This was an entertaining and informative read. I like reading about social issues dealing with workers or immigrants (or both) that tells the story o This was an entertaining and informative read. I like reading about social issues dealing with workers or immigrants (or both) that tells the story of real people. Thompson is a great writer. I gave this book to my dad to read next. I think the only way to force companies to treat workers humanely is to have better labor laws and to stop the tax breaks given to these companies that leach the resources from communities and the health from their workers. But even then, Thompson shows how employers flout the laws, especially for undocumented workers. ...more
Good overview on how (the lack of) laws affects employees. Interesting fact: the state of Montana implemented a law requiring just cause for dismissalGood overview on how (the lack of) laws affects employees. Interesting fact: the state of Montana implemented a law requiring just cause for dismissal. Since the passage of that law, their economy has grown three-fold, bypassing any other state. What is good for employees also helps the market economy....more
Fun read, especially for the haunted hotel information. Makes me want to visit and stay at those places. Author recreates the tragic love stories in gFun read, especially for the haunted hotel information. Makes me want to visit and stay at those places. Author recreates the tragic love stories in good detail and makes them an enjoyable read....more
Quick paced book about William Queen, the ATF agent who went undercover for two years to infiltrate the Mongols motorcycle gang. I listened to the audQuick paced book about William Queen, the ATF agent who went undercover for two years to infiltrate the Mongols motorcycle gang. I listened to the audio version, and the narrator had the tough guy sound down well. The stories Queen tells are mesmerizing, and I can't believe the amount of luck this guy had in never having to do drugs or seriously hurt anyone while running with the gang, and avoided ever being exposed as an ATF agent(he did sell drugs and got in his share of fights). It was sad to hear that when a close family member dies, no one at the ATF even offered him condolences, while his tough to the core brothers in the gang offered hugs and feelings of love. Queen's closeness to the Mongols in situations like this leads to him questioning what he is doing, but the Mongols always seem to do something awful to some innocent person and Queen is snapped back to reality. Other than these few incidents of inner turmoil, Queen offers little insight in to his real life. He offers a few tales of how his undercover work made it hard on his kids, and adds a little on the aftermath of the investigation and his testifying against those he ran with for two years, but I somehow felt a bit cheated on the lack of a conclusion. He did get 50 convictions and includes those, but there seemed to be something missing. Despite these flaws, this is still an adrenaline and suspense filled book worth reading....more
This is the story of the murky world of antique wine collectors. It kicks of with the auction of a bottle supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson, sold tThis is the story of the murky world of antique wine collectors. It kicks of with the auction of a bottle supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson, sold to the Forbes publishing company, for a record shattering $156,000. Hardy Rodenstock, expert wine seller, claims to have found it in a Paris cellar that was part of a home being torn down, but refuses to give any details beyond that. Questions arise as to the bottles authenticity, and to the authenticity of many other bottles Rodenstock has sold. The book delves into a nice history on Jefferson's love of wine and his travels in Europe, and brings the reader into the lives of the super rich and their decadent wine tastings, informs the reader of wine counterfeiting techniques and the winemaking process, and is overall a good read. It could probably have been shortened a bit, as I found myself skimming through some of the details, but perhaps wine buffs will find these details thrilling. Wallace does get a bit off topic at times when he vears too far off the mystery of the bottles, but reigns it back in near the end. A nice book for those looking for something a little bit different. ...more
Joe Queenan, critic, author, and admitted snob, sets out to experience for himself the worst cultural events, books, movies, music and restaurants. HiJoe Queenan, critic, author, and admitted snob, sets out to experience for himself the worst cultural events, books, movies, music and restaurants. His biting satire and cynicism had me laughing tears. It's a quick read, and if you like his style, you will love his jabs at John tesh, the musical Cats, and Branson, Missouri, to name a few. Some have found this book to be tiring and whining, but if it's your type of humor, you will enjoy every page of it. ...more
This was an interesting read that jumped around from random topic to random topic. Although the topics are varying, they are all addressed through theThis was an interesting read that jumped around from random topic to random topic. Although the topics are varying, they are all addressed through the lens of an economist who applies statistics to seemingly unrelated problems and scenarios. Levitt, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, certainly draws unique conclusions.
