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Recommend Six Must-read books.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by JonBonham, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. Ooh! I love Pratchett.
    Not only is he hilarious, but he's brilliant too. I found the stuff in small Gods with Vobis and "real" truth to be a great insight into an evil mind.
     
  2. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    I like Ed Luttwak too, but that particular book was roundly panned by period historians due to its fairly serious anachronisms. Roman military culture did not institutionalize concepts like "strategy", and can barely be said to have done so with "tactics". Few if any emperors can be said to have had a "grand strategy", let alone ones that continued across dynasties. The premise - let alone the conclusions - was simply not realistic.

    Luttwak's second such book, The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, was much better and relied more on discussing the military culture of the state's soldiers instead of anachronisms.

    Probably his best book - and one that is far better than anything written by Sunzi - was his Strategy. But it seems that nobody can be assed to read books about strategy written by anybody who is not currently dead because they don't have enough intellectual cachet or something.
     
  3. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    Most people that try to write like Hemingway are going to end up not very good writers even if they write a lot. Reading may be a helpful component of ending up a good writer, but even in classic fiction, there is a lot of bad writing going on (including a significant portion of Hemingway). I think that actually writing is the more significant factor in improving your writing. Trying to imitate someone else is a sure path towards regression as a writer.
     
  4. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

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    I never liked the Art of War much, because in my view it focused far too much on tactics and where to put people in a fighting situation, whereas what a military leader really needs is advice on how to be a leader to his me, and he needs to be able to think of tactical solutions as the situation dictates - just implementing another plan rarely works very well.
     
  5. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    Plain immitation will lead to bad writing most of the time, yes, but to develop a personal style one will profit quite a bit from reading multiple styles.
     
  6. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I think Machiavelli's Art of War is more worth your time than Sun Tzu's. Certainly more insightful and useful for the people of its time at least, though it's unlikely to teach you anything novel today.
     
  7. kochman

    kochman Deity

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    Man...
    Ok, so, if you don't read anything, ever, chances are you don't write anyhow.
    Just because good writers read, it doesn't mean that the reading is the cause of their good writing.

    Good writing is a gift, it can be developed, by reading is probably one of the smaller influences on how well one writes.
     
  8. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

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    Heh, I think I read a copy of the Roman Empire one and I have the Byzantine Empire one on my to-read shelf.

    Sun Tzu and his book of fortune cookie war wisdom? All the quotes I see from it seem to be generic and vague common sense statements lacking in practical detail. Is that an accurate characterization of the rest of his work, or should I give reading it a try?
     
  9. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    No, that's exactly what the whole thing is.

    It's a shame that it's the only example of Chinese classical military thought that's well known outside, uh, China and academia. Because it's a really crappy example.
     
  10. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    It's really basic but the idea is to wake you up and get your head in the game. From there you can correctly identify what real substance to study.
     
  11. kochman

    kochman Deity

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    I think Sun had some serious insight... much like the ancient greek philosophers, today it seems obvious (the stuff that is right anyhow), but back then it was groundbreaking.

    Sun wrote an awfully long time ago... and made things basically fact. That's good philosophy!!!
     
  12. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    I wouldn't compare it to Greek philosophy, in part because it lacks almost all of the rigor, and while is based on a certain amount of logic, is totally separate from the meta-physical logic that say Plato employed.

    Like I wrote, he's a good start point. In that sense he's a reasonable top-6 must read.
     
  13. leemadison11

    leemadison11 Chieftain

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    To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, Crucible, 100 Years of Solitude, The Awakening and most recently, The Great Gatsby. I know this list is a little odd since it’s all fiction, but honestly, I’ve learned more about history and human nature from these intricate, subtle literary works than I have through cut and dry non-fiction. The Great Gatsby, for example, is such a pleasure to read that you might just miss what it’s really talking about-America as a civilization, as a dream as a society. I had to look it up on Shmoop, and then the sweeping metaphor that pervades the entire book washed over me and I was blown away.
     
  14. MantaRevan

    MantaRevan Emperor

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    Oh yeah, and Animal Farm. Good stuff there.
     
  15. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Oh yes! Small Gods, plus all his Night Watch books, plus the more recent ones, all great books, showing that fantasy can be both entertaining and insightful.

    As for six must read? Six? Too few! But I'll throw in a few.

    On fantasy, anything by Pratchett.

    On law/economics, I'll take the opportunity to recommend (again) Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means' "The modern corporation and private property", and anything by Galbraith. 80 years ago they explained how socio-economic power eventually becomes distributed in a modern capitalist economy, and it doesn't match the myths of capitalism. Though it seems dated, it's not.
     
  16. zjintz

    zjintz Chieftain

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    I had the same feeling about the great Gatsby, but never verbalized it!.

    I'm curious, what did you learn from gone with the wind and 100 years of solitude?.
     
  17. Theige

    Theige American Baron

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    Just read 1776 by David McCullough and (most of) Civilization: A New History of the Western World by Roger Osborne.

    The former was better than the latter.

    I'll also recommend The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

    I had given up on reading entire books for quite a while. Getting back into it. Subscribed ;)
     
  18. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

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    Welcome to the club! And I approve of your first selection. :)
     

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