I've read each novel with a growing sense of guilty pleasure. Always a sucker for alternate future stories, the emberverse started out with huge themes of empire, religion and human resilience, then sorta went sideways about book 5. Now that the thing is wrapped up I look back with a little relief that it's over and yet interest in what Bruce Sterling will come up with next.
As a resident of the NorthWest I read each book with a mental map of the places and events, thinking of what they might look like without the industrial agriculture and horrible modern architecture. All in all it is a fine book and enjoyable performance.
I had a lot of fun with the original concept of true freedom being lazy, indolent and selfish. That rights we enjoy today were established by drunkards, libertines and laggards is , I admit, something that never occurred to me. Russel makes a good case for how the founding fathers were really about creating a nanny state, how prohibition created Jazz, how the New Deal had common origins with European fascism. I guess he gets points for consistency by making his case that slaves had more fun than citizens in pre civil war America, but that's where he lost me.
This is one of the few times I wish I had read the print version, so I could read the source notes. Worse, the reader decided to take the liberty of using blackface ebonics when reading the slave narratives, bad choice, dude. Rusell states right off the bat that, left unchecked, renegades will destroy any civilization they live in. The same can be said of a history lessen that uses libertarian self interest as it's prime mover to explain itself.
Having read Chompsky's first book of essays ('American Power and the New Mandarans") when I was 19, now reading this collection when I'm 48, I find the first experience of having my mind blown a hard act to follow. Much of what Chompsky has to say is better laid out in his longer books, when he can really direct his intellect into one subject and throughly shake it out. I find the Op-Ed style dispatches just more current event review.
Now, for slice of life snapshots on history, I found myself marveling over the last ten years essays covers, and the truely tumultuous era we has just survived. So much has happened that it really takes a rendering of history as Chompsky tells it to take it in, being there was just not enough.
Was expecting quite a lot after listening to "Anathema" and "Cryptomicon". Was anticipating high concepts explained and unconventional plot lines, what I got was a post 911 wish fulfillment fantasy. Putting tech nerds and survivalists in the center of the war on terror was not really what I was expecting. I found myself rooting for one of the protagonists who was hoping the jihadists and the rednecks would wipe eachother out. Oh well, proves that even literary geniuses have an off day, kind of like the painters of the Cistene Chapel making flaws in their work to prove they are only human.
One of those books where you go back and re-listen when it is over. As I rode the train across the midwest I stared out the window and was completely mesmerized by the chain of history laid out and the results we live with today. Turned my assumptions about cultural and geographic advantages on its head, replaced them with the social and economic influences that are the motor of history.
Having just finished Graeber's "Debt", this book compliments the history of influences that make up modern nations, and shows the perils of the 1% face if left to their own devices.
If I hadn't heard an interview by the author on the Majority Report, I would have dismissed this book as another End Times screed I avoid. In reality the book is why economic systems rise and fall no matter the nationalistic or political trends. From socialistic dictatorships to ancient empires, the institutions we build determine the fate of nations.
I wish the authors had more to say of the upheavals in our own economy in recent times and the influences that brought us here, for instance for all the benefits of the Glorious Revolution in England, why are they now a nation in decline and austerity? I guess they as educators want us to draw our own conclusions about current events, dots are defiantly. being connected in my own mind.
Solid, steady narration that is meant to be read aloud.
While I enjoyed the historical sketches of Detroit and NYC, I found his theory of "consumer cities" and the elevation of rich people in general offensive. Glaeser sees workers and poor people as only another renewable resource that bond traders and politicians can move around like chess pieces to create a product. He obviously sees the benefits and success of urban landscapes in a way few others have dared to take on: cities as a connective social mechanism that produced engineering marvels and artistic genius. I really appreciate the criticism of sprawl and urban mismanagement that has been so curiously prevalent in most of my lifetime. As resources decline and cities condense back to their core, I hope both city and rural people can value cities again as a resource for adaptability and innovation. I only wish Glaeser could move outside his bubble of intellectual elites and value public education and unionism as much as he loves wall street innovation and fast trains.
Not quite what I was hoping for. Given the lack of books about agnosticism, I am glad for anything. The bulk of the book is full of criticism for the circular logic of omnipresence deists use, kind of like picking on a cripple. The first and last chapters contain the real heart of the matter I was hoping to learn about: the elevation of doubt as a spiritual belief. That said, Bugliosi is a clear and entertaining writer, using his keen legal mind to take on Paul and Ezekiel as well as Billy Graham and Dawkins. There are nuggets of pure genius as he contradicts himself and disparages the witness. As only a man who has been in a spitting match with Johny Cochran, he mercilessly tears apart the flawed logic of atheists and the religious faithful. I only wish he didn't attack the most obviously ridiculous acts of Christians (the crusades, the inquisition, papal infallibility, ect) and took a look at the work of those struggling with their doubt and trying to make sense of belief or faith.
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