Readers Journal has been updated! Check out a wonderful array of opinion and commentary, including two new essays, NASA and the Warmest Year (Michael Goodfellow) and Another First For England (Protagoras) and another poem by Protagoras Wherever you are . "The Warmest Year" is a must-read on global warming data.
Readers' Picks: Books and Movies Extravaganza
NOTE: please go to www.oftwominds.com/blog.html to activate all book and film links.
Knowledgeable readers added to our trove of book and film recommendations. John U. submitted a selection of classic World War II books and films, Don E. sent in a list of some of his favorite films and Johnn K. added a recent biography of Samuel Adams.
As I have mentioned before, I link the books and films to amazon.com mostly for the reviews posted there by other readers/viewers, which are almost always interesting and helpful. If you purchase any book or film on amazon.com from this site, I receive a small commission-- you pay no more than if you went to amazon.com from a blank browser window. If you borrow or rent a book or film, the reviews posted on amazon will probably assist your selections.
The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer is an impressive read. After reading it, it makes our military's sacrifices on the ground seem like not much, compared to the hell of the eastern front, and what the Russians endured. Guy was an Alsatian that signed up for the Wehrmacht and spent 3 years, and somehow survived.
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz is an account of a 4,000 mile walk from the gulags of Siberia to India, by a Polish army officer.
Soldier of Orange is one the most impressive WW2 films I know. Set in Holland, it seems 100% real, compared to most WW2 films that leave a lot to be desired.
Mud Beneath My Boots: A Poignant Memoir of the Effects of War on a Young New Zealander by Allan Marriott is a newer WW 1 book, about a New Zealander that spent nearly the entire war in the trenches, poignant and seldom have the horrors of WW1 been so well documented by one man. p.s.: We now have been in Iraq, longer than World War 1 lasted... yikes.
Just saw a very good war film i'd never heard of: USSR film, Come and See . it is an essentially plotless film that follows a youth off to join the resistance in Byeloruss. one thing that struck me in its rather surreal moments was that Coppola obviously had seen this before making Apocalypse Now - a favorite of mine.
A good antidote is another USSR film we just saw: Railway Station for Two.
best WWII film made on the U.S. side is A Walk in the Sun. this movie captivated me as a kid and I must have seen it 15 or 20 times in great prepubescent fervor.
More mainstream than the others on the list, but really moves me. Not that it really has squat to do with the quality of the film, but this is the most perfect theme-song movie; theme songs usually get in the way, or are just inappropriate. This movie would not exist in my mind in such clarity if i didn't hear that voice in the background when i thought of it. A Walk in the Sun-IMDB
(NOTE: IMDB is the Internet Movie Database website--CHS)
Sure, Chinatown, The Searchers, Blade Runner, and Out of the Past are great films that deserve to live forever, and I will and do watch them over and over. But what about equally great films that don't make the lists? Now that is interesting; the men are about to be separated from the goats. (most women will say you can't do it...) I won't give my pets numerical ratings as my choice of what's best shifts with time of day, what I have eaten, impending flatulence and how long it has been since I cringed back in horror from seeing My President on the glassy screen.
Coup de Torchon - Criterion Collection Absolutely one of the best films ever! I watch this repeatedly and am stunned. Noiret and Huppert have never been better. Finally, Jim Thompson comes to the screen in riveting style. Coup de Torchon-IMDB
Valdez is Coming Burt Lancaster carries this film with absolute dignity. I understand he was contracted to make several westerns and did so unwillingly, but he was perfect here. Its is the best thing done from an Elmore Leonard story. Sometimes a movie like this lets the supporting cast really stand out. Valdez Is Coming-IMDB
The Hairdresser's Husband Another French film. haven't seen it in a long time, but it sticks in my mind. as to my choices, they are not usually blessed with happy endings, and then tend to be a bit dark and bent. is that you cup of tea? The Hairdresser's Husband-IMDB
The Wind and the Lion Ok, this one is getting even closer to mainstream, but it is one I just keep watching. Maybe it falls under the heading of 'a guilty pleasure' - I don't give a damn. A very fine movie. When Sean Connery says "we will all eat lamb in paradise" with that glint, I get a tiny shiver that must be the first step a what a young man feels when moving toward jihad. The Wind and the Lion-IMDB
Robin and Marian Sticking with major stars here, but in a film that nobody seemed to notice. A great cast all at the top of their form. It is the quintessential autumnal film. Robin and Marian-IMDB Two other autumnal - i like that word - films i will toss in here: The Wild Bunch and the Lee Marvin version of Monte Walsh. Winding-down and taking stock movies grab me.
