Tag Archives: Books

Osama bin Laden’s books. They could do you more good than they did him.

Last week the CIA decided
Crossing the Rubicon, The New Pearl Harbor, Imperial Hubris, Obama's Wars, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy... to declassify the list of books found in Osama bin Laden’s last hideout when Seal Team Six made their raid. There were 39 titles, which the press has categorized as heavy on conspiracy theory. That’s true, untrue, and unsurprising if you consider the official White House line is that the US does not support illegal coups. These authors beg to differ, including the unimpeachable Noam Chomski. Other investigative standouts include William Blum, Greg Palast, John Perkins. The list did not include publication dates or editions, just author and title. A closer inspection of the list is revealing.
 
(This is part one of a continuing series.)

It would be more accurate to describe Osama bin Laden’s bookshelf as history, mostly contemporary with notable exceptions. For example, bin Laden’s reference on Christianity and Islam in Spain 756-1031 was published in 1889 with the full title “The Relations and Mutual Influences of Christianity and Mohammedanism During the Khalifate of Cordova.” In 1889 European perspectives on the Moorish occupation appear dramatically antisemitic.

The history of The US and Vietnam 1787-1941 begins with Thomas Jefferson’s first interests in trading for rice with “Cochinchina”. Written by a former ambassador, it was published in 1990 by the National Defense University Press. The Best Enemy Money Can Buy is about the symbiotic relationship between the US military industrial complex and Russia’s.

Some of bin Laden’s “books” such as Michael O’Hanlon’s Unfinished Business were staple-bound publications from US policy think tanks. I’ll review those and the various intelligence agency exposés in subsequent posts.

Here are the 39 titles listed alphabetically:
The 2030 Spike by Colin Mason; A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by I. A. Ibrahim; America’s Strategic Blunders by Willard Matthias; America’s ‘War on Terrorism’ by Michel Chossudovsky; Al-Qaeda’s Online Media Strategies: From Abu Reuter to Irhabi 007 by Hanna Rogan; The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast; The Best Enemy Money Can Buy by Anthony Sutton; Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris; Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier; Bounding the Global War on Terror by Jeffrey Record; Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions by Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson; Christianity and Islam in Spain 756-1031 A.D. by C. R. Haines; Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies by Cheryl Benard; Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins; Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 by John Coleman; Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert; Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance (only the book’s introduction) by C. Christine Fair and Peter Chalk; Guerrilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons and Techniques for Guerrilla Forces by James Crabtree; Handbook of International Law by Anthony Aust; Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky; Imperial Hubris by Michael Scheuer; In Pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure by Asim Abdul Maajid, Esaam-ud-Deen and Dr. Naahah Ibrahim; International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific by John Ikenberry and Michael Mastandano; Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II by William Blum; Military Intelligence Blunders by John Hughes-Wilson; Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s program of research in behavioral modification. Joint hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, August 3, 1977. United States Congress Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky; New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin; New Political Religions, or Analysis of Modern Terrorism by Barry Cooper; Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward; Oxford History of Modern War by Charles Townsend; The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy; Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum; The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall (1928); Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins; The Taking of America 1-2-3 by Richard Sprague; Unfinished Business: U.S. Overseas Military Presence in the 21stCentury by Michael O’Hanlon; The U.S. and Vietnam 1787-1941 by Robert Hopkins Miller; “Website Claims Steve Jackson Games Foretold 9/11,” article posted on ICV2.com.

The Misery that is North Korea

Wonder how much our American military attack on North Korea for over 6 decades has played in making North Korea the Misery that it is today? No doubt though that American capitalist apologists will simply want to blame all that is bad about North Korean society merely on ‘communism’, though that is a very simplistic point of view. No society, no matter what its economic system might be, can evolve into anything very nice after being besieged militarily in the manner that North Korea has been by the US. That being said, we can only have the greatest sympathy for all Koreans, living in both North and South Korea, that have had their national culture so utterly torn apart and militarized by US government foreign policy. Their national tragedy is very illustrated in a new book just published titled Escape from Camp 14

Banned books: the subversive dystopia

Eugene Zamiatin, We; Jack London, The Iron Heel; Ambrose Bierce, Can Such Things Be?; Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; Ayn Rand, Anthem; Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here; George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four; Norbert Weiner, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society; David Karp, One; Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, Player Piano; Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451; Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange; Harlan Ellison, The Glass Teat; Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale.Banned Books, p.2–
I put a lot of faith in an internet resilient enough to remain an unrestricted archive of crowd-sourced human knowledge, even more I hope public data will eventually permeate the proprietary, but continued access to subversive literature I have little doubt will meet the full brunt of digital book burners. If there’s any text not to download unto your Kindle, as an easily vaporized or expurgate-able file, it’s one of these classic oft-censored, perpetually-offense-giving titles. These are the dystopian novels and science fictions which paint a bleak picture of the society we are engineering.

