James Gleick in “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood” seeks to place information in historical context. To accomplish that he opens the book by discussing the advent of drumming, signals, telegraph, telephone and the computer. A most interesting section contains an explanation of how Babbage invented the first computer and how it worked. In the subsequent portion he relates how information theorists worked on the coding, decoding, and re-coding of information. The final chapters link such as DNA , and quantum mechanics to information. It is this last portion of the book that was the most thought provoking for me. This book is wonderful as history, stimulating as philosophy, and a fine introduction to theoretical aspects of the topic. The reading of Rob Shapiro is excellent.
With the extraction of Osama bin Laden, there has been a recent interest in special forces. One of the most engaging of books in this genre is Eric Haney’s Inside Delta Force. Haney, a founding member of the Delta Force, tells the story of how he was recruited, chosen, trained and survived grueling service in the unit. Of particular interest is Haney’s description of the 1980 aborted Iranian hostage rescue attempt. The book is filled with insight, humor, practical information, and great descriptions. This is a wonderfully engaging, positive book. The reading of Robertson Dean is an excellent addition.
Jose Rodriguez, a 25-year veteran of CIA undercover operations, sets out in Hard Measures to describe the agency’s response to 9/11. The result is an informative, insightful, entertaining and worthwhile read. The strength of the book is in the personal memoir-like insights which bring readers as close to the feel of what took place as possible without revealing state secrets. Readers may disagree with Rodriguez s analysis or find fault with his point of view, but each page brings detail worth considering. That said, I think that the book s subtitle, How Aggressive CIA Actions after 9/11 Saved American Lives, is a little misleading. The book fulfills that aim, but to me the book s true focus is on defending Rodriguez s work while at the CIA during that era. Rodriguez was a controversial person at the CIA and he justifiably seeks to set the record straight. The chapters making his case do not detract from the entire volume nor should it discourage readers from taking up the book. Rodriguez has done a great service by leaving his memoir-like insights behind for all to see. The reading of Sean Pratt is excellent. There is an afterward presented by Rodriguez in person.
Leslie Chang, a Chinese-American writer, has produced an informative volume about the Chinese migration of women from rural areas and life to urban living. She accomplishes this by telling the stories of individual and groups of women. She illustrates the book with direct quotes and closely written stories. She works very hard to help the reader understand what is taking place through Chinese eyes.
The book is great to listen to and is very informative. After listening I thought that the same information could have been presented in less space and with fewer words. After a few days of reflection, however, I believe her approach enables to listener/reader to internalize the situation in urban China or get a feel for what is taking place. The cumulative effect is positive and was, in my case, informative.
The reading of the book is excellent.