Books, 2018

You might also be interested in my booklists from 20142016, and 2017.

Ecological Imperialism

Three Hearts and Three Lions

The Searchers

The Drawing of the Dark

Quantitative Genetics

The Rise of the West

My Commando Operations

Desolation Island

When Titans Clashed 

The Price of Glory, Verdun 1916

Njal’s saga

Le Morte D’Arthur

The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

Who We Are and How We Got Here

The Lever of Riches

The Son Also Rises

Fourth Mansions

Shackleton’s boat journey

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

The First World War 

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59 Responses to Books, 2018

  1. TWS says:

    Love the drawing of the dark and three hearts and three lions.

  2. John Williams says:

    If you’ve read Desolation Island, that means you can look forward to reading 15 more books in the amazing and enjoyable 20-book Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. I give you joy in that prospect.
    Here are two WWII books that I found exceptionally interesting and well-written. First, Operation Sea Lion: The projected invasion of England in 1940—An account of the German preparations and the British countermeasures (1957) by Peter Fleming; and second, Death in The Forest: The Story of the Katyn Forest Massacre (1962) by J. K. Zawodny.

  3. magusjanus says:

    Hidden Truth by Hanz Schantz is fun young adult stuff with a bit of physics.
    Three-Body Problem series is good scifi. Wandering Earth short stories from same author is good too.
    Red Plenty was interesting, by Spufford, on Soviet Dream in 50s/60s.
    Dealers of Lightning on the Xerox-Parc relationship was good.
    and for China history, can do worse than Keay’s China: A History.
    I also think you’d like Culture of Growth from Mokyr, one of hte better econ historians.
    Fragile by Design is decent historical economics too on institutions adn their path dependence, touching on high finance and regulations across different countries as case studies.

  4. dearieme says:

    I don’t read much fiction but this year I thoroughly enjoyed – as in, I laughed a lot and still reflect on it a little – “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine”.

    For people of a puritan disposition who feel that books ought always to be instructing them, you could look upon it as an exploration of unusual personality types that stop well short of madness.

    • dearieme says:

      ‘an exploration of unusual personality types that stop well short of madness’: did I hear someone mutter “Just like the comments threads on West Hunter”?

  5. C7 says:

    Have you ever read Ernst Junger’s “Storm of Steel?” Trench warfare from the German perspective. Hard to get through.

  6. David Chamberlin says:

    So you want to be well read do ya? Well getcher rudy poo ass over to Razib’s list of good reads and have at it. https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/18982209-razib-khan

    1215 books. Loads of reviews over at Amazon so you know what you are getting. Pretty damned clever of Amazon to present you with contrasting good and bad reviews. I like that. It’s never been easier or cheaper to be directed to the best of the best in books that are delivered straight to your door step. You get spoiled after a while. It wasn’t long ago getting you hands on the best of the best non fiction was hit or miss and miss was a hell of a lot more common than hit. You would make an hour drive to a well stocked used book store (if you were lucky) and you would load up on 15 books and after you got home with them, than you found out which books were actually worth reading.

    YessirreeBob, the world is now your oyster.

    • Cu says:

      Razib’s list is filled to the brink with shallow books he read out of fashion, there’s just too little quality there.
      Also, if you want to try a book before buying, review it yourself by actually reading it, instead of relying on the melted-brain amazon and goodreads reviewers.

      • David Chamberlin says:

        Here, if you don’t make sense you will be politely corrected. You can’t buy a book before you read it. Now there are other flaws in what you are saying but who cares. But it is the internet and if you stay consistently wrong here repeatedly and earnestly you shall brow beaten to a pulp. Welcome

  7. “The Berlin Project,” by Gregory Benford

  8. Lior says:

    Since you’re interested in the history of technological and economic development you should consider reading one of Vaclav smil books such as:https://www.amazon.com/Energy-Civilization-History-MIT-Press/dp/0262035774.

    He Surveys the influence and spread of various technologies such as watermill and windmill in europe, influence of crop cycles,Horse collar,metallurgy etc.
    pseudoerasmus also list him in his recommended reading.

