Auburn, WA, United States | Member Since 2008
with his mammoth entry into the now ever growing canon of "moral sense" analyses of the evolving human being. I first read James Q. Wilson's THE MORAL SENSE three years ago (it now seems a bit facile), and then Goleman and the work of Robert Wright and others who see the uneven but eventual betterment of humankind coming by way of world commerce, increasingly democratic governments and not-quite-so-very-medieval post-modern versions of the various religions. Pinker, as always, weighs in with more facts (along with the rare factoid), examples, and evidence than the average reader would have patience to get through were they rendered by a less tongue-and-cheek and often laugh-out-loud translator of the intellectual into lay language and pop culture (without lowing the quality of the stuff translated). Only Pinker can shift between Aaron Burr and Bugs Bunny in the same sentence and still give us something real to think about. The only kick that some might have is that his decided liberal sensibilities shine through, as always, through not glaringly so, and anyone short of Dick Chaney (who, Pinker notes, was not the shot that Burr was) can still enjoy this often whimsical but most penetrating addition to the growing body of books that give us a rosier picture of the future than we might otherwise fashion after a daily media bath of world strife and local mayhem.
the horrible name of Auschwitz and perhaps Dachau, but fewer that of Ravensbrook, a women's prison camp with just as many terrors. This is a compelling, if matter of fact story of one woman's experience of the holocaust and prison life. A fine addition to one's WWII library.
Being a lover of horses, I was entranced by Hillenbrand's remarkably well-written "Seabiscuit," but, if it is possible, she creates an even more compelling drama with Unbroken, the story of another deep-hearted underdog who triumphs in the end. Highly recommended!
despite its often soaring lyricism and high poetic qualities (which merit the four-star rating), there are clunkers and awkwardness when the author tries to push things too far. Having Death narrate the story was interesting, but it could have been more so. Death's synesthesia early in the book was a bit disjointed and didn't seem to serve much purpose other than to try to shove some kind of "mysterious feeling" on us, and then it is simply left off later on. I had to laugh out loud when Death claimed to have performed the gathering of souls "millions of times"--only millions of dead people in the entire history of humankind??? And then one has to wonder how Death has the time to take such care with each individual when there are tremendous numbers of people worldwide dying every second of every day. Yeah, I know: it's just a metaphor. But somehow, it just didn't work. And then there was the use of German. Maybe it could come off as a charming, knowing dash of cultural flare for a non-speaker, but as someone who is fluent in German, I have to say it was intrusive and often just silly. The author clearly does not speak the language, given the MINDLESS repeating of a handful of pet-phrases and the overly simplified sentences he puts in the mouths of supposedly native Germans. (The author needs a German thesaurus and grammar guide.) And then, rather than leave the choppy little bits of the Teutonic language, the author goes back and translates every single phrase of German into English for the reader! Just let readers look it up if they want or tell us once they spoke German and then give it all in English so readers don't have to go through the awkwardness of the way it is presented here. There were lots of little clumsy bits like this, and the fact that I am still giving it four stars shows how rich it is when it is going well. I suppose, in the end, The Book Thief is like another little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead: "when it is good, it is very, very good, and when it is bad, it is horrid..."
shines through again in this intriguing and romantic Elizabethan style tale of love and revenge. We see some of the psychological elements again in this story for which Conrad is so well known, but more in the subtle Shakespearean sense rather than the more obvious symbolism used in Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. Conrad is always reliable and this stands as one of his great novels.
in books like Heart Of Darkness and The Secret Sharer, in ways, The Secret Agent is a better novel. This is not to take away from either of the two aforementioned classics, simply to say that Agent is more grounded and less sticky with the sometimes overladen psychological symbolism that Conrad could invoke, even in his great works. It is also a story remarkably modern, and it was cited many times after the September 11 terrorism. I cannot believe the Amazon reviewer who thought this book was "boring." I found it riveting!
Shakespeare tells us that life is a "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..." One could replace "idiot" with "compulsive liar" and pretty much sum up anything that ever came from the mouth of Jodi Arias. This is not the best book on a killer psychopath you are ever going to read (try Graysmith's Zodiac or Graeber's The Good Nurse), but Velaz does the best she can with this "tale told by a liar" and I simply didn't have all the complaints some of the other reviewers had. Sure, there is some bias. There is bound to be in a book like this, but it is hard to write a book about someone who misrepresents next to everything and not have to make some personal interpretation of the alleged "facts." At least Valez doesn't break her arm patting herself on the back like Amirante does in his book on Gacy.
I came to the one I had been avoiding. Given the nature of his crimes, I find Gacy to be the most disgusting of the disgusting, and even thinking about what he did is not easy. This book is not easy. But it is professional, reportorial, direct. There are, mercifully, no attempts at sensationalism or inflating the importance of the unspeakable evil that was Gacy.
If you were entranced by the style of Robert Graysmith's Zodiac or Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, you will similarly appreciate the hypnotic writing of Charles Graeber (yes, it means "gravedigger" in German) in The Good Nurse... It is easy enough to (falsely) assure yourself about most dangers in life, but what if your caregiver, outwardly diligent and trustworthy, were a cold-blooded killer, a psychopath murdering those whose bodies are made vulnerable to his supposedly healing hands? And these events were recent. Cullen was only caught in 2003. This book will do for the hospital bed what Psycho did for the shower...
exploration of the physiological elements of the deepest mystery of our existence: consciousness. This book becomes increasing interesting after reading such authors as V. Ramachandran (The Tell-Tale Brain), Jeffery Schwarz (The Mind And The Brain) and Patricia Churchland (Touching A Nerve), all of which are available on Audible as well, and which I can also highly recommend. Bor has studied deeply in philosophy and neurology and thus can bring both perspectives to this very complicated but fascinating investigation of ourselves.
for decades, and I have found her to be the most enlightening linguistic on the topic of gender and language. The wonderful thing about Tannen is that she transcends the usual feminist approach that asserts "women must learn to talk like men to succeed" because "men are verbal bullies"--and at the same time she does not go the other way and denigrate women as passive or weak in the ways they communicate. She simply demonstrates that men and women, due to both biology and culture, approach language and social interaction differently and shows the strengths and weaknesses of both.
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