Much shorter than I would have liked, but in the two hours of audio, Hitchens brings to life the struggle of a man in the throws of a losing battle with stage 4 Esophogeal Cancer. This is a particularly nasty cancer that leaves little doubt as to outcome, just a question of how long. Hitchens brings his brand of insight and eloquence to a situation that is in some sense hopeless.
In the course of doing so we will all be able to better understand what thoughts, what emotions have gone through the minds of all those whom we love but have struggled with some form of a serious hopital stay. I don't know, but perhaps this would have shifted the tone and topics of conversation I had with loved ones who didn't make it through. It is incredibly difficult to put yourself in their shoes unless you've been there. Having been there recently and having read this viciously short, eloquent and insightful bit from Hitchens, I don't think I'll approach sickness and hospitals in the same way.
I do wish that there had been some more of self-indulgence and/or self-pity, but he didn't want to revel in those feelings, yet clearly it is something with which all in such situations suffer. A man with such eloquence and insight would have certainly shed new light on this aspect of serious / terminal disease.
Much has been made about the "fact" that Hitchens didn't change his world view when confronted with the end of his life. Unfortunately the brevity and scope of the book I don't believe would have allowed any of these issues to be addressed. There was talk at the end of the larger book he had still hoped to write. He at some point rails against the Randy Pausch approach to passing, but at the end perhaps the book I had hoped to read would have been Hitchens' version of that approach. I didn't want to hear more argument about or criticism of religion and how others choose to live, but I wanted to hear about the beauty and virtue of Hitchens' secular humanism.
Nonetheless, this book will touch you and change the way you empathize with terminal disease / serious hospital stay patients and for that reason alone it is highly recommended.
I am a bit of a history amateur. I've read plenty of history books, but as far as the history of the British Empire, the closest I had come was schoolboy textbooks and a few Winston books. So I was a little wary about whether I really wanted to indulge in 36 or so lectures about the subject.
But I was wrong. I found this subject to be very fascinating. To gain an appreciation for the other side of the US revolution, gave me a better appreciation for the uniqueness of the British and American empires. Seeing how the spheres collided time and time again, finally leading to the passing of the torch is interesting in that it never really needed to be this way. Not that I've become a Tory or that the book lectures the British in a positive light, its just that seen through the prism of time and global influence, the English speaking peoples had much more in common than they had differences. Of course most serious historians have been repeating that for decades, but these lectures really drove the point home. It was also refreshing to see the history from the eyes other than a Churchill biographer. Churchill had a profound impact upon the world, but was a rare and unique breed of person that said little about the British leaders themselves. People and their aspirations perhaps, but even then the record is mixed.
It also struck me that the US from the time of WWI argued through WW's principles that imperialism had run its course and by the end of WWII, the British themselves agreed they no longer wanted to be responsible for running an imperialist system either from an economic or moral perspective. There is quote about opportunities for freedom bringing forth the best in the nature of man, the opportunities to allocate the governance once that freedom has been won bringing forth the worst in that same man. And so it began as the British Empire dissolves, myriad immature systems elevate their men to the pedestal... nationalism, socialism, fabianism, democracy ... the book touches upon how these and other systems compete for power as men and women across the Empire are given their "freedom".
For me a good book whets the appetite, and this series will certainly inspire many more book choices for me. There is much more in the lecture series to recommend. Recommend going to the great courses website to see the titles of the lectures. This covers the major territories of the British Empire, including India, South Africa, US, Australia and discussed their formation, operating modes and events, and dissolution from the empire. It also touches upon social and political changes over the years and shows how they had a very large impact upon public opinion and subsequent British desires to stop the imperialist system. Highly recommended lecture series. Seemed to be fair and balanced to me, but I am a bit of a history noob. I may have called this lecture series a book, but there is no book that I could find. Just 36 lectures.
Middle schooler read this for his class. Great book. Gets into many issues this generation of kids will have to wrestle with. What is human what is not. What is the proper use of human beings regarding organ transplantation, etc.,etc. So many books that our generation read the kids just don't get into. But this book really engages them.
I really enjoyed the book. Easy read. Clear writing style. It largely focuses on the careers and activities of the Dulles brothers as Secretary of State and CIA director.
I did have some concerns regarding bias from the author. He talks about several areas with implied disdain that I find to be incredibly naive. For instance, he speaks about how deal makers catered their pitches to the biases of the other side. Of course anyone interested in getting the deal done will do this and not feel bad about it. Each side has to do their own due diligence and negotiate on the basis of their findings. The religious mocking is also a bit grating to me. The author should have focused on how the professional actions of the brothers were contrary to fundamental religious tenets. But the reality is that people do and say what they have to in order to gain acceptance by the public for their plan of action.
