All the more shocking because it could happen anywhere, 5 Days offers a moment by moment, person by person account of the disintegration of order in a New Orleans hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina over a five day period. What initially begins as a heroic undertaking by staff devolves into chaos, fear, and ultimately, life and death decisions, some of which involve involuntary euthanasia. Works both as a gripping page turner and a case study in disaster ethics, the reader constantly finds himself asking "What would I have done?" Sadly, there are no easy answers, only varying degrees of lesser evils.
In a metropolitan city, in one of the richest countries in the world, how quickly the rules of society can break down, panic take over, and trust is forsaken - essentially creating an every man for himself scenario, not just during the crisis, but in the political calculations which followed. Shocking and sad indictment of moral relativism gone awry.
The relative of one of the patients who was euthanized saying that the Marines leave no man behind so why couldn't staff have done the same for its patients?
If you don't believe it could happen to you or in your city, Fink disabuses this toward the end of the book in her follow up. Wow!
I found myself surprisingly liking this book a lot. It demystifies what is commonly and mistakenly identified as a dour philosophy and makes it accessible to everyday, modern life. Equal parts self- help book, stoicism 101 course, and "serenity now!" mantra, Irvine makes a compelling case for adopting the tenets of stoicism as a balm to our hectic, information overloaded, materialistic society. I found myself quite intrigued and taken with the advice in this book and have found myself practicing it daily. It moves along briskly and avoids the self-help book pitfalls of pandering to the reader or being too trite.
Man's nuclear follies
For history and science buffs, a good history not only of nuclear power but also the naïveté, creativity and hubris of man's relationship with all things nuclear. Underlying every accident is a system designed to avoid it, someone's attempt to circumvent the system, and the complex interaction between the two. Fascinating stuff, with enough technical details to interest the science buffs and a connect the dots narrative to keep the history buffs glued. I found it all very fascinating and it was a definite plus that the narrative is told with the odd bit of sarcastic humour in it. My only criticism was that the three most infamous accidents: Three mile island, Chernobyl, and Fukishima, are given a comparatively short treatment compared to the rest of the book.
Probably not. There is a fair bit of technical detail that would leave most readers head's spinning to get through this all in one reading.
The author has a background working in the nuclear industry which is a definite plus.
Part oral history and part op ed piece, the author certainly offers some uncompromising positions on what he perceives as the enduring resiliency of Israel as well as its transgressions. Using the analogy of a grown up child having thrown off the yoke of its parents, Shavit argues that Israel is at a crossroads and that the values that once served Israel so well are now either in danger of being lost or corrupted by a failure to achieve a moral and practical solution to achieving security and a settlement with the Palestinians. Interesting stuff - if you buy his arguments. There is no real middle ground here and you will find yourself either totally agreeing or not.
Ostensibly a history of Israel, most key events are only given a cursory treatment. I was looking for something a little more in depth and didn't find it here. Shavit links the birth and growth of Israel with stories from his ancestors but I didn't really find this vey interesting or compelling.
There is only the authors voice. Some other reviews I read we're put off by the Israeli accent of the narrator but I thought this added a level of authenticity to what is essentially, an oral history.
Not really. Would still like to read a more in depth history of Israel that this book didn't satisfy.
Blackwell's travelogue has some interesting parts (oil sands gift store anyone?) and the tongue in cheek manner keeps thing from getting too heavy. A balanced environmentalist view is woven through this recognizing our inherent conflict between conservation and what maintains our lifestyles. Still some parts are more interesting than others and I can't really say I learned a lot from this book. In fact, I found it less interesting and somewhat repetitive the further I read. Still, it is a lightweight page turner that is hard not to like and you can fast forward through parts and probably not feel you have missed anything. The narration is good.
This is a good primer on the concept of mindfulness as a stress reduction tool. Is brief and concise enough to give you a basic understanding of what it is all about. You won't come away an expert or perhaps even at best, only a dabbler but it does a good enough job to make you want to learn more.
