Louis Theroux surrounds himself with UFO enthusiasts, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, hypnotist scammers, cult members and Ike Turner... ReflectiLouis Theroux surrounds himself with UFO enthusiasts, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, hypnotist scammers, cult members and Ike Turner... Reflective 'behind the scenes' look at Louis, a private viewing of his thoughts and inner conflicts as a serious journalist examining such outlandish subjects, his moral dilemmas... fascinating reading. I laughed a lot, and was also moved. The thing that I found most fascinating was Louis' reflections on himself and his fascination with extremes in the human condition.
Discusses his dilemmas about exploiting people, and the border between professionalism and personal ethics. He has an amazing capacity to bring out the human being behind the outlandish beliefs.
His paragraphs about truth and identity particularly resonated with me. He said, quoting self-help guru Ross Jeffries:
"[Arguing with people holding strange beliefs...] is completely futile, because fundamentally, they don't care if something is true or false. To them, the measure of truth is how important it makes them feel. If telling the truth makes them feel important, then it's true. If telling the truth makes them ashamed and small, then it's false."
He went on, "Why do people believe and do weird things? Because in the end, feeling alive is more important than telling the truth. We have evolved as living creatures to express ourselves, to be creative, to tell stories. We are instruments for feeling, faith, energy, emotion, significance, belief, but not really truth [...] We are all, in a way, fictional characters who write ourselves with our beliefs."
part biography, part travelogue about a very bright cartoonist that went on to become one of the best traveled men in history and to one of the nationpart biography, part travelogue about a very bright cartoonist that went on to become one of the best traveled men in history and to one of the nations leading media personalities in print, radio and television for more than 20 years. personally I found it very interesting, but some reviewers criticize the extensive travel details. fast paced, eclectic, very enjoyable....more
It was OK. Expected a lot more out of a "classic", though it's really not very old (published in 1954). Not written nearly as well as White Fang, RobiIt was OK. Expected a lot more out of a "classic", though it's really not very old (published in 1954). Not written nearly as well as White Fang, Robinson Crusoe or Huckleberry Finn.
This book was written as a retort to Coral Island, which I haven't read yet so can't really comment more about, but apparently it got Golding very fired up.
This book has had a lasting effect on social commentary since it's initial publishing. An illustration of how easily man can devolve back to his feral instincts is striking, yet could have been much more if paired with better character development, story structure, and line by line just better writing.
If you would like to learn more about human nature, I suggest that Heart of Darkness tells you a lot more about how dark things can get, and The Red Queen does an excellent job summing up what we know about sociology and physiology and combining it with up to date scientific research to help better understand humanity....more
This was a really horrible history book. There was no discussion of the heights achieved by some of the ancient civilizations north and south of the SThis was a really horrible history book. There was no discussion of the heights achieved by some of the ancient civilizations north and south of the Sahara. Instead the whole book is a semantic discuss about what is Africa, what isn't Africa, who is African, who isn't African. Extremely boring, and misleading as I think most folks will pick this up because they're looking for a broad overview.
This was a horrible introduction.
I hope I'm able to find an actual short history of Africa sometime soon......more
Quick read. Insightful. Practical. If this is a subject that you're interested in, Loyd Kaufman's practical advise should not be ignored. Especially hQuick read. Insightful. Practical. If this is a subject that you're interested in, Loyd Kaufman's practical advise should not be ignored. Especially helpful for anyone planning to create independent movies. Recommended....more
Interesting, politically incorrect story about a young man traveling through Brazil as he updates a mass market guidebook for other travelers. It's anInteresting, politically incorrect story about a young man traveling through Brazil as he updates a mass market guidebook for other travelers. It's an interesting story, well written, fast paced. Even the people that complain about the content often write that they were "unable to put it down".
As someone who travels quite a bit, I've been surprised that often times I don't run into many other western travelers, but at some destinations there are suddenly loads of western travelers, and having lived abroad for so long I wasn't ever quite sure why. Well, Kohnstamm explains quite a bit of it --- they all buy one of the guidebooks printed in their home country before setting off, and all of these guidebooks plagiarize one another, so a high percentage of these guidebook travelers all end up on the same route. A bit ironic. Glad I haven't used a guidebook to travel in the last 10 years, and have no plans to start. If you haven't been abroad much, I think a guidebook is very helpful. Once you've grown used to living abroad, the idea of buying a guidebook just seems superfluous. Why?
