Reading List

Below is a list of books that I recommend. It includes books that I’ve read, am in the process of reading or books that I know something about and plan to begin reading very soon.

Most of my choices are about highlighting important issues, or understanding the philosophical undercurrents of our increasingly warped society.  Some are obviously just for fun. It’s still a work in progress.

I welcome any input. If you have any suggestions, please email me here.

Non Fiction

Fiction

Resistance, Rebellion and Death
by Albert Camus 

Essays and letters by French philosopher and writer Albert Camus during and after World War II. He was once called the conscience of the 20th century. He writes about a lot of different ideas, anti-intellectualism, love of country, resisting unjust powers and maintaining constructive thought through dark times. In general, an appropriate and relevant commentary on our current state of affairs. I’m also in the middle of another of his essay collections, The Rebel, but this is far more direct and practical.

Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk 

A cliché selection for men allegedly obsessed with machismo and violence. Its been called shallow, elementary level psychological drivel. All of this of course is written by elites, those fully recognized individuals able to write 1,000 word essays of slop read by millions of people and are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do it. Could it be that they might not be the best people to assess a work which is essentially a study in lower class consumerism? Read my full review of the film version here for more.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters
by James W. Douglass 

Douglass’s book makes the assertion that JFK was assassinated by rouge elements within the United States government. Ultimately, a reader can’t hope to independently corroborate the facts, quotes and other statistics in this book; the task would be gargantuan. That said, the book does successfully make the case that the CIA had the will, the motivation, and the opportunity to have a hand in the Kennedy assassination. The book is highly optimistic about the concepts of world peace. It might even change the way you view the world.

The Last Good Kiss
by James Crumley 

Tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful, The Last Good Kiss is an unforgettable detective story starring C. W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing in Haight-Ashbury for a decade. The tense hunt becomes obsessive as Sughrue takes a haunting journey through the underbelly of America’s sleaziest nightmares. – From Amazon.

 

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century
by George Friedman 

A book about American power in the 21st century from the CEO of Stratfor (a private intelligence agency). The author makes interesting predictions based on numerous geopolitical trends that are visible now.

Flood
by Andrew Vachss 

“In this cauterizing thriller, Andrew Vachss’ renegade private eye teams up with a lethally gifted avenger to follow a child’s murderer through the catacombs of New York, where every alley is blind and the penthouses are as dangerous as the basements. Fearfully knowing, crackling with narrative tension, and written in prose as forceful as a hollow-point slug, Flood is Burke at his deadliest—and Vachss at the peak of his form.” - From Vachss’s website

Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
by Gary Webb 

Originally a series of news articles, author and journalist Gary Webb proves with near certainty that the CIA actively imported cocain into Los Angeles and distributed it among drug dealers and used the money to covertly support the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. It’s a rarely mentioned, but far more disturbing aspect of the Iran/Contra scandal.

The Age of Reason: A Novel
by Jean-Paul Sartre 

“L’âge de raison is concerned with Sartre’s conception of freedom as the ultimate aim of human existence. This work seeks to illustrate the existentialist notion of ultimate freedom through presenting a detailed account of the characters’ psychologies as they are forced to make significant decisions in their lives. As the novel progresses, character narratives espouse Sartre’s view of what it means to be free and how one operates within the framework of society with this philosophy. This novel is a fictional representation of his main philosophical work, Being and Nothingness, where one attains ultimate freedom through nothing, or more precisely, by being nothing.” - From Wikipedia

The Secret Team
by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty 

Published in 1973, Prouty, (sometimes amusingly known as Mr. X) a former liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA, disects the CIA’s role in world events from World War II to the late 1960s.  The book suggest that the intelligence agencies like the CIA inevitably seek to engage in covert activities which has a corrupting effect.  He maintains that as an “agency” they rarely act on their own, but are useful tools for the power elite.  The book has famously been disappeared from stores over the years, but is now widely available.
* Also available free online.

The Man Who Was Thursday
by G. K. Chesterton 

“Although it deals with anarchists, the novel is not an exploration or rebuttal of anarchist thought; Chesterton’s ad hoc construction of “Philosophical Anarchism” is distinguished from ordinary anarchism and is referred to several times not so much as a rebellion against government but as a rebellion against God.    The novel has been described as ‘one of the hidden hinges of twentieth-century writing, the place where, before our eyes, the nonsense-fantastical tradition of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear pivots and becomes the nightmare-fantastical tradition of Kafka and Borges.’”  - From Wikipedia

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
by John Perkins 

The author is a former employee of the International Monetary Fund and (indirectly) of the U.S. State Department. He alleges that during his employment, he would encourage third world nations to accept loans that would be impossible to pay off, essentially forcing them to effectively surrender their sovereignty. Private U.S. contractors would then come in and develop the country, but often the nation and it’s people would suffer crippling debt in an attempt to pay off the loans. Countries that resisted would be subject to increasingly hostile measures including assassination, government overthrow and invasion.

Dune
by Frank Herbert 

Dune is easily one of the greatest science fiction novels ever, not simply because of its excellent story, but also because of its literary style and extensive use of theme. In a literary sense, the novel is about the human condition.  It’s themes include religion, fatherhood, martyrdom, nuclear war, ecology, imperialism, rebellion, authoritarianism, politics and more.  Highly recommended.


The Liberal Imagination
by Lionel Trilling 

An assessment of liberalism, both in the macro and micro sense of the word.  In the 1950s, Trilling correctly defined the United States as a primarily liberal nation, before the term took on other meanings.