Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Eichmann’s true nature: 2 reviews of “Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer”

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Bettina Stangneth shows that Adolf Eichmann acted out of genocidal anti-Semitism, and challenges Hannah Arendt’s claim that he was “terribly and terrifyingly normal.”

Gerald Steinacher at the WSJ: Adolf Eichmann’s Extraordinary Evil
Hannah Arendt saw Adolf Eichmann as an unthinking bureaucrat. She never read the transcripts of his conversations after the war.

Ms. Stangneth, drawing on documents and research that Arendt never had access to, reaches a different conclusion: He was a master manipulator. “Whether he was in the Third Reich, Argentina, or Israel, Eichmann gave detailed and well-informed accounts of the murder of millions. He simply adjusted the account of his own role, and his attitude toward the murders, to his changing circumstances,” she writes.

Argentina was instrumental in his escape, and of others:

Ms. Stangneth, drawing on research by the Argentinian author Uki Goñi and others, also reminds us how openly the networks of former Nazis operated and how far they reached. Like thousands of other Nazis and collaborators, Eichmann escaped to Argentina with the help of Italian Catholic priests and Argentinian officials while carrying Red Cross travel papers. Ms. Stangneth emphasizes the lack of interest Allied authorities showed in bringing former Nazis to justice after the war. This is consistent with my own research, which shows that the Nazis’ escape networks were well-known by many governments and institutions, including the U.S. State Department, as early as 1947. But with the increasing tensions between the West and the Soviet Union, denazification efforts became less and less important. After the Korean War broke out in 1950, attention almost completely shifted to the new enemy: communism. It now appears that the German intelligence service was aware of Eichmann’s whereabouts as early as 1952 but showed little effort to apprehend him. Only Israel was willing to take justice into its own hands.

Richard Wolin at the Jewish Review of Books (emphasis added): Arendt, Banality, and Benhabib: A Final Rejoinder

Nor have I ever claimed that Eichmann was “demonic,” “perverted,” or diabolical. This is a willful misattribution and, more importantly, an attempt to avoid dealing with what Eichmann in fact was: a believer in genocidal anti-Semitism.

Thoughtlessness comes in a variety of guises. One of them is academic hero-worship: reverence for an intellectual icon in the face of a burgeoning mass of evidence indicating that she may have grievously erred. Perhaps Kant said it best in his famous essay “What is Enlightenment?” when he observed that, “Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another . . . Dogmas and formulas . . . are the ball and chain of his permanent immaturity.”

Available at Amazon in Kindle and hardcover editions.

Could capitalism save the Arabs?

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

I am very skeptical, but Peruvian economist explains his thesis in The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism
Military might alone won’t defeat Islamic State and its ilk. The U.S. needs to promote economic empowerment
.

De Soto has a lot of experience in developing economies, but not in societies where the will of the individual is subjugated to a cult of violence. I hope he is right.



Taxes, and a book

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Don’t miss these:

First, taxes:
My latest article, I’m a tax exile, and proud of it, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Then, the book:
In tonight’s podcast at 8PM Eastern, Silvio Canto and I will talk to Alina García-Lapuerta, author of La Belle Créole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris, a biography of Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, a fascinating character.

En español: Últimas noticias del idiota iberoamericano

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Argentina: Carlos Alberto Montaner & Alvaro Vargas Llosa: “Argentina ha instalado un sistema económico perverso” – Infobae

Carlos Alberto Montaner y Álvaro Vargas Llosa, autores del libro “Últimas noticias del nuevo idiota Iberoamericano”, analizaron en InfobaeTV el rumbo del Gobierno y advirtieron que “camina hacia una catástrofe“. Las trampas del populismo y la “responsabilidad” de la oposición.

En la Argentina se instaló un sistema populista, de gran concentración de poder político; de erosión sistemática de los contrapesos y del control del poder; un sistema económico muy perverso, que consiste básicamente en extorsionar al campo para subvencionar a la ciudad, a través de eso crear un voto cautivo para permitirle al sistema una continuidad”, sentenció el peruano.

Luego advirtió por las dificultades crecientes que enfrentará la economía por la desaceleración que sufrirá como consecuencia de los cambios en las condiciones internacionales. “Hoy tiene un gasto público descomunal y una tendencia a gastarse todas sus reservas, que está provocando una situación de mucha urgencia, muy dramática”. Incluso consideró que una devaluación como la de enero puede no ser suficiente para hacer frente a la brecha entre el dólar oficial y el libre: “A los pocos meses el mercado te demuestra que tus políticas están cayendo en las mismas consecuencias”.

