I've heard this book marketed as the "1984" of the new millennium. Given the subject matter and the important message it seeks to communicate - it well *could* have been, but inexperienced writing and a story that ends far too abruptly will keep it from capturing that title. And I make that statement as someone who regards "1984" as one of my all time favorite books.
While Beck's skill at novel writing has definitely improved since "Overton Window", this story just doesn't quite "make it." There are many repetitive dialog devices used over-and-over again, often times within the same couple of sentences and to my great annoyance. It was to the point of becoming predictable - and that is not a good thing. The main character, which we understand to be a young woman, is rendered to be a bit too immature given her harsh living conditions to be believable. Imagine you took a 17 year old spoiled American mall rat and dumped her in the middle of a dystopian nightmare which, she supposedly grew-up in. Doesn't really work, does it?
The atmospherics of the "compound" and the eco-Nazi lifestyle of the citizens was developed much better than most of the characters, and one can almost see and feel what life would be like living under such conditions. Moreover, because this story is essentially an extrapolated trajectory of the hopes and aspirations of the more extreme elements of the "Green" movement, it provides an additional source of realism and does a decent job of communicating its primary warnings.
The story is very short, which doesn't have to be a bad thing, but in this case I don't feel that it works. Did the authors run out of plot ideas, or are we simply being setup for a serialized story? Whatever the reason, I came away feeling a bit "jipped" - not so much because I needed a neatly packaged closure to the story, but because I felt it failed somehow to deliver that essential existential "kick" that the "1984 of the new millennium" should.
I'd say Agenda 21 is a decent read with a very important and timely message. If you are curious to understand what the real Agenda 21 is and how it could potentially play out into the future, this isn't a half bad introduction and it is at least, entertaining and not dry.
The Amateur is a chilling look at the Machiavellian machinations of the Obama White House which is sure to rankle more than just a few feathers.
While supporters of the President might dismiss Klein's "insider information" on the Obama White House as of questionable credibility, consider that we actually knew very little about the man before he became President. Moreover, in the 4 years since assuming office, I think many would agree that the scenario painted by Klein of life inside the West Wing in many ways explains the often times inexplicable messaging and decisions emanating therefrom.
We knew that Mr. Obama was not terribly qualified to do very much when we elected him, yet most of us undoubtedly expected that he would "grow" into the office as many of his predecessors have (JFK being one good example). In addition, we expect Presidents to surround themselves with knowledgeable people who can guide them. While Mr. Obama did succeed in selecting a number of savvy aides like Rahm Emanuel, the picture we have is one where an inner cadre of distinctly unqualified, selfish, and egotistic individuals have effectively insulated Mr. Obama from the very people who might help him succeed.
Led by Valerie Jarrett and the First Lady, the inner-circle filter machine of Axelrod, Gibbs, et al, cloister the President from his advisers, ensuring a clumsy left-activist agenda that serves neither the interests of the Republic, nor their leader. There never has been, nor is there likely to ever be the type of "triangulation" used to great positive effect by Bill Clinton, in an Obama administration.
For his part, Mr. Obama is rather comfortable with this arrangement, as he has always been loathe to even the most constructive forms of criticism. Indeed, he sees himself as unerringly "correct" in all his views and infallibly capable of carrying out whatever mission he sets out to conquer. This is a man that has had much handed to him in his life, and has exerted precious little effort (beyond his charismatic charms) to achieve what he desires.
What emerges from all this is an arrogant, insulated, and thin-skinned man possessed with the notion that it is his job to reshape the world into his image of fairness, regardless the price paid by the American people and the Republic. Klein observes that Mr. Obama cannot grow into the job, nor is he interested in doing so because after all, he is always right.
Hare created this genre of non-fiction and remains the master all others attempt to imitate. I originally purchased this book in paperback form many years ago, read it 2-3 times, and then lent it to a friend who never returned it. It was worthwhile enough for me to buy the audiobook format.
Hare was responsible for developing the gold standard in the identification of psychopathic personalities. This is a standard currently in-use across the criminal justice system worldwide. The author clearly distinguishes the characteristics of psychopathy, and discusses at length the way these individuals move amongst us in society. This book is objective, non-sensationalized, and presented in a to-the-point and interesting way that is both satisfying and enlightening for the layman. Advice for dealing with potential psychopaths at both the societal/institutional and personal levels are also informatively presented. This isn't your typical black-art psych book - Hare backs his conclusions up with solid research and decades of inventorying verifiable psychopaths from the nation's prison system.
Read it and see if you can pick out the psychopaths in your life.
The story is one virtually every American can relate to: Government is out of control; behaving irresponsibly; and has totally lost touch with the people and the best interests of the nation. What to do?
