This book sort of piggy backed off another audio book called Red Notice that I listened to early about the less than savory business practices in RussThis book sort of piggy backed off another audio book called Red Notice that I listened to early about the less than savory business practices in Russia. I was a bit worried that I had already read this book since:
A) The cover style is quite a bit similar to McMafia (which I had already read).
After reviewing the Planet Money Podcast, it turns out that Brian Krebs - the author of this book - was one of the key sources of the episode. A lot of the general ideas that were in the podcast episode were discussed in more detail in this book.
There were a couple of chapters that were really interesting to me, which included the chapter on why people purchase goods from online pharmacies and other questionable websites along with a chapter about how private corporations and academics fought against the spammers while lacking the support of or being down right impeded by pharmaceutical companies and the US Government.
Chapters that discussed the politicking and maneuvering of Russian cyber criminals and their seedy online underworld didn't interest me as much as other sections of the book. I am sure that lack of connection from this aspect of Russian society plays a major role in why I wasn't as interested in this section of the book.
The last thing that stood out to me was the autobiographical presence in this book. At first, I thought this was just a book reporting on cybercrime, but around the second chapter, the author goes into his personal experience at the Washington Post reporting on technology and his subsequent pursuit of freelance journalism. When I started the book The Great War for Civilisation, it was clear that Robert Fisk was writing about his own personal experiences. The shift in this book from being a report on cybercrime to a telling of a personal story threw me off a bit, but didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book once I got over this change....more
Finding books in English for high school students to read here in Korea is extremely tricky. There is a fine balance between interest, familiarity, anFinding books in English for high school students to read here in Korea is extremely tricky. There is a fine balance between interest, familiarity, and appropriateness. There are a lot of novels that I read in high school that wouldn't work here. Books like Lord of the Flies are deep, but the language and symbolism would probably be too complicated for an average ESL student. I enjoyed Slaughterhouse Five, but I think some of the sexual content would probably upset quiet a few parents. Of course, one could always play it safe and find a book for middle school students, but some of the themes and subjects are bit too juvenile for the high school students.
With that being said, Okay for Now lands perfectly in the middle of the requirements for a book for high school ESL students here in Korea. The overall language and writing isn't bogged down with excessive poetic description, though there is some vernacular that would present an appropriate challenge to the students. The subject matter is about a student in a dysfunctional family and the hardships that he must face. Quite a few of the events that happen are mildly disturbing, but nothing so severe as to offend an average Korean parent.
There are quite a few interesting things in the book. Late 1960's America is one of my favorite time periods for a book to take place in and the theme of symbolism throughout the book based on the aviary pictures of John James Audubon is a nice addition that wouldn't be too overly complicated for an ESL reader.
My only major gripe (without giving away spoilers) is that some of the developments of characters near the end of the book are unexpected and a bit of a sharp left turn. It did add a dramatic flare, but it just felt like these developments were added at the last minute....more
This was another book I got on sale from Audible's Daily Deal program. I've become a bit interested in Futurology these days and the description of thThis was another book I got on sale from Audible's Daily Deal program. I've become a bit interested in Futurology these days and the description of this book perked my interests. Throughout the book I was pleasantly surprised and at times a bit shocked about what I learned about automation.
Throughout the book, Nicholas Carr discusses the process of how human societies have started to adopt automation into their lives and some of the impacts on our lives that have occurred. Some of the major aspects of our society that Carr discusses includes Maps and Wayfaring, Architecture, Medical Services, Driver-less Cars, and a few others. Some topics such as Driver-less Cars and Wayfaring were far more relevant to my interests and my life than other items such as Architecture or Medical Services.
Overall, Carr makes some great points about how our unquestioning use of automation for a large range of activities in both our personal and professional life does have a negative on us, including our creativity, problem-solving skills, and just being able to do simple tasks that are necessary for our well being.
I've seen a few of these consequences happening in my own life, but never really deeply contemplated their impact. Nicholas Carr did a great job of clearly spelling out some of these situations that I've come across and explained how they can harm my well being.
