I had long heard of this book, it is oft cited and praised in other scientific works for the lay man. Because of all this notoriety, I had high expectations when I began listening. I was not disappointed at all, it managed to exceed my expectations. I finished listening 20 min ago, and as I write this, I am still riding an emotional high that comes from increased insight and understanding. I cannot recommend it highly enough, there is more to be had here than (perhaps) any other book I have ever read.
This book is full of tidbits. Lots of short stories, easy reading with good humor. It is not a bad book, but it is not a good one either. There isn't anything linking this book together. The chapters could be read randomly and the listener wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Chapter titles are things like 'Supreme Court firsts' and 'Customs and traditions of the Court'. These are topics that really could be interesting, but somewhere along the way they just turn into a really long list. The anecdotes here would certainly be found in a good book on the history of the supreme court, but this book is not it.
Pope Benedict's resignation sparked my interest on this topic, and I got this book to help me understand what internal challenges the Catholic church is facing. It did give me a better feel for some of the personalities; my sympathy for Pope Benedict has been augmented. I did not feel, however, that any of the information was 'behind the scenes'. I felt like most of the book was less about the Vatican and more about reporting on the Catholic church. It's something of a Vatican journalist's travelogue in places. On the plus side, I felt like the author was not looking to excoriate or embarrass, and is probably even a little sympathetic to the church. In the end I am slightly less cynical about the power structure in Rome.
As a huge Jared Diamond fan I had probably unconsciously made my mind up about this book before I read a single page. It is an older book, and that was particularly irksome to me at several points when I thought to myself "I could have learned and known all this in 1992". If you have read other works by Jared Diamond there is some overlap. The beginnings of 'Guns germs and steel" as well as 'Collapse' are here. Those ideas each get about a chapter and a half toward the end. For some that may be repetitive, but there is plenty not covered in his other other books, such as the genetics of aging and mate selection. The narration is great, nothing to distract from the book itself. Bottom line if you like Jared Diamond you won't be disappointed.
This is one of the best books I've listened to. I love when the author reads his/her own work as in this case. The sentences always flow better than with another narrator. I thought this book was fluid and compounding. I feel like I understand my own opinions better. At least once I realized the reasons I justified an opinion were not the reasons I held the opinion in the first place. Maybe that is the danger with reading books. It is certainly a danger while reading this one.
I typically think of myself as a right winger on fiscal issues. Taxes and government should as small as possible etc. I am surprised therefore to find myself really liking this book. I read it because I was so impressed with his other book (justice) I felt I needed to follow it up. I'm glad I did. I'm still probably a right winger but my thinking now comes with some caveat and nuance.
I always get to these books late and after much fanfare. Often my expectations reach too high and I am left disappointed. Not so in this case. Like all great books I want more when finished than before I started. More histories and biographies of these men, and women,and thier time. I did not notice the narration, which I feel is the highest praise I can give to a narrator. It seemed no different than reading. With a book as long as this one is I may not have ever read it, but listening to it turned otherwise tedious and menial tasks into a pleasure.
I have always enjoyed stories of ancient Rome, and especially the story of Hannibal. This book gave me a new perspective on that familiar history. Kluth's account was true to the history, but still felt entirely original. The book is littered with biographies of disperse and seemingly unrelated figures in history that are used to accentuate specific philosophical points. I will no longer be able to think of Hannibal or Scipio or Fabius without also thinking of Kipling's 'If'.
I enjoyed the story line of this book, even though I don't inhabit the same world the characters do. Parts of the story are enlightening and/or emotional, but I didn't really get into it. However, the appendix is fantastic. I didn't feel like the author attacked God or religion, but did attack some of the arguments put forward to claim his (hers?, its?) existence. This was eye opening to me and focused many scattered thoughts I have long had. The 36 arguments and thier refutations are all short and sweet (there will be plenty more to say by all parties), but the agnostic apologetics are good for the novice.
It is sometimes hard to have hope for the future. I hear about new and horrible websites, terrible atrocities, lives of crime, heartbreak, death and despair. It is easy for me to slip into a malaise thinking that there is nothing to keep the world from going to hell. This book gave me an emotional lift. It's strange because the author doesn't play to pathos; the arguments are detached and analytic. Nor does he suggest any mystical or supernatural intervention guiding the process. People have good reasons to be tolerant and peaceful, if not straight up kind. Instead of hoping inspite of the world, I now feel that there are good reasons to hope for and with it.
Many insights into the characteristics of technology. Mr. Kelly does a superb job of depicting technology as it's own beast, of having it's own direction. His comparisons of similiar independent inventions and parallels with biological convergent evolution were fascinating. I read this book shortly after reading Nonzero, by Robert Wright, and I felt like the two books were lines exploring the same phenomenon from different angles. The narration was a little strange, it didn't really distract from the ideas in the book, though I think I would have liked it more in print version, or even if the author had read it himself.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.