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Rob Prince at Seventy (November 6, 2014) – Ten Books (well actually eleven, maybe twelve) That Have Influenced Me

November 6, 2014
Australopithecus Tools

early hominid (australopithecus) technology. Not exactly the kind of stuff to face off with a saber-toothed tiger.

(note: This blog entry is lifted from an exchange on Facebook…)


I have been thinking about this entry, done yesterday…something I want to make clear – the purpose of putting these books out with short descriptions is NOT to impress people. Screw that. Who needs it? It is more of a list of recommended readings, minus the first title which is more personal, books that I consider shed some light on the world in which we all live and that I think others – everyone – might benefit from reading. No doubt if it were me who made up the required freshman reading list for my or any other university – Pfeiffer’s Creative Explosion would easily, easily top the list. Screw showing off, screw trying to impress people, which has not been very important to me much of my life anyhow – this is shared information, at least that is the spirit in which it is offered).

Taking Up Brandee Hayle‘s challenge to name ten books that have stayed with me over the course of my life (and being bored with my usual bout of middle-of-the-night insomnia which strikes for no particular reason) I’ll name ten books that come to mind.

Philip Roth’s Letting Go – The only book I ever read that seemed to be about ME, the world I grew up in and moving out West, one of his early works although his ending in Iowa is far more depressing than mine in Colorado

John Pfeiffer’s The Creative Explosion. To my mind although now 20 odd years old – the most engaging analysis of human evolution I have come across, especially the chapters on Cro-Magnon (early humanity 50-10 thousand years ago) and the incredible chapter on how the Australian aborignes learn geography

Karl Marx’s Capital (of course!!) – at least the part of that I understood in our little study group 40 years ago with Nancy, Saleh, Jack and Patty, Scott K (when he didn’t show up stoned), Dick Ayre (who actually understood it all and tried, with little success to explain it). We got through Vol 1 and half of Vol 2

Braudel’s three volume – Civilization and Capitalism, that I keep coming back to again and again and again. To my utter surprise, I found it on a shelf in my father’s home in Florida. He’d read it, understood it, loved it…perhaps the only time I ever discussed a book (or books) with him. That was nice.

Chomsky’s The Fateful Triangle – still as good an explanation of U.S. Middle East politics (the USA, Israel, the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, etc) as one can find around

Robert Merle’s breathtaking 13 volume epic historical novel of 16th, 17th century France , Fortune de France,  in French- about the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants, a kind of proto-type of modern day political and racial bigotry. Am only through the first three volumes but am pretty sure I’ll be impressed with the next ten

Henning Mankel’s “Wallender series” – drunken, slovenly, essentially permanently depressed detective on the edge (and sometimes over the edge) of senility probing the seamy side of post Cold War Sweden.

Eduardo Galeano‘s “Open Veins In Latin America” – best regional history along with his more recent trilogy. There is a guy in the trilogy who is always getting the shit kicked out of him by higher powers but keeps bouncing back and never gives up.

Mohammed Samroui’s Chroniques des annees de sang (in French); former high level Algerian intelligence agent who details in a systematically riveting fashion crimes of state in Algeria during that country’s horrific civil war of the 1990s.

Colette Braeckman’s “Le Dinosaure” (in French) – the penetrating history of “our man in Kinshasa” for so many years, Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (his full name which translates as “The warrior who knows no defeat because of his endurance and inflexible will and is all powerful, leaving fire in his wake as he goes from conquest to conquest”) – skunk extraordinaire – of the Congolese people, but OUR skunk – Congolese ally in the Cold War in Africa.

Oh yeah…some people read the Bible once a year – I read Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species or some other works by the master or by Alfred  Russell Wallace who is just as good

This was fun, now I’ll go back to sleep

One Comment leave one →
  1. pat hewett permalink
    November 6, 2014 11:04 am

    GReat list. Glad you sent it. -pat

    Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2014 12:18:25 +0000 To:

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