I do have to say that I've changed a few minor things in my life after reading this book. The only real complaint that I would have is that this book deals with majorly with negative effects of automation, and doesn't really discuss the positive effects much after the first few chapters. There is a nice middle ground between a paper map and having your in car navigation tell you how to get to your destination....more
I remember awhile back hearing in the news about the Russian government forbidding American citizens from adopting Russian orphans to protect RussianI remember awhile back hearing in the news about the Russian government forbidding American citizens from adopting Russian orphans to protect Russian orphans from abusive American parents. I was skeptical about their reason, and read other commentary that this was a retaliation against the US government in response to the freezing of assets in the US of certain questionable Russian businessmen and government officials. While these news stories were fascinating at the time, I never really did any further research into these events and didn't think about it anymore.
If you are interested in learning about what the cause behind this, Red Notice is definitely a good book to start understanding this unusual and quite complex situation.
The overall narrative presented in this book was extremely fascinating and quite a bit of a roller coaster ride, starting with the author's first experiences in investing in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Bloc and subsequent problems that he and his employees faced with the Russian government.
It appears that Bill Browder's life had changed dramatically and has gone from an investment banker to a human rights activist. I understand that it is important for Bill Browder to get his message out to as many people to help the people who have suffered. However, I believe that his writing style weakens the strength of his message.
First of all, I feel like this book is a bit of a pseudo-non-fiction book. I don't doubt that Bill Browder has lived through events mentioned. However, unless he has a photographic memory, there is no way that he can accurately remember the dialogue between himself and other people that he presented in his book. Many of these conversations took place over a decade ago and Bill Browder makes no indication that these quoted texts are being cited from audio records or transcripts. I am sure that he has a decent memory of the events that took place, but this quoted dialogue is adding elements of fiction to his book for the purpose of making it more dramatic.
Other sections of the book seem to take away from the story and make the author seem a bit self centered. One chapter of the book included his conversation with his very young son about why the Russian men daddy was fighting were bad men. These entire passage to me felt sappy and unnecessary. The main purpose of this book is the corruption and human rights violations that the author was combating. A bit of information about how this complex and stressful situation lead to break up of his first marriage is relative the story, I feel that way too much time was spent on events that took place in his first failed marriage. Additionally, learning about Bill Browder's second wife who is Russian is important since she does a lot to help him in his battle with Russian authorities. However, the entire courtship process is another section that could have been greatly cut down.
Despite what I feel are large shortcomings in the author's writing style, I feel that there is lots of information about a tragic real life event. Reading this book has spurred me to try to learn more about this situation from other sources (since Bill Browder is only source and a heavily biased source)....more
I learned about this book recently as a source material in the book On Killing and decided to add it to my reading list. Karl Marlantes, who served asI learned about this book recently as a source material in the book On Killing and decided to add it to my reading list. Karl Marlantes, who served as an officer in the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, discusses the life of a warrior before, during, and after war based on his own personal experiences, reflections, and studies. Marlantes opens up and shares many details about his actions and emotional feelings from his time during and after the Vietnam war that are usually not shared by combat veterans and are often hard for civilians to comprehend and digest.
Throughout the book, the author discusses some mildly esoteric concepts concerning the recent emasculation of males in Western society, how the traditional roles of warriors in the 'realms of Mars' changed, along with more approachable concepts that veterans face such as heroism, self-deception, guilt, and denial.
Part of this book reminds me of the autobiographies from Vietnam veterans recounting this feats and achievements during the war that I used to read during my Vietnam War phase back in high school. Even though some of these accounts may feel like the author sharing his war stories, Marlantes dives deeply into his feelings, thoughts, and reflections of himself when he was a much younger and immature man dealing with one of the most difficult human experiences.
Overall, the book was an interesting read that reinforces thoughts and ideas from other veterans along with ideas that are new to me that I would like to learn more about....more
This book was a short quick read that was quite informative. Even though I've been in Korea for almost seven years, I was able to learn more about theThis book was a short quick read that was quite informative. Even though I've been in Korea for almost seven years, I was able to learn more about the traditional culture that surrounds family lineage. The entire piece was written well and came off as a historical and informative piece instead of persuasive argument about why Korean Tradition is so wonderful. There were a couple of subjective Korean viewpoints slipped in, such as the phrase "the loneliness of individualism", but I just looked at this as a small gateway into the mind of the writer and wasn't distracted by its presence.
