Politician’s Funeral Pyre

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Grove Press
November 2015

the_sympathizerThe Vietnam War, it will be no news to anyone, has had considerable impact on world history, both as a national tragedy for Vietnam and in its global cultural impacts.  It sparked a mass movement of people around and out of Vietnam and the rest of Indochina.  The song I’ve posted above is apparently about this migration.  I couldn’t find any English translation of the lyrics and sadly do not know any useful Vietnamese.  The Sympathiser follows the story of a migrant, the Captain, who journeys to the US as a refugee and sleeper agent for the Viet Cong.

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Action is the Most Dangerous Thing

Graham Greene (William Heinemann, 1955; Vintage, 2004) ISBN: 9780099478393the-quiet-american-vintage

So, ah, have you ever started reading a book you thought was about something completely different than it turned out to be?  Because I was under some kind of misapprehension about The Quiet American before I started it.  All I really knew about it was that it was made into a movie some time in the early to mid 2000s starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.  I only know this because I had a cousin involved in the picture, who at the time called his mother to say, “I’ve just met Michael Caine and you’re the only person I can think of who’ll care.”  Because this was back before we all had decided Michael Caine was cool again when he started being Batman’s butler and that sort of thing.

I think I had the book confused with The English Patient and possibly some other book that doesn’t exist.  Essentially, I knew the plot involved two men in love* with the same woman, but for some reason I believed it involved either a hospital or POWs.  This is what a hazy memory for pop culture does to a person.  I recommend you all study hard on what the Kardashians and real housewives are up to right now, for it may be tested later.

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The Scandinavian Wit


Blum, William (Common Courage Press, updated edition October 2008, ISBN 978-1567512526)

In 2009, President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” [1]

Many thought the prize undeserved – on the grounds that Obama appeared too much the enemy of peace. Had he won it, they asked, for prosecuting a war in Afghanistan? Or instead for his proposal to expand the United States military? Or for his plan to send “at least” two additional American combat brigades to Afghanistan? Continue reading

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