Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New books in the store

A small amount of books for today. Enjoy!

This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War
by James M. McPherson

McPherson sheds light on topics large and small, from the average soldier's avid love of newspapers to the postwar creation of the mystique of a Lost Cause in the South. Readers will find insightful pieces on such intriguing figures as Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Jesse James, and William Tecumseh Sherman, and on such vital issues such as Confederate military strategy, the failure of peace negotiations to end the war, and the realities and myths of the Confederacy. This Mighty Scourge includes several never-before-published essays--pieces on General Robert E. Lee's goals in the Gettysburg campaign, on Lincoln and Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, and on Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief. In that capacity, Lincoln invented the concept of presidential war powers that are again at the center of controversy today.

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter

I've always wanted to read his previous effort Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid but never got around to it. Here he presents a sequel which is said to be a "more personal effort" (Bookmarks) than the last.

What do we mean when we say "I"? Can thought arise out of matter? Can a self, a soul, a consciousness, an "I" arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here? I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the "strange loop"--a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. Deep down, a human brain is a chaotic seething soup of particles, on a higher level it is a jungle of neurons, and on a yet higher level it is a network of abstractions that we call "symbols." The most central and complex symbol in your brain or mine is the one we both call "I."

New England White by Stephen L. Carter

Stephen L. Carter is a decent writer but I wasn't crazy about his previous book, The Emperor of Ocean Park. I thought that it was a bloated disappointment in dire need of a good editor. It was also so weird to see everyone running around claiming that it had all this insightful depictions of the "black elite." I just didn't see anything but a bumbling professor in search of a mystery. A much better book from a superior writer on a similar topic is The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley. I'm including New England White into Indigo's collection because it may be a decent read. Thought the size of it, 555 pages, gives me that bloated feeling again.


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