I got this book because I have always been fascinated at people's interpretations to the book of Revelations. This book does a thorough job of detailing the history of the book to the point of it's inclusion in the bible. But what I was looking for was what has happened since then. The description of the book seemed to hint that this would be discussed but sadly it was not. If you looking for an examination of Revelations and some of the early history this will definitely fit the bill.
The reviewer who said it was good but not great got it right. I would like to add to that review. I was looking to get a history of sex and how it was treated through the history of man. The book does a decent job in the beginning of detailing how sexual relations would have played out. However in the second half it goes off the topic of sex and on to a romantic view of the noble savage. There has been much written dispelling the noble savage. This deviation from sex in human society to talk of the noble savage is a detraction for me. I am two thirds of the way through so it may get back on track but for the last two hours it's been a noble savage story.
This book is bound to cause outrage and debate so let me break this down by audience.
Your a progressive;
This book will anger you and tell you the opposite of what you believe. It might as well have been written by the devil. However this is not some trite book, it's full of reasoned arguments and packed with data. The author criticizes both Republicans and Democrats, left and right with very valid points. You need to absorb the authors argument. Once you've done that you will better be able to understand the weaknesses inherent in progressive policies and think about how to mitigate them. Don't take the knee jerk reactionary position just because he is stating things you don't like to hear.
Your a fiscal conservative;
The author will mostly tell you what you want to here. But there are valid criticisms of Republican policies over the last couple of decades that you need to understand. There is also a weakness in his argument that the banks did nothing wrong in the financial crisis. Banks did drink their own cool aid and succumbed to a herd mentality. The author also doesn't parse out opportunity inequality from financial inequality. This needs to be explored for any real conversation about inequality.
Your not interested in politics or finance (the majority);
This audience will be the hardest for this book but it's the most important. Monetary and fiscal policy is being set by one of the above two groups at any given time. The financial system is the most important system in society, second to none. Without a well functioning financial system you can not own a home, get a degree, or simply buy stuff at the grocery store instead of carrying around a bag of gold at all times. This book will be difficult to read because it is packed with the language and information of the financial world. But in a democracy it is your responsibility to understand the material so that you can make an informed choice. The vast majority of news you read about the economy is crap because the real economy is a complicated beast that can't be coined in a sound bite. This book is the opposite of a sound bite (despite the title). If you can digest it without falling completely asleep or into a coma you will have gained a great insight how credit and credit risk in the economy functions. You will become a better voter.
This book does an excellent job of walking through the war on terror since 9/11. For those who want to remember all the events and the sequence they played out in this is a good book. It's weakness, which has been mentioned by a couple of reviewers, is that it is not an intensive analysis of the events and players involved over that time. I don't think that was the intention of the book though. The author is a reporter who spent a lot of time in the regions and on the issues. He even had the chance to interview Bin Laden before 9/11. Definitely worth a read to remind yourself of the events that occurred over this last decade.
I always thought Dianetics and Scientology were a bit loopy, but before I criticize something I make a point of understanding it first. I chose to listen to Dianetics on audible instead of reading it because of the length. I am about half way through and I can't take it any more. There is a lot of nonsense talk and the word engram is used so often I swear some one gets a commission each time it's read. The basic premise is that there are two minds in each person, the analytical mind and the reactive mind. The analytical mind is rational and makes decisions based on logic. The reactive mind reacts based on fear and aggression, based on past traumatic experiences. This is not rocket science to most people. This is the problem of this book. It takes this simple premise and reiterates it chapter after chapter, paragraph after paragraph, in such a repetitive and boring manner. To keep you excited (asleep really) the author has thrown in lots of gibberish fake science.
Every time I read something I disagree with I at least see something of merit in the authors work, a point of view. I see some reasoned argument for that persons position and I can learn from it. This book is the first time I have walked away understanding nothing. It is clearly trash designed to take your money and provide you with nothing in return. As Orwell said, it is trying to give solidity to pure wind.
I agree with much of what the author of the books says about Christianity, more specifically the Christian right. The book is written as a letter of arguments directed at Christians. The language is as if speaking to some one of the Christian right, but I do not think that audience will pick up this book or even listen past the first few paragraphs. It is more of a list of complaints to a Christian nation. It seems to come of as arrogant and condescending, the very elite language that so many on the right hate. From that perspective the book fails in trying to engage in a conversation with the Christian right, if that’s what its real purpose was. It certainly has excellent arguments against many Christian right political positions, but that’s not what those people will hear. You generally catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and this book is loaded with vinegar. This book is more for a secular person looking to reinforce his or her own position, to clarify their understanding of their own position.
The other problem I had with the book was some of the facts are questionable. For example, the survey that shows more than 50% of Americans believe in creationism. The author harps on this point constantly. I do not believe this is true. I think there was a survey with carefully crafted questions to get at that result for political purposes, who’s I am not sure. I didn’t dislike the book, and I agree with much of what the author says. However let’s be honest in that it’s not a letter to Christians.
I got this because I had seen the movie which I loved. The story is an excellent one that the movie faithfully told. Many scenes in the movie were taken word from word from the book. The book is longer and has a few more scenes and characters in it, some of that is in the negative criticisms found in these reviews. Where the movie finishes off the book does keep going with the Sherriff’s thoughts. If you like the action of the book you will not like the rambling of thoughts that periodically occur. I liked it though as it got to the deep thoughts of the story line, much like Steinbeck’s books would take a chapter to ponder the greater picture over the story line.
If your a fan of Steinbeck, or you like "The Road" or even Eastwood's "Unforgiven" western you will like this. It also shares the moral ambiguity of Tony Morrison's stories. This story is about two types of people, regular or good people who seek comfort and the law, and others who are bound by no moral code. There is a problem when a person crosses over that moral line, you can't cross back. What's done will stick with you till your dying days. In an area that is no place for "old men" as the title implies. There is a lot to think about in this story, to chew on as they say.
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