I think the biggest thing I took away from this book was some knowledge about Korean traditions that I can mix in with my humor to build a nice connection with Koreans. When I told my family and students that because I started the Anyang Tam clan (안양 탐 씨), I am a jongga (종가), my wife is a (종부), and our oldest cat is the jongson 종손. Read the book and you'll get the joke....more
This book was definitely a giant eye opener for me about human nature in the midst of combat and the various factors that may incline or disincline aThis book was definitely a giant eye opener for me about human nature in the midst of combat and the various factors that may incline or disincline a person to actually attempt to harm another human being. I haven't read a book that made me want to discuss the content with other people in such a long time. With my crude ability to speak Korean, I was even able to talk about this book with my Korean mother-in-law (who is a bit of a history buff), and learn some things about Korean soldiers coming home from Vietnam.
After reading a few academic books, I found the writing style in this book extremely refreshing. The material was explained in a style that is approachable for an average reader with plenty of detail. At the same time, the information was concise and not bogged down with excessive flowery and obtuse speech. While a lot of the author's points were reinforced with personal accounts from veterans, there wasn't much data to support his ideas.
Almost every section in this book had a giant impact on the way I think about combat and veterans. The section that stuck with me the most was about how the way the US conscription system was set up in during the Vietnam War along with the actions of a certain segment of the US population compounded the psychological effects of combat to a extremely severe level for many of the veterans.
For the last segment of the book concerning the impact of violence in media on our children, I think Lt. Colonel Grossman makes some good points that are reinforced by what he has presented in the rest of his book. However, I feel that his arguments are a bit over simplified and that violence in our society is a much bigger issue with a plethora of other factors.
Overall, I feel that this book is a must read for anybody and everybody. While this may not be a perfect book, I believe that it will provide profound insights to anybody who reads this who has never been in a combat situation before....more
When my friend saw that I had gotten this book at the used bookstore in town, he told me that he had a very hard time understanding this book. While MWhen my friend saw that I had gotten this book at the used bookstore in town, he told me that he had a very hard time understanding this book. While Michael Lewis doesn't write in an overly academic or obtuse manner, the subject matter in this book does require a decent amount of background in finance to have a firm grasp of what happened in the financial meltdown of 2008.
I was finishing up my second to last semester in business school during the fall of 2008 and I remember quite a few classes where the teacher scrapped the lesson plan and started to talk about what was happening on Wall Street instead. 2008 was a long time ago for me, and I went on to a much different career path for most finance majors in college.
I'm quiet rusty when it comes to what I learned in all of my finance classes, but after reading a few websites, I was able to refresh my memory about CDOs and swaps. I definitely need to get a finance textbook out and study this again to completely understand everything in this book. With my background though, I was able to understand the story well enought.
Michael Lewis's writing style, while approachable, isn't the clearest to follow. I understand the way he organized the book. For the most part, it was based around chronological order and the relationship different investors had with each. However, the information could get repetitive at times and start to jump around.
Despite this, I enjoyed the book and it made me want to pick up a finance textbook and review what I learned it college all those years ago. I really enjoyed what I learned college about business, but I really didn't want to become a businessman. This book helps reinforce my decision not to enter the finance world. The information was fascinating and I will keep an eye for other books my Michael Lewis. I also plan to try to find more books to learn about the world of finance. ...more
Even after being in a Korea for over six years now, I was able to learn quite a few things about Korean culture through this book. A lot of times peopEven after being in a Korea for over six years now, I was able to learn quite a few things about Korean culture through this book. A lot of times people are quick to say "Because of Confucianism, Korea is like this." However, the same people tend not to go much farther than that when explaining the background for certain parts of Korean society. This book however delves deeper into Korean history and traditional Confucian values that still impact the psyche of modern Koreans.
