"What's the worst book you can imagine getting caught with?"
A Harlequin Romance.
Only neo-Nazis and painfully self-conscious pseudo-intellectuals actually want to be caught reading a copy of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic diatribe Mein Kampf - which might explain why the book is riding high on ebook charts. Screen shot of Mein Kampf on Amazon.com's bestseller list In a trend first noticed by Chris Faraone …
"Only neo-Nazis and painfully self-conscious pseudo-intellectuals actually want to be caught reading a copy of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic diatribe Mein Kampf "
Nah - Lots of people intensely dislike Zionists and the terrorist, apartheid state that they prop up in the Middle East. Anything that irritates them has to be fairly high on the Christmas reading list...
I also recommend Jewish author Noam Chomsky for anyone interested in the subject...
There is admittedly plenty to dislike in the current Israeli approach to the Palestinian issue.
I happen to believe that Israel should negotiate in good faith to reach a settlement. Preferably a two state solution based on 1967 borders and the corresponding UN resolution, with land swaps. Even the PLO has more or less accepted Israel's right to existence (probably because they don't have much choice).
Israel should settle while they are in a position of regional military superiority and while the US is still dominant ahead of China. On the PR side of things, Israel has seen a massive slide in global sentiment since the 70s, which is all the more reason to settle now.
Since Israel's coalition democracy makes it so difficult for their government to take hard decisions, I would see no problem whatsoever in forcing their hand externally, be it by sanctions or the withholding of aid. This is in everyone's best interest, Israel's foremost.
But any sympathy whatsoever towards Hitler, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism makes it way easier for Jewish refuseniks to point to past atrocities to justify their current oppression of the Palestinians and fantasies of Biblical Greater Israel. "Never Again" is a powerful statement, both internally and to demand Western support, given the horrible massacres of 1933-1945.
In short, my dear, you are an ass.
I also recommend Jewish author Noam Chomsky for anyone interested in the subject...
It's not hard to determine what side of the political divide I'm on when I say I've very considerable time for Noam Chomsky.
However, owning a number of texts written by him including Manufacturing Consent and Necessary Illusions, I have to say that Chomsky's writing can almost be unfathomable--one needs considerable perseverance and determination to get the most out of them.
Thus, I'd only recommend raw unadulterated Chomsky to diehards such as me.
Mein Kampf is an insight into who the man was, whether he was a devil or an angel is irrelevant, it is, and should remain an important part of history. ( Those who ignore the past are more likely to repeat it)
The question that should arise is "WHY" an increasing amount of people become interested.
Also, I think it would be a worse thing if there was no longer any interest in this kind of literature.
"Mein Kempff is an insight into who the man was, whether he was a devil or an angel is irrelevant, it is, and should remain an important part of history. ( Those who ignore the past are more likely to repeat it). The question that should arise is "WHY" have people become interested."
I think that that's an insightful opinion and I actually share it - though truth to tell I have not read my copy of that, or of Tischgespräche (which is a more problematic book).
However, I find it difficult to think that mot of the people reading Mein Kampf are amateur historians. I would not be surprised if they compose the same market for "Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion" and I wouldn't be surprised if they also studied Henry Ford's "The International Jew". (The Protocols is a big seller in the Arab world, and although the Ford book is also published there, I do not how popular it is in comparison.)
Hitler, AFAIK, laid out his worldview and plans in Mein Kampf.
I'd read MK to see how Hitler managed to finagle the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact given that Slavs were barely above Jews in his esteem. And how he fooled Chamberlain & co as well.
Somebody else mentioned that MK, as a "vanity press" book, was easy to dismiss. That was certainly true before Hitler gained power, but hardly afterwards. Was MK that clear about his intentions?
Hitler absolutely did not expound on his worldview or 'plans' in Mein Kampf. From the time of its publication until the early 1980's the work was regarded academically as the ravings of a loon.
Similar to 'predictions' by Nostradamus, Mein Kampf collides with and ricochets around so many different things that you can shoehorn in any of the events related to Hitler and they seem to fit. It's rather telling that the further away from WWII you get, the more the image of Hitler changes. The people who actually fought against Hitlers empire regarded him as a massive cock with few, if any, ethics and an anger management problem. Later analysis sees Hitler regarded more and more as a real world supervillain.
