Friday Night 10/23/2015

I examine more Halloween merch while on minimal sleep.

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2 comments

  1. What you said about your textbook referencing pop culture reminded me of this book review I read at Amazon. Apparently you can’t even write a book about a highly influential nineteenth century Russian anarchist and expect to hold people’s attention unless you randomly insert bathetic references to Hollywood movie stars into your text:

    http://www.amazon.com/Bakunin-Creative-Passion-Mark-Leier/dp/0312305389/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446336022&sr=1-1&keywords=bakunin+the+creative+passion

    “What can one say about an allegedly ground-breaking biography of a major 19th-century political theorist in which the author feels the need to mention Catherine Zeta-Jones, William Safire and John Grisham? Saying very little would be the polite option but to spare any unsuspecting readers the pain and sheer-disbelief that a few pages of this book can inflict compels me to say a bit more. Leier takes the father of anarchism and his turbulent times and turns it into one long strange and boring trip. After helpfully pointing out that May-December marriages (such as in the case of Bakunin’s parents) aren’t new or shocking, he uses the example of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas to reinforce his point. Huh? First of all, the point didn’t need reinforcing and second, what do two Hollywood actors have to do with the minor aristocracy of Russia? It gets weirder. Leier wears his politics on his sleeve, which is fine, but without providing any of the insight a distinct point of view should provide, such as Eric Hobsbawm does in everything he writes. If you want a laugh, read Leier’s explanation of capitalism early in the book, it’s so ham-handed even life-long socialists will find themselves brimming with affection for serf-masters. The low point, however, is when Leier decides to settle the score with some obscure fellow academic by criticizing his writing style as dull and turgid, then favorably comparing it to John Grisham when compared to one of Bakunin’s contemporaries. That’s right, a serious academic holding up John Grisham as a master of lucid prose. That’s when I stopped reading.”

    Liked by 1 person

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