Thursday, September 23, 2021

Review of The Mongols: A History by Jeremiah Curtin

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires

Short Description

Excerpts

“Wherever Jinghis Khan became sovereign there was safety for travelers immediately, even in places where robbery had been the rule for many ages.” – Jeremiah Curtin, Chapter VI – Destruction Of The Kwaresmian Empire, Page 104


“The Mongols prepared for immediate action.  Trees were cut down and shaped into beans of right size, borne by men to the neighboring summits and made into catapults.” – Jeremiah Curtin, Chapter XII – Hulago Destroys The Assassin Commonwealth, Page 232


“The descendants of Ogotai, and the son and successor of Jagatai refused to appear there, declaring that the election of Mangu was illegal, and that the throne belonged by right to a descendant of Ogotai” – Jeremiah Curtin, Chapter VI –, Page 300


Elaborate Description
Overview:
This book is a detailed account of the political affairs of the Mongol Empire and its immense impact on geopolitics and the shape of global power.  Primarily covering the Mongol Empire wars with the empires of Persia, Islam, China, and its internal struggles and feuds.  The reason and results of the slaughters that took place.  The strategies that were used.  The betrayals and acts of revenge.  The tools used for war.  Regions conquered by the Mongols had their trade stabilized as the Mongols provided protection and law.  The empire had a semi-democratic republic, but not always recognized by blood kin of former Khans whom were their leaders.  Originally nomadic tribes, whose identity is bound to tribal politics, but united they became a powerful force whose opponents underestimated them at their own peril.

Problems?
Terribly written without many learning outcomes.  Although containing many details it is hard to put everything together.  Neither Mongol society or the functioning of empire is part of this book.  The focus is on the military and political aspects, but they were not written well either.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Who were the leaders of the Mongol Empire?
•Why did the Mongol Empire have war with Persia? Islam? China? Other nations?
•Why were there internal struggles?
•How did the Mongols impact geopolitics?
•What impact did the Mongols have on trade?
•What kind of tools of war did the Mongols use?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9788835317715
Pages to read:   378
Publication:     2019
1st Edition:      1907
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    1
Content          1
Overall           1

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Review of Demon Lover by Dion Fortune

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, Fantasy
Short Description

Excerpts

“It was useless to have the support of numbers if those who held the keys of power closed the door upon him.” – Dion Fortune, Chapter Two, Page 14


“Trained in a tradition that did not fully understand human nature, by men who believed that the race can best be served by those who have no tie or bond of affection, forgetting that it is only by loving an individual that we can learn to love the race.” – Dion Fortune, Chapter Twelve, Page 111


“Unbalanced mercy is but weakness, unbalanced justice is cruelty and oppression.” – Dion Fortune, Chapter Five, Page 285


Elaborate Description
Overview:
Lucas is a secretary who is seen as a forthcoming leader by many, but his behavior appears dangerously reckless by the few in positions of power.  What he wants is the knowledge in possession of the seniors in the group, so that it could be used.  For that Lucas seeks a secretary.  Veronica wants to be employed rather than face the emptiness of a London summer.  Among many, Lucas easily selects Veronica without giving it deeper thought as to why the choice was so easy.  Veronica begins to learn of her role, but cannot alter her course as Lucas uses some sort of power on her.  For in this occult story, knowledge is power.  The question is what they are willing to sacrifice to obtain that knowledge?  What will be scarified for love?  A philosophical tale in which the caricatures of good and evil do not fit, as what matters is the interaction between those who take different paths.  

There are many philosophical themes in this book that relate to respecting different sources of knowledge and perspectives.  The differences between the theoretic and the practical.  Raising the question of who should have knowledge, determine who obtains the knowledge, who should wield knowledge, and how should knowledge be used.  All this to highlight the need for various qualities to interact rather than be segregated.  As emotions are needed to properly utilize the knowledge.  While emotions alone cannot accomplish what knowledge understands.  

