Sunday, 30 November 2014

Witold Gombrowicz, "A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes" (1967)

My dating of this work is representative of the date the material originated, not of its publication. The first French edition appeared in 1995, and the English translation followed about a decade later.

Gombrowicz is one of the luminaries of Eastern European (particularly Polish) literature. He authored titles such as Ferdydurke (likely his best-known work), and was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature during the late 1960s. Near the end of his life, as he was ailing in the south of France, a friend asked him to provide herself and Gombrowicz's Canadian wife with an overview of his ideas about philosophy. The book is the result of the notes from these talks.

As an introduction to philosophy, this book is not particularly useful. It is distinctly one man's interpretation of who and what ideas are important, and how thought evolved over time. The notes are sometimes incomplete, or cryptic in their meaning. Preserving these ideas strikes me as unnecessarily hagiographic. I'm not sure that Gombrowicz would ever be identified as being a leading historian of the European philosophic traditions. Nonetheless, for those interested in Gombrowicz's thinking, or the views circulating among the East European intellectual diaspora during the Cold War, the Guide offers unique insights.

You can download a PDF of the book here.

Some quotations that stood out:
First Lesson
Descartes:a single important idea: absolute doubt. Here rationalism begins: subject everything to absolute doubt, until the moment when reason forces us to accept an idea.

Answer: A priorisynthetic judgments are possible in general and therefore in transcendental aesthetics, because time and space are not a property of things but rather a property of the subject. In order for something to exist for us, we must inject it with time and space.

There are three reasons why space does not exist in the objective world outside us, but is an integral part of our consciousness.” First argument. Space does not come from an experience, but is the inevitable condition of all experience. Space is not an object but the condition of the existence of the object. Space does not derive from experience. Second argument. Space is not a concept obtained by deduction. We cannot understand it as concrete, because it is not an object. Space is pure intuition.

Analytical judgments are those which derive from analysis, dissecting a whole into its significant parts.

Synthetic judgments are a posteriori, in other words, based on experience.

For the first time consciousness asks the question: What are the limits of consciousness(of reason)?

Third argument(or rather, consequence). The intuition of space is the inevitable condition of our a priori synthetic judgments, conferring objective reality on things.

Second Lesson
Consciousness is the fundamental thing. Object-subject: nothing more. 1. consciousness cannot be a mechanism, nor broken up into parts, because it has no parts. It is a whole. 2. consciousness cannot be conditioned by science. It is what permits science, but science cannot explain something to us about consciousness. Consciousness is not the brain, nor the body, because I am conscious of my brain, but the brain cannot be conscious.

Time is not a thing that can be tested, but all things are in time.

A priori synthetic judgments are confirmed in experience because they are carried out in time. In the same way, all judgments related to mathematics are a priorisynthetic judgments, confirmed by experience.

Kant demonstrates that only the co-relativity of subject and object can form a reality. The object must be seized by consciousness in order to form reality in time and space.

There is an important boundary between science and philosophy. Science establishes its methods, its laws by experience. But it is valid only in the world of phenomena. Science can give us the connection between things, but not direct knowledge about the essence of things.

To tell the truth, in philosophy, one cannot say anything.

Our reason must be limited to the phenomenological world. The phenomenon is what I see according to my faculties, and my way of seeing things.

the soul is the synthesis of all impressions, because it is man’s self (the soul) which assimilates all impressions. The soul is that which receives the perceptions.

the critique of the idea of the soul consists in demonstrating that all our perceptions are

the concept of thing, in order to reach fullness, must inevitably insert time and space, since the Cosmos signifies absolutely everything that exists. We see a contradiction here, since the Cosmos must be unlimited in time and space in order to include absolutely everything.

Kant lists three theological arguments here to demonstrate the existence of God.

We have an idea of God as a perfect being. But a perfect being, to have perfection, must also have the quality of existing. This argument seems too sophisticated to me. Kant says that the category of existence is a perception. Yet God cannot be perceived.

The world must have a cause since, according to the category of causality, each thing must have a cause. If this is so, God must also have a cause.

Everything that is in the world must have a purpose, must be the work of God. But if God is teleological, then he himself should be created for an end.

we can never know what the noumenon, the absolute, is in itself, independent of our own perceptions.

