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The Profiteers
Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World
Sally Denton
The co-author of one of the best books ever written on Las Vegas—and its meaning for America— sets her critical eye on the behemoth that is Bechtel. For students of 20th century realpolitik, an excellent companion to David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard.​ —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Why Torture Doesn't Work
The Neuroscience of Interrogation
Shane O'Mara
We may all know in our hearts the truth of this titular statement, but political expediency will forever force the trump card, trampling over and demolishing any remnants of what we may personally consider humane, simply because of a word: terrorist. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Planet of the Bugs
Evolution and the Rise of Insects
Scott Richard Shaw
How our six-legged friends have come to dominate the planet. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Devil's Chessboard
Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
David Talbot
Recommended by Jeff & Paul & Scott, City Lights Books
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The Year of Lear
Shakespeare in 1606
James Shapiro
A brilliant rumination on how subversive and terrorist actions of late 1605 through 1606, as well as the citizenry's feelings about Elizabeth's replacement on the throne and the capital's experience with the plague, possibly informed and reconfigured the writing, performing, and publishing of the three plays attributed to Shakespeare...
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We Believe the Children
A Moral Panic in the 1980s
Richard Beck
If you lived through this, as I did, you know where this is going. If you didn't, you will not believe what we, as a country, will choose to believe, if told to do so. Both surreal and infuriating, in equal doses. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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A, B, C: Three Short Novels
The Jewels of Aptor; The Ballad of Beta-2; They Fly at Ciron
Samuel R. Delany
Please read this even if for no other reason than to experience the mystery and charm of Delany's 1965 novel The Ballad of Beta-2, which I only recently discovered. This is classic 60s-era SciFi at its scintillating best. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Gunman
A Novel
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Forget whatever you've read about the film. This is the darkest of dark noirs, in the tradition of Jim Thompson, and the last novel Manchette would publish before his early death. Every word Manchette wrote is worth your time, much as those of one of his predecessors in French minimalism, Georges Bernanos, is. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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Drugged
The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs
Richard J. Miller
"Morphine," writes Richard J. Miller, "is the most significant chemical substance mankind has ever encountered." So ancient that remains of poppies have been found in Neolithic tombs, it is the most effective drug ever discovered for treating pain. "Whatever advances are made in medicine," Miller adds, "nothing could really be more...
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San Francisco
A Map of Perceptions
Andrea Ponsi
San Francisco is a city designed for artists and wanderers. From North Beach, to Chinatown, to the cold, rough surf of Ocean Beach, to Marin, both visitors and lifelong residents have endless opportunities to explore new neighborhoods, buildings, environments, and cultures just by getting in the car, hopping on a cable car, or by simply...
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Area X
The Southern Reach Trilogy
Jeff VanderMeer
A near-future trilogy, here handsomely packaged in one volume, which has been my single most unexpected "find" of the year. The first book, Annihilation, found me intrigued, yet cautious. Imagine the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing. Authority, the second volume, was an absolute revelation...
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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
We think we have evolved—we haven't. The politics of any age are the politics of all ages. Whether 5000, 2500, 1000, 500 or 50 years ago, the reasoning and methods are the same. They win, we lose. Parallels abound with both the Cold War and Post-9/11 Weltenschauung. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Bicycle Design
An Illustrated History
Tony Hadland, Hans-Erhard Lessing
An absolutely gorgeous and informative illustrated history of the most timeless of machines. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from a NorCal poet and songwriter, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia. Oh yes, there's also the comet on a collision course with Earth. Just read the first few pages and decide for yourself.

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