Problems?
The book is a complex mixture of mystery, fantasy, and romance.  Keeps the reader in suspense as to what comes next, as the results of events are unexpected.  The problem is that the writing is not always very easy to read.  Containing some poor transitions between the various events, which prevents flow.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What is Lucas’s position in the occult group? 
•How do people perceive Lucas?
•Who is Lucas?
•What does Lucas want?
•What will Lucas do if he obtains knowledge?
•Why does Lucas seek a secretary?
•Why does Veronica seek employment? 
•How is Veronica perceived by others?
•What does Veronica have in the events that Lucas initiates?
•Who is Veronica?
•Why does Veronica go along with Lucas?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780877284994
Pages to read:   282
Publication:     1988
1st Edition:      1957
Format:           Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           5


Review of Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Sociology
Short Description

Excerpts

“Giving us an education surpassing that ordinarily bestowed upon children in our condition, he acquired by his diligence and economy, a sufficient property qualification to entitle him to the right of suffrage.” – Solomon Northup, Chapter I, Page 16

“Having completed my contracts on the canal satisfactorily to myself and to my employer, and not wishing to remain idle, now that the navigation of the canal was again suspended, I entered into another contract.” – Solomon Northup, Chapter 1, Page 19

“I at once accepted the tempting offer, both for the reward it promised, and from a desire to visit the metropolis.  They were anxious to leave immediately.  Thinking my absence would be brief, I did not deem it necessary to write to Anne whither I had gone.” – Solomon Northup, Chapter II, Page 24


Elaborate Description
Overview:
Slavery was a vile institution but it was more complicated than all slaveholders as evil.  Some slaveholders had much gratitude, while others had much bitterness.  This is an autobiography of Solomon Northup, who was born free in the northern states, but was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the southern states.  Going from a hard worker making a comfortable living, to a tireless worker barely living.  From having a family, to being in constant peril.  A detailed account is made of the tortures, and the different labor uses of slaves.  There were people along who treated enslaved people well, and others who helped Solomon stay alive and regain his freedom.  This is a story about the value of freedom.  

Solomon’s father had given his children an education, setting different expectations of them than did society.  Solomon himself married Anne, with whom he had children.  Through hard work and diligence, the family made a comfortable and happy living.  Solomon was always looking to work, and avoid idleness, which attracted him to the offer to play his violin in other states.  Unfortunately, Solomon also accepted to stay with the party while it went to play in the southern states.  Although Brown and Hamilton incentivized and helped procure papers to show that Solomon was a free person and not a slave, Solomon ended up being kidnapped in a southern state with the papers missing.  Solomon is not sure whether Brown and Hamilton had anything to do with his kidnappers, as they were friendly towards Solomon and cared for Solomon’s welfare.  But because the consequence was becoming a slave, Solomon does not think of them too charitably.  

The slaver known as Burch tortured the freedom out of Solomon.  Solomon did not yield his claim that he was a free person easily, but thought it wise to go along with the claim of slavery for that would give him better prospects of escape.  It was either go along and become a slave, or lose his life.  After that Solomon was a slave to different slave masters.  Looking kindly at some slave masters for their treatment.  Making easy acquaintances with people in similar condition as he was, but also gaining some ill will.  There were more than a few times in which Solomon’s life was in jeopardy.  For Solomon, kindness would have made slaves more obedient than deadly weapons.  

Problems?
The writing is sometimes easy to read, but the syntax prevents flow as it makes it more difficult to read.  There might be a problem with the narrative of the story, given in such detail years after the events.  It is unlikely that the events happened exactly as the details are laid out.  But the general context is acceptable, with proofs and sources.

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Were all slaveholders the same?
•What was Solomon’s personality?
•What skills did Solomon have?
•How did Solomon end up being a slave?
•Why did Solomon fight his freedom?
•Why did Solomon accept being a slave?
•How did Solomon escape slavery?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940152130065
Pages to read:   228
Publication:     2015
1st Edition:      1853
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall           3


Friday, September 17, 2021

Review of Hot Buttons: How to Resolve Conflict and Cool Everyone Down by Sybil Evans, Sherry Suib Cohen

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Short Description
Excerpts

“Even if times are more sensitive, you still have a choice.  It’s your call.  Attitude is a choice.  If you choose to react to your own pushed buttons with an attitude of blinding anger, you’ll get nowhere.  If you understand why people incite your rage and what you need to do to turn off your (and their) anger, you’ll react another way and find a solution.  Choose to diffuse – diffuse the read heat and move on.” – Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen, Chapter 1: What’s A Hot Button, Page 8


“People who compromise often end up feeling they’ve made more concessions that the other.  Finally, agreement tend to be temporary – no one really commits to the compromise because the solution is a far cry from what each really wanted.” – Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen, Chapter 1: What’s A Hot Button, Page 15


“When you clash, it can be an opportunity for increased intimacy and a new sense of aliveness, instead of feeling of hopelessness.  Hello, conflict – thanks for dropping in.” – Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen, Chapter 5, Page 91

Excerpts with permission from publisher

Elaborate Description
Overview:
Hot buttons are emotional triggers.  They are everywhere.  The question is not how to avoid them as they cannot be avoided, but how to handle them.  To recognize that the way we think about others and communicate can press hot buttons.  After recognizing how others and ourselves push and respond to hot buttons, we can start to consider how to change the responses.  To prevent exacerbating the situation, and to calm everyone down.  Words do hurt and have physical health consequences.  But words can also heal.  Conflict can be a gift of energy that allows development and fulfilment, but conflict can also put up barriers to progress and cripple individuals.  It is the damaging conflict that needs to be resolved.  Communication is vital for conflict resolution.  

