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.
The title of this book is provocative and in your face, and just it was supposed to do - it drew my attention. I did not feel, however, that the book itself was all that confrontational. Whatever your persuasion, the author's overview of the apocalyptic fervor in Palastine, particularly Galilee, is helpful for understanding the time period. His account of the life of Jesus is well written, but familiar to most secularists I imagine, but the history of Christianity after the death of Christ and before the destruction of Jerusalem was not something I had heard before and I enjoyed it immensely. This book is probably best described as an overview of the politics of Palastine before, during, and after the life of Christ, and how those interactions influenced Christianity.
I always prefer to have authors read their own work. I'm not sure what it adds, but I like it better. Good narration.
I have often heard speakers use humans for inspiration in their attempts to build better A.I. - this is the first time I have heard an author use A.I. as a modus for building a better human. The erudition in this book is staggering, but it is never used boastfully. Instead the ideas get layered one on the other, building an artful and logical thesis. I was particularly inspired by his comparison of chess games to daily conversation; the beginnings and the endings are largely already known, the real chess playing lies in the middle game where the personality of the player comes through. In a conversation the work and the weather are standard openings - how we get away from the standard is where the real conversation starts.
One listen will not do for this book, I imagine I will be coming back to it many times in the years to come, as well as purchasing the hard copy in order to foist it on loved ones.
This book is cynical and cold, and views people as selfish and greedy with little concern for the welfare of others. I hate that I think it's correct. The thesis is straightforward: the size of of a leader's coalition largely determines his/her behavior. The examples in the book are concise and convincing, making the case so plain that I feel a little embarrassed that I had not realized what was going on before. Cold as it is, the authors do not leave us in despair as they close with practical ideas on how to make things better. This is not a reassuring read, but it is one of the most insightful I have read.
The narration went unnoticed - which is how I like it.
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'.
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