Crawford touches on a number of deeply interesting topics. If you’ve given them any thought before then this book will be an instant favorite. If you’ve never given any of these topics any deeper thought, you’ll think the book is pointless and repetitive. It’s not a meandering philosophy book like “Zen and the Art of Motorcycling Maintenance” but if you liked that book, you’ll love this one too. It is not a light-minded biker trope either so if OC Choppers is what you’re looking for, this isn’t it.
Essentially the book is about how dependent the modern consumer society is without being preachy or self-righteous. The details of this dependency are how disconnected we are from the products we use, how the concentration of power causes this disconnectedness regardless of whether that power is concentrated in government or corporations, and the role of a college education in training us to be dependent and easily led.
He contrasts how early motorcycles required extensive hands on operation such as manual oiling, kick starts, and the like whereas a modern Mercedes doesn’t even have a dipstick. Our alienation from the products we use every day and the sense that we don’t completely own our “own stuff” anymore since we are dependent on the dealership to diagnose the onboard computer. This, as opposed to being able to open the hood, and readily see the engine and its various components just a few years ago.
All of this and he manages to not get overtly political or to bore us with possible policy changes to “correct” the wrongs he cites. But he does deal with some larger ideas that most people are ignorant of so it is probably a better book for an engineer or maybe the shop owner than the guy who’s interest in the world doesn’t extend beyond the fender wells.
The author makes some powerful observations and in the abstract is spot on. I could only give the book three stars however due to the book's extremely subjective nature. He takes his many good points and then muddies the water badly with his personal narrative on one political party, global warming, et cetera.
A better book to get one started on this overall topic would be Shop Class as Soulcraft by Michael Crawford. It's non-political and makes more objective points as to how culture has changed under the influence of technology and easy credit.
Negative reviews tend to give more info than positive reviews so I bought this with some reservation due to some of the seemingly reasonable negative reviews.
However, they were completely and totally wrong. It's a really cool book. Period.
Some of the scenarios may seem far fetched, but in context to the genre itself, they're not far fetched at all. (Read some ancient history for a fuller context.)
There's some high spots that were okay, but it really rambles too much on side subjects. The zombie scenario is meant to be cute I guess, but it's not as clever as I think he meant it to be.
Pretty decent. The NPR, quasi-left wing views of the protagonist and his wife seem to offset the overall nature of the book. Even the flaws of the main character are constructed to build the story and teach an indirect lesson for end of the world scenarios. Even the fact that it's technically not an end of the world story, but merely a really bad time for humanity seems to make the point of a lesson for a prepared mindset.
Well, not for everyone, but for those who are at least a little disturbed by the disposable culture we now live in, it's a must read. Not as good "Shop Class as Soulcraft" though to be fair, the author isn't trying to write the same book so perhaps it's just different.
Easier to read than Pirsig's "Zen" and definitely more to the point, it belongs on the same as shelf as these two books as well Richard Sennett, David Pye et al.
It's not a substitute for the stoics themselves, nor other well known figures who have used their obstacles as footholds, but if a person is young or otherwise not well read in such areas, this could be a good introduction. (I skipped the epilogue with the other author who's name I don't remember. He's a self-help guy, kind of smarmy and fake, but don't let that dissuade the would-be reader.)
I confess that I thought the author might just be trying to ride on Gary Taubes' coat tails, and was a little skeptical, but she covered a lot of details that Taubes didn't and really delved into some of the more interesting facts behind the political wrangling over the various kinds of oils, etc.
It's a must read for anyone that is truly interested in the facts and detailed history of how the current public health situation became so badly disorientated.
A quick scan of the reviews that I've done will show that I'm not one to slam a book just for the sake of it, even if I don't like a book, I try to give it the due it deserves.
But this was just really bad. The narrator spoke for an hour and a half and still hadn't said anything substantial as the author was obviously trying to inspire instead of inform. There was some vague cancer statistics thrown out and a study or two mentioned and how great the study was and how respected the researcher was, but no actual facts.
I was left with the feeling that someone was trying to sell me something but didn't want to get into the details for fear of what I might think or misinterpret. Smarmy stories about people using their first names and how great their lives are now that they have this great new and improved product. But I couldn't get any real details about the product he was selling, only the pseudo-inspiring stories about the awesome people who had benefitted from it all.
As a fellow libertarian turning into a curmudgeon as I age, I enjoyed the overall premise but the crudeness of his personality just wears thin.
Good book that manages to show the details of Roosevelt's life without either slipping into hagiography nor the type of historical criticism that can only come from many years of hindsight. (You see some of his warts and such, but they're kept in their proper proportion and context.)
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