If a hot button is pushed, the individual feels brutalized without physical attacks.  It can impair judgment about the situation and decisions on how to reaction.  That emotional driven self can make a lot of mistakes that cannot be taken back.  There are many expressions of emotions when a hot button has been pushed, which vary from explosive rage to becoming more passive.  To turn off hot buttons, what is needed is to understand what turns them on and the probable reactions. 

Choosing what to do after a hot button is pressed matters.  There are ways to make the situation worse, or to facilitate an appropriate resolution.  The ask of this book is to diffuse the anger, to find an appropriate solution.  To this end the authors have created a 5-step formula, but it needs to be tailored to the context as each confrontation will have different aspects.  The steps are: 1) watch the play, 2) confirm, 3) get more information, 4) assert your own interests and needs, 5) find common ground for a solution.  Watching the play means to create a mentally detached and objective state where you can take in what is happening.  A good way to diffuse a situation is the next set, to confirm the validity of their view, as this allows communication to proceed.  By asking open-ended questions, you can get more information about the situation, which is essential to understand what the actual problem is.  Conflict resolution needs everyone involved, which includes you as you assert your own interests and needs.  After understanding issues of mutual concern, comes the transition to problem solving by finding common ground.  

Problem solving the conflict does not mean to compromise, it means to collaborate.  To understand how each can help the other.  Compromise tends to be temporary because often no one gets what they wanted.  With strangers its best to prevent blame or offence, and to retain dignity and niceness.  Some isolated situations can get hostile, in which case walking away is the appropriate tactic.  But unresolved conflict with relationships can make a person very angry and make them sick.  Conflict can be very stressful which sends many hormones racing that can negatively impact health.

Part of what can push a hot buttons is having wrong assumption about other people’s beliefs and motives.  There are many different ways to have better communication without accusing others with false assumptions.  Another is being pressured to change, as that often makes people defensive, while acceptance and understanding facilitated the ability to change willingly.  A diffusing skill of reframing what has been said is a good way to let the other know that they have been heard.  Dialogue-killers prevent communication and turn hot buttons on.  

Problems?
The book is eloquently written and provides a variety of important examples into how to make communication work between people.  The problem is that in many cases, the resolution seems way too unrealistic.  That the major problems can disappear with short conversations.  That people can actually express their problems and vulnerabilities to those that they have a conflict with.  The author makes conflict resolution seem too easy.  It seems that there is a lot of long-term conversations that are left out of the conversations.  

Another problem is that some of the solutions to conflict resolution, given the context, can make the problem worse.  The author makes a point that a conflict strategy of problem-solving is best, but that attitude can make things worse.  Even with these shortcomings, this book does a wonderful job at highlighting many common tendencies and complexities of hot buttons. 

Questions to Consider While Reading
•What is the book’s raison d’etre? For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are hot buttons and where do you find them?
•Why is recognizing hot buttons important? 
•How do hot buttons change behavior? 
•Why does it matter how individuals communicate with each other?
•Why do words hurt?
•Are there anything benefits to conflict?
•Why is there a need to diffuse a hot button?
•What is the 5-step formula for conflict resolution?  Describe each step. 
•What is the difference between a compromise and collaboration? 
•Why is communication is important for conflict resolution?
•What are dialogue-killers?
•Are there some conflicts that need to be avoided?
•What conflicts cannot be avoided?
•What do false assumptions do to communication?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780060196998
Pages to read:   335
Publication:     2000
1st Edition:      2000
Format:            Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Review of Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations by Amy Chua

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Sociology
Short Description

Elaborate Description
Overview:
Humans want to belong.  Belonging can be found in groups, in tribes.  But with groups comes exclusion of others.  Behavior changes to fit the groups’ norms, to identify with the group.  Favoring in-group members over out-group individuals.  Causing tension and indignation.  Depending on whether it is the majority or the minority that has political and economic control of decisions shapes how the tribes engage with one another, but it nevertheless causes resentment.  Resentment that can come to have a violent expression.  To either prevent conflict or to stop it in progress will need the different groups to reconcile, which requires them to communicate.  

