Short Review: Complete communist propaganda. Rand's response to The Jungle is clearly Atlas Shrugged Taken as a whole these two books are mirror imageShort Review: Complete communist propaganda. Rand's response to The Jungle is clearly Atlas Shrugged Taken as a whole these two books are mirror images of the two most common misunderstandings of human nature
Long Review: The cruel harsh world of unfettered capitalism. Sinclair's depiction of what happens in a laissez faire economic environment if the benevolent hand of government does not thrust itself into every possible human interaction.
The story itself, while tragic, was compelling (while at the same time quite aggravating given the complete lack of thought any of our protagonists had about anything they did). It was liking being on a train that you knew was headed for disaster, you had any number of ways to avoid said disaster, but the man in charge is too obtuse to listen to you (or Just can't as you are just screaming at the pages), but you can't get off because you expect that at any moment someone will wise up and even if they don't you want to see the crash.
The problem with Sinclair's opus on the evils of capitalism is that the fictional characters he created in order to prove his point were so unbelievable that it almost completely undermines his entire premise. Sinclair has one point above all others: You absolutely cannot survive the crushing brutality of capitalism by your own efforts, you need the government to help. To this end the Protagonist, Jurgis was designed exactly to make this point. A strong young Immigrant who was set up obviously to fail and so to hammer this point into the reader's head. To point; early in the book he would often the solution to his every financial problem: "I will work harder". Now reader, do you see the tragedy coming?
Oh, Jurgis, Jurgis! If only you had answered instead (even one time during all your myriad of struggles) "I will think harder!". While brute force is often required, some thought should go into when and where to apply it! One cannot simply apply brute force to everything in life with complete indiscretion. Often I could not help think that Jurgis' struggles had at least as much to do with his inability to think, than with the ubiquitous evils of capitalism or the rampant corruption of Chicago.
Now even if Jurgis could not think his way out of a paper bag, the second fatal flaw (as if he needed more than one) was his complete lack of a moral foundation. This flaw could be extended to his entire immigrant family. Now, to be sure, it was Sinclair's intention here to show how capitalism not only corrupts the body, it also necessarily corrupts the soul. That is why the family is depicted as so loving in the first wedding scene and falls so far into moral depravity. I submit that these characters (or caricatures) had had a true moral foundation (one which did not fall as fast as the Chicago temperatures in January) then some of the tragedies could have been avoided or at least mitigated. And even if that were not so, at least there could have been some true tragedy to the people who would not let their own conscience bend. Who stood firm on their convictions and have character rather than just being characters. Instead we are left, empty, with complete depravity until and unless we are saved by a human anti-savior (personified by Nicholas Schliemann).
Reading this in the light of another overtly preachy political Novel: Atlas Shrugged brings an interesting perspective to both works. Interestingly, they are both mirror opposites of each other. So much so that I would not be at all surprised if Ayn Rand wrote 'Shrugged' as a direct response to 'Jungle'. They both have a 'John Gault' (in the Jungle it is Nicholas Schliemann). The thing I found fascinating was how both Sinclair and Rand dealt with an atheist world view. Neither world is one I would want to live in, neither their depraved description of the world and how it is or their woefully inadequate solutions to it.
Sinclair leaves us a world devoid of freedom and upward mobility and bases itself on the irrationality that Government can function in an un-Godly world without corruption and simply pull the right leaver to every cultural or economic problem like the wizard-of-Oz without causing any unintended consequences. Such an idea is preposterous (for an easy read of why: That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen ) Ryan leaves us with an un-Godly world in which charity is immoral, love is non-existent and hedonism is the only rational human motivation.
Without knowing it, these two Novels, taken as a single whole exploration of some real truths of human nature speak so very clearly to the absolute depravity of man when separated from its maker. They could not have done it any better in my opinion if that was their unified goal. Now that is irony....more
I listened to the first 3-1/2 hours of this book from audible and I was not at all impressed.
First of all the book is the very definition of vulgar. "I listened to the first 3-1/2 hours of this book from audible and I was not at all impressed.