Montaner no fue menos optimista. “Argentina está en un ciclo muy negativo, camina hacia la catástrofe“.

El cubano reconoció que, pese a ese agotamiento que denuncian, el Gobierno goza de un considerable apoyo. “Si la oposición no consigue juntarse, va a ser muy difícil el remplazo y el sostenimiento del remplazo”.

Y explicó que “en el grupo clientelista, los clientes van a mantenerse unidos porque tienen un interés particular, que no es el del Estado, pero la oposición tiene una responsabilidad de sacar al país de esta terrible situación”.

Entrevista:

Back to English, in other Argentina news:

Argentina in Contempt of Court in Bonds Case, U.S. Judge Rules
Nation Has Tried to Circumvent Rulings on Repaying Creditors Holding Defaulted Bonds, Court Says

The contempt decision comes after the country has made several attempts to get around Judge Griesa’s series of rulings that say the country can’t pay its restructured bondholders until it pays the approximate $1.6 billion it owes to its holdout creditors.

Argentina recently passed legislation to switch the jurisdiction of its bonds governed by U.S. law to Argentina, which Judge Griesa repeatedly has said is illegal and can’t be carried out. The country also is trying to remove Bank of New York Mellon Corp. BK -0.85% as the trustee bank that processes payments and replace it with a local Argentine bank, another move that triggered the contempt citation.

“[Argentina] has been and is now taking steps in an attempt to evade critical parts of” U.S. court order, Judge Griesa said on Monday at the federal courthouse in Manhattan. “There’s a very concrete proposal that would clearly violate the injunction.”

Judge Griesa has jurisdiction in this case because Argentina in the 1990s borrowed money from foreign investors under the agreement that any disputes would be litigated in U.S. courts. Argentina defaulted in 2001, and has for years battled hedge funds that refused to accept debt exchanges in 2005 and 2010.

The hedge funds that sued Argentina in the U.S. agreed to support a request by Citigroup (C), which sought to pay $5 million interest, tied to Argentine bonds, due to today.

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

. . . he hires Putin’s PR people.

Two items from Ecuador,

First:

I’ve been hesitating to review Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win about fraudster Steven Donziger.

While the book is interesting, I find statements like “While not a materialistic person driven by financial rewards, Donziger sometimes groused about the cost of his career choices” (page 134) exasperating. Paul Barrett may believe that Donziger was not “driven by financial rewards” while setting up a Gibraltar corporation to hold proceeds of the judgment, but readers of Law of the Jungle should read Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, which quotes Donziger’s personal notebook on April 4, 2007:

. . . I sit back and dream. I cannot believe what we have accomplished. Important people interested in us. A new paradigm of not only a case, but how to do a case. Chevron wanting to settle. Billions of dollars on the table. A movie, a possible book.I cannot keep up with it all.

That said, Barrett is now under attack by the Republic of Ecuador’s U.S. public relations advisers, New York-based Ketchum. His article, What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s American Flack explains the latest,

Ketchum’s memo about my book connects the dots regarding why Ecuador cares so passionately about the case. Among the “difficult questions” Law of the Jungle raises, according to Ketchum:

Barrett’s book does raise many questions, among them,

• “Ecuador took the biggest part of the income obtained from petroleum extracted from the Amazon, approximately $23.5 billion against $1.6 billion for Texaco-Chevron.” The precise figures are subject to dispute, but according to government records, the split was roughly 90-10 in favor of Ecuador. This contradicts a central theme of the plaintiffs’ (and Correa’s) narrative: that Texaco derived all the benefit from industrializing the rain forest and left the host country with only the nasty side effects. The Ketchum memo warns the embassy that my reporting raises additional questions: How did Ecuador spend its majority proceeds from oil exploitation? Why wasn’t this money spent on environmental controls? Why was the money not used to help those harmed by the drilling?

Make sure to read Barrett’s full article. You can find all of his very interesting Business Week/Bloomberg articles here.

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

The second item:

As you may recall, president Rafael Correa has come up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion.

