If you don’t walk away from this book with 20 new pop-up facts and 2 profound Ah-Ha’s… you were snoozing! “Sapiens” details man’s lineage in comparisoIf you don’t walk away from this book with 20 new pop-up facts and 2 profound Ah-Ha’s… you were snoozing! “Sapiens” details man’s lineage in comparison to all known Homo lines – those that both preceded and paralleled our own timeline. Harari summarizes the incredible breakthroughs in science that allow us to glance back at our own evolution. He delivers a fascinating and scathing report documenting our global annihilation of specific species and resources. Fair warning -- more than a few times his analogies will singe your eyebrows. Please just forgive a flamboyant nerd and remember that Harari wrote this book to provoke and engage. He deserves 4 stars for providing an accessible, wild ride down the slippery slope of evolution. A couple of additional warnings: Harari is an atheist of the first order, so check your chosen book at the door. He is also a bit blustery, so when his story runs dry just flip forward -- another chapter-in-time awaits!...more
A celebrity memoir cliché, if there ever was one! Houston stuffed her book with poolside parties, Hollywood affairs and crash and burn artists of everA celebrity memoir cliché, if there ever was one! Houston stuffed her book with poolside parties, Hollywood affairs and crash and burn artists of every ilk. There are huge sections of this book that feel exactly like a hurried acceptance speech. Everyone gets a name mention including her 50 odd pets, horses and the many chefs who catered the endless string of parties. Really Anjelica, did you have to name each chef? … every time…! Anjelica runs off to her room a lot, sulking or weeping over betrayals and tragedies. It's just tough to be entirely empathetic to a starlet who has the family funds to flit back and forth from Hollywood, to Aspen, to London and New York. Jack Nicholson summed it all up when he offered Anjelica advice about pairing movie genres with the season, "...One should DO a Western every summer!" Everything you need to know about this memoir can be found on the cover jacket. Anjelica is poised chin up with a assured half-baked smile. She is glancing sideways and manages to look proud and guarded at the same time. Her bare shoulder is prominently featured, sans chip, but everyone knows it’s still there... including Anjelica. Hence the title. I think she is either smart and brash… OR she is gullible and bitchy. Jack knows the truth… don’t you Jack ;-). ...more
OK… upon further review… I upped my rating. I added an extra star to Erik Larson’s account of the sinking of the Lusitania. I know, who gives a damn?OK… upon further review… I upped my rating. I added an extra star to Erik Larson’s account of the sinking of the Lusitania. I know, who gives a damn? Well, apparently I do! We all have our own personal little rating system. Truth is, this was an excellent read. I originally gave it 3 stars, ranking it in behind my favorite books by Larson; “Devil in the White City” and “Isaac’s Storm.” And if you have not read Isaac’s Storm please pick it up. Larson is a wonderful classic plot constructionist and a crystal clear storyteller.
Dead Wake toggles chapter-by-chapter, back-and-forth reconstructing a critical game of cat and mouse. The German U-boat Schwieger and US Captain Turner are bound for a shared destiny and infamy. Larson does an admirable job describing the macro and micro context of submarine warfare and documenting the social highlife of the Lusitania. In juxtaposition, the sub's living conditions were wretched and the experience on the cruise ship were sublime and indulgent (pre torpedo!). And as fate would bare, the former was also victorious and the latter was bloody tragic. Larson tacks-on a conspiracy theory at the end of his book that purports Lusitania as a war pawn of Churchill. He clips off a run-list of evidence that indicates that Churchill knowing pulled a naval escort from the Lusitania. We all know Churchill was trying to goat America into his war, but I’m not at all convinced Churchill knowingly killed off 1,000’s of American and British civilians. If Larson fully believed that this was a vertical conspiracy of epic proportion, why did he not commit his entire story to uncovering this sensational plot? I'm sure Oliver Stone's screenwriters will play this card ;-). It was just a strange way to end an excellent book (hence the stutter-step on my rating). Read it and tell me what you think. You really can’t go wrong with Larson and Dead Wake. D...more
As a convenient metaphor, Michael Perry kinda pushes this memoir out like an egg. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. As we have come to expAs a convenient metaphor, Michael Perry kinda pushes this memoir out like an egg. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. As we have come to expect from Perry, it has the same folksy charm and the same exquisite descriptions of both land and life. Still, it felt a little more like an excellent journal and a little less like a memoir. There are Wisconsin chestnuts to be had, but he also threw me for a loop. This is the first Perry book (that I have read) that introduces us to his faith. His two previous memoirs only hint at his woodsy, bible thumping ways. I’m not opposed to a man’s declaration-- I just didn't see it coming. If you have not read Perry, I would not start here. Double back and read (or listen to) the author’s early stuff. Both “Population 485” and “Visiting Tom” capture an authentic slice of rural Americana....more
Hampton Sides is aiming dead on for the classic, “The Endurance,” mano-a-mano! And he almost gets us there. This true story is awesome …and wildly griHampton Sides is aiming dead on for the classic, “The Endurance,” mano-a-mano! And he almost gets us there. This true story is awesome …and wildly grisly! I keep a folder on GoodReads called “ICE” and I have 8 great titles tucked in there, Kingdom is among the most graphic. (Side-note: the best title name in the group is still “We Die Alone.” …you just can’t beat that bold face title!)
The twin tragedies of the Endurance and Jeannette include a similar series of eerie events; a hobbled and abandoned polar ship, swamped life boats and a final desperate death march. The unique twist resides in the desperate consequences of their captain and crew.
Sides early build up is way… way too long. We don’t care that much about the back story -- The New York Herald challenge, the 100 little details behind the investment and rigging. My Man! Please!!!... Get these fearless men … up on some ICE! Those who are familiar with Sides previous work may be surprised by the slow early turn – he is capable of thrusting his readers headlong into white-knuckle action (i.e. Ghost Story and Hell Hound).
On a very small note, I would have also dropped the random insert of the love letters. Screw Emma and her stiff, little Victorian dribble. I came for a brutal survival story -- sans the widow’s watch. I smell an attempt at a screen play. This is a great effort and it deserves 4-stars, so please ignore my minor jabs. The second half of Side's story will drop your jaw in frozen terror.
As an audio edition from The Great Courses, I treated myself to what it might actually be like to sit-in on a full 2014 Earth Science course from the As an audio edition from The Great Courses, I treated myself to what it might actually be like to sit-in on a full 2014 Earth Science course from the great Robert Hazen. Super Cool right! Its like slipping into a lecture hall seat at MIT (just to see if you could take it, ala Good Will Hunting) However, unlike Matt Damon, this lecture series was way... WAY over my head! Just when I was going to admit defeat and accept my C- lot in life, the last three chapters saved me. Hazen's legendary explanation of the next stage of life's evolution is remarkable and entirely accessible. Well worth a common man's time and awe. Wild, blow your mind kinda stuff!...more