Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Mitt Romney, speaking in Jerusalem:

I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries — was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries. I read a number of books on the topic. One that is widely acclaimed is by someone named Jared Diamond called “Guns, Germs and Steel,” which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth. And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here. And likewise other nations that are next door to each other . very similar, in some cases, geographic outlets.

Jared Diamond’s rebuttal in today’s New York Times:

MITT ROMNEY’S latest controversial remark, about the role of culture in explaining why some countries are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak, has attracted much comment. I was especially interested in his remark because he misrepresented my views and, in contrasting them with another scholar’s arguments, oversimplified the issue.

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it. My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents’ sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, “No Apology: Believe in America.”)

Holiday Reading List

Posted: December 25, 2011 in Books
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Here’s my literary to-do list for the next two weeks:

Angel Rabasa, Stacie L. Pettyjohn, Jeremy J. Ghez, and Christopher Boucek, Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists
Ioan Grillo, El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency
Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
Lesley-Ann Jones, Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography

I highly recommend all of them.

Would-be modern day saint Greg Mortenson got hit by a devastating one-two journalistic punch courtesy of Jon Krakauer and 60 Minutes pointing out his nonexistent loose relationship with the truth as it relates to some anecdotes and details in his best-selling books.

In making the comparison between Mortenson and James Frey, Krakauer notes, “Frey, unlike Mortenson, didn’t use his phony memoir to solicit tens of millions of dollars in donations from unsuspecting readers.”

Beyond the literary embellishment or outright fabrication alleged in both reports, the charges that Mortenson has mismanaged or used CAI funds for personal use, or claimed credit for building nonexistant schools raise even more troubling questions.  The fact that President Obama gave $100,000 of his Nobel Peace Prize money to Mortenson’s charity will bring even more scrutiny to what he’s done with the millions of dollars he’s raised over the years.

Again, I quote the Beatles: “Sexy Sadie what have you done / You made a fool of everyone.”

Fantastic news. From the LA Times:

In the hunt for a new spy series, Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to Daniel Silva’s books about Gabriel Allon, a former Israeli intelligence operative turned art restorer. Jeff Zucker, who stepped down as NBC Universal CEO in January, has come on board to produce.

Allon has appeared in ten of Silva’s books, beginning with 2001’s “The Kill Artist” and continuing through the recent “The Rembrandt Affair.” The latest installment, “Portrait of a Spy,” will be published by Harper in July.

Universal has picked up rights to all past and future books in the series, which have an estimated 25 million books in print.

The books are terrific. If you haven’t read any of them, imagine if Jack Bauer worked for the Mossad. The fact that Daniel Silva will be involved with the movie as an executive producer hopefully means that the script will stay as true to his book as possible.