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Boris Badenov
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May 28 2010 17:25
petey wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
"Christianizing the Roman Empire, 100-400" by Ramsey MacMullen

a good book, don't be put off by the oily tone. he wrote many books, whose best feature is that they're short.

Do you know anything about the author actually? For someone who apparently wrote quite a bit about the early church he seems to be very critical of the dominant neo-apologist stance that is common amongst religious historians. He is closer to a materialist understanding of how Christianity came to dominate the Western world, than most other people I've read on this topic.
Have not detected an "oily tone" so far.

petey
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May 28 2010 17:57
Vlad336 wrote:
petey wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
"Christianizing the Roman Empire, 100-400" by Ramsey MacMullen

a good book, don't be put off by the oily tone. he wrote many books, whose best feature is that they're short.

Do you know anything about the author actually?

yes i know a reasonable amount about him. he's not a religious historian exactly but a late-antique historian (that is, roman empire mostly from about 200 ad on; so he deals with christianity primarily from a roman cultural/governmental angle), he's enormously competent (has the papyrus evidence under control as well as the usual texts in greek and latin), and professionally was at top of prestige (titled chair at yale). i never knew him personally but i know people who do.

Boris Badenov
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May 28 2010 18:01
petey wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
petey wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
"Christianizing the Roman Empire, 100-400" by Ramsey MacMullen

a good book, don't be put off by the oily tone. he wrote many books, whose best feature is that they're short.

Do you know anything about the author actually?

yes i know a reasonable amount about him. he's not a religious historian exactly but a late-antique historian (that is, roman empire mostly from about 200 ad on; so he deals with christianity primarily from a roman cultural/governmental angle), he's enormously competent (has the papyrus evidence under control as well as the usual texts in greek and latin), and professionally was at top of prestige (titled chair at yale). i never knew him personally but i know people who do.

Would you say he has a political angle at all?

petey
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May 29 2010 01:06

not that i'm aware of. he still writes books, so he's still active, but was most active in the 80s and was in graduate school in the 60s. so:

Quote:
For someone who apparently wrote quite a bit about the early church he seems to be very critical of the dominant neo-apologist stance that is common amongst religious historians

1: he was most active before that crew really got going
2: but i think you're right, he wouldn't be too sympathetic to them.

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Nate
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May 29 2010 06:29

Right now I'm reading Libcom.

Ha.

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Hughes
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May 31 2010 21:43

Just finished "The Second Sex." For a quick breather I might dip into Dan Brown's "Lost Symbol" before continuing on to Norman Finkelstein's "Beyond Chutzpah."

JR Cash
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Jun 1 2010 12:52

Current reading Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man.

Excellent read so far.

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terminusmundi
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Jun 1 2010 21:56

I am considering taking up this big book "main currents in marxism." Is it permitted and shall I be falsely indoctrinated?

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Khawaga
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Jun 1 2010 21:59

The little I bothered to read from it was shite.

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Django
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Jun 2 2010 06:49

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

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smg
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Jun 2 2010 12:20

I just started Working by Studs Terkel. I've only read the first few interviews and the introduction and am enjoying it a lot. Has anyone read this? Any reviews?

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fingers malone
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Jun 2 2010 17:23

Finished that book on pirates, it´s good but I wondered if pirates were really so class concious and revolutionary as the author makes out? Maybe weren´t some pirates just gangsters? But I´d recommend the book.

Guns, Germs and Steel is really good, his next book about environmental collapse is interesting but I felt he really lets capitalism off the hook with regard to the environment, because he doesn´t understand it. But you can learn a lot from the book. Easter Island where the people cut down every single tree on the island to build religious statues and then when the ecosystem collapsed they pulled down and beheaded the statues, was a pretty striking story.

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Django
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Jun 2 2010 18:28
Fingers Malone wrote:
Guns, Germs and Steel is really good, his next book about environmental collapse is interesting but I felt he really lets capitalism off the hook with regard to the environment, because he doesn´t understand it. But you can learn a lot from the book. Easter Island where the people cut down every single tree on the island to build religious statues and then when the ecosystem collapsed they pulled down and beheaded the statues, was a pretty striking story.

I'm enjoying Guns, Germs and Steel a lot. I think Diamond has a really accessible and engaging writing style and is able to get complicated ideas across in a compelling way that few science writers manage.

I haven't read Collapse, but I'm getting a sense of the political problems you're describing in GG&S. His argument that you can't run a large and complex society on the model of face to face democracy is fine, but the idea that 'Kleptocracies' are the inevitable trade-off for writing systems, large-scale agriculture and and public works isn't something I accept, nor the idea that meaningful participation in decision-making is basically impossible for groups larger than a few hundred people. From what I've read thus far, he appears to see capitalism just as another 'state' form, or a 'Kleptocracy', not something to be engaged with on its own terms. Most of the other 'left' criticisms I've seen of the book I've seen though have been fairly poor.

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gram negative
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Jun 3 2010 15:30
fingers malone wrote:
Guns, Germs and Steel is really good, his next book about environmental collapse is interesting but I felt he really lets capitalism off the hook with regard to the environment, because he doesn´t understand it. But you can learn a lot from the book. Easter Island where the people cut down every single tree on the island to build religious statues and then when the ecosystem collapsed they pulled down and beheaded the statues, was a pretty striking story.

it's a pretty striking story because it may just be a story. rather than a critique of diamond from lefties here is an academic critique of diamond from archaeologists: http://www.anthropology.hawaii.edu/People/Faculty/Hunt/pdfs/Hunt%20&%20Lipo%202009%20Myth%20of%20Ecocide.pdf

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terminusmundi
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Jun 3 2010 20:24

Yes, it seemed to me to veer towards the Avatar end of narrative building:

"Papa, why do the big mean men have so much cargo? I don't know son, but I will write you a poem about it."

