Friday, March 30, 2012
My two books pictured here would be good alternative reading to Ayn Rand and her selfish virtures.
The Virtue of Selfishness
By Richard E. Noble
Ayn Rand, I interpret to be a political propagandist for the extreme right. She was interested in philosophy and included the ideas of some philosophers in her fiction –but she was not a philosopher in my view.
I have read certain of Nietzsche’s works and summaries of his ideas. I find that there are obvious similarities in style, temperament, presentation and overall superiorist attitudes between him and Rand.
Nietzsche had his superman and Rand had her super-capitalist. Both writers are belligerent and hateful of organized religion and the common man. Rand refers to religious thinkers as “witch doctors.”
Nietzsche eventually went mad and was institutionalized. I think he was mad long before he was actually declared mad and locked away. Rand was never declared officially mad and was not institutionalized. She was clearly suffering from delusions of grandeur and was not able to distinguish between success and intelligence. There is often very little connection between the two.
I have read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. His belief and confidence in the superiority and righteousness of the individual and the capitalist rings through Rand’s written works.
He has his Arians and Krupps; once again, she has her glorified wealthy capitalists.
His flamboyant braggadocio with regards to the superior few and their right to rule is also a theme running constantly through the ranting of Rand. And the same disrespect for the “common herd” and the principles of democracy are prevalent in Rand and Mein Kampf.
Her family’s wealth was wiped out by the Russian Revolution. It is quite obvious that this event affected her psychological development. She actively joined on the bandwagon of the disgruntled exiles and pursued an anti-Russia philosophy. She found much support among Russia haters and the rabid ranks of the Cold Warriors. Although I sympathize with her position, I must take her political writing and opinions with a grain of salt and a lot of dubiousness.
She wrote political and economic fantasies that appealed to the selfish and the egotistical. Her goal was clearly to make the better-off feel comfortable with their wealth and their prejudices.
She was another of the many champions of the comfortable and powerful who ran off gallantly to defend the rights and privileges of the rich and famous. There has never been a shortage in this group of comfortable “revolutionaries.” Her biggest mistake was the same made by the communist in her mother Russia – she attacked God and religion. This was the most daring of her positions.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
For my answer to the question "WHY WAR" read my book "Mein Kampf - Analysis of Book One" Click on cover of book on the right on this blog. Thanks.
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
By Chris Hedges
By Richard Edward Noble
This may be the first book that I have ever read where I have found myself more worried about the author than his subject matter. Not that the subject matter of this book is trivial in any manner of understanding.
This is a very, heart rendering, compassionate, deeply personal report. In this report the author bares his soul to his readers. I find myself worrying about the author because the book reads to me like a very long and involved suicide note.
This author is suffering. He has, in my opinion, saturated himself in war and its many horrors. I hope for him that he is able to reestablish himself in a positive life. I wish him my best in that endeavor.
At this point in writing this review, I decided to go to Google and look up Chris Hedges to see if he was still among the living.
I am very delighted to report that he is alive and well. I watched a video and he has clearly found himself and has proceeded forward to a life of moral radicalism in the truly American “seeking social justice” tradition. I found nothing in his radicalism to disagree with. So here again I wish him nothing but the best.
This book is a compelling read. The author’s personal experiences could fill volumes. Even in war this author has been able to retain his humanity and remain true to his religious commitment. He tells the story of the millions termed by military generals and the establishment as “collateral damage.” He introduces us to the collaterally damaged by name. He relates to us the face of their suffering and the immoral standards by which they have fallen into this neutered classification.
The author is extremely well-read. He quotes one source after another and not just the political and socially prominent but artists, novelist, philosophers, and playwrights – Shakespeare included.
This is not the kind of book one loves to read but more the type of book that one should read.
I feel the big question between the lines of this book is that famous question asked by Albert Einstein of Sigmund Freud … “Why War.”
I have recently given this question a shot myself in one of my books entitled, Mein Kampf – An Analysis of Book One.This author provides his answer via his personal experiences.
In my book I try to deal with this subject on an intellectual plane. This author mounts his attack on a visual and emotional level. He takes the reader to the scene of the crime, introduces the participants, and describes the horror. He transports us around the world from one war to the next and pushes forward what he sees as the common denominator.
