This is the story of the rise of China through one journalist's 3000 mile trip down route 321 across the heart of China. Gifford looks into the evolving socialist society with Chinese characteristics as evolves from a very government controlled society as it struggles towards more openness under the fourth generation leadership. The characters Gifford meets along the route paint a hopeful story tainted with tragic remnants of the past that continue to hold on such as the HIV communities swept under the rug and the enforcement of the one child policy.
The Worst Hard times is a story of unbridled ambition such as that of the gold miners of 1849 but much more of a Promethean twist. People seeking their future form the East followed the promise of a better life as a sod buster on the plains. They came in droves, plowed up the ground removing critical native vegetation, and killed off rabbits and other critters they felt threatened them or their crops. The crops failed due to lack of water and lacking infrastructure they were promised leading to mass exoduses. The barren ground gave teeth to the common strong winds leading blinding and choking dust storms that were one of the largest man made tragedies of all time. The will to survive and dogged commitment to stick it out builds a tragic tell as people died from dust phenomena and then when some vegetation did start to grow, locust invasions due to the lack of predators that the sod busters killed off kept the vicious cycle going. A very eye opening cautionary read on how unbridled ambition can lead to tragedy for all.
Attempts to explain the dynamics of politics, religion, and the market via fresh perspectives counter to some other popular authors such as Friedman (The World Is Flat) and Surowiecki (The Wisdom of Crowds). He points out the good theories of both authors but attacks them head on as not representing the true un-flat world with its uneducated masses pulled down to the lowest level by a fear to stand out and buck against the majority. Interesting read.
Interesting read on the life events the culminated to make the intellectual Thomas Sowell the man he is today. His strong conservative principals and unfailing convictions come through loud and clear as he struggles through race issues, academic freedom and other character molding events in his history. It was very interesting to hear the story behind what was going on in his life when some of his books came out.
In this work Gladwell looks at how by exploiting the big bad adversary by making their strength their biggest weakness often the underdog can prevail. He starts with the story of David and Goliath and expands from there to many other examples of the phenomenon. It is a very inspiring read. The only part I took fault with was the discussion of the disadvantage of the small fish in the big pond when talking about the average student at the top tier colleges like Harvard and Brown. Gladwell’s points about the morale of the student being better if they went to a lower rung school and became the big fish in the smaller pond but I feel that over simplifies things since often just having a Harvard or Brown on one’s transcript can open many doors that the lower rung school couldn’t. I don’t disagree with Gladwell’s analysis but felt to ignore the big name school on a transcript impact is a bit one sided. Favorite thought from the books was that courage is not what you have in you from the start, but is earned through embracing a challenge and realizing it is not as bad as it once seemed.
A beautiful read into the life and intellectual struggles of Einstein as he dealt with personal issues and world events. Isaacson truly does a brilliant job of pulling no punches and pulling the reader into the struggles Einstein went through as a Jewish intellectual in Nazi Germany and then the patriotic vigor of pushing the US to invest the time and energy to build the bomb to beat the German's to it and then the moral struggling he dealt with living with the realization that helped in the slaughter of millions of people. One of the best biographies I have ever read.
In this book the author argues that our primal instincts of violence, dominance, spirituality, and propensity to gather into in groups with hatred for all others leads killing of our own species and the drive for war. It is in our genes but the author points our how we can evolve beyond those base impulses to strive for peace.
A very moving story about the brutality of slavery that is credited with leading to the Civil War and emancipation. I struggled with the character of Uncle Tom though. I can see Uncle Tom symbolizing the failing to stand up to oppressors that he has come to be known for, but I also see a man of faith holding on to his pious beliefs struggling to live an honorable life. The author's impassioned call for action in the final chapter for the dismantling of the institution of slavery definitely foretold the pending tide of change that lead to the Civil War.
West builds on the factors discussed in "Race Matters" to show how racial and xenophobic imperialistic influences have built a plutocratic government that threatens our democratic existence on a daily basis in this work. A very easy read to understand but an uncomfortable read at times as it shakes the reader to wake up and see what is going on around him.
Very eye opening read into the lives of the script kiddies and the tech idols who lead the hoard. The complete loss of a since of right and wrong due the the vail of anonymity provided by the web was disturbing.
A look into the spiritual heart of a wold leader. Tutu's full faith I the power of God's love comes through loud in clear in the work that is full of compassion for all including his tormentors.
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