Recent Reading 20

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Byron Janis with Maria Cooper Janis [2010]: Chopin and Beyond: My Extraordinary Life in Music and the Paranormal. John Wiley/Trade Paper Press (Kindle Edition). The recent death of pianist Byron Janis [1928-2024] led me to read this autobiography. The book is well-written and very engrossing, particularly in his descriptions of his many spiritual and paranormal experiences. He discovered some previously-unknown Chopin compositions, and did so in a manner that can only adequately be described as divinely guided.

    Some would view the book as showing honesty when the author recounts his many affairs, including one with the wife of his teacher Vladimir Horowitz. The book – and certainly the man – would have been better without those.

  • Stuart A. Reid [2023]: The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination. Knopf. Much of this I knew, from Larry Devlin’s book. What was new to me were the machinations of Belgian governments in their former colony, before and after Zaire’s Independence.
  • Michael Smith [2016]: Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews. Biteback Publishing. An inspiring story about a British spy and immigration official in pre-War Berlin, who was willing and able to facilitate the safe passage of many German Jews, both to Britain and to British Palestine. He often did so by bending the rules he was supposed to enforce, for example, accepting promises of future payment (IOUs) rather than the actual financial transfers he was required to verify existed before issuing visas for British Palestine.
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Mountains of memory

Posting some time ago from Tyalgum, in the shade of Mount Warning, led me to think of the mountains that figured in my life. Herewith a list:

  • Ashby Hill
  • Black Mountain/Galambary
  • Mount Barney
  • Clarence Peak
  • Mount Coot-tha
  • Mount Diablo
  • Glass House Mountains
  • Montjuïc
  • The Kopje
  • Mount Kosciuszko
  • Mount Lindesay
  • Mount Nardi
  • Mount Nyangani
  • Montparnasse
  • Mount Rainier
  • Soracte
  • Khan Tengri
  • Mount Tibrogargan
  • Mont Valerian
  • Mount Warning

Concert Halls

Herewith a list of concert halls and venues in which I have been fortunate to experience musical performances (excluding working Churches).

  • The Barbican Concert Hall, London
  • Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane
  • Cadogan Hall, London
  • Casino Civic Hall, Casino, NSW
  • City Recital Hall, Sydney
  • Sir John Clancy Auditorium, University of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Ballroom, Corinthia Hotel, London
  • Salle de Flagey, Brussels
  • Salle Gaveau, Paris
  • Hamburgische Staatsoper, Hamburg
  • Hamer Concert Hall, Melbourne
  • Ipswich Civic Hall, Ipswich, Queensland
  • King’s Place, London
  • Leggate Theatre, University of Liverpool, Liverpool
  • City Hall, Lismore, NSW
  • Llewellyn Hall, Canberra School of Music, Canberra, ACT
  • LSO St Luke’s, London
  • Auditorium, Maison de la Radio et de la Musique, Paris
  • Melba Hall, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Melbourne
  • Milton Court Concert Hall, Guildhall School of Music, London
  • Old Museum Concert Hall, Brisbane
  • Auditorium, St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Nudgee, Brisbane
  • Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London
  • Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London
  • Regent Hall (Salvation Army Centre), Oxford Street, London
  • Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London
  • Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Performance Hall, Royal College of Music, London
  • Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
  • Concert Hall, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
  • Golden Concert Room, St George’s Hall, Liverpool
  • Recital Hall, Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul
  • Seymour Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney
  • State Theatre, Sydney
  • Steinway Hall, London
  • Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
  • Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House
  • Sydney Town Hall, Sydney
  • Tanglewood, MA
  • Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris
  • Tyalgum Literary Institute Hall, Tyalgum, NSW
  • Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney
  • West Road Concert Hall, Department of Music, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • Wigmore Hall, London

Ambulant cemeteries

They are the ambulant cemeteries of their murdered friends; they carry their shrouds as their banner.”

Words of Manes Sperber from Et le Buisson devint Cendre (Paris, 1949), cited by Arthur Koestler in his essay in The God That Failed (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1950), page 64.