The author has a religious background but that does not keep him from objectivity.
He speaks of the prophets of old who came forward to warn the world of what they saw in its future. Mr. Hedges is much the prophet himself, exhibiting at times the self-abusiveness and flagellation of many of his biblical heroes.
But this particular book is not a prophecy but more of a description – a description of hell. War is hell as Audie Murphy once told us and Mr. Hedges once again shows us why and tells us of its deleterious effects on him personally.
This is one of those books that I could not stop reading even though I had a stack of others waiting in line ahead of it. Once I started War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning I put all my other books aside and read this one through to the conclusion.
I must say though, War has never been a force that has given my life meaning. If anything it has been the opposite. And I believe that the world is filled with more people inclined to think as I do. I believe that in his heart Mr. Hedges agrees with me. If this were not the case, he would have no incentive to be pursuing his present course in life. Even though he pursues this positive course with heavy doubts and extreme cynicism – he pursues it and “us” nevertheless.
Those like me have no infatuation with war and have never confused it with love – love of any nature or kind. To make this type comparison is to be psychologically and emotionally sick. This is self destructiveness at its worst. This is part of the reason I found myself worried about the author's mental stability at the time of the publication of this book. This is a theme that the author repeats over and over. It was a cry of helplessness and dwindling hope.
I understand that many throughout history and at present have expressed and written about this confusion. I can name several who I have read who have stated their love of the horror of war: Adolf Hitler, George Washington, Alexander the Great, General George Patton, Teddy Roosevelt and just recently in an interview I listened to General Tommy Franks regretfully confess his love for violence and military engagement. “War … I’m ashamed to say how I loved it so,” General Franks said with a twisted little grin and a chuckle. (I paraphrase General Franks, but I’m sure the gist of his statement is accurate. People like this – even if on our side – are frightening.)
All that being said, this is the type of book that many, many more Americans should be reading. As the author advises, we should all make the attempt to get past all the nationalistic hurrahing and flag waving and understand that war is killing. It’s murder. And it is most often killing and murdering innocents. It is a sad and most often unnecessary business.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
If you enjoy this style of writing, you may also enjoy one of my two books pictured above.
For more information, click on book covers to the right on this Blog. Thanks.
The Rich Get Richer
By Richard E. Noble
I just started reading a book entitled The Rich Get Richer, and much of it deals with the World Bank, the I.M.F. etc. It is a lot of boring stuff with a whole bunch of graphs and charts, but I think that I get the idea. Let me see if I can explain to you how it works.
A number of wealthy governments around the world take Taxpayer money from their own countries to invest in the poor countries of the world. They loan this money to the poor governments of these poor countries. These Governments use this money to lure the international business community to their shores or prairies.
Naturally they provide benefits to these international concerns; like no taxes, and no rent on their property or land etc. These concerns build a factory in the target country. Now, understandably, they don’t manufacture anything that can be sold in that poor target country.
Because it is a poor damn country and these people don’t have any money to buy anything. So these companies manufacture an exportable product.
This is a requirement for these poor-country loans established by the IMF and the World Bank.
The bottom line is this: Some international concern opens a Frisbee factory in Guatemala, Afghanistan or Timbuktu. They pay the workers who get jobs at this Frisbee factory a competitive wage. Last year these workers were making nothing, so now they are paid next to nothing which is a 100% increase over their last year’s salary. They manufacture a zillion Frisbees and sell them to businesses back in L.A. or Paris, London, or Rome. These businesses sell the Frisbees to a bunch of little rich kids who have nothing to do but play on the beach and get high. These huge international concerns or subsidiaries thereof, or the brother-in-law of the president of Guatemala, Afghanistan, or Timbuktu, make huge profits from these no-interest, no-tax, no-environmental-penalty loans. And why not? They get the money for free. They pay no wages to speak of and the host country charges them no taxes. What a deal! So then what do they do with all of these profits? Give huge bonuses to the workers at the factory?
Ha ha haaaa. Excuse me. I was just joking.
No, no, no. You see, the rest of the World has learned the old Swiss bank trick of – hear no evil, see no evil and therefore there is no evil.