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playinghob
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Jun 3 2010 21:22

Just stated Karl Marx by Otto Ruhle.

Wellclose Square
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Jun 4 2010 15:46

Finished Alone in Berlin. A wonderful book, intertwining the deepest sadness with glimpses of joy, which still induce tears. It took me a long time to read it, as there were times when I had to psych myself up before reading chapters I knew would be 'difficult'.

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Alf
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Jun 4 2010 16:24

On the train back from Manchester, started reading Francis Wheen's Karl Marx. I had avoided it for a long time, but it's much better than I thought it would be. Haven't read Otto Ruhle's version - it would be interesting to hear playinghob's view of it.

ernie
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Jun 4 2010 19:15

Wellclose

Wow! I too have just finished Alone in Berlin and totally agree with you about it. It is a deeply moving book. I too could not read the final chapters for some days because of what you know is coming to happen and because they were so moving. It is a beautiful book from beginning to end, if you see what I mean.
Have you read any other of his books?
I picked up the book by accident, saw it in the local Oxfam shop and could not put it down
The Ruhle is well worth reading. Some of the pyschological analysis of Marx is hard to take but he is brilliant at explaining basic concepts. His summary of class consciousness is one of the best I have ever read.
At the moment I am trying to plough my way through Norma O Browns Life against death. I can understand some of it but I have to say that a lot of it leaves me nystified: such as the idea of the death instinct? Just when I think I have understood it it slips away from me.

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waslax
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Jun 4 2010 20:18

Who is the author of Alone in Berlin?

gypsy
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Jun 4 2010 20:29
Alf wrote:
On the train back from Manchester, started reading Francis Wheen's Karl Marx. I had avoided it for a long time, but it's much better than I thought it would be. Haven't read Otto Ruhle's version - it would be interesting to hear playinghob's view of it.

Hows your back getting on? I am reading the conquest of bread again.

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JoeMaguire
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Jun 4 2010 20:57

Reading Terry Eagletons - Marxism and Literary Criticism

Wellclose Square
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Jun 5 2010 00:53
waslax wrote:
Who is the author of Alone in Berlin?

Hans Fallada.

Ernie. No, I haven't read any of Fallada's other books - The Drinker looks interesting... As for Alone in Berlin, one of the most emotionally 'difficult' chapters I found was when Eva Kluge befriended the runaway Kuno-Dieter - that oasis of kindness in a sea of grimness really got to me.

Edit: after all this time I seem to have worked out how to 'quote' properly!

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Jun 5 2010 01:47
Alf wrote:
Francis Wheen's Karl Marx.

I liked this book. Also GG & S. Although some have serious problems with Diamond: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/category/jared-diamond/

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Tarwater
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Jun 5 2010 02:19

I thought "Working" is a wonderful book, I always recommend it. One of my favorites.

I am currently reading "The Mis-measure of Man", trying to get a better grasp on science, as my partner is working on an evolutionary biology phd. Also, "Year One of the Russian Revolution".

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x359594
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Jun 5 2010 18:05
ernie wrote:
Wellclose...At the moment I am trying to plough my way through Norma O Browns Life against death. I can understand some of it but I have to say that a lot of it leaves me nystified: such as the idea of the death instinct? Just when I think I have understood it it slips away from me.

Life Against Death presupposes a knowledge of Freud's fundamental theories (such as the death instinct,) so it might help to go back to Freud's original writing on the subject to understand what Brown is getting at.

Brown's sequel to Life Against Death, Love's Body is a good read, wildly speculative and full of interesting references.

The contrasting interpretation of Freud is Marcuse's Eros and Civilization, a Frankfurt School Marxist take that attempts to apply Freud's theories in a political way to the bourgeoisie and to discover a revolutionary application of Freud to the class struggle.

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Alf
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Jun 7 2010 08:50

Ally - thanks for asking about my poor old back. It is slowly improving. I can walk a fair distance now and made it to the Manchester Class Struggle Forum last week...
That nice Ernie gave me a copy of Alone in Berlin so i will add it to my list of books piling up for the summer.
Agree regarding Freud: the starting point would be Beyond the Pleasure Principle, , where he first talks about the concept of the death instinct

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mikail firtinaci
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Jun 7 2010 09:54
Quote:
Beyond the Pleasure Principle, , where he first talks about the concept of the death instinct

exelent reading - a very interesting piece. Can anybody recommend a basic and good reading on evoutionary psychology?

take good care of yourself Alf and do not read much, It is not good for posture and spine smile

ernie
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Jun 7 2010 11:39

Wellclose

I agree on the nature of that chapter. Though the end is pretty touching as well. There are several very touching characters throughout the book though: the judge and his final act of friendship, the woman shopkeeper who takes in the horrible character,and of course the Quangals: their love for each other is beautifully unfolded and becomes almost unbearable in its depth at the end. That said all of the Nazises are rather black and white.

Have you read Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate? If you liked Alone in Berlin, I think you would like it.

gypsy
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Jun 7 2010 12:14
Alf wrote:
Ally - thanks for asking about my poor old back. It is slowly improving. I can walk a fair distance now and made it to the Manchester Class Struggle Forum last week...
That nice Ernie gave me a copy of Alone in Berlin so i will add it to my list of books piling up for the summer.
Agree regarding Freud: the starting point would be Beyond the Pleasure Principle, , where he first talks about the concept of the death instinct

Good the warmth should help it mend quicker. Nothing worse than having a bad back on a freezing day.