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 - 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.
As for audiobook, maybe top twenty. The story was great, but the performance was a bit off. When the reader did the voice of Flagg he'd get real quiet and it would be hard to hear at times.
Probably one of the more obvious choices: Peter. He was obviously the hero of the story and underwent the classic movie plot where you love the lead, something happens to out the lead in detriment, the climax rises to the lead confronting those that did him in, and eventually coming out on top.
Stephen King wrote Peter in a very good light and made him enjoyable to have as a lead character.
I thought the performance was okay. There wasn't anything that I truly liked about it, but I did dislike his voice as Flagg. When he got real low into a whisper-like tone it made it difficult to hear what was being said.
Not really, but I guess in theory you could since it's only 10 hours. I don't have time to sit and listen to anything for 10 hours straight.
Excellent read - not too lengthy and was a self-contained story, even in Stephen King standards. Had I not known King wrote this story, I wouldn't have necessarily associated with his work. With that being said, I greatly enjoyed his refrain of nudity and cursing. I tend to find these things distracting in his other works.
Overall, I thought King's medieval take on a king's family and fight for the throne was well thought out, well written, and enjoyable. The characters were developed just enough to either love or loathe them and the plot was constructed in a way that made sense and kept the reader engaged.
I also enjoyed having Flagg as a primary character. Being a fan of King's Dark Tower series and also The Stand, it was great having the overlap. Also having the story set in Delain, which is set within the DT series was a nice touch.
My only complaint with the book would have to be how the 'narrator' keeps speaking to the reader. Things like "As I've already told you" or "I could keep going, but it is none of my business to tell" and the like. It was okay in different places, but at times just seemed a bit overkill and awkward.
Pros: Quick read and enjoyable.
Cons: The narrator's dialogue to the reader - could've done with out.
Bottom line: Fans of the DT would enjoy reading this story before The Gunslinger (DT Book I).
Yes - take out the elderly psychic vampires. Lose the vampires, or at least change them and the rest of the book is great.
I was left very pleased with the ending, and without going into details (or spoilers), it was a satisfying ending.
Will Patton did an okay/decent job. I felt like his voice was a bit old for what Danny's voice should've been. I'm guessing he was picked for the narration because he has a scruffy, ragged element to his voice that sounds like a recovering alcoholic; however I thought Danny's voice would've sounded about 20 years younger.
I did not like Patton's dialect for the grandmother. It wasn't very consistent and became distracting. He did the other female voices just fine - light and airy. He also did a good job when switching to the vampires, which is admirable that you can tell the POV just on the tone of his voice.
Yeah, I suppose. Matthew Broderick would probably be a pretty good Dan Torrence. I couldn't get a feel for how the vampires looked - most are all senior citizens, but the leader - Rose, was kinda hard to tell.
I wouldn't say King knocked it out of the park with "Doctor Sleep" but he certainly had a few base runs. I went into DS with high expectations after re-reading "The Shining" and unfortunately my hopes of this sequel slowly slid downhill.
To start of with the things I liked about DS, the first part of the book was riveting and held my attention. King did an excellent job bridging the events and time over from TS into DS. Daniel "Danny" Torrence was well developed and his story kept the reader engaged. I would even be willing to say the first half was very well done as we followed Danny around. It was up to the point where the psychic vampires were introduced where I began to lose interest and groan.
Going into the parts of the book I didn't like, I'll stick with information provided in any synopsis provided and steer clear of spoilers. Just by reading the dust jacket, you'll learn that Danny is contacted by a young girl that is being chased, or rather threatened by psychic vampires. That's right: psychic. vampires. Trust me, it's as lame as it sounds.
This group of psychic vampires also had a mix of X-Men quality super powers like the amazing ability to...wait for it...put people to sleep...hack the internet...sense and locate others. My only suggestion: if you're going to give psychic vampires super powers, why not throw in lasers shooting out of their eyeballs, controlling the weather - heck, even levitation and flying - at least that one would've been plausible when writing about vampires...I suppose. Then again we're talking about psychic vampires. Did I mention they're all senior citizens? That's right - they're old, mind reading vampires that travel the country in RV's sucking the steam out of children who also have psychic abilities...and yes, you read that correct - they suck steam, not blood. This is probably the lamest group of vampires I've ever read. They're even worse than Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan's vampires in "The Strain" trilogy. Anyways, back to DS...