Quality of life ideals such as globalization and individualism have improved the circumstance of many people, but individuals still need to belong to a group.  Not all groups are the same.  Some groups provide joy, others violence.  Members of a group will do a lot for their group’s members, even if there is no return for the deeds.  The brain is hardwired for group identification.  Seeing in-group members with all the complexity and individuality that it brings, while seeing out-group members as homogenous.  This makes it easier to negatively stereotype others.  

Democracy does not override preexisting tribal divides.  Democracy can also galvanize group conflict.  When poor majorities take political power, they usually take revenge against the resented minorities.  The minorities feel the empowered majority, which leads them to resort to violence.  Threatened groups become even more tribal as they defend their differences.  People with better numeracy skills tend to be more biased as they can manipulate the numbers to support the tribe’s worldview.  Although many people privately favor individuals who express different views, they publicly shame them.  Conformity is a cascade of self-reinforcing social pressure.  This behavior can trap groups from considering the alternative decisions.  There are a few who use their privilege to shame and punish dissenters, without any cost to themselves.  The dissenters are forced underground where resentment is fostered.

Groups that have a violent expression are usually terrorist groups.  Terrorism is not about an individual.  It is a group phenomenon that turns an individual into a violent tool of tribal politics.  The individuals themselves are otherwise normal people.  They become violent gradually through socialization and radicalization.  

Exposure to different tribes is not enough for acceptance, as just exposure can make group division worse.  What is needed is seek engagement, to understand the dignity and kindness of others.  What is needed to see the tribal adversity, and to build methods of appropriate communication.  To engage in common enterprise.  

U.S.:
America is a tribe of tribes.  An identity not defined by the various ethic subgroups.  American is an identity that comes from the diverse backgrounds of the people.  A very inclusive place, but also very racist.  Because of American identity, its politically blind to the political tribalism elsewhere as the assumption is that everyone wants the same things such as liberty.  America assumes that other countries can handle diversity like America can, which is also an assumption about how America handles its diversity.  America is unique in electing a racial minority.  

Citizens of the world should mean that the U.S. is trying to break down tribal barriers, but cosmopolitanism is tribal because is for the elite who can obtain education and can travel while also exclusionary of other groups.  Multicultural expressions used to be considered a rejection of ethnocentric, but have changed to be seen as microaggressions as a group appropriates the culture of another.  Inclusive language is perceived to erase group differences and the history of problems between them.  

In the U.S., there are many movements that want to help the poor or other people’s who do not have the opportunities or qualities of another group.  But the movements do not necessarily include those who are on the receiving end of the supposed help.  The use of protests is more a status symbol, which usually worsens the perception of the people being helped.  The poor are less likely to be politically active in a variety of aspects.  Partly because their situation will remain no matter who is in power.

The problem is that few are left that seek America without identity politics.  For an American identity that would unite the diverse subgroups.  Every group feels under attack for various aspects such as jobs and the ability to shape the national identity.  The Left has moved away from inclusion, towards exclusion and division.  To be inclusive is seen as not acknowledging what had been done to oppressed groups.  With intersectionality, many groups are in competition over which group is least privileged.  The Right used to about individualism, and away from divisive identity politics but now is has been forced to take on the white identity.  Even with all the division, the country has seen a rise in individuals and groups willing to build bridges and support reconciliation.

Vietnam:
China has been an existential threat to Vietnam for more than just one millennium.  After gaining their independence in the 10th century, they were still dominated by the Chinese and needed to pay tribute.  China repeatedly invaded Vietnam who kept repelling the Chinese.  Vietnamese bravery over Chinese invaders is the core of Vietnamese lore.  Whether the stories are real or not, they have generated kinship among the Vietnamese.  

When the U.S. intervened in Vietnam, they missed two aspects of Vietnamese culture.  They missed the animosity between Vietnam and China, and missed the internal market-dominant Chinese minority.  The U.S. thought that they were fighting communism for Vietnam’s freedom.  Vietnamese did not see U.S. as providing freedom, they saw the U.S. destroying their way of life.  When North Vietnamese leaders decided to liberate the South Vietnamese, the U.S. responded by escalating military involvement without adapting to the guerrilla warfare.  

