Marcia Bookstein’s Bookshelf
1. The first is “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. Beautifully written, it gives you the history of what’s not written in the history books from high school. From the murderous rampages and trickery of Christopher Columbus’ people to the trajectory-changing election of 2000, Zinn takes us on a fascinating journey through our history. Not pretty, but you just can’t look away. In order to change the present in the future, you need to know where you come from. This book will tell you everything you need to know and more. A long but engrossing read.
2. At present I’m just finishing “Reporter,” by Seymour Hersh. I love this book. What a brave and energetic person. He follows a lead and will not let go until he finds his man or woman. (For the My Lai story it’s men he’s after.) When he finds him he’ll knock on the door at two a.m. and someone will answer and want to talk to him! I wouldn’t answer the door at two a.m. The reason they want to talk is because he’s done his research beforehand and knows enough to make the other person want to spill as many beans as possible. What’s fascinating is the reaction of the executive editor at The New York Times. How reluctant he was to put some of this stuff in print. Often Hersh would have to get another entity to publish first. It’s incredible the lengths Hersh would go through to get to the truth, and amazing how, if it wasn’t what was thought to be the truth in the general public, the reluctance to print would be nearly insurmountable. Makes me look at that “newspaper of note” with different eyes. This is a super story and not to be missed. One thing: he sounds like a reporter! This might be a turn-off for some. But this book is a must-read.
3. I’ve read 119 pages of Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the 21st Century.” I started to read this book to help with my insomnia. Economics! What could be more boring, using up lots of brain glucose and putting me into a delicious slumber? Wrong. It’s fascinating, and kept me up way past my bedtime. Difficult for me, for sure. (At UCLA I took Econ 101. After one class and not understanding a single word except for “the” and “and” I gave up. Flash forward a bit more than thirty years and I’m thinking, “I’m not giving up on myself!” I started with The Worldly Philosophers.) OK, full disclosure: I’m still not sure what alpha equals r times beta means. Did I get that correct? Piketty looks at every aspect of wealth and income, private and public, mostly comparing the US, France and Britain, and this is why his book is over 500 pages long and I’ll be reading it into 2020. But what an important book! Now I know how wealth inequality happens (it’s math!) and how potentially devastating it is for a society. He adds in wealth in literature, and the picture is complete. If you can understand it. Apparently this is in the top ten of the most bought, started, and never finished books. But it is super-important to try to understand what we’ll be fighting against for a very long time. And the fight against the super-wealthy is essential. I will tell you why next time in a fabulous and short book by the most decorated war hero this country has ever seen.