The leader of the pack walks around with a top hat, which I felt was out of place. Maybe it's a nod to the Bram Stocker era of vampires...I don't know. I thought the hat was stupid. King spent time describing a stupid top hat that sat at an odd angle on top of the leader's head which left me just as uninterested as before I knew she was wearing a top hat. If anything I was slightly annoyed because now they character just looked ridiculous. Then again we're talking about elderly, psychic vampires.
Another thing I didn't care for was a (light) twist near the end. I won't go into details and avoid any spoiler, but for some unknown reason I think King tossed it in thinking "They'll never see this coming" which just seemed strange. Maybe I overlooked a subtle point he was trying to make, and if so I apologize for ripping on his twist.
Back to another item I liked about the book - the little girl seeking Danny's help, Abra. As dumb as the name sounds (actually a name deserving of a character walking around in a stupid top hat), the character was excellent. She was likable, well-written, and one of the best parts of the story.
To wrap it up, I'd say the biggest feature of DS was King's plot device of psychic ability. If you read TS, you know that Danny's "shining" was a part of the book and not the full focus. On the flip side, DS exhaustively explores psychosis. If that sparks any interest, then you'll love DS. The best thing about TS for me was the ghosts, which DS was lacking.
I found it extremely interesting, too that King decided to tie TS & DS to his Dark Tower series. I didn't know that going into it, and as any King or DT fan will know, TS has never been directly linked to DT (although assumptions can be drawn in any of his books that they are related in some way). In DS, being a sequel to TS, King lays down a couple of threads that tie it to the DT universe. I thought that was very cool.
Pros: Getting to see how Danny turned our after the events at the Overlook Hotel in TS.
Cons: You probably guessed it - psychic, senior citizen vampires. The book would've been so much better without these characters.
Bottom line: Still a decent read if you've read and enjoyed "The Shining". Even if you hated "The Shining", you still might enjoy "Doctor Sleep" since it's almost a different kind of book. I also greatly appreciated the Dark Tower reference that has now tied both books to the DT universe.
Yes - excellent character development (and degeneration) and in my opinion one of the few titles that earned Stephen King the title of being a "horror writer." The book is a great length, where it never feels too short or too lengthy.
The gradual degradation of Jack Torrence and how the hotel sucked him in.
He did a great Jack Torrence, but not so good on his wife Wendy or Dick. He also did a pretty good job on Danny and Tony.
I'd probably take Dick Holleran since he was probably the most enjoyable, laid back character. I've known people like him growing up.
Probably one of the best works by Stephen King. In my opinion "The Shining" is one of the few books that gave King the title of being a "horror writer". I feel that most of King's books are actually more science fiction than horror; however others may disagree.
Many of the elements from "The Shining" are executed very well, such as the ghouls that haunt the Overlook hotel, Jack Torrence's degeneration, and the general fears that come with being a small child in an unruly family.
King does an excellent job blending the ghost encounters with Jack's reality. I also think the horror pieces such as the ghouls, hedge animals, and gore were done very well. They were done so well, I wish King would gravitate towards them more often rather than focus on sci-fi plot devices such as telepathy and time travel for starters.
"The Shining" is a piece of work that readers can visit time and time again and never get tired of reading. The length is perfect and the characters are consistently developed.
Pros: One of King's best pieces being nothing more than a family trying to survive in a haunted hotel.
Cons: King tended to reach far, far back into the character's life experiences which could have been abbreviated.
Bottom line: Excellent read and chilling.
Probably not...William Hurt is a great actor; however the production of "Hearts In Atlantis" was not good. I've listened to other books read by Stephen King and I felt that his performance of the other short stories was better than that of William Hurt.
Let Stephen King read the whole thing, or do a better production job of William Hurt reading the entire story.
The only story elements I would've changed would be to take the short story "Hearts In Atlantis" and make it third person rather than first person. The first person narrative made it feel more like a college kid's journal rather than a good story.
William Hurt's reading was distracting in many ways:
1. You could hear him breathing.
2. You could hear him breath in through his nose before starting new sections.
3. You could hear him start to run out of steam has he read through lines of sentences and then bumble along the next few words.
4. Sometimes it sound like spit was forming at the corners of his mouth and he'd have to wipe them away to keep reading.
5. He had awkward pauses at random places in the story.
6. It seemed like sometimes he'd have to lick his lips in between reading, which didn't help the story flow very well.
I don't know who to blame on that one, but it was very disappointing.
Um, I'm pretty sure they made a movie out of "Hearts In Atlantis" starring Anthony Hopkins, which was adapted from "Low Men In Yellow Coats."