This is a general book for people with little to no experience with South Korea and I take everything they say with a grain of salt since it has probably been simplified to an extent. There are a lot of topics mentioned in the book that I would love to read more about in greater detail. In addition to that, Korean culture is constantly changing, there are probably certain aspects that are not as prominent as before....more
Bill Bryson reviews life in America in the 1950's and 60's through the eyes of a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is quite a bit of iBill Bryson reviews life in America in the 1950's and 60's through the eyes of a child growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. While there is quite a bit of information from research in this book, a lot of stories presented are anecdotal yet humorous accounts from the author's life. Many of Bryson's experiences are told through the lens of a child and greatly differ from reality. It's best just to take these stories with a grain of salt and enjoy the differences between how adults and children perceive the same thing.
I read this book quite a few years ago, and despite this I still found myself laughing out loud all throughout the book. I learned the hard way that this isn't a good book to pass the time while proctoring an essay test. You will spend much of your energy trying to stifle your laughter in order not to disturb the students.
Overall, I wouldn't use this book as a source in an essay. It's just a fun book to sit down and read to learn about life in America during an older time....more
Like all the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I've read, I was able to get through this book quite quickly. This book discusses lots of deeper and moLike all the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I've read, I was able to get through this book quite quickly. This book discusses lots of deeper and more complex thoughts despite the fact that Gladwell's writing style is more simplistic and easy to read.
I don't take anything that Gladwell says in his book as solid fact. Instead, he is taking the research and studies of others and combining them together to form a common theme. From there he shares his musings and interpretations of the material with his audience. I am sure, like anybody, there are bias in his writing, but I do stop and think about what he has to say. While my life might not be completely revolutionized, I find myself mentally referring back to his book when I come across different situations that he has discussed....more
The thing that I enjoy most about reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell is that the subjects are deep while the language is approachable. There really isThe thing that I enjoy most about reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell is that the subjects are deep while the language is approachable. There really isn't any overly complicated or obtuse academic jargon in this book. Most people with a decent background of education and a willingness to learn could pick up this book, understand the material, and enjoy what they are reading.
In this book, Gladwell talks about how epidemics (not just the deadly disease kind) can occur and what causes them to really take off. Most of the information in this book seems pretty anecdotal in his presentation. I don't believe that Gladwell has really "proved" anything. However, when he brings up some extremely interesting ideas that many people may not think about or realize, he give lots of explanation of why he thinks these things, and gives examples of where these ideas originate from. I'm sure that there are a lot of other studies out there talking about what can cause an epidemic can to explode with their own research and examples.
The one thing that I will really take away from this book though is the idea that we people and their personalities are not clear cut. Our personalities are based off the context of different situations. It seems too many times that we see a person only one way and not how they are in different scenarios....more
After hearing about this topic on the podcast Planet Money, I decided to pick up this book and learn more about these two people and their debate thatAfter hearing about this topic on the podcast Planet Money, I decided to pick up this book and learn more about these two people and their debate that I've heard mentioned quite a few times. Overall, the book gave me a good background to understand where these two men came from and how different generations interpreted their ideas.
For the first two-thirds of the book, the author quotes lots of source materials from the first half on the 19th century. Most of the text were from letters or book written by Keynes, Hayek, and their contemporaries about various economic topics. Even with my background in economics in college, this part could be quite hard to understand. Up until the death of Keynes, the book was filled with lots of academic writing and was a struggle to get through.
Once Keynes had passed away, the book started to focus on how different American and British administrations conducted their economic policies based on the economic philosophies of Keynes, Hayek, and/or ...more
This was another book that was chosen by one of groups in my upper-intermediate EFL reading class for their extensive reading project. I think their cThis was another book that was chosen by one of groups in my upper-intermediate EFL reading class for their extensive reading project. I think their choice of what to read was bit closer to their level than another group's selection of Holes.
In the book, there are some interesting point made by the author's dying sociology professor. I did enjoy Morrie's views on how positive social interactions are more important than material possessions. Trying to impress people with what you own will only make those richer look down on you and those less fortunate than you look at you with envy. Kindness and listening to people create stronger relationships and social capital.
Despite the many interesting philosophies that the dying man had to share, I felt the overall writing felt like a hodgepodge of passages deifying the author's professor that were loosely connected.