Other developed countries, including the United States, provide no-questions-asked, special interest, NO TAX, accounts for non-citizen investors or depositors. So they take their huge profits from manufacturing Frisbees in Guatemala, and deposit them back in their favorite bank in the United States, Paris, London, or Rome.
So good, you say, at least we taxpayers get our money back. NO no no. The money doesn’t go back to the U.S. Government. The Government only gets money back if the government of the country to which the I.M.F. or World Bank loaned the money, pays back the loan. But, of course the government of this poor country can’t pay back the money, because they didn’t charge anything for the money in the first place. They gave it all out as incentives to their ex-brother-in-law Manuel (who has since divorced, Intrigua, the president of Guatemala’s sister to avoid any collusion or corruption charges.)
They do, of course, get the income taxes from the workers at the factory, but unfortunately they invested that money in four hundred Frisbees that they tried to sell to the children of the workers employed at the factory. The kids weren’t interested; they were too busy trying to find food at the local landfill.
So now since nobody can pay back the loans, the World Bank, etc. is thinking of canceling all the loans, and starting all over again – but this time no Frisbees, maybe Ree-bucks.
This book explains similar shenanigans over and over, with statistics, numbers and endless details. It is a sad story but a necessary story. Once again I’m happy there are people who will take the time and provide the effort necessary to make these complicated swindles understandable to the likes of folks like me. Thanks guys.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
If you enjoyed this story you may also enjoy any of my books pictured above. For more information on any title click on cover of book on the right on this page. Thanks.
The Hobo Philosopher
Florida and the Minimum Wage
By Richard E. Noble
It wasn't until I arrived in sunny Florida that I was made aware that employers actually paid workers the dreaded Minimum Wage. I had worked for ten years in a meat packing house in order to learn the skill of butchering. I was earning $4.00 per hour when I left Lawrence, MA to settle in sunny Florida. Yet everywhere I applied in southern Florida they would only offer me the minimum. The minimum at that time in Florida was $1.80 per hour. I decided that if the butcher's trade was considered to be so worthless in Florida, I might just as well go out and learn something new and different.
I got a job as a porter in a restaurant. My first paycheck was a real disappointment. I received bigger checks when I was a stock boy at the First National grocery store on Broadway back in Lawrence. I felt very humiliated.
I found out from the manager that the only job in that restaurant chain that paid $4.00 per hour was the job he held as manager. I told him, jokingly, that I wanted his job. Believe it or not, a few months later, I got it.
In less than six months, I was the manager of a busy restaurant on Fort Lauderdale Beach earning considerably more than minimum wage and much more than the $4.00 per hour that I had hoped for.
Shortly after becoming manager I got my second Florida shock – the payroll checks for the staff arrived. I was checking everybody's hours to make sure the checks were accurate when I got to the waitress payroll checks. The hours listed on the waitress checks were accurate but the pay amounts were all wrong. All the waitresses had checks for amounts like $1.42 or $1.39. And that was for two weeks work. I didn't dare waltz out into the dinning room and hand these rather foolish paychecks to any of these hard working girls. I felt that they would lynch me. I figured that the accounting department had put the decimal point in the wrong place. Maybe the check should have been $142.00 or $139.00.
I decided to call my supervisor.
When I told him my problem he laughed. He told me that the waitresses' checks were all accurate and correct.
"Waitresses only receive half of the minimum wage," he said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because they get tips," he said.
"You mean because some generous hearted customers leave the waitress a tip, the house pays her the minimum and then takes half her hard earned minimum dollar?"
"That's right," he said.
"Is Florida a part of the United States of America?" I asked.
"It ain't Florida," he said. "It's the same rule all over the country for waitresses."
"You are kidding me?"
So I hung up and then I started figuring the checks once again. They were still wrong – even half the minimum wage amounted to more than the totals on these checks.
I called the supervisor again. "Hey pal, these checks are still all wrong. Even half the minimum wage amounts to more than the totals listed on these checks."
He chuckled once again, "You have got to take the taxes out."
"Well, my gosh, the tax on $1.49 don't amount to this much reduction. Am I on Candid Camera or what?"
