Coupl’a books

There is nothing very new or exciting out of these, but here are three good books I’ve finished recently:

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, Eric Schlosser. Again, this is not a new book, but it is well worth the read. Much has been said about the futility of America’s “war” on drugs, but equally as fascinating are Schlosser’s investigations into California’s migrant fruit pickers and his history of the U.S. pornography trade.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay. I’ve enjoyed the first three seasons of the Showtime program “Dexter” on DVD over the past couple of months. The series is based on four (so far) books by Lindsay. Due to the relative simplicity of this book and the fact that it became not a movie but a lengthy season of TV, the book and the first season of the show are more similar than in most book-to-screen adaptations. In fact, this is one of the rare instances in which I’d recommend you watch the show first, so as not to spoil the suspense by reading the story. It’s worth a quick read.

Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Richard A. Clarke. The best of the lot of my recent reading. Clarke comes across as earnest, not vindictive or bitter. He makes it very clear that his retelling is simply that and not a treatise on each of the important topics discussed. More can be said about these issues, including the rise of the recent Islamic fundamentalism, the impact of U.S. actions overseas on terrorist recruiting and actions, the necessary steps taken by the U.S. on homeland security and the future policy direction of the U.S. as it concerns the Muslim world in general. However, his brief history and explanation of these topics shows how correct some on the more left side of the pre- and post-9/11 world really were (and continue to be), how Clinton did more to address the issue of terrorism than previous Reagan or either Bush (despite his actions being labeled as Wag the Dog in nature at the time) and how much needs to be done to continue to address the serious problem the U.S. faces due to terrorism. I count myself among those who saw through the post-9/11 patriotism to see the real problems facing us — not Iraq — as well understood the pre-9/11 reality that our actions overseas were needlessly creating enemies. It was hard to sit through years of homeland security being run for the purpose of consolidating power and getting reelected and put in the hands of loyal politicians rather than competent managers. It’s gratifying to see it in print from someone as well qualified and well informed as Clarke.

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