This is all addressed in the last chapter, where the author reveals his beliefs and biases, which is both refreshing and worrisome. I really enjoy history when it is presented as just the facts. Clearly this author tried to do that in his book, but was not 100 percent successful. Slapping a last chapter on that then answers the big questions addressed by the book is cheating in my view. That last chapter could have been the basis for the next book while allowing the current book to become a less biased "just the facts" history book. Then he could have done his point of view justice in the new book.
Anyway, the book may be a bit biased, but is highly recommended to see how corporations, the US, Russia, nationalism stepped into the void left by the fall of British imperialism. The focus in the book is on the US side of this, but the reader gets valuable glimpses into how all the players were playing in a brand new sandbox. I find the author's belief's chapter to be a bit naive, but since it was just slapped on at the end, I don't find it to diminish the value of the book.
Functional Medicine is at a high level an engineering type of systems analysis of the human body. Terry Wahls while under assault from MS, took a functional medicine approach to helping her body fight back against MS. This is notable for many reasons not the least of which are her examples of tenacity, mental strength, and perseverance in extreme adversity. But it is also notable because she trusted her body that was failing her to fix her. Many practitioners, theoreticians, and laypeople are coming to a conclusion that many of today's most troubling diseases are caused by metabolic / mitochondrial dysfunction. Solving metabolic dysfunction was at the root of Dr. Wahl's approach and she initially designed a supplement program to help her mitochondrial become more powerful. As she began to feel better she designed a diet to replace much of her supplement regimen.
So what you are getting in this book is a diet that is aimed at restoration of your mitochondrial power. Many practitioners think this is a strategy that can be successful for diseases such as diabetes, MS, palsy, CFS, etc. Whether you are sick or healthy, you could likely benefit from comparing and contrasting this diet with your own. There is a ton of wisdom built into this diet. Our bodies are all different so dietary "hacking"/"tweaking" is almost always necessary, but this diet would make a great starting place for someone looking to change their current health trajectory.
If you're one of these people, this book is great as a resource so that you can understand more of how we all got to this point in time.
How you may have eaten what was inappropriately labeled "healthy" food in the grocery store and found yourself with a number of illnesses. How you might start to explore finding a diet that could cure your illnesses (she mentions a number of researchers such as Volek and Phinney). How you can understand why your doctor who seems pretty reasonable can be so completely against a system that is working for you.
There is so much in this book. I have not read Taubes. But if you are one of the multitude of Americans who are realizing that they must take responsibility for their health, I would highly recommend this book. Shocking to hear how the trans-fats became outlawed, even more shocking to realize that whats next is not necessarily tried and true. The establishment has banished saturated fat and is sticking to the story, come hell or high water. You also get the inside story on the Mediterranean diet, olive soybean and palm oil. You can't make this stuff up. Although many are attacking the author for exactly that. Reality always trumps fiction. Science is settled despite the rapidly increasing obesity rates. You want to know why healthcare costs so much? This is a great book to start to understand that government and doctors have duped the public into a system that values conformity of message over adversarial scientific truth seeking. This is all about to change and this book will help you understand why.
Bad news is you have to be your own physician. Good news is there are movements like Functional Medicine which offer hope to many of us who have been failed by the system.
The human body is an amazing system. Surprisingly we have very few genes and even fewer genes that make meaningful distinctions among us. Functional medicine offers a way to begin to think about how our genes are interacting with our environment, broadly defined. That broadly defined means hazards as well as diet.
Too many of us have just accepted the "wisdom" of some doctor. Take this pill and you'll be fine. Hey you're an allergy freak, but my allergy shots will desensitize you. Ummm, yeah you're kinda close to metabolic disorder, but a statin will fix that right up. Run harder, longer, accept that your basal metabolic rate is 50-60% of what it should be. It would be comical if it weren't so tragic.
If you love someone whose health is not right or are someone who feels like something just isn't quite right with their health and you want to understand how to think about what might be wrong and how to begin taking healing steps, this book is a great place to start. There is a difficulty because there are so few skilled functional medicine practitioners, but perhaps a dialogue with a trusted open minded physician could enlist an ally. There are likely resources online as well, but caveat emptor. But a better informed patient is more capable of understanding the hazards of different courses of action and weather the blistering criticisms of the big pharma reps (formerly called doctors). This book will give you the tools to be a better informed patient. Some experimentation is also necessary because our genetic codes are all different... so what works for some may not work for you. But you'll be on a more hopeful, optimistic, and empowering journey to restore your health.
Really enjoyed several chapters and even the slower chapters were interesting. But it is a slightly disjointed collection of stories with no unifying theme that I could discern other than they were about gold. I don't know much about gold, so this was an interesting but far from systematic approach to learning about the metal. If you're in the same boat, I recommend this book as an easy eight hour way to "get your feet wet" in order to motivate a more thorough examination of the metal. Probably a good book for people who don't want any more gold knowledge than the 8 hours of interesting stories that are in this book.
