Titan is the first full-length biography based on unrestricted access to Rockefeller’s exceptionally rich trove of papers. A landmark publication full of startling revelations, the book indelibly alters our image of this most enigmatic capitalist. Born the son of a flamboyant, bigamous snake-oil salesman and a pious, straitlaced mother, Rockefeller rose from rustic origins to become the world’s richest man by creating America’s most powerful and feared monopoly, Standard Oil. Branded "the Octopus" by legions of muckrakers, the trust refined and marketed nearly 90 percent of the oil produced in America.
I found Titan more trying and intense than some other Ron Chernow books, but maybe that is appropriate for such a mysterious, obfuscated subject. Chernow upholds his reputation for exhaustive research and personal illumination, and Gardner's narration is strong if occasionally mechanical.
It is now 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, 30,000-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.
I really admire the writer's dedication to discovering the truth. It's very apparent that writing this book has totally changed his worldview on the subject, and his passion shows clearly throughout the book. Unfortunately, like any new convert, he struggles to focus his thoughts and balance enthusiasm and objectivity. Too often, I feel, he answers the same question repeatedly or drags out an anecdote well beyond it's emotional punch. For those with a baseline of understanding on drugs or a less liberal bent, exasperation may outweigh fascination. This isn't to say that someone else won't appreciate it though! A reader with little knowledge of the drug war will probably find the book eye-opening and fascinating. If that is you, then read the book and do some more research on your own afterward.
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran-and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.
The Life We Bury feels like a book written by a young author and mangled by the capitalist instincts of a publisher. I don't know if that is true, but that's the impression I get. Many of the supporting characters are formulaic and half the sentences have similies, but Eskens seems to have some potential in my uninformed opinion. A mostly likeable main character, a touching and seemingly honest depiction of autism, and periodic inspired prose intrigued me enough to consider another of his books, especially with Villa as the narrator. His voices are all distinct and consistent, and he adds some great tension to the story without sounding too hokey. Overall, it's a good listen if you want something casual and aren't deterred by the horrors of war and sex crimes.
Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.”
He's just so great. At Home is not much more than a loose connection of anecdotes and facts Bryson thought were cool, but somehow he left me enthralled with each chapter. He is earnestly fascinated by everything, and his charm makes it all but impossible not to share his enthusiasm.
A major audiobook about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
The Sixth Extinction is incredibly well researched and evocative. The author manages to avoid lecturing or drawing too many conclusions from her experiences, and her highlights of the people fighting this catastrophe help give the book a more personal, conversational feel. The book is at once a nature documentary and a travelogue of sorts, and although the two styles occasionally butt up against each other awkwardly, the end result is both engaging and eye-opening.
Audie Award, Humor, 2016. In Furiously Happy, number-one New York Times best-selling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
She gives an incredible insight into the horrors and humors of mental illness and speaks directly into the void that sometimes opens in life and feels never ending. To hear her tell her stories herself only makes it more powerful.
In The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history, told through characters he brought to indelible life. Now he performs the same alchemy with The Big Burn, the largest-ever forest fire in America, a tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy.
This book sets about the difficult task of trying to tie together two very different story lines into one narrative, and although it probably doesn't succeed enough in that respect to earn any special awards, it makes for a fascinating and exciting tale. Egan's wonderfully detailed depiction of political intrigue around the Forrest Service is almost as captivating as the heart-racing chapters on the Big Burn itself. His characters are engaging and his settings are incredibly clear, so that you can almost smell the smoke and feel the energy of Teddy's political revolution. If you are just looking for a fun historical drama, I cannot recommend it enough!
This national best seller is an entertaining, informative, and sometimes shocking expose of the way history is taught to American students. Lies My Teacher Told Me won the American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship.
I completely agree with Loewen that history has been taught in an entirely too boring and potentially racist way, but this book will not convince anyone who is unsure of that point. There are a lot of very good points in the book, but they are drowned out by hours of nitpicking and rhetoric. In the last chapter, Loewen tries to strike a final nail in the coffin of secondary history education, but he just ends up hitting his thumb instead. His focus throughout the book is on high school education, but the closing argument takes a bizarre left turn into college education and never finds its footing. Part of the problem may be the decades that have passed since the publishing of this book, but I will be looking for some better information on the subject. In that respect, I suppose, this book accomplished it's goal.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
I loved the narration, intensity, and humor of The Martian. If you're excited by a three minute discussion of the specifics of interplanetary rover hacking, this book is perfect for you. You should also be prepared for a level of detail that buries some of the emotional moments, but that's to be expected from such an engineer-y book.
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Nadia Bolz-Weber takes no prisoners as she reclaims the term "pastrix"(pronounced "pas-triks," a term used by some Christians who refuse to recognize female pastors) in her messy, beautiful, prayer-and-profanity laden narrative about an unconventional life of faith. Heavily tattooed and loud-mouthed, Nadia, a former stand-up comic, sure as hell didn't consider herself to be religious leader material-until the day she ended up leading a friend's funeral in a smoky downtown comedy club. Surrounded by fellow alcoholics, depressives, and cynics, she realized: These were her people. Maybe she was meant to be their pastor.
Nadia Bolz-Weber's narration makes this book something totally unique. Her voice adds a richness and weight to the spiritual journey she describes that can't be easily replicated by just anyone. I had tears in my eyes at moments. (Random side note:her voice sounds weirdly like Katie Couric's if you listen to it while running a belt sander.)