U.S wartime polices only increased the resentment of the Vietnamese of the Chinese and U.S.  As U.S. needed many supplies, they bought it from those who had the ability to deliver them, the Chinese.  Most of the money went to the minority Chinese.  The Chinese profited from U.S. intervention and seemed very ruthless against the Vietnamese.  There are cases were the Chinese deliberately caused problems for the Vietnamese.  Although the Chinese were supposed to help fight the war, they avoided the draft via bribes.  The perception was that South Vietnamese were meant to fight and die their northern peoples to make the Chinese rich.  

Afghanistan:
Afghanistan was established in 1747 by a Pashtun.  Pashtuns kept leadership for over two centuries.  During the mid-20th century, both the U.S. and Russia saw only the distinction between capitalism and communism, but that was not the source of trouble in Afghanistan.  It was the feud between Pashtuns and Tajiks.  The Taliban is mainly composed of Pashtuns, which arose because of threats to Pashtun dominance.  U.S. military intervention turned many Afghans against the U.S.  With the U.S. training, arming, and funding many of the Taliban’s key figures.  

With U.S coming out of the defeat of Vietnam, it decided to covertly fight communism using Pakistan.  The military leaders in Pakistan made the U.S. its geopolitical pawn, as the U.S. provided the arms and money.  General Muhammad Zia-ulHaq manipulated ethic politics to destroy Pashtun nationalism, and to dominate with radical Islam.  All the U.S. saw were soldiers fighting for a free world.  In this way they armed anti-Soviet fighters who would later become part of U.S. most-wanted.  Only after the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden after the World Trade Center, did the U.S. trade the communist worldview for the antiterrorist worldview.  All the while still misunderstanding the ethnic importance of the movement.

Many Afghans supported the Taliban in the late 20th Century because the Taliban brought stability to the region.  They were willing to accept a stricter code of conduct, in exchange for security against the massive racketeering rings that profited on kidnapping, extortion, and many other crimes.  The Taliban was able to provide that law and order because of their Pashtun identity.  The Taliban retook control of Afghanistan from the Tajik minority, which was popularity accepted by the Pashtun majority.  Only in areas that were not primarily Pashtun, did the Taliban have strong resistance.  The Taliban was not able to unify Afghanistan because moderate Pashtuns found the Taliban’s method repulsive.  Many also saw the close ties of the Taliban to Pakistan as problematic.  

While setting up the post-Taliban government, the U.S. alienated Pashtuns by excluding them from decision making and favoring rival ethnic groups.  As the U.S. was moving on to the war in Iraq, it failed to ensure the security that the Taliban provided.  After the Taliban, lawlessness surged again.  Many policies that were implemented by the U.S. turned the population of Afghanistan again the U.S. 

Iraq:
Much like Vietnam and Afghanistan, the U.S. found itself in an unwinnable war, making the regional people hate the U.S., and produce ISIS.   When the U.S. invaded Iraq, the Sunni minority were dominant economically, politically, and militarily.  Shias were the majority, and were mostly poor.  Sunni understood that the U.S. would bring Shias to power, which caused the Sunni to retaliate against the U.S.  

Many of the Sunnis were removed from their jobs politically or not.  The U.S. even removed Sunnis from skilled work such as health care.  The military was forced to disband.  All this created frustrated with people who had no other skill sets or means to earn a living.  

Over time, the U.S. had a military decision making in Iraq whose strategy was to approach local populations, with explicit group-focused, and ethnically conscious policies.  Winning over regions by very local tribe at a time.  This built alliances rather than fueling hatred.  Recognition that it would take Shias and Sunnis working together.  This policy stabilized the region and heavily reduced sectarian violence.  

As communism and authoritarianism failed, America promoted the opposite, markets and democracy.  The U.S. backed the democratically elected Shia parliament.  Led by Nouri al Maliki.  While the U.S. praised Maliki for an inclusive government, Maliki was determined to perpetrate genocide against the Sunni.  Persecuting and executing Sunnis.  Terrorizing the Sunni via the Shia militias.  

Venezuela:
Venezuela had deep buried racial tension with a market-dominant minority.  There were claims that there was no racism because everyone was mixed-blood, but individuals were classified based on racial purity, creating a caste system.  

Chavez was a product of democracy.  He represented the majority who were poor and looked like them.  Chavez spoke for them.  Supported the emotional needs of a demoralized nation.  Based on Chavez’s antibusiness policies, a lot of wealth was transferred to overseas banks.  The biggest economic boon in Venezuela was its oil, run by an efficient elite.  Chavez fired the elites and replaced them with people who had little business experience.

