Nightstand

Books We Recommend

Fire and Fury, The Most Dangerous Man In America, Cinemaps, Dollars and Sense

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD By Bill Minutaglio, Steven L. Davis

Grand Central Publishing, $30

 

I knew the Most Dangerous Man in America very well. When I first met him, on July 4th, 1994, he seemed to me the Least Dangerous Man in America: he was in his early 70s and thin and wiry and energized like a slightly dotty Grandfather, which is exactly what he was. It was a quarter of a century removed from the wild, glorious days of his ascendancy to the peak of hippie culture as the man who immortally said “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, in advocacy of LSD specifically and most drugs in general. Before he became the standard bearer/mascot for the school of thought that psychedelic drugs liberated you and opened up the Universe, he was a widely respected psychologist, philosopher and author, whose textbooks written in the 1950s were still being taught in universities across the country in the 1990s. But in the Swinging Sixties, Timothy Leary was Richard Nixon’s Public Enemy Number One, which is the equivalent today of being The Man Donald Trump Hates the Most. In other words, a hero!

 

The second time we met he quixotically drew me a diagram of how to escape from prison. It was how he had done it in 1970, having been put there by Nixon, but he seemed to be offering this as instruction, as if, having become slightly more familiar with me, he considered it inevitable I would someday need the information. This wonderful book is a recounting of that escape with the help of the radical Weather Underground, staying with the Black Panthers in Algeria (until fleeing from them, fearing they wanted to hold he and his wife Rosemary hostage), and the U.S. government’s extensive and often farcical worldwide pursuit of him. (They did, finally, recapture him in 1972.) The book is immaculately reported and a fun shaggy dog story read. The times were different then, kids, and Timothy — don’t let anyone tell you any different — was a great man. Bob Guccione, Jr.

 

 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House By Michael Wolff

Holt, Henry and Company, $30

 

You might have already heard about this book. It’s about as big a book-as-cultural-moment as Harry Potter was when it first came out. Let me tell you, all you’ve heard about it? There’s more. There is so much jaw-dropping narrative and detail here that the stuff that fell off the radar, or couldn’t get on it more likely, would be the central revelations of any other book. (My favorite bit that got little mention is that Trump liked to seduce his friend’s wives, and set up his friends — his friends! — so that the wives would catch them in infidelity, with the strategy that this somehow made him a more desirable option.) You couldn’t make this up. Shakespeare couldn’t have made this up! So for all the allegations that Wolff might have made some of it up, I say no! He couldn’t! And I absolutely believe he didn’t have to.

 

This is so much fun to read! (Unless you love Trump.) But it’s not just schadenfreude catnip, and it’s not all funny, it’s also a seriously frightening expose of a catastrophically unhinged President and an equally dysfunctional White House. Right now, this book is a pot boiler, in the immortal tradition of Harold Robbins or Michael Connelly. Or even JK Rowling, if Voldemort was running Hogwarts and world-threatening chaos reigned. But the book will last and be remembered as a history book, and a fine and excellent one at that. Bob Guccione, Jr.

 

 

Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies By Andrew DeGraff

Quirk Books, $30

 

What do the movies Wizard of Oz, Back to the Future and Predator all have in common? Besides for being mentioned in the same sentence for the first time in the history of English literature, they all take you on an adventure. But did you ever wonder the journey Dorothy and Toto actually took to get to Oz or all of the running around Marty McFly and Doc Brown did to get back to 1985 or the route the predator took hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura? In Cinemaps, the much-exalted artist Andrew DeGraff hand-painted 35 maps of some of the most adventurous and perilous and greatest films in cinema history, starting with Metropolis (1927) all the way to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Now these aren’t your everyday Google Maps. Each condensed map is color-coded so you can follow your favorite movie characters including Jack Torrance overseeing the Overlook Hotel. Every map is also accompanied by an essay interpreting the geography of these movies by film critic A.D. Jameson. This book is for fans of maps, movies and Mordor (follow Frodo on page 137).  Jason Stahl

 

 

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter By Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler

Harper, $28

 

Dollars and Sense gives new meaning to the phrase “there are two sides to every coin” as it rigorously explores the wonderful things money does for us and the terrible things it can do to us. For instance, the authors want us to ponder: Why don’t we hesitate to spend $4 on a soda on vacation when we can get that same soda at home for $1? Our behaviors with money, among many others, are examined by a New York Times best-selling author and an award-winning comedian, so thankfully someone is putting a funny spin on our foolish ways of spending. But the way we place value using money is no laughing matter. It’s time we take back financial responsibility. Keep the plastic in your wallet and return to a life of cold, hard cash. This way you can actually see yourself spending $4 on that soda. Do take that vacation. Just think twice about how you’re going to pay for it. Jason Stahl

 

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