Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Killing of Crazy Horse

Thomas Powers' book on the Killing of Crazy Horse won the 2010 L.A.Times Book Award for History. I was totally awed by how good it was. The other runners up are here: http://events.latimes.com/bookprizes/previous-winners/year-2010/

While I was in L.A., I was able to attend some fascinating panels, and learned about some interesting books. These two were both really interesting:

The first one I attended was on "democracy and its discontents" with these three authors:

Scott Martelle - The Fear Within - http://www.scottmartelle.com/

Thaddeus Russell - A Renegade History of the United States - http://www.thaddeusrussell.com

Barry Siegel - Claim of Privilege - http://www.barry-siegel.com

I then attended a session on "the living constitution," which was an amazing discussion with Erwin Chemerinksy, Henry Weinstein and John Dean. I was so impressed by their commitment to civil liberties (yes, even John Dean) and what they had to say that I went up after the session to thank them and shake their hands. What a rare experience to be able to attend these sessions in real time.


  1. So you were there. Great. I watched the "democracy and its discontents" panel on BookTV. As a result, I made a note of the Thaddeus Russell book.

    The only other part of the fair that I saw on TV was an interview with a woman who wrote a very biased book with the word "Obamacare" in the book title, published by Regnery. Ugh. I think we can see more on the BookTV website.

  2. Anything published by Regnery is trash. They publish all those "Politically Incorrect Guides" too.

  3. I'll put The Killing of Crazy Horse on my wish list, av.

  4. Marti, wasn't the Russell book fascinating sounding? I feel his pain, because I'm always taking a different point of view when it comes to the Civil War. He basically argues that it was the real bottom strata of society -- the prostitutes, slaves, and ne'er do well workers who drank and danced (and there's some of that in Triangle) -- whom we have to thank for advances that we now take for granted.

    But from the sounds of it, it was his interpretation of slaves taking off for extended periods of time (i.e., "a vacation") that got him into trouble. I'm also looking forward to reading the Fear Within.

    Gintaras, the Crazy Horse book is really amazing! I loved getting to meet and hang out with the author. I've never read his CIA books, but am a big fan of his writings in the New York Review of Books.

  5. Marti, here's the other panel I attended. It was packed (not a seat left in the Mark Taper Hall) and people cheered and applauded for each of the speakers. Gives one hope!


  6. I didn't agree with Russell's idea about weekends (and vacations?) coming about because of slaves' going away and coming back. The rest of it interested me.

    I think that most slaves never took the liberty of going away and coming back. Many of those who did go away were brought back.

  7. Avrds, I'm watching/listening to the panel discussion about the Supreme Court. Thanks for the link and suggestion.

  8. Yeah, that was a stretch for me, too. He said there were a lot of furrowed brows in the audience as he looked right at me ....

    On the other hand, I'm sure there are many examples because Jefferson certainly allowed several individual slaves enormous freedom of movement (vs. the slaves that tried to get away from Washington), as long as they came back when they were needed. There are several examples in the Hemings book.

    One that I remember distinctly was when TJ writes to a friend asking if he'd seen two of the Hemings brothers and, if so, could the friend tell the brothers that they were needed on such and such a date. Jefferson clearly had no idea where they were or when they would be back from the way the letter reads, but he needed them home.

    Granted, those were Hemings, but I remember being amazed at the amount of "freedom" of movement those young men and at least a handful of others had. My guess is you could cherry pick several of those kinds of examples.

    I think Russell said weekends were the result of partying all week on the job, so why not just give workers a weekend off to get it out of their system. Something like that? I know it was routine to provide beer on the job site in many work places.

    There was a really good book on the weekend by Witold Rybczynski -- I love his books -- but I can't remember exactly what he says about the origins. I'll have to look.

    Glad you are watching the panel on the Constitution. Powerful wasn't it?! How many panels on the Supreme Court leave people cheering and rushing the stage to shake the speakers' hands?

  9. Nice review of The Fear Within:


  10. "Obamacare"

    Cynical right wingers feel health care reform is too expensive. But the fact that 45,000 Americans die every year from lack of health care insurance is of no significance to them:


    ''Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.''

    Republicans claim to be ''pro life'' but the lives of these people are of no value to those cynics.

  11. Plus, they don't want to accept the fact that they pay for it now or they pay for it later though increases in premiums and taxes etc. because right now hospitals (as George B was fond of noting) care for them anyway.

    I keep waiting to see big signs in people's homes and cars that proclaim that the government should not make them carry insurance so they should not be taken to a hospital if anything happens to them or worse their children.

    It's like the firemen watching the house burn because the homeowner didn't want to pay for their support. The right roared against the fire fighters, but that's the obvious cost of "live free or die." You either want to buy into a civil society or live outside it. You really can't have it both ways.

    For me it comes down to what kind of a country does the right want to live in? People dying on the side of the road, houses burning down when there's a fire, people stranded by an avalanche? The list goes on and on. I guess the right thinks it's okay to simply drive right by those people.

  12. Ironically, many on the far right gleefully approve of sending billions in aid to Israel which uses some of that money to finance health care for its citizens.

  13. Now that's a good argument against the Right about universal health care. If Israel citizens have it, why can't we?

    I'm been without health insurance since October when the 18 months of COBRA expired(and the COBRA rates were very high for me).

  14. The Israelis, the French, the British, the Canadians, the Swiss .... the list goes on and on.

    Marti, the only reason I have insurance right now is because I'm a student -- something you should look into. That's why I've been dragging my feet about graduating. Not sure what I'll do after next year -- maybe get a masters in conservation biology or something....

  15. ''the list goes on and on''

    All enabled by the USA's Marshall Plan. Because of that, they have it but we still don't.

    Wonderful, ain't it?

  16. We are like the British of the last century and probably Rome and a few of the others before them -- we're at the end of our empire. And in our case, all the wealth from that empire has been siphoned to the very top.

    There was a time when the mega-rich cycled at least some of that wealth back into the country for the common good -- I'm thinking of men like Carnegie and even Mellon. Heck, even the Rockefellers gave something back, after earning it all on the backs of American labor and government interventions on their behalf.

    But with some notable exceptions, those days appear to be over. It's every man, woman, and child (if they can make it) for themselves. Now we have people like the Koch brothers who buy a seat at a starved public university to put in their own idea of an economics professor and veto anyone that doesn't meet their ideological test.

    I'm always amazed at how we seem to cycle backwards in this country, rather than move in a more humane forward direction.