First of all the book is the very definition of vulgar. "lacking sophistication or good taste; unrefined" The only semblance of anything close to good writing was a singular phrase "To condense fact from the vapor of nuance." Now that is a wonderful (part of a) sentence! Would that the book had more than just that one. It was as if that was the only sentence Stephenson could write that was not simple common words and once he came up with it he had to repeat it over and over because he could come up with nothing better. Short simple word sentences do not craft a good book in my opinion.
Along with vulgarity it was unnecessarily profane.
The characters were one dimensional. But that, I suppose would be expected from an author who only understands the English language in a vulgar manner. The protagonist's name is 'Hiro Protagonist'. Really? He is a pizza delivery driver in a world where the most important thing is that a pizza arrives in 30 min or less? How trite. If you like that type of depravity in your literature, there is plenty more punn-ingly bad plays on words in this book as well as vulgar metaphors.
I only listened as long as I did because the story started off with some interesting action and had some good takes on the future of computing (esp considering the year it was written).
After 3 hours or so I started counting the length of his sentences and guessing how many words were used outside of the 10000 most common English words. Not many. But I should have guessed that from the title 'Snow Crash'. Randall should call Stephenson to help him the next time he works on a project like Up-Goer five
I Guess I need to go back to books written at a time when authors were literate....more
Good. Not Brilliant, but Good. There is a lot here that is very good, but a few things that are less than good. I will try to explain without spoilersGood. Not Brilliant, but Good. There is a lot here that is very good, but a few things that are less than good. I will try to explain without spoilers.
The very good: 1) The best science fiction is a study in ethics from a point of view that cannot be done with 'real science' and to that point Speaker for the dead excels. How do we treat other sentient beings? Do we follow the "prime directive" as Star Trek would? (non interventionist?) and if we do, why? for their benefit or ours? How can we know a completely alien culture? and What makes a thing moral or immoral? 'Speaker' argues that Morality has its roots in Nature and does a good job of it. 2) The Religion. 'Speakers' are a kind of cult non-religion religion, and the other prevalent religion is Catholicism. I was concerned about this as Card is a Mormon, but he did a very good job as he had with Sister Carlata in the Shadow series. Never did 'speakers for the dead' contradict established religion despite some of character's character flaws. 3) Empathy. The entire 'Speaker' mythos is quite fascinating and compelling. 'You can't know a person until you walk a mile in their shoes' (not a quote from the book, but the sentiment is right). Find out who a person is, what motivates them, what flaws they had and why they did what they did, speak the truth without justifying what they may have done wrong. This absolutely is a question about the human condition and Card addresses this in a superior way.
The Good: 1) Plot. Ender's game you can have a good guess as to what the twist will be IF you guess that there is a twist. This one is backward, you KNOW there will be a twist but you will NEVER guess what it is and it is that fact, the mystery that makes this book a page turner. 2) Lack of brutal characters. Ender's game and Shadow had a plethora of just awful characters that are evil for evil's sake. They really are not necessary to the degree they were presented. Thankfully those elements are missing in 'Speaker'. 3) The writing. It could be that I read too much Dickens and Hugo to appreciate modern writing, but Card along with all his books are easy to read, but lacking in presence.
The Poor: 1) Science Suspension of disbelief. I'm a syfi guy, I can go along way with it. a few things I did not like were: the buggers telepathic communication with Ender (I can give this a pass, but I didn't like it), The biology of the piggies, Jane (not the idea of artificial intelligence, just the way in which it was done, the psychology of it. - also it was way way to convenient for Ender) and the unexplained fact that the Buggers experienced time in 'real time' not relativistic time. This made no sense.
As I said a good book, possibly better than Ender's game but more of an adult book as others have mentioned. Absolutely worth your time to read and a classic due to it's moral questions and good exploration of the human condition....more
I read this book in chronological order along with the Shadow series, which is to say I read, Ender's game, Ender's shadow then Ender in Exile. It isI read this book in chronological order along with the Shadow series, which is to say I read, Ender's game, Ender's shadow then Ender in Exile. It is not the order I would recommend however, only because this 'midquel' is probably not the best work of the series. 'Speaker for the Dead' was the next novel written and having sense read it, I would say it is superior. This novel is probably for the Ender universe junkies who want to know more of Col. Graph, Ender's Parents, Peter etc and what exactly happened to them, but mostly Ender and the Colony he went to.
It was an interesting book filled with some new and interesting characters and a quick easy read as all the ender/shadow books are.