I am a fan of Paul Theroux, both his fiction and travelogue non-fiction but this one left me with the same feeling I did after having watched the last Indiana Jones movie - sad and nostalgic for his earlier works. As usual, Theroux is a daring and candid observer who prefers to tread unbeaten paths and this book is a really a collection of essays on his Africa journey rather than a conventional narrative. Some of his encounters are more interesting than others and I found the latter half of the book more interesting than the beginning. A few common undercurrents run through his observations - the urbanization of the population, the westernization of the indigenous peoples and their culture, the environmental degradation of the bush aka Zona Verde, and the misguided attempts by foreign do gooders to infuse donations into corrupt and dependent regimes. All valid and important messages. But at the same time, despite his protestation that he is not an "Afropessimist"' his crankiness shows through and this has none of the optimism of say, The Happy Isles of Oceana. Clearly, Theroux is not pleased with the changes he has seen over the 50 years since he first set foot on the continent as a Peace Corps volunteer. The reading voice of the narrator only compounds the elegiac tone of this book. Better to browse some of the more interesting chapters near the end than read this cover to cover.
This is a monumental work of contemporary historical fiction. It works as a character study, spy thriller, and expose of the world's most reclusive country. I found the details of North Korean life - the privations, the omnipresent "Big Brotherish" intrusions by the state into every facet of life, and the duplicitous goings on of the power brokers and their minions to be utterly fascinating. The author's brief interview at the end sheds a lot of welcome light on how he managed to paint such a credible portrait of the North Korean state. I also have to give him credit for the audacity to put Kim Jong Il front and center as one of the main characters. In some ways, this book reminded me of the Arkady Renko novels of Martin Cruz Smith and will appeal to those who like their fiction set in lands both mysterious and unfathomable. The superb narration adds rather than detracts from the story which is unusual for this genre IMO. This book is not to be missed!
I listened to this book based on some glowing end of the year reviews but after having finished it I am still not quite sure what to make of it. At its best it is a heartfelt eulogy to the five men who died over a short period of time and the impact of their lives and deaths on the author. I found it a little difficult to emotionally engage with the subjects in this book as their lives are told primarily in snippets; where the book succeeds is in the authors keen observations and perspective on the various social, economic, and cultural aspects that shaped these men and in a way, made her both part of them and apart from them. Wisely, Jesmyn Ward avoids sermonizing - she lets the stories speak for themselves and there are many sad and poignant moments. Yet despite this, I wasn't moved and at times, struggled to stay interested. A definite plus was the first rate narration by Cherise Booth.
Listened to this after having read The Looming Tower. Taken together, they form bookends on the history of Al Qaeda with TLT tracing its history up to 9/11 and TLW from 9/11 to around 2009. Bergen is a respected terrorism analyst and this book is a mix of history and critique of US policy in combatting Al Qaeda. Bergen doesn't pull any punches here - by and large he asserts that US tactics and strategy in battling al Qaeda has mostly been characterized by missteps and failed opportunities. Still, this is an interesting read and examines the war on Islamic terrorism from both sides. It is a good read and never dull. Sometimes, though, I felt Bergen may have overstepped in the criticism department, not necessarily because what he says isn't true, but rather because it can jarringly interrupt the narrative. As well, the book was written before the killing of Osama bin Laden so the latter portion which speculates on his fate and the direction of the war seems outdated. Nonetheless, this is well worth reading and qualifies as a can't put down page turner.
Read together with The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright, the reader will get a comprehensive history of Al Qaeda.
Well read - never dry.
This is thoroughly engrossing and compelling read, tracing the origins of al Qaeda from its philosophical founding through to the overthrow of the Taliban. Rich with details, the pacing nonetheless never lags - lets call it a non-fiction thriller. There are lots of interesting bits throughout but what really surprised me was were the numerous occasions where what we now call al Qaeda might never have come to be if not for some combination of luck, timing, or inadvertent consequences. Easily, OBL or his organization might have faded into obscurity on more than a few occasions - it's amazing that they didn't. Overall, the author does a great job of shepherding the reader through the evolution of al Qaeda and it's prime movers and shakers. As we get closer to 9/11 he also weaves into the narrative the growing awareness of the threat al Qaeda posed to the US and how it began to track this. Fascinating from beginning to end. All in all, a very compelling and entertaining read for anyone who wants a better understanding of the growth of Islamic terrorism and the personalities, players, and their motives.
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