Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

363: Puppetmaster by Richard Hack


363.25092: Hack, Richard. Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Hills, CA: New Millennium Press, 2004. 407 pp. ISBN 1-893224-87-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems, services, and associations
  • 363: Other social problems and services
  • 363.2: Police services
  • 363.25: Detection of crime
  • +092: Biography

There are about as many myths about J. Edgar Hoover as there are truths. While head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1935 to 1972, there were stories of homosexual trysts with his assistant director Clyde Tolson and that he routinely wore women’s clothing. While these are rumors just the same, they linger in the national psyche. Richard Hack’s Puppetmaster tries to get a more complete picture of the man behind one of the nation’s largest investigative groups.

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011: The List of Books by Raphael and McLeish


011: Raphael, Frederic and Kenneth McLeish. The List of Books. New York: Harmony Books, 1981. 154 pp. ISBN 0-517-540177.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer science, Knowledge, and General Works
  • 010: Bibliography
  • 011: Bibliographies

Let us say you are building a private library. Let us also say that you want to read in a large variety of subjects but suffer from a crippling inability to either do a lot of research or make wise decisions. Well, Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish, with their List of Books, can come to your rescue. In this slim volume, they collect what they believe to be the best and key books in various fields, summarize them briefly, and organize them for your collecting pleasure. With over 3,000 books in 35 different fields, you would be hard-pressed not to find something here that didn’t pique your interest.

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140: The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire


140: Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 3rd Ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997. 200 pp. ISBN 0-8308-1849-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Specific philosophical schools and viewpoints

James Sire caught me with my proverbial pants down (so to say) with his Universe Next Door. Ostensibly, it goes through the six to ten (depending on how you count and group them) major philosophical schools and examines each one for strengths and flaws. He indeed covers the whole spectrum, from theism to nihilism to naturalism to existentialism to postmodernism. And his dutiful explanations of each school are decent; I’ll give him that. But sadly, it’s the last chapter that wallops you on the side of the head. After a competent exploration of the world of philosophy, he dumps all but one into a bucket labelled “Not Worth Your Time.” The conclusion he brings the book to is to that to live a “well-examined” life, one must be a Christian theist. That left a sour taste in my mouth. That is not to say that Christian theism isn’t a worthy worldview for some people. But simply dismissing billions of people as not living a good life is both insulting and deflating. If you must read this one, stop just before the end—trust me, you’ll feel a lot better about it.


215: Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman


215: Kauffman, Stuart A. Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion. New York: Basic Books, 2010. 288 pp. ISBN 978-0-465-01888-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 210: Philosophy and theory of religion
  • 215: Science and religion

For those people who say that the evidence for God is in nature, Stuart Kauffman is a good way to bridge the gap between a godless universe and one where spirituality pervades the fabric of existence. After reading Niall Shanks’s God, the Devil, and Darwin, I got an understanding of the differing theories of complexity and how they sometimes form the basis for creationist thought. Kauffman’s analysis of nature and molecular complexity goes even deeper than that, however. In Reinventing the Sacred, Kauffman plunges into a scientific universe of systemic breakdowns and synthesis to rechristen what we think of spontaneous, divine, and even religious.

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676: Papermaking by Dard Hunter


676: Hunter, Dard. Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft. New York: Dover Publications, 1974. 584 pp. ISBN 0-486-23619-6.

Dewey Breakdown:
• 600: Technology
• 670: Manufacturing
• 676: Pulp and paper technology

Dard Hunter’s Papermaking is the landmark text on the practice and history of turning wood pulp into a woven, writable surface. He traces the history of paper from its invention by the Chinese eunuch Ts’ai Lun in 105 CE to the current industry of worldwide production and consumption. Hunter is probably the only person to make a career out of hunting every available source on the history of paper and this book represents the culmination of all that research. He covers the science of choosing the right plant material, the history of printing presses and their use of paper materials, and the progression of industrial machines used in the making of paper products. Also included is the history of paper watermarking and its role in company identification, forgeries, and counterfeiting. While the text can be a little dry and tedious, there are plenty of illustrations to move the reader through the history. If you ever had a question about the world history of papermaking, this book will answer them without fail.

963: Chameleon Days by Tom Bascom


963.06092: Bascom, Tom. Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia. New York: Mariner, 2006. 236 p. ISBN 978-0-618-65869-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

• 900: History and Geography
• 960: History of Africa
• 963: History of Ethiopia and Eritrea
• 963.06: History of Ethiopia from 1941 to 1974
• +092: Biography

In 1964, the Bascom family moved from Kansas to Ethiopia. Tom Bascom’s father was a doctor and a religious man, and so, felt a calling to help struggling folks in Africa with both medicine and faith. At the time, little Tommy was just three years old and had to adjust to a completely new set of circumstances. Bascom’s Chameleon Days is a grand look at the both the small scale details of living in Ethiopia as a American and the social and religious landscape of the country under Haile Selassie.

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315: On an Average Day in Japan by Tom Heymann


315.7: Heymann, Tom. On An Average Day in Japan. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992. 206 pp. ISBN 0-449-90607-8.

Dewey Construction:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 310: General statistics
  • 315: General statistics of Asia
  • 315.7: General statistics of Japan

This is another one of Tom Heymann’s collections of demographic statistics. Only a few special writers have ever made statistics/demographics interesting. Tom Heymann isn’t one of them. On An Average Day in Japan is a dated collection of demographics about the Japanese people and what happens on the average day. Each page has a quick set of stats on consumerism, medical behavior, births and deaths, addiction, news media, etc. Most of the figures given are then contrasted with the same general measure for the American population. Read it if you have to; skip it of you don’t.