This is a review from a teacher:
Frank McCourt won a Pulitzer Prize with his book Angela's Ashes (I have not read any of his other works and only read this because someone suggested that teachers should read it.). This book is an account of his time as an English teacher in inner-city New York. He taught there for more than 20 years and earned himself nothing. Yes, there were students who came back and said "You really influenced me.” Or “You made a big difference in my life." But what didn't happen, and what doesn't happen to nearly every single teacher you have ever had, is a secure ending. When he retired, he retired to an incredibly small teacher’s pension.
The praises of the students warms the hearts and souls of teachers but they do not warm houses. They do not put kids through college. They do not allow for dental work. They do not allow for their retirement to be secure. Nearly all students will earn more than the teacher who educated them. Most educated students will vote for an expansion of the football stadium over an increase in teacher salary despite the fact that their employer hired them because of their education.
So when I read this book, I see the same problems all teachers face. To be sure stupid students can be funny. Last year a student asked me whether or not we knew for certain the other planets were actually round (she meant spherical) or were they flat like the Bible says. In Oklahoma recently two industrial factories chose to locate in other states because the people of Oklahoma simply were not intelligent enough to work in a factory. This is not an isolated occurrence. So for me, a teacher, this book was depressing.
By the way, the highest paid a public official in the state of Oklahoma is Oklahoma's football coach who makes more than 2 million a year. Who is the highest-paid public servant in your state?
So why this book over other environmental books? Tom does an exceptional job bringing home the affect of our local actions on the rest of the world and the effect of others on the US. The book does not just address the issues from the security of an office but rather Tom takes the reader to the hot spots around the world. He looks at a lot of issues that are known. What is not know is how exactly our action affect the word. For instance, what would happen if I reused each plastic bottle of water just once? If we all did this the impact would be substantial. The book is not another droning "humans bad" environmental book. It is a "you can have an impact and do so easily book. I highly recommend the book. I will probably use it in my next conservation class. The recording itself is excellent and as Tom reads it, the annunciation matches the authors feeling. Narrating the obvious concerns of author facing surgery via machete in the middle of the rainforest can only be properly conveyed by the author himself.
First the book is fun to read. The stories are incredible and amazing. But I really don't buy the premise that some people have got "it" and thus survive and others do not. The book selectively shows people who survived "against all odds." But in reality there are far more people who died when they were "against all odds." That's why it's "against all odds." Further, there are even more people who set out prepared, were skilled and ended up dying anyway. I do not doubt for a moment that in many cases survival comes down to having your personal amount of "it." But his a basic claim is that if you survived "against all odds" you have "it."
Several firefighters were inside World Trade Centers when they collapsed. A few survived. They did not survive because they had "it" and the other firefighters did not. They survived because they happen to be standing in the right place at the right time. People standing in front of them and people standing behind them did not survive. A six month old baby (with an oxygen mask) could have done the exact same thing (I personally like to believe that those firefighters had more "it" than anybody on the planet). Having said all that this is still a fun book to read if you enjoy survivor stories and particularly if you believe that you have "it." And I believe I do.
The recording and narration itself are excellent.
This book is an easily accessible history of the idea of evolution. From its pre-Darwinian origin (Darwin did not discover evolution but rather a mechanism that drives evolution), to the modern synthesis, to the modern creationist debates it is all here. Unlike what we would typically find in a history book, this book is a fun read. The author spends enough time with the details of the individuals involved that you feel like you're actually reading about a human being and not just a fact. This is a more complete history than the six evolution textbooks sitting on my shelf (which all dedicate only one chapter to the subject of history). This is a must read for the student of evolution and a highly recommended read for the student of biology. I would also recommend it to the anti-evolutionist after all, it is a succinct history, an easy read and it covers the beginning of the creationist movement and some of the major players.
The book requires no pre-existing knowledge of evolution and thus is accessible to all. The narration is excellent and clear.
For me (I teach evolution) the best part of this book is the premise that we use DNA fingerprinting every day in the court systems and no one has a problem with its evolutionary implications. I am embarrassed that this had never occurred to me. For the teacher, this book is loaded with excellent examples and demonstrates our existing understanding of how DNA reveals evolution. The science in this book is extremely accessible to all levels of knowledge. The recording itself is quite clear and the narrator easy to listen to.
