In the Department of Bad Fact Checking, I'd nominate Fred Kaplan's 1959: The Year Everything Changed, which I quit on page 112 where he reprised the well-known U-2 Incident from the Cold War in which Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia and triggered an international uproar.
After relating events in 1959 to what followed in 1960, Kaplan states "The U-2 took off on May Day (1960), with orders to enter Soviet airspace from Greenland, fly over Murmansk ..." A fictious statement. I quit reading.
I've read original source material (namely, Powers' memoir, Operation Overflight) with the May Day flight details. Powers' U-2 left Peshawar, Pakistan, with a final planned destination of Bodo, Norway.
Mr. Kaplan was about 180 degrees from the truth! How could I trust Mr. Kaplan for the rest of the book? He'd broken his contract with me as reader, so 1959 was an easy discard.
Second on my recent quit-read list and in the Department of Smarmy Con Man, I'd nominate Eric Metaxas' Miracles, which I read mostly out of curiosity. How can anybody take a miracle as more than the inexplicable? Well, Mr. Metaxas can and draws on a whole passel of miracles from none other than his circle of friends.
Miracles are but a vehicle for Mr. Metaxas to sell a variant of evangelical Christianity--he's got a personal relationship with God and it's there for the reader for the easy price of belief. So, Mr. Metaxas is like Jimmy Swaggart--if more preppy palatable--in a GQ-model, Yale-educated, Manhattan-domiciled wrapper.
But where did I quit Miracles? In one chapter, Mr. Metaxas asserts divine intervention saved an abandoned baby squirrel who stopped eating and was failing to thrive. And for me, not too slight a reason to quit reading.
Third, and in the Department of Dreck was Ellen Langer's Counterclockwise. The author and her research assistants at Harvard recreated a 1950s environment as a retreat for aging seniors. Several weeks' stay gave positive outcomes for all.
An article in an academic journal, but a book? Plus, the writing is best characterized as academic in verbose mode. Not unlike chewing concrete. Counterclockwise was a relatively quick quit.
So Bad Fact Checking, Smarmy Con Man, and Dreck: three good reasons to quit reading. I'm sure there're more.
Read Charlie Dickinson's
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