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December 2, 2020

November Reading Roundup

Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter

  • Genre: Historical True Crime
  • Why I read it: The genre is my jam.
  • What I thought of it: The author examines crimes, as well as how each case was reported on or remembered in folk ballads (murder ballads were apparently a huge thing!) from colonial days to the mid 20th century. Fascinating!
  • Would I recommend it: Yes! People have this notion that mass murder, serial killing, psychopathy, or a public interest in true crime are modern phenomena, and that just isn't true. People should educate themselves about the past, and I've found that true crime is a good way to do it. 


The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties
by Jonathan Leaf (DNF) 

  • Genre: History
  • Why I read it: Research
  • What I thought of it: Though the information itself was fascinating, there was too much editorializing on the part of the author. I grew annoyed part way through and gave up.
  • Would I recommend it: Maybe? I would say get a copy and only read those chapters of interest to you, but skip the rest.

The Real History of Witches and Witch Hunts
by Thomas Fudge
(DNF)

  • Genre: History
  • Why I read it: Research
  • What I thought of it: It was good, but I ran out of time to finish it (it was a library book). Fudge largely focused on European witchcraft trials, and I do know later sections were going to focus on non-European witchcraft, which I was more interested in. Oddly, he seemed to ignore witchcraft in the ancient world entirely.
  • Would I recommend it: Yes. Witchcraft as a concept and how the witch hunts swept across Europe, in both Catholic and protestant countries, religious and secular courts, is something that is still relevant today, given things like cancel culture, the notion of guilt through identity or association, and so on.


The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI's Original Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

  • Genre: True Crime
  • Why I read it: John E. Douglas is my favorite true crime writer
  • What I thought of it: One thing I love about Douglas is that he often spends time talking about the victims and their families, rather than only focusing on the killers. He also considers when early legal intervention might have prevented a serial killer from developing, vs when it it, essentially, too late. He discusses the insanity defense, parole hearings, and rehabilitation for violent offenders, which I think is important.
  • Would I recommend it: Yes, despite the awful details of the crimes. People should know about criminals like those discussed in this book when they form opinions on parole, the death penalty, length of prison sentences, and so on.

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents Book by Rod Dreher
  • Genre: History, Religion, and Politics
  • Why I read it: The cover intrigued me, the premise, even more so.
  • What I thought of it: It's a little long toward the end, but it was still a good read. Dreher interviewed those who had lived under Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe in order to get their opinion on the "soft totalitarianism" present in the modern West. He asked how they had resisted and kept hope, and the book is essentially a treatise on how to do the same today.
  • Would I recommend it: Yes. One of the best parts of this book is that it is bi-partisan, pointing out how both liberal identity politics and conservative capitalism are invading every corner of the average person's life, and how it's incredibly dangerous not to notice what's happening.

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