People tend to ignore the shift in how Hitler is portrayed mostly because making any statement that seems to defend Hitler because people flip put if you do that. Were the subject not Hitler you'd have academics all over the world making a fuss because facts are being fit into places where they don't belong.
You can't apply knowledge we have today retroactively to, well, anything really. It's one of those things, like averaging averages, that seems like a good idea, but the answers are always fucked up.
Hitler has a nephew who could, really, clear his throat and say "I want my money". The state of Bavaria would have to hand over all past, present and future royalties to him. But I don't think he's all too bothered about receiving the money from his "famous" uncle.
I bought the paperback a few years ago, having only heard about the book during GCSE History lessons (we never read it for some reason - something which I think would have made the learning of Hitler more sensicle). It's on the book shelf as I haven't got round to reading it. But for the bit I have read, it consists of the English translation of his book along with historian notes as to either what he's going on about or why he's saying that.
I've read the BBC article and it's consistent with the copyright 70 year rule, that being for the State of Bavaria to hold the copyright on the German version until April 2015 but this does not apply the English versions (and presumably other translations).
The US government took over the copyright in 1941 and thus the copyright would be subject to US law since then (how copyright currently manifests as a consequence of the government's 1979 sale of rights to Houghton Mifflin I'm not sure).
The New York (English) edition of 1939 published by Reynal & Hitchcock is supposedly now out of copyright (or it's being treated as such by publishers).
[One issue that's often overlooked with respect to translations is that the copyright of the translation is held by the translator and thus even if the original text is out of copyright, the translation will not be. It's this sort of problem and the added 'notes/commentary' nonsense that allows publishers such as Oxford to get away with copyrighting the King James Bible of 1611. 401 years old--not counting the original Greek, Aramaic, Arabic sources of over a millennium of so earlier--and the Bible is still in copyright. That's pretty damn rich, methinks.]
Kindles and other ebook readers are becoming more common, to the point that they're not really noticed on public transport as something unusual anymore. Coupled with a slow realisation of the anonymous nature of ebooks which would take the general public a bit longer to catch on to and I don't think it's surprising that books people could find "objectionable" would start to become more popular. What I'm curious about is what the next one will be, and also how the popularity breaks down by region. Could be quite interesting
In English, Mein Kampf is a boring book. Actually, it's a typical example of a kind of German literature, and demonstrates why we read very little German literature: in translation it is very boring.
Just as the Russian Greats are recognisably Russian, even in translation, German literature is recognisably German in translation, even bad German literature. It's booooooring. boring. Booooring.
"It's booooooring. boring. Booooring."
Assuming that is meant to apply to German literature as a whole, please consider the alternative possibility that you may be narrow-minded and provincial.
As for "Mein Kampf" itself, anyone with a trace of historical education will understand that it must be read in the context of its time and culture; and also against the background of a nation laid waste and set at odds by a frightful war which ended with mass starvation of civilians. Perhaps the closest equivalents from English literature would be polemical tracts written during the English Civil War - which I think you would find every bit as booooooring. (The Puritans used to consider a six-hour church service the high point of their week).
"Mein Kampf" is, and of course was right from the moment of its publication, an amazingly revealing insight into its author's confused state of mind and the popular ideas he had absorbed and come to cling to. I shall never understand why the leaders of France, Britain, the USA, the USSR - and, come to that, Germany - didn't pay more heed to the detailed blueprints Hitler gave them for his future plans and actions.
However, if you can manage to read it through - which is not an easy task, although it's not all that long - you will come across some kernels of common sense. Take this, for example:
"Why does one elect five hundred if only a few of them have sufficient wisdom to define their attitudes towards the most important matters? <snip>
"It is not the object of our present-day democratic parliamentarianism to form an assembly of wise men, but rather to gather a crowd of mentally dependent ciphers which may be more easily led in certain directions, the more limited the intelligence of the individual. Only thus can parties make politics in the worse sense of the word today. Only thus is it also possible that the actual wirepuller is able to remain cautiously in the background without ever being personally called to account. Because no decision, no matter how detrimental it is to the nation, can now be charged to the account of a rascal who is in the public eye, but it is dumped on the shoulders of an entire faction".
"With this, however, all responsibility is practically removed, because it can only be the duty of an individual and never that of a parliamentary assembly of babblers".
