Jared Diamond is patient with the non-academic reader. He presents his intriguing ideas in story form with a minimum of statistics and dry facts. He shares his insights from a long career of living among primitive people in several areas -- mostly Papua New Guinea. He tells about the similarities and differences of their lives compared to ours. Then he asks, "Could they have been onto something that we could revisit in our own lives?" It is a good question and one that stays with the reader long after the book is finished.
One example: in primitive groups, children spend a lot of time in age-mixed groups which allows the younger kids to learn from the older ones and the older ones to feel pride and accomplishment when they teach the younger ones. In our culture, children are separated into age-specific groups and taught together by an adult. The age segregation continues outside school in team sports and play dates. With small families, some children do not have experience with children of other ages -- often until they become parents themselves. As I was reading this, my 10-year-old grandson was playing with his 1-year-old cousin, showing her new ways to play with her "baby" toys. She was delighted with his attention and soon turned her push-car upside down as he had done, spinning the wheels with her hands. Later, the 10-year-old went to a museum with his 20-year-old cousin to see dinosaurs. The 20-year-old grew up in this town and had visited the museum many times, so he was an expert in the eyes of the 10-year-old and he seemed to enjoy the adulation.
This book made me think about the "advances" we have made in our culture and question it. Most of it has been good (sanitation, public health, medical care) but some of the old ways have merit and deserve examination. After all, they were in practice until "just yesterday" and helped us survive and evolve to what we are today.
The only things I knew about Ann Morrow Lindberg were that she was the wife of the guy who first flew across the Atlantic Ocean and that their first baby was kidnapped and murdered. Even without those two events, Ann Morrow Lindberg would have been worth a book. Her story, and her observations about her own life, are timeless and give encouragement and counsel to women of all ages. The narrator is wonderful. It seemed a little slow at first, but I think that is a reflection of the times. Soon the listeners feel that they are present in the 1930s and are listening to Ann tell her own story. I recommended this for our book club, along with Ann's own book, A Gift From the Sea.
Yes. Harold is such a guarded, proper Englishman whose only coping skill was to "stay calm and carry on" when tragedy hit earlier in life. Now that he is retired, there is not much "carrying on" to do and he has to deal with the memories. He does this in a very bizarre way, but it all makes sense as the book goes on. The narrator is excellent and although the book drags a bit at the end, it is a very nice little story and you will think about it long after it's over.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Harold's meeting with the blue-eyed businessman at the train station.
Maybe. It was an informative look at the CIA, but not tole in a very interesting way. The facts were all there, but the entertainment quotient was lacking.
I was disappointed mostly in the editing. There were strange gaps in the performance that were very distracting. They happened in the middle of paragraphs and made the listener stop and wonder if the CD player had stopped or if it was time to change the disc. But then the performance started up again. The reader was not easily listened to -- it took some effort sometimes.
Disappointment. I had read Anthony Bourdain's books and several other memoirs of chefs, so was measuring this against them. This was a totally different type of book. I learned a lot, but did not really enjoy it.
Sorry Amy, but you're not David Sedaris. I love everything he has done, and this was slightly amusing, but I quit after one disc. It would have made a good short essay, but not a whole book. The material was repetitive and the timing was off, even though it was the author reading it. She seems like a nice enough woman, but this just didn't keep my attention or keep me laughing.
My fault. I wasn't paying attention. I just saw "unabridged" and the price ($14.98) and thought it would be more than one hour and 15 minutes. And this was to download it onto my OWN CDs. I feel ripped off, but have learned a $14.98 lesson.
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