"No, you're not on Candid Camera. They take out the taxes on the full amount of the minimum wage. They take taxes out as if the girls were being paid $1.80 per hour. You don't expect the government to lose money do you? How are they going to pay for all them jet planes and aircraft carriers? You've got to be more patriotic," he joked.
"Maybe they ought to name one of them aircraft carriers the Mary Joe or the Betty Sue instead of the Harry Truman or the Eisenhower? I have noticed though that many yachts parked on the Intercoastal have ladies’ names on them. The restaurant owners probably named them after all the waitress they have been screwing for all these centuries," I suggested.
“Well then, be nice to those girls because by your way of thinking they’re paying your salary too.”
The government had a problem all right but why did the restaurant owner get half of every minimum dollar that the poor girl earned?
I remember walking around that fancy dinning room handing the waitresses their paychecks. Some of them even said thank-you. I can't tell you what I felt like. I knew we lived in a jungle and this was a dog-eat-dog world but I had never been on the wolf's side before.
As I investigated the situation further, I found that the waitresses were also expected to give a portion of their tips to the bus boys and the bartenders. In some restaurants the waitresses paid for specialty items, like fresh shucked oysters and clams. They were often forced to pay as much as a buck a dozen. In many of this chain's restaurants the waitresses were also responsible for vacuuming the carpets before their shift, cleaning the bathrooms and even performing some kitchen duties.
It seemed quite evident to me that Florida restaurants were operating off the backs of their female, underpaid, exploited wait staff. The girls were paying everybody. This was a joke.
In talking to some of the older waitresses I found that many of them had to "buy" their jobs at these restaurants. A job at a good restaurant in Fort Lauderdale could cost them two or three hundred dollars. But this money didn’t always go to the owners. It went to the managers and sometimes to the head hostess or maitre d’. And then, if they were wise, they would slip the maitre d’ or the head hostess a little something before their shift started each evening if they wanted to get any of the known good tippers.
In recent years things really haven't gotten better for waitresses. I think with the new government demands, they have actually gotten worse. As I understand it, a certain percentage must be paid by the waitress on every credit card check she receives – whether she receives a tip from that costumer or not.
I ended up marrying one of these waitresses and she still drives me nuts every time we eat out. Whatever amount I put down for a tip isn't enough. She always makes me add to it.
You can always tell an old waitress, she buys something for two dollars and leaves four dollars as a tip. Waitresses take care of waitresses – and it's a good thing that they do because restaurant owners and the government sure don’t.
Friday, March 09, 2012
If you enjoyed reading this review you may find my two books pictured above interesting reading also. If so, click on appropriate book cover to the right on this page for more information. Thanks.
The Grand Design
By Stephen Hawking
and Leonard Mlodinow
By Richard E. Noble
Stephen has got himself in trouble once again. Mr. Hawking has decided to join in the ancient argument about the existence or necessity of the gods.
Stephen didn’t actually say that there was no God. He merely stated in the manner of Laplace, another infamous mathematician, that he also “had no need for such a hypothesis.”
Stephen is of the opinion that the Universe is the result of a “Big Bang” and that this Big Bang was able to create itself ... from nothing.
Although Christians and many other organized religions also believe that the Universe was created from nothing they disagree with Stephen in their definition of the “nothing” that is somehow responsible for the Universe.
Christians and their counterparts believe that the nothing behind the Universe is God – a supernatural being portrayed in the image and likeness of Man. This God is also nothing because he is yet to be defined credibly. In fact, all attempts at a definition have led to paradox or irrational contradiction. So God remains an unconfirmed suspicion that is only visible to the faithful.
Stephen’s “nothing” is explainable scientific phenomenon which satisfies all his equations without a fallback position of God a la Isaac Newton. The notion of God, in effect, posits the impossible as an explanation for the highly improbable.
Stephen does not add God to his equations because he sees no point in solving a mystery with an even greater mystery nor does he find it necessary to do so. If we suggest that God created the Universe then one must ask who or what created God, states Stephen, philosophically.
This has sent the religious community into spasms of stuttering, stammering and hallucination over fundamentals. Stephen is able to do this because of his reputation as “the most intelligent man alive.”
Whoa, that is scary!
What surprises me is that no one seems all that upset over the fact that Stephen has also denied the concept of free will. Stephen said, rather flatly, that he believed not in free will but in “scientific determinism.”