    • mtkennedy21 says:

      Joel Mokyr has similar books, like “Gifts of Athena” and a long list of others.

      • Lior says:

        Yes,one of the very reasons I recommended the book is because greg mentioned Joel Mokyr book’s “The Lever of Riches” who is similar except smil’s “Energy and Civilization” Is more comprehensive and quantitative mentioning technologies from primitive times
        (such as the use of oil lamps 40000 years ago), in different societies,the return of energy of different subsistence methods and other interesting things.

  9. EnricoDandolo says:

    I do wish you’d give a one sentence review of each book.

  10. wontgetthrough says:

    these are recommendations?

  11. Zeinish says:

    Mr. Cochran seems to be fan of S.M.Stirling, despite their nearly perfectly opposite political persuasion 😉

    https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/who-we-are-9-europe
    https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/blurry

    Any thoughts on his latest alternate history work, Black Chamber?

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36150869-black-chamber

    • gcochran9 says:

      Stirling and I used to argue on a closed list. We hated each other, but I enjoyed hating him.

      I like some of his books, and would like more if someone cleansed them of all lesbian superwarriors.

      • Zeinish says:

        Stirling and I used to argue on a closed list. We hated each other, but I enjoyed hating him.

        Why? Iraq war? SMS was at the time fire breathing neocon who made Bush and Cheney look like doves, this could produce some tension 😉

        https://groups.google.com/forum/#!original/rec.arts.sf.written/WvrUJ9GgjVw/TUCtBRjF-gQJ

        I like some of his books, and would like more if someone cleansed them of all lesbian superwarriors.

        LOL.

        Godlike aliens breaking laws of physics with ease – good!
        Miraculous genetic engineering creating real supermen – better!
        Superpowered vampires with ESP and PSI powers – great!
        Magic using dinosaurs – best!
        Lesbian super warriors – NO NO NO NO NO my suspension of disbelief is broken!

        Reminds me of the people who wailed on twitter that the new Lord of the Rings series will have black elves – because it would be SO UNREALISTIC!

        • gcochran9 says:

          Well before 2003. Even in the early 90s, Stirling already wanted to exterminate the Arabs. Dunno why.

          Apparently his parents did a lot of stuff in Africa. His mother didn’t believe in babysitters, so at one point left him in his crib, supervised by a silvery devil-mask (purchased from some witch-doctor). He was told that if he left the crib, it would eat his soul.
          I have to suspect that deterrence failed in his case.

          I know how to make a kind of genetic superman. No imagination required.

          I can imagine many things, but I don’t like all of them.

          • Zeinish says:

            Well before 2003. Even in the early 90s, Stirling already wanted to exterminate the Arabs. Dunno why.

            Now, Mr. Stirling wants to “kick and beat Russians until they get the message”.

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/worldaffairsjournal/no_proxy_war_against_russia/#comment-1844622970

            But the Arabs still have a place in his heart. In the Black Chamber book:

            Va nygreangr JJV, Treznaf qrfgebl Cnevf jvgu areir tnf, naq gura rkcryy nyy Serapu sebz Senapr gb Abegu Nsevpn. Cbyvgvpnyyl naq rpbabzvpnyyl abafrafvpny, ohg gurl qb vg naljnl. Nsgrejneqf, gur Serapu rkgrezvangr nyy Nenof va Abegu Nsevpn, fb rirelguvat raqf jryy.

            I know how to make a kind of genetic superman. No imagination required.

            http://shalaph.fortunecity.ws/draka.htm

            What about hot bisexual superwoman with boron-carbon nanotube skeleton, who can emit pheromones that could control minds of unmodified Mark 1.0 humans? Show your work 🙂

            • Toddy Cat says:

              Nah, GC dated her in High School. Been there, done that…

            • R. says:

              So, he’s some sort of crazed US supremacist then?

              People keep suspecting him of being some sort of reactionary based on the Draka books, where the bad guys were written with a great amount of attention & loving detail.