I've also never quite understood the impoverished and apparently having substance abuse western traveler that looks like they may have been a street person in the west, somehow washing up in Asia, but Kohnstamm also sheds some light on these folks.
Kohnstamm is a talented writer, and perhaps most interesting, he's been able to polarize his audience into some people that are quite passionate fans, and a perhaps larger group that are quite disdainful. It's interesting whenever someone has the ability to trigger strong emotional responses.
First book I've ever read start to finish on a phone, though the fact I now have a 7" screen on my phone is a strong contributing factor....more
The subtitle of the book is "The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo" yet the opening passage talks about how the authors have made sure tThe subtitle of the book is "The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo" yet the opening passage talks about how the authors have made sure this is a "fair and balanced view" of Himmler. Seems like they should have just edited out that first passage, as the book lines right up with the subtitle: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo. The man was the architect of genocide, so that's what we should expect... Just the irony (hypocrisy?) of the opening disclaimer was a bit irritating.
Was a very interesting read about one of the great tragedies of modern history. Sadly, the ethnic cleansing of the american indians was a big part of Hitler and Himmler's inspiration....more
Hilarious and true. Very short, quick read. As true today as it was 2000 years ago. When you consider that truth, you should also consider whether "1Hilarious and true. Very short, quick read. As true today as it was 2000 years ago. When you consider that truth, you should also consider whether "1 person 1 vote" is really the best system of government that we can create....more
Sounds like hyperbole at first, but actually seems to be accurate analysis based on the related reading that I've done and some related (though much lSounds like hyperbole at first, but actually seems to be accurate analysis based on the related reading that I've done and some related (though much lower level) first hand experience. This is written a bit bombastically, but it's designed to get people fired up and taking action. How would you do that without being a bit over the top? Unfortunately, I don't think that the system is really changeable, but I do agree that Ventura seems to have focused in on one of the bigger US systemic problems....more
Fascinating. I hadn't read much about Napoleon, but he certainly qualifies as one of the great generals of history. If Napoleon would have won his lasFascinating. I hadn't read much about Napoleon, but he certainly qualifies as one of the great generals of history. If Napoleon would have won his last battles, perhaps he would be even better remembered today.
Interesting thought, but could sum it up in a short essay, not 300 pages of dull and dry material. The examples are broad but the research is not deepInteresting thought, but could sum it up in a short essay, not 300 pages of dull and dry material. The examples are broad but the research is not deep. There are too many statistics and not enough stories. The evidence cited is shallow enough that the book is not convincing and the writing repetitive enough that it is not engaging.
The statistics presented remind me of a quote from GE: "if you torture the numbers enough, you can get them to confess to anything". The idea that social networks are going to overturn the current world order, well, don't underestimate the ability of power to hold onto power. The idea that social networks will replace the power that TV, Magazine and other traditional media held - that does seem to be exactly where we are heading, but how much different will that really be? ...more
Having lived in Shanghai for the last 10 years, it was interesting and well researched, but there are so many books written about China this is certaiHaving lived in Shanghai for the last 10 years, it was interesting and well researched, but there are so many books written about China this is certainly not among the very best of them....more
Good book for junior high or high school students that haven't traveled much to review before traveling to countries outside the anglosphere. For my sGood book for junior high or high school students that haven't traveled much to review before traveling to countries outside the anglosphere. For my son bouncing around between Asia and North America, it probably wouldn't be very interesting, but his cousins that don't travel as much may appreciate it. As a businessperson living in Asia for a decade, it wasn't of much interest. Sort of a tamed down version of Tokyo Vice or Ugly Americans.
The book basically covers about moving to Japan to learn Japanese and teach English to middle school kids. The author is obviously a young guy, and I think he has great potential if he continues to write and edit....more
Excellent book that everyone should read and reread periodically. As someone who is never afraid to ask questions, I liked that Grazer takes curiosityExcellent book that everyone should read and reread periodically. As someone who is never afraid to ask questions, I liked that Grazer takes curiosity a step further and specifically tried to meet a new influential person each week to have a "curiosity conversation" with.
Grazer point out that his process for each speech that he gives is the same as the process for each movie he makes:
What is the talk supposed to be about? What is the best possible version of the talk? What do the people coming to this event expect to hear? What do they want to hear in general? What do they want to hear from me in particular? Who is the audience?
Grazer points out that the answers to these questions create the framework for the story that your going to tell, and you always need to be telling a story. People like stories, they don't want to be lectured, they want to be entertained.
