A Champion's Mind is a fairly interesting book filled with bits and pieces of this champion's career. But in the end, you don't learn very much about Pete Samphras beyond what you probably already know or could have assumed.
He certainly provides some insight into his focus, his dedication, and his selfishness, which is evidently an important quality for a sports champion. He comes off pretty self absorbed, which is no surprise. He offers little information, beyond generalities, about how he got so good, other than to say he did little else but tennis in high school. He does call what he has, "the gift," but what exactly that is -- hand-eye coordination, focus, dedication, a combination -- he doesn't say. But, would he have been a great basketball player or baseball player, or was it something specifically about tennis that he was gifted to do? He doesn't help us understand this gift.
He offers little thanks to those who helped him along the way, and he provides a few rather strange details about his life on tour with his wife.
Wolfe's journalistic eye for detail is fully on display in this brilliant novel. While the writing is admittedly long-winded at times, the patient listener is led on a fascinating journey through high society and the American judicial system. All of the social interactions so deftly described provide illumination into the motivations of the major characters in the novel, which fully brings to life the blazing bonfire of vanities, of so many people's vanities, in the novel's stunning finale. While the novel is set in the New York of the early to mid-1980s, I'm afraid it could easily describe the New York of today. In fact, Wolfe's New York might be a bit tame and naive by today's standards. The reading is equally brilliant. I enjoyed every minute, and I'm looking forward to reading (or listening to) another Wolfe novel soon.
Both somewhat interesting and blatantly self-indulgent, this uneven memoir of Holland's nine years at Bellevue was worth a listen, but I really thought I'd like it more. I was really hoping to hear dozens of interesting stories about the human psyche through a doctor's eyes. There was some of that, but overall I found Holland's discussions of her turf battles with other egomanics, her sexual experimentations, and her crushes on other doctors all a bit disturbing and all a bit of blah, blah, blah. She evidently thinks that banter among doctors -- the sexual innuendo, the cutting remarks, the ego clashes -- is interesting, but it really just sounds like another day at the office for most of us, though I just admit that I was a bit surprised at the level of indescretion, immaturity, and overall childishness of some of her descriptions of her and her fellow psychiatrists' behavior. If you are looking for a book about office politics, I guess this is a pretty good one. If you are looking for a book about the human mind and behavior through the educated eyes of an experienced psychiatrist, then pass on this one.
I found Indignation to be humorless, crude, and shallow.
This is basically the Forest Gump story backwards. Gump, though of simple mind, manages to tiptoe through turbulent periods of American history with his decency, compassion, faith, and humility. Marcus, the main character of this novel, is evidently book smart, but driven, angry, without faith, and narcissistic.
Marcus is concerned for no one but himself. While he says he prefers solitude, he is always ready for a verbal fight, and he is sure he's always right.
Nearly everyone at the rural Ohio college he attends is a unidimensional stereotype, and of course the social mores of 1950s America -- middle America -- are sufficating to this intellectually superior young man from America's largest metro area.
Marcus can't understand why the adults at the college are frustrated when he refuses to take even the simpliest suggestion. And he can't just accept a suggestion, but he has to argue his viewpoint and pound his superior intelligence into others.
There is nothing to be learned here, nothing to laugh at, nothing to ponder over. A few random situations occur, and our hapless, but intellectually superior main character trips, stumbles, and finally careens into disaster, basically because of his own stubborn attitude. While these events seem to happen to him, he ends up being the master of his own demise. No one to blame but himself and a few unforeseen occurences.
A wonderful, compelling book. Now I understand my Irish grandmother's manner. At first I was put off by Frank McCourt's narration, but after a few minutes, I appreciated it greatly. His marvelous reading lends color to a rather gray story.
I agree with the other reviewers who found this book difficult, not only because the topics often feel disjointed, but because the reader doesn't convey the material well, and the author regularly inserts condescending opinions concerning people's religious beliefs, as if it's absolutely ridiculous that anyone would attribute the wonder of the universe to the creation of a God.
I've listened to several science books during the past two years, and I found this one is certainly the worst. By the second half of the book, the author just goes off on a tangent to debunk untrue beliefs from a scientific perspective. Some of this information is interesting, though has little to do with a book on the cosmos, but then he starts inserting jabs at religion and the Bible during this needless and inappropriate diatribe.
His lack of knowledge of the Bible is only matched by his distain for religious views and his insatiable interest in criticizing the Bible and those who believe it.
It's hard to understand what the purpose of his writing this book was, to share information attesting to the wonder of our vast universe, or to critique religious views. This audio book, and I presume the printed version as well, would have benefited from a good edit, of perhaps half its content.
I'm shocked that PBS has chosen him to narrate its NOVA program on "Origins," and that he directs the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. His distain for the views of millions of Americans surely would make him more comfortable in an ivory tower position, where he could grouse about how stupid we all are with the other egotistical physicists, who are so convinced of their brilliance.
The book is a terrible disappointment. Among the 20 or so books I’ve listened to during the past two years, this was the worst.
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