His Quaker beliefs infuse this book, so may be a barrier to the committed atheist. However, an interesting approach to purpose.
This is a bold proposition from start to finish. The idea that any Philosopher can find the others mistakes and, somehow, has it better is perhaps brash. I found it interesting to walk through this work. I found most interesting was discussing various conceptions of man's "State of Nature" which some use a very interesting view of man as an individual to then bolster anarchism, libertarianism, etc.; yet science shows us man's social origins so this "State of Nature" seems like a ridiculous notion. He also makes an assertion which I recall from Nietzsche about Philosophy being concerned as much about what ought to be as with what is. He makes claims which I have trouble accepting. I am uncomfortable when Philosophy becomes a purely speculative and academic process. I think we need to think about what ought and what we are capable of. Our ideas of virtue in the past might not represent what man is, or is really capable of, or how man thrives best. (I am use man to refer to humans not just males.) I am glad that he did make clear his Aristotelian position in the book, since, until he did, I always felt like something was being hidden. I was left bothered by what I felt to be an inadequate definition of happiness. Perhaps, I missed it, but it seemed crucial to his arguments at points, and I am unclear what he meant. For someone so clear in so many ways, this seems to be a glaring omission.
One of the problems with a book like this is that your opinion of the book will likely depend on your politics. Yes, the book is critical of Reagan, seeing him in some simple and unflattering terms. I found it an interesting way to frame his words and deeds during his political career. I had interesting memories from my own youth of that difficult time of Watergate, the Church Commission, et al.. The author does an interesting job trying to capture the milieu of the times including references to the popular movies of the time. Ronald Reagan was one to tell an inspiring story. The times were bleak. All you have to do is to think of Stagflation, and the helicopter lifting off the last Americans from Saigon. I will say that Reagan did reinvigorate pride in America. I think what the book may question is whether that represented either what America is or has ever been. Certainly looking beyond this book, a legitimate question is whether that pride is even universally held? Does the very "My country right or wrong" actually cause embarrassment among the thinking Liberals? Very interesting and very engaging. I'm glad to have read this book.
This is a collection of various essays, and so, the quality varies greatly. Some of the articles are quite good. Others can use some help. One argument which really bothered me was this: this author argued that there was a redistribution of wealth from young to old. His proof was that the average 65 year old head of household has greater wealth than a 35 year old head of household, and that this gap has grown over the last 30 years. What he failed to deal with was some simple items. Biggest wealth item in the middle class is typically a home, and at age 65 with retirement looming, it's more likely to be paid off and so have more equity than a 35 year old. Also, when you include real estate holdings, the value of a 30 year old home has gone up a great deal. Whether I see that as being the fault of the AARP is a stretch. And, the gap may have grown for 2 reasons, with the first being a huge rise in the value of homes over the last 30 years, and the switch from defined benefit pensions to define contribution plans like 401k, IRA, etc. The latter are included in wealth stats and the other not, since you can't borrow from your pension nor pass it on, other than survivor benefits. And, while I appreciated the explanation of the anarchist viewpoints for my own education, to treat these utopian dreams as legitimate forms of national organization seems to demean the serious character of the book. OWS still exists in one sense, and, in others, has passed as the police cracked down on all the encampments. It is worthy to ask what the movement has accomplished and look for it's follow ons. Various authors did speculate in their essays on what's next. It would be interesting to study OWS and look for those impacts using these prognostications as a starting point. Interesting, but do be careful, as not all viewpoints are as well grounded.
I have a distrust of autobiography. I think the honesty about one's self is so daunting. However, autobiography gets us some view of how the man wanted the world to see him. Another biography suggested a more intemperate young man, he certainly became a man of strength and character. The audiobook is read by Ozzie Davis which is a treat in itself. I admire Jackie so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed the book. One thought that came to me is the strength of his wife, Rachel. The threats to her and her husband were so real. I don't think I can ever fully imagine the challenges she faced. This was a very easy read.
