Full of interesting anecdotes and I love Gladwell's promulgation of social scientific and historical scholarship, but the extension of David & GolFull of interesting anecdotes and I love Gladwell's promulgation of social scientific and historical scholarship, but the extension of David & Goliath unifying theme was lazy. He didn't explore implications as much as I would want, or the contradictions between some of his arguments. Ex: okay, so great suffering can produce great accomplishments, even though much more often, it destroys people. He seems to imply that this makes the great suffering worthwhile in the big picture. But he also takes the position that affirmative action is misguided because black students overall do better in less competitive universities. Wouldn't it make sense using the logic of his position about suffering that some black students would be able to make it out of the crucible of top ranked universities able to accomplish more than they would have if policies prevented them from entering those places? The last chapter about the Chambon-sur-lignon resistance was interesting but weakly connected to the thesis-- it seemed less attributable to the characteristics of David as to the indulgence of Goliath's supporters.
*sigh* in any case, I liked learning about the fullcourt press in basketball, the dyslexic trial lawyer, the fact that childhood leukemia used to involve bleeding from every orifice, the Mennonite hero Dirk Willems, and the story behind California's three strikes legislation. ...more
A highly readable narrative account of the 2011 bombing and shooting massacre in Norway, in which Anders Breivik killed 77 people and grievously injurA highly readable narrative account of the 2011 bombing and shooting massacre in Norway, in which Anders Breivik killed 77 people and grievously injured more than 30 more. Most of the victims were teenagers attending an island summer camp for promising young members of the liberal labor party.
After a shocking opening chapter that takes place on the island mid-shooting spree, the book proceeds in roughly chronological order, going over Breivik's odd and sad parentage, his childhood and adolescence on the fringes, and to his financial successes, social failures, and self-isolation in adulthood. Chapters on Breivik alternate with chapters on the loving family lives and childhoods of two teenagers who ended up on the island during Breivik's shooting spree: Bana, an ethnic Kurd who fled Iraq with her family shortly after Saddam Hussein's ethnic cleansing campaigns, and Simon, an outgoing and popular leader with great organizing skills. The chapters on Breivik's preparations for the massacre, and "Friday," the chapter that unsparingly details the events of that day, were excruciating to read, so saturated are they in dramatic irony.
For the most part, the book is journalistic, with little overt analysis. Everything is based on interviews, records, and Breivik's detailed journals and website. I have never read such a close study of a mass murderer before, and I would have expected more violence, malice, or insanity. Instead, Breivik comes across as a vain, self-deceiving, and petty character. His thought processes, while bizarre and illogical, are dismayingly unexceptional. ...more
Highly readable, with moments that are as suspenseful as any novel (ex: the final story about flesh-eating bacteria, the chapter on the doctors who haHighly readable, with moments that are as suspenseful as any novel (ex: the final story about flesh-eating bacteria, the chapter on the doctors who harm their patients). I learned so much! But of course it's been over a month so that now I only remember the fact that morning sickness may be a protective mechanism for the fetus, with women who have bad morning sickness tending to have healthier babies than women who don't. Gawande makes a perfect spokesperson for the medical profession....more
A long but mostly highly readable overview of sexual mores in America, mostly focusing on the 1950-1970s, when pornos, swingers, and massage parlors sA long but mostly highly readable overview of sexual mores in America, mostly focusing on the 1950-1970s, when pornos, swingers, and massage parlors seemed to explode into public consciousness. Chapters focus on particular person or group of persons, ranging from the teenage masturbator, to Hugh Hefner, to the centerfold, to the pornography purveyors whose cases reach the Supreme Court, to the author himself. The chapter on Oneida and similar communities was fascinating. ...more
Couldn't get into this that much. It felt like too much self-reflexivity in the service of itself, rather than in the service of doing greater justiceCouldn't get into this that much. It felt like too much self-reflexivity in the service of itself, rather than in the service of doing greater justice to something outside of the author. This impression was NOT negated by her self-reflexive acknowledgement that this was a possibility, the entire topic of the essay on Saccharine/Sentimentality. She references Joan Didion in one of the "Pain Tours" essays, and her style reminded me of the little Didion I have read, which would be great recommendation for many. Portions of the first essay, on being a medical actor, and the essay on Morgellons, were almost medical anthropology (which I like). Wide ranging in location/topic as well as in references. The references don't always add to the reader's experience, though contemplating them might have added to hers. ...more
Really enjoyed this. Fast, fascinating, funny, and sad.
"Little Eustace Conway was a teenager. He was already a skilled woodsman and a fierce leader,Really enjoyed this. Fast, fascinating, funny, and sad.
"Little Eustace Conway was a teenager. He was already a skilled woodsman and a fierce leader, the one who had every kid in his neighborhood working on regulated shifts around the clock to tend to his extensive personal turtle collection." (196)
"So Eustace doesn't know what to do about Ashley. In the end, his decision will almost certainly be a showdown between the two things he craves most: absolute love and absolute control. It's a tough call. Historically, love has always been a pretty fierce contender, but some people in this world need more than love. Eustace has lived without love before; that's a familiar sensation for him. whereas he has never lived a moment of his adult life without control." (246). ...more