I guess what it comes down to, for my tastes, I would prefer something deeper and more philosophical instead of a book trying to pull at my heartstrings....more
I burned through this book and was finished before I knew it. It was a bit of a page turning learning about the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a man who wasI burned through this book and was finished before I knew it. It was a bit of a page turning learning about the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a man who was born in a North Korean prison camp and escaped the country. The style of writing was very similar to that of Into the Wild, in which a journalist tells the story of someone who has been through a daunting experience.
There was quite a bit that I learned about the gulag camps in North Korea that was gruesome and disturbing. In addition to that, I did learn a bit more about other aspects of North Korea that I was unfamiliar with. On top of that, there was quite a bit of information that I already knew from my four years of living in South Korea.
I found it helpful that the author tried to relate the events in Mr. Shin's experience to the bigger picture of what was happening in North Korea and the surrounding areas and how it affected his plight.
If anyone wants to know more about this part of the world and doesn't know too much, it is a quick read that will expose them to information that is quite unpleasant but eyeopening....more
In this book, Jon Krakauer, the author, tries to take a look at the adventures and death of Chris McCandless in Alaska from multiple angles These poinIn this book, Jon Krakauer, the author, tries to take a look at the adventures and death of Chris McCandless in Alaska from multiple angles These points of views include what is know of McCandless's travels, stories from history of other adventurers who trekked into the wild, Krakauer's own experiences and interviews with Chris's family.
I do have to say that I appreciate the authors attempt show both praises of Chris's exploits along with (very) critical points of view. Overall, the tone of the book tended to be more sympathetic towards the risks that Chris took. While Chris's harshest critics, who tended to be Alaskans, do have strong points concerning his hubris and naivety, Krakauer also shares his experiences and mindset when he set off and bit off more than he could chew of the Alaskan Wild when he was a younger man.
The one point that left me hesitant to award more stars to this book was the writing style tended to be flowery and over dramatic. I understand that the author wants to set a mood for the book; however, this is a work of non-fiction, and I feel that this type of writing requires language that is more toned downed....more
On a trip back to the States, I spent quite a bit of down time catching up some American TV. All of that time was spent locked on the Discovery ChanneOn a trip back to the States, I spent quite a bit of down time catching up some American TV. All of that time was spent locked on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and a couple of other adjacent education channels. During the wee hours of the morning wide awake due to my jet lag, I was able to catch some good, old-fashion, traditional historical documentaries on the History Channel before it reverted to a Pawn Stars marathon. On one particular morning, there were a couple of hours of documentaries about the Mexican-American War, of which I knew little about.
Since Richard Winders, the author of this book, was one of the historians guest appearing on this program, I decided to pick up this book, which was also mentioned on the History Channel documentary. I was ready to read more about the Mexican-American War, especially since I hadn't been able to watch the documentaries all the way through.
When I opened this book, I was ready to expand my knowledge of this time period is U.S. and Mexican history with information that I missed from the documentary along with more detail that couldn't be covered in an hour documentary. Unfortunately, I was able to get loads of details, but it was very detailed information in one specific area.
The title, Mr. Polk's Army, isn't a catchy title to describe the Mexican-America War; it is about exactly what the title states - the U.S. Army that was under the control of James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States.
Needless to say, this wasn't exactly the type of book that I was looking for. I was hoping for a book that would tell the overall story from the start of the belligerence between the United States and Mexico, through the battles that took place, and all the way up to the end of the war.
Despite lacking what I wanted, there was still plenty of insightful information about the people that served in the U.S. Army along with all of the politicking in the U.S. that surrounded the events of the war. Winders was able to provide lots of accounts from actual documents from the time period. Some passages could be dry and hard to get through. This included the list of Democratic officers that were appointed to the volunteer army under the patronage of President Polk. Other sections included gripping accounts of hardships that the soldiers had to face in this time period.
After this book, I feel much better informed, but I definitely want to read more books about this time period in order to get a more overall picture. Winders doesn't paint a pretty picture of President Polk, and now I feel a bit of ambivalence when I listen to one of my favorite They Might Be Gaints songs, James K. Polk.
