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Tuesday, 16 August 2005


Steve Bates

I'm sorry, but I am not credulous enough to believe that Bush reads, comprehends, absorbs or analyzes any book of substance. It's just not credible. Perhaps he bought those books, but it seems more likely they were bought for him, chosen for an impression he wants to make... or more likely, an impression Karl Rove wants him to make. Incurious people do not read challenging books... and Bush is as incurious as they come.

Michael, I do not know your field. My knowledge of history was gathered through college courses in which I didn't pay good attention, followed by a lot of casual reading over the last 35 or so years. But I can imagine an analogy in either of my own fields. If Bush were to claim to be reading an advanced book on XML, would I believe him? How about a detailed history of performance practice in performances of Monteverdi's operas in their own time?

In fact, even if Bush claimed to be reading Internets for Dummies, why should I believe him?

One of my colleagues often responds to my line, "I have a stupid question" with the classic reply, "There are no stupid questions, only stupid people." Bush is enough to make me wonder whether that is really a joke.


"PR ploy" was my first thought too, Steve. But as I said in the post, Radzinsky, at least, is an easy enough read. His Stalin biography was over 600 pages (not including the indices and footnotes), and it took me less than two weeks to devour it--and most of that in fits and starts, or I'd have been done sooner.

Of course, 1500-odd pages of reading material isn't a lot for a five-week vacation, even given the amount of time he has to devote to brush-clearing and Little League games, not to mention ignoring Cindy Sheehan and sucking up to donors. Even a complete maroon ought to be able to work through most of that material in that amount of time.


Oh, and if you click on the link, the Guardian quotes Kurlansky telling someone (I forget whom) that he hadn't been aware that Bush even read books. So we're obviously not the only skeptics in the world.


While I'm certain that Condi selected the books, I don't want him reading about Aleksandr II, he might get some ideas. He's more of a Nikolai II kind of ruler with Aleksandr I's delusions.

More chaff, in the military sense, from his Pollyanna Pangloss Press Office.


Actually, I think Bush is more of an Aleksandr III than a Nikolai II. Alex the Third never quite got over his father's assassination, and he made the radicals' lives miserable for it, if I remember my Romanov history correctly. And at least Alex the Second had some good ideas, something which seems to be in very short supply on Bush's watch.


Someone check to be sure he's not holding the books upside down. I don't think he's reading them, either.

That said... my vacation reading isn't even THAT substantial. It's more along the lines of mysteries. I'm okay with that, since I really do read other times.


I took some subsantial stuff with me on vacation. Actually read some of it, too. But there was also a fantasy novel in there, even though I wound up lending it to my friend to read when he forgot to pack anything when we left for Utah. So I had to make do with a book on Richad Coeur de Lion and Saladin, one on everyday life under the Nazis, and one on the Nazis' persecution of homosexuals--in French. (Did get me some interesting glances from the airline steward on the flight from Denver to Las Vegas, though!)

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