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Five Must-Read Books Now Available On the Google eBookstore for Free

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1. Henry Louis Mencken, Damn!, A Book of Calumny

Have you read Hunter S. Thompson? Then you may as well go to the source. Check out the rhythm and cadence of this opening volley about George Washington from Damn!, A Book of Calumny:

"If George Washington were alive today, what a shining mark he would be for the whole camorra of uplifters, forward-lookers and other such inspired Bolsheviki! He was the Rockerfeller of his time, the richest man in the United States, a promoter of companies, a land magnate, an exploiter of monies and timber. He had a liking for all forthright and pugnacious men, and a contempt for lawyers, reformers and other such obscurantistst. He was not pious. He drank whisky whenever he felt chilly and kept a jug of it handy."


2. Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Pascal was a French philosopher, inventor and all-around good Catholic guy. This book is a collection of his fragmented thoughts, loosely organized, about Christian religion. Oddly, perhaps precisely because many of the thoughts are fragments, it reads as fresh today as anything purporting to deal with "serious issues"; God, Morality, Belief. Oh, come on, the book is free. Open it up. Go directly to Section III, titled, "Of the Necessity of the Wager." Your views on Catholicism aside, there may be no finer introduction to ultimate risk management than Pascal's defense of the wager on the existence of God.

Also included are gems, such as:

#204: If we ought to devote eight hours to life, we ought to devote a hundred years.


And my favorite:

#206: The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.



3. Joseph Conrad
, Tales of Unrest
As the title suggests, these are short stories dealing with unrest, loss, stress. Here's a sample:

"We knew him in those unprotected days when we were content to hold in our hands our lives and our property. None of us, I believe, has any property now, and I hear that many, negligently, have lost their lives..."


Tales of unrest indeed.


4. Helmy Lethen, Cool Conduct: The Culture of Distance In Weimar Germany

This is a remarkable work, filled with insight into "social distance" throughout the early part of the century, just after the "capitulation" of the Weimar Republic. Many people want to understand the Weimar Hyperinflation. The once-rare text, "When Money Dies," describes the mechanics of the hyperinflation, but precious little of the social impact. This book deals with the cultural impact.


5. Herman Melville
, The Confidence Man, His Masquerade

I was introduced to this rather obscure Melville work by Mark C. Taylor, author of "Confidence Games," (not free) who mentioned it early on in his book about money and markets and our world without redemption. I'll be honest: Melville is a tough read. But there's enough here in this book about a riverboat traveling con-artist to make the difficult terrain worthwhile.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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