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Reading list

Started: 2011-02-24 20:03:23

Submitted: 2011-02-24 21:26:32

Visibility: World-readable

Since the new year, I've been on a bit of a non-fiction reading binge. It started with All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, which was a fascinating view into the genesis of the Great Recession. The authors blame everyone, which makes sense: complicated problems have complicated causes.

I stuck with the economics theme for Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays, which I picked up from Powells in a pre-Christmas reaction to get things that I don't really want. I didn't think I could pull off giving it for Christmas and suggesting we find alternate ways to give gifts.

I turned back to Asia with an interlude in Tibet, working my way from India to China, with Lost in Tibet: The Untold Story of Five American Airmen, a Doomed Plane, and the Will to Survive, which I picked up in the basement of the Boulder Bookstore last spring. The narrative of a plane flying over the Hump that went off-course and whose crew had to bail out over Tibet was interesting, but it was lacking much of the context of the Second World War. (A couple of maps would have been great; I had to find my nearest Internet terminal to figure out where everything was in relation to my frames of reference in China and India.)

I stayed in Tibet, during and immediately after the Second World War, with Seven Years in Tibet, which filled in some of the details I missed in my previous book (and many of the details in the movie Kundun), and gave an intimate snapshot of life in Lhasa prior to the Chinese invasion.

Willy suggested a dense scholarly work on the bilateral relationship between the United States and the two new nations to come out of British India, The Cold War on the Periphery. It was, as promised, dense and detailed, but also interesting.

A random web search one evening led me to see that the opera Nixon in China was in production at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and that it was in fact being broadcast to movie theaters world-wide, including the theater in Boulder. I talked Kiesa into joining me for the encore showing next week, and started looking for background information on China. I picked up the audiobook of Nixon and Mao: One week that changed the world, and listened to it non-stop in five days. The book was clearly intended as a work of popular history, and jumped around in the main narrative giving background on the biography of the people involved and the history relevant to the particular story. As my first serious foray into Chinese history it was fascinating.

I still have 44 books in my to-be-read list; I seem to be accumulating books faster than I can read them, mostly because every time I visit the library or bookstore or read the bibliography of any book I read I find more that sound fascinating. I'm trying to restrict myself to south and east Asia (with occasional modern economics thrown in for amusement value), being my primary area of interest. I think there's a trip to China somewhere in my future, though probably a few years off.