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On Kingdom Mountain

Best book I’ve read all year, a story of Old Vermont (1930’s) and the quirky folks who live in a small town in the Northeast Kingdom. This was one of those books that makes me wistful for a time and era I never really saw in Vermont in that sort of nostalgic way that people up here sometimes do. It tells the story of a woman who grew up on Kingdom Mountain. She’s a bit eccentric but isn’t everyone. One day a man in a biplane crash lands near her and she takes him home and the tale begins. He is looking for some lost treasure. She is sorting out family stuff and trying to fight the people who want to build a road over her mountain. The language and characters seem real and the pages turn easily. Recommended for anyone who has ever loved Vermont.

Life, Inc.

I read a pre-pub copy of this and I want to read it again. Rushkoff manages to explain a whole bunch of things about modern-day capitalism without resorting to too much “to the barricades!” talk and with lots of footnotes and additional explanations so that those who are really interested -- and I could myself among those -- can get more information about specific things. As someone who is personally uneasy with the way wealth seems to get generated and held on to in the US, particularly in light of all the recent recession-fueled misery, it’s nice to feel like at least the mechanisms are explicable, of unforgiveable, and that’s what Rushkoff does here.

I haven’t enjoyed a book about how things are falling apart since I read One Market Under God by Thomas Frank in 2003 where he talked about the not-nefarious-but-not-innocent forces that led middle class Americans to invest in a market that almost certainly did not have their best interests at heart. Rushkoff does his best to end on an up note, but all the while he’s explaining what is wrong with the system which does manage to read as a primer on how to NOT live. Good reading.