rare and antique manuscripts
A good book is never enough. Three or four copies of each good book, enough to lend them to friends without worrying about getting them back, are better.

Recommended writers:

A. E. W. Mason: Four Feathers, an excellent tale of obligations inherint in friendships. This book is much better than the pale imitations of the movies based on it.

Ludwig Von Mises, an economist and a historian.

Dave B. Kopel, an eclectic writer who covers many political, economic and historic topics.

- J. Neil Schulman Alongside Night is a novel depicting what US would have looked like under hyperinflation, and what people did about it. Logically written, and with a sense of humor.

- Mathew Bracken If the sample chapters are any indication, the upcoming Enemies Foreign and Domestic will be an incredible book, a combination of the best aspects of Unintended Consequences (which was an important but weakly written book), R.A. Heinlein's Free Men and much original thought.

- Mike Williamson Recommended: Freehold, an excellent novel combining the good aspects of L.Neil Smith and R.A.Heinlein, without the affectations of either.

- Walter Williams Excellent essays on economics and politics.

- David Weber Recommended: Honor Harrington series: witty space opera, though the last book was unimpressive. A must for history buffs. Other work decent but less captivating.

- Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies make for a fascinating double feature. These books are partially counterpoints to each other. They are an excellent intro into world history unconstrained to European events.

- Brian Garfield Recommended: Death Wish, an excellent philosophical book, quite different in scope from the poor film adaptation. Will report on other books once I read them.

- Anton Chekhov Recommended: most short stories, in Russian. Great sense of humor and a nice impression of the time and place in which he wrote.

- Bruce Bethke Recommended: Cyberpunk (leaves Neuromancer in the dust), Headcrash, almost all short stories.

- DeCamp Recommended: Falliable Fiend, Lest Darkness Fall, almost all short stories except for the most recent ones. Avoid series.

- Philip K. Dick Recommended: all short stories and novelettes. Often depressing, but always thought-provoking.

- Robert Heinlein Recommended: most short stories and novelettes Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Glory Road. Not recommended: most longer works...moralistic and/or literary wet dreams.

- H. Beam Piper Recommended: Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. Not recommended: the rest of Paratime series, Fuzzy series...too inane.

- Lawrence Watt-Evans Recommeded: Shining Steel, most other novels. A nice blend of fantasy with realistic political and economic influences.

- Fazil Iskander Recommended: everything, Rabbits and Pythons especially. [In Russian]

- George Orwell Recommended: Animal Farm, 1984, Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Curious, though not profound: Coming up for Air, Down and Out in Paris and London.

- Bernard Shaw Recommended: most plays. The commentaries to the plays are as interesting and, perhaps, more informative than the plays themselves.

- Edmund Rostand Recommended: Cyrano de Bergerac. Other works less engaging.

- Vasil' Bykov Recommended: all short stories and novels, remember to read between the lines. [in Byelorussian]

- Irwin Shaw Recommended: most short stories and novels; even his worst is decent. Young Lions is quite strong.

- Erich Remarque Recommended: most novels Arch of Triumph, Three Comrades, especially. The similarities between his books stop short of becoming a formula.

- Francois Rabelais Recommended: Gargantua and Pantagruel. Some historical knowledge is suggested for full enjoyment of the humor.

- Mark Twain Recommended: depends on your taste, but almost anything by Twain is well-written.

- Margaret Mitchell Recommended: Gone with the Wind. The author was not a bigot, she hated everyone. Not recommended: early short stories.

- Arthur C. Clark Recommended: short stories. Not recommended: novels.

- Jack London Recommended: just about every story. Get older illustrated editions.

- Prosper Merimee Recommended: Diane de Turgis, Matteo Falcone, Carmen, Colomba. Very engaging, humorous if not historically accurate stories. Not Recommended: other short stories.

- Isaak Asimov Recommended: short stories. Not recommended: novels.

- Rudyard Kipling Recommended: The Light that Failed, The Man Who Would Be King.

- Rober Silverberg Recommended: Short stories and novelettes. Not recommended: novels.

- Choderlos De Laclos Recommended: Dangerous Liasons, his only book.Witty and acidic, somewhat different from films based on it.

Recommended Movies
Given a choice, get the films on DVD: both the visual and audio clarity, as well as the widescreen presentation are much superior to tape.

- Thief, strongly acted and beautifully filmed story of a thief who used a woman and her child as "cover". Slightly marred by occasional imprefect translation of the subtitles but a great movie nonetheless.