As pictured, here are some notoriously subversive dystopian novels, (as differentiated from commercial drivel which reinforces mainstream dogma, such as Lord of the Flies, or Hunger Games)

Atwood, Margaret, THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Bierce, Ambrose, CAN SUCH THINGS BE?
Bradbury, Ray, FAHRENHEIT 451
Burgess, Anthony, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
Ellison, Harlan, THE GLASS TEAT
Huxley, Aldous, BRAVE NEW WORLD
Karp, David, ONE
Lewis, Sinclair, IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE
London, Jack, THE IRON HEEL
Orwell, George, NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR
Pohl, Frederick, & C.M. Kornbluth, THE SPACE MERCHANTS
Rand, Ayn, ANTHEM
Vonnegut, Kurt, PLAYER PIANO
Wiener, Norbert, THE HUMAN USE OF OTHER BEINGS
Zamiatin, Eugene, WE

Haven’t heard of many of these? Curious, don’t you think?

You read banned books, but by whom?

The Ginger Man, J P Donleavy; Howl, Allen Ginsberg; Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov; Ulysses, James Joyce; Lady Chatterley's Lover, D H Lawrence, Fanny Hill, John Cleland; The Arabian Nights, Richard Burton; Candide, Voltaire; Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman; Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe; The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio; The Canterbury Tales, Chancer; Lysistrata, AristophanesBy which I mean: BANNED by whom? Looking online for a definitive listing of most-often banned or censored books yields a panoply of titles not necessarily candidates for a pantheon. At right I’ve stacked the heavyweights most often resisted for being obscene, here a quality strangely inseparable from being subversive. Many of these titles have been intercepted through the ages by the US Post Office for being indecent under the Comstock Law, but how does that really inform readers of today?

These days the issue of censorship conjures images of Nazi bonfires, and petty bureaucrats like Sarah Palin calling her public library to inquire about pulling objectionable material from public circulation. The ACLU helps celebrate an annual Banned Books Week, and there’s even a t-shirt popular in elementary school circles which declaims “I read banned book.”

Sexual themes aside, isn’t good literature by definition subversive? “Banned books” of note show themselves by who’s trying to limit their circulation. Solzhenitsyn for example, was silenced by the USSR, not by authorities fretting over you. On the other hand, what the Nazis burned shared themes the US has sought to censor before and since, but the big whoop we make about banned books instead obsesses on lascivious or politically incorrect vocabulary. While literary publicists revel in the notoriety of inconsequential attacks on the ilk of Harry Potters, the digital and mass media age has meant sophisticated advancements in real book burning. I’d like to present an illustrated series about literary works which have threatened authoritarian rule in the past, your access to which is quietly receding.

Book burning is old hat for Kindle

The Amazon KindleAwww, the “Gift of Reading.” Wasn’t that something we gave ourselves for free in public school? And look at the e-book with which Amazon expects to separate readers from viewers –the latest movie.
 
Holy Schnikies Amazon picked a whopper of a name for its e-book reader! Is the “Kindle” supposed to inflame our gone-digital hearts to the warm fuzzies of reading? Because kindle wood and books have always been combustible dance partners. Firelight was something man used to have to read by, but kindling was also indispensable for book burnings. Which role most likely foreshadows this Kindle’s potential?

I think the answer lies not too far from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s celebrated promise to never again remotely tamper with their readers’ Kindle libraries. Earlier this year, online customers bought digital books to which Amazon then discovered its merchant partner didn’t have the intellectual rights. Amazon refunded the purchases and erased the already downloaded files, revealing what technology experts already suspected, that the Kindle’s software permitted more than a hands-on eavesdropping capability.

In response to the outcry, Bezos promised never to do it again. Fine. His assurance is good enough for me. The truth is, Amazon won’t have to.

The burning of e-books will not be about destroying your and my electronic files. It will happen at the file’s creation or un-creation. And I suspect the censorship will be a lot more clever than a publisher conspicuously sitting on its exclusive rights to release or not release a title. All that need happen to disenfranchise a public from a familiar inflammatory tome is to buy the publishing right and excise the offensive material. Why not– it will be their right. And Jeff Bezos will probably be able to justify amending already sold copies under the guise of issuing corrections, or redistributing free updates to the original editions.

Can you imagine a world void of its disturbing literature? That’s the vision which has guided book burners. The only thing standing between mankind and the more equitable distribution of knowledge are the revolutionary armadas launched by Gutenberg. At which the Kindle is aiming its broadsides.