Not only was this fascinating, insightful, thought-provoking, and very well-written, it serves as a blueprint for the Obama platform, and gives everyoNot only was this fascinating, insightful, thought-provoking, and very well-written, it serves as a blueprint for the Obama platform, and gives everyone a working knowledge of the thoughts and intentions of President Barack Obama.
This book is divided into nine chapters, each addressing a major issue in American politics: Republicans and Democrats, Values, Our Constitution, Politics, Opportunity (discussing economics, health care, and education, among other things), Faith, Race, the World Beyond Our Borders, and Family. Each chapter is full of personal anecdotes, smooth and easy writing, and thoughtful analysis, giving an impression of earnest effort on the part of a real person concerned with the country at large, and people as individuals. For every issue he addresses, Obama clearly tries to present all arguments and perspectives in as respectful a manner as possible while still taking his own stance. Occasionally, this constant open-mindedness does sink into what seems like vague political waffling, but for the most part I found this balanced approach to be refreshing and fair while still taking a stand. A very thorough and polite "I see where you're coming from, but I still think I'm right and here's why."
There is a great deal of personal as well as political insight here. This was written during Mr. Obama's first term as a US Senator and I can't help feeling that it was even written with the Presidency in mind. Regardless, if it was meant to make the reader think seriously about thoughtless assumptions they've made about certain issues and to convince them of the validity of Obama's politics, it succeeded with me. Now, I've always been a die-hard liberal with no patience for conservatives at all, so I began reading this book prepared to love it and agree with it, but even so it caused me to revise some opinions. Perhaps my liking of President Obama made me more open-minded, but his considerate treatment of Republican and conservative thinking made me give serious thought to my casual assumptions about what motivates the other side.
In light of the election and President Obama's first month in office, most of these ideas seem familiar but no less powerful. This clear elucidation of what we can expect from the next four years made me feel all warm and proud inside. There is indeed a very tough road ahead for Americans, certainly tougher than when this book was written and Obama didn't expect a picnic then, either, but if this book is any indication, we are in steady, informed, good hands....more
A wonderful, dense book. The ideas in it were so sweeping and intriguing that I found myself realizing I didn't really understand all he was saying, bA wonderful, dense book. The ideas in it were so sweeping and intriguing that I found myself realizing I didn't really understand all he was saying, but I was enjoying it too much anyway to stop and go back. So I'm already planning to re-read it.
The majority of the book is a detailed history of the concept of information, looking at methods of communication, mathematics, philosophy, computing, and technology. Gleick's arguments for how this concept developed and evolved are utterly compelling, and had more than a few surprises. I knew about Babbage and Lovelace, Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, and Alexander Graham Bell, but Claude Shannon and several others, the origins of words I now take for granted in my everyday life (bits, networks, files) were revelations.
The last chapter and epilogue were especially fascinating to me, as a librarian and archivist. Discussing our current era, the mood of information overload we think peculiar to our time, wondering which is worse, "too many mouths, or too many ears" and pondering the difficulty of "selecting the genuine," it was like hearing a bell ring. While the stickler archivist in me wants to take issue with the assumption inherent in this discussion that everything digital is automatically forever (this in fact seems crucial to Gleick's notion of the difficulty in forgetting), I can let that slide, because I see his point. In fact, these chapters otherwise seem to perfectly capture the difficulties we face as a profession because they're the ones everyone faces but have trouble expressing without the language of information theory.
In the end, this book is circular: it adds to the information as it tries to wrap itself around the information. But it works, and it's a lovely ride....more
A great read - informative, and while occasionally a little depressing, overall highly inspiring. In recent years I've wondered how it is that I neverA great read - informative, and while occasionally a little depressing, overall highly inspiring. In recent years I've wondered how it is that I never knew how much I liked history, and this book provided the answer. The descriptions of these ridiculous history books rang so true, and the ways in which those books were wrong were mostly all new to me. I learned a lot from this book, and it was all fascinating.
