Wow. Worth it!
Well, this is my first Stephen King novel and I am nothing less than completely satisfied.
The Gunslinger is a vague and atmospheric character that will hold your attention and help set the mood of the world he travels. His is a world of what seems to be a post-apocalyptic earth, but there are also traces of magic and the supernatural, a dusty and nostaligic dream world...it made me want water!
The story seems to wander a bit, it scatters and goes in different directions, takes on different moods and dilemmas, yet as the pages turned, I found the randomness gripping my attention and not letting go. It is like moving through a western movie set that had been abandoned and reinhabited with King's subconscious fragments...you'll love it! You are in good hands with this story and character.
I couldn't wait to get to the end. When I did, I realized it was, after all, only the beginning!
Can't wait to finish Book II...heard its even better!
This entire four hour audiobook is merely a transcript of a conversation between four activists (with the exception of a short intro by Julian Assange). The narrator literally has to cite who is speaking as each speaker changes. Believe it or not, that didn’t harm the book or pace. However, as I listened to these guys talk amongst themselves about the future of the Internet, I felt like I could overhear the exact same conversation at the corner Starbucks. These four activists are essentially of the same mind, so they lob each other softball questions and go on long-winded anti-government and anti-American rants.
The conversation began to just sound like stoner talk.
Nevermind the MAJOR paradox they embody…a crusade for transparency by a group called ‘Anonymous.’ Nevermind that we have not elected then. Nevermind that we have no idea who they are.
These so-called cypherpunks are not unintelligent people. They are simply passionate about digital privacy in an irresponsible (and illegal) way. Luckily, I have faith that men and women of intelligence have the ability to self-correct, to recognize their contradictions, to evolve in a more constructive way. They just need to stop romanticizing their role as a “high tech rebel elite” and subject themselves to the laws of society, to be a part of society not apart from it.
Still, this is probably the great debate of our time. Hearing their point of view is critical in understanding the nature of problem. We regular people, the general public, are all in the middle. On one side we have a large central government invading our privacy and/or spying on its public, while on the other side we have these guys….a secret network of digital hackers who steal information and target businesses and groups that oppose them. We regular people really have no protection from either group.
If cypherpunks believe in transparency, then they themselves must be transparent. Otherwise, their strict culture of secrecy and their militant use of digital espionage is, in itself, the very antithesis of what they claim to fight for.
I couldn't get through ten minutes of what is probably a great book. The narrator takes loud, almost wheezing deep breaths every couple of sentences. It made ME feel suffocated. Click the 'Sample' button before you buy just to make sure you can handle the narrator....
Wow. I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I admired the authors’ bold imagination on complex global issues. The idealism was almost childish, but I kept reminding myself that “these are the Google guys” and gave them the benefit of the doubt.
The allure of the book revolves mainly around its passionate and revolutionary tone. More and more, the physical world is casting a kind of digital shadow where almost all human activity can be recorded. This data is a new metric available to those with access to it. However, the authors seem almost blinded by their own imagination. There is some bizarre detachment to some of their solutions. They paint pictures of Somalis running around with cell phones and snitching on war lords using a form of cyber-bullying. Let them eat cake! Or more, appropriately, let them have cell phones and data plans!
Instead of an Orwellian police state, where the government spies on its citizens…..we can have a Democratic Police State, where citizens spy on their government and each other. By stripping away privacy, the authors envision a kind of transparent super-state in which each citizen has the technological power to expose any wrong-doing. Each citizen is a reporter, a photojournalist, a spy, and vigilante. Through a system of total surveillance, we will apparently have a world of total transparency, and thereby a world where no one does anything wrong. Why? Because everyone is watching. Instead of Big Brother, we get Big Neighbor.
To justify this digital anarchy, you’ll notice the authors’ heroic image of a digital super-state in action. Citizens would cyber-bully bad governments until they topple while NGO’s [non-governmental organizations] are deployed around the world to distribute food, commodities, and technology. NGO’s replace governments by distributing resources wherever needed thereby ending poverty and dictatorships. The Digital Age apparently is one of distribution….not free trade. The role of the citizen is as an informer working “together with the State” against undesirables. Digital mob actions would keep everyone in check. The authors’ literally suggest public tribunals and community policing programs. We would have a decentralized fascist public equipped to expose wrong-doers and undermine any central authority at will. Therefore, the main ‘revolution’ of the Digital Age appears to be radicalism against…ourselves.
These are not new ideas. This policing and distribution model for society is simply getting new life because of new technology. This time, we are assured, the power will be used for good. This time, only bad people will be targeted.
If anything, this book got me thinking. Instead of destroying privacy because we can, we should focus more on how to better protect it. Privacy is a barrier between us, the public, and the government. Our lives are our own record of experiences, a secret patent to our personal belief system, a trademark for our self-image, and our very own brand of personality. Our digital self is our own intellectual property. You, Inc. The government’s role should be in protecting your privacy….and NOT in protecting the rights of the intruders.
