You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Books’ category.

Books-Gorbachev (2)Books-BushClinton (2)With book culture in America disappearing, a recent book sale in NYC featured an interesting juxtaposition.

One vendor had signed first edition copies of memoirs by George H.W. Bush and “Hillary” for $175 each. Across the aisle a vendor was selling a first edition signed Mikhail Gorbachev volume for $900.

Faulkner-Hamlet (2)The United States continues to be a place where new things need to look old, and old things (and people) need to look new.

For example, this 2003 copy of Thomas Jefferson—Basic Writings has a dust jacket made to look old (see brown spots). It sits next to a 1940 first edition copy of William Faulkner’s The Hamlet, considered by many to be an important work in American literature—but with a dust jacket that one ABAA book dealer recently wrote was “too ruff…to be able to resell.”

What would Faulkner say about that? Perhaps: “I told you so; blame the Snopeses, with their snap-on bow ties, acting like Sartorises!”

One shouldn’t disregard shabby volumes. In his introduction to “Nostromo” (Doubleday, 1924), Joseph Conrad writes that his inspiration for the work came from “a shabby volume picked up outside a second hand bookshop.”

HavelALifeRemnickZantovskyTwenty-five years ago (Nov. 17)  the peaceful Velvet Revolution brought an end to Communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia, and led to play right and dissident leader Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) becoming President.

Mr. Havel’s former Press Secretary, Michael Zantovsky, is out with a book that some are calling the definitive biography of Havel. He was interviewed about the book by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, before an audience last evening at Bohemian Hall in NYC.

Mr. Zantovsky described Vaclav Havel, as “a hero for what he has done,” but also as a flawed man filled with “guilt and doubt,” who made mistakes but was committed to telling the truth.

When asked why Havel supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq? Zantovsky said “because Havel trusted the American President.”

The American people and the world are learning there is no future in trusting American Presidents—who are guided more by Bolshevik values than the truth. Ironically, it’s the American leadership that has become Bolshevik (collapsing societies) in recent years, with the Russians (and Czechs) more Jeffersonian.

In his conversation with Mr. Zantovsky, Mr. Remnick suggested that the Czech Republic’s post-revolution success was an “outlier”, and that other countries in the region, especially Russia (and Putin) have disappointed. Later LE asked Mr. Remnick why he was down on Putin? He responded with a question: “I should be high on him?” LE then suggested that the U.S. government has done more harm in the world than Putin and Russia in the last 25 years. Remnick closed with: “It’s a longer conversation,” and left.

“I favor ‘antipolitical politics.’ that is, politics not as the technology of power and manipulation, of cybernetic rule over humans or as the art of the utilitarian, but politics as one of the ways of seeking and achieving meaningful lives, of protecting them and serving them. I favor politics as practical morality, as service to the truth, as essentially human and humanly measured care for our fellow humans. It is, I presume, an approach which, in this world, is extremely impractical and difficult to apply in daily life. Still, I know no better alternative.” Vaclav Havel, Open Letters (Random House, 1991)

Photographs: Stephen Wise

NYNOW2014-BooksClassic. A book which people praise but don’t read.” Mark Twain

Photograph: Stephen Wise

JohnDean073014bJohn Dean, White House Counsel for Richard Nixon (1970-73), was hawking his latest book: The Nixon Defense on the Upper West Side this evening.

It seems an odd title for the book given Dean’s role in the Watergate break-in, and the subsequent bringing down of the Nixon White House.

Mr. Dean recounted confronting Nixon with the news that a “cancer” had formed on his Presidency, and yet it doesn’t appear that Mr. Dean did anything, as White House Counsel, to prevent the cancer in the first place.

He was asked about “Nixon’s illegal (secret) bombing of Cambodia” and why he didn’t say anything to oppose it? Dean replied: “Why did I (as Counsel) not step in and say something about his bombing of Cambodia and the additional deaths that that would cause? The primary reason is because I was totally unaware of all those activities.”

That’s unlikely given that the press reported the story in May 1969.

Referring to the ‘secret’ bombing of Cambodia (1969-70), Walter Isaacson said in his book Kissinger: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 1992): “American policy was edging toward what had heretofore been an unfamiliar realm: the use of military power not anchored by concerns about morality and international law.”

Analysis: Even a casual reading of American history, reveals that the U.S. government’s disconnect from morality and international law began long before the bombing of Cambodia. While Nixon may have been forced from office, his pardon by President Ford (a former member of the Warren Commission) represents the continuation of a pattern of no accountability in Washington, that continues to this day.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

GATSBYGatsby to Garp at the Morgan Library & Museum through September 7, 2014

BookfairTheKingInYellowThe 1895 psycho-thriller “The King in Yellow,” by Robert Chambers, is making a comeback. Climbing to #7 on Amazon’s list last week, the book seems to have struck a chord with young people, but not the book selling elites. None of the vendors at the recent Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair had a copy for sale. Most hadn’t even heard of the work. One reason might be that “The King in Yellow” offers a prophetic glimpse of the “Imperial Dynasty of America” — one that delights young people but makes their elders nervous.

In the city of New York the summer of 1899 was signalized by the dismantling of the Elevated Railroads. The summer of 1900 will live in the memories of New York people for many a cycle; the Dodge Statue was removed in that year. In the following winter began that agitation for the repeal of the laws prohibiting suicide which bore its final fruit in the month of April, 1920, when the first Government Lethal Chamber was opened on Washington Square.

“Ah! I see it now!” I shrieked. “You have seized the throne and the empire. Woe! woe to you who are crowned by the crown of the King in Yellow!” The King in Yellow (F. Tennyson Neely, 1895)

TheBloodTelegramTheBloodTelegram3TheBloodTelegram2 (2)Gary J. Bass presented his book, “The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide” (Knopf, 2013), to a mostly South Asian audience, last evening at the Aicon Gallery in NYC.

LE Observation: The immorality of Nixon/Kissinger realpolitik in 1971, vis-a-vis Pakistan and Bangladesh, is being invoked by ‘human rights’ activists — intent on justifying immoral interventions in places like Libya, Egypt and Syria, as they ‘attempt to bring about a new world from deliberately created chaos.’

Bolshevism (anarchy from the top) is being repackaged as ‘humanitarian intervention.’ The Obama administration is murdering the state of Syria by encouraging and supporting the terrorist forces seeking to remove President Bashar al-Asaad. Messrs. Kissinger and Obama are no better than Charles Taylor — all of whom should be at the Hague, along with both Bushes and Cheney.

bea2013aAttending Book Expo America in recent years — one couldn’t help but feel a sense of emptiness, even nothingness, as American society disintegrates under a torrent of egos and algos. That said there were signs of life this year especially from some self-published authors we met, including Gary Heyward author of Corruption Officer: Perp With a Badge.


  • Hybrid Authors (traditional and self-published) are doing the best.
  • Digital Sales have leveled off.
  • Publishers are going all out with data-mining, algorithms and social media to push their books.
  • Buzzwords: ‘magic,’ ‘revenge’ and ‘doomed.’


ElizabethGilbertElizabeth Gilbert, author of best-seller Eat, Pray, Love, is coming out with a new book later this year — The Signature of All Things. She signed galleys for the trade today at BEA.

IanRadziwellMcCartheyJanis Ian, Carole Radziwill and Andrew McCarthy signing their latest works for bloggers.

Photographs: Stephen Wise


Stephen B. Wise


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers