T Nation

The PWI Required Reading List


Very kind of you to say, but I venture that you all muddled through without me.

I’ll be about more often in future, I am sure.


Not sure you are aware, but you probably should have used past tense for Hitchens.

Great as he was, he did not escape the grim reaper.


No mistake. His brother Peter has the blog, not Chris.


Lol, smiling, backing slowly out of the thread, waving goodbye.


No need for that. He isn’t very famous across the pond, so it is hardly an egregious error on your part.

Looking for Something to Read

Anyone reading The Death of LIberalism, Patrick J Deenen?



I’m probably a third of the way through and it’s been a really interesting record of the Revolution that spends a lot of time on the Benedict Arnold, Horatio Gates, and, of course, Washington. I’ve learned a lot particularly about Arnold.


Another one for the wish list lol …

I just wrapped up an audiobook on Alexander the Great - nothing I hadn’t read before but a bit more in depth. It was a quick read.

If he hadn’t died as early as he did, Rome would never have risen to the level it did - which is interesting.

Anyway, I’m breezing through Thomas Sowell’s most recent book then I might read a couple books on the Civil War as my knowledge of it is very, very slim - like all I have ever really read on it was in high school and some articles here and there.

Any recs? (open to anyone)


Nah, I’ll be interested to hear if anyone else has any recommendations. The civil war era is one of those time periods I don’t know a whole lot about.


I just read Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. Quick read, and well worth the time. For anyone who wants to better understand poverty and class in America, it’s a great book. I got my adult son to read it, and he also really liked it. If any one has read The Glass Castle, there are some parallels. I saw my Dad’s family in it.

From Wikipedia -

"Vance…writes about a family history of poverty and low-paying, physical jobs that have since disappeared or worsened in their guarantees, and compares this life with his perspective after leaving that area and life. Vance was raised in Middletown, Ohio, though his ancestors were from Breathitt County, Kentucky. Their Appalachian values include traits like loyalty and love of country despite social issues including violence and verbal abuse. He recounts his grandparents’ alcoholism and abuse, and his unstable mother’s history of drug addictions and failed relationships. Vance’s grandparents eventually reconcile and become his de facto guardians, particularly spurred by his tough but loving grandmother, such that Vance was able to leave his town and ascend social ladders to attend Ohio State University and Yale Law School.

Alongside his personal history, Vance raises questions such as the responsibility of his family and people for their own misfortune. Vance blames hillbilly culture and its supposed encouragement of social rot. Comparatively, he feels that economic insecurity plays a much lesser role. To lend credence to his argument, Vance regularly relies on personal experience. As a grocery store checkout cashier, he watched welfare recipients talk on cell phones while Vance himself could not afford one. This resentment towards those who apparently profited from misdeeds while he struggled, especially combined with his values of personal responsibility and tough love, is presented as a microcosm of Appalachia’s overall political swing from strong Democratic Party to strong Republican affiliations. Likewise, he recounts stories intended to showcase a lack of work ethic including, the story of a man who quit after expressing dislike over his job’s hours and posted to social media about the “Obama economy”, as well as a co-worker, with a pregnant girlfriend, who would skip work."


A coworker lent me that book - I haven’t cracked it yet. It’s on the list lol


It moves fast, Polo. You can read it over a few days. When you read it, please let me know what you think. My dad’s family were Scotch-Irish, came out of Appalachia into Arkansas. I saw a lot of similarities. Alcoholism, poverty, blue collar families. In many ways, I married into an entirely different class and it’s very evident in the way people think about education, money, so many things. My mom’s family was also poor, but not from Appalachia. Culturally different. @SkyzykS, I believe you’re also Scotch-Irish, and I wondered if you were relate at all, or if you’d see your wife’s family in it.


Just from the wiki, yes, quite a bit. Its interesting though, how people interpret things differently. In my family intelligence and education are highly valued, but if you want one, you’re going to have to go get it yourself. Like tough love applied to education. That, and its probably a 50/50 split between tough love and rationalizing not being able to afford it. As the generations have proceeded, my brothers and I have worked to ensure that our kids have and will be able to attend universities after high school. We’re from a slightly different area though. Being in the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh isn’t quite the sticks that it was when my grand parents arrived. A little further out though, I’ve seen exactly what he described as the cause of social decay.

It sounds like a relatively common story written exceptionally well.


Thomas Sowell’s, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, compares black ghetto culture to American Scotch-Irish. According to Sowell, "Violence was far more common in the South — and in those parts of Britain from which Southerners came. So was illegitimacy, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery. All of this would become part of the cultural legacy of blacks, who lived for centuries in the midst of the redneck culture of the South.

That culture was as notable for what it did not have as for what it had. It did not emphasize education, for example, or intellectual interests in general.

Illiteracy was far more common among whites in the antebellum South than among whites in the North, and of course the blacks held in bondage in the South were virtually all illiterate. On into the early 20th century, Southern whites scored lower on mental tests than whites in other parts of the country, as blacks continued to do.

Many aspects of Southern life that some observers have attributed to race or racism, or to slavery, were common to Southern blacks and whites alike — and were common in those parts of Britain from which Southern whites came, where there were no slaves and where most people had never seen anyone black.

Most Southern blacks and whites moved away from that redneck culture over the generations, as its consequences proved to be counterproductive or even disastrous. But it survives today among the poorest and least educated ghetto blacks."


And a book to add to the list is The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg.


Thomas Sowell is a a national treasure - it’s a shame he’s not better known than he is.


Fascinating read. A real look at the blue counties that swung to Trump, and some genuinely interesting interviews with those who did.

Most interesting to myself was that personal optimism of one’s own economic outlook, coupled with KNOWING someone who had suffered a set back (addiction, economic hardship etc.) was the greatest predictor of support to Trump.

I think this may be the best post-mortem of the election on the market.


Just grabbed both of these. Can’t wait to dig in.


12 Rules for Life was interesting. I just picked up Maps of Meaning on Audible. Sadly, i’ll have to suffer through 30 hours of Kermit the frog narrating, as @anon71262119 pointed out.


Summer Reading

I’m in the middle of Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate.

It’s a really fascinating read. I thought about putting it in The Science Thread. A lot of psychology, cognitive science, history or social sciences. I’m regretting checking out a library copy because it’s challenging and I feel the need to underline. Regarding the history of the social sciences and philosophy, and he talks about how politics from both the right and left have influenced some of the players and philosophical foundations, like how Marxism ideology took hold in studies like anthropology. He covers topics like the idea that humans have been viewed as the noble savage, and the ghost in the machine.

I also grabbed Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature, but I haven’t cracked it open yet. I tried to pick up Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals, but it was out.

I’ve been reading more fiction for the summer. Anne Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons, so that’s my fiction pick right now. She’s more of a woman’s writer, writing about domestic life and ordinary people. I loved her book, Back When We Were Grownups.