On the noir/crime side i will toss out three titles:
Charley Varrick Charley Varrick-IMDB
Ride the Pink Horse-IMDB Another noir novelist done right: Dorothy Hughes - how many women wrote good noir in the '40s?
Hammett Possibly another guilty pleasure. Hammett-IMDB
Also in the noir camp is the original Italian version - unauthorized - of The Postman Always Rings twice: Ossessione Compare this one to the 2 American made films. Ossessione-IMDB
Just finished a great book, Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution by Mark Puls. Without him the revolution probably wouldn't have happened. Through his zeal, his will and his articulate writing, people woke up to tyranny.
Sadly, there's no Sam Adams today and even if there were, the general population is too hypnotized by being 'entertained'.
I am one of the rare people, getting rarer each day, that reads an occassional book. You're one of those people as well. But I fear the book business has gone the way of buggy whips.
Thank you, John, Don and Johnn, for the excellent recommendations.
As described above (and elsewhere on the site), I earn a small commission on any book, DVD or other item purchased from amazon.com via this site. Although the identity of the buyer is of course unknown to me, amazon.com does have to track the titles purchased by readers of this site. Judging by the list of books purchased here over the past few months, my readers are a lot smarter than I am (no surprise there).
Since some of you might find the books purchased by other readers to be of interest--I certainly did, having never heard of Biker Billy's Cookbooks, or these titles on war and finance/trading--I reprint it here for your enjoyment. I have not listed titles purchased by readers which I have recommended elsewhere, such as my "Essential Books" list in the lower right sidebar or the Recommended Books/Films .
Arms and Influence by Thomas C. Schelling
Biker Billy Cooks with Fire: Robust Recipes from America's Most Outrageous Television Chef by Bill Hufnagel
Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis--And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster by Ross Gelbspan
Contemporary Nuclear Debates: Missile Defenses, Arms Control, and Arms Races in the Twenty-First Century by Alexander T. J. Lennon
Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse by Peter D. Schiff
Defense Strategy for the Post-Saddam Era by Michael E. O'Hanlon
Desert Solitaire: A Season In the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation by Barry C. Lynn
Finding The Target: The Transformation of American Military Policy by Frederick Kagan
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them by John McCain
How to Profit from the Coming Real Estate Bust: Money-Making Strategies for the End of the Housing Bubble by John Rubino
Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words by Joe Vitale
Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny by Amartya Sen
Legacy of Leadership: Lessons from Admiral Lord Nelson by Joseph F. Callo
Life of Johnson by James Boswell
Man, the State, and War by Kenneth N. Waltz
Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics by William Bonner
Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson
On the Origins of War: And the Preservation of Peace by Donald Kagan
Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want by Mark Joyner
The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Impending Jobs Crisis by Edward E. Gordon
The Age of Lincoln by Vernon Orville Burton
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin
The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction by Keith B. Payne
The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina by Frank Rich
Way of the Turtle: The Secret Methods that Turned Ordinary People into Legendary Traders by Curtis Faith
Your Life As Art by Robert Fritz
The End Is Not Nigh by Charles Gave
MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service by Stephen Dorril
A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War by Melvyn Leffler
And please scan Reader's Choice: World War II books, World War II Books, Torture, Insight: or, In a New Light and Hooray for the Small Press--and the Web if you missed any of the week's other recommendations.
Thank you, Tom S., ($50.00) for your very generous donation to this humble site and also for encouragement. I am greatly honored by your contribution and readership. All contributors are listed below in acknowledgement of my gratitude.