Should be a must-read in both American History and contemporary cultural sociology. There are moments when you want Woodard to go off on deeper explan...moreShould be a must-read in both American History and contemporary cultural sociology. There are moments when you want Woodard to go off on deeper explanatory tangents but he stays focused throughout. I'd definitely like to explore more about the idea of N.America as a loose federation of cultural "nations" in battle with one another, rather than the idea that there is some coherent idea of "America". Revealing of current political boundaries as historical accident and not inevitability.(less)
absolutely fantastic account of a Las Vegas suicide entwined with observations on the Yucca Mtn debates. blurs the lines between memoir, fiction (as i...moreabsolutely fantastic account of a Las Vegas suicide entwined with observations on the Yucca Mtn debates. blurs the lines between memoir, fiction (as it takes liberty with actual events in the name of narrative) and crime/sociology essay. beautiful, immersive, jolting and, importantly, open-ended in its metaphorical stance. highly, highly recommend.(less)
this book was incredible, an alternate exploration of human phenomena through the lens of non-linear dynamics. it actually got me interested in readin...morethis book was incredible, an alternate exploration of human phenomena through the lens of non-linear dynamics. it actually got me interested in reading deleuze—which is a feat in itself—and provided some thought experiments for non-linear poetics. rad.(less)
best book i've yet read that attempts to parse the origins of religious conviction in humans. Dennett, as opposed to Dawkins or Hitchens, treats the s...morebest book i've yet read that attempts to parse the origins of religious conviction in humans. Dennett, as opposed to Dawkins or Hitchens, treats the subject matter gently, though very critically. (It is, after all, called "Breaking the Spell".) Not content to allow pro-religious people to control the discussion, Dennett advocates massive investment in studying religious behavior through a scientific lens. We treat religion with kid gloves in the name of tradition, but why when it is responsible for so much ill? Dennet concedes that many find obvious positives in their belief systems, but at what price? As an analytic philosopher interested in consciousness Dennett is more than qualified to outline a methodology of study. He doesn't offer any answers simply because so little legitimate research has been done and, anyway, often comes to contradictory conclusions. Are humans genetically programmed for "god belief"? Is religiosity an evolutionary adaptation? We really haven't examined religious phenomena deeply enough to properly address many of the questions, but too few of these questions have even been asked because of societal taboos against querying the "sacred". Of course I'm inclined to agree with most of Dennett's points given his outspoken atheism and membership in the Bright movement. However, he's trying to instigate a conversation here and not just belittle those who disagree with him. This does not mean he shies away from harsh criticisms where they are deserved, but reserves them for illogical, irrational and patently misleading statements. Highly, highly recommend for anyone interested in the evolution and sociology of religion. Also, participate in Dennett's project and have a religious person read the book!(less)
I've learned in the past year that Moynihan (who, it's been noted, is involved in far-right circles) cut and pasted many of the "interviews" in the bo...moreI've learned in the past year that Moynihan (who, it's been noted, is involved in far-right circles) cut and pasted many of the "interviews" in the book from work others had done. So not only is his methodology shoddy (or non-existent), but he retrofitted respondents' answers to fit his own worldview and philosophy. Still the book is interesting, though not for the reasons it should be.(less)
Alright, so anybody that knows me knows what a freak I am about the beautiful game. Having said that I have to admit that I was more than a bit disapp...moreAlright, so anybody that knows me knows what a freak I am about the beautiful game. Having said that I have to admit that I was more than a bit disappointed by this book. Now, the reviews that it had received weren't entirely terrific, nonetheless, it was a quick and interesting read at work. I can't say I didn't learn anything, but the author's thesis was tenuous at best and he never really "proved" (for lack of a better term right now) how, exactly, soccer "explains the world."
There was a good bit of history provided within and most of the stories were interesting, but it's quickly obvious to someone who rabidly follows the game and attendant cultures (as there is no monolithic football culture) that the author is only a marginal follower and reminds me of the come-lately Chelsea fair weather fans. I mean seriously, in his story on Barcelona he makes it clear where he's coming from and he fits the stereotype I already had in my head regarding self-professed Barca fans (at least amongst Americans): he's a liberal yuppie and comes off as a bit self-righteous and snobbishly "cosmopolitan." Now I'm more than a little cosmopolitan--the fact that I'm an American who follows soccer proves it a bit I think--but jesus, mate, could you be a bit more predictable? You're the footballing equivalent of an American in a Che t-shirt. I will admit that I'll always support Barca v Real Madrid (fucking fascist bumpkins), but let's not get carried away.
Foer's attempt to tackle what I'll dub the "Italian Conundrum" falls short a bit, though it is probably the most thorough chapter in the book. Unfortunately the book was written before the Calciopoli scandal that broke just after the 2006 World Cup and the continuing crises that Italian football (and the country in general) has been experiencing. Italy is fucked up and corrupt as any reader's of Roberto Gotta's columns on soccernet.com can attest.
I guess I have the benefit of a bit of hindsight on these matters allowing me to view the game and its progression in the years that have followed the book's publication. However, that does little to change the fact that although Foer attempted to support his theories of globalization with soccer-related anecdotes, he actually makes the case against himself by demonstrating that football remains quite culturally specific despite the influx of capital and the increase in non-european born players. Time will tell, of course whether the upper echelons of the game come to represent the ideals of globalized capital (which is certainly arguable), but in less grandiose terms, football remains beholden to more parochial attitudes for better or worse. If Foer wasn't so blinded by his yuppie-ism and was actually a fan of the game, I think he would have noticed this.(less)
started reading this at work and immediately realized it's one of the best books ever written. that is, to a neurotic, football (soccer)-obsessed musi...morestarted reading this at work and immediately realized it's one of the best books ever written. that is, to a neurotic, football (soccer)-obsessed music nut. nick hornby is pretty much me with a 24 year head start. well, that and i'm american and a newcastle fan. but anyway, how this incredible book was mangled into a friggen jimmy fallon vehicle about baseball is completely beyond me. there's no way to translate this into "american" unless that person also happens to be obsessed with football. if you want to understand why i spend hours tinkering with my fantasy teams read this book. if you want to know why i wake up early (often still drunk), trek an hour to the pub and watch games (before noon, mind you), then read this book. depressive episodes? check. parallels between how the mediocre team you love suffers and everything in your own life sucks? check. does any of this make sense to anybody?
i had to read this book for two years ago for my eponymous class at the new school. that class was good, the rest of the experience wasn't as hot. the...morei had to read this book for two years ago for my eponymous class at the new school. that class was good, the rest of the experience wasn't as hot. the book has held up for the most part, though.(less)