A pretty astute critique of our own Parliament today, I would say. And bear in mind that Hitler openly confesses that he started out with a hearty admiration for the British Parliament and the British tradition of democracy. That admiration was gradually eroded after he began watching the Austrian parliament in action, day after day, and noticed how singularly ineffectual it was. And it probably didn't help much when he was gassed by the British and nearly died.
Nobody paid any attention to the details in Mein Kampf because, 99.99999% of the time, Vanity Manifestos are not only completely devoid of anything resembling sanity, their authors are at the limits of their capabilities just stringing together enough sentences to fill up a book.
Obviously, Hitler was 'that guy' who completely skewed the statistics, but that only creates more questions. Mein Kampf contains no more sanity or truly coherent logic than the ravings of any other loon, so how was it that he was able to pull a message and plan out of all that?
As a rule, people who write Vanity Manifestos can't actually can't actually identify what they're angry about, just that they are angry. Hitler was no different. At the time he wrote the book, he wasn't capable of identifying who, or what, he was angry at. He certainly wasn't capable of doing anything about it. If you actually chart the issues he addresses in the book, none of them really go anywhere and some fold back on themselves and turn completely around.
All in all, I don't think we can blame anyone for not seeing Hitler coming. Even today, a book like Mein Kampf would be relegated to the same forgotten corner of bookstores where 'Mantraps 1 & 2: Home Defense'. Nobody would take it seriously, and it would be insanely unlikely that dismissing it would lead to any harm.
Hitler, and everything about him, was an anomaly. So many things had to come together 'perfectly' for him to happen. Any one of billions of things could have happened to him that wouldn't have set the wheels of insane hatred to turning. Overall, Hitler is an interesting study, if only for his oddity, but he just happened to be the one who filled a void at the time. The circumstances that would allow for a Hitler are, I think, far more interesting than a little angry man.
question that should arise is "WHY" an increasing amount of people become interested.
On my NAS disk I have ebook versions of Mein Kampf including the 1939 translation by James Murphy published by Hurst and Blackett and the 1941 New York edition published by Reynal & Hitchcock [both commonly available on the Web] along with hundreds of other diverse political and philosophical texts including that well known work of the opposite persuasion Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie.
Well, why would I bother reading Mein Kampf. It's pretty simple really: one has to if one is to make any serious attempt to understand one of the most cataclysmic and tragic events in human history—the Second World War and the death of over 60 million people!
Tragically, Adolph Hitler has turned out one of the most influential people in history; like it or not, along with Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Stalin, Mohammed, Jesus Christ and Buddha, his name won't be erased from history anytime soon, if ever. Nor will his influence disappear for the foreseeable future either; for better or worse, he has changed the whole political reality of the world today. Let's look at some of these influences:
I'll start with Hitler's influence on my own generation, the baby boomers. The horrible and unpalatable fact is that if it were not for Hitler/WWII that many of us boomers wouldn't have been born at all. Alternatively, as in my case, if it had not been for WWII then I'd perhaps be 4-5 years older (as my parents were married in the early 1940s and deliberately did not have kids until well after the War when my father was demobbed and the world had supposedly settled back to normality).
Hitler probably caused more mass migration than anyone else in history. The world has hugely changed because of mass migration and the movement of refugees across the planet which in a sense were 'legitimised' on a grand scale in the wake of WWII.
Hitler was essentially responsible for the formation United Nations. Roosevelt et al (26 countries) coined the term in 1942 when pledging to fight the Axis Powers (ringleader of which was Hitler).
The UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the direct consequence of the Second World War. It was the first time in history that there was a global expression of the inherent rights of all individuals. In the intervening time, the UDHR has had a huge effect on world politics.
Hitler and WWII have hugely altered political reality worldwide. Compared to previous history, globalisation and the concomitant 'erosion of sovereignty' of individual nations have made galloping progress as a direct consequence of WWII. Simply, recent history has seen huge political changes arising from the outcomes of WWII, from commonality of laws across the world, treaties etc., through to equal rights for women and rights for minorities. Even things I find detestable, such as political correctness, postmodernism and political doublespeak are direct overreactions to Nazism, totalitarianism and the horrors of WWII, albeit understandable ones.
