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REVIEW: Yes, it's true: Joseph Goebbels Helps today's GOP. Often considered the father of modern propaganda, Goebbels foreshadowed the GOP playbook in terms of distortion, deception, and dishonesty. Peter Longerich's "Goebbels: A Biography" (ISBN: 9781400067510) is excellent, appalling, and instructive.
REVIEW: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a tool for the forces of evil. Don't believe it? You can read about their anti-American and anti-humanity actions in "The Influence Machine: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Capture of American Life" (ISBN: 9780812993288), an excellent modern-day piece of muckraking by Alyssa Katz.
REVIEW: Positive feelings about the USA can sometimes be in short supply but Stanley B. Greenberg's “America Ascendant: A Revolutionary Nation's Path to Addressing Its Deepest Problems and Leading the 21st Century” (ISBN: 978-1250003676) offers optimism and the promise of a better future. Wouldn't it be great if he's correct?
REVIEW: Fun, breezy, and ultimately uplifting, Felicia Day's "You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) [A Memoir]" (ISBN: 9781476785653) is good for chuckles, guffaws, and a shipload of laughs. I'm not a gamer. I don't watch webisodes. I've never tuned in to see Supernatural, Eureka, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And up until this week I had never heard of Felicity Day. Oops, I mean Felicia Day.
REVIEW: You can find anything on the Internet. Proving that in “The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld” (ISBN: 9781612194899) is author and social media analyst Jamie Bartlett. Turns out that a lot of the online netherworld is pretty wild (and often not very pretty).
REVIEW: A modern-day horror story of how people in our financial system "fiscally raped" us, “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” (ISBN: 9780393338829) is a fast-paced and fact-packed book made exciting by the superb writing of Michael Lewis.
REVIEW: Greed, bigotry, and treason head the list of “Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond” (ISBN 9781476763798), the generally helpful new book from E.J. Dionne, Jr.
REVIEW: Almost everyone who examines capitalism comes away with finger-and-thumb firmly pinching the nose. Taking a positive approach, Robert Reich exposes the faults but also recommends solutions in his superb "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few" (ISBN: 9780385350570).
REVIEW: David Brock goes after the American Taliban hate machine in 'Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government' (ISBN: 9781455533763). Debunking the anti-Clinton memes and fake scandals is a never-ending job, so let us give thanks that Brock is willing to tackle it.
REVIEW: Jane Mayer will get your blood boiling in her superb 'Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right' (ISBN: 9780385535595). Every chapter reveals monsters who are perverting the ideals of America.
REVIEW: Privacy is becoming an antiquated concept. In "Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World" (ISBN: 9780393244816), security expert Bruce Schneier leads you through a labyrinth of surveillance that should scare the hell out of you.
REVIEW: While it didn't convert me to atheism, 'The God Delusion' (ISBN: 9780618918249) by Richard Dawkins is still terrific and should be required reading for anyone who still thinks religion has any value in society. Dawkins' philosophical points are even persuasive, up to a point, but I cannot join him in his non-belief.
REVIEW: A beautifully crafted book on a mesmerizing but ugly topic, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief" by Lawrence Wright (ISBN: 9780307745309) is a shocking investigation into the cult of Scientology. As with today's torture-porn horror films, its followers are berated, degraded, and psychologically harmed.
REVIEW: The fundamental principles of the United States were honored and extended by Frances Perkins, who was "The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins - Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage" (ISBN: 9781400078561). A tireless worker for justice, Perkins has too long been hidden from history. Kirstin Downey seeks to remedy the oversight in her fascinating book.
BOOK REVIEW: The collection of essays called “Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality” (ISBN 978-1-59558-923-1) covers its important topic from a variety of viewpoints. While a valuable book, it's also a bit of a hit-or-miss affair because editor David Cay Johnston selected articles that emphasize facts and data whether or not there was any entertainment value in the writing.
BOOK REVIEW: The first of a two-part biography of Charlie 'Yardbird' Parker, Stanley Crouch's “Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker” (ISBN: 9780062005595) is as multi-layered and exciting as many of Bird's great alto sax solos.
BOOK REVIEW: The inside story of the woman poised to become the next U.S. President, "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton" (ISBN: 978-0-8041-3675-4; Crown Publishers) by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes is a delightful rarity: a serious book that is fun to read.
BOOK REVIEW: In the most important American book of the year so far, Ian Haney Lopez presents a ton of facts and a mountain of logical deductions about race, politics and the nation's future in 'Dog Whistle Politics' (ISBN: 9780199964277). Reading it is like pulling off a scab.
BOOK REVIEW: It isn't easy getting a handle on a genre that ranges from the smooth swing of a Benny Goodman to the jagged edges of an Ornette Coleman but Gary Giddins' 'Visions of Jazz' (ISBN: 0-19-507675-3) is a beautiful book that makes delightful reading for any jazz lover.
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