What follows is a sort of vicariously satisfying fantasy about revenge, and setting it all straight. Most tomes of this genre get a little far fetched and hard to swallow. I felt that Flynn did a solid job of maintaining the right mix of "what if" plausibility with an interesting story. There's plenty of accuracy in the details concerning things like covert surveillance, technology, special ops, etc. - enough to satisfy geek aficionados of Clancy without boring the rest with 200+ pages of excruciating detail.
This may be the only Flynn book I ever read, since he seems fond of "star" characters that reappear over-and-over again in all his novels. This is not one of those (I really hate it when authors do that). I originally got the abridged version of this book since at the time, that's all that was available. For those that may have done the same, get this one - it's worth the credit and delivers a much richer story in the unabridged form.
The narrator did a solid job and was quite listenable. This one will keep you guessing and engaged.
The basic premise of the book is that the American and global economies have largely been the creation of a series of government induced "bubbles", which, due to their unsustainability, are destined to pop, leading to an economic collapse.
Once that very valid point has been made, the authors careen off into lala-land.
For starters, the reader is forced over and over again, to listen to the authors:
A. Tell them how they are sage prophets of our economic future, and how right they were in a previous book which, you probably haven't bought yet, but should so you can see how brilliant they are.
B. Rant about tenured economics professors, and how they are going to show them all up by eventually unveiling their brilliant theory of "economic evolution" in later books, newsletters, and expensive investor services. Buy them so you won't be consumed by the zombie hords!
There are so many problems with this book, its hard to know where to start. I won't cover them all here, but offer a few choice examples.
1. "Numerical models will revolutionize economics and save the world."
Sorry guys. I spent 20 years of my career running numerical models. These are TOOLS not crystal balls. The authors mistakenly claim that by calibrating one of their models to past known events, they can accurately predict the future. THIS IS FALSE. Calibration is only the FIRST step in producing a reliable model. VALIDATION is where the rubber really meets the road. That is, after calibrating your model, you challenge it by running predictive simulations into the future, and then observe (in the future) whether your model was right. Do that a half dozen or more times (tweaking the parameters and metrics along the way) and you may have something that is half-way decent at prediction under a given set of economic (or other scientific) boundary conditions.
If economists want to be less "voodoo" and more "empirical", here's a bit of friendly advice: learn from other scientific disciplines that have been doing this type of thing a lot longer than you have!
2. "When the crash comes, everything will be really, really expensive - except of course FOOD, and we will all continue to become even fatter and lazier."
Uh, really? Do I even need to cover this? Why in the world would food be "cheap" when the costs of energy, equipment, seed, fertilizers, and chemicals will skyrocket?
3. "Marx was wrong, but hey, he deserves a lot of credit for "advancing" economic theory (an A for effort!). He saw that economies "evolve" and that humans can be perfected, he just based his theory on an outdated economic model, other than that, he was teh awesome!"
Yeah, really? Human beings are flawed. Biological evolution is one thing. Human character evolution is something else entirely. Humans have repeated the same cycles of behavior over and over again for millennia. Sorry guys, I don't think we are going to evolve into gods any time soon. And that hat tip to Karl the Killer, didn't up your currency in my book. He was a self-hating Jew who was pissed off at a world he didn't think was fair to him. Kinda like someone else we know...
4. "We won't tell you anything really useful in this book, because we want to sucker you into buying the next (where we won't tell you anything either). But we just want to drop a tantalizing little hint: "targeted stimulus"!!"
Awesome. Now the hat tips to Marx and Keynes make sense. You think these douche nozzles were on the right track, but you're gonna fix it with a few tweaks, eh? (probably with one of those fancy numerical models that haven't been validated, no doubt).
5. "Wegner's theory of Continental Drift was revolutionary. He was scoffed at just like untenured geniuses like us. But Wegner was right, so are we, we are all so smart. Believe everything we say. Buy our crud and make us rich."
Uh, OK, so this is not strictly an economic point of contention, but one of sloppiness. Wegner FYI, was WRONG. The continents do not "drift" - they do not float across the oceans. Wegner got lucky about the coasts looking like they fit together. Wegner was totally wrong about the drivers of continental movement; didn't understand what true continental margins were; didn't get that the oceans themselves are "plates" in and of themselves; and missed the significance of mountain building, earthquakes, and other "tectonic" theory, and how those relate to continental movement, which is far, far from random drift. Like the old saying goes - even a broken clock is right twice a day. So it is for astronomers like Wegner. (Astronomers have historically shown they understand less about planetary geology than your average bus driver)
In the end, the authors start with a kernel of believable truth that most average people already "get" - i.e. that our economy is ready to go "pop". Then use that as a launch pad for selling a bunch of half-a$$ed crud that they will publish in the future. Probably dribs and drabs of nothingness, all the while promising "if you just buy our newsletter, we'll give you the real scoop".
Don't get me wrong; I don't have a lot of love for academic tenured economists either. But using your obvious grudge against these people is not the basis for making the world a better place (see Marx above).
Meh. Save your credits. This is not the book you are looking for.
Oh, the narrator on the other hand, was excellent.