President Carter addresses many issues our country is currently tackling. He is particularly critical of our current administration's desire to incorporate "their" religion into "our" government. He addresses the dangers of the path we are taking and how this path conflicts with our constitution and with the very religion professed by the administration. He covers many other issues including preemptive war, science and religion, environmental degradation, homosexuality, abortion, civil liberties, women's rights, along with many others.
His conclusion and the conclusion of many people throughout time is that fundamentalism is one of the most dangerous problems facing the world. The inability to be OK with someone else's point of view or someone else's way of life is simply a danger to the planet. Our country, like Europe during the dark ages, like modern-day Afghanistan, is being steered down a path desired by the fundamentalist. Saddam Hussein was smart enough to not get involved with fundamentalist Muslims. Our president believes that fundamentalism is the path our country should take and, as Carter points out, our president is using patriotism as a means to get the ignorant to not ask questions and to not think for themselves. As of today America is now more conservative than the nation of South Africa.
If you are interested in what a Nobel peace prize winning thinker has to say about the direction our country has taken, then this is an excellent read. If thinking is not your forte, then buy the book so that you can write a review of drivel. You can actually contact the White House or Fox News and find out what your talking points should be regarding this book. That way you and the rest of the storm troopers will all be in lockstep.
The recording quality itself is excellent.
Again, another book which demonstrates how a little knowledge is dangerous. The Dalai Lama expounds on how Buddhism is similar to our current understanding of science. I think it is an error to find similarities between science and any religion and use that similarity to pat your religion on the back. To do so, the religious must ignore all the dissimilarities of their religion and the world as we now know it. Also, this is an error as the knowledge of science will surely move on. That any religion has found similarities is surely a temporary thing. It is like be righteous because there is a mountain outside your window and no one else’s (For those of you who do not know, mountains are constantly being built and eroded.). I'm not arguing for or against Buddhism (Buddhism is probably one of the only religions I would feel comfortable with),rather his Holiness the Dalai Lama,is making claims regarding the similarity of his religion and the world as we know it. Whether his religion or any religion is the "correct" one simply cannot be based on its similarity to science.
That said, it is a very interesting book and an enlightening window into the thoughts of the Dalai Lama. He does an excellent job describing the study and understanding of the conscious particularly from the Buddhist point of view. It is not a particularly easy read unless you happen to be interested in this, but I enjoyed it very much.
The audio quality of this book is excellent.
This is quintessential Dawkins. It is an extremely entertaining and fun listen. Well worth the few bucks.
The audio quality itself is satisfactory.
She wrote Longitude : The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (1995) and Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (2000). Both of these books were outstanding! So I was really looking forward to this book. Man is it bad. The intellectual level of this book is really low. I am not sure if this is because I already know a lot about the topic and apparently know more about it than she presents, or she just dropped the ball on this one. So I am left wondering if my satisfaction with her previous work is due to my ignorance of the subjects or her poor showing on this book is an anomaly. As it is, I must strongly recommend the other two books and to give this one a pass.
The audio quality of this book is satisfactory.
Not a bad book. They always advertise these types of books as being composed by a dynamic speaker. I suspect that the reviewer's (the one provided by the bookseller, not any reviewers on this page) must have earned their degrees from professors who possessed the dynamic personality of Ents. Despite that shortcoming, this was a fairly good book. I have always supposed that the Enlightenment happened at long time ago. I was surprised to find that the American Revolution and Benjamin Franklin both played a large role in this time of world history (I also earned a D- in history in high school so I should be happy that at least I know that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to stand on the mon.). An interesting problem addressed in this book was the definition of the Enlightenment itself. The underlying theme of all the definitions however is that the Enlightenment was a time of throwing off the superstitions held by the church and seeking knowledge elsewhere. This is not to imply that science was the method used for acquiring new knowledge. To be sure it was used to great effectiveness by many people (Newton). This period in our history represents mostly the freedom to think about the world and about people and why we do what we do.
It is not the best place to start with this subject but you could easily do worse.
The audio quality itself is excellent and the reader is clear. As I have no useful background in history I found this book difficult. This opinion might have been dramatically different had I followed along with the web based material associated with the book.
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