This book is a fascinating examination of western civilization: its origins, strengths, and weaknesses. As Ferguson sees it, western cultures developed "6 killer applications" that allowed them to succeed as empires. While one might not agree with each and every assertion that Ferguson makes, this book will no doubt stimulate discussion and consideration of these factors. What's more this book does a very nice job taking the history out of the history book and making it relevant to modern events as well as an eye toward the future. This book is well written and interesting. I recommend it for anyone interested in history as well as the intersection of historical processes with current events.
The author did a good job pulling together quite a bit of different sources to describe what happened leading up to and following the sinking of the Titanic. This was a great story and look at J. Bruce Ismay's life. The story was fascination and mostly well told. It was a bit convoluted in parts and delved into aspects that seemed only tangentially related (e.g., there's a long section relating Ismay to a character in Conrad's "Lord Jim"), but overall I would rate it as entertaining and informative. It wasn't entirely satisfying in that one never really knows whether Ismay is a selfish bastard who took a spot in a lifeboat from one of the 1500 casualties OR if he was just an opportunist who jumped in one of the last boats to leave OR if he was the secret cause in his acting as superCaptain. It almost doesn't matter what the answer is since in trying to figure out the answer to this question one may actually have insight into one's own character and thoughts. Ultimately until and unless you're put in that situation I don't think it's possible to know what you would do and that may be one of the points of this book. Recommended.
For the most part I really enjoyed this book. Yergin does a good job of going through the history of the geo-political universe that has led us to this point as regards energy. While this book is very U.S-centric for the most part, he does investigate energy from a broad perspective in numerous parts, which adds to the depth of this book. What's more he laces his narrative with subtle historical aspects of the energy story that give it more depth than I was expecting. For instance, he talks about the people involved and the back story in some detail. This makes the book rather long, but it wasn't annoyingly so. In addition, this book was very timely and up to date. My biggest issues with this book were the seemingly glib glossing over of certain problems, especially environmental concerns as regards hydraulic fracturing (fraking) and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For instance, with the latter the author cites a NYTimes report that bacteria are consuming the oil and that the spill was just not that bad an environmental problem. I think this is a gross simplification of an important component of an important issue. Another problem I had with this book was that the author went into great gory detail about certain aspects of new energy (e.g., photovoltaic effect to make solar panels), yet didn't even mention certain emerging technologies that may arrive on the scene of energy production. For example, no mention of tidal power, which has been operating successfully in France for several decades. Granted this would fall in the tenths of percent of energy currently produced, but if your goal is to look forward to the "remaking of the modern world" one would think that more fully discussing these possible energy sources would be of value. Alas, no. This book is mainly about oil, coal, gas, wind, solar, and efficiency. Don't get me wrong, I HIGHLY recommend this book and think it essential reading for anyone interested in the intersection of energy, conservation, efficiency, and our complex global economy, but it could have been better.
Who cares if it's all entirely true or not, this is a great, great story. Funny at times, gruesome in spots, this book recounts the exploits of Avery during his time in British forces of WWII. I thought it was very well written and well read. The humor is of the dry, British sort, but this book kept me listening just to find out what else could happen to Ginger (Avery's assumed name). I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I really liked this book. It was fairly well written and read. There were spots where the author went on and on about some obscure aspect of technology (e.g., lossy vs. lossless data compression) and some stretches where the focus seems to wander, but overall this was a fascinating and comprehensive examination of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human. I though the author could have provided a more consistent thread relating to his participation in the Turing test, but the competition itself was less important than his examination of the various aspects of humanity. I liked this book so much that I assimilated (i.e., read) it in one day, then again on the very next day. There was just that much fascinating detail to hold my attention as much the second time through as the first.
This book was well written and well conceived. It weaves together historical events with seemingly plausible fictional events. I liked this book because at times it was hard to tell where the fiction began. Overall, a very fun book.
I listened to this book hoping it would be an even treatment of these issues. Sadly, it's not worth the time or money. Very one-sided in most parts, just plain wrong in other parts, and extremely hard to get anything constructive out of this book.
This book is fantastic. It's funny, engaging, and fairly factually based. The author does a good job of incorporating recent advances in robotics into a fun and entertaining book about how to beat back the robot hoardes. I recommed this short book for a good laugh.
This book is an extremely interesting review of medicine in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The author does an excellent job of reviewing the state of medicine, the men (there were apparently only men in medicine back then) involved, and how the so-called "Spanish flu" ravaged the world while World War I raged in the background. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning how pandemics can emerge and affect people worldwide.
This is one of the best books I've assimilated in a while. Traig writes a hilariously funny account of her life, which should be made into a movie (I'm thinking of Amy Sedaris as Jenny). If you enjoy a good laugh and actually know how to detect and appreciate sarcasm and off-color humor I highly recommend this book.
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