The brief overview that it gave to most disciplines in Science was appreciated - even how Bynum chose to visit dark chapters in Science History such as eugenics. It left me wanting to know more about the men and women who dedicated their life to asking the basic questions of our natural world.
How the Ancients held such an incredible view of our world and universe without the aid of modern technology. I also loved how they established so many foundational truths for others to build on - as Newton said "standing on the shoulders of giants."
The British accent helped provide a little sophistication to the reading.
No extreme reactions - just an even deeper appreciation for mankind's journey through science.
As the title suggests - and which is of no surprise - this book provides an excellent, but brief overview of the history of science. After reading other reviews, I noticed many people were unhappy with the length or subject matter so I guess I went into this one with lower expectations.
My background is in biology, so naturally I'd prefer to read more about the history of life sciences, but I thought Bynum did a fair job of mixing the physical and life sciences together. I was a bit surprised that he didn't go into much detail with geology, but I think in all fairness he wanted to stick to the general themes within physical and life sciences, including medicine.
My only complaint was that he didn't go too far into the golden age of microbiology. Naturally, by having a greater interest in the life sciences, I was eager to know more about the history and figures of that era. Bynum briefly mentioned spontaneous generation and I was let down that he never mentioned Francesco Redi's meat jar experiments. Instead he discussed Pasteur's broth/flask experiments, which became the final 'kick in the pants' to spontaneous generation.
Altogether, if Bynum would have wrote more about what everyone complained about leaving out, this quick read would've turned into a lengthy text book - giving people something else to complain about. I think this book served a great purpose.
Pros: a great overview of mankind's journey through science and why it is important.
Cons: a "for more reading on this topic" section after each chapter would've been nice.
Bottom line: a great read for anyone interested in getting the 10,000 foot perspective of science.
Yes - probably when I'm ready to re-read the entire series, but I probably would not read it as a stand-alone novel.
It picked up well after the events in "A Game of Thrones" and progressed the overall story very well.
Roy was able to make the accents very different from the characters, which made it easy to tell them apart.
Not many extreme reactions, but then again any major character death is pretty impactful.
A more apt title should probably have been "A Conversation of Kings" as there was no real fighting or action until roughly half way through the book.
On a positive note, and similar to how "A Game of Thrones" was written, Martin is able to write in a way that each word, phrase, and scene adds to the greater story. There is not a lot of "fluff" or misdirection (so far) in this series.
Pros: excellent editing with incredible character development.
Cons: a somewhat slow start.
Bottom line: a decent follow-up to GoT that leaves the reader wanting more.
Yes to both.
"A Dance of Dragons" - Book 5 in the "A Song of Ice & Fire" series.
The last scene in the book that you see of Cersei
Any of the Iron Island characters...any would do fine.
Probably the weakest book (so far) in the series. "A Feast for Crows" was no 'feast' at all and was served up more like random appetizers from an obscure Japanese restaurant with too many strange, new characters and a handful of familiar ones.
**Light spoilers** I felt like the biggest downside to this book was the lack of primary character POVs, such as Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister - some of the series most beloved characters (up to this point). It'd be like watching an episode of LOST without having Jack, Kate, or Sawyer...so I guess it was actually like Season 3 with 'The Others'...Anyways, there were far too many new characters and story lines introduced that made the reader feel disoriented and confused about what was going on...again, kinda like S3 of LOST.
With that being said, the plot line following Jaime & Cersei Lannister were well done and there were many twists and turns that became very entertaining as the story progressed. Sam & Arya's story felt a little detached at times and were not very engaging.
Overall, it will be hard to tell if this is the worst book in the series since the series remains to be unfinished (at this time) and may be subject to the same curse that befalls many "bridging" books in some series, such as "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" or even in film where most folks feel that "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" does not carry the same weight as Episodes IV & VI (not counting Episodes I-III, of course).
Pros: a great continuation of the Lannister story line.
Cons: too many new, uninteresting characters and convoluted conspiracies.
Bottom line: not great as a stand-alone novel, and certainly not a great follow-up to "A Storm of Swords", but should work decently within the series.
In my opinion, yes - only because I can listen to audiobooks while sitting in traffic and with two little kids at home, I never have time to sit and read.
Jon Snow is probably my favorite character. After following him since the beginning of the series, it's easy to like him and struggle with many of the challenges that he faces.
Probably Tyrion Lannister.
HBO has already taken care of it.
This is only my first time through the series, but so far my favorite. "A Storm of Swords" was full of action, plot & character development, and despite the length, a great read through from start to finish.
