Like many Americans, I have wondered a lot over the past few years about the United States' relationships with the nations and other entities of the Middle East. This book shed some important light for me on America's attitudes and actions toward the Middle East, showing that many of the issues we are dealing with today are related to events in our nation's earliest history. Oren doesn't do much to explain Middle Eastern points of view, but that is not the purpose of this book. He does a nice job with the themes of "power, faith, and fantasy," which are unifying without being overbearing. I enjoyed the narration of this book, and even though it is long I plan to listen to it again--it's that informative.
This interesting, well-written book provides answers to questions such as "Where does chlorine come from?", "What, exactly, is baking powder made of?", and "Why is it that the cakes I bake at home don't taste like Twinkies?" It has a clever structure--one short chapter for each ingredient listed on the Twinkie wrapper. I thought this book was fascinating, though at times overly detailed. It's true that the author does not seem to question, in fact at times he seems to support, the processed food industry. But at bottom, the book just explains what's in Twinkies without offering judgement one way or the other. It's not an overtly political book like "Fast Food Nation." If you eat convenience or packaged foods at all, even foods that are labeled "organic," you are probably eating many of the ingredients that are in Twinkies, and it is illuminating to find out exactly what they are and where they come from.
The main idea in this book is that you have to prioritize the tasks in your life and focus on those that are really important. Tracy presents strategies for creating priorities and following through. This was excellent for me, as I tend to see many of my daily tasks as equally important and have a hard time carrying them out in a systematic way.
Unlike some other writers of similar books, Tracy presents his information concisely with a minimum of digression. Although I disagreed with some of Tracy's ideas (in particular, he seems to misunderstand Daniel Goleman's work on optimism), I have benefitted a great deal from listening to this book.
The first time I listened to this book I didn't like it much, but it was interesting enough to keep listening. Honestly, I didn't think the author was as funny as he seems to think he is. However, the ideas contained in the book about how people think and plan were intriguing enough to me that I listened to the book a second time. I found the author's insights on human psychology both fascinating and useful. Give this book a listen, and if like me you are not that charmed by the author's cute stories, you may still be very interested in his ideas. If you like this book, you should also check out Freakanomics.
I like Dr. Phil--or at least I used to. In this audio of one of his live seminars he comes across as a boorish jerk. He urges his listeners to "stop being so damned judgmental" but then proceeds to trash just about everyone in his life, including the entire town he was brought up in! I didn't get much out of this audio seminar. It was depressing to me, and there weren't many practical or helpful suggestions there.
I grew to dislike this book very much by the end. Even though I am highly interested in the subject matter, I was put off by the narrator's pompously annoying style and the author's antiquated notions of race. What really got to me was the authors repeated insistence that the Roman "stock" was "polluted" by intermarriage with their slaves. There is evidence of impressively detailed historical research, and I understand that the book was written many years ago, but the attitudes displayed in the writing became unbearable after hours of listening.
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