              • Zeinish says:

                Nope, Mr. Stirling is big British Empire patriot.
                He is pro US because modern US is the only empire standing, but his greatest regret is the American revolution, this was when the world went wrong. If only the British people stayed together in one big empire and kicked the frogs, krauts, russkies, gooks, ragheads and other wogs for all eternity…

          • Jacob says:

            Mighty Mouse or myostatin knockout?

            • gcochran9 says:

              Typo correction: get rid of most genetic load.

              • Jacob says:

                Most? Really? I was just going for wacky sci fi ideas about beefed out men with extra mitochondria. It sounds like you’re serious.

                Why would you create something far more powerful than yourself? Are you absolutely certain you can control it — or that it will even have your and your kids’ best interests in mind?

                How would you test the parents/donors accurately enough for things like honesty, distaste for wacky political and religious ideologies, mental health, and so on, that you could bank the future of humanity on their hyperintelligent offspring? Is there any organization on Earth you could trust, given what’s at stake, to run that psychological analysis?

                I would be delighted, but surprised, if you answered yes.

              • TWS says:

                Jacob, who can control their adult children? I am happy when my children surpass me or their mother in anything. Most parents are.

              • Jacob says:

                Your adult children aren’t smarter than any human who has ever lived. They’re not an existential threat to existing power structures.

                I would love somebody posing that exact threat, but only if I were pretty confident that they had something better in mind. The stakes being as high as they are, the parents of any superbaby like this have to be thoroughly vetted by an organization possessing both the right psychometric capabilities and the right political priorities.

          • R. says:

            Arabs or Islam?

            I recall one of his early Draka books (I think it was Under The Yoke) mentioning that the state in it re-wrote the Quran & all to be more benign..

          • Alex says:

            “I know how to make a kind of genetic superman. No imagination required.”

            Would you make a post detailing this, Mr. Cochran? I would be interested in your thoughts. And I know you also had ideas on the dysgenics and birthrates issues. Would you kindly share your thoughts?

        • engleberg says:

          Talking of superpowered vampires, Saberhagen’s Vlad series was excellent.

        • Tanturn says:

          Do you really find lesbian superwarriors interesting or do you just want to feel like you’re better than the rubes?

          • Zeinish says:

            What is wrong with feeling superior? This whole blog is about feeling superior over the “rubes” because we know the truth about “IQ”, “HBD” and “rationality”, and they do not.

        • syonredux says:

          “Reminds me of the people who wailed on twitter that the new Lord of the Rings series will have black elves – because it would be SO UNREALISTIC!”

          In terms of Tolkien’s fictional reality, yeah, it would be totally unrealistic.

        • syonredux says:

          “Godlike aliens breaking laws of physics with ease – good!
          Miraculous genetic engineering creating real supermen – better!
          Superpowered vampires with ESP and PSI powers – great!
          Magic using dinosaurs – best!
          Lesbian super warriors – NO NO NO NO NO my suspension of disbelief is broken!”

          The problem here is that Stirling seems to think that Lesbian super warriors are real…….

  12. Cu says:

    Blueprint? Her mother’s laught?
    Or is this list only the good ones?
    Also, you need to read more about economics and history. I recommend either Web of Debt or The Lost Science of Money, both of which you can get on libgen.

  13. stopped doomsday clock says:

    Reminds me of the people who wailed on twitter that the new Lord of the Rings series will have black elves – because it would be SO UNREALISTIC!

    Fake news. The “elves of color” story was a hoax. One of the greatest trolls of this year, Internet at its best.

    https://winteriscoming.net/2018/11/09/racist-childhoods-saved-tweet-elves-color-amazons-lord-rings-hoax/

    • Zeinish says:

      When I see someone posting under anime avatar, I for some reason always imagine 500lb pedophile stuck in basement. I know it is unfair, but I cannot help myself.

  14. Pincher Martin says:

    Finding myself with too much time on my hands, I categorized GC’s four book lists. He has recommended 83 books in total over the last few years.

