I had no intention to read this book, but it popped up as a bargain ebook offer on Bookbub, and I found I could not put it down. It's a true-life taleI had no intention to read this book, but it popped up as a bargain ebook offer on Bookbub, and I found I could not put it down. It's a true-life tale of a girl who was brainwashed, then rebelled, and escaped, and now helps others to get out of this truly awful cult. We all now know about the absurd beliefs of the Scientologists (I've always contended that they are no sillier than Christian and Jewish beliefs), but this book reveals all their evil, illegal, totalitarian practices. Children are dragged into this bizarre cult by their idiot parents, and the children are turned into slaves who get little traditional education and merely become devotees of L. Ron Hubbard and zealots in his purported cause.
Jenna Miscavige, niece of the evil Scientologist leader David Miscavige, seems to have a photographic memory when it comes to the details of her ordeal. Going all the way back to ages four or five, she gives tells, in vivid detail, how she felt, what she was forced to do, and what went wrong. She is aided by a professional writer, Lisa Pulitzer, but the tale is all hers, and it's powerful. If this has not yet been optioned for a movie, someone should do so. ...more
I finished the bio of Jacob Fugger, one of the best bios I've ever read. This man, living in central Germany, controlled everything in Europe throughI finished the bio of Jacob Fugger, one of the best bios I've ever read. This man, living in central Germany, controlled everything in Europe through the power of lending at interest. In fact, it was he (via an agent in Rome) who convince Pope Leo to rescind the Church's ban on interest. "Usury" was once any interest charged on lending--it was considered sinful to earn money for essentially doing nothing but lending your money. Fugger found ways around the ban before it was rescinded (just as Muslims do today), but once it was rescinded, the power of capital was unleashed, and the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery took off. (Martin Luther denounced the rescission of the ban--Luther and Fugger both lived in the same area of central Germany. So now I'm readin a life of Luther to get some more insight....more
This was my first graphic book, and it was not a graphic novel, so what do you call it? Graphic nonfiction, or graphic travelogue, I guess. The protagThis was my first graphic book, and it was not a graphic novel, so what do you call it? Graphic nonfiction, or graphic travelogue, I guess. The protagonist/memoirist is an animator at a French company that outsources its detail work to North Korea. (We all know that South Korea does much animation work--the idea of it being done in North Korea is rather stunning to me--should we be shunning that country?) The author, Guy DeLisle, goes to North Korea to supervise animation work and to provide key drawings to animators. The animators then fill in the intervening images between key images. Meantime, DeLisle spends weeks in Pyongyang, dealing with translators, tour guides, bad food, bad restaurants, bad radio, bad television, and horrible music.
The one thing that DeLisle adds to the literature on North Korea is his artwork. Since he does not depend on cameras, which are restricted (you can only take photos of things the government wants you to take photos of), he is unrestricted in what he can depict. But I really don' think he goes very far in making seem quite as Orwellian as what he describes. I did not get much of a sense of living the absurdity with him.
I'm next going to read Maus--then I'll lay off the graphics for a time, unless I really get addicted....more
A few things impressed me: 1. Isaacson is a very good writer, and vividly brings dead innovators to life, and makes contemporary innovators much more fA few things impressed me: 1. Isaacson is a very good writer, and vividly brings dead innovators to life, and makes contemporary innovators much more fascinating than you would ever think they could be. 2. His ambition is immense, covering every major event that got us from the idea of computers (starting with steam-powered looms) to present-day reality, to the possible future creation of machines that think, literally. 3. He finds details and anecdotes that make this a lively and fun read. 4. To the greatest extent possible, he enables one without a mathematical background (e.g., me) to comprehend the leaps in imagination that that individuals, and teams of individuals, have made in order to actuate computing. 5. He brings in people who one would not expect to be essential to the story, such as one inventor who came close to creating an operable computer, working alone, in a university basement in Iowa; or the women who were the first people to actually program a computer. 6. His description of what vacuum tubes, transistors, and semiconductors are, and why they are important, are fascinating to one who has always heard these terms, or used these items, but does not really know what they are.
My only reason for not giving it 5 stars is that it does not really transport the reader, it's not a page-turner, just a good book by a yeoman writer. It also reads, at times, like a "business book," and business books are anathema to me. Isaacson's emphasis on how TEAMS work best, that you truly need a team, like the one at AT&T Labs, or the one at UPenn, or the ones in Silicon Valley revolving around Stanford, got somewhat tiresome....more
I started reading this on June 13, 2014. I just finished it. I did not read any other book in the meantime. In order to not read this book, I found myI started reading this on June 13, 2014. I just finished it. I did not read any other book in the meantime. In order to not read this book, I found myself playing solitaire, playing Mah Jongg, anything but read this. I basically hated every minute. Yet, I felt that I had to finish it. I've never been so lost in a book, never was I able to remember who's who and what's what. Yet I was told that this was a great book, a book that brought a distant age alive. and that made trenchant comparisons to our own time. But I simply could not get into it. I was lost. But I did finish it, finally and wearily. Now I can read books that I enjoy....more
This "manifesto" (so-called) by the Santa Barbara mass murderer is riveting. If a novelist were to imagine what the mind of a mass murderer contained,This "manifesto" (so-called) by the Santa Barbara mass murderer is riveting. If a novelist were to imagine what the mind of a mass murderer contained, it would not be as revealing as the autobiography that Elliot Rodger left behind. The man was deeply conscious of his social inadequacies, and retained detailed memories of every year of his life from the time he started school onward. He knew exactly when his happiness ended, when his existence turned to bitterness. He developed his own twisted philosophy of life, and ultimately a vision of how the world should be, and how it would be if he were to rule: men living without sex and without women; all women imprisoned and left to die, except those who would breed.