Recent Reading 19

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Bill Browder [2022]: Freezing Order: A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, Murder,and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath. Simon and Schuster.
  • Bill Browder [2015]: Red Notice: A True Story of Corruption, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice. Bantam Press. A gripping and very well-written autobiography of William Browder, son of mathematician Felix (he of Browder’s Fixed Point theorem fame) and grandson of Earl Browder, onetime President of the CPUSA.
  • Duncan Mavin [2022]: The Pyramid of Lies: Lex Greensill and the Billion-Dollar Scandal. Macmillan. An account, mostly well-written, of the Greensill Capital affair. The company, started by Lex Greensill from a farming family of Bundaberg, Queensland, was based on the clever idea of reverse factoring of supply-chain invoices: lending against invoices from suppliers, not to the suppliers as in regular factoring, but to the receivers of the goods and services being supplied. The receivers are generally larger and more reputable, so the risk to the reverse factoring company should be less than for standard factoring.

    The book ends very quickly, without the depth or detail of the earlier chapters, as if the author suddenly became tired of writing.

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Julia Gillard vs Tony Abbott 2012

I was reminded of this newspaper article by Charles Waterstreet on Julia Gillard’s powerful speech against misogyny in the Australian House of Representatives in October 2012. An excerpt:

Some men have been in too many scrums, too many boxing matches, have beaten their heads against too many walls. Of all the words in the whole wide world, Tony Abbott chose – deliberately, it would seem – to use the word ”shame” in his speech on the motion to sack Peter Slipper as speaker. Shame, with all the connotations Alan Jones wrapped around it clumsily weeks earlier, when referring to the Prime Minister’s dead father. Abbott’s use of ”shame” made Slipper’s description of women’s private parts look positively eloquent.

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Friends Best

The streaming series Young Royals, produced by Netflix Sverige, is a coming-of-age story about teenagers with the unusual feature that the main actors are themselves only teenagers. (Most series aimed at teenagers seem to employ actors in their twenties.) Because of this focus, the reviews of the series I have seen are aimed at parents deciding whether or not they should allow their teenage children to watch it.

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Recent Reading 18: Copeland Family Edition

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order. In this edition, the books include several written by Miles Copeland II and his sons, Miles III, Ian and Stewart Copeland, or about them.

  • Ian Copeland [1999]: Wild Thing: The Backstage – on the Road -in the Studio – Off the Charts: Memoirs of Ian Copeland. Simon and Schuster.
  • Miles Copeland II [1989]: The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA’s Original Political Operative. Aurum Press. A well-written and fascinating, but often unreliable, account of Miles Copeland’s life. I admire the great intellectual heft and subtlety of political analysis Copeland demonstrates, something he shared with his contemporaries among the founders of CIA. These features stands in great contrast to the simple-minded nature of many of the attacks on intelligence, both from the State Department and the Pentagon in the 1950s, and from the left in the years since.

    It is interesting that a book published in 1989, in a chapter about his work in the US intelligence community in the late 1940s, argues that the main thrust of Soviet aggression towards the West was expected even then by Copeland and some of his intelligence community colleagues to be disinformation campaigns (dezinformatzia) directed against the West (page 74).

    It was unexpected but very heartening to see how much he despised the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement.

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Recent Reading 17

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Gautam Raghavan (Editor) (2018): West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White. Penguin. Fascinating accounts from a very diverse group of people who worked in the Obama White House, diverse in terms of ethnicity, religion, background, and role.
  • Geoffrey Elliott and Harold Shukman (2013): Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War. Faber and Faber. A fascinating account of the British Government’s Joint Services School for Linguists (JSSL) which trained selected national servicemen (conscripts) in Russian and a few other languages between 1951 and 1960. Many graduates went on to illustrious careers across society, including the two authors. I have met several graduates of the US military’s similar school in Monterey, CA, which started with teaching Japanese in November 1941, and they were all very bright people. How short-sighted that the UK Government does not continue with such training.
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