Larry Hosken: New: Tag: brutal-truth

Book Report: Reporter

content warning: war crimes, uspol

It's an autobiography by Seymour Hersh, who reported on (among other things) the My Lai massacre, Watergate, and Abu Ghraib.

There's an important lesson for soldiers in this book. If an officer orders you to do something illegal, that probably doesn't mean that they're desperate to accomplish some goal vital to our nation. "We will disavow all knowledge" isn't cool. They probably don't need you to take extreme measures to save the day. They're probably just taking sloppy shortcuts, hoping to get promoted before anyone figures out what you did. Oh yeah, and part of their strategy to buy time for that "before anyone figures out" part: they'll throw you under the bus if investigators show up.

The Vietnam war was going poorly for the USA. But the press pool working at the Pentagon didn't know it—they were so glad for "access" to Pentagon reports that they passed those reports along uncritically. Hersh followed up on rumors of things going poorly, followed up on rumors of an atrocity. And thus he turned up some ugly truths. E.g., he found out about the My Lai massacre, which was pretty horrible. And he found out about the officers who put those massacre-ing soldiers into that situation and… and there are reasons you don't put soldiers into that kind of situation and we know this and yet. And yet. Ugh. So there was a cover-up, ostensibly to protect the soldiers, but really to protect those officers. And Hersh navigated this tragic mire.

And there's more in this vein.

Hersh mentions that he didn't want to tell other reporters about his investigation methods because he wanted to keep getting scoops. But with the benefit of hindsight, you want to tell him: There were plenty of scoops for every reporter thinking of investigating wrongdoing by the Vietnam-war-era Pentagon.

This book isn't an uplifting chuckle. But it's interesting if you have a strong stomach… and maybe some lighter reading you can switch to when you need it.

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Book Report: Factfulness

It's a book by the GapMinder folks reminding us that India, China, world-health do-gooders and other folks have changed human society plenty in past few decades. On the one hand, this is happy "news"— things are improving. On the other hand, plenty of influential decision-makers have out-of-date worldviews and do some bone-headed things. But mostly it's a hopeful book. Though poverty's still in the news, it turns out that a huge long-duration effort has, slowly, eventually improved things quite a lot. So when you forward at a huge long-duration effort to, say, rein in climate change enough to avoid wiping out the human race, maybe there's hope that we'll get our act together enough to save many people eventually.

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Puzzle Hunts^W^W LARPs are Everywhere, Even the Transbay Terminal Girts noticed something Nonchalant-Game-ish to do this evening in San Francisco. There was a nicely-done stroll. (It was fun! I'm glad I went! I still don't want to do Nonchalant-ish things that don...

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Book Report: Down at the Docks Back in 1999, I traveled in New England. I told intrepid traveler Tom Manshreck that I was going to visit New Bedford. He said ""Yeah, man--New Bedford used to be a good place to go to--to get shot...

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Book Report: DEC is Dead, Long Live DEC This is a book about DEC, Digital Equipment Corporation, a start up that grew big. The author argues that some of the things that made it a great start-up, a great place to work... these things also...

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Book Report: Deliver the Vote Deliver the Vote is a history of crooked elections in the U.S. of A. It doesn't try to describe all crooked elections. Just some good stories, just enough to fill up a few hundred pages. George Wa...

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Book Report: China: Fragile Superpower This book is about China. This book makes me want to hide my eyes and say "I hope you're wrong." It paints a discouraging picture. The Chinese government fears overthrow by popular uprising. The g...

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Book Report: Invisible Man Yesterday, I went to a game party at work. I won a couple of games, which was more than my share. You might think that means I'm a brilliant strategist, until you find out what games I won (and how...

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Book Report: How I Came into my Inheritance (and other true stories) 'Lene is out of the hospital. Meanwhile, Alexandra says that her mother is sick; Team Mystic Fish might be on shaky ground this weekend. I have no health problems myself; in theory I have no cause ...

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Book Report: Heat Bill Buford's previous book Among the Thugs was wonderfully brutal and scary, so I figured I'd like this book about restaurant kitchens and butchery. It's fascinating. He talks about how chefs lear...

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Book Report: The Railway Man The good news is that Gene Wolfe has a new book coming out with "Pirate" in the title: Pirate Freedom. The bad news is that book isn't scheduled to emerge until November, months after the pirate-the...

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Book Report: The Making of the Atomic Bomb I've read several books about the Manhattan Project. They all had a focus. New documents that had come to light. Focusing on one of the minor players. Family life. Now I realize why all of those...

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Book Report: People's History of the United States Reading Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States is hard work. He writes about some parts of USA history which I didn't know about. Some of these pieces of history were pretty disturbing...

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