The denial of free will is equally important to the religious community of theologians because without it how can non-believers and other undesirables be sent off to hell. And furthermore, without the notion of free will how can God be relieved of personal responsibility and become the source of all that is good, free from any evil related to his creation of man.
Stephen tries to back off on his denial of free will by making a qualifying statement. Stephen suggests that because of an infinity of choices man is sorta possessive of a free will … kind of. But to show where this copout leads, we find Stephen later in the book claiming that if a robot could be designed with the ability to make an incalculable number of choices it too could be considered, by Stephens’s definition, to be possessive of free will … kinda sorta.
I should think that the religious apologists would be jumping all over that one also.
And now we come to the Grand Design. The Grand Design has been the goal of the scientific community since Einstein and Heisenberg and the problems created by discoveries in quantum theories.
Scientists have been searching for one theory or one equation that would unite all the four known forces in the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear forces and the weak nuclear forces. So far they haven’t been able to come up with one. But Stephen says he has it. He calls it M-theory.
M-theory is not “a” theory but a scientific series of overlapping theories (models) which take into consideration via a multitude of Richard Feynman “fudge factors” every possible theory conceivable.
To me M-theory is somewhat akin to stating, “I have the answer to existence and why we all exist.”
“And what is that answer?”
“The answer to existence and why we all exist is that there is no answer.”
M-theory is based on Stephen’s definition of reality. Stephen denies that there is such a thing as objective reality or absolute reality. Reality is in the eye of the beholder and if the beholder’s reality can be backed up by scientific experimentation to justify what he thinks he is seeing, one observer’s view of reality is as good as another’s.
We fall into the same trap with this definition of reality as we did with Stephen's definition of free will. Stephen even goes so far as to say that the Ptolemaic view of the solar system is as viable as the sun concentric view. The only difference being the ease of the equations or math involved.
As with his scientific determinism, I find his scientific reality also lacking.
Scientific reality is based on observation backed and substantiated by scientific experiment. Stephen gives an explanation of realism that is about the worst description that I have ever read. It is so bad that I question his motivations in this regard.
But moving right along, Stephen rejects any a priori knowledge or conclusions with regards to reality. To my understanding an object has a reality in and of itself independent of any observers or perception. In other words, if there were no one and nothing to observe any real thing in the universe that thing would remain what it really is. A tree would be a tree even if there was no one or nothing to observe it. The sun would still be the sun and the stars would still be whatever they are. Observers are not necessary to this understanding of reality.
But Stephen is a scientist and not a theorist or a philosopher [Stephen says that philosophy is dead] and he accepts only a reality spawned via observation and corroborating scientific experiment. Models concocted through a plethora of observers and compared and evaluated via scientific experiment and mathematical equations present the only reality possible. It doesn’t really matter if the concluded realities are true or false, since no picture of reality can be determined to be absolutely true. They only have to be computer, model soluble.
So once again Stephen comes to this strange conclusion that a fish in a fish bowl’s confirmed observations are as viable as a human’s scientifically confirmed observation of any particular object. This leaves us with no absolute reality and reduces reality to a matter of opinion … sorta.
From Stephen’s point of view, man’s view and understanding of the things around him become constrained and restricted to the laboratory and mathematical equations that can be diagrammed on his computer.
Stephen’s view of reality may be distorted in this way because of his physical condition. He sees a reality confined and restricted just as he is confined and restricted.
I see an objective absolute reality in a thing’s existence in and of itself with no perspective or point of view necessary. Of course, this absolute reality is indeterminable – but nevertheless it does exist. It is reality and we all know and understand it.
It is the goal of science to discover this absolute reality with its inadequate powers of observation and scientific experimentation.
The average of all the approximate realities of all the various scientific observers is an estimate of reality and not reality, per se.
Reality is not the sum total of all the various and inadequate points of view of the myriad of observers combined and mathematically formulated. It may be the best that man can do, scientifically, at present but these scientific estimations do not constitute a true reality – as of yet. I think the M-theory with all its machinations will come up short in the long run.
