Some criticisms of the book are that it is disjointed in terms of the stories about the Americans. That's because the main character in the story is nSome criticisms of the book are that it is disjointed in terms of the stories about the Americans. That's because the main character in the story is not the Americans, it is Paris.
As an English speaker, everything about the world is told to me at the pace of America or the English. But of course the rest of the world exists in its own pace and scale, which does not necessarily match. Much of French history is simplified or left out of the story told to the English speaking world, because it does not so perfectly match our own conception of our self-creation or of the history of beats from serfdom to liberty.
This book follows the pace of science, culture and politics in Paris, of which the Americans are partakers and observers. That pace doesn't match America, as America goes from revolutionary freedom, to a Civil War over enslavement, to a post-war surge of industrialization. At places that don't match, French had their own flourishing of science that was so far ahead of ours that we had to basically create our entire medical system off of education brought home from theirs, then they had their own weird step back from liberty in the era of Napoleon, and none of it matches us.
As the American visitors to Paris repeatedly find, they fall into step with Paris for some stage of their lives, but then they are out of step. Because they are different. Because they are Americans.
That illustration of difference, rather than falling entirely into the sway of the story as dominated by the American point of view, is the incredible value of this book....more
The topics discussed in the book are scientifically and/or morally true. I had a fantastic leadership professor in MBA school who addressed many of thThe topics discussed in the book are scientifically and/or morally true. I had a fantastic leadership professor in MBA school who addressed many of these topics, so I have had the opportunity to be exposed to material from this area of research.
And so one can be lulled along, as one nods one's head in agreement, into thinking that this is a good book. It was only near the end that I was awakened* from my trance and realized how terribly written it is. It is simply a stream of flow of consciousness of the writer. It is extremely poorly sourced and also poorly structured. It doesn't actually successfully merge the scientific and moral arguments into valid structures.
So unfortunately I have to give the book 2 stars, my warning that the book is a waste of time or potentially damaging to the reader. I would like to be able to recommend a book such as this, and I don't know a similar but better book I could recommend. But I cannot recommend learning bad arguments.
*The awakening was due to checking in here and reading the one star reviews from people who loath the book. Many of them are driven by political motivations to ignore the facts discussed in the book, but that doesn't make their criticisms of the book itself any less valid. I highly recommend reading review from people who like or dislike a book where your stand is the opposite because it will strengthen your own response....more
I listened to the audio version, read with excellence by the author. Would absolutely recommend listening rather than reading.
The book focuses on theI listened to the audio version, read with excellence by the author. Would absolutely recommend listening rather than reading.
The book focuses on the childhood and adolescence of the author. He seems to have been an interesting kid doing interesting things, and he also describes the family circumstances and the culture of apartheid in which he grew up. As a "mixed" kid he was neither black, white nor colored, and observed them all with the closeness that was particularly available to him. The book describes the events of apartheid particularly well. He also describes the structure of domestic violence very well. And of course, the author being a very successful comedian, the book is very funny. Though more funny read by the author.
The book has continuity issues which are not bad enough to harm the reading experience, but the editors sure let the author down. I would not expect these kind of continuity issues to exist in a book put out by a professional publishing house....more
There's no way I would have "read" it if I weren't on vacation and it's organized to be extremely skimmable. "Take the best and leave the rest," leaveThere's no way I would have "read" it if I weren't on vacation and it's organized to be extremely skimmable. "Take the best and leave the rest," leaves quite a bit....more
I listened to this book on tape. I doubt I would have made it through the trivia if I were trying to wade through the book, but as a yarn for a long cI listened to this book on tape. I doubt I would have made it through the trivia if I were trying to wade through the book, but as a yarn for a long car trip (several long car trips!) it worked.
A lot of people think they're going to learn to *be* Warren Buffett, which is horse manure. You're not that rich. And Warren Buffett the person has his own flaws and challenges which thank God you don't have- deal with the ones you actually have.
The most one can "learn" from Buffett is when he discusses what normal people should do with their money, generally when he is criticizing the mistakes of his less wealthy (oh, more like the reader!) relatives and acquaintances. I actually changed my portfolio based on consideration of those comments....more
The topic is a good excuse to take a romp through the mind of the brilliant Dr. Rothblatt. I imagine this book will be treasured by the author's childThe topic is a good excuse to take a romp through the mind of the brilliant Dr. Rothblatt. I imagine this book will be treasured by the author's children and descendants as a vehicle for presenting the author's thoughts on science and philosophy.
I do think the author is careless on the topic of power. The throw-away call to morality that closes the book is not enough to address inequality and power, either on the topic of mindclones or as a romp through the author's thoughts. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that the advantages of this, or any, technology will be evenly distributed. The powerful are already able to pass wealth for hundreds of years, what now if they themselves can live forever?
In fact, the author's focus on all of the other aspects of morality with no attention to this one makes the problem even worse. The author suggests an expensive regulatory process for certifying a mindclone which would guarantee it's accessibility only to the very wealthy.
With that criticism, as someone whose exposure to Dr. Rothblatt is from her scientific work, the fact that she addresses spirituality and ethics seriously is something other scientists would do well to learn from and something which is certainly lacking in our industry. There was a time in the past when scientists were the most educated people of society, and somehow we have lost that. Dr. Rothblatt sounds like one of those educated scientists from past centuries.
Lastly, I noticed that this book could also be read as a gloss on race relations in the USA, and its a comparison the author herself brings up frequently- the useful body that inconveniently has a soul. When the author focuses on morality, this is the focus and the thing that holds us back from all other things, including mindclones. And perhaps the author's response to my criticism is that acknowledging all souls is even more important that acknowledging other less fundamental inequalities of power. And that could be....more
Those who have ears to hear have probably already heard. Those who don't really, really, really don't want to, as evidenced by everything from the disThose who have ears to hear have probably already heard. Those who don't really, really, really don't want to, as evidenced by everything from the disturbing "questions" posted on this book on Goodreads to the author's mother and relatives being doxed. So this book isn't going to change anything in this world. But newspaper articles aren't forever, and the book documents this moment in time for the future. The author's self-awareness and egolessness makes the book a particularly good piece of documentary evidence....more
Excellent book. Unfortunately young people are given so much truly awful advice that I don't think your average young person would be able to take thiExcellent book. Unfortunately young people are given so much truly awful advice that I don't think your average young person would be able to take this book and trust that this is the right advice. But perhaps it will give those with some spirit in them a bit of strength to stand up to the insanity to which they are being subjected by parents and guidance counselors. ...more
The author is a professional piano player and tuner, so "practicing" isn't a vague concept or a metaphor, it's quite literally the way he sees as theThe author is a professional piano player and tuner, so "practicing" isn't a vague concept or a metaphor, it's quite literally the way he sees as the best way to live one's life. From his unique vantage point, he explains what it means to practice life better than anyone else I have ever read....more
The book is fantastic. It also caused me to think critically about the mythology of Gandhi and consequently that mythology has cracked and fallen to pThe book is fantastic. It also caused me to think critically about the mythology of Gandhi and consequently that mythology has cracked and fallen to pieces. But the real person is very interesting and frankly quite bizarre, so that's fine. He's a human like no other, that's for sure, and the mythology takes a lot away from that.
In the West in particular, he's turned into a kind of cartoon character, with how he dressed turned against him. In fact the book is a very long version of the American civil rights placard that said, "I am a man." He's not a cartoon character, but an actual person....more