Salon Reviews “Twice As Good” posted an interesting review about Marcus Mabry’s new book, Twice As Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power. It’s an insightful analysis of how Mabry might have come to write such an unflatering biography of Rice.

As far as Rice is concerned, there is just one problem with Mabry. He is not only sophisticated and sympathetic but fair-minded and highly scrupulous about the truth. Unfortunately, truthfulness and fairness are not flattering to his subject.

The book sounds like it’s pretty interesting. I’ve always thought that Rice was a fascinating character, albeit terribly frightening. I found this paragraph from the article particularly compelling:

According to [Mabry’s] research, every boss or mentor throughout her career has been certain that Condi agreed with him, despite the broad range of politics and ideologies that they represent. This remarkable conformity amazed Mabry, who also learned that many of those same bosses and mentors today wonder whether her professed views were ever sincere or always merely convenient.

The Mighty and The Almighty

I started reading The Mighty and The Almighty by Madeleine Albright the other night. I’m about 75 pages into it so far, and I’d say that it is pretty interesting. Basically, the book is about politics and religion and how the two intersect. Although I don’t always agree with Albright’s opinions, I think she is generally pretty insightful.

While I was reading along the following passage that just stuck right out to me:

Unused to failure, American leaders were unable to fathom how this tiny…country could withstand the power they had unleashed against it. They misread the local culture; placed too much faith in corrupt, unpopular surrogates; and adopted a military strategy of gradual escalation that deepened our country’s involvement without making a decisive difference on the battlefield.

Quick, what’s the context of this? What war is she speaking of?

If I read this passage out of context, I would immediately assume that she was talking about Iraq. In fact, she is actually talking about Vietnam.1 I thought it was remarkable how similar the situations are, based upon these two (long) sentences. So remarkable, that while I was reading the passage, fully understanding that the subject was Vietnam, I stopped and thought to myself, Hey, that sounds just like Iraq.

Politicians today can talk all the want about how Iraq is nothing like Vietnam. And, no, I don’t think that they are exactly the same, but there are some striking similarities.

  1. For the record, I excluded one word from the passage (marked by the ellipsis). The word was ‘communist.’ Kind of gave everything away you know

Get the Facts Straight

"I am Charlotte Simmons" by Tom WolfeI’ve been reading I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe for the past week or two.

So far, it’s been decent, despite the level of criticism it has received from the press. As I was reading it last night though, I was astounded by one of those tiny little misplaced details. He mentioned that a bunch of basketball players were playing their Playstation 3. Now, I understand that a lot of people wouldn’t think twice about this. But I’m a gamer. I know that the Playstation 3 hasn’t even been released yet. In fact, they haven’t even announced a release date for it yet, other than a fuzzy November 2006. What makes it worse is that the book has a copyright of 2004.

I can’t believe nobody caught this before it went to print. Kind of a glaring mistake (especially since Tom Wolfe supposedly did so much research on the college lifestyle). Video games are a very important part of youth culture. This is a pretty big mistake in my opinion. Almost made me want to quit reading the stupid book.

That dumb look I get all the time…

From Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man:

In all my experience passing back and forth between male and female – often going out in public as both a man and a woman in one day – I rarely if ever interacted in any significant way with anyone (even store clerks) who didn’t treat me and the people around me in a gender-coded way, or freeze uncomfortably when they were uncertain whther I was a man or a woman.

It was the freezing that always struck me most. People will literally stand paralyzed for a moment, somtimes in mild, sometimes in utter panic when they don’t know what sex you are. You can see the confusion registering, or with polite people, being suppressed, and then you can see the adjustment being made either for male or female or for an extremely uncomfortable and robotic neutral ground between the two.

If they don’t know what sex you are, they literally don’t know how to treat you. They don’t know which code to opt for, which languatge to speak, which specific words and gestures to use, how close they can come to you phyically, whether or not they should smile and how. In this way we are no different than dogs – with the notable exception, of course, that no dog has ever been mistaken about anyone’s sex.