Google isn’t sharing its secrets with the world. Why are they asking us to share ours?
Once I got used to Clancy’s writing style I became deeply engrossed in this story’s universe. The characters are cardboard thin, but stand as reminders of a Cold War American point-of-view in action. The good guys are tough, no-nonsense, risk-taking, and politically righteous. In fact, listening to these characters troubleshoot international threats made me realize how different America is today.
Despite that, the middle of this novel is just PACKED with shocking and compelling strategies used by the Chinese to truly threaten our comfortable modern society. There is serious (and scary) creativity here….the kind that makes you wonder just how vulnerable the U.S. may be against cyber warfare. From corporate espionage in Silicon Valley, to dogfights above the South China Sea, to action in the neon backstreets of Hong Kong, the book truly goes all in. I felt the sensation of being convinced that the bad guys had finally figured out how to beat America. They had us. The escalation of events teased me with a peak at an epic digital war that threatened to engage all branches of the U.S. Military in a desperate fight for survival. The largest fighting force in the history of world, the American Military, seemed on the verge of actually becoming obsolete….
Then, the nightmare just ends. Right when the gloves are about the come off, the book folds up into a neat ‘Mission Accomplished.’ This should have been Book 1 to what would have been a breathtaking series.
Excellent book about a terrible era! When horrors are so pervasive as to become commonplace….what happens to our compass? One Audible review says that the book was confusing, which it wasn’t. The reviewer incorrectly summarizes that the book is about Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. But it’s about Poland, Hungary and EAST GERMANY, which is almost impossible to get wrong if he actually read this book.
I recommend digging into this one…dial back the clock to 1945-1956 and bear witness to goings on behind the Iron Curtain. Socialist societies do not die at the onset of failure…they live on, they limp forward, unable by ideology to see how deformed they have become. Most of our understanding about communism and socialism is waning as The 20th Century drifts into history, along with all its hard fought lessons. We may be forgetting why our free market system is superior to the brutal alternatives.
The book shows us that to ‘free’ humanity, you must first eliminate the enslavers. To eliminate the enslavers, you must have control of the society. To control society, you must have power. To maintain power, you must control the political system. To control the political system, you must control public opinion. To control public opinion, you must control what people think. In order to control what people think, you must control humanity. Such is the paradox of idealism and reality.
But ‘Iron Curtain’ does not discuss this philosophically. (Thank you!). Anne gives us her best effort here…she painstakingly illustrates with documentation, interviews, quotes, facts, figures, raw data, and real stories just what the human experience behind the Iron Curtain was like. Her details come at us like the planes of the Berlin airlift….one after the other in an unbroken chain. She reminds us that Poland, Hungary, and East Germany were once rich and vibrant cultures, as unique and flowering as France and Italy…yet these eastern counterparts have been somehow erased from our thoughts; they are simply ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries or ‘former Soviet satellites.’ Poland, Hungary, and East Germany seem blank and sterile, almost clones of anonymous nations. Not true. They were made that way. Clicking play will show you how, and remember....this all actually happened.
What a great friggin’ read! First off, I would like to point out that this book is NOT a critique on all U.S. soldiers. I have read several other books on U.S. soldiers serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan and read the gut-wrenching tales of serious sacrifice and real bravery. Not here though. Instead, the author shifts the focus away from the front lines of a lethal insurgency…all the way back…to the cushy Forward Operating Base (FOB). Here, the author exposes us to the nauseous culture that evolves from the unheroic personalities that nest at these FOB’s. The details and scope of the book smack of first-hand experience with fobbits. They are creatures of comfort who daydream often, who privately bask in guilty pleasures, romanticize their roles, and avoid risk with an almost pathological efficiency...only to put everyone else at risk.
I must say, though, for each eyebrow-raising LOL, there was also a simultaneous cringe of disgust. These goofy characters may be amusing in their incompetence, but their actions also evoke the terrible specter of cowardice. It’s real. There is something tragic about human beings who become so skilled at meaningless action, at savoring worthlessness. To them, risk is something like a flu bug they dutifully outsmart at every turn. What David Abrams has truly sketched out for us in his book is the VERY REAL culture of cowardice. It’s only funny when you realize what you are looking at. However, inside the bubble the participants can no longer distinguish common sense from cowardice; there is only the cozy charm of feeling safe and comfortable. After all, hard work is for suckers and only fools take risks.
Great book! Brilliant, sarcastic, and right on the money!
This is a perfect book for Audible readers. I bet there is a large portion of Audible members who read because they love learning more than they love being entertained. This book is both an expose on nuclear energy and also a story of personal discovery from the author. Gwyneth openly admits to beginning her research from a deep-seeded anti-nuclear point of view. The more she learned about her topic, the more she learned that she was wrong. Gasp! Nuclear energy is GOOD.
I wish there were more books like this one because they are about enlightenment; they are about solving problems with truth instead of superstitious beliefs. Education can defeat fear.
