pie.

I have a lot of “conservative” views” but poor class deniers are the most loathsome of voters that this country harbors, yet the most useful to the top 1%.

A.nonny.mous
A.nonny.mous
9 years ago

1. No, but he rambled for quite a long time on the public dime. A typical leftists—stealing from the people while blaming others for the stealing.

2. For a start: http://reason.com/archives/2010/02/03/the-peoples-historian

The man wasn’t even taken seriously by those who ideologically agreed with him.

And wikipedia, for all it’s faults, currently has a good round-up of the logical faults of the book:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_People%27s_History_of_the_United_States#Critical_reception

Sam Spade
Sam Spade
9 years ago

Re: Howard Zinn

Just because you read something doesn’t mean you have to believe everything in it. I haven’t read his book but I’m sure Zinn got some things right, and some things wrong.

Just like you shouldn’t believe everything in your grade school history books.

Take it all with a grain of salt.

Tuthmosis
Tuthmosis
9 years ago

Ok, so the second half of Ben Franklin’s Autobiography IS a little more stale than the first half. But, I thought the first half was fascinating enough to carry you through.

Check out WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a collection of short stories with several pieces relevant to game, and is chock-full of the sort of dystopic, incisive social commentary you seem to enjoy.

JM
JM
9 years ago

refreshing for a game guy to be open to leftist ideas. other than the implications game theory has on PC, i find the link between people interested in game and people interested in hardcore conservatism pretty puzzling.

Miley Cyrax
Miley Cyrax
9 years ago

“The assertion that ‘culture’ explains human variation will be taken seriously when there are reports of women war parties raiding villages to capture men as husbands.”

Classic.

@JM
I would characterize people interested in game as more libertarian. Many aspects of liberalism and religion are backed by only faith, hope, and kool-aid, and that’s what they (the people interested in game) despise.

Shango
Shango
9 years ago

@Sam Spade

It never ceases to amaze that anyone capable of typing would make a comment on a book, regardless of that comment, without having first read the book.

RTBF, dip stick.

@Roosh History, it is said, is a big pile of dust, but Zinn’s work adds feces.

Begby
Begby
9 years ago

Zinn’s book struck me as one of the longest anti-white male racist screeds ever written, and the adherents of this book cling to it as gospel truth justification to hate whitey and be a useless liberal twat.

JM: to be a leftists, you have to be a feminist. to be a feminist, you have to despise PUAs (or you have to CLAIM to). not puzzling at all. Gamer’s have seen what a pile of dogshit feminism is, and feminism is the strongest pillar of the left. It’s pretty easy to see the rest of it for the dogshit it is after you’ve taken the red pill.

The Truth
The Truth
9 years ago

Did you learn to read five years ago? What a shitty list.

Adventure21c
Adventure21c
9 years ago

The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers, Paul Kennedy
—————————————————-
Another douche-bag sayings that he found the “gist” of why the empires of heights fail. (snort) yeah, right. Looking at the quote, I can already tell the author’s not quite there. The guy needs to go back to history, study the Western, the Middle-Eastern, the Indian, the Chinese, the Central-Asian, the Russian, and the African empires and study again how powers forge and then subsequently fall. Hell yeah, the eventual inability to march onto the future in great gust must stem from one single reason. Only if it were that simple…

A People’s History Of The United States
—————————————
Another dude who can’t do real hard mental work, so he grabbed a point and put in on pedestal for his book. “the United States is a country created by the rich white man for the rich white man?” Oh really? Is that even a news? Show me a country on earth in which the elite does not rape the mass, and I’ll prove the U.S. doesn’t either. One very foundation of the human architecture is for the elites to tame and control the mass. Hell yeah, like as if it wasn’t the same in Africa, Middle East, India, China, and so on. A very big news flash that’s as old as the humanity. Elites rise, the other factions pay the price, few conquers and many are conquered: just the universal architecture of the human existence. We, as an animal species, are really not above the profound animal behavior. Every country is built by, and built for the elites, because they’re the capable, and they channel the system to their benefit. Instead of complaining, you should take advantage of that fact. Roman slaves revolts: can you benefit out of it? the American mass (again, slaves) revolts: can you benefit out of it? The key is to exploit the way the humanity is set up, not to lament about it. That is true competence, that is the truly skilled politician, that is the true leadership.

