I had heard so many raves of Wodehouse's Jeeves that I thought I ought to give this book a try.
I was pretty bored with the first third of it. The middI had heard so many raves of Wodehouse's Jeeves that I thought I ought to give this book a try.
I was pretty bored with the first third of it. The middle section (the section that is NOT about Jeeves, despite the name) was the best, I think, and had me laughing out loud quite a bit. The end of the book was OK as well.
The stories are rather formulaic. That's sometimes a problem, sometimes not, but all in all an entertaining read. I'll be reading more Wodehouse, I'm sure....more
This book was thorough at what it tried to do: prepare people for an exam. It had a few inaccuracies including one flat-out wrong answer, but overallThis book was thorough at what it tried to do: prepare people for an exam. It had a few inaccuracies including one flat-out wrong answer, but overall seemed OK.
My gripe is that it does a poor job of explaining concepts. Most of the book presents one question after another from the NCVEC test bank, offers a paragraph of explanation, and then the correct answer.
I prefer the approach from the ARRL license manual series. They have chapters on concepts, usually going in to a lot more detail and providing clearer explanations than this one. You really come away understanding the material better from the ARRL series. That will not only help you pass the exam, but also actually put the knowledge to use. I feel like from this book, I've figured out how to memorize some information but have a poorer grasp of material than I did from the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual that I used for the technician exam....more
I am really torn about how many stars to give this one.
I very nearly put it down halfway through, never to finish it. I begin to thing that P. G. WodeI am really torn about how many stars to give this one.
I very nearly put it down halfway through, never to finish it. I begin to thing that P. G. Wodehouse is the Robert Jordan of the comic novel: he writes an excellent ending, but the set-up is 200% longer than it should be and either tedium-laced or cringe-worthy. (Compare this to my review of The Shadow Rising).
The first 2/3 or so of the book had some mildly amusing parts, but overall was tedious. Wooster thought himself smart and got himself into one pickle after another. I enjoyed some of the telegram conversations, but would have given the book 1 or 2 stars based on that part.
Then we arrive at the scene at the school awards ceremony. I don't want to put a spoiler, but that is one of the funniest scenes I have ever read, funnier even than Three Men on the Bummel. I was laughing so hard I had to put the book down, and the laughter rather annoyed my wife. She, having not read the tedious setup, didn't understand the humor behind the scene. Ah well. At that moment I would have given it 5 stars.
The resolution afterwards was also fun. So overall, I am compromising and giving the book three stars. I enjoyed it, but thought the short stories in My Man Jeeves worked better than one single full-length story....more
Overall, I'd say it was OK, but certainly not worth anything near its cover price. If they had left out theI read this as a required text for a class.
Overall, I'd say it was OK, but certainly not worth anything near its cover price. If they had left out the full-color graphic design, irrelevant sidebars, etc. that may have helped.
The text itself often presented different American arguments and perspectives on issues, but only rarely different global perspectives. Comparisons between American and global statistics were exceptionally rare and I sorely missed them, because that would have been a valuable perspective throughout the book.
The use of full-page or half-page sidebars was annoying and distracting. The text referred to them, but they interrupted the flow because you'd have to go find them at the right time, read them, then go back to the text. They should have been integrated into the main body.
The cartoons, criminal profiles, etc. were fun and interesting diversions, but not worth the rise in sticker price they inevitably caused.
I did learn quite a bit from this book, and if it had been $40 I'd probably give it three or maybe even four stars. At its over-$100 price, it's just not worth it. (Yes, I realize this is typical of college textbooks, and in my opinion it represents a significant amount of profiteering and costs of unnecessary fluff such as 4-color printing on every page)...more
I read this textbook as part of a biology class this summer.
Overall, one could make an argument that it deserves more than two stars because it's notI read this textbook as part of a biology class this summer.
Overall, one could make an argument that it deserves more than two stars because it's not really worse than typical college textbooks. I don't buy that.
First, the good points: its introduction, scientific method coverage, population, community, and ecosystem ecology sections were very good. The scientific method coverage, in particular, took pains to define the scope of scientific discourse very precisely, and explicitly stated that other fields such as religion can also help us to know nature. I appreciated that.
The community and ecosystem sections, in particular, seemed well-written. They didn't just state ideas; they described the studies that supported them and actively encouraged critical thinking about those studies and their results. In my class, we read those sections first, so I had high hopes for the textbook as a whole.
The book covers a very broad set of topics, and some in surprisingly deep detail. It has a good index and glossary as well.
Unfortunately, most of the book follows this pattern:
Thing A performs function X. Thing B performs function Y. Thing C does Z. They fit together as A-B-C. See figure 8-23h.
(repeat over and over, with different values of ABC, XYZ.)