In 2002, there was a coup against Chavez in which Chavez was deposed.  The U.S. claimed that the coup was a victory for democracy.  But with a lot of popular support within the country, Chavez was shortly back in office.  When the U.S. supported the overthrow of a democratically elected leader, the hypocrisy devastated region influence.  Chavez was more autocratic and floundered economic policy, but the country was more democratic under his regime.  

Problems?
The book is eloquently written.  The problem is what is not included in the book that would have elucidated different relations and methods of handling tribal negotiations.  Chua has written plenty on diverse empires throughout history, while does not use them.  Does not reference historic diversity, other than the in the 20th century and early 21st.  A claim is made that the U.S. is unique in its acceptance of diversity, but Chua wrote about empires which seemed just as unique.  Or rather, maybe they were not that diverse or unique.  Adding a chapter or two about how empires which were composed of diverse tribes, and how their affairs were handled, would have elucidated ways on how to manage present diversity.  Their failures can present lessons on what not to do.  Their successes can hint at appropriate conflict resolution.  There are also 20th century examples of nations which were composed of minority groups which support Chua’s views on tribal politics, but they are not listed in the book, so their failures or success cannot be learned from.

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why do humans want to be part of groups?
•How do individuals change when they are in a group?
•Why is there tension between in-group members and out-group individuals?
•What causes resentment?
•What is needed stop or prevent conflict?
•What does democracy do for tribal circumstances? 
•What happens when a majority has power?  When a minority?
•How do people treat dissenters?
•Why do people join groups which have a violent expression, such as terrorist groups?
•How to bring people together? 
•What is America’s identity?
•Why does America assume it has handled diversity well?  Why does it project that assumption unto other nations?
•Why is being cosmopolitan a tribe?
•How has being multicultural changed over time?
•How are movements and protest perceived?
•Who is left to seek to understand without identity politics? 
•What is intersectionality? 
•What is Vietnam’s identity? 
•What role does China have in Vietnam history?
•What tribalism did the U.S. miss when they intervened in Vietnam?
•What was the perception of the Vietnamese of U.S. intervention?
•How did the Vietnamese see their Chinese minority during the Vietnam War?
•What is Afghanistan’s identity?
•Why did the Taliban want to take Afghanistan?
•How did the U.S. help create the Taliban?
•Why did the U.S. want to use Pakistan as an intermediary?  How did Pakistan react? 
•What were the problems with the post-Taliban government? 
•What is Iraq’s identity?
•Who did not want the U.S. to intervene in Iraq?  Why?
•What did the U.S. do to the Sunni minority?
•When did U.S. policy work in Iraq? Why?
•What is Venezuela’s identity?
•Did Venezuela have a caste system?
•How did Chavez get power?
•Who did Chavez represent?
•Why did Chavez create so many problematic economic problems?
•Why was there a coup against Chavez?
•How did Chavez get back into power after the coup?
•How was the U.S impacted by Chavez government?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780399562860
Pages to read:   158
Publication:     2018
1st Edition:      2018
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Review of The Approaching Storm: Conflict in Asia. 1945-1965 by Edward J. Marolda

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, War

Short Description

Elaborate Description

The Vietnam War was fought for 25 years, to preserve the independence of various Indochinese governments.  But the United States lost the war, while Communist movements and military forces took over the governments.  The war started shortly after WWII, as many European countries wanted to reestablish colonial control over various Asian countries.  This led to many anticolonial resistance movements, which were often led by Communists.  Vietnam was a strategic military location from which to protect the rest of Indochina.  With the U.S. supplying and training locals with a lot gear and vehicles.  The Vietnam War was ultimately a failure because they misunderstood the geopolitics of Vietnam and the rest of Indochina.  

The book is not well written and from the perspective of the U.S.  Trying to claim some honor and dignity from their efforts.  No recognition of mistaken political and ideological understanding.  Making claims from what the U.S. perceives as were the problems with Vietnam, rather than looking or understanding the Vietnam’s perspective.  A continuous mistake is made attributing U.S. values unto a different cultural people.  This prevents understanding of the problems that occurred within geopolitics, and prevents learning from the failures.  Lessons that were not learned, which this book does not elucidate, proceed to further create policies that lead to failure.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why seek to protect Indochina?
•What were the Indochinese people resisting?
•What was the ideological mindset of the invaders and the local population? 
•What was U.S.’s failure with the Vietnam War?

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780160928604
Pages to read:   75
Publication:     2015
1st Edition:      2015
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          2
Overall           2