Winter Is Coming: why Vladimir Putin and the enemies of the free world must be stopped by Garry Kasparov (2015, Atlantic)
There aren’t many books I review which I consider must-reads. Generally, I attempt to present examples of solid books which are informative, entertaining, or both. This book is informative and entertaining (in a foreboding way) but it is also a must-read.
The author was, for nearly a decade, the top chess player in the world. He outlines the problems with American policy, pointing out that it is at its heart appeasement, and he does so in a methodical, logical way.
He spares nobody. He savages the policy of George W. Bush, of Obama, of George H.W. Bush and of Bill Clinton alike. At the same time, he does not dwell on the personal; he is attacking the policy, not the people, because the policy is what matters.
Kasparov speaks glowingly of Americanism, and when he does so he is not talking about any of the trappings of our popular culture but rather the fundamental devotion to individual liberty which traditionally defined us. He has been witness to the death of a fledgling democracy and he recognizes the magnitude of what has been lost.
The book targets recent history, explaining Putin’s successful efforts to crush freedom. In so doing he sketches an outline for avoiding future mistakes with Putin as well as other dictatorial leaders worldwide.
It was written prior to the 2016 election and was a call to action for lovers of liberty throughout the world. It may have been the most important book of 2015; whether on not it earned that title it was certainly among the most overlooked.
The Rediscovery of Man: the complete short science fiction of Cordwainer Smith by Cordwainer Smith (1993, NESFA Press)
“Cordwainer Smith” was a pseudonym used by Paul Linebarger for his science fiction work. Linebarger was an expert in psychological warfare and Asia who had spent many of his developmental years in various Asian countries.
His experiences colored his work, which provided slightly different sensibilities than were typically seen in science fiction of the day. His education further influenced him, resulting in stories like The Game of Rat and Dragon, Scanners Live in Vain, and The Burning of the Brain.
Smith was not especially prolific, but he produced a few dozen short stories, many of which are brilliant examples of science fiction. In the literary world, where having one great work can make a person famous, being able to consistently produce excellent and sometimes superlative stories is notable.
The science fiction “Rediscovery” award is provided yearly to those considered by many to be unjustly forgotten by contemporary readers. The award is named after Smith. If you like science fiction, this book should be in your library.