That is, very little explanation of why we believe this is the case, how we learned about it, how the scientific method was applied in the acquisition of this knowledge, or any disagreement among biologists as to the accuracy of the information. They did have very occasional sections on this, but entire chapters might be almost completely devoid of it. Almost never does the book cite its sources for facts either.
As I was reading the chapters on cells -- which have amazingly intricate chemical properties spelled out -- I kept wondering: when and how did we manage to figure THIS out? It was almost never explained. It would have been so fascinating if it had been.
Then there is the tendency to put out rather unsupportable statements, such as this little gem from page 595:
"Composed of up to 100 billion intricately organized neurons, with a much larger number of supporting cells, the human brain is more powerful than the most sophisticated computer." OK, thought-provoking, yes. But how can you scientifically evaluate the power of a computer and a brain on objective terms? I'm not sure I can evaluate the power of a computer on objective terms (the word "power" is just way too imprecise), let alone that of a brain. They cite no source of that, there is no discussion or background of it. It's just thrown out there, then discarded. I hate that. If you're going to say something that interesting, at least make a feeble attempt to back it up!
They also have a habit of saying things are "almost always" true, such as on p. 383, where they say "Solar energy powers nearly all ecosystems." But they rarely explain what the exceptions are, leaving you to wonder whether a given example is an exception or a rule. (OK, so it's more obvious here, but it happens elsewhere).
They do have a number of helpful figures in the book, though they've probably gone overboard on the photos of athletes and things. Yes, muscles make us run. I get it already.
This is an introductory textbook, so perhaps I am overly harsh here. But I've read other introductory textbooks that are more given to precise language, and don't have chapters that are just endless lists of definitions and functions, but explain how we got there. This book could have so easily been excellent....more
It probably says something that I started this short book in early December and just finished it today.
The writing style was so gaudily pompous that IIt probably says something that I started this short book in early December and just finished it today.
The writing style was so gaudily pompous that I very nearly put it down several times. Yes, style of the times, I get that. But oh my goodness. The excessive verbosity was unintentionally hilarious a few times, but this guy makes even Dickens' Micawber look like a 3rd-grader.
It was an interesting book, but I felt the author was writing more to impress than to tell, and I felt turned off by that immensely. The first book I've read in a long time that I've not thought "that was pretty good" when I got to the end....more
I bought this book because it was free in the Kindle store for a spell. I'm glad I didn't pay anything for it.
Overall, my problem with this book is twI bought this book because it was free in the Kindle store for a spell. I'm glad I didn't pay anything for it.
Overall, my problem with this book is twofold: 1) it takes an unquestioning literalist view of the entire Bible, and 2) it demonstrates a severe lack of intellectual curiosity throughout.
I maintain that the result is worse than no study guide whatsoever.
The fact that Christianity is a broad tent, and that the Bible has been read in various ways over the centuries and today, is lost to Halley. I do not mind the presentation of the literalist view if it were combined with other credible viewpoints past and present. But to assert that this is the ONLY way to read the Bible is doing a terrible disservice to a religion, and misrepresents it in a egregious fashion. Christianity has had a brief literalist bubble, and there is much that the thinking Christian can question about such an interpretation, which is perhaps why it is dying off.
Let me provide a few choice quotes.
"Accept the Bible just as it is, for exactly what it claims to be. Don't worry about the theories of the critics. The ingenious efforts of modern criticism to undermine the historical reliability of the Bible will pass..." It is terribly bothersome to me that a purported study guide is encouraging people trying to intellectually engage the Bible to suspend their intellect. For whom shall find Christianity relevant today if we cannot understand it in the context of modern science? Christianity ought not fear science, nor science religion; the two ought to be embraced together, and the religious can learn about the Bible from science.
Regarding the creation story: "How did the writer know what happened before man appeared? No doubt God revealed the remote past, as later the distant future was made known to the prophets." No mention of other viewpoints -- that it has strong parallels to other ancient creation myths, what science and philosophy have to say, etc. Even Wikipedia's Creation_myth page reminds us that the Church was not literalist.
In the introduction, it advances the view that the Bible is "God's own record of His dealings with people in His unfolding revelation of Himself to the human race... Nor do we know just how God directed these authors to write. But we believe and know that God did rect them and that these books therefore must be exactly what God wanted them to be."
That is of course a rather controversial view, though it was perhaps widely held in some circles. But it boggles the mind, and ignores, for one thing, the multiple ancient sources that modern Bible assemblers must attempt to synthesize to make a coherent book.
The only value I see in this book is a glimpse at the viewpoint of an earlier age. At that it may excel. As a guide for someone alive today -- frankly I am surprised that it has garnered such high reviews here.
I have nothing against literalists; I respect them even if I disagree. But to pretend that there isn't even a debate here borders on the dishonest, and certainly sidelines this book out of the "serious and useful scholarly work" bookshelf....more