Ender shows off some of his brilliance in the long awaited climax and Valentine is with him, if you want more Ender read the book, otherwise I found it unremarkable as a whole. ...more
At least 10 years had passed since I read Ender's Game. I never intended to read Enter's Shadow because, I reasoned that Card was a one trick pony. OnAt least 10 years had passed since I read Ender's Game. I never intended to read Enter's Shadow because, I reasoned that Card was a one trick pony. Once the gig was up (the massive plot twist at the end of Enders Game) what was the point in reading the story from Bean's perspective? You already knew the ending. I picked this up at the library to listen to on my commute (Love Scott Brick btw - I could listen to him read the dictionary) and I was surprised at Card's storytelling ability and the high level of interest that I kept throughout the entire story. So much so that I am now on to Ender's Exile just to see what else Card has to say about the story.
Was it perfect? No, far from it IMO. Bean, while a interesting and fascinating character and grew more complex as the story developed, at times seemed forced and some of the dialog was really quite bad. Much of the children's interactions with each other was downright brutal and an unnecessary attempt to empathize with the protagonist (Bean). My Son read this book a year or so ago (while he was 12 or 13) and I wonder if the book was not too mature for him. Too many swear words as well that were just not necessary and felt like a forces way for Card to bring drama to the story. Characters were often caricatures specially antagonists: Achilles and Madrid. (more so Madrid) Card is unable to create any true humanity in his antagonists and the strength of them (while still not glorifying their evil) may just be too strong for most pre-adolescent children.
Is it a classic? Difficult to Judge. Ender's Game probably is (I am planning on re-reading that to compare the two better) Enter's Shadow Leave a lot of room for discussion of ethics and religion (religion much more so than Ender's Game) There is also quite a lot there to inspire thought on the human condition and possible genetic altering of that condition (what makes us human?) It is certainly worth your time if you read Enter's Game and Enjoyed the book ...more
I never thought we needed a negative star rating as goodreads, but this book begs to have an entirely different rating system. Not only was this bookI never thought we needed a negative star rating as goodreads, but this book begs to have an entirely different rating system. Not only was this book terrible, not only did it run the Dark Tower Series, it ruined EVERY SINGLE BOOK KING EVER WROTE!. This is officially the last book I will EVER read from Stephen King.
I am generally not one of those people who will go off the deep end on things but if you ever thought that King really has no clue as to what he is doing and simply makes it up as he goes along then this book will convince you of that fact along with the understanding that he really is one megalomaniac. This whole epic is really all about King himself. I cannot say how sad and disappointing it was to watch King go down this horribly stupid and narcissistic path. No I will not read VII. I really don't care, I care less than that, I would rather it have never been written or all the copies burned than to pay the author any royalties that he might get for his own naval gazing.
The series just got too big for him and he collapsed under the weight.
The Giver is a very good primer for young readers on future dystopias without having to get into the depths of something like '1984' or 'Brave New WorThe Giver is a very good primer for young readers on future dystopias without having to get into the depths of something like '1984' or 'Brave New World'. I would recommend this to pre and young teens who will be able to identify with 12 year old Jonas. 'The Giver' takes place in a community of 'sameness' or equality, and complete tranquility, no war, hunger or real sadness of any kind, but as Jonas is about to discover this comes at a price that he is completely unaware of.
This is a book a parent should read with and discuss with young students, a great many topics about what it means to be human pour out of the pages of this short book. A great book for discussion indeed.
I give great credit to Lowry for making this concepts accessible to a younger audience, yet I can't help being troubled by the unexplained 'supernatural' abilities that 'The Giver' and 'The Receiver' (Jonas) have to transfer and hold memories. I am not sure this 'ability' was even necessary, but even if it was, a simple future technological reasoning was desperately missing IMO.
Also, without giving any spoilers, I felt that Lowry did not ever have much of a conclusion in mind, and felt she had to pull something together at the end to wrap things up. I am not sure if she felt constrained to write a short book of a younger audience, but I would have rather she developed a bit more complex story line and made the book longer (even twice as long would have not been excessive) to draw us into Jonas' world and allowed the reader to see where the end of this culture takes us.