Loewen presents compelling history on his own, and is scathing about the lies he points out - at times it started to seem overly harsh, until you think that maybe this is what's needed to counteract the smothering blanket of old history. History is vital and captivating, and people's fascination with it can be seen in how it takes over our popular culture, in the TV shows, movies, books, fashions, and music that grab their settings, characters and inspiration from the past; yet students continue to think history is boring, and Loewen presents a compelling discussion on why and how. Anyone with an interest in history or how history is taught could get a lot from this book - whether you agree or not, there's a lot to talk about....more
This book is what happens when the love-child of Patrick O'Brian and Anne McCaffrey grows up, gets a Master's degree, and forges her OWN identity, thaThis book is what happens when the love-child of Patrick O'Brian and Anne McCaffrey grows up, gets a Master's degree, and forges her OWN identity, thank you, and I LOVE it....more
Wonderful book, a great novel of the twenty-first century. Very complex, it has elements in common with much shallower popular fiction but wove somethWonderful book, a great novel of the twenty-first century. Very complex, it has elements in common with much shallower popular fiction but wove something with far greater resonance. At close to 800 pages, with bits of plot inspired by vampires, spy thrillers, fantasy quest sagas, and apocalyptic visions, it never felt dense or clunky, never goofy or absurd. This book was poignant, imaginative, and just plain enjoyable to read....more
A complex and thought-provoking read, you should definitely read this before you see the movie.
Watchmen is the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave GiA complex and thought-provoking read, you should definitely read this before you see the movie.
Watchmen is the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published in 1986 by DC Comics, that changed the way many people viewed comic books. Originally published as a series of twelve issues, the the compiled series was one of the first, along with the famous Dark Knight series by Frank Miller, to be called a graphic novel. The simple name change was coupled with a darker and more realistic look at traditional comic subject matter - superheroes - and has led to widespread recognition of the literary merits of the medium.
Watchmen is set in the late 1980s and offers an alternate history whose main difference is the existence of superheroes. While most of these heroes are simply regular people who wear costumes to fight crime anonymously, there is one character with genuine superpowers, Dr. Manhattan. This simple but significant change has led to a vastly different present - America did not lose Vietnam, Richard Nixon is still president, and the Cold War rages more fiercely, if more unevenly. The plot centers around these heroes now living in and attempting to cope with a society that has rejected their help, even when most still feel compelled to give it.
The wide cast of characters and rich world are revealed slowly throughout the novel, with so many details that new ones continue to appear on multiple read-throughs. The art is detailed and incredibly expressive, with darker, moody colors, giving the story life and immediacy.
Watchmen explores themes of violence, sin, justice, and the impulse to do right. This was one of the first comics to turn the superhero mythos on its head, questioning the need for such heroes in the first place. In that it deals with superheroes dressed in silly costumes, has a male-dominated cast with a few attractive and scantily-clad females, and is bathed in violence, it holds to traditional comics, but it takes these factors and turns them inside out, sharply critiquing each while offering a host of other issues, political and moral, to wrestle. While it has been the inspiration for a whole new genre of the gritty, tortured superhero trying to operate in the real world, this original has substance and charisma to spare. ...more
If humanity disappeared very suddenly, what would happen to the Earth? What would become of everything left behind? Alan Weisman explores a wide rangeIf humanity disappeared very suddenly, what would happen to the Earth? What would become of everything left behind? Alan Weisman explores a wide range of areas and subjects in detailing humanity's final traces, from New York City to Kenya, the Pacific ocean to deep space, from the actions of ancient civilizations to those of imperialist American presidents and modern bronze sculptors. It is both a diligently researched supposition of a post-human world and an environmental warning bell, one more engaging and varied than most. I ordered this book expecting something like a research paper for a post-apocalyptic story. This book is far beyond that, dealing in time scales much longer than human lifetimes and delving as much into the past as the future, exploring the impact of humans on this planet since we came out of the trees. The book is neatly organized into areas of examination, such as plant and animal life, technological advancements, structures and art, and of course, where to go from here. What surprised me most about the book was how much it affected me. In particular, the chapter on plastics, entitled "Polymers Are Forever," was genuinely upsetting with its vivid descriptions of tons of plastic floating forever on the surface of the ocean. But the book is not completely dour. In every chapter, the author offers alternate perspectives or glimmers of hope, in the persistence and mutability of life or in the nature of humans themselves. This book will fascinate anybody interested in science, anthropology, or the progress of humanity. It is thoughtful, meticulously researched, well-written in an easily readable style, and goes into every corner of the globe to provide a balanced picture of what we will leave behind. The scope of the book was surprising, but delightful....more