There are parts of this work to which many of us can relate: the sting of rejection, the desire to lash out and punish the rejecters, the spurious belief that those in the rejecter class are having a great life while we are left to suffer.
Other parts are beyond comprehension. He never had any consciousness of the privileged life that he led, and thought that the only way he could get a [blonde] girl is to attain greater, much greater wealth. He believed that he deserved that great wealth for no other reason than that he was "superior," "magnificent," and a "gentleman."
There is practically no mention of events in the world beyond his immediate presence, beyond him, his family, his friends. No consciousness of society as a whole, no thoughts about anything civic or political. His interests were very limited: early on it was skateboarding, and then he was obsessed with a video game called World of Warcraft. He liked a few science fiction movies, and some animated features. Other than that, he was only focused on popularity, and blonde girls. With no notion that friends and blondes might like him, might not reject him, if he had some interest that he could talk with them about.
There is little indication that he has been in treatment. Scant mention of psychiatry, or of medication. Occasionally, his parents hire others, perhaps social workers, to talk with Elliot, to be his friend, but Elliot ends up isolating from them.
This autobiography has none of the hallmarks of derangement: his descriptions of his life are carefully arranged, mostly flow logically from one incident to the next, totally chronological. All his sentences are carefully constructed, few typos, few misspellings. His vocabulary is somewhat limited, but it is good enough to express the horrors that perceives in his life.
I can't help but feel that if he were in the right environment, he might have found answers, might have awakened from his nightmare, and then may even have found a blonde. Instead, he was immersed in a La-La-Land ethos centered on physical beauty, monetary wealth, celebrity, blondness. He could not see outside of that, and unless he could have those things, he felt that he didn't count, that he was a non-person.
Maybe his mind was just hardwired in a horrible way that could not be undone. But I have to believe that there was some way out, but he went down the totally wrong paths, and deeper into his own dungeon.
My Twisted World is available free: just search for it. It costs nothing, and it will haunt you....more
Very readable rendition of the life of Rasputin. It contains information, and some speculation, on homosexuality in the realm of Nicholas and AlexandrVery readable rendition of the life of Rasputin. It contains information, and some speculation, on homosexuality in the realm of Nicholas and Alexandra that was not in the standard texts. It was common knowledge that the lead plotter in the assassination of Rasputin, Prince Yusupov,had been raised as girl, and later went to social affairs dressed as a woman. His later affairs with other men, and the possibility of a liaison with Rasputin himself, are threads in this book. The overt homosexuality and licentiousness of many close to Rasputin is one of the author's themes, and one of the causes of the downfall of the Mad Monk and of the empire. The author has some strange tics in his writing, one of which is his rather odd quotes from Rasputin. In order to show the coarseness of Rasputin's speech, the author renders his quotes with the word "ain't". It cannot help but seem strange to think of him saying ain't, and I wonder what the Russian equivalent is. Here are two quotes:
"Iliodor was unhappy to see that Rasputin was not interested in the older, less attractive females. He pushed one elderly woman away, commenting, 'Your love pleases me, Mother, but God ain't with it!'" And: "Rasputin seemed to read Varnava's mind— and he tried to keep Suslik in check. 'Ain't you satisfied?' he once snarled when he suddenly realized that Varnava had been going rather often to Tsarskoye Selo. 'You got here by car— but you can get home on your own two legs. This ain't the place where you get to take it easy!'"
Then there is the author's propensity to call Rasputin "the peasant," as an alternative to using Rasputin's name or using "him." "'Felix! Felix!' Rasputin was shouting, 'I'll tell the Tsaritsa everything!' Purishkevich fired twice at the peasant, missing him both times." Really, maybe he was "the peasant" at the beginning, but he became the most powerful man in Russia.
But these quirks don't detract from the read. Rasputin is one of the most fascinating and important characters in modern world history.
This is probably the easiest read ever for a book about an English MP. And I've read a few. The author is overtly Christian, and clearly thinks that WThis is probably the easiest read ever for a book about an English MP. And I've read a few. The author is overtly Christian, and clearly thinks that Wilberforce is a great credit to Christianity, and specifically to Methodism. According to Metaxas, the impulse to eliminate the slave trade, and then to abolish slavery, is a purely Christian one. He does not overlook the fact that the slave traders themselves would call themselves Christian, but sees Wilberforce as being a propagater of a much purer form of Christianity than what existed in England at the time.
This is not a scholarly book, but is written in a breezy style, and contains analogies to modern-day America so we can grasp the significance of Wilberforce at his own time and place. Although I feel a bit condescended to, I must say that the technique works. I now feel that I have a good understanding of this central figure in abolition, and I've been entertained while learning. ...more