The shortness of the book also did not allow the reader to dive into Jonas' character or 'The Giver' with enough detail. I never felt I understood their motivation esp. a very uncharacteristic decision by 'The Giver' late in the book. These problems keep me from giving 'The Giver' more than three stars.
In the end, these quibbles I have with 'Te Giver' should not shy one away from reading this 'Classic' For younger readers....more
A Good and exciting, but not great book. There were very few dull moments and lots of swashbuckling, heroics, passion, intrigue and Romance by the (foA Good and exciting, but not great book. There were very few dull moments and lots of swashbuckling, heroics, passion, intrigue and Romance by the (four) Musketeers fighting against real or perceived evils. So if that is your thing, you will love this book. For me that is fine, but I personally enjoy more depth to my books.
Several relatively dramatic writing style changes were interesting, but not bad (one specifically when Milady was captured by the Duke of Winter) I had thought through 90% of this book it would be a good read to the kids despite some strong references extra-marital affairs, but the final blow was the direct reference to rape (even if the rape was a lie). and that is just not something I want to have to bring up with the kids just yet.
Fun and Exciting, (mostly) morally well done, several uncanny coincidences that I have a little trouble getting past, but even I can suspend my disbelief for this book as it never seems out of the style of the book (which tends to be a bit extraordinary from beginning to end)...more
I read this to the kids and they really enjoyed it. This is a very simple book with one dimensional characters about a boy who only wants one thing anI read this to the kids and they really enjoyed it. This is a very simple book with one dimensional characters about a boy who only wants one thing and his evil half-brother who hates him and controls his life and basically is keeping the good boy from getting his only want in life (become a master goldsmith).
Some simple detective/PI work is involved as the plot unfolds, poor boy overcomes, happy ending, blah blah blah. One thing you can take away is a better understanding of Egypt when Pharaohs ruled. I must admit that it did a very good job of that. Other than that it was straight forward and the writing was quite simple. better for smaller children....more
I enjoyed this little story. Hemingway has a way of drawing you into the feelings of his characters. and that was what this story was about. it was noI enjoyed this little story. Hemingway has a way of drawing you into the feelings of his characters. and that was what this story was about. it was not action (although there was enough) it as about the old man and the sea (and the fish in the sea!). What he went through and why he did it.
Others here may not understand that, but I think I do. This is a story for a book club that you can discuss. There is so much there, so much you can apply to our own lives. Are we hanging onto something we should cut loose? or should we keep hanging on. I loved the descriptions of the sea of the fish, the respect the old man had for those things on which his life depended. We in America especially have lost that respect - we want to just go to McDonald's (a la Sara's Review) and have the federal government take care of us.
An amazingly simple yet powerful treatise. How easy it is for us to not look at the unintended consequences of government spending. This books is espeAn amazingly simple yet powerful treatise. How easy it is for us to not look at the unintended consequences of government spending. This books is especially relevant today with massive government 'stimulus' spending programs and the myth that we can subsidize 'green jobs' that will help the economy. This book is a must read for every American at a minimum and probably for everyone in the world....more
What can I say about Atlas Shrugged? In a word 'Surreal'. But not necessarily in a good way. I was with Rand for the first 1/3 or so of the book, butWhat can I say about Atlas Shrugged? In a word 'Surreal'. But not necessarily in a good way. I was with Rand for the first 1/3 or so of the book, but the book tended to decline precipitously after that.
At First the book seemed to model what I consider to be conservative values, but as it progressed it became clear how anti-religious Rand is. In fact it would seem that to Rand, Communism and Religion are simply the same evil from different ends.
This Atheistic Capitalism is what Rand believes to be the greatest good and John Gault is the Personification of her philosophy, which culminates in a 3 hour long speech by Gault (70 pages in the book) outlining this Philosophy. (Rand will apparently never take one page to say what could be said in ten- You thought Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo was long winded? Ha! At least they excelled in descriptions and filling the reader with a deeper understanding. Rand uses words like a billy club and the more words the bigger the club)
In the end Rand mischaracterizes Christianity and fails to address key failings in her own idea of what is good (ultimately for her it is solely personal pleasure) while the same time rationalizing that one should never harm another person. What if hurting others brought you pleasure? Rand, it would seem, dismisses that as 'asking others to live for you' and de facto, wrong.