Imperatives when the will is autonomous, conditioned by nothing. Example: “One must be moral” is categorical. It does not depend on any condition

Fourth Lesson
What is the will to live for Schopenhauer? He himself says that he uses these words because nothing better comes to mind. In truth, it is more the will to be, because for Schopenhauer, not only do man and animals want to live, but also the rock that resists and the light that persists.

if I myself am a thing, I must seek my absolute in my intuition, what I am in my essence. And, says Schopenhauer, “I know that the most elementary and fundamental thing in myself is the will to live.”

when this will to live passes to the phenomenological world, becoming a phenomenon limited by time and space, then it inevitably becomes divided. By the effect of a law that Schopenhauer called principium individuationis, it becomes individual, specific.

Man can never attain individual happiness. Our will to live forces us to consume others or to be consumed by them. As a result, Schopenhauer analyzes various noble feelings (example: the woman’s love for the child); he demonstrates that all that goes against individual happiness. After that, he likewise shows that what one calls happiness or pleasure is nothing more than the satisfying of a malaise. If you enjoy eating steak, it is because you felt hungry beforehand

Fifth Lesson
Schopenhauer recognizes two possibilities: 1. To affirm the will to live by fully participating in life with its cruelties and its injustices. 2. Not suicide, but meditation.

Art shows us nature’s game and its forces, namely the will to live.

Schopenhauer sees ART. It is meditation that he sets in opposition to life.

Schopenhauer makes a very good comparison in saying that a mediocre man’s intelligence resembles a flashlight, which shines only on what it is seeking, whereas a superior intelligence is like the sun, which illuminates everything. From there derives the objectivity of the art of the genius. It is disinterested.

I was never born. I was never born in 1904. I only know that I have the idea of my birth in 1904 in my consciousness, and that I have the idea of 1904, that is to say, of all the past years. Everything changed in a diabolical way. That changes the universe. There is nothing more than a definitive center which is consciousness and that which passes into consciousness. Consciousness is evidently alon

existentialism cannot produce any philosophy. Me, I am alone, concrete, independent of any logic, of any concept

intuition is direct knowledge without reasoning. Thus existentialism is the profound and most definitive description of our facts concerning existence.

How can one define the characteristics of “the Being in itself,” that is, the being of objects? 1. We have to say that only phenomena exist (Husserl). Everything manifests itself as a phenomenon

The Being in itself is opaque. He is as he is, that is all one can say, he is immobile. He is not subject to creation and temporality, and cannot be inferred from something (like created by God).

Existential man is concrete, alone, made of nothingness, thus free. He is condemned to freedom and he can choosehimself. What happens if we choose, for example, frivolity and not authenticity, falseness and not truth? As there is no hell, there is no punishment. From the existential point of view, the only punishment is that this man has no true existence.

Here on the subject of freedom, Sartre is very categorical. He says that the choice depends only on us, there are no pre-established values, it is our choice which creates them. One could imagine that man, with all his freedom, is nevertheless condemned to satisfy the fundamental necessities of life, such as eating. But this also depends on me. If I choose suicide, food loses all value for me. And from this absolute responsibility of man to himself is born the characteristic anguish of existentialism, as much for Heidegger as for Kierkegaard and Sartre. This anguish is the anguish of nothingness

This phenomenological method is not concerned with God, etc., but only with what is in our consciousness, when it confronts our specific being, our existence. It is phenomenological ontology. Ontology means the science of Being (existence). Phenomenological means that there are only phenomena, and one must not look for something behind the phenomena. In this sense, this method is completely atheistic. Heidegger said that complex arguments are not needed as much as heroic naïveté.

What is existence, that is, man’s specific being? He says: It defines itself by what he calls “ Da-sein,” “to be there” (over there). To be man. To exist as a man. The “Seindes” is a way for things to exist, an absurd atemporal way (a chair, it is but does not know it). But man is also a “Seindes,” and he is conscious of that: being a thing. But he also transcends this (transcendent: that which within me navigates toward the exterior), since man is a thing but he is also something more. He extends beyond the thing. He is transcendent. The word “ Sein,” to be.

curiosity is the superficial connection of man. What are they talking about? In the more profound sense, it is an interpretation of man, of the world, of being, of scientific, philosophical, or religious problems. It is also a way to make existence commonplace, to flee from existence, a way of replacing the profound sense of life by a superficial and limited science. The dramatic thing about man (and here again, Sartre comes to mind) is that man gives a meaning to things by his existence. Now, in dealing with science, for example, he gives it an inauthentic meaning. He falsifies. Existentialism refrains from science.

