History Commons Groups

August 23, 2008

Books for Discussion

Filed under: Books We Read,community — Max @ 7:25 pm
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At least two books are coming up for review and discussion: Scott McClellan’s What Happened and Allen Raymond’s How to Rig an Election. Preliminary thoughts: McClellan’s intentions are good, but he’s just not far enough removed from the “Washington bubble” to do a good job of telling the unvarnished truth. As for Raymond, a former Republican campaign operative who went to prison in 2006 for illegal electioneering tactics, his book makes it obvious that once you enter the world of electoral politics, the biggest struggle is not ideological: it is to retain your soul.

What are you reading? Let’s talk it over.


  1. Hi. Forgive me for selling here, but I feel it is relevant to your blog. I just wrote and published a book by myself, and am now trying to get it sold/read. It is called The Talk: An American Father’s Observations and Opinions on This and That. It is a book about what is right and wrong on a personal, societal, and national level. It deals with history and our perceptions of religion, sex, and politics. In discussing recent politics, I used information from The History Commons Project which I found to be so important, yet so ignored.
    I wrote the book for two reasons: 1. to give my son information that he otherwise would not find or seek, and 2. to explain to my in-laws and other “patriotic” friends what they are supporting. Please visit my site at http://www.cczco.com for more about The Talk. Also, please continue to support the valuable work of The History Commons Project, and to spread the true facts of our government and world situation.

    As for the two books you mention above, I did not read either. But, I found it fascinating the way the administration and media denied, attacked, and dismissed McClellan when his book came out. And I imagine Raymond’s book is more fuel for the fire showing our elections to be a manufactured joke. Thanks. – CCM

    Comment by Charles Carroll Migeot — September 4, 2008 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  2. I’m glad you found our site useful. Your observations on McClellan and Raymond are both dead on. Good luck with your book!

    Comment by Max — September 4, 2008 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  3. I’m reading The Bin Ladens by Steve Coll. Coll gained a split reputation for his previous book Ghost Wars, about the CIA’s operations in Aghanistan from 9/11. On teh one hand it was really popular with the mainstream and he won the Pullitzer Prize, on the other hand he was criticised for missing out (i.e. deliberately omitting) some pretty important stuff that should really have gone in, with BCCI being frequently mentioned as a place Coll chose not to go.

    Coll generally sticks to the post-9/11 establishment line that there was no contact between bin Laden and the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan War, but consider this passage (pp. 293-4):

    “Nonetheless, whether he was aware of it or not, Osama’s logistics and construction work along the Pakistani border, starting in 1986, intersected with CIA programs and funding. The agency’s logistics and construction units, working through Pakistani intelligence, provided cement and other materials for the caves and storage facilities that Afghan commanders such as Haqqani and Hekmatyar built along the border during the period. Osama’s construction with Bin Laden family equipment certainly complemented these projects, and he may well have participated in them. Moreover, after 1986, Haqqani became what intelligence officers refer to as a “unilateral” asset of the CIA, meaning that he received tens of thousands of dollars in cash directly from CIA officers working undercover in Pakistan, without any mediation by Pakistani intelligence, which normally handled and relayed the great majority of CIA funds to the Afghans. Haqqani had multiple sources of cash but the CIA payments wre sizeable. Haqqani, in turn, helped and protected Osama and the Arab volunteers as they built their nascent militia… Haqqani traveled frequently to Peshawar to meet with a Pakistani and, separately, with an American intelligence officer, and to pick up supplies. Osama would have had no reason to know about Haqqani’s opportunistic work with the CIA, but he and his Arab volunteers benefited from it. They stood apart from the CIA’s cash-laden tradecraft-but just barely.”

    Coll is telling us Osama “may well have participated” in CIA projects and worked closely with a “unilateral asset” of the CIA, who protected him, but still somehow managed to “stand apart” from the agency. Coll must live in some alternate universe where a person can work closely with an intelligence agency asset without working closely with the intelligence agency.

    Comment by kevinfenton — September 5, 2008 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  4. Kevin, you should consider making this a separate post and not merely a comment. Your observations on Coll are cogent and worthy of more attention.

    Comment by Max — September 5, 2008 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

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