This book was filled with a plethora of short activities that could be used in the last five minutes of class or a free day in class. While a few of tThis book was filled with a plethora of short activities that could be used in the last five minutes of class or a free day in class. While a few of these ideas my not be applicable to my classes (due to size or target skill), I did stumble across a number of ideas that I could use to augment my regular lessons.
Additionally, the methods of presenting visual aids in this book is a bit dated. However, these ideas can easily be adapted to a modern class room that has computer with a projector....more
Right of the bat, my negative review of this book is not a reflection on the libertarian opinions that they author of this book presents. Some of theRight of the bat, my negative review of this book is not a reflection on the libertarian opinions that they author of this book presents. Some of the his ideas were intriguing and I could see his point of view; some of his other ideas I disagreed with.
The overall premise of this book seemed to be the following: extremely rich people are better off than extremely poor white people, this is becoming more pronounced in the 2000's compared to the 1960's and here are some graphs to prove it. There is no doubt that Charles Murray compiled lots of data and statistic from different resources to bring about evidence to an obvious claim.
This type of data is important to help understand social problems and is also needed to have logical and well informed discussion about social policy. However, for over 200 pages it felt as if I was reading government documents. Most of the book seemed to consist of the following pattern: a statement how rich white people are different from poor white people, a graph that corresponds with the claim, a reiteration in the text about the information in the graph.
If I am going to read a book about this subject, I want to read something that gives me insight into 'why' or 'how' something happened. Give me examples and case studies of why things changed in addition to the data showing that things have changed. What caused America's poor to attend church less and less? What are some of the factors that cause poor white people to be less honest and industrious? While there were a couple of explanations throughout the book, these explanations were extremely brief and over generalized to be considered succinct.
In part of the book, Murray talks about the importance of a code of behavior in a society in one paragraph. This paragraph was summed up with the following statement: "A degenerate elite code can inspire contempt and encourage revolution among the rest of the population, with France in the mid-eighteenth century and Russia in the early twentieth as cases in point." I find the extreme generalization without any details and/or specific examples to support your claim the ultimate example of irresponsibility when writing non-fiction opinion pieces.
While the previous statement may be the most extreme example in the book, most of his work in the main pages of the book seemed brief, generalized and glossed-over. Because of these reasons I did not enjoy the book despite the information presented that could have been deep and insightful....more
O Won-chol, the author of this book, was one of the high ranking technocrats under the reign of Park Chung-hee (박정희) in the 1960s and 70s. During hisO Won-chol, the author of this book, was one of the high ranking technocrats under the reign of Park Chung-hee (박정희) in the 1960s and 70s. During his 16 years in office, Park was able to turn the impoverished, agrarian nation of South Korea into developing industrial nation before he was assassinated.
After being shunned from country's politics due to his close association with President Park, Mr. O has written this book along with developing a website that talks about economic policies that he helped create which lead to the rapid improvement of the South Korean economy and the lives of its citizens.
I originally picked up this book to learn more about Park Chung-hee, who is an extremely pivotal person in modern Korean history. While I didn't learn a lot about the man himself, there was quite a bit of information concerning the measures implemented by President Park and his technocrats that greatly changed the nation of South Korea. Mr. O clearly has inside knowledge and understanding of the Korean government, Korean current events and industry under Park's tutelage.
Unfortunately, reading this book was almost akin to reading propaganda. Virtually nothing negative was said about Park Chung-hee, while Mr. O was not hesitant at all to criticize Park's successors, Chun Doo-hwan (전두환), Roh Tae-woo (노태우) and Kim Yong-sam (김영삼). Additionally, throughout the book there were passages of overly emotional patriotism and idealism that further destroys the author's objectivity.
If I hadn't valued the information that I had learned from this book, these negative aspects would've brought the book's rating down to 2 stars....more
Despite the title being a bit of a turn off for me, this book did contain a lot of information about the world of organized crime. Seeing that my upbrDespite the title being a bit of a turn off for me, this book did contain a lot of information about the world of organized crime. Seeing that my upbringing consisted of a life in a Midwestern suburb, I've never really been exposed directly to any these situations. Or at least, I don't think I have; I am not the most observant person.