For Heidegger, it is the Being which appears secondarily as a contradiction of nothingness. 1. nothingness 2. Being. This definition can seem rather unfounded, but actually it leads to an extremely curious and true experience: human existence is in constant opposition to nothingness. Man always threatened by death and annihilation persists like a flame which wants to be revived, fed.

a general characteristic of existence, according to Heidegger. 1. It is “Sorge,” concern. Human life is by no means assured, but endlessly wants conquests, life is to conquer what one does not have. 2. Human beings are limited and have an end precisely because they have nothingness within them. Authentic existence asserts man’s finiteness. It has moral constants. It does not permit having a clear conscience. Never are we what we want to be, but we still want to be. Man is essentially unhappy because he is limited

How does the world appear, according to Marx? The first aspect is its materialism. Marxism is the negation of religion. He considered religion as a product of men to run from danger. And this is an instrument of the higher class to dominate the lower class. Materialism constitutes the negation of idealism, of all metaphysics, of all recourse to ideas. For Marxism, there is only the brutal, concrete reality of life. Second aspect: Marxism defines itself by the well-known formula, consciousness depends on being.

consciousness is a function of our necessities, of our relationship with nature. But since man does not depend only on nature but also and above all on society, on historic conditions produced by that society, consciousness is formed by that society. Consciousness is therefore above all a function of human history. The third aspect: need creates value.

the growing consciousness of humanity lets him organize a society and a state which are above all a system for the production of goods. In this organization, one man must be subject to another, such that it is through the exploitation of one man by another that one arrives at the accumulation of goods. The man who forms a group is subject to the laws of the group, which wants to be strong, and this strength is the consequence of the exploitation of man by man. For example, the army which obeys a single man through generals, etc., or slaves or finally castes, different stages of the feudal systems, classes. It is man who obliges man to work.

Capitalists, that is to say, members of the upper class, buy labor as if it were merchandise, thus at the best possible price. This better price represents the bare minimum that the worker needs to eat and to father children. Surplus valueis formed this way because the worker produces much more than what he is paid; the rest goes to capitalism. The worker always produces more than what he is paid. Such is surplus value. The worker’s labor is subject, like all merchandise, to Adam Smith’s famous economic law, according to which if supply is greater than demand, the value of the merchandise decreases. It is this law which explains the process of devaluation. To curb devaluation, supply, that is, production, must be increased.

Alienated man, that is, he who cannot be himself, is obliged to serve as a machine instead of having his normal life. This theory is fine, but in my view, it does not apply to capitalism. Capital is used to create other wealth, but this exploitation of man by man is not done so much for the happiness of the individual. Capitalism is not exclusively beneficial to the capitalist, since if the capitalist is able to consume his money, he cannot buy more than one hundred hats or a yacht, etc., each year. Where does the rest of his money go? To other factories, other industries, etc., and this is the way that humanity’s technical power becomes greater each time. This exploitation of man by man is a fundamental necessity for human progress, which is extremely difficult for the individual.

Marxism is not an ideology or a truth, it is just simply the freedom from human needs as a source of values. The revolution, therefore, is going to free allmen from natural needs, and on the basis of this freedom, the values will be created by themselves. It must be clearly understood that Marxism is not a revolution of ideas but rather a revolution between concrete men. It is a liberation of man. The new ideas: future thought is unpredictable and will be created by itself in this new human order.

The human race is like all the others; it is improved by a struggle and a natural selection done by life itself. Here we see the most sensational and the most provocative aspect of this philosophy: it is the opposition to Christianity, which, according to Nietzsche, was a morality of the weak imposed on the strong, harmful to the human race and, therefore, immoral.

In Zarathustra (of which he sold only forty copies and gave seven of them as gifts): 1. God is dead. This means that humanity has reached its maturity. Faith in God is already anachronistic. Man ends up all alone in the cosmos. Nothing but life. 2. (Stupid idea.) The ideal of the superman. Man is a transient phenomenon that must be overtaken. Man is thus problematic. He is a bridge and not an end in himself.