With all its horrible connotations and past baggage, I wouldn't want to be seen reading Mein Kampf on public transport—not through embarrassment but rather because I'd not have the opportunity to properly explain why I was so doing. Thus, reading the work in private makes sense, but not reading it through the probability of being 'tainted' or because of political correctness or some sense of collective guilt etc. does not. Moreover, the vast majority of modern-day readers have a much more sophisticated and nuanced worldview than those back in 1924 when Mein Kampf was written not to see through the hatred and what today seems like mad irrational logic.
[IMHO, the paramount concerns for today's curious readers ought to be to ask why Mein Kampf was written at all as well as why both Hitler and his 'cellmate' Stalin—humanity's archenemies of all time—were actually able to come to power at all let alone both around the same time. What seems mad and irrational to us today was considerably less so in 1924 in the aftermath of WWI—the war to end all wars but a war in which nothing was essentially resolved. Thus, with a very bitter hard-done-by Germany and the prevailing zeitgeist (WWI irresolution) it is not surprising that Hitler came to power.
Hitler was directly responsible for triggering WWII and thus attributable for its terrible devastation but the reasons that provoked him into action were monumental: failure of Versailles to resolve anything around WWI except to leave Germany holding the can when in fact it was only partly responsible. Others being the underlying causes of WWI including the bad behaviour of empires: British, Hapsburg, Romanoff and Prussian as well as the irresponsible behaviour of their inbred heads of state, especially Kaiser Wilhelm II (Gavrilo Princip assassinating Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand was only a sideshow). Probably the best background primer for readers of Mein Kampf is the British historian A.J.P. Taylor's 1961 controversial and very readable masterpiece, 'The Origins of the Second World War'.]
Mein Kampf is a fascinating look into a fairly modern paranoid mind.
The Torah, the Bible and The Quran are all fascinating looks into ancient minds ... some more paranoid than others.
Me, I'm not paranoid ... I'll read anything, anywhere, if I find it interesting.
Popular modern culture? Not interesting. ::shrugs::
My grandparents received a hardcopy as a wedding gift, as was traditional at the time. Many years ago I started reading it because I was curious what the fuss is about, but didn't get very far. Its writing is just horrible. And any historical anecdotes are incomprehensible today except for historians. This is a book to own as a statement, not one to read and study.
"Your grand-parents received a copy of Mein Kampf as a wedding present, as was traditional? Were they good National Socialists?"
That's a very uniformed insult. It was pretty much required throughout Germany for the whole of Hitler's reign. And he said "they received" and not "the groom bought and gave to the bride" nor "the bride bought and gave to the groom" nor "they first thing that they bought themselves".
"Much like you would expect of any adult reading a book of fairy tales in public?"
Well, yes. How many people do you see reading Harry Potter, for instance? Or Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's compilations of self-serving excuses?
But actually there is a lot of different stuff in the Bible. You might be reminding yourself of the Ten Commandments (still fairly good moral advice on the whole) or studying the instructions about how to treat your slaves that you will find on the opposite page.
Or you might be reading the Sermon on the Mount (which such an eminent present-day thinker as Leonard Cohen admits to not understanding at all, but which certainly deserves some concentrated thought).
Or you might just be enjoying that remarkably imaginative and entertaining horror fantasy, the Book of Revelation.
Really, the Bible has something for everyone. (And I'm an agnostic with atheist leanings).
Really, the Bible has something for everyone.
Perhaps so. But even if one leaves aside or disbelieves its content, the King James Bible of 1611 is a wonderful read. Anyone with even the vaguest interest in prose and literature has to be mightily impressed.
That the King James edition of the Bible was actually produced by a committee and turned out so well is, to my mind, even more remarkable. [Duh, perhaps the Divine intervened.] ;-)
[BTW, those modern Bible incarnations--'The Good News Bible' etc.--translations in modern prose/idiom (if you can call that translation at all) are made especially for Americans who don't or can't understand words such as 'thy' or 'thou', really are ugly and horrible. ...And, they really do read as trite fairy stories!
Well, perhaps it's understandable knowing the intended target audience.]
I always felt that the Bible being designed by committee and so widely appealing for a vast array of religious and non-religious purposes said a lot for the editors. They knew their audience so well they were able to target every sector of the population, over and over and over. The audience was so enthralled they not only donated money and resources, they formed armies and died to spread the story. Obviously there were some awful practices and manipulations that took place, and that sucks, but just ignore that for a minute.
