February 2016 Non Fiction Reading
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This is a thematic history, in this case looking at how women heads of state have lead their forces into war or battle. It starts with Boudicea, and looks at the ways these women have been viewed by their supporters and their enemies. There are some usual representations that seem to be forced on these women, not all of them at all representative of the truth. So there is a tendency to present a woman leader as either chaste or a virago, even when the facts don't fit either stereotype. The evolution of the myth around some of these women is also most interesting. Different ages have viewed Boudicea as rebel who sets off a bloody uprising through the patriotic establishment figure. Both of those can;t possible be the whole truth, the way she's viewed probably says more about the times making those judgements than it does about her in fact. The book comes to the present day with 3 female heads of state being discussed in democratic era, Golda Meyer, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher. It seems to me that these most recent lady leaders actually have a harder task than their predecessors, they are cast by men as only a women, but by women as being an honourary man because they've succeeded in a man's world. Not very details on each of the women discussed, but enough to put them into a social and cultural context. There are plenty of references and further reading if this did pique your interest.
Books in progress include Empire Statesman by Robert Slayton and How War Came by Donald Cameron Watt.
Just starting or about to start Putin's Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha and Economics: The User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang.
Started I'm the Teacher, You're the Student today, after listening to the author's Great Courses lectures on Victorian Britain. Got into the book immediately!
What stood out was how pharmaceutical companies attempt to create a disease perception in the public's eye, so that they can offer a chemical solution.
Michael Pollan ✔
Mel Bartholomew ✔
I also skimmed The Knowledge and found it pretty useless. There are much better compendiums of survival skills and community integrity. I saw it as his personal should-do list, but it really wasn't worth publishing. His bibliography included teotwawki science fiction novels, which made me chuckle.