I am a big fan of Michael Pollan, and would recommend his works to any friend who enjoys a mix of history, politics, food, and the natural world. This...moreI am a big fan of Michael Pollan, and would recommend his works to any friend who enjoys a mix of history, politics, food, and the natural world. This is not his best work, but it is still pretty good. The book follows four plants and discusses how they reflect human desires, and vice versa. The plants/desire combinations, if I remember them correctly, included: beauty/tulip, sweetness/apple, intoxication/marijuana, and control/potato.
While some of Mr. Pollan's arguments occasionally require a bit of a leap or maybe a little faith, his ideas are always thought provoking and worthy of some reflection. If you are going to read his works, this is pretty good. However, if you are only going to read one, I would recommend Second Nature first. (less)
What does it mean to exhibit political courage? That is the question that Kennedy attempts to answer in Profiles in Courage. While the stories are not...moreWhat does it mean to exhibit political courage? That is the question that Kennedy attempts to answer in Profiles in Courage. While the stories are not recent and focus upon issues far removed from our common consciousness, Kennedy focuses upon those traits he believes we need in our political leaders: independence, conviction, and courage. And in most respects the book does a good job either convincing or reminding us of those traits.
However, when reading his stories I couldn't help but think that the traits he lauds are only laudatory when viewed in hindsight. While standing up and ignoring the desires of your constituents may be commendable when you are fighting against slavery or for the union, they are often the same traits that a condemned as intransigent, obstructionist, and unreasonable in other circumstances. Even after reading the book, and respecting those written about, I am not convinced that a Senate full of such persons would be more respected or effective than the Senate we have today, or Kennedy had in the fifties.
Still, the book is very good and worth the couple of hours it takes to read. (less)