Two Thought-Provoking Books in August

August was a month for me to finish several books I had checked out earlier but not had time to finish reading before their library due dates. I finished reading two of them. Not a huge number in the scheme of things, but I really enjoyed both of them and was glad to check off a couple of books that have been on my Want to Read list for a long time.

Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

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Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

I sort of put myself in a jam by telling my blog readers in May that I was reading Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright. Then, I mentioned again in July that I was reading it. Alas, I didn’t finish reading it in July. It’s not a fast read because it delves into such a serious and timely subject. In July, I described the book as being “chilling.” That’s still the best word I can think of to sum up how the book made me feel.

I wish Madeleine Albright had written my history textbooks. Her command of history coupled with a very readable writing style combine to make this an unsettling read.

If your political leanings are to the far right, you probably won’t want to read this book. I hope that won’t deter you, though. Read it with an open mind and your eyes might be opened to see some indicators in today’s America that will give you pause.

Ms. Albright seamlessly gives the history of Fascists and would-be Fascists throughout the world in the 20th century and up to the present day. The facts just flow through her words. That said, though, it was a slow read for me. The book is packed with history. Many of the details she includes were unknown to me. I read and reread chapters. She addresses the economic and political factors that create an incubator for Fascist movements.

I’ll share four quotes from the book here.

“Consider that, of the people celebrating their sixteenth birthday this year, almost nine in ten will do so in a country with a below-average standard of living.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

“In a true democracy, leaders respect the will of the majority but also the rights of the minority – one without the other is not enough.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

 “Good guys don’t always win, especially when they are divided and less determined than their adversaries. The desire for liberty may be ingrained in every human breast, but so is the potential for complacency, confusion, and cowardice.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

“This generosity of spirit – this caring about others and about the proposition that we are all created equal – is the single most effective antidote to the self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive.” ~ from Fascism:  A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

AGentlemanInMoscow
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

I started reading A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles last October! It’s a wonderful book, so I’m at a loss to explain why I didn’t finish reading it until last month. I think I indicated in an earlier blog that I just couldn’t “get into it.” That comment brought at least one reply of surprise. It boiled down to, “How can anyone not like this book?”

I agree with that sentiment now. It is a wonderful novel, charmingly-, humorously-, and delightfully-written while giving the flavor of Russia in the years after the Bolshevik Revolution. It is about a Russian Count who is put under house arrest at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow and how he makes the best of his situation. He befriends a young girl who shows him all the nooks and crannies in the hotel. He eventually got a job in the hotel’s restaurant after it came to light that he knew wines and could be of use in the restaurant.

The book follows Count Rostov’s life into the 1950s. When he first moved into the attic of the grand Metropol Hotel right after the Bolshevik Revolution, he determined to make the best of his situation. He could not imagine the life he would have or the people who would come into his life there over the next decades.

My description doesn’t begin to do justice to A Gentleman in Moscow, so I recommend that you read it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Since my last blog post

I’ve received many comments on last Monday’s blog post. Thank you for the conversation! Sadly, I did not get back to work on my historical novel. Too many interests are pulling me in too many directions!

Until my next blog post

I need to increase my time on social media, since I’ve essentially ignored my social media plan for Twitter and Pinterest for several weeks. I also plan to make time to work on genealogy.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m almost through reading The Death of Mrs. Westover, by Ruth Ware, and I’m reading The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments

I invite your comments below. Have you read Fascism: A Warning or A Gentleman in Moscow? Share your thoughts. Have you read any good books lately?

Let’s continue the conversation.

Janet

14 thoughts on “Two Thought-Provoking Books in August

  1. You chose excellent quotes from the Albright book, Janet. Here is the one I will share to my fb Page, linking back to your site. Thanks for reviewing this excellent book.

    “Good guys don’t always win, especially when they are divided and less determined than their adversaries. The desire for liberty may be ingrained in every human breast, but so is the potential for complacency, confusion, and cowardice.” ~ from Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine Albright

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  2. Actually, I’m glad I read your reviews – I’ve always been confused by left and right politics, and it provided the impetus to look the terms up. Apparently I lean toward the left. Who’d have thunk it? 🙂

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  3. How I enjoyed your post! First of all, my mother was a huge Frank Yerby fan. I grew up surrounded by his books. I probably read one or two all those years ago. So seeing that you write southern historical fiction took me way back. Second, your comments about Fascism: a Warning inspired a commitment to starting it this week. It’s been on my reading list for ages. I just finished Malcolm Nance’s The Plot to Destroy Democracy, a thoroughly terrifying read. So I’m ready for something else that’s going to keep me away at night😳

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  4. Thank you so much for reading my blog and taking a few minutes to leave a comment! I’m glad my comments about Madeleine Albright’s Fascism book prompted you to stop putting off reading it. I haven’t read Malcolm Nance’s book. I’ll add it to my to-be-read list, but I think I need a break after reading Ms. Albright’s. We may never be able to sleep or rest easy again! One of these days, I hope to publish a southern historical novel I’ve been working on more years than I want to admit. I would be honored for you to read it… if and when I actually finish it. Thank you again for your comments.

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  5. I lean toward the left, too, in case you couldn’t tell. LOL! The way things are going in the US these days, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my opinions to myself! I majored in political science in college, so my head has been spinning since the 2016 election.

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  6. You should see how the US is viewed from outside the US. I think it has issues that won’t be worked out under its current administration, and when/if they are, its going to take a selfless leader immune to the lures of wealth and power.

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  7. I cringe to think how the US is viewed from the outside. I hope the rest of the world knows that, although our president was elected under our present Electoral College setup, he did not win the popular vote and most Americans do not support his agenda. I fear irreparable damage has and is being done. I never thought I’d live to see my country being led by such an evil person. I am optimistic that the pendulum will eventually swing back toward the center, but it will take longer to undo the current damage than it took for recent (1960s-2016) strides in civil rights, human rights, education, and environmental compassion to be made. The second sentence in your comment is very well put!

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  8. Ji Janet, Thank you for the post, particularly the Albright quotes, They contain nothing we Americans don’t already know–no “Ah-Ha’ experience–but say so nicely what we should be reminded of. Here my work creeps forward in a disorganized way, but in the next week I should have things straightened out.

    Best, David.

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  9. I’m glad you enjoyed my Albright quotes. I think some Americans have forgotten those truths that we all used to believe and live by. Since you weren’t caught by surprise, I conclude that you didn’t need to be reminded of them. It might be that the people who read my blog don’t fall into that camp and I was, therefore, preaching to the choir. I hope Ms. Albright’s book will be a wake-up call to the masses. Thanks for taking time away from your current project to read and comment on my blog!

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