While not a comprehensive history of the Supreme Court, this book does illuminate key periods in the court's history by tying the judicial philosophies of justices such as Marshall and Warren to those of contemporary justices such as O'Connor and Scalia. The book is succinctly written and well-read, and while an academic work, it avoids being too dry. A must-read for anyone interested in legal philosophy or American history.
This is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever listened to. It's primarily a biography of Meriwether Lewis, who is a fascinating and complex character. It also gives a fairly rich sense of the political atmosphere surrounding the journey, and its historical importance. Ambrose is a highly qualified historian, so even his tangents and conjectures are fascinating.
I was hoping for a lot of history, as the title suggests. Instead, the book is mostly analysis based on little tidbits of history. As someone interested in the history, it was tedious. I was unable to get all the way through it. The fact that the narrator speaks so slowly and carefully doesn't help. Listen to the sample, and see for yourself if you can stay interested in this book for more than a few minutes.
Louis XIV is considered by many historians to be the most influential king in thie history of France, if not Europe entirely. His reign lasted 72 years, during which France was upturned by the discovery of the New World and teetered toward revolution. This book, however, is not about any of that. Instead, it depicts the court life of Louis XIV as a soap opera; it is almost entirely about his mistresses. Anything historically relevant seems to have been carefully trimmed down to a paragraph or two; there is more about the architecture of Louis XIV's palace than there is about the economic policies about Colbert, which were enormously influential, and the few paragraphs on that subject are oversimplified, claiming that he ruthlessly and energetically invigorated France's economy, when in reality economic historians are divided as to whether his policies were constructive or destructive.
I found this book very dull. I hope to find another book that will inform me about Louis XIV's political life, not just his personal one.
This book is 36 hours long and worth every minute. Hamilton's fascinating life intersected with nearly everything in early American history, making this biography an excellent way of understanding that time period. He is portrayed admiringly, but his faults are acknowledged. And the book is filled with interesting events and people, not minute details. And the book is very much targeted at the modern, general reader; there are no "stuffy historian" pretenses. I recommend this title more highly than any other history book I've read or listened to.
The authors of this book lack a clear understanding of history or economics, and do not clearly describe a view of the future. They summarize their message with the slogan, "Music flowing like water." The idea is simply that songs cost only a matter of cents, are licensed more freely, and are everywhere, just as tap water is cheap and nearly universally available today. This is an intruiging basis for a book, but one that they don't really flesh out, instead talking about individual technological advances in wireless technology, bandwidth, and peer-to-peer file-sharing. Nothing really new.
One problem they don't address is, what's so different between their hypothetical "water" paradigm and current services such as iTunes, other than the price? Currently, record companies are pushing Apple to raise the cost of songs on iTunes (currently 99 cents); it seems highly unlikely that they will be lowered. To say that the dramatic reduction of the price of songs is inevitable seems very optimistic in a climate where the profits of online music stores are increasing dramatically, and CD sales also continue to be profitable, if less so than they were prior to the advent of file-sharing.
If the predictions of the authors do come true, it will be decades from now, not years.
Aczel is normally a top-notch science writer, but here he falters, producing an only mildly interesting book that tries to explain elementary quantum mechanics. There are some interesting parts of this book, particularly the history of entanglement theory and the rivalry between Einstein and Pauli, two of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. However, when the book gets technical, it becomes difficult to impossible to understand, like most popular accounts of quantum mechanics. It similarly drags when current physicists talk about recent advances in quantum mechanics, as their explanations are often difficult to understand, usually relying on the previous explanations. There's also surprisingly little discussion of practical applications in computing, cryptography, and (despite the description) teleportation.
I'd recommend Aczel's other book, especially God's Equations, but not this particular one. For a popular account of quantum mechanics, The Fabric of the Cosmos is a little better, though still far from ideal.
While this book has an interesting premise, the author lacks credibility, and uses an implausible story about world travels to support a one-sided diatribe against globalization. While I enjoy economic books from a variety of viewpoints, this book frustrates at every turn with the author's simplistic left-wing economic views. His general argument is that foreign aid loans are bad, because they must be repaid by poor countries, and so all foreign aid should be given away instead.
His main "confession" is that he, supposedly working as an economist, was forced to exaggerate projections for economic growth in countries that were receiving aid, thus pushing them to accept American loans that they would be unable to repay. However, there is no evidence that his claim is true; it seems far more likely that he made up the whole book, especially with the large number of "coincidences" that occur (such as Muslims supposedly telling him decades before 2001 that if America continued to abuse them, they would strike back). He also throws in a great deal of sex and flamboyant characters to pad out the few researched facts that he throws into the book.
There are many good, well-informed books expressing various viewpoints on globalization and the relationships between developed countries and less-developed countries; this is not one of them. For a real insider account, I suggest Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz, former Chief Economist for the World Bank. You might also be interested in The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto, a Venezuelan economist. Finally, for some of the history he refers to with CIA intervention in Iran, read All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer.
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