Without tracking every move you made or prying into your private lives and charting it all out to determine how to manipulate you, a bunch of semi-literate guys managed to get complete buy-in from huge swaths of the population, cutting across social and economic barriers and not giving you anything tangible in return.
That's one hell of an accomplishment! I used to think it was simply a function of simpler times, but the Bible itself and other extant histories of the time go into staggeringly in-depth detail of daily life then. It wasn't simpler, just different and with fewer flashing LED's.
Every modern business person owes it to themselves to examine the Bible, if for no other reason than as a study in mass messaging.
The various modern versions of the Bible aren't so much an attempt to dumb down the KJV, they are attempting to correct the absolutely atrocious original translations and horribly incorrect emphasis on many points. Unfortunately, they run into the same problems as the KJV as so much of the Bible is in a context that hasn't existed for well over 1,000 years. There's more than a little guessing going on in every translation.
What's that one Judge Pickles did that won the worst sex ever award? Probably that.
Mein Kampf should be required reading in debate classes. It's full of textbook examples of all the logical fallacies you can imagine. Plus when people invoke Reducto ad Hitleram you can correct them that he never actually believed that at all.
Hitler was very much an antidisestablishmentarian.
Is that worse than an Edwina Currie book? I found a copy of her first novel just after she'd revealed that she'd been having her end away with John Major. Seeing as I wasn't going to buy her autobiography, I read the first 50-odd pages of it, and it had the young, ambitious female MP, new to Parliament. Who has a steamy affair with her handsome whip, Roger (fnarr, fnarr!) with his big blue pants.
No one else seems to have suspected, but I guess John Major must have known she'd be outing him soon. I don't know if he was assigned her, when he was a junior whip, so maybe it wasn't all that obvious.
On the subject of getting caught with embarrassing books... Oops what have I done! It was bloody awful, but the writing (apart from the sex scenes) was probably slightly better than The Da Vinci Code.
Getting back to bad writing, I could never finish Mein Kampf. I was doing Nazi history at the time, so I had a reason for reading it. I don't recall seeing any other book in a university librabry with writing all over it. It seemed to be a particular vehicle for un-funny cartoons for some reason.
There's a missing option on the list:
(o) All of the above.
The question is Which book would you least like to get caught reading?. "Least" requires a single selection. If you dislike them all equally, the logically correct, though misleading answer is "None of the above".
Actually, I agree entirely with the opinion you're expressing, but I can't resist the chance to annoy the AC above who doesn't like to see logical fallacies corrected.
I read Mein Kampf whilst studying politics.
Apart from being the writings of a man who's impact on 20th century history was to be so tragic, its quite frankly rather boring.
I suppose most of the appeal is to be able to say you've read it, so you must be fully imbibed with the spirit of old funny tache.
Mainly I'm surprised that the sort of people who'd t0ss themselves off to this crap can actually read.
Maybe the ebook is a big breakthrough as perhaps it has text to audio enabled, furthering the cause of the lunatics to an illiterate audience?
I couldn't be arsed to finish it. I didn't think it was telling me anything about Hitler that I was going to learn without years of concentrated study, and probably lots of cod psychology. So I read Joachim Fest instead. Who's an excellent historian.
I read the book in a quiet university library, so didn't get spotted with it. Everyone else was probably at the pub. But I do remember mentioning having read it, to a german colleague. To the response of shocked silence. At which point I remembered that it's banned in Germany. Although I'd assume that there'll be copies in university libraries, it's just a question of who gets access.
> At which point I remembered that it's banned in Germany.
Which is not true: it is legal to have. It's just that the owner of the copyright is the state of Bavaria. And they suppress it by simply not publishing it. In 2016 the copyright will expire. The Bavarian government any republication then will face trials for nazi propaganda, cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf#Republication_in_Germany_after_2015
The Germans and Austrians still don't quite seem to have twigged.
In the 1930s it was illegal to say anything good about the Jews, and compulsory to praise the Nazis.
Nowadays it's illegal to say anything good about the Nazis, and compulsory to praise the Jews.
The concept of free speech has completely eluded them. The State still decides what is good and what is bad, and commands and prohibits accordingly.