Entropy. Loss of energy through radiation. Nietzsche starts from an original cause which produces all the other causes, cause-effects, etc. Automatic process from cause to effect, thanks to which we arrive at the present moment. This will be exceeded by other cause-effects and finally will vanish, and again the first cause will return, etc., and we shall arrive again at the same situation. As time is infinite, this will repeat itself eternally.

I return to this important point about existentialism: the philosopher is in life, one of the major currents of our thinking during the 19th century. The path of this Western thought could be defined by the great questions it asked. 1. The reduction of thought. Thought for Kant becomes conscious of its limits. It already knows that one cannot demonstrate, for example, the existence of God, but that it is just as impossible to demonstrate that God does not exist.

2. The other problem is more difficult, that of life, of becoming. Philosophy, before Hegel, claimed to describe a fixed world in a state of stability where the notion of movement, of becoming, surely was disturbing (already in Greek philosophy), but was not the fundamental problem. Now Hegel is the philosophy of becoming. It is the idea of an imperfection of reason which is in the process of moving ahead, of developing.

The world is a thing, it is understood to the extent that it is assimilated by reason, by a rational consciousness.

Each day, we understand the world better, we are better aware of the reason for every phenomenon. Thus each time the world exists a little more for us. There will come a moment, the final moment of our history and of the human race, where the world will be fully assimilated. On that day, time and space will disappear and the conjunction of subject and object will be transformed into an absolute. Beyond time and space.

Hegel’s philosophy is a philosophy of becoming, which is a great step ahead, since this process of becoming does not appear in earlier philosophies. It is not only a movement, but a progression, since this dialectical process always puts us on a higher rung, until the final outcome of reason,

For Hegel, nature is not creative. It does not advance. The sun, for example, always rises and sets the same way. But what is creative is human evolution, which expresses itself especially in history.

for earlier philosophy, man was subject to a moral law instituted by God or, as in Kant, subject to a moral imperative. In other words, man functions but the law already exists. But in Hegel, everything moves. In advancing, man crafts his own law, and there is no fixed law beyond that which is constituted by the dialectical process. In Hegel, not only man but laws are in progress because they are imperfect.

Existentialism is particularly meant to be a philosophy of the concrete. But this is a dream; in concrete reality, one cannot make arguments. Arguments always use concepts, etc.

reasoning can be done only through concepts and logic, and general laws cannot be formed without concepts and without logic. On the other hand, concepts do not exist in reality

Husserl says: because we can say nothing about the noumenon(thing in itself), we put the noumenonin parentheses; that is, that the only thing one can speak of are the phenomena.

existentialism moves into structuralism.

Curious thing: this rudimentary comparison that I have managed to do can seem naïve. Yet it leads to real concepts, for example, that the human being is empty because of the well-known intentionality of consciousness. If a chair is a chair, then consciousness is never identical to itself because one must always be conscious of something. One cannot imagine empty consciousness.

The Being in itself cannot disappear. It is independent of time and space. It is as it is, nothing more. While existence, the Being for itself, is a limited being, with an end, which dies. (This is at least how our existence appears to our consciousness. Existence must be sustained like a flame.

we are absolutely sure of being free. No one can take away from me the feeling that it is I myself who decides whether I have to move my hand or not. Indeed, when we contemplate other people, they appear to us as the consequence of a cause

freedom is a feature only of existence while causality is the feature of the Being in itself.

The existentialist is a subjective, freeman. He has what one calls free will, unlike a man viewed from the scientific outside, who is always subject to causality, like a mechanism.

to be man is to be subject. It is to have a consciousness which recognizes everything else as object. If I admitted that Witold too has a consciousness, then inevitably I myself am an object for Witold, who is the subject. It is impossible to be subject and object at the same time. Here Sartre was frightened. His highly developed ethics refuses to admit that there is no other man because there are no longer any moral obligations.

We must not forget that man by his body, by his mechanism, belongs to the world dictated by causality, since if we are stabbed, evidently we are going to bleed, like every other animal. Freedom manifests itself only in existence, in that specific being which is the Being for itself.