The Red Queen, Matt Ridley
————————–
“It pushes the fact that animals don’t just evolve to compete with other animals, but to compete with members of the same species, and it’s that sexual evolution that has made big-brained humans what they are.” Blatantly obvious fact. Just look at the humanity: it’s been hating and competing with each other forever, going war against their own brothers and sisters. At least someone bothered to explain the whole thing. Now, the more important issue is, how will the humanity evolve as the species given the current situation and the past behaviors? There is the real interesting question.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

Roooosh!

just check out /fit/ if you want to fall down the rabbit hole of Starting Strength.

Squatz n Oatz

nguyenimproved
nguyenimproved
9 years ago

These are very good book reviews.
It’s cool to have a reviewer who doesn’t hold back any punches.

Some classic putdowns by Roosh.
“The most important thing I learnt from this was not to read any book over 100 years old” lol.
Brilliant.

Also apparently Malcolm X chilled out
toward the end of his life.

It’s a real shame he got killed by
Magneto
just when it looked like he was
starting to get taken seriously.

Gattuso
Gattuso
9 years ago

Man, I’m getting my popcorn out at the Roissyists getting ‘u mad’ level mad at the leftist bent of this list.

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
9 years ago

Nice that you found your way to Starting Strength. You now know more about basic strength training than 90% of gym goers. No doubt if you follow a basic 5×5 program and eat a nutritious diet you will get stronger and look better.

Some other great lifting books I’d recommend:

Practical Programming by Lon Kilgore
Any book by Ross Enamait (check out his site) – proof positive you don’t even need a gym membership to get strong and look fit.
Keys to Progress by John Macallum – old school book about how old school bodybuilders trained
Anything written by Martin Berkhan (check out his site lean gains) – he’ll shatter a lot of nutrition myths.

Beach Bum
Beach Bum
9 years ago

“when there are reports of women war parties raiding villages to capture men as husbands.”

Well, they do go on the warpath with warpaint on their face gold digging their way into marriage with a naive provider beta. Sneaky commando operations that may take months or years but in the end they bag their victim.

As for Zinn, his work is good, though strongly left-leaning as far as I remember, which leaves his analysis with certain blind spots guys like him and Chomsky would never touch “on principle”, which is ridiculous.

One has to read both left and right wing authors to get the full picture. On the right, libertarian authors are the way to go. Forget bible thumpers and neocons.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

lol at all the crazy right-wing nutjobs. “People’s History is anti-white male diatribe!”

He relies on source material, since he is an actual historian. How is, for example, quoting Colombus’s (etc) real diaries about how he ruthlessly butchered the native people’s he found for profit somehow an “opinion piece”? (Let alone a wrong opinion.)

This is a guy (Columbus) who still had his own national holiday when I was a kid. Apparently we could use a lot more “rambling leftists,” at least ones as analytical and sensible as Zinn.

(ps – if you think it’s not important to learn about injustice in the past, keep in mind that the majority of people in well off groups, including “good people,” consistently supported these injustices, although almost every right-wing idiot todays says they would’ve been against slavery, etc. what do you think our grandkids will think about the stuff we were cool with? like a billion people living in hunger while a trillion $ gets spent on the military per year?)

P. Bateman
9 years ago

I like the recommendation of fitness training and the first two books. I will check those out.

I’ve read plenty about Malcolm X as I found him fascinating and unfairly characterized as an extremist in the mainstream media. He did appear a bit extreme when his views were tied to the Nation of Islam, but once he broke away from them he began to make even more sense.

He never seemed to have an agenda (unlike the Muslim Brotherhood) and was devoted solely to his cause. Too bad he died as he began to make great strides.

Fred
Fred
9 years ago

Great post roosh, but I just had to laugh when I read that you hate phonies and fakers – isnt faking something you strongly recommend in certain other contexts? 😉 A little more self-awareness my friend.

JM
JM
9 years ago

@ begby

actually, you can pretty easily deny feminism with extreme prejudice and at the same time believe in things like financial regulation, labor unions, and equitable distribution of wealth. it works out because feminism has NOTHING to do with those other issues. i also believe that global warming is real and hasn’t been adequately dealt with, while at the same time believing that immigration policy has spun wildly out of control in the direction of the left.

see I would expect most gamers to think more independently about politics and have a mish mash of right and left political views, since the sacred cow violating theory behind game is definitely something that only an independent thinker would be able to understand and believe in.

also, your comment that ” feminism is the strongest pillar of the left” is just insane.

Fred
Fred
9 years ago

Re Marx – the take home lesson is not to read German writers from a 100 years ago. English and French writers of a hundred years ago are marvels of clarity, force, and concision.

lazy guy
lazy guy
9 years ago

Roosh, thanks for the info.
You might enjoy Schopenauer,
and short stories by Thom Jones (The Pugilist at Rest, Cold Snap, etc).