Movie and Book Recommendations

Books

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Fabulous book by a great historian. Traces in detail the two brothers’ modest beginnings in Dayton, Ohio to world fame and riches. Humanistic, warm, and insightful. Wish I’d had history teachers like McCullough. 

Better Off Without Them by Chuck Thompson

Thompson suggests that the United States should be divided up along the lines of the Civil War. The South should be its own country. The book offers a blend of personal experiences and observations by the author along with statistics comparing the North to the South, with things like teen pregnancy, religious fanaticism, and obsession  with football. Not completely tongue-in-cheek. Funny as hell.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A neurosurgeon is dying of lung cancer as he describes his life from the early years through his decline and to his death. Some of the best, most compassionate writing I’ve encountered. If you are suffering from lung cancer, you might want to skip this book.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

My interview with Gloria Steinem last year was perhaps the highlight of my entire professional career. To me, she is a god-like person along the lines of the Dali Lama. Her incisive intellect and her insight about the times we live in makes this book a show- stopper. Don’t miss it. 

Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed by David Fitzgerald.

A detailed account of historical writers from the first to the third centuries who make no mention of a person called Jesus Christ. Seems likely that  “Jesus” was made up later by people wanting to start a new religion. 

Movies

Brooklyn

Best movie I’ve seen this year. First-class storytelling. Fabulous acting. Circa 1950, 18-year-old Irish girl comes to Brooklyn in search of a new life.

My 18-year-old grandmother did that exact thing in 1900. This is a hell of a movie even if you are not Irish. If you are, it is dynamite. 

Spotlight

Fabulous true story of how the pedophile Catholic church problem was brought to light. 

A small group of investigative journalists take on the Boston Catholic hierarchy – and win ! The editor of the Boston Globe tells the reporters, “It is not enough to have a few victims and priests who have confessed. We need to show the church power elite at the top knew about it and did nothing.” Bingo.

The Big Short

A few renegade Wall Street insiders see disaster coming and are not taken seriously. The greedy bastards at the top get away scot-free. Welcome to economic collapse. 

The Martian

Skip it. A bunch of special effects with an obvious outcome (pssst: he survives).

Trumbo

Communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo takes on Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American activities and wins! 

Bridge of Spies

Terrific true story about the Gary Powers U-2 affair during the height of the Cold War with Russia. Tom Hanks is superb. 

Concussion

An immigrant pathologist takes on the NFL – and wins. Will Smith’s acting is off the charts.

Conclusion

I’m drawn to docudramas and there are many good ones this year. The little person goes up against the power elite and wins. In reality, though, the power elite squash the little people. See the Netflix TV show “Making of a Murderer.” But it is nice every once and while to think we do have a chance. 

Long live the Magna Carta!

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