In this book the author explores nuclear energy, the alternatives to nuclear energy, and then realizes the importance of coming face to face with our fears of it. We can’t see radiation. The word itself evokes mushroom clouds, Chernobyl, and mutated animals. There is something psychological about why we fear nuclear energy, but this book wants us to look under the bed to see there is no boogey man. The upside is nothing less than a serious replacement to fossil fuel consumption and our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Before we can embrace nuclear energy, we first must understand it.
The title should have been "Disillusionment: Bizarre Behavior From the Fringe"
This is not a book about resilience. It is almost about the opposite. The author focuses on individuals, societies, and species that have NOT adapted well to modern world and he details the exhaustive efforts required to sustain them. At one point, the author suggests that during the housing market collapse in 2008, world bankers should have colluded to keep ALL the bad banks afloat. Collusion for crisis-avoidance is NOT resilience.
The book looks at people who design elaborate schemes to solve very local problems that simply do not apply everywhere. Although these people are admirable for sure...they are the exceptions and their complicated measures could never be applied to six billion people. And ultimately, their story is not what I signed on for when I bought this book. Spend your credit somewhere else.
True resilience occurs DURING a crisis in ways you or I could not imagine. Resilience emerges from untidy and terrible circumstances. It???s dark and traumatic. Resilience stands out in that NOT all survive the crisis (literally or figuratively). Resilience cannot be simply programmed into everyone like a line of computer code. The author???s true aim is for everyone to be programmed as resilient to avoid future calamities. It???s a paradox. To achieve this, the author begins to confuse resilience with CONTROL OF RESOURCES. To achieve THAT, he would also need to eliminate disagreement and opposing viewpoints over the use of those resources. Avoiding a crisis is NOT resilience. It???s the antithesis of what CREATES resilience.
Unpredictable things are just that...unpredictable. Even the most extreme preventive measures are vulnerable to the same unpredictability and failure.
Building a Maginot Line to save the Titanic is not the answer.
Is putting Lincoln on the stand just a sham? Remember, Lincoln???s successor, Andrew Johnson, WAS impeached by the House of Representatives. Lincoln had VERY limited support in his own government. He DID suspend Habeas Corpus.
I assumed I would be reading a story with a strong opinion on Lincoln laced with modern preaching. I was dead wrong. I dare say there is some genius in this novel. Mr. Carter???s book is actually stunning in its scope and I never once felt a single moment of authorial intrusion. Thank God! The characters are independent and the course of the novel is driven by their actions. The author never shies away from allowing the actual members of the U.S. government to become fully engaged in this conflict. There are senators, congressmen, chief justices, and Civil War generals buzzing about Washington like angry hornets. Racism had bloody teeth back then and Abigail, an educated ???colored??? woman gives us an excellent lead character. She???s very real, very vulnerable, and very motivated to push to the dark center of a conspiracy.
I LOVED the book???s portrayal of the capital city. Washington D.C. is a half-constructed labyrinth of Byzantine politics, skullduggery, and even murder. I was there. I was surrounded.
I did not give the book 5 stars because it is very slow moving and takes quite some time for the effects of the tale to take hold of you. The plot lines are heavily dialogue-driven. So, instead of FOX News fireworks, you???ll get something more akin to C-SPAN. That said, if you can weather the chatter of lawyers and politicians, you will be pleased to find yourself submerged into the deep waters of a fully imagined era.
In the end, Mr. Carter???s novel explores the phenomenon of a moral debate when it enters the arena of power politics. A moral position can be massacred by legal sharpshooters who serve powerful people. However, time is a courtroom with a jury of generations. History always issues the final verdict.
Citizens do not have the right to vote. There is only one party...one point of view. There is no freedom of the press. Private property is not legally enforced. There is no eminent domain. You are not 'innocent until proven guilt.' The government is allowed to detain you without explanation. Public officials embezzle tax dollars to fund quasi-private companies. There is no taxation with representation. Politicians who speak out against the party are 'erased' from the history books. The Internet is censored. Child labor laws are unenforced. The Chinese peasantry pay higher taxes than urban dwellers. Unions and collective bargaining are illegal, which is a BIG surprise in a supposedly communist country where 'workers of the world' once united! No, this is an authoritarian regime that uses socialist dogma to keep order, but cannibalizes capitalism to fatten up the politcial elite.
Many Americans are becoming curious about China. A new generation is emerging in the United States that never knew the Soviet Union and wonders if China will seriously pose a threat. After reading this book, the greatest long-term threat China poses will be the awful calamity that follows a true government failure, and the reaction of the one billion people who are dependent on it.
The book details the lives of several Chinese citizens who endured specific struggles against their government officials and decrees. Their stories are very personal and wide-ranging in the scope of problems the author identifies.
China's politicians are riding the whirlwind of modern banking, cheap labor, and foriegn investment, but the Chinese people themselves are STILL on the BENCH....what's there to like about that?
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