Due to this 'whatever I want first' philosophy the book is laced with overt sexual exploits. Sex is simply using others for your own pleasure. In fact the Heroine Dagny Taggart sleeps with every single one of the three main Heros of the book. Often several times and in much more detail than I (or anyone) really needed.
In the end I found the Heroes and villains to be completely one-dimensional. In fact I would expand that to the entire populace of Ayn Rands America. She divides it into two camps: Thinkers and Non-Thinkers. There is no in between, there is no subtly, there is no multidimensional characters anywhere in the book.
I do agree with much of the Capitalist sentiments and found myself agreeing profusely while still in the first 1/3rd of the book, however by the end I can't help think that the majority is one great big straw man fallacy. 'Surreal' is a good word as it is simply beyond any semblance to reality.
(view spoiler)[ Near the end the absurdity of the current political rulers torching Gault so that he would rule them (literally he refused and they wanted him to save the country because he was the ONLY person in the world who could) only exemplified to me what a straw man the political left truly is to Rand. I for one, do not agree with the left, but I do understand it. The same cannot be said for Rand. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Nietzche had a overwheming hatred of all that is good and well meaning people. Zarathustra is undoubetly filled with subtle refrences that I did not fNietzche had a overwheming hatred of all that is good and well meaning people. Zarathustra is undoubetly filled with subtle refrences that I did not fully comprehend, but I understood enought to know that he felt religion and good people were preventing humanity from becoming something 'greater' than it is. Odd that he should care about this greatness (or overcoming as he puts it) since in his own philosophy disregards anything that might be 'good'....more
This is IMO, the best book of the Foundation Trilogy. The first one had some very interesting ideas, but short on story (It is just not very excitingThis is IMO, the best book of the Foundation Trilogy. The first one had some very interesting ideas, but short on story (It is just not very exciting when you already know the outcome) The second one dealt with the Mule with such amazing mutant powers that I was disappointed that Asimov felt the need to create this mutant out of 'thin air'. But it was ultimately necessary to cause enough problems so that we ultimately did not know that the outcome would be and that all the problems caused by the Mule would have to be solved by the 2nd Foundation.
Asimov continues to add great plot twists and the story is intriguing if not my favorite series it still has much to contemplate about destiny, politics and the human condition. ...more
In case you didn't know, 'Foundation' is science fiction and if anyone is looking for classics in the Sci-Fi genre this is a good place to start. HoweIn case you didn't know, 'Foundation' is science fiction and if anyone is looking for classics in the Sci-Fi genre this is a good place to start. However if you don't like Sci-Fi then you should stay away.
I think I know why this is so popular and that is because Asimov has created an entirely unique perspective on time, space and most importantly, humanity itself. The science of psychohistory is a very intriguing idea where one can know with almost mathematical certainty what an entire species will do (as long as the population is big enough) while at the same time not having to know what any one individual may or may not do, and Asimov knows how to play his new science like a well tuned instrument.
Because of some of the more interesting aspects of psychohistory, Asimov's characters are often dealing with what is and is not predetermined and what they should (or should not) do about it. This would make for very interesting discussions about the book and humanities own perception of what is or is not inevitable. Also what should we be doing about our own civilization, what role do we play and what is our moral obligation to it.
one of the downfalls of the Foundation Trilogy IMO, is due to the length of time over which the books take place. I for one very much enjoy character development and following their progress throughout the story, however in Foundation you are constantly being introduced to new characters throughout the 1,000 year history that has been pre-determined by the first psychohistorian, Hary Seldon. I have a tendency to loose track of all those characters as the generations fly by. Ultimately it has the effect of making those characters rather shallow. Despite this fact Asimov does understand the human condition and as all great sci-fi does. And what character development there is it almost always touches upon this element, which in and of itself makes the book (and the seires) a classic.
I will give a ton of credit to the originality of Asimov and the many creative and intreaguing plot twists, which has continued to drive me towards the next book to see, not only what the 'Seldon Plan' truly was, but if and how it will come about. Asimov is skillfull in revealing just enough to keep you going as you realize 'oh my' this was way bigger than I ever thought at each instance.
Finally, while I will stand behind my labeling of this as a classic, I would rather have seen a little better writing style to give this book (and series) anything better than three stars...more