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American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent (by: Tamer Elnoury)

An incredible page-turner..did not want to put it down.  It walks the reader through Tamer's (agents undercover name) contact with, integration into and eventual arrest and prosecution of a US/Canadian al-Qaeda affiliate.  

Book came to my attention as Tamer was interviewed on 60-minutes recently as well as some well known podcasts.

Very Highly Recommended Read!!!!  Only about 350 pages so will not take a long commitment.

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I got two books for Christmas that I'm excited about.

The first is Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beaty by Charles Leerhsen.  Evidently this book ends up shedding doubt on the famous negative stories about Cobb's life.

The second is Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann.  It's about the murders of Native Americans in 1920s Oklahoma.

I'm currently reading Twain's The Guilded Age.  Once I get done with that, I'll move onto my two new books.

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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea: Barbara Demick

Story about the lives of multiple defectors who all lived in/around the N. Korea city of Chongjin. Really provides perspective of the hardship of life, what ordinary citizens must do to survive, and the absurd cult of personality that runs the country.

Not a long book, about 350 pages, and it's personal story based (the defectors) as opposed to facts based (which can be boring)

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Just finished GhettoSide.  From Publishers Weekly...

Provides a deep dive into the lives of homicides in the inner city (in this case Watts), the detectives who investigate/solve the crimes, the families of the victims and the social trends and events that lead to the lifestyles that cause these circumstances.

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This absorbing first book from journalist Leovy traces the investigation and prosecution of a 2007 murder in South Los Angeles, registering along the way a powerful argument about race and our criminal justice system. Eighteen-year-old Bryant Tennelle was "just another black man down." His shooting death inspired neither press attention nor vigorous police action until, that is, his case was handed to Police Detective John Skaggs, the central figure in Leovy's narrative. By following the relentless Skaggs, fleshing out all his quirks, and rendering the perpetrators, survivors, and witnesses of the murder vividly, Leovy spins a good yarn and illustrates how, by her lights, black-on-black homicide should be dealt with (but too seldom is). The state fails "to catch and punish even a bare majority of murderers" in urban black enclaves, and the result is "street justice" informal legal systems, replete with their own laws and codes and punishments. Gang violence, in Leovy's account, is thus not a cause of lawlessness; rather, it is "a whole system of interactions determined by the absence of law." Like most ghettoside cases, the Tennelle case was eminently solvable merely awaiting a determined investigator to whom the lives of black men were valuable, their murders something to be answered for. Readers may come for Leovy's detective story; they will stay for her lucid social critique.

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I just finished The Given Day by Dennis Lehane, who wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island.    I was expecting a detective novel, but instead it’s a story of a second generation policeman and a black man in 1918-19 Boston.    The cops are often used to bust up strikes, and strikers are seen as Bolsheviks and anarchists in the wake of the Russian revolution.    But the police force themselves are horribly underpaid, having not received a raise in about 15 years, and there is unrest on the force that eventually brings the plot to a boil.

One of the interesting narrative devices is there are 4-5 chapters sprinkled through the book, including the first and last, where Babe Ruth is the principal character.     

It was an extremely well written book and well worth the read.  

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I just read Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, who won the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago for her novel A Visit to the Goon Squad  (which I haven’t read).    It’s a very interesting novel set around WWII with three main characters - a father who’s a bagman for a corrupt union, his daughter who wants to become a diver who works on repair of military ships in a male-dominated field, and a mob nightclub owner.     Can’t say much about the plot without spoilers but it’s interesting throughout and the author had to do a ton of research into shipyard operations, diving and other wartime activities.    And she writes like an English professor’s dream — in a good way.  

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In the middle of The Soul of Baseball by Poznanski. Wonderful read with engaging anecdotes about Buck O’Neil. Poz is carefully nuanced in his descriptions of the year he spent with one of the games trailblazers.

Highly recommended.

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My first post on this area of the forums... good timing vis-a-vis the upgrading of the O's presence in the Dominican, as I'm halfway through a great and classic novel by Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, about the Trujillo dictatorship ending with his assassination in 1961: The Feast of the Goat

I never knew much about the history of that country -- which Trujillo basically created (with US help) alongside the different cultural nation of Haiti. It's quite the eye-opener, at the same time all too familiar of the history of the region.

The narrator structure is similar to Marlon James's excellent Jamaican thriller about the killing of Bob Marley, A Brief History of Seven Killings, in following the assassins; but where James delves into a dozen or so characters and voices, this plot alternates between the assassins and their backstory, Trujillo and his (on his last day alive), and the daughter of a state official years later in New York.