The author is Keynesian, but of course these days who isn't, and this may lead to the lackadaisical approach. If you don't see any value in the metal, its hard to take seriously a systematic comprehensive effort to learn about it. This Keynesian philosophy appears from time to time, but mostly in the first couple of chapters. It is slightly annoying because of the contradiction and perhaps the author should have addressed why a Keynesian who sees little reason for gold should stop to write a book about it. Anyway, recommend that you push past the Keynesian stuff. It doesn't last long and shouldn't detract from your enjoyment of what is a flawed but highly interesting book. If you're a gold bug and know alot about the metal, you should really peruse the TOC to see if you should read this book. Gold experts may not see much value in the book.
There are several warnings I would give to someone considering this investment in time. This is a course of 48 lectures delivered by a professor who is relatively monotone and does not convey warmth or enthusiasm the way most people do. I felt that I got used to the way she uses tone and I got over it. If you can't do monotone, you should consider whether this course is for you. Very long course, but commensurate with scope. Despite the length, the topics are treated at a high level. Most readers will find a percentage of lectures that they feel they know better than the professor. You may find her viewpoint in some lectures to be a bit naive, very liberal, or flat out wrong. If this puts you off and you are a conservative or libertarian, you may have difficulty finishing the course. Personally I found the perspective and the focus on "democracy" to be incredibly interesting. She is unabashedly focused on the struggle for democracy even though we find democracy to be in quite a bit of trouble recently, and our founders were not very sanguine about the future of democracy and thus designed a republic. Democracy may not fit in all places, and it may at the end of the day not be the correct system to manage the affairs of human beings, but I think most alternative anchors for a course of the 20th century would fail miserably. Like it or not most in the US believe in the living constitution as well as the Tocquevillian tumble towards equality in all things. Conservatives and libertarians who can accept democracy as an anchor should be able to enjoy and gain insight into how liberals view the 20th century. The broad scope is reflected in the lectures. I would recommend that you Google great courses pamela radcliff 20th century and look at the lecture list. Most non-expert history buffs will find alot here that they will enjoy. Highly recommended. Will challenge your perspective and help you understand better the liberal viewpoint. There was also a PDF course guidebook that I found while googling. I actually believe these guidebooks are essential for many of these courses. Not essential for this one as she sticks to her notes which are very related to the guidebook. If you find the guidebook it may also help you decide if this course is for you.
The author took up Tocqueville prior to running for office a few years prior. If what you are looking for is an understanding of Tocqueville's visit, impressions of America and their relation to democracy as understood by the author and Tocqueville, the author does an admirable job.
It is only natural to ask questions about the Tocqueville visit in relation to the founding or in relation to today's society, but the author is focused solely on Tocqueville's firsthand account of his experiences in America. For the author to have veered off into these tangents, would have detracted from the focus, clarity of the book. Tocqueville spent almost a year in America and seems to have been an exceptionally insightful young man. This book will certainly challenge and inform your views of the Republic, democracy, and America in the early 1800s. Highly recommended.
This is a long book (24 courses) and that is perhaps the only criticism I had of the course. Much of what Tocqueville wrote is of interest to today and/or in context of the founding, but almost all readers will find their interest during the course to wax and wane. For me there were only a few topics where I just didn't have much of interest. Women in America, the sciences and education in America. Its not that the points weren't of interest but I feel as if the 1830 ish view and today's view are not an interesting juxtaposition, which is a big reason why I read courses / books like this.
Book is highly recommended for anyone looking to understand Tocqueville's visit and its relation to democracy. This is a cornerstone course. It won't answer any of your burning questions but it will certainly lay a strong foundation for understanding the roots of democracy in America. With democracies failing all over the world I think a course like this should be required reading for old and young alike as we are almost certain to live to see whats old come new again.
I really enjoyed the professor and the course. It is a very historical overview of the forces that drove acceptance of Soviet communism, an overview of its decline, and some background behind where it may be headed.
Highly recommended as an introduction to this material.
Reasons why I dropped a star. I didn't get a sense as to what the people did, who the people were, who the people became as they progressed throughout what was about a 100 year window of Russian history. I get that Communism minimizes individual contributions and thus this is not necessarily noteworthy, but I would have liked to see a more systematic analysis of how the culture of the country changed as the years progressed. Another reason is the course seemed to stop somewhere in the 1990s. Ok, great but I feel like I need to read alot more about Yeltsin and Putin to understand where Russia is today and what its prospects are. The professor I think could have accommodated more discussion about the Russian people and culture but sometimes gets sidetracked on points that were interesting but somewhat academic. Great I know and get that he is a teacher but for an intro course, I'd rather be focused on some key themes and keep the the academic / pedantic stuff to a minimum.
Loved the course. Really liked the teacher. This is highly recommended for those looking for an introduction to the rise and fall of Soviet Communism. There may be better intros out there but this worked well for me.
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