Two days before the presentation, write the whole thing out. Practicing gives you a chance to edit, just like you edit a movie or a business presentation. Don't read it, but you've got it on the podium just in case.
Grazer also points out that you need to Eat That Frog!, make the hardest call of the day first. If there is something scary or uncomfortable, just grab it. Delay creates anxiety.
This is a very short book that you can read in a day. It's very upbeat. It's a good reminder of some of the good habits that we need to remind ourselves to cultivate. I've added this to my list of books to reread each year....more
Fun, fast, easy read. Historical mystery. There are some interesting tidbits of colonial Chinese history thrown in, and the book centers around the faFun, fast, easy read. Historical mystery. There are some interesting tidbits of colonial Chinese history thrown in, and the book centers around the fascinating "legation quarter" dongjiao minxiang (东交民巷) south of the forbidden city. Most of the areas related to the story actually exist in Beijing today. The "fox tower" is now called Dongbianmen (东便门). The tartar city (outer city) was the Han city built just to the south of the Manchu imperial city to the north. Even Armour Factory Alley （盔甲厂胡同） where the Werner family lived still exists, halfway between the Fox Tower and Beijing (Train) Station.
This book was very boring, and not particularly enlightening. If you work inside the US government and your job directly deals with foreign relations,This book was very boring, and not particularly enlightening. If you work inside the US government and your job directly deals with foreign relations, perhaps this book will have some practical tips that you can take away.
Personally, I just found the entire thing too long, too dry, and frankly not very important. The book is about a bureaucrat that writes a report every year for the DOD. He's been around for ages, and apparently is quite well respected in Washington.
It seems to me that if these people spent more time in the immersed in the foreign countries, speaking the foreign, eating the foreign food, enjoying the foreign entertainment and ingratiating themselves to the foreign leadership, you wouldn't need some old guy locked in a room making up a new report each year. You would actually have INTELLIGENCE about what is going on in the world.
If I had known more about the subject in advance, I certainly wouldn't have spent my time reading through this. I kept expecting there to be some interesting geopolitical revelation just around the corner, instead we get more congratulations to Mr Marshall for his amazing reports.
After finishing this book, I can only conclude that the author is a huge fan of Marshall and has some vested (consulting?) interest in currying favor with him, or the people around him.
Very complex, nuanced man. He was a truly superior man, akin to the antihero in Trevanian's fictional Shibumi. He spent muchAmazing book. Amazing man!
Very complex, nuanced man. He was a truly superior man, akin to the antihero in Trevanian's fictional Shibumi. He spent much of his life in The Philippines, and did a fantastic job on the occupation and reconstruction of Japan.
Many reviewers note that this is one of the best biographies written. I tend to agree. I'm hard pressed to think of a better one.
MacArthur will probably be remembered in history long after most American presidents are long forgotten. Fascinating man.
If you're interested in history, you've got to read this!...more
This was a fantastic book. Bertrand Russell is himself a great thinker, and to have most books of the western canon editorialized by Russell was a fasThis was a fantastic book. Bertrand Russell is himself a great thinker, and to have most books of the western canon editorialized by Russell was a fascinating ride. Russell is a conservative, practical, wise man, and he tends to have many of the same biases that I have (anti rigidity, anti religious orthodoxy, anti totalitarianism) and he analyzes and condenses the great works of western thinking through this lens. In a sense, it is one philosopher judging the work of the others.
It would be fascinating to read a similar analysis of the works of eastern thought in a similar way.
This is not just a history of Western Philosophy, but also a bit of a ‘how do all of the main schools of Western Philosophy fit into their culture and times'. So, much time is spent giving thumb-nail sketches of the history of certain periods in a way that will help the student of philosophy understand where philosophers were coming from when they said such bizarre things as: nothing changes, everything changes, everything is fire, everything is water, matter does not exist, mind does not exist, and so on.
He makes some truly fascinating points in this book – not least that there is no philosophy that is wholly logically consistent and that sometimes the danger is when a philosopher seeks to remain logically consistent rather than acknowledge the horrendous conclusions that the logical consistency of his ideas forces him toward.
This is not a book that requires either an extensive knowledge of philosophy, nor an extensive knowledge of history to be understood. Russell is a remarkably clear writer (something that for a philosopher really is worth commenting on and something that deserves the highest praise). He also is occasionally quite amusing. Now, I know that people who follow either Marx, Kant, Hegel, Dewey, Nietzsche or even Aristotle might find quite a few things to say in disagreement with Mr Russell, but that in no way takes away from the value of this book.