I found my reaction to this book deeply introspective. I'll admit I've seen the Bill Murray film version some time ago, so that had me interested in reading the original novel. I can't say I recall whether the film is all that faithful to the book. The book could have been quite tedious with the social lives of the well to do, but the author is careful not to dwell too much on all that. There are many delightful characters, and I found some connection to Larry and his quest. I imagine if you're not particularly curious about deeper questions this book would be an utter bore. I appreciate the author presenting ideas, while I felt him to be careful not to make his own opinions to be too obvious, letting me decide whether Larry has followed the "right" path. I greatly enjoyed reading, and am glad to have selected this work.
I was pleased to see that Milton Friedman was not as doctrinaire as some that have followed him. I particularly appreciate many of his arguments in favor of Fed intervention. The follow on piece by Ben Bernanke was good to clarify, or reinforce, arguments made in this book. I know his focus was on Monetary policy, but I missed something about the conditions which might have contributed to many of the phenomenon he wrote about. It seems to be things like bank failures were as much about overall economic conditions as they were about poor policy choices. Interesting, but dry, and filled with jargon.
Probably one of the least likely, or perhaps, least interesting subjects to delve in to concerning the Second World War. This books discusses contemporary perceptions, and the reality of the projected Invasion of Japan. That is important as it can frame the discussion of the US decision to use Atomic weapons against Japan. This has been dealt with in other sources, and from many perspectives. I find this a very well researched volume, using both American and Japanese sources. He may not have spent enough time discussing one of the more bizarre acts of the war, which was a partial demobilization following the defeat of Germany. He does cover the impact of that decision on the War against the Japanese quite well. This book is not speculative in nature, he looks at contemporary estimates, including how they were produced. He uses evidence from other battles against Japan (the Philippines, Saipan, Peleliu, Okinawa, etc.) to give perspective to the estimates, and context for the larger American and Japanese battle plans. Certainly, I walk away with even more respect for the Japanese, and I have a better idea of the size of the Japanese Armed Forces, at the time of the Invasion. This didn't change my mind on the use of Atomic weapons. It did remind me further of the naivete of the Americans regarding radiation given the tactical planning for the employment of further atomic weapons. I am glad that didn't happen, both for the Japanese, and for those American soldiers as well. A very interesting book. The appendix is quite dry, but still worth reading.
I saw parts of myself, and was relieved to know that I'm not a sociopath. Not that I was thinking anything of the kind, when I picked this book. It was just I saw behaviors, particularly from my teenage years, which seemed all the more disturbing in this light. Learning more was both shocking and relieving. Besides that, the Thirteen rules were one of the most useful parts of the book. The author, I think rightly, describes that those with a conscious just can't really imagine what it's like not to have one. Therefore, if you run in to a sociopath, run! The book quickly grew on me. I had to think whether the definition was really psychological or criminal or what? And she asks, and answers, the question of whether those lacking a conscious suffer. You do see those who might be quite successful, but it does seem that they can't actually be happy. It was interesting to hear from those who suffer, as well as their victims. It was also good to engage in a larger discussion of whether it is better or not to lack conscious, particularly from an evolutionary viewpoint. I was quite satisfied with my choice.
Interesting story. The authors anger at the treatment of Dragoljub "Draža" Mihailović is unmistakable. I do feel that gets in the way of the narrative at times. Overall quite good. Reads quite well. In some ways a lot happens and in others very little. He does a good job on focusing a limited number of participants so the narrative stays coherent. I'm sure there is much more that could be said.
Certainly this was surprising and quite short. The content certainly reminded me of Buddhism, or at least how Americans have imported Buddhism. The advice seemed very relevant to the modern world. There was a line that was something like "don't listen to the latest 5 best ways to...." or something quite similar and I chuckled. I read this because of Paul Ekman, who spoke so highly of Epictetus at a recent lecture, and he was right.
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