- Triplets of Belleville, an almost silent French animation featuring extremely well-animated and emoted characters and such visual delights as frog-gigging with German hand grenades. Very unorthodox storyline.

- Brotherhood of War, well-acted and choreographed film about Korean War. Proper degree of moral ambiguity, good melee scenes.

- Ambush, a Finnish film about WW2 in Karelia. Beautifully filmed and well acted, it gives a good idea of how nerve-racking close combat in the wild was. Wonderful music score completes the somber mood.

- Monsters Inc., just plain cute and well-animated.

- Dark Blue World, a beautifully rendered, strongly-acted film about Czech pilots flying for the RAF. Several overlapping plots are unpredictable, the moods are catching and the historic details are authentic. Romantic aspects are well-integrated and entirely unpredictable.

- The Pianist, the best Holocaust film I've seen and an excellent movie in its own right. Great acting, accurate historic details and props, extremely impressive actors even in minor roles. A must-see, in my opinion.

- Winter War, one of the best war movies, covers the 1939-40 invasion of Finland by the USSR. Authentic props, good storyline and music.

- Jacob's Ladder, a well-acted mix of three competing story-lines. Slightly surreal.

- Equilibrium, a gun-foo movie which is more than the sum of its parts. A theme similar to Brave New World, but with a more optimistic end. Impressive visuals, great music, no Hollywood action cliches -- emotionally stirring, watched that one twice.

- Ice Age, a very demented cartoon with superb character animation.

- Promise, the only film I've seen that comes close to explaining the realities of life under Communism.

- Shadrach, a about friendship and civil disobedience. Nice visuals, strong acting, good flavor of the old times.

- A Bug's Life, an animated film which seems to encourage viewers to quicklime IRS employees. Make sure to watch the credits closely.

- To Kill a Mockingbird, the B&W version, has very good actors and a decent story.

- Mephisto, about the good Germans. Unfortunately, the recent VHS version is awfully badly dubbed, almost impossible to watch.

- All the Mornings of the World, a complex, superbly acted and filmed story of talent and all the usual troubles that go with it. Interesting music, touching story. For a different, lighter angle on the world of music, try Red Violin. Not as cosistently strong, but beautifully shot and at times engaging.

- Kolya, a beautifully filmed, strongly acted Czech film, same director as Dark Blue World. Great music, unpredictable story and splendindly understated message.

- Cabaret, good music, great acting, very understated historical commentary about 1930s Germany.

- Once Upon a Time in America, beautifully produced and finely acted, this movie gets the spirit of the times right. Complex editing and subtle hints make the film worth watching over and over. Very good music.

- Cross of Iron, one of the few films to improve over the source book. Awesome visuals, great acting. Invites scary parallels with workplace politics.

- The Wild Bunch, the Last Western. Great visuals again, strong character acting. Well-integrated soundtrack.

- Edward Scissorhands, a movie that puts American suberbia out of its misery.

- Nightmare Before Christmas, the lighter view of Xmas, complete with terrific animation.

- Raise the Red Lantern, a strong visual compliment to Wives and Concubines. The book fill in some details that film lacks, but the film makes the story more personal.

- Prizoner of the Mountains, a very understated film about two Russians taken prisoner during the recent Chechen War. Based on a book about the Chechen War of 1830s. Strong acting, beautiful camera work, twisty story. Violence is mostly in the viewer's head, not shown explicitely. Very accurate subtitles.

- Robin and Marian. What happens to heros when they get old?

- Cyrano de Bergerac, a true to the book adaptation of Rostand's play. Visually compelling, with great acting and music. Avoid "American" re-edited version (severely dumbed-down) that discount stores sell.

- Terminator, a good action film, meaning decent special effects and only slightly wooden acting.

- Taxi Driver, a rare blend of humor and personable acting in an action picture.

- Laurence of Arabia, a grand excuse for the most breathtaking scenic footage, good music.

- Dangerous Liasons / Valmont. Between these two films and the book, you can get the complete sordid story. Great props in Dangerous Liasons, better acting and plot in Valmont.

- The Deer Hunter, a long, depressing film saved by very strong acting.

- The Duelists, a pretty Napoleonic period film.

- Meet the Feebles, the Muppets with smack, machine guns and nasty sexual habits. Very funny.

- Leon, goofy but well acted.

- Way of the Gun, complex and multilayered. Good acting, very realistic small arms handling, twisty plot.

- Michael Collins, a relatively even-handed story of the Irish civil war. Strong visually, nice acting, well-researched.

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