My first exposure to Llosa and I'll be reading more; a true master. And after this I will have deeper appreciation for the culture and sad history of the homeland of many of our MLB stars, including hopefully a new batch of future Orioles.

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My father took me to this everything is a dollar liquidator store today.  Just all sorts of random stuff, a dozen bins of used CDs, row after row of used books.  Everything from old college textbooks to books on 2000 edition Power Point and teaching Windows Vista to seniors.  I'm thumbing through conscious of my lack of space for books when I find a 1975 paperback Lester Del Rey collection, score I think, grabbing it, has some stories I haven't read.  As I hit the next shelf, paydirt, a 1979 first edition English translation of Stanislaw Lem's Tales of Pirx the Pilot.  Dust cover has a tear and a piece missing from the interior but the binding is a solid good and all the pages look fine.

Not my best used book find but the best I've had in quite a few years.

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I tried to get back into reading more this year and set out a goal to read 15 books.  I’m going to fall a little short as I’m on my 15th, but likely won’t finish until the weekend.  Below is my 2019 reading list with the omission of one politically charged book.  One of these is a movie and three others are going to be movies with A-listers.  I’ll probably end up reading more fiction in 2020.
 

Homeplace 

- John Lingan

Killers of the Flower Moon - David Grant

The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

Political Tribes - Amy Chua

Squeezed -Alissa Quart

Janesville - Amy Goldstein 

The Reckoning — John Grisham

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis - Robert Putnam

The Sound and the Fury — William Faulkner 

The Woman in the Window - AJ 

Finn

Bad Blood - John Carreyrou

The Line Becomes a River-Francisco Cantu

The Unwinding - George Packer

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1 hour ago, backwardsk said:

I tried to get back into reading more this year and set out a goal to read 15 books.  I’m going to fall a little short as I’m on my 15th, but likely won’t finish until the weekend.  Below is my 2019 reading list with the omission of one politically charged book.  One of these is a movie and three others are going to be movies with A-listers.  I’ll probably end up reading more fiction in 2020.
 

Homeplace 

- John Lingan

Killers of the Flower Moon - David Grant

The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

Political Tribes - Amy Chua

Squeezed -Alissa Quart

Janesville - Amy Goldstein 

The Reckoning — John Grisham

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis - Robert Putnam

The Sound and the Fury — William Faulkner 

The Woman in the Window - AJ 

Finn

Bad Blood - John Carreyrou

The Line Becomes a River-Francisco Cantu

The Unwinding - George Packer

Impressive list.    This has been my least productive reading year in many years.     I think all I’ve read is (1) the four Gospels (I’m Jewish and read them for some insight into Christianity), (2) a long biography of James Madison that took me many months, and (3) about half of Nick Hornby’s memoir about his years as a fanatic follower of the Arsenal soccer team, Fever Pitch.   I hope I get back on track next year.   

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So, read any good books lately?    Looks like I’m going to need some alternative forms of entertainment now that all the sports are canceled for the foreseeable future.  

I have a stack of books I’ve been meaning to get to, but think I may jump to The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson’s new book about Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister.    I love Larson’s work and I’ve heard from a friend that this book is great.   
 

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13 minutes ago, Frobby said:

So, read any good books lately?    Looks like I’m going to need some alternative forms of entertainment now that all the sports are canceled for the foreseeable future.  

I have a stack of books I’ve been meaning to get to, but think I may jump to The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson’s new book about Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister.    I love Larson’s work and I’ve heard from a friend that this book is great.   
 

If you want sheer bulk I got a fantasy web serial for you.  The author dropped 100K words last week

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Took a break from more serious reading and spent a couple weeks reading Gone Girl..   I’ve never seen the movie version, so it was all new to me.    The structure of it was very clever, with alternating chapters told from the perspective of the two main characters, and a whopper of a surprise coming in the middle of the book rather than at the end.     Overall it was a fun read, though I didn’t like the ending at all.     Now I’m interested in seeing the movie version to see how it presents the story.     

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I just finished a book of short stories called Homesick for Another World, by an author named Otessa Moshfegh.    I’d heard this book talked up by David Sedaris when I heard him do a reading a couple of years ago.     The author is extremely gifted at describing things and getting you into the characters’ heads.    All the main characters of the stories are a bit disaffected, almost like they’re a little bit on the spectrum and are a little detached from people.     It’s an interesting read and just slightly disturbing.     

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