Tom Welsh, you're veering into David Irving level bullshit. There's no requirement to "praise the jews", a ridiculous statement - how is this diktat enforced, pray tell? Two minutes of cheering every day after breakfast or 30 days reeducation? There is a requirement not to glorify the Nazis, not unreasonable given their history and I think you'll find the rest of Europe had no problem with this policy in 1945.
Free speech is not the ne plus ultra of human rights, not in any country even your (presumed, I think safely) native US. Google fire in crowded theatre if you have trouble with this concept.
Nevertheless, people hold politicians in sufficiently low regard that politicians telling them what not to read may actually elevate the banned or merely deprecated material in certain people's minds. (Especially, I fear, in the minds of people who lack the intellectual capacity to read for themselves, anything longer than one column in a down-market newspaper).
So bans are counterproductive, even if well-intentioned.
Mein Kampf does do a pretty good job of illustrating that Hitler had no actual 'plan' at time of writing. He had anger, and was steadily working his way towards assigning blame, but Mein Kampf was no more a strategy book than the inside flap of a cereal box.
Read through the eyes of history, Hitler's ramblings in Mein Kampf seem to have deeper meaning, but there isn't one there. You could take nearly any soldier from a vanquished army who tries, and fails at politics and is publicly humiliated through arrest, add a pinch of lunacy, and you'd get a Mein Kampf. You can find literature airing out emotionally charged grievances at any University and it's likely to be better edited as well.
Other than its novelty factor, the only thing really interesting thing about the book is that, knowing what we know now, it shows how quickly general anger and dissatisfaction can evolve into full blown hatred (Yoda knew what he was talking about).
What I don't understand, is why people say "yeah, that was on the reading list at uni" and then say "I don't understand who would read it" apparently without making any connection between the two.
I have a sneaking suspicion that far more uni students read it than neo nazi's.
That's probably the main reason for the surge. It's a book of definite historic significance, so a bunch of curious people have said 'it's only 99p, why the hell not?'* and it's had enough interest to be featured as 'people recently purchased' and it's snowballed a bit. I would imagine the Reich worshipping nutjobs already have their leather bound hard copy to biff off over.
*The (potential) stigma of owning Mein Kampf can also be downplayed when you can say it was a cheap impulse buy.
I think you're largely correct that the .99 version is driving up sales, and so is the shift in education focus and the general 'old' factor.
With the education component, at least here in the States, geopolitical interest has moved toward the Middle East, as that's where today's events are happening. Europe is 'old news', which leads me to my next point.
Most of the people who aren't familiar with Mein Kampf either through their own reading or conversations like this, are quite young. Chances are high that they don't have any living family members who fought in the war. WWII was something that might as well have been fought on Jupiter for all the connection students have to it.
Once you are removed far enough from something it is easier to investigate it without the social stigma previous generations had with the issue. Nazis, concentration camps, quests for domination, the words make sense to younger generations, but they don't mean anything to them, if that makes sense.
... would have to include any fiction written in the form of a diary;
I still have nightmares about having been forced to read and study such drivel as "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" and "Z for Zachariah" when I was at school!
Even tripe like "A Kestrel for a Knave" was better than those, and that was another book I thoroughly despised.
That is, the stuff about cars. His recounting of the experience of being on an aircraft carrier in I Know You Got Soul was pretty interesting. And somewhat worrying!
Similarly, Ayn Rand seemed to have a decent central idea (deal fairly with everyone, stay true to your word, those who despise money have received it unjustly, there should be no such thing as 'too big to fail', the rich and influential can be utter shits or can be good, etc) but was a terrible author.
She's also been ridden into the dirt by the Americans using her as an idol for "I'm rich and therefore awesome, you're poor and so a scumbag" faux-capitalism, which is the opposite of what she stood for.
Dan Brown book not un-enjoyable if you picked up the book in a charity shop out of curiosity, and have time to kill at an airport and in a plane. You do have to park your critical facilities and intellect in neutral, maybe some people can't do that. But isn't that true of most fiction?
A week later gave it back to the charity shop to sell again.
"Lolita" covered in a "Bible" dust jacket back in the 60s
I know which one I'd be more embarrassed to be seen reading (though the Penguin Classics edition that I read had a slightly disturbing cover).
Lolita was regarded as a significant piece of literature in the 60s - in 1962 there was a feature film directed by Stanley Kubrick. If it's unacceptable today then that's probably a consequence of recent paedophilephobia.
