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Comment 17 Oct 2014

Giant fancy old books: I prefer Demons to the other Dostoevsky books that have been recommended above. But IMHO he's a lot of work for the payoff. Instead I'd suggest The Red and the Black or War and Peace. They're both fun and the latter has a lot of great meditations on war. 

Modern stuff: But if you're going to be all literary, read the new stuff! Check out Franzen, Zadie Smith, Alexandr Harmon, Lethem, George Saunders, Wells Tower. They're all fun and smart. And don't sleep on the perhaps the most amazing thing ever written—My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Holy moly.

Pulpy stuff: Forget the Hunger Games or Twilight or Clancy or Patterson or Harry Potter. Sheesh. Instead, read anything Stephen King wrote before 1988. The Bachman Books won't cost you much mental energy and they're propulsive and entertaining as hell. You have to buy a used copy though because King has been trying to surpress it because one of the novellas—Rage—made him real uncomfortable post-Columbine. But buy it for The Long Walk, which might be the most powerful thing I've ever read. I got my hands on it in fourth grade and reread that novella at least 40 times. Oh, and every girl I loaned Lonesome Dove to had sex with me, and I totally earned that by sharing it with them.

Above stuff: People are right about Bukowski, Krakauer, Cormac McCarthy, and World War Z. I'd add Tropic of Cancer (the most hilariously filthy piece of literature ever) and anything by Orwell (he's easy and humble and will make you a better person).

War stuff: Anything and everything by Max Hastings. Napoleon's Marshals. And please read With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge, the most plainspoken yet vivid first-person account of soldiering ever. A World Undone will make you wonder how anyone could have stomached being a solider in World War I.

Poems: They can be good! Mary Oliver is sweet. Kay Ryan is smart. Philip Larkin is salty. And read this and this and this and this.

Comment 28 Mar 2014

Even if the Tecumseh's brother hadn't screwed up, the U.S. was eventually going to wipe out the Native Americans anyway. That's what makes Tecumseh so cool—a genius and visionary going down with the ship. A perfect tragic hero.

Voted for Grant cause he killed a shitload of racist traitors.

Comment 16 Mar 2014

I don't think we're too far apart here.

I don't think bombing civilian centers in Germany, Japan, or Britain (leaving aside the atomic bombs) shortened the war by one day. So ultimately LeMay's contributions were pretty marginal. However, that's hindsight, so I wouldn't argue that either side was wrong to try.

As for the Soviets, I personally would have been quite worried, seeing what they had done to the Nazis. The Japanese army had what, a million soldiers in China? Who's to say Stalin wouldn't have wanted to take China too? If we hadn't opened a second front, I think he would have marched all the way to the Atlantic and turned Western Europe into satellite states as well.

We are agreed about the evil of the Japanese military. They murdered millions of civilians, tortured POWs, and had contempt for everyone, including their own civilians.

I'm not going to say anything bad about Tibbets. Like I said, if I were Truman I would have done the same thing. But if people vote for Tibbets, it's to celebrate Hiroshima, which shouldn't be celebrated.

Both of my grandfathers fought against the Nazis. No idea if they would have been transferred to the Pacific, but we shouldn't have risked one more person to defeat Japan than we absolutely had to. I'm glad your grandfather didn't have to go.

Comment 16 Mar 2014

Well, I'm not 100% sure. The Japanese military didn't seem to give a shit about its civilians. When LeMay burned down Tokyo, killing 100,000 people, they never considered surrendering. You could argue that the Soviets entering the war was the bigger reason Hirohito surrendered.

That said, I don't view Hiroshima as this unparalleled evil act by any means—the Japanese were nearly as bad as the Nazis, and I'd say Truman was obligated to save as many U.S. servicemen as he could. I would've done the same thing.

Tibbets was just following orders, and shouldn't be "blamed" for wiping out a whole city. But celebrating him for it seems gross to me.

Comment 03 Mar 2014

Dude, is thataway. Please review this site's commenting policy.

Comment 10 Feb 2014

Comment 19 Feb 2013

+1 That's great.


I would also have accepted a gif of Martin Prince dancing with a snapdragon.