Nearly all of us eat fast food, but it took Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation for us to learn what it means in American Society. Reefer Madness is similar, looking at ways in which our society has gotten far off track. I thought the black market was a problem for post-Soviet Russia. Through insightful investigative journalism, Schlosser shows the problem exists -- and thrives -- right here at home. His essays exposing the vast reach of the underground economy read like novels, with engaging characters, as he exposes some basic, ugly truths at the core of our society that have not received the attention they deserve. Schlosser holds a mirror that helps us see our culture more clearly, warts and all.
This book presents the combined issues of the explosive growth of the middle class in countries like China and India, the exponential effect of that growth on energy consumption, and the effect of that consumption on the natural world. The well documented facts are presented without hyperbole but without sugar coating. This combined story is one that has not been told elsewhere. Friedman is a master journalist and has uncovered the most important story of the century. I also find Friedman fun to listen to -- he uses language wonderfully, and melds facts, stories, and analysis in a way that makes you want to listen and learn.
This is a great story, for its own sake, and for what it teaches us about struggles with nature, with others, and with ourselves. It is not heavy in tone -- just a story -- but it is deep with insight and adventure. This is my best read of the year.
I liked all the previous books in the series, but this one? zzzzzzzzz. Card was able to stretch this short story into a great novel and great series, but this one was a stretch too far.
While not really a history of everything, Bryson covers a huge amount of ground in explaining the history of science across all disciplines. I have no formal science education, but feel a whole lot better informed after listening to this book. Bryson is always readable, and his explanations always include the often humorous human stories accompanying scientific discoveries and theories. This was one of the most informative books I have ever read, but never got boring.
I read this because I like to read what my kids read, and didn't expect to like it. For the 1st quarter, I was too distracted by the feeling that this borrowed too much from Lord of the Rings and several other fantasy series. However, the book developed good characters on its own, and told a good story. I look forward to the sequel on audiobooks
This is a perfect application for audiobooks -- a history of classical music along with samples from the works of the composers discussed. I was afraid I would be bored, but was informed and entertained start to finish. This is a very basic overview -- appropriate for children or adults with minimal background in classical music. It gave me a very good context for the music, both in time, geographically, and stylistically. One criticism: the sound quality of the music was not great.
While the audio could have been better, the book was very good. It tells a fun, fantastic story, and allows us to think about the true meaning of civility and character.
Friedman makes globalization understandable and accessible. I used to think globalization was something I opposed. Friedman makes clear that this makes no more sense than opposing gravity, that globalization is here, like it or not, and that we all had better understand it, try to influence it, and try to ride its forces in as positive a direction as possible. He creates an easy to follow framework for understanding the modern world economy, and illustrates it with stories that make the book enjoyable and clear.
I probably can't review this book fairly, because I liked "Its Not About the Bike" so much, and this sequel lacks the shock and intensity of the earlier book. However, the book adds the perspective of one who has gone on with his life after cancer, and the lessons learned from being a survivor. It is a good read, with a good lesson for all of us, not just cancer surviving world champions.
Investigative journalism in recent times has tended to focus on political scandal -- perhaps that is the legacy of Watergate. Schlosser is a great investigative journalist, identifying a story that is central to our lives, but about which we know next to nothing. The revelations about what has happended to our meat industry are fascinating and disturbing. They caused one of my children to become a vegetarian.
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