It is probably well known that this book has the (in)famous 'red wedding' and even though I knew something big was going to happen to some unknown major characters, I was still in shock when it actually happened. I think for people to be upset about it only goes to show the incredible job that Martin has done in crafting his characters and allowing the reader to become so attached.
This book alone makes re-reading the entire series worth while.
Pros: in a strange way the character deaths were the best part of the books, only because it evokes such a strong response from the reader.
Cons: there were a few scenes that were sexually graphic and I did not care for.
Bottom line: so far the best in the series and draws the reader in from start to finish.
Not having to read an 800+ page book, and being able to read this series during commutes to and from work.
The only other non-trilogy book series I've read is Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. I think George R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice series is already off to a much better start than Dark Tower, only because Marin writes every scene with purpose. With King it can get frustrating because he adds a lot of "fluff" and sometimes you never know why certain things were added into a scene, or what is driving a character's motivations or dialogue.
So far I've been quite pleased with F&I and am eager to continue on in the series.
He did a great job on having different accents for the various characters...and there were plenty of them!
No extreme reactions, but very dramatic and well written.
Although lengthy, I felt that Game of Thrones was great start-to-finish. Without going into details or spoilers, I thought each character was developed in an excellent manner and there was never a story arc that felt rushed or out-of-place.
I also have to admit that I was apprehensive to begin the series since most of the low-rated reviews indicated that the sex, language, and violence was gratuitous. I did not feel this way at all. There was little-to-no vulgar language and nothing perverse or offensive. After watching the HBO series, there is (for some strange reason) a large amount of unnecessary language and nudity that is not part of the book.
I'm eager to press on in the series and felt that every page added to the overall story.
Pros: Every written word has purpose to the story and there is not any "fluff" that some authors use, just to add more pages.
Cons: The very end of the story (which I won't go into to avoid spoilers), but none really.
Bottom line: an excellent beginning to a series that I am eager to read more about.
Near the top...probably in the top 5
Um, is this a trick question...there are no characters in On the Origin of Species, but many animals...I like birds I guess...
He did alright.
I greatly enjoyed this book and wish I would've read it while in college.
After reading Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" I can see why its been noted as one of the most significant books ever written - especially when it comes to scientific literature and observation. I've come to realize that many of Darwin's ideas are over emphasized, underestimated, and way ahead of his time.
To my point on being over emphasized, I have heard many assumptions by many people that assume Darwin wrote this book in a way that pushed evolution to being the explanation for all of life's origins. Many of his ideas and observations are either taken out of context or argued in a way that makes it seem like Darwin had all the answers. If people who openly debated evolution actually read this work, they would come to understand that many of his ideas make perfect sense within the context of his observations. He also dedicates a full chapter to problems with his theory - many of which are some of the arguments still made today.
To my point on being underestimated, I think that when people have taken Darwin's ideas out of context they are missing a grander point in that natural selection is a means by which we can explain evolution and change through time. I think that many people also misunderstand Darwin's observations in that he was able to use empirical evidence to support his ideas, which can be easily overlooked by individuals that attack his theory as an "opinion" or theory without explanation.
To my point on Darwin being ahead of his time, I found it extremely interesting that he was able to make predictions about tectonic plates and the movement of the earth's continents that allowed for the geographical distribution of species 50-60 years before scientists began working off of the theory of plate tectonics. I think many of his other observations have since been confirmed regarding inheritance, now that we have the technology to craft phylogentic trees and such - even to the extent of using mitochondrial DNA and rRNA to track ancestry.
Altogether I found this book fascinating and look forward to reading it again. I'll also look forward to checking out his other writings at some point. Part of me wishes I would've read this book in college when I would've had more opportunities to explore his ideas as well as take advantage of professors that could have spoken at great lengths on the subject.
Pros: Truly a classic when it comes to scientific observations and how science should be performed.
Cons: The chapter on hybrids was a bit dry and hard to follow.
Bottom line: Excellent read for anyone interested in life's origins or how there is commonality among life forms.
Yes - when Michael Shermer read's his own book, it feels like I'm listening to a lecture or debate of his - which I enjoy.
I liked Shermer's unbiased approach - to everything. I also appreciated his personal testimony in the beginning as I have always wondered what his personal belief structure was like and where it came from.
He did a fine job.
No extreme reaction, but I supposed I was impressed by his unbiased approach.
"The Believing Brain" was an excellent read on belief systems ranging from religion, to the paranormal, and even to politics. I didn't expect the section on politics to be that engaging, but I felt that Shermer did an excellent job presenting an unbiased approach to discussing political beliefs. Bias is something that has to be avoided in science, so I greatly appreciated his ability to remain unbiased when discussing topics that tend to polarize people.