Overall, I thought “Hearts In Atlantis” was okay. Being a collection of short-stories, it is easy to pick the ones that I liked and the ones that I didn’t. I did not grow in the sixties or Vietnam-era, so I think much of the ‘haunting, political’ aspects were lost on me. For example, two of the short stories deal directly with guys who came back from Vietnam and another short story deals with kids in college right as the Vietnam War was getting started. I probably would’ve appreciated much of the elements King played to in these short stories had I grown up in the 1960s.
Rather than give “Hearts In Atlantis” and overall rating, I’d rather treat each story on it’s own merits:
“Low Men In Yellow Coats” – excellent story! The characters were layered very well and the dialogue was great. Ted Brautigan was an interesting and original character that was fun to read about and enjoyable. The interactions between Ted and the story’s main character – Bobby Garfield – was incredibly structured, thought-out, and had a nice pace to it. Nothing seemed forced or unnatural between the two of them, which could be tricky when writing about the relationship between a boy and an old man without it coming off as being creepy. This was an excellent story and worth reading again.
“Hearts In Atlantis” – way too long and undeserving of carrying the book’s title. This short story was nothing more than reading a college kid’s journal, and not even the cool kid. This was the kid that retreated to his dorm room to play games with his small circle of friends. Maybe King was writing more from personal experience on this one, but I was bored getting through this story. Maybe it was the first person perspective telling the story, or just too long – either way I wasn’t a fan.
“Blind Willie” – this story was a bit confusing to get into since the character’s blindness comes and goes. All of the multiple personalities was a bit difficult to keep up with as well.
“Why We’re In Vietnam” – this story was lost on me as well, dealing with Vietnam veterans and playing back the war-time events. Even the ghost “mama-san” was a bit strange to me. This story was okay, I guess, but certainly no jewel.
“Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling” – bringing closure to “Low Men In Yellow Coats”, I thought this story ended the book quite nicely. It felt more like an epilogue, so the length and quality of story was nicely done.
I’m a huge fan of the Dark Tower series, so the DT elements were greatly appreciated – especially with “Low Men In Yellow Coats”. I’m glad King dedicated a good piece of DT to this short story without it being distracting, but just enough to hold ones interest.
Pros: Low Men In Yellow Coats is worth the read, even if you don’t finish the whole book, plus any fan to the Dark Tower series will appreciate it.
Cons: The remaining short stories dealing with Vietnam-era ideas, attitudes, and elements did not translate very well to someone who did not grow up at that time.
Bottom Line: The good thing about short story collections is that you can easily pick and choose which stories you’d like to re-read and skip over the less interesting ones.
Yes - only because reading a book like this may bring on napping whereas listening to this book on the road made it easy to follow.
Probably "The Wisdom of Psychopaths" by Kevin Dutton. Raine's "Anatomy of Violence" was clearly more exhaustive; however "Wisdom of Psychopaths" was an easier read. Both books do an excellent job reviewing psychopathy and disorders in the brain.
He was the narrator and did not perform any characters.
Yes - Raine provided a case where a large African American man broke into a young Caucasian woman's apartment and brutally raped her repeatedly, beat her to a pulp, and then slit her throat. It was extremely graphic and made me feel dirty; however the questions posed by the case and the points Raine was trying to make really stuck with me.
Excellent and exhaustive look at the neuroscience of violence! Raine did an incredible job compiling his research, along with others in the field, and presenting it in a reasonable and topical format.
"The Anatomy of Violence" spends a majority of the time examining aspects and structures of the brain that are correlated with violence; however Raine takes it a step further to examine the heart, sweat glands, and other minor organs of offenders to look for correlations and patterns.
Raine also spends time looking at socio-economic factors and family influences to finally bridge the gap of the "nature vs. nurture" debate. Most of his examples and case studies were well picked and referenced to illustrate many of his points.
The only low point of the book was when he offers a hypothetical world and society in 2034. I'm not a fan of hypothetical's, but Raine did a great job using the hypothetical "future" to address philosophical and ethical questions to the reader. I've rarely read other non-fiction works that pose questions back to the reader, so I found this very engaging and impressive.
Pros: Comprehensive and organized look at the external and internal forces that produce violence in humans.
Cons: More case studies and criminal interviews would've been nice, but there were no major cons.
Bottom line: Excellent for anyone interested in crime and how alterations in the brain can affect behavior.
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