Will Wilkinson pointed me to this excellent review of Charles Murray’s new book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950. I had been thinking of ordering it, and the review sealed the deal. It promises to be a fascinating study of the movers and shakers of human culture.
I also ordered a number of books on communism and the Soviet Union, as I’ve been wanting to read more about that terrible history for some time. I must admit, I went a bit overboard:
- Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum
- Communism: A History by Richard Pipes
- The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois, et al
- The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
- In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr
- Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov
The Great Terror: A Reassessment by Robert Conquest
I even branched out for a bit of Chinese communism with Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai. I’ve wanted to read her book for years now, ever since she came to speak at my high school. I remember the incongruity of her tough-as-nails spirit inside the body of a petite, elderly, almost frail Chinese woman.
On a lighter note, I ordered the DVDs of the two Jackie Chan / Owen Wilson movies, Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights. I’m generally not much of a fan of comedies, but I love Jackie Chan’s wholesome comedic style and beautiful stunt work, particularly when paired with Owen Wilson as the goofy, loveable, and thoroughly modern rogue. (I also really liked Owen Wilson in his much more serious role in Behind Enemy Lines. Go figure.)
Ah, what would I ever do without Amazon?!?