I thought the section towards the end regarding the history of cosmology was a bit stretching and really brought the book's momentum to a screeching halt.
Overall it was an excellent read and I would read this again, as well as recommend to my friends. I also took great insight to Shermer's arching thesis in the book: people first establish their belief and then justify their belief system.
Yes - I wish King would've done a better job of "bringing his fellowship together" rather than how it played out in the book. I felt that the reasons for the characters to band together in defeating the enemy were a bit flimsy.
Most interesting - the villain.
Least interesting - the "hero's" sidekicks and reasons for joining together.
About the same...sometimes I do get a bit tired of the constant "grittiness" that Will Patton is known for and he does not voice female characters very well. Overall he's alright and you know what to expect.
Yes, but unsure of the cast.
If you're an avid reader of Stephen King, you'll quickly pick up on the template that King has used in many of his writings to bring people together where they accomplish a task. In some ways, I think King uses this "banding together" successfully and in other ways pretty weakly.
To start with the good, lets compare his greatest works: The Stand, IT, and Dark Tower series to name a few. In these stories, King was able to bring a group of strangers together in a Tolkein-esque kind of way where they join forces, journey together, and ultimately defeat a greater enemy. I really enjoyed all of these books and when layered you're able to identify the common theme of "unity", "purpose" and "good verses evil".
To cite lesser examples where the template didn't work so well, I would place The Talisman, Black House, and Doctor Sleep. Unfortunately, Mr. Mercedes also falls into this category in my opinion. I had a hard time buying into the "fellowship" that forms to defeat the bad guy; however I thought that King crafted a very interesting, and well-defined villain.
King does a great job (as always) setting up the characters; however once they start interacting with each other I began to have problems. Without going into details or spoilers, I felt like some of the relationships that formed were strange and irrational. I also had a hard time buying into the story at times...the classic "why would they NOT turn it over to the cops/authorities at this point" which, for me, the story begins to lose any authenticity it may have started with.
Now that it's been made clear that this is the first book in a trilogy, I'll probably read the rest, but with lower expectations.
Pros: well constructed and written bad guy.
Cons: obligatory sexual references and foul language, which is typical King-style writing.
Bottom line: decent story, but not King's best.
I enjoyed how Dr. Hare divided the topics of psychopaths, which made reading more enjoyable and less mundane (see extended review for details).
I liked how Dr. Hare identified areas of society were the term "psychopath" is misused and even in criminal justice system, doctors and such are misusing the psychopathy checklist.
I also liked how he explored the area of psychopathy in children, which is rarely discussed due to the moral and ethical implications.
The chapter on children psychopaths.
Considering this book was published in 1999 and is now 15 years old, it is still a relevant and insightful read on psychopaths. Dr. Hare is also an early pioneer in trying to develop, and correctly administer the psychopathy checklist, which I found interesting to hear how this technique came about.
Like most books on psychopaths, there are plenty of examples of murder, deceit, and injury to others; however Dr. Hare did an excellent job in breaking the book into a few basic sections:
- Defining the Psychopath
- White Collar Psychopaths
- Psychopathy in Children
- Appropriate Use & Misuse of the Psychopathy Checklist by Society
- Methods to Identify & Protect Yourself From Psychopaths
The book length is just right and it was well edited. I would recommend this read to anyone interested in psychopaths and trying to understand psychopathic behavior.
Pros: Addressed the issue of psychopathy in children and made me really ponder if people can be born "bad."
Cons: Book highlighted all negative aspects of psychopaths, but did not touch on any positive features - which have primarily been addressed in Kevin Sutton's "Wisdom of Psychopaths"
Bottom line: Quick and interesting read - would recommend.
Probably top 10
I liked how PHotUS stuck with the facts and historical events of our country's founding and growth rather than leaning on political bias and socio-economic side items. I thought that this was a great, comprehensive look at America's history and seemed like a fair snapshot of all the people who have influenced the shaping of this great nation.
World War II
"Come see America's Heritage & History come to life!"
"A Patriot's History of the US" was an incredible and exhaustive history of the United States and was exactly what I have been looking for in terms of a comprehensive look at our nation's history.
I previously read the highly recommended "People's History of the US" by Howard Zinn and found it biased and preachy - constantly promoting socialism and anti-capitalist view points. It spoke very little to the actual historical events and instead used them only as a platform to make a point.
With "PHotUS" I thought it did a fairly decent job of keeping to the historical record of events and attempted to stick with the facts. I know at times it would be hard to not go into detail with motivations or even political bias (especially when dealing with presidents); however I think that it was at least fair and balanced.