    History – 17 (20%)

    Military/Spy – 15 (18%)

    Pop Science/Technology – 12 (14%)

    Science Fiction/Fantasy – 10 (12%)

    Classical History – 7 (8%)

    Classic Literature – 5 (6%)

    Pre-History/Anthropology – 4 (4.8%)

    History (Esoterica) – 4 (4.8%)

    Science – 3 (3.6%)

    Math – 3 (3.6%)

    Novels – 3 (3.6%)

    I have not read most of the recommended books, so my judgments about how to categorize them may be faulty. For those I hadn’t read, I relied both on Amazon’s categories and my reading of the online summaries about the books. Fearing too many categories for too few books, I occasionally jammed them together in ways which might offend the sensibilities of some.

    History is easily the broadest category. It includes everything from Stalingrad to Breaking the Maya Code, from classics like Arabian Sands to modern scholarly works like The Lever of Riches.

    The History Esoterica section includes books such as The Great Imposter and The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody.

    The Classic Literature section includes works as diverse as Machiavelli’s Discourses, an Icelandic saga, and the short stories of Ambrose Bierce.

    Fully half of GC’s book recommendations are history broadly construed, if we include all the military/spy stuff as history, but keep the pop science category separate.

  15. ziel says:

    I read Lansing’s riveting account of Shackleford’s journey – is the one listed here significantly different or more accurate, does anyone know?

    • Smithie says:

      I have only read the above and Shackleton’s own account. I prefer the above. It reads much more easily, almost like a short novel. Though, of course, Shackleton did include many more details about the original expedition.

  16. Smithie says:

    I always thought that the boring parts of the Arthurian saga were Malory’s own, and that he took the interesting parts, like the guy fringing his mantle with the beards of kings, from oral storytellers. But maybe their versions were filled with long jousting lists too.

    • Thersites says:

      Unless Malory was a more subtle writer than he’s usually given credit for, one gets the impression that he didn’t recognize most of the ironies in his own chosen source material. Earlier writers like Chrétien de Troyes seem to to have injected an occasional undercurrent of sarcasm that Malory missed even whilst he was imitating it.

      Anyway, irony-impaired or not, don’t neglect to send the man a Requiem aeternam when you’re finished.

  17. DH says:

    The Empire of the Steppes by René Grousset

  18. ccscientist says:

    In addition to “who we are and how we got here” I thoroughly enjoyed “the 10000 year explosion”–yes I know it is yours. Mind blown by both.

  19. stopped doomsday clock says:

    Why would you create something far more powerful than yourself? Are you absolutely certain you can control it — or that it will even have your and your kids’ best interests in mind?

  20. US says:

    Usually those kinds of lists are posted much closer to the end of the year, interesting to see one this early.

    I haven’t finished my list for the year yet as it’ll hopefully include at least 10 more books by the end of the year, but I do update my book list regularly throughout the year (includes goodreads ratings as well as links to reviews and blog posts as well): https://econstudentlog.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/books-2018/

    I also read Desolation Island this year (…the year I finished the Aubrey-Maturin series) and I liked that book – for 19th century setting fiction I prefer like George MacDonald Fraser (the Flashman-series) better, but O’Brian’s pretty good.

  21. mtkennedy21 says:

    I’ve read a couple of Kurt Schlicter novels and they are really comedies with lots of blood and guts. He has the jargon down almost perfectly and it’s no wonder as he lives in West Los Angeles. I just keep hoping they stay fiction.

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  23. deuce says:

    Treece’s THE BURNING OF NJAL is a very Howardian retelling of that saga. I recommend it:

    https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Njal-Henry-Treece/dp/0370010604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544547142&sr=8-1&keywords=treece+njal

    Treece’s one-volume history of the Crusades reads even more like REH than Harold Lamb’s rendition of same. Lost my copy in a flood. I need to rebuy it.

  24. Jim says:

    Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 by Charles Murray. Wish there were more books like this.

  25. Jim says:

    Historiometry is a touchy field that in present times only two authors have had the balls to write about. Murray and Simonton. I think they prove to some degree that Galton was right (without openly saying it or even making any references to Hereditary Genius). Its a shame the whole topic is today frowned on but yet not surprising considering how delicate our society has become. I fear Historiometry as a whole will remain ”in the dark” for ages to come.

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