February 7, 2020

Other Musings

From the Desk of…

James J. Williams III


On my desk right now sits no fiction unfortunately. I have been digging into the history of cities, the places we choose to congregate, and how we push or pull against progress. There is also the occasional book about metals.


1. If Venice Dies – Salvatore Settis

A fast and succinct analysis about what happens to a city and its people when it becomes beholden to tourism. (And some history for good measure.)


2. Inside the Dream Palace – Sherill Tippins

From the author of February House, one of my favorite books. I am not sure how I feel about this history of the Chelsea Hotel. A place that was often the closest thing to a home for me.


3. Fear City- Kim Phillips – Fein

The title comes from a long forgotten flier handed out to tourists arriving to the city. Welcome to Fear City. Go Home. When the president in the mid 70s told NYC to drop dead, the city was a hot bed for drugs, crime, punk rock, art, and weirdly, the birth of the credit default swap.


4. Metternich – Wolfram Siemann

A very thorough account of one of the grandfathers of modern conservatism. The German antithesis to Napoleon.  A blue-blood strategist, still controversial today. Key to understanding grand strategy today of some of the most partisan policies.


5. Everything was Forever, Until it was No More – Alexei Yurchak

An analysis of Late Soviet life, and the socio-economic impact in the USSR after 1989.


6. Escape from Rome – Walter Scheidel

Scheidel argues the collapse of the Roman Empire set the groundwork for Modern Europe and the progress built from the ruins.


7. Introduction to Evaluation, Design, and Operation of Precious Metal Heap Leaching Projects – Van Zyl, Hutchinson, Kiel

A book about metals.


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