In case you haven’t noticed, I like buying (and reading) books. Usually history or “ideas” books like Blink by Malcolm Gladwell or Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, or 1491 by Charles C. Mann (a really awesome book if you are interested in the history of the Americas).
Often I buy books when I’m travelling somewhere. Some airports have pretty good bookstores. For example a year or so ago I was stuck in Tampa waiting for my golfing buddies who were coming in on another flight. They were delayed about 4 hours because of a thunderstorm, so I had a lot of time to read. That time I found Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. This was one of the best books I’ve read in years, and really opened my eyes to how much of a rotten bastard Mao was. I’m currently reading it for the 2nd time (yes, all 700+ pages), and it has inspired me to find out more about China.
Last week, for instance, on the bargain table at Chapters I found The Long March: The True History of Communist China’s Founding Myth by Sun Shuyun. The mythic “Long March” is also covered in Mao, but Shuyun’s version is much more sympathetic. Too sympathetic in my view. However I will comment on that at a later date.
Also speaking of China and airports, about three years ago on my way to Prince Edward Island for another golfing trip, at the Toronto airport bookstore I found 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, by Gavin Menzies. This was another absolutely eye-opening book, and I recommend it highly. Menzies’ claim, in a nutshell, is that a massive Chinese expedition took place in 1421 at which time Chinese navigators sailed to virtually every continent (except, apparently, Europe), and mapped every place they visited. Menzies claims that Columbus had copies of these maps, as did Magellan, and virtually all the other Portuguese, Spanish and English explorers.
I don’t want to get off topic here. The topic was “Books from the Bargain Table”. All I really wanted to say was you can find some good books for cheap on the bargain table at one of the bigger book stores. As I’ve mentioned, last week it was The Long March, and this week (yesterday) it was The Greatest Lies in History by Alexander Canduci.
That one wasn’t particularly cheap ($17.99), but I thought it was worth it because it contains some nicely condensed information on some topics I am currently researching: Mao (perhaps history’s greatest bald-faced liar), and the subjugation and forced migration of Indian tribes in the southeastern U.S. during the early 1830s. There’s some other good stuff in there too, but that will also be fodder for more posts in the future.