Not a common or easy to find book (may even be out of print now), but there's a great book you need to read in dead-tree format n public: "how to make love to a black man".
Apparently it's a good book, from the technical / creative point of view, and absolutely nothing to do with what the title may suggest.
Understanding the demented mind of a man like Hitler can be useful in countering the demented ideas of those who still idolise him.
And it's useful in other ways. Religious groups often try to portray atheists as monsters, "because Hitler was an atheist". Which is rather disproved by, "And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord."
It's tiresome how The Big H is always the worstest guy though. Sure he is bad and he had unhinged state employees clustering around him and enabling him, but ....
Picture a black-and-white photo showing Churchill, Roosie and Hitler at Berchtesgaden discussing the next step in the so far successful war against Stalin.
It wouldn't have happened because Churchill was an irredeemable hater of all things german (even before WWI), but otherwise - not out of place at all. Just a little twist to history.
A good point, especially when you remember that the mantra 'better Hitler than Stalin' wasn't unknown in the 1930s.
In fact, there's a good case for arguing that WW2 wasn't so much a global struggle for freedom as the destruction of one big tyrant with the help of an even bigger tyrant. I don't have the figures to hand, but I'm pretty sure that Stalin's butcher's bill was a lot bigger than Hitler's.
The only difference between the two tyrants was that Stalin confined his aggression to attacking Finland and didn't precede that with attempts to undo the treaty of Versailles. But if Britain and France had been prepared to support Finland rather than Poland, that Berchtesgaden photo might have been a reality.
" I don't have the figures to hand, but I'm pretty sure that Stalin's butcher's bill was a lot bigger than Hitler's".
Probably true, if only because the USSR was so big that Stalin had more people he could kill. I'm inclined to consider him somewhat the worse character, as he had absolutely no claim to be mentally deranged. And he didn't go through five years of appalling trench warfare, culminating in being gassed, blinded, and very nearly killed. An experience like that might warp anyone. Stalin, on the other hand, lived a secure comfortable life after his early escapades as a wanted bandit. His crimes were committed in utterly cold blood.
And Mao was the worst of the lot. Not only did he have even more people to kill, but he was also a paedophile.
(Or should one judge in percentage of population murdered, in which case Pol Pot is the worst)?
The lesson to learn is that the greater the concentration of power at the top, the worse the consequences. Or in a variant I once heard, "The best system of government is a benign dictatorship. Except that we've never worked out how to keep the dictator benign, and we never will, so don't go there".
The thing is, Tony, Hitler was no more demented than many politicians who wield power around the world today. He merely happened to gain power in an environment which gave him a lot more freedom of action. It's so easy to say that people who lived long ago were stupid, or ignorant, or deluded, or demented. But you can't deny the simple fact that the Nazis, led by Hitler, won power through the same kind of "democratic" elections we all participate in today. He got a far higher share of the vote that Blair (not to mention Cameron).
Of course, once Hitler had got the bit between his teeth and doubled up his bets a couple of times too often, he was doomed and so was Germany. But just try reading up on what public opinion (and political leaders) said about Hitler and the Nazis throughout the 1930s, right up to the invasion of Poland. In the USA, a lot of people went on admiring the Nazis right through the Battle of Britain. Joe Kennedy, the future president's father, for instance, was ambassador to Britain and his letters to president Roosevelt are still on record, warning that the Nazis were going to win and the USA had better cosy up to them and cut Britain loose.
If you feel up for a stimulating mental exercise, try imagining what would be said about the Bushes, Blair, and Brown in an alternative universe where the invasion of Iraq was repelled and somehow the Iraqis defeated the USA and UK. Now who would be the demented, racist, murderous warmongers? History is always written by the winners.
Well, he was a Catholic, though he doesn't seem to have been much convinced by its actual doctrine. Reading up on it, Wikipedia suggests that he remained a member of the church mostly for political and tactical reasons. And of course, what better reasons for genocide than to claim that God tells you to?
So yeah, creationists claim he's an atheist, and atheists claim he's a Christian. Nobody wants him.
Fact is, Charles Darwin is never even mentioned in Mein Kampf, and I don't think any mention of evolution is used in the biological sense. Feel free to point out if it is. He was a big fan of eugenics, but that is a school of thought that's far, far away from anything Darwin or any of his successors.