A tree is a tree, in and of itself, no matter how it may appear to you or anyone or anything else. A tree is not necessarily what any particular group of observers, no matter how large or scientifically inclined, estimate it to be.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
If you like this type "pithy wit" you might try one of my selections above. Thanks. Click on the cover of the book on the right of this page for more info.
Dick Cheney and me
By Richard E. Noble
Dick Cheney appeared at a press conference a while back and he made a statement that stuck in my mind. One of the reporters made reference to his accumulated wealth and an implied lack of gratitude on his part. His response was that whatever he had, he had gotten on his own and certainly with no help from the government. He was a self-made man was the implication that I understood.
Many people in the audience applauded his statement. Of course, in Mr. Cheney’s case, I felt it was rather an obnoxious statement. Here was a man who worked for the government most of his career and when he wasn't, he was working for corporations who were tied to the government from their navel to their butt hole. If there was anybody who made their fortune off this government and not despite this government, it was him.
I felt that if Mr. Cheney wanted to meet a real self-made man he should meet me.
I realize that I may not be all that great of a self-made man in terms of total wealth – or any wealth for that matter – but certainly everything that I accumulated was without the help of the government. I might even go so far as saying that it was despite the government in many cases – and even the police department and the IRS in additional cases.
I started working when I was eight or nine years old and nobody gave me anything.
I collected returnable bottles in my old Lawrence neighborhood. I shoveled snow every winter and I set up duckpins at a local bowling alley – all before I was ten years old. That was pretty independent wasn't it?
But how independent is independent?
I mean, if I had no neighbors, I couldn't have collected pop bottles or shoveled out people's driveways in the winter when it snowed. If there was no English Social Club on Center Street with six or eight duckpin bowling alleys, I couldn't have made any money setting up pins. If there were no glassy-eyed, semi-intoxicated patrons who wanted to bowl, even the presence of the alleys wouldn't have done me much good.
When I was eleven I got a paper route. More of the above applies to that job – no neighbors who wanted to read, no newspaper company who wanted to print etc.
Then I went to work at the grocery store – more dependence on my Lawrence neighbors and shoppers and the First National up on Broadway.
On top of all that, before I could make any money at any of the above, I had to know how to count.
When I was just five years old my mother carted me down to the corner school. There were a bunch of "volunteers" there who us kids mocked and ridiculed. We called them penguins and other unflattering things.
They forced me to learn what I needed. And believe me they had to force it into me because from a very early age, I felt that I already knew more than I needed to know. Me and Henry Ford had a similar attitude when it came to book learning – who needed it! “History is a lot of bunk.” I’m with you Henry.
Now these volunteers weren't really trying to help me, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out in many of his books. They were under the assumption that they were employed by God. They were really trying to save my soul … the poor, sad things.
And all the neighbors and the customers and patrons and the businesses and employers, they weren't trying to help me either. They needed somebody and I just happened to be standing there.
As independent and self-made as I think myself to be, I have never had any job or made a penny that was without the participation of others in my society – not one penny.
And neither has Dick Cheney. Neither of us were a Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. We didn't survive in a wilderness nor did we make our way in a void.
I don't care what terms you use but we have all gotten what little we have because there were others around us who needed our efforts. No, this doesn't actually constitute love, but it does dispel independence to a degree.
Me and Dick Cheney are about as self-made as R2D2. If the inadequate system that surrounds us shuts down – we shut down. Try living with no electricity and no water. Most of us can't even get by without a TV or cell phone.
Sometimes it is not such a great feeling to realize that we need others in order to survive, but it is a fact of life. We don't have to like this fact, but to deny it is to live in a delusion.
But Dick Cheney and me are not the only humans who are living in a delusion of independence. The world and America have an abundance of them. They are stumbling all over one another but don’t seem to notice.
Monday, March 05, 2012
If you are interested in this subject, you may also be interested in my book "Mein Kampf - Analysis of Book One. Thanks.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
By William L. Shirer
By Richard E. Noble
With “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” Mr. Shirer achieved the dream of every writer. He wrote himself into immortality. This is one of those great books that will never die. As long as there are people, this book will be read.
I purposely postponed the reading of this work until I finished writing my book “Mein Kampf – Analysis of Book One” because I feared that my work would be unduly influenced by Mr. Shirer’s work. After reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by W.L. Shirer I feel I made the correct decision.
