Beach reads for summer!
Here’s a story. Peter Maguire, whom you fell in love with two weeks ago on Dirty Water, lived, for a time, at Mokuleia, on Oahu’s North Shore.
Real quiet, real pretty lil place you go when you want to steal away from the seven-mile miracle’s crowds. Head west from Pipe towards Kaʻena Point etc.
And Pete, with his loaded nine mm pistol on a desk, and his ominous… serenity… spooked all the heavies so much they kept a real wide berth.
Figured he was a spook, CIA, maybe.
When he’s not teaching Chas Smith to grapple, punch, choke, he’s a surfer, war crimes investigator and, among plenty of other things, the author of the seminal Law and War: American History and International Law.
To wit, what books you might wanna read, and those you should a mile away from.
What are you currently reading?
I never read just one book at a time. I am currently reading Worth Defending, Richard Bressler and Scott Burrs’ new book on Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Fashionable Nonsense, Alan Sokol and Jean Bricmonts’ book on postmodern claptrap, Peter Dimmock’s remarkable novels on American imperialism Daybook From the Sheep’s Meadow and George Anderson: Notes For a Love Song in an Imperial Time, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to remember what great writing sounds like.
What are the best and worst books you have ever read?
I loved George Orwell’s Animal Farm for its spartan and bitingly precise characterization of Stalinism. Edmund Morgan’s brilliant history American Slavery, American Freedom articulated America’s central historical contradiction for me in a way that no other book has. Morgan forgot more than all of the authors of the tendentious The New York Times 1619 Project will ever know. Voltaire’s Candide is also a favorite because it shows that good intentions do not necessarily yield good results. C. Wright Mills The Power Elite is also a favorite because Mills was so prophetic when it came to America’s fame at any cost culture. Hey Rube, one of Hunter S. Thompson’s last books, was also remarkable because nobody more accurately predicted where America’s “downward spiral of dumbness” would take us after 9/11.
Worst book? There are so many to choose from.
Neocon cheerleader Max Boot’s Savage Wars For Peace was dreadful as was David Frum and Richard Perle’s An End to Evil. Both provided the pseudo intellectual underpinnings for America’s ill fated Global War on Terror. A Problem From Hell by journalist-turned-politician Samantha Power was not only grossly over-rated, but also totally unoriginal. Like Boot and Frum, Power provided the neoliberals and “the humanitarian hawks” with their intellectual rationalizations when the Obama administration’s turn came to play world cop.
Book most cherished as a child?
I grew up on boats and in the sea so The Dove by Robin Lee Graham was extremely inspiring to me as a child. At 16, Graham left my home port of Marina Del Ray, California, and sailed his 24-foot sloop, The Dove, around the world. He was the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe and did it without Loran or GPS. He made me want to do similar things.
Favorite childhood author?
Margret and H.A. Rey’s Curious George series and the many authors of The World Book Encyclopedia. I probably spent more hours reading the encyclopedia (A-Z) than any other book as a kid.
First book to really own you?
Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. I was always fascinated by stories about survival and self sufficiency.
Favorite male and female authors?
George Orwell and Joan Didion.
A preference for fact or fiction?
Fact, I don’t read much fiction.
Biography, autobiography, or memoir that impressed you?
I loved Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye because it was set in Los Angeles where I grew up and explained so much about Bukowski’s deep loneliness and sadness. Gore Vidal’s Palimpest was an eye opener for me because I knew little about America’s 20th century ruling elite. Vidal was an American aristocrat and his memoir provides a very uncensored expose of so many prominent people. I have never looked at the Kennedys the same way after reading it.
Any author or book that you point blank refuse to read?
Anything written by the neoconservatives who cheer led America’s disastrous Global War on Terror – William Kristol, David Frum, Max Boot, the ubiquitous Kagans, Thomas Friedman, and many others. I also try to avoid anything written by neocons turned “Never Trumpers.” If they think their hatred of Trump somehow absolves them of their rank intellectual dishonesty and colossal errors of judgment, they should visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
A book to share with someone so that they would more fully understand you?
My book Facing Death in Cambodia and my introduction to my book Thai Stick.
The last book you gave as a present?
I gave Harry Crews novel A Feast of Snakes to a Yankee friend. He was talking nonsense about the South and Southern writers, but had never been south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I prefer southern and western fiction to the many well publicized New York centric tales of angst and neurosis.
Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?
My book Thai Stick.
A must-read you intend on getting to before you die?
Volumes 1-7 of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Hans Delbruck’s The Barbarian Invasions, Medieval Warfare, and The Dawn of Modern Warfare. I have nibbled at all of them, but have yet to read them systematically.