> I've only ever heard the opposite, atheists claiming Hitler as a Christian to support their arguments. I didn't even realise religious folk had tarred him as an example of atheism!
In all fairness, Richard Dawkins uses that as an argument against the often trotted Christian claim that Hitler and Stalin were atheists implying that without religion there were therefore evil.
In truth, Hitler was supposed to have been brought up as a Catholic, but the religion or otherwise of these people probably had very little to do with the events that followed.
For every famous atheist, we can point many religious people that were just as evil and didn't have atheism as an excuse...
Looks kinda.... interesting..
I take it there's no foreplay or Dinner and a movie?
Warning: This is a tale of monster sex. This story was written to unlock your darkest fantasies and innermost desires. It is not for the faint of heart and is not your mother's erotica. All of the sexual descriptions found in this book are very explicit in nature. It's not suitable for someone under 18 years of age. Read at your own risk.
In a land before time, Layla hunts for her tribe. The men belittle and threaten her, a woman who hunts like a man, until, desperate, she sets out alone after the most fearsome beast in the world- a T-Rex.
As she hunts the giant predator, a very special T-Rex is hunting her- this T-Rex has psychic powers and a desire for human flesh. Naked and alone, Layla bargains with the beast: her body for her life.
Can Layla accept the beast’s carnal demands? Can her body accommodate its relentless desire? Can she hold to her part of the bargain? Or will she become the T-Rex’s next meal?
Words: 5,200 ""
The moment the authorities ban a book or try to persuade you that it will warp your mind, read it. Ditto if any significant pressure group is protesting its outrage. You may well decide it's a load of old rubbish, but if there's one thing in this world to avoid, it's allowing other people to make up your mind for you. You are a human being, not an ant.
Depending on your employment:
"C++ for dummies"
"Visual Basic for dummies"
"Linux system management for dummies"
And methinks there are a few bastards out there who should have read "Banking for dummies" but never did, and never let it hold them back.
I've let this thread cool down for some days to write this, since it is slightly off-topic. As the title says, it is a book which is truly, truly horrible sort-of-authorized-biography of a former Brazilian Ministry of Economy, Finance and Planning in the 1980s.
Short story: she was at the time considered quite inexperient and inexpressive for her post, considering that Brazil had a huge inflation problem. Nonetheless the government implemented a plan under which prices, salaries and people's bank accounts were frozen. It is a long story, and quite boring, maybe except for historians and economists.
The fun part (if you're really into this kind of thing) is that while in office she had an affair with another minister (Bernardo Cabral, Minister of Justice), who was married at the time. They even exchanged some saucy notes in cabinet meetings, if I recall he wrote one with something like "you look delicious in this skirt". After some time she got the boot from the Minister and from the government, and asked a popular Brazilian writer to write her "memories" -- Zelia, a Passion ("Zélia, uma Paixão").
The book is truly, truly horrible, but you couldn't just put it down. Basically the book told her story as a poor simple girl that came from the countryside and fell in love with a powerful government employee. She wrote about the secret meetings around the world when they were supposed to be working in international whatever missions. One chapter describes the end of the affair, in which she felt abandoned -- that bastard Minister just dumped her! Poor girl! The problem is that she was responsible for one of the most daring and strict economic plans in Brazilian history, had to deal with lots of economic and social issues, and was at the time lost in a Cinderella-like dream.
When the book was out my father called me and my brothers and gave a stern warning -- he would get a copy of the book so we could read it, but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES we were to buy the book. He told us that he would get VERY ANGRY if any of his hard-earned money was spent on that book. We got the book, and I've laughed out loud in some parts, and suddenly remembered that my saving account was frozen for years because of that poor girl in love.
Site note: the not-so-ghost-writer who wrote the book was quite popular at the time, had some good novels and short stories books. He got under a LOT of criticism for writing the book, and sort of disappeared from the radar until he died.
Sadly, the book is available only in Portuguese. If you're really curious here is her wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z%C3%A9lia_Cardoso_de_Mello . None of these details are mentioned, of course.
The Wikipedia article says that her two plans failed, as did a plan by her immediate successor, Plano Marcílio Plan. The next plan, the Plano Real, worked, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plano_Real and note interesting external link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/10/04/130329523/how-fake-money-saved-brazil
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