Misha Glenny starts his book with one of the biggest events in modern history that lead to the rapid expansion of organized crime: the fall of the Soviet Union. Each chapter focus on a different region of the world and their local specialty. Glenny does a superb job of organizing these chapters based on connection between the regions in each chapter.
Most of the information that I was reading about was new to me and served an introduction. It was fascinating to hear about these events and some of the lives of certain people caught up in the world of organized crime. One thing I notice with Glenny's writing is that these anecdotes seemed to serve as a complete representation of what is happening in that specific area of the world and area of organized crime.
One final thing that irked me a bit throughout the book was the flowery and over dramatic literary style of writing that he used from time to time in his book. The information in this book is already extremely interesting; there was no need to "spice it up." When I read non-fiction, I expect to be presented with the facts. If I read poetry or literature, I expect to see the author's ability to manipulate language into something extraordinary....more
After doing a quick review of Thomas Paine on Wikipedia before reading this book, I can see how the Age of Reason made him so unpopular that only sixAfter doing a quick review of Thomas Paine on Wikipedia before reading this book, I can see how the Age of Reason made him so unpopular that only six people showed up to his funeral. While many of ideas did question the validity of Christianity and organized religion, I think it was his constant referrals to Christianity and the Bible as "stupid" and other derogatory terms is what really made his critics upset.
Paine ended up writing two parts to the Age of Reason. The first part was when he didn't have a Bible at hand to reference, and the second part when he did have a copy of the Bible. His first part was much more general and overarching lacking in details to support his reasoning. Despite this, he did have a nice section of the use of mystery, miracle and prophecy in religion. In his second part, he did go into much more details and used excerpts from the Bible to poke holes into the claims that the Bible is the word of God.
Throughout this book, Paine never really "proves" anything, but he does make some interesting logical arguments that would make someone who is willing to look at religion critically stop and ponder. In his discussions about the gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark and John, he talks about many inconsistencies and contradictory statements that bring doubt to validity these texts have to documentation the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
One thing that I notice is that some people relate his book to atheism. While many of his arguments are prevalent in the atheist community, Paine seems to abhor atheists. Instead, he is a Deist and the discovery and understanding of God can be found the observation of the natural world and not through mankind....more
Before reading this book, I knew only adjective to describe Che Guevara: Mysterious. Recently, Che has become a bit of a cultural icon again in AmericBefore reading this book, I knew only adjective to describe Che Guevara: Mysterious. Recently, Che has become a bit of a cultural icon again in America, with the famous picture of him, Guerrillero Heroico, being printed on shirts and posters. Because of this, I wanted to know who this person was, what did he accomplish in his life, why his portrait was so popular and if his face should adorn the walls of my bedroom.
In the introduction of this book, Jon Lee Anderson discussed how many books about Che already out there seem to demonize or sanctify him. Through out the book, Anderson did a wonderful job of presenting the facts of his life based on numerous documents and interviews from during the life of Che. While reading this book, I didn't feel that the author was trying to convince me to believe one thing or another about Che.
Now that I have finished the book, there are plenty more adjectives that I would use to describe Che, both positively and negatively: communist, idealistic, dedicated, learned, unhygienic, naive, discipline, hard-working, frugal, educated, ignorant, harsh, disciplined, unrealistic, demanding, selfish and violent.
In the end, while there are certain aspects of his life that one could find admirable, I wouldn't buy a shirt with his face on it nor hang a poster of him in my room. I just found his extreme points of view unrealistic and incompatible with mine....more
One thing I didn't realize going into this book was that this was actually an autobiography. Baratunde Thurston writes about himself in a very comedicOne thing I didn't realize going into this book was that this was actually an autobiography. Baratunde Thurston writes about himself in a very comedic fashion that one would expect from a writer at The Onion. There were quite a few times where I was laughing out loud during his book.
Also, Thurston, along with some of his colleagues, talks about the current state of African-Americans. He and his friends talk about their vision for the future of black people in America. One interesting comment that I read was improving African-America studies in the schools. As of now, much of the material carries a depressing and negative vibe that can have a harmful effect on the mentality of the community. Being proud and positive of the history of African-