Two More Enthusiastic Book Recommendations (Plus One Lukewarm Rec)

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Two more books that are worth your time:

(1) Dream Land: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones:  The story of the current opiate crisis in the US.  Quinones, a journalist, explores the root causes of the opiate crises and the devastating impact it has had on families and entire communities.  The most fascinating parts are his explanation of the way that the highly addictive pain-killer OxyContin was misleadingly marketed in the 90’s (and opened the floodgates) and the way that black tar heroin from one small town on the west coast of Mexico changed the way that street drugs were sold, making heroin cheaper and more accessible to people already hooked on prescription opiates. “Together, these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.”

(2) The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism by Howard Bryant.  Bryant takes an historical look at Black athletes, protest and the meaning of patriotism.  His historical analysis includes Paul Robeson (a member of the NFL in 1920-1921 before the NFL became segregated and he went into theatre/acting), Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Tommy Smith and John Carlos as they protested racism in their own times and in their own ways (plus, the ways that 1980/90’s athletes like Micheal Jordan and Tiger Woods didn’t participate). The second half of the book examines the current controversy about Black athletes and the national anthem, through a lens of post-9/11 sports.  In order to understand what’s happening on the football fields in 2017/18 you have to understand what happened to professional sports leagues and the country’s idea of patriotism in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Did you know that a significant portion of the military salutes, the Air Force fly-overs and the veteran reunification ceremonies at football half-times and baseball 7th-innings were paid for by the Department of Defense?   **My one problem with this book is the lack of female voices.  Althea Gibson, Wilma Rudolph, Flo-Jo, Evelyn Ashford, Venus Williams and Serena Williams are barely mentioned or not mentioned at all – yet all have a story to contribute**

One mediocre read: a lukewarm “suggestion” to any super-fans of Fleetwood Mac:  Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis.  I’d give it a C+.  It was a great vacation read…easy to read, gossipy…salacious stories about rock-n-rollers, mountains of drugs and stormy relationships.  I recommend it if you’re a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, but I’d say, “Skip it,” if you’re not.  Bonus trivia: did you know that Stevie’s 1983 hit “Stand Back” sprang fully-formed from Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”?  And that Prince joined Stevie in an L.A. studio and played several instruments on the song, but refused to be credited on the album liner notes?  I suggest that you listen to the two songs side-by-side and you’ll see the connection.  PS: I love seeing Stevie Nicks on a treadmill wearing platform shoes.

Posted in 12-14 - Chris Ambroso