This book does not live up to the standard Schlosser set in Fast Food Nation, which I read last year. Made up of three essays, one on Marijuana one on illegal immigrant labor, and one on the porn industry. The premise of the book is that Schlosser will describe the underground economy of which these three topics play a major role. But the essays actually tell nothing about economics and right away get into political topics on which Schlosser is not at all shy in stating is own preference. In each topic, Schlosser actually use one or two case studies, but the overall point of these case studies is not at all clear.
By far, the most interesting topic is the porn industry, if only because this topic is just not covered much. Rather than an economic study, it should be relabeled a history of the porn industry. Even here, though, the material is not really a complete history, but rather a couple cases that Schlosser has followed up on, and the central topic is the government's war against porn producers. Schlosser's own reading is also uninspiring, but I think that is really just a result of material that is neither academically rigorous nor exciting or relevant as investigative reporting (which is what Schlosser is really aiming at).
Ms. Atkinson's writing is silky smooth constantly going down little lanes full of character details. I was totally drawn in to this book which is full of tension. The biggest tension is between the smooth, slow pace of the sentences and the feeling something big is just around the corner. When that big thing comes, it really isn't as big as the details of the characters' lives. For some readers, this is a let down; for me, this is an honest approach, very grounded, very real. I can't wait for more of Kate's voice.
While I am not nuts over self improvement books, time management is something that does interest me. Allen has gotten a lot of hype going on around this book. That kind of turned me off, and all the people on Amazon.com writing how this book changed their lives also made me hesitate. I gave in after all, and cannot say I was disappointed was just as bad as I thought it would be.
For me, the best book on time management is Covey's book The Seven Habits of HIghly Effective People. What that book had and Allen's does not is just how to use larger strategic orientation in order to make decisions about what exactly is actionable and not, what needs to go into a To Do list, etc. Allen spends almost all the book telling the reader to go buy folders and filing cabinets. As is normal for current business books, the author must mention how great he is and all the consulting he has done.
This bothered me in a big way because of all the stories Allen told of "High Level" managers he had helped. It seemed they did not quite understand such concepts as putting projects into folders, rather then the floor, and of making schedules! WOW, that is the state of American management--they need to hire someone like Allen to tell them how to buy folders! On the other hand, if this book could be cut down to about 20 pages, the system of thoughts, lists, actions, and projects is useful. The program ThinkingRock seems to do all this very well.
GREAT, GREAT, GREAT. This book follows on to Pattern Recognition, and while it is not a direct sequel, it shares the same future (present?). Gibson has captured perfectly the future, which happens to be today. The narrative reads just like a science fiction thriller, but the science fiction devices are all things from our current world. Most importantly, everything is touched by marketing. This, of course, is why I love Gibson's recent work so much. The flavor is like PKD, there is a lot of cynicism here, with a much more consistent style. Gibson's big advantage is that he takes marketing as a key part of who everyone interprets the reality around them. Not a critical analysis of it, but a reality check--the future has arrived, and it is all about consumption.
I especially loved the dead-pan delivery of Robertson Dean, which captures Gibson prose very well.
This is the story of Dr. John Snow and the development of modern epidemiology and germ theory. As a history of science read, this book is very good. It has lots of drama and reads like a mystery. I did learn about Snows research into anesthesia, something I didn't know about. Most of the book centers around the cholera outbreak in London and Snow's work to counter the generally accepted miasma theory. This is a great book for young researchers to see how prevailing paradigms can be completely wrong, yet generally accepted and even unquestioned.
A very well done history of the fight against bacteria, which led up to the magic bullet of sulfa. I especially liked the fact that Hager is a scientist turned writer rather than a journalist turned nothing. His grasp of science shows throughout the book, and this book has one of the best beginnings I've seen for a history of science book. The detail is amazing and always interesting, mixing large doses of big business, academics, science, and politics.
I'm nearing the conclusion of my mission to read all of Austen's works. Started on the quest by one of my daughters, I've worked by way through to the more known works, or at least the ones that have gotten multiple BBC treatments. Of course, for my daughter, all the stories were new because she had never seen those productions (Taiwan schools keeping kids to busy for anything like that). Persuassion didn't surprise in anyway then, because I knew the story, but listening to this book now, I was surprised by the writing. So many senteneces I just wanted to write down and read again. Nadia May is just perfect in reading this book, as well as the other Austen novels.
A very detailed history of the Mellon family (lots of time spent on the father), but more importantly, this is a description of the rise of American-style capitalism. David Cannadine is a historian with obviously great research skills. This audio book tops 36 hours and I found every minute of it to be interesting. I'm so sick of journalist writing shallow books on topics they only have a passing interest in (and zero research ability beyond talking to someone who just so happens to want to sell something). Prof. Cannadine says the book was more than ten years in the making--I just wish we had more quality business history like this.
A good introduction to Google, which tends to be hard to get information about. Most of the book focuses on the two founders, Brin and Page. The business info is not really deep and overall, the authors praise the Google founders to no end. I guess there is just not enough time to get perspective on the company nor to see the social/market context, but hay, it is an up-to-date kind of thing.
Not the best at characterization Bova here does at least have good science. The bad guys are really bad and the good really good and the story a bit weak, but I liked it any way (I've run into my share of bad guys who are really bad to buy into the story). The first book was the strongest, with the other two books spending way too much time reviewing what happened previously (there should be a law against that).
I liked Vidal's book The Golden Age enough to try some of his history. This book is recent and seems built up from the extensive work he has done on the early Republic and its leaders. Again, Vidal makes nearly every other sentence cynical or ironic, or smartalecky. At first this put me off, but after a few chapter I got used to it. There is not really much here I didn't already know, as this book is kind of an introduction to the founding fathers (centering on Washington, Madison, and Jefferson). It is clear that Vidal stands in awe of these figures, even as he exposes their very human failings and contradictions. Hamilton gets a lot of coverage (mostly in his role as a British spy), and this has gotten my interest enough to consider looking into a book just on this topic. Vidal on the one hand makes clear Hamilton's founding of the American economy, but of course to Vidal this is not such a good thing.
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