Man, says Heidegger, must create himself. As he is not a thing, well then! he must become “man.” Banal life simply means to flee from oneself. This is in order to forget and to lose oneself. To become man is only one possibility. One does not use the word “I,” but one uses “one.” “One” goes to the movies. “One” has political opinions. And man identifies himself with his social function. “One” is an engineer, etc. You understand in which direction Heidegger’s probing is going. Man must truly become man.

It is Heidegger who introduced the notion of “completed future.” Man’s time is always the future. He is never there where he is. He is always transcendent.

according to Sartre, a man needs water in the desert because he chooses life and not death. For Marxism, a living being is obliged to choose life and one cannot speak here of free choice.

The dominant class forms the superstructure which creates philosophy, religion, law, which in a word, organizes consciousness. All of this actually serves secretly to maintain the exploitation.

The profound and unique meaning of religion is quite simply to transfer justice to another world.

The big crisis in Marxism stems quite simply from the fact that—as shown by the situation in the East—one works badly and produces very little. And why? Life is hard; if you do not force men to work, naturally they will not work.

the only country in the world which has more or less liquidated the proletariat, except among the Blacks, is the glorious United States, that is, the capitalists. The Socialists, on the other hand, are going bankrupt everywhere for the simple reason that no one is interested either to produce, nor to force others to do so, because there is no interest at stake.

if you allow men to deploy all their energy and their intelligence, inevitably one will dominate the other, one will be superior to the other. But in this case, you obtain a huge amount of energy, whereas if you want equality between men, then naturally you must curb this possibility of superiority.

The big defect in the upper class is that it is essentially a class of consumption. Consequently, it is accustomed to conveniences, becomes lazy, delicate, and degenerate. But now the upper class is increasingly composed of engineers, producers, scientists, intellectuals, lastly, some working people.

Marx’s thesis is that Marxism is an absolute historical necessity which occurs due to inexorable economic laws, by the concentration of capital in a little group that will be annihilated by the huge mass of the destitute. Marxists want to introduce the dictatorship of the proletariat, not democracy but dictatorship

Nietzsche was not a philosopher in the strict sense: he wrote aphorisms, some notes.

Nietzsche considers pessimism to be a weakness, condemned by life and optimism, a superficial (Canadian!) thing

For Nietzsche, life is not good, but we are condemned to life. This leads to paradoxes, such as his admiration for cruelty, harshness (without mercy), and for the whip, weapons.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ron Jeremy, "Hardest (Working) Man in Show Biz" (2007)

Ghost-written by Eric Spitznagel.

This is the third autobiography of a porn industry star that I've read in the last year. Each of them are unique, but this one stands out from the rest. Jeremy - if his reputation isn't already familiar to you - is likely one of the most prolific and longest-lived male actors in the porn industry. He has apparently appeared in about 1,700 movies, and moved on to directing them. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy, 'serious' acting, and now, books.

What is unique about Jeremy's book? He has little negative to say about the industry. He didn't seek it out as a career (he hoped to be a legit actor). He came by it as what he thought might be an entree into serious work, and as an alternative to working with special needs persons.

This leads me to another unique aspect of Jeremy's book. He has a Masters degree in Special Education. He had a good relationship with his parents. He claims to not be a drinker or drug-taker. In this regard, Jeremy's experience of the sex industry, then, comes not from desperation, addiction, depression, or abuse. For him, it seems to have been a pretty decent job that evolved into a career.

Compared to Holmes' and Jameson's books, Jeremy's inattention to the dark side of porn work comes across as disingenuous. This is not to say that everyone's story has to be sad or terrible, but as a male actor who realistically profits off his female (co-)stars, it might have been a good service for him to recognize what like is like on the other end of the penis(es) in the industry. The difference is particularly discernible when he spends time discussing his love of animals, but gives so little attention to ingrained sexism and systemic abuse and risk problems for women and men in the porn industry. Even his discussion of conflicts with the law come across more as failed comedy routines than genuine legal struggles.

The book is entertaining, no doubt, and Jeremy comes across as a nice enough guy; a little naive, a little simple, a little goodhearted. His book is a cotton-candy version of the porn industry. For those looking for fluff, it does nicely. For those looking for something more insightful, balance out Jeremy's view with the biography of John Holmes (another prominent male star of the industry), or Jenna Jameson's book.

