Dude Where's my Country? - Michael Moore
Michael Moore's books are always entertaining, he's got a good sense of humour and has a great way of sharing his exhuberance in a way that gets you excited with him. That having been said, I think Michael is the CNN of the political left. Sound bites, accusations, preposterous conclusions, and completely baseless accusations filled with venom. And I applaud him for it. It's worked for the right for decades and sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Sure he's no Noam Chomsky, but he's a bright guy with a valid opinion that should be heard. He needs to be heard even if nothing but to counteract the crap you hear on CNN. This book was by far his most potent and targeted. No hidden agenda here, Michael wants nothing more than to get Bush out of the White House at any cost. He does a good job of showing the duplicity of the Bush administration, his complicity with big business, and some very shady dealings. Unfortunately he often will take a single isolated incident and, with a great deal of fanfare, end it with a preposterous conclusion. ("And that is how we know George W. Bush is the devil incarnate!") But he's just giving the right more of their own medicine, and the book itself is an entertaining and thought-provoking read.
Death of a Revolutionary - Richard Harris
What to say here? A story about Che Guevara's last campaign and death in the jungles of Bolivia. He paints the picture of a rabid revolutionary and brilliant guerilla warrior, who rode one victory straight to his grave. The writing could only be described as "unobtrustive" -- it didn't interfere with the story, nor did it have me on the edge of my seat, anxiously awaiting the next page. Che lived in a time when lofty, sentimental ideals were at war with level-headed, practical history. I have a hard time seeing the fall of Che's idealized system of communist revolution as a great tragedy. Marxism was one of the greatest political ideals of all time, but like all ideals it is impossible to realize in its true form. Systemic flaws doomed it from the start. Che lived and died in pursuit of an ideal that never came to fruition.
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
In my mind Neal Stephenson has completely stepped out of the shadow of William Gibson. He lacks Gibson's relentless efficiency in verse, his brilliant power of description through understatement, and his stylistic vision. But hot damn can the man tell a story. Neal's stories carry much more emotional weight, his characters are dignified and fully-realized, even the flawed ones. He pulls history and romance and violence and hope together in a way that Gibson's unyielding technical proficiency cannot. The Diamond Age follows the life of Princess Nell -- a young girl living in an abusive home who through events I won't describe here, comes into possession of The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. An interactive book, or "ractive". The book is a metaphor for life, experience and opportunity, and only Princess Nell is able to translate the lessons learned from the book into the strength to defeat The Fists as popular revolt sweeps through Shanghai, and have herself crowned as Queen Nell. But really this is all incidental. This book is about characters, and Neal Stephenson knows how to create characters that you relate to, empathize with, and long to hear more of. While Neal's books are always filled with historical and moral lessons, he's adept at keeping these in the background, available for you to enjoy if you so please. But they always play second fiddle to engaging characters and a good story, which is as it should be.