Mosier takes a fresh look at one of America's most enigmatic and influential military leaders. Most historians tend to view Grant as a competent but singularly unremarkable military strategist, who won the war using persistent blunt-force application of superior numbers and resources. Mosier turns these oft-repeated bromides about Grant on their ear, arguing that he was a brilliant strategic thinker who used combined force of arms in coordinated thrusts to topple the Confederacy. That he didn't succeed in doing so much sooner is attributable directly to the political military establishment, and in particular, the Machiavellian machinations of Henry Hallick.
A fascinating "high-level" read about Grant the general. If you're looking for excruciating details on all of the major battles he fought, this isn't the work for you. But if you want to understand Grant's strategy and how it shaped the outcome of the war and the organization of the American military, this is a must read.
Fans of post-apocalytic fiction will not be disappointed with One Second After. The story is engaging and interesting, and rarely dull. Forstchen does an admirable job of illustrating life after technology and the social order have failed. I was particularly interested in his take on the challenges of feeding and meeting the medical needs of even a small population in a geographically isolated area. Overall, I think he does a believable job of projecting how such a scenario would likely play out - calling to mind the fragility of our dependence on grocery stores, automobiles, and electricity. This latter point is something our political leadership should be much more mindful of than they obviously are.
The story falls a bit short in character development in my opinion. Characters are a bit unrealistic, and the main "love interest" thread is down right annoying. You also fail to see the interpersonal conflicts that would undoubtedly arise in one's own family. Overall, I'd say Forstchen has done a good job of realistically portraying the logistical challenges of a collapse, but less so the human element. Although some of the final scenes towards the end did provoke tears, so bravo on that count - it was very moving.
Narration by Joe Barrett was smooth and excellent. Overall, a nice and scary read.
Radical Son is the story of David Horowitz's intellectual journey from "Red Diaper Baby" to bonafide 60's radical, and finally to the well known conservative thinker and activist he is today. I initially expected Radical Son to be more of an opinion-based work - though I'm not exactly sure why, as the name and description do not describe it as such. Indeed, I originally purchased it to use up some credits and put off listening to it for some time. But as I finally began listening, I quickly realized that the purpose of this book was to chart Mr. Horowitz's life beginning as the child of American Communist co-conspirators. This book touches on topics ranging from the philosophy of thought, family, relationships, and politics. It is at times, shocking, and at others, highly emotional. Radical Son is a very difficult book to describe.
Horowitz describes the "differentness" of his upbringing and his thorough indoctrination by devoted Marxist parents, friends, and fellow travelers. Yet Horowitz's keen intellect and principled and sincere humanity continually left him struggling to justify his political goals - a struggle that would only intensify as he grew older.
His inside descriptions of events I recall only from a distance in the 1960's and 1970's, are truly breathtaking. The most pivotal of these were undoubtedly his dealings with Huey Newton and his "family" - events which would ultimately shatter his world and send him in a direction far different than his upbringing would portend. Horowitz chronicles the full court betrayal by longstanding friends in the political left, leaving him ultimately, a man alone.
This is a dynamic and sensitive look at an intelligent and sensitive man, that shows us how the power of critical thinking and the quest for the truth, knows nor follows any particular agenda.
I've always been a big Ann Coulter fan - primarily because of her incisive wit, which she deftly melds with scholarship and an overarching theme. While a respectable work, Demonic fell somewhat short in the scholarship category. Her overall theme, is that the left historically expresses itself in the form of a mob, drawing almost exclusively on the work of Gustave Le Bon. I felt that the cogent points that could be made were fairly well made early on in the book. As the book moves forward from these early chapters, it begins to become less interesting as it continues to rehash topics already adequately covered.
I felt that Demonic started interesting and strong, and finished weak and repetitive. As I listened, I began to think
Yes, especially given the
I think Coulter's analysis of Le Bon's work on the psychology of
Elizabeth White's narration shines in Demonic as it has in her work with previous Coulter works. Indeed, White reads Coulter even better than Coulter! She successfully translates Coulter's feisty and combatively entertaining style, as she transmits her wit.
Thomas Sowell's scholarly expertise does not fail to disappoint in this enlightening book. Far from rendering blanket opinions, Dr. Sowell provides the reader/listener with an exceedingly well-sourced (but not at all dry) account of the origins of so-called "African American culture".
But the best surprise is that this book goes far beyond what the title appears to imply. Sowell provides one of the must elucidating explanations of the seemingly maniacal worldwide hatred of Jews that I have ever heard. He explains the role of the "middleman minority" and how their rational economic behavior often translates into class and ethnic stereotyping and hatred.
This book is a hard one to put down, and despite its scholarly merits, does not lull the reader into unconsciousness. Indeed, Sowell's writing style (the first book of his I've ever read) is crisp, clear, engaging, and always thought provoking. A solid narrative performance is also offered by Hugh Mann.
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