in no particular order:
1) NIXONLAND – Rick Perlstein – at first I was skeptical – what more could be written about Nixon? Who cares in 2009? But by the end I was like, "give this book to your children because it explains how the world really works."
2) MCMAFIA – Misha Glenny – how organized crime profits from globalization. Criminal interconnections dissected on every continent but Antarctica.
3) RAVEN – Tim Reiterman – fucking scary book about Jonestown, written by a reporter that got shot and left for dead at the massacre. Explores not just the final holocaust but the day-by-day increase in paranoia and gradual descent into Colonel Kurtz territory as suffered by average cult members.
4) THE INVISIBLE HOOK – Peter Leeson. The economics of Pirates! I fucking couldn’t stand FREAKONOMICS – even BEFORE those dudes went nuts and became climate-change deniers. But the INVISIBLE HOOK is everything that freakonomics was SUPPOSED to be – fun, sutprising, using economics in unorthodox ways, and easy to read even for non-economists. Plus, pirates.
5) THE FAMILY – Jeff Sharlet – even scarier than RAVEN. The Family is about christian fundamentalists, but not the blowhard Jerry Falwell/ Ralph Reed / Pat Robertson kind. It turns out that for 100 years, there has been an eerie parallell world of fundamentalism that was quiet and elite. Instead of meeting in public with 1,000 rednecks, the Family would meet quietly with 2 or 3 foreign genocidal dictators and anti-communist corrupt governors to influence America’s foreign policy in ways that are 10 times more powerful than anything Falwell ever did.
6) JAPANESE DISEASE – Declan Hayes – This probably shouldn’t be in the "non-fiction" section. Declan Hayes is this economics professor in Tokyo – who moonlights as a crazy drunk Irish ranter. His 1,000 page book is full of amazing, breath-taking japan-bashing rants. It reads like Grandpa Simpson with a degree in Philosophy and Economics from Jim Beam University.
7) THE SHOCK DOCTRINE – Naomi Fucking Klein. Enough Said. Fuck that sad-ass baby-boomer patronizing, sanctimonious, hypocritical douchebag from ECONOMIC HIT MAN. Naomi Klein is the shit.
8) THE YAMATO DYNASTY – Sterling and Peggy Seagrave – this is the best book I ever read explaining and totally taking a factual, historical dump on Japan’s Emperor system. Well researched but still easy to read, and does not fuck around.
9) GOLD WARRIORS – Sterling and Peggy Seagrave – the Seagraves come back even harder with this real-life Indiana Jones adventure in search of the ‘Yamashita Gold’ (AKA all the Asian gold that japan looted during WWII and then hid in the Philipines). This book is full of more conspiracies than ILLUMINATUS and DA VINCI CODE combined. Japanese Uyoku, Ferdinand Marcos, the Vatican, CIA, MacArthur, Swiss bank nazis, crazy treasure-hunting mercenaries. . . everybody wants that gold! But the Seagraves just want justice for the mainland Asians from whom it was plundered. I felt seriously like underlining every single sentence of this book. At the end it gets a little weird about the Jewish Banking Conspiracy but 90% of it I am convinced is rock solid. Even if you don’t care about WWII, this book is a RAD introduction to the world of money laundering and international white-collar crime, corrupt banking, how dictators loot treasuries and hide the money, etc.
10) EVOLUTION OF A CRO-MAGNON – John Joseph – I don’t even like the Cro-mags but Cro-mags’ vocalist John Joseph’s book of survival in ’80s NYC is awesome. I think that , when it comes to a lot of these "outlaw" gangster bands (in Japan too!) – the band is the LEAST interesting thing about the psycho band members. At least John Joseph put his non-band experiences in print where we can enjoy them without listening to terrible chugga-chugga riffs. I hope other thugs follow his example.
now get off the fucking internet and read a fucking book!
If you’re in Tokyo, I reccomend reading at ”Ｒ”, the "reading cafe" , in Kouenji. It’s a place where you’re supposed to come alone and not talk. The decoration is perfect – old antique study desks and fishtanks. It’s like you’re inside of a snow-globe. It’s the perfect antidote to the hectic materialism of Tokyo, but at the same time it’s a place that could only exist in Tokyo!
高円寺南3-57-6 2F tel 03-3312-7941, noon-9pm daily, closed Mondays.
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