A pretty good summary of the book is available at The Bookbag.

My discussion of Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star (A Cautionary Tale)"
My discussion of "Porn King: The Autobiography of John C. Holmes."

Friday, 7 November 2014

Norman Mailer, "Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery" (1995)

If you're not aware already, the Oswald in question here is Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of US President Kennedy. Mailer is one of the US's best-known 'old white male' authors, primarily known for his fiction work.

Oswald's Tale is bit of a "dog's breakfast"; the first forty-percent of the book is a close consideration of Oswald's time living in the Soviet Union. Mailer and associates spent about six months locating and interviewing people who had contact with Oswald, ranging through love interests, co-workers, and KGB agents who spied on Oswald. Information gained from these interviews is supplemented with knowledge gained from documents produced during that time, primarily by Soviet state agencies. The second, sixty-percent of the book consists of Mailer's quoting at length from already-published works, interspersed with his own, rather unique speculations about Oswald's activities and motivations.

The first portion of the book is intriguing, and seems to bring some new insights to discussion of Oswald. The second is far more troubling, in that it offers little in the way of insights, and overwhelms with its dubious psychoanalysis and conjecture.

Mailer does try to use observations from the first section to ground some of his ideas developed in the second. For instance, based on some (rather dicey) proposals that Oswald may have been engaged in some kind of homosexual contact during his stint in the Marines, as well as later in Russia, Mailer later tries to propose that Oswald was perhaps receiving money from a male lover in Texas during the year preceding Kennedy's assassination. Mailer suggests also that Oswald's sapiosexuality might explain his sexual relationship with his wife, which apparently went through lengthy periods of non-interest.

Mailer's ideas are generally fairly loosely developed. While this can suggest openness, it can also lead him into excess. Evidence? Read the two following quotations.

Pg. 491: “All through February and March he prepares himself to strike at Walker. The notion that the General was a Hitler in the making was key to choosing him for a target. The soft underbelly, however, of so lofty a notion – stop the second Hitler before he arises - comes in large degree because of Oswald’s concealed sense of himself – even from himself! – of also being a putative Hitler. A physical resemblance between the two men had to be, consciously or unconsciously, in Oswald’s mind. One need only pencil in a mustache on any photograph of Oswald in profile to feel the force of the resemblance. In his fantasies, would Oswald have refused a Faustian pact? Allow him to steal Hitler’s powers of ascendancy, and he could convert them to his own vastly more idealistic vision. But first he must kill a minor god.”

Pg. 551: “It was as if his murderous impulses could only be gathered if he was without sexual release. To continue his marriage was to condemn himself, therefore, to a life of mediocrity, yet – there is no other explanation for so many of his actions – a sizeable part of him adored Marina, and this quite apart from his full affection for June. For that matter, devotion to June was like an open display of his infatuation with himself. But Marina he loved as his woman, his difficult, caustic contrary, and often wholly attractice wife – even if he could hardly tolerate her for most of the month. Are half of the young husbands in existence all that much unlike him? Or young wives?”

I found Mailer's consideration of history writing, particular when trying to understand the motivations of historical characters, intriguing.

Pg. 605: “This book, however, was undertaken without a fixed conclusion in either direction; indeed, it began with a prejudice in favor of the conspiracy theorists. All the same, one’s plan for the work was to take Oswald on his own terms as long as that was possible – that is, to try and comprehend his deeds as arising from nothing more than himself until such a premise lost all headway. To study his life in this manner produced a hypothesis: Oswald was a protagonist, a prime mover, a man who made things happen… Indeed, this point of view has by now taken hold to a point where the writer would not like to relinquish it for too little. There is the danger! Hypotheses commence as our servant – they enable us to keep our facts in order while we attempt to learn more about a partially obscured subject. Once the profits of such a method accumulate, however, one is morally obliged… to be scrupulously on guard against one’s own corruption. Otherwise, the hitherto useful hypothesis will insist on prevailing over everything that comes in and so will take over the integrity of the project.”

You can read the final two chapters of the book here, on the Frontline website.

A good review of the book by Thomas Powers can be found in the NY Times.

If you are interested in the Kennedy assassination, I have previously discussed the following:

- Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007)

- Jeff Greenfield, Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan (2010)

- David Aaronovitch, Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History (2009)