This was a terrible book that could have been good. Some of Hirshman's ideas have merit, but the execution, the lack of logic, and her (strangely enou...moreThis was a terrible book that could have been good. Some of Hirshman's ideas have merit, but the execution, the lack of logic, and her (strangely enough) misogyny ruined it. If you want more specifics, here's my review: http://imponderabilia.blogspot.com/20...(less)
This is almost perfect mix of history (and history that is virtually unknown to most Americans, I think, despite the importance of this period) and mo...moreThis is almost perfect mix of history (and history that is virtually unknown to most Americans, I think, despite the importance of this period) and modern storytelling. Horwitz looks at most of the major voyages of exploration and colonization before the Pilgrims came to Mass. in 1620: the Vikings in Newfoundland around 1000 AD; Columbus; then the Spanish in FL and the SE and the SW US (including Coronado going all the way up to Kansas in 1542, and Cabeza de Vaca's bizarre journey from FL all the way down to Mexico); the French Hugeunots in FL; then wrapping up with Roanoke Island and Jamestown and back to the Pilgrims.
The people that Horwitz talked to in New Mexico, in Kansas, in Georgia and Virginia - and what they say about history, what they do to re-enact it, what they believe in spite of all evidence to the contrary - it's just fascinating. And the actual history is pretty amazing, too. Combine the two (with a bit of Horwitz's personality thrown in for good measure) and you get a great book.
This is a wonderful introduction to US colonial history (or ethnohistory, if you're interested in the Native side of things) - and it's one of the most readable history books I've read in years. The chapters break up easily into nice sections, so it isn't overwhelming. It's fun. Although I learned more details in my classes on this stuff, I don't think I snorted and laughed so much.
Nice index and further sources section, too. And his ending - on what history means to us as Americans - ah, just a delight to read.(less)
Funny, sickening, eye-opening memoir about growing up in blue-collar Flint, MI in the 60's-70's and going to work at a GM plant (building Suburbans an...moreFunny, sickening, eye-opening memoir about growing up in blue-collar Flint, MI in the 60's-70's and going to work at a GM plant (building Suburbans and Blazers) in the late 70's through the late 80's. There's lots of drinking, drug use, violence, boredom, incredibly stupid management decisions (including a mascot - the "Quality Cat" called "Howie Makem" ), layoffs, more drinking, and screwing around on the job. Michael Moore encouraged this guy to write, gave him his first break, and Hamper also appears in "Roger & Me".
The book is very good, but a bit much all at once. I think reading a couple of chapters at a time (or as much of it was written originally, as a series of magazine/newspaper columns) is the way to go - then it's less repetitive and overwhelming in its bleakness (working at GM was "like being paid to flunk high school").
Still, I never would have guessed that reading about working the line in Flint would be so interesting.
Sample of Hamper's style:
"Not all diversions were of an amusing nature. I recall one that really gave us fits. GM and the union got together and installed these mammoth electronic message boards in various locations around the plant.....The messages they would flash ranged from corny propaganda (green neon bulb depictions of Howie Makem's face uttering shit like QUALITY IS THE BACKBONE OF GOOD WORKMANSHIP! to motivational pep squawk (A WINNER NEVER QUITS & A QUITTER NEVER WINS!) to brain-jarring ruminations (SAFETY IS SAFE)....).
I remember the first day the message board went into operation. For the entire shift, it beamed out one single message. They never erased it. We kept waiting for another phrase to come along and replace it. No such luck. The message blazed on brightly like some eternal credo meant to hog-tie our bewildered psyches. The message? Hold on to your hardhats, sages. The message being thrust upon us in enormous block lettering read: SQUEEZING RIVETS IS FUN! Trust me. Even the fuckin' exclamation point was their own. (p. 160)"
Of course, Hamper adds a "CKED" taped over the "N!" to amuse his fellow shoprats for a few hours, until his foreman Gino, fearing the wrath of the overlords, rips it down amidst a chorus of booing.(less)
This was a fantastic, educational, funny, well-written book. Sapolsky is a neurolbiologist at Stanford who studies stress hormones and their effect on...moreThis was a fantastic, educational, funny, well-written book. Sapolsky is a neurolbiologist at Stanford who studies stress hormones and their effect on health. He does field work with baboons in east Africa.
In this collection of essays, originally written for magazines like Natural History, Discover, and Men's Health, he writes about our genes and how they interact with our environment. He explains things like why people who think nature always trumps nuture are wrong (or don't know how genes work), depression and PTSD how a susceptibility for that can be inherited (but not always developed), sexual attraction, dreams, cross-cultural religious patterns, Munchausen's by proxy, and more.
Since the essays were originally written for popular magazines, they are short and very readable. At the end of every essay, he's added a nice "further reading" section that tells you about the research about this issue, more technical works you may want to read, and more.
This is the kind of popular science we need to see a LOT more. It doesn't oversimplify the issues, but it doesn't bore the reader.
I could go on and gush about every single essay, but I'll stop here and just tell you to read the book if you're at all interested in your biology and your environment and health. Or recent scientific studies on any of these issues.(less)
A fascinating memoir about a kid who was a misfit *and* saddled with horrible parents. Some very interesting insights into Asperger's, rock concerts,...moreA fascinating memoir about a kid who was a misfit *and* saddled with horrible parents. Some very interesting insights into Asperger's, rock concerts, Land Rovers, trains, and relationships. (less)
I liked this a lot, but I like Diane Ackerman's writing anyway (though I've only read the nature stuff before this). I think some would be annoyed by...moreI liked this a lot, but I like Diane Ackerman's writing anyway (though I've only read the nature stuff before this). I think some would be annoyed by her rambling asides on zoo life and animals and the freaky Nazi obsessions with hunting and 'pure' animals and the origins of penicillin from a mouldy cantelope in a Peoria grocery store.
Anyway, this is the true story of the middle-aged couple who lived in the zookeeper's villa in the Warsaw zoo, and how they weathered WWII and hid several hundred escaping Jews in their house and the zoo grounds. It is a pretty good history of Poland in WWII and the Warsaw Ghetto, too.
Alternately disturbing and inspiring, with some fascinating little stories, like the pet badger that used their toddler son's potty chair, and the Jewish entomologist and how his insect collection helped several families escape the gas chambers - a very good historical read. (less)
Entertaining story of a journalist who decides to live on a small ranch in NM reduce his carbon footprint. He raises goats and chickens, gardens, and...moreEntertaining story of a journalist who decides to live on a small ranch in NM reduce his carbon footprint. He raises goats and chickens, gardens, and runs his truck on vegetable oil waste from local restaurants. It's like Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - even includes some recipes - but much shorter, and this is a single guy (though he also says a bit about various girlfriends) instead of a family. And NM is very different from VA.(less)