My high rating of this title is based on a comparison with a couple of competing books. I found this one to step along quickly enough to maintain my interest; the others were excruciatingly slow. I may disagree with other reviewers in part because I am re-learning Mandarin. The comparatively rapid pace may be less appropriate for those trying it for the first time.
First, let me say that I will studiously avoid this narrator in the future. He speaks in a loud voice until the end of each sentence, at which time he drops to a whisper. This might be for some imaginary emotional effect, but in a noisy car that means you either turn the whole thing loud enough to hurt your ears or you miss the last third of each sentence.
I enjoyed the book in the sense that it gave a name to a phenomenon that I have long been watching: the politicians' habit of talking about race without ever directly using offensive language. The author developed the concept in great detail and helped point out racist talk that is not clearly open to criticism. You can see the defense against dog-whistle racism by looking at the critical reviews of this book.
I have to say I could not follow the author into the deeper reaches of his exposition. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as racist presidents? I listened closely to the reasoning, but that part of the story does not ring true for me. If they used terms that kept the whole south from turning against them, maybe they share some blame. In their hearts, I do not think they are racists.
A thoughtful person, especially one who can open his mind to perhaps a bit of self-criticism, would benefit from these ideas even if not accepting the whole package. I believe the important arguments could have been delivered in a much shorter format, maybe an article or a radio interview rather than a book. However, the thinking behind it has a good deal of merit.
My recommendation is read it if you want to raise your awareness of subtle racism. Don't bother if you are unconcerned or unlikely to think through the new ideas. If you read it, you might prefer the written version instead of the maddening alternating volume in the narrated work.
I have traveled since my youth and have speculated for many years about the reasons that we (USA) have it all and most of the world has so little. Everyone seems to have a ready explanation- tropical diseases, cultural deficiencies, native flora and fauna unsuitable for domestication, environmental devastation, or exploitation of the poor countries by the wealthy ones. Although some of these factors certainly play a role, there are counter-examples that disarm them all in in many cases. I am convinced that this book has an explanation that stands up in just about every case. Further, it is an explanation that squares with evidence readily observable during one's own travel. Although the explanation offered here is generalized and must by qualified for each specific case, I can enthusiastically recommend the book as a thoughtful overview of this important question.
I assumed from the title and description that I would be hearing an analysis of historic events delivered by a scholar. I was disappointed to learn that it was instead a dramatic presentation of conspiracy theories. If you buy grocery store tabloids you might like this. If you enjoy serious historic accounts, give this one a miss.
John Marshall is widely viewed as the man who established judicial review in the United States. This is an engaging account of the circumstances and politics surrounding Marbury v Madison. Judicial review and the independence of the judiciary are fundamental to the American system; here are the details of how that came to be.
Chief Justice Marshall had a clear grasp of the issues and understood that only a strong supreme court could defend American democracy. We can all be thankful that this strong leader was able to bring the court up to equality with the other two branches of government.
After following Dr. Wilson's scientific work for years, I was pleasantly surprised that he could produce entertaining fiction. OK, there are skilled fiction writers who can probably crank out better stories, but I am seeing this in the context of his full range of talents.
Perhaps there are parallels between the life of his character and Dr. Wilson's own history- it seems the home town and early interests of the main character are quite similar to those of the author. Fair enough- just add some drama and a foot chase and you have a good story.
If you follow E.O. Wilson's scientific work or his contributions to environmental issues, I recommend this work without hesitation. If you are not aware of his background in science, then you may not find it as interesting as I did.
I greatly enjoyed this book but will recommend it for slightly different reasons than the official promotion. You could use if for a slow and clear introduction to the fundamentals of probability, followed by some simple statistics. At each step the author provides a nice explanation using real-world examples, then follows with more cases where it applies. The claim about explaining the world around you is mostly based on those examples. The book does a good job of exposing our universal ability to see what we expect rather than what is really there; that would be the theme woven together by the probability lessons and follow-up examples. We are all subject to self-induced illusions and can all benefit by understanding them better. I definitely recommend this one.
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