"PHotUS" was able to cover everything from America's involvement with world wars/conflicts and also the early expansion of America, basically Manifest Destiny. It also provided great insight into our nation's founders, leaders, and influential citizens that brought about innovation, advancement, and change (for better or worse).
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the events that have shaped the United States of America into one of the greatest societies in our modern age.
Pros: a comprehensive read of our country's history and heritage.
Cons: when writing about presidents, it's hard not to cover their activities without some type of political bias.
Bottom line: highly recommended read for anyone looking to get a refresher of our history and to also get a better understanding of what has happened 'then' that has gotten us to 'now'.
The left sided political bias was a bit disappointing. When I picked up "People's History.." I was hoping for a comprehensive telling of America's history. Instead Zinn highlighted all of the political motivations for certain events in American history. He implied that every war was fought to protect the wealthy or protect/exploit international people and resources.
It became tiresome to have Zinn constantly bash capitalism and promote socialism throughout the entire book.
I thought the ending was self indulgent and preachy. Zinn basically encouraged everyone in the middle class to "revolt" and turn on the wealthy so that the top "1%" of the country is forced to share the 30%-40% of the nations wealth with everyone.
For being a historian, I'm surprised that Zinn has not taken into account that the countries exercising socialism and communism haven't exactly been too successful.
Zinn also pointed out that he was regretful that he was unable to include the gay rights movement. I have to admit, I was not sad he left it out because I was under the impression this was a "People's History of the United States" and not a "People's Political Movements of the United States." I just wish Zinn would've stuck to the facts and not political leanings and assumptions.
Yes - there were terrible editing mistakes and changes in volume. The producer did not do a good job and it seems like nobody bothered to listen to a final cut. There were even times were you could hear an engineer or someone talking to the narrator. Plus there were times where the narrator would read lines with sarcasm or smugness.
There were no "characters" aside from people groups.
A more appropriate title would've been "A People's History of the (Political Platforms) of the United States." At least Zinn was honest in telling the reader upfront that this history would be told through the eyes and stories of Native Americans, African slaves, oppressed women, and the less fortunate. I was actually looking for a decent, comprehensive overview of American History when I came across this book so I thought this would be a good read.
With that being said, I liken this book to a time share pitch. When you sign up for a time share, you're at first eager to go and get the free overnight stay, sometimes in a city you'd like to visit, along with maybe some free food and/or take home gifts. Then once you're actually sitting through the time share pitch you're ready for it to be over with and be on your way home - even questioning why you thought it was a good idea to start with. But when you sign up, you know what you're signing up for, even for small trade-offs and Zinn made it clear in the beginning that he was going to tell American history from a biased, minority perspective of our country's history.
I couldn't wait to be done with this book. It was negative, depressing, and removed every stitch of national pride. I was captivated with stories of how European settlers drove the Indians off the land and we all know the brutal history of slavery in the US, but when Zinn started bashing capitalism every chance he got and condemned every US President I grew pretty weary.
I was also hoping to hear more about the US involvement in every major war from a fighting/action standpoint, yet Zinn was able to turn that into a platform of the US fighting every war to 1) Protect the wealthy 2) Push an agenda 3) Oppress US/international citizens and 4) Exploit international resources. So needless to say, there were not many details in what America's involvement was unless it had to do with money or power.
By the end of this book I was exhausted by Zinn's pro-socialism/anti-capitalism stance. To demonize capitalism is like biting the hand that feeds you. I'm positive that if the country was founded on anything except capitalism, then I'm sure the US would not have risen to being a world power. And I'm not an expert in economy or even a political scientist, but I'm pretty sure other countries have tried out communism and socialism which hasn't worked out so well. Last time I checked people were not pouring into China, North Korea, and Russia by the thousands to take advantage of those country's welfare systems.
I also grew very tired of hearing about the "1%". I think it's certainly become more of a buzzword after this book was published, and certainly since 2010, but Zinn was constantly reminding the reader that the top 1% held 30%-40% of the wealth at that time, or the 1% this and that. If I wanted to read about the 1% and how people think that wealth should be redistributed among the people then I'd read a political science or economics/social science book. I'm reading a history book to get some history of our country, and not to be convinced that rich people are evil and conniving. I should've been tipped off when Zinn made the comment that "competition and conniving" were trademarks of capitalism.
Pros: a few nuggets of history that may not be covered in main stream texts.
Cons: Zinn's preaching of socialism and need for redistribution of wealth.
Bottom line: probably more of a political book than historical, in my opinion.
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