He lays out his thinking that drug dealing gangs have the same corporate structure as any big business, with only the higher ups raking in the dough. And he makes many a statement that will certainly stir debate, whether you believe his theories or not, such as that abortion was the cause of the crime drop in the 1990's, or that parenting methods don't have much of an outcome on children. Although there are numbers and statistics in plenty throughout, the writing is easily digested and the chapters and topics not too long. If you are looking for a read to get your brain thinking about unique topics and different ways of looking at the world, this is for you....more
Cook, her husband, their 3 year old daughter and 32 Siberian Huskies pack up their lives in New Hampshire and head to Alaska for the Yukon Quest, a grCook, her husband, their 3 year old daughter and 32 Siberian Huskies pack up their lives in New Hampshire and head to Alaska for the Yukon Quest, a grueling 1000 mile sled-dog race. Although they are experienced racers in non-Alaskan treks, having participated in northeastern US races, they have a great story here about their learning curve in the Yukon race, as well as the customs and lifestyle of the Alaskans. Cook was responsible for keeping all her husbands gear together, general coordination for the race and driving the truck to various checkpoints. There is a bit of suspense as we await news on her husband's progress in the race and hear about run-ins with wolves, battles with the frigid weather and hallucinations. She does a nice job with simple writing describing her beautiful environment and the Alaskan people, and the story has an unusual element that may attract females to the tale, as it is written by a mother and wife. ...more
This is a quick nonfiction read that reads almost like a seat of your pants thriller novel, and although it has its faults, this true adventure keepsThis is a quick nonfiction read that reads almost like a seat of your pants thriller novel, and although it has its faults, this true adventure keeps the pages turning pretty quickly. Kevin Lewis is a MIT student who is invited to be on a team of 6 card counters that is trained by a math professor, and backed by rich investors. Kevin will eventually lead the team to take the casinos for almost $4 million. It's a cool story that most anyone would love to imagine themselves involved in, living double lives as students during the week, and Vegas highrollers on the weekends, partying with the likes of Howard Stern and Michael Jordan.
There's definitely enough action and adrenaline to keep the reader interested in how long the whiz kids can keep their winning streak going. Card counting is not illegal, but the team takes great measures, including using top Hollywood make-up artits create disguises and having elaborate backstories and identities, to avoid detection. The counters and their signaling system reminded me of baseball base stealing signs- a bent arm would signal to double a bet, arms flat at the sides would indicate a drop in bets to the minimum. The fluid operation that the team was able to acheive was pretty impressive. But all good things must come to an end as we know, and the team finds itself under hot pursuit of the casinos' investigators, even on their own turf back in Boston.
The author, Colby Buzzell, was one of the first soldiers to blog about his experiences during his year long tour in Iraq, and these blogs grew into "MThe author, Colby Buzzell, was one of the first soldiers to blog about his experiences during his year long tour in Iraq, and these blogs grew into "My War." It's a great read if you want the details of an army soldier's life in Iraq. He adds a nice element with his first-hand descriptions of battles, laid out in stark contrast to the sanitized versions that the army had published. In addition to his battle descriptions, he fills us in on the boring stretches that dominate army life, his fellow soldiers, his family life and time on leave. It's refreshing to see someone who is simply telling his story, with no political ax to grind or who is being overly pro-American, or anti-American. Buzzell grew up in San Francisco listening to punk rock music and skateboarding, jumping from junky job to junky job, and enlisted in the army as something better to do. You can see this background flavored into his writing style.
Buzzell has a great sense of humor, and his writing is self-deprecating, as he mocks himself for his nerdy blogging. His telling of the battles and army life is gritty and biting, laced with plenty of profanities. He takes aim at just about everyone with his sarcasm, from President Bush, the media, the antiwar movement and his superiors.