I was pleased to find that many of the quotes selected by Mr. Shirer from Adolf Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf” were also selected by me as being important and worthy of additional analysis.
Mr. Shirer’s book is exactly what the title states it to be. It is a detailed and well documented study of the rise and then the fall of the Third Reich.
This book is over 1100 pages long. To write a thorough review would be impossible. So let me simply highlight a few of the things that I learned or found interesting.
One thing that has always been a curiosity to me was why Germany (Adolf Hitler) declared war on the United States after the bombing of Peal Harbor on December 7, 1941. If he had kept his mouth shut he would have had the U.S. occupied in the Pacific while he could have concentrated on his war in Europe. From my reading of the times, it would have been difficult for Roosevelt to win the American people over to an attack on Hitler’s Germany in Europe when we had Japan who just attacked us in the Pacific.
I was told that this was mandatory because Germany and Japan had an alliance.
This was true; Germany and Japan did have an alliance. But this agreement was only called into play if either Germany or Japan were attacked by another nation. The alliance did not come into effect if Germany or Japan were the aggressor and attacked another nation.
This is why Japan did not come to Germany’s aid in its struggle with Russia. Germany requested Japan’s support in this cause several times but to no avail. Germany had attacked Russia. Russia did not attack Germany. Therefore Japan had no mandate to come to Germany’s aid. And Japan never did assist Germany in this effort.
Japan then attacked the United States. Germany had no treaty obligation to declare war against the U.S. but nevertheless it did. Why?
If Germany had not declared war against the U.S. it would then have been up to Roosevelt to declare war against Germany after we had just been attacked by Japan.
I think with all the pro-German sentiment in the U.S. at that time, such a declaration would have been difficult for President Roosevelt to get past the legislature. In which case the U.S. would have been distracted from its efforts in Europe and forced to concentrate in the Pacific on Japan.
Once again it seems that Hitler had gravely underestimated the capacity and spirit of his enemies. It seems that Adolf felt the U.S. to be a paper lion and not ready or capable to form any great war effort. He made the same mistake with the British and then again with the Russians. I suppose it could be said that he overestimated Germany’s abilities rather than underestimated his enemies but either way, he was gravely mistaken in his projections.
Mr. Shirer’s book also corroborates my notion that one of Adolf’s greatest attributes was his ability to dull the compassionate instincts of an entire nation of people.
Unfortunately we have a similar circumstance happening at this time in our own country.
Hitler used patriotism, national pride, the German flag, military prowess and strong appeals to individualism and selfishness to immunize the German people. One can only hope that these tactics which are being pushed relentlessly here and now in our own country by right wing extremists will not be as effective here in the U.S. as they were in Nazi Germany.
I also feel supported by Mr. Shirer in my bias that the Nuremberg Trials were not the great success that they have been portrayed to be, historically. Even Alfried Krupp was let off the hook. As I now know, from other reading, many American businesses who aided, supported, and profited from dealing with Nazi Germany during the war were able to skirt prosecution and investigation via the attention and publicity provided by this event.
Mr. Shirer also puts to rest for me the notion or excuse that “people” were not aware of the slaughterhouses and extermination camps. Somehow Hitler was able to keep it all a secret from everybody, we are so often told.
Well it seems to have been far from any secret. People who lived around the extermination camps were constantly complaining to the local authorities about the “burning flesh smell” emanating from the camps. The public bids from construction companies, with their detailed drawings and explicit instructions and suggestions on clever, new machinery and methods on how to kill the most people and remove any “waste material” and dead bodies at the cheapest cost are ridiculously blatant.
These detailed bids should also be put on display in all nations around the world and specifically to any “free market” capitalists who are presently advocating the moral integrity and the notion of “self-policing” by banks, insurance companies, the stock market and the so called free market system in general.
I also thought it interesting to note in this era of “body art” that tattooed skin was a first priority for those purchasing or collecting “human skin” furniture and lampshades for their homes and apartments.
I could go on and on, chapter by chapter, making comments and pointing out interesting references but better to suggest that if this subject interests you, your time will not be wasted here. This is one of those monumental works that should be and I am sure will be read for years and years by students, historians and all those interested in what we can only hope will be our last ever World War.