Correa claims there’s no plan to replace the dollar. Steve Hanke, who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of the nation’s switch to the dollar, is skeptical,
Ecuador’s Dollarization Architect Doubts Correa’s Pledge

“What Correa’s trying to do is kind of loosen the straitjacket that dollarization has him in,” Hanke said. “If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

Correa is expected to run for a fourth presidential term in 2017, having changed the law on presidential term limits.

Ketchum may be looking forward to it.

RELATED:
For Ecuador’s PR Firm, Celebrity Backing Carries Hefty Price Tag
MCSquared paid more than $500,000 for Mia Farrow, Danny Glover junkets

UPDATE,
Linked to by Bad Blue. Thanks!


Podcasting live

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

with Gloria M Strassburger, author, in Silvio Canto’s show.

Gloria’s book is Palm Trees in the Snow, a beautiful memoir.

The podcasts are also archived for your listening convenience.

The Boring Veins of Latin America

Friday, May 9th, 2014

It took Eduardo Galeano 44 years to figure out his own book was boring, poorly written bs; it took me 20 minutes. Years later, Hugo Chavez gifted it to Obama,

“This will go a long way towards permanently curing your insomnia, Barack.”

“The open veins of Latin America” is a boring undocumented book, admits his author
Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano said in an interview published on the Argentine newspaper Perfil.com that he considers his 1971 book “The Open Veins of Latin America”, by far his best-known work, to be so bad he will no longer read from it during public appearances.

The book and Galeano are frequently quoted in songs, films and books, and since the 1997 edition has a prologue from the Chilean author Isabel Allende. Galeano, whose real birth name is Eduardo Hughes Galeano (in Spanish first name is father’s and second mother’s), and now a comfortable board member of pharmaceutical labs in Uruguay, thus joins a list of Latin American left wing intellectuals who after having influenced with ideology whole generations don’t feel comfortable with some of their most emblematic works.

But fear not, Latin American Studies programs will continue to have it in their curricula.

And, while I appreciate your buying through my blog’s Amazon links, don’t bother buying The Open Veins of Latin America. Read this instead.

6 good writers from Latin America + 1

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014





First came Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Now César Aira, the late Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Franco, Andrés Neuman, Santiago Roncagliolo and Juan Gabriel Vásquez are ascending:

In Search of the Next Gabriel García Márquez
Six Spanish-language fiction writers making a splash on the literary scene.

The so-called boom arose from a confluence of circumstances—Cold War political upheaval, intrepid Latin American publishing houses, hungry international critics prowling for new global talent, an expanding book-buying Latin middle class—that can’t easily be replicated. But if the boom is over, that doesn’t mean that a bust has followed. Here are six post-boom Spanish-language fiction writers whose works continue to redraw the map of Latin literature.

I would also add Roberto Ampuero to the list.

Garcia Marquez’s black eye: Vargas Llosa ain’t telling

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

A post for us, lit geeks:

On Valentine’s Day, 1976, in Mexico City, Gabriel García Márquez was photographed showing off a shiner (and possibly a broken nose?):

What is known:
On February 12, 1976,

in a Mexico City movie theater packed with people attending the premiere of a film about the plane crash survivors in the Andes who turned to cannibalism.

At one point Mr. Vargas Llosa rushes up to Mr. García Márquez, who innocently tries to embrace him. Instead Mr. Vargas Llosa decks him, Mr. García Márquez’s blood gushing everywhere.

Of course, there’s plenty of speculation as to why. Photographer Rodrigo Moya, who took the above photo, said in 2007

Some had surmised that the fight may have been over politics, since Mr. García Márquez has always been on the left and Mr. Vargas Llosa at the time had begun to migrate to the right. (He later made an unsuccessful attempt to run for president of Peru in 1990 as a free marketeer.) But, as Mr. Moya explains, the cause was a woman, specifically, Mr. Vargas Llosa’s wife, whom Mr. García Márquez consoled during a difficult period in the marriage.

When I first heard of this, I thought the lady in question was Julia Urquidi, the Aunt Julia of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, who was the first Mrs. Vargas Llosa, but it must have been the second Mrs. Vargas Llosa, cousin Patricia Llosa (also mentioned in Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter), who has been married to him since 1965.

No matter:
Peru’s Vargas Llosa to take secret of Garcia Marquez spat to grave

“There’s a pact between Garcia Marquez and myself (not to talk about it),” Vargas Llosa, 78, said at a meeting of right-wing intellectuals in Caracas when a journalist popped the inevitable question following the Colombian’s death last week.

“He respected it until his death, and I will do the same. Let’s leave it to our biographers, if we deserve them, to investigate that issue.”

Which shows you one can throw a punch, be a great writer, and still come out as a gentleman.

And,
Yes, being pro-democracy and civil rights makes you “right-ring”, in the eyes of Reuters.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Well, there’s at least one person out there who dislikes Gabriel García Márquez more than I,

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

and it’s The Diplomad,

One of the great phonies and bootlickers of leftist dictators has passed from the scene. Those who love freedom can only be grateful.

I will speak ill of the dead. It is hard to exaggerate the damage that GGM has done to the image of Latin America and Latin Americans, portraying the region and the people as some sort of quasi-magical place, a place filled with ethereal, mystical beings without logic, common sense, and ordinary human emotions and foibles. For all his “magical realist” vision, he could not or would not see, for example, the horrors brought to Cuba and Cubans by the Castro brothers. On the contrary, he had an enormous house in Havana provided by the regime, with servants and cars at his beck-and-call, and a ready chummy access to the bloodstained brothers and their rule of terror. He convinced generations of gringo academic Latin American “specialists” that the region could not be understood in conventional terms; that supply-and-demand economics did not work there; and that ordinary people did not want individual liberty and political democracy. He helped perpetrate and perpetuate a horrid stereotype of Latin America, one in which the atrocities of leftist regimes could be ignored because the region operated on another level of consciousness, one beyond our poor powers to comprehend. Good riddance to this poseur and his unreadable sentences! An enemy of freedom is gone.

The late great Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas dared to ask, Gabriel García Márquez: ¿Esbirro o es burro? (Tool or fool?) (emphasis added)

Now then, that a writer like Mr. Gabriel García Márquez [GGM or GM henceforth], who has lived and written in the West, where his work has had tremendous impact and acceptance, which has guaranteed him a certain lifestyle and intellectual prestige, that a writer like him, benefiting from the freedom and possibilities such a world offers him, should use them to be an apologist for the communist totalitarianism that turns intellectuals into policemen and policemen into criminals, that is simply outrageous. And that is the attitude of GGM, who has apparently forgotten that the writing profession is a privilege of free men, and that by taking the side of dictatorships, whether Latin American or eastern ones, he’s digging his own grave as a writer and playing along with the lackeys of official power, who climb with hope, but are later reduced to the sad state of a beleaguered rat forced to applaud incessantly its own prison and its supreme warden. On various occasions Mr. GM, golden boy of the western press, full beneficiary of the comfort and guarantees offered by the so-called capitalist world, has made statements condemning the millions of Vietnamese who, in a desperate and suicidal act, throw themselves into the sea fleeing communist terror. Now, to the great indignation of all freedom-loving Cubans, GM, as Fidel Castro’s guest of honor at the recent May Day celebrations, has condemned with his attitude and words the ten thousand Cubans who have sought refuge in the Peruvian embassy, attributing this act and situation to the direction or instigation of so-called American imperialism. In fact, GM also condemns the million Cubans who, risking their lives, take to the sea like in Vietnam to perish or be free, even if that freedom consists of no more than being able to reach a strange country alive and half naked. Apparently, GM likes concentration camps, vast prisons and muzzled thinking. This star of communism is irritated by the flight of the prisoners, just as the great Cuban landowners of the 18th and 19th centuries were irritated by the flight of slaves from their plantations. Enriched by his material earnings in the capitalist world, it bothers GM that other men aspire to or dream of having the same rights he enjoys, the right to write and speak, the right to be, above all, a human being and not an anonymous slave, numbered and persecuted, condemned in the best of cases to retract himself incessantly, and also to inform on himself incessantly.

Arenas, who committed suicide in 1990 while ravaged by AIDS, was a brilliant writer who used magical realism to describe the horrors he endured by the Cuban communist regime.

Today’s GGM headline, Mexico editor: Garcia Marquez left manuscript

The manuscript has a working title of “We’ll See Each Other in August,” (“En Agosto Nos Vemos”).

An excerpt of the manuscript published in Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper contains what appears to be an opening chapter, describing a trip taken by a 50-ish married woman who visits her mother’s grave on a tropical island every year. In the chapter, she has an affair with a man of about the same age at the hotel where she stays.

Hmmm . . . woman of a certain age, tropical island, heat, landscape, music, local inhabitants . . . Wasn’t that How Stella Got Her Groove Back?