Former Vice President Al Gore has done an important public service by consolidating many of the major issues and trends facing this country and the planet into one utterly depressing, but necessary, fact-based book. Even if you are very well-informed and know something about each of the issues in this book, you will probably learn something you didn't know. I enjoyed his putting issues in historical context and demonstrating, not only his technical knowledge, but also his philosophical perspective. Not so much a call to action, it is a call to sanity.
If I were to create a list of the top 10 most important books I've ever read, this would be one of them, because the story is so profound and did so much to raise my consciousness about the type of medical treatment, if you can call it that, and medical exploitation many Black people have experienced in this country during our history. At the same time, this is about an important discovery in medical history that continues to impact all of us every day. The author does this while weaving into the medical history human stories that will tug at your heart and make vivid the ethical issues at stake. On a personal note, one of my daughters got the same rare kind of cancer that Henrietta Lacks had, and this story showed me how aggressive and horrendous that cancer might have been if it had not been treated properly and early.
The basic story of the this classic novel is a fun fantasy period piece and I would have enjoyed it very much, except that the plentiful sex scenes are so graphic, with borderline S&M, that I didn't enjoy it. A lot of people seem to have enjoyed that, but I didn't. I wish I had read the paper version instead, so that I could skip the parts I didn't want to read.
Also, if you're reading this book hoping that it will come to some satisfying resolution in the end, remember it is the beginning of a series, and it doesn't do that.
Miraculously, I have made it through chapter 4 of this book, but I can't continue listening. I keep waiting for something to happen, and it never does. The narrator's treatment of women's voices is irritating beyond belief, which is unfortunate, because the main character is female. They sound like breathless squeaky children who always finish each line with an upward inflection, which grates on my nerves. So far, I haven't found a single character interesting enough to care about. Too bad. So many people have enjoyed this book. Maybe you have to be British to get the so-called subtle "humor" that is supposed to be in this story. It reminds me of a mindless sitcom with jokes that aren't funny.
This book is hard to "put down," with lots of inside information and insights into how the Obama administration functions and how the President thinks, as well as an intelligent recap of facts a well-informed reader probably already knows, but it's an interesting refresher to see it organized in one place.
Marcus Samuelsson's memoir is a fascinating look into the behind-the-scenes strategies, politics and practices of kitchens in fine dining restaurants, as well as an honest, endearing (without being sentimental), and revealing memoir about the career and life of this famous multicultural chef.
If you're interested in Colonial America, the Founding Fathers, etc., you may learn something from this book about Jefferson's tastes in food and where he sourced his farms. Unfortunately, the author spends more time giving historical context, much of which can be found in any other book about Jefferson, and less about food, much less crème brulee, and not enough information about James Hemings. Still, it is a fun read with an excellent narrator.
Since the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a television show, it's fun to hear this book with the real Marlboro Man in mind. If you've ever found the love of your life, this book will remind you of what it was like. If you just love a fun chick lit book, this is definitely one. I can't imagine anyone else reading it.
I have enjoyed previous books by David Maraniss, but in this one, he tells us way too much about the lives of people who were layer upon layer distant from President Obama. He presents a lot of raw material for future historians, but as a read, I found it occasionally tedious. In between stories about the politcal and marital relationships of Barack Obama senior, however, we do learn a lot about the early life of the President, and I found the descriptions of Stanley Ann Dunham very interesting, since she had a much greater impact on her son than his father did. The window into the developmental life of the young Obama and his journey toward finding his own identity make this book well worth listening to, all the same. If for no other reason than to utterly debunk the insane claims of fear mongerers about the President, this book is an important addition to history.
Chris Hayes, editor at large of The Nation, and host of his own show on MSNBC, identifies some serious issues, and makes a sound case for them, without offering serious solutions, though giving a problem a name is the beginning of a discussion about possible solutions. His primary point is that our nation has come to be based on meritocracy rather than inherited aristocracy, i.e., being able to rise competitively from whatever class we are born into to elite status by being identified as exceptionally intelligent and having access to elite education at exclusive schools or being so successful in business as to accumulate exceptional wealth, but those considered elite do not always act competently or in the best interests of society. Being smart or a good businessperson is not necessarily accompanied by good character, good citizenship, or good judgment.
Further, the privilege of elite status has not come with accountability for performance commensurate with that status, and therefore extreme failures by the elites are not corrected and are in fact perpetuated, compounded, or even rewarded. Elites depend upon other elite "experts" for guidance about major issues, and their life experience becomes so far removed from that of those affected by their decisions that they make decisions they might not make if they or their loved ones had to experience the consequences themselves. His excellent examples range from the White House to the world of sports. As for a solution, he points to the Occupy movement. This is unsatisfactory [imho], since the Occupy movement lacked leadership sufficient to press its causes politically, but his point is really that a revolutionary way of viewing and exercising power and merit in our society is needed, short of revolution in the streets.
Hayes narrates his own book, and even though his voice is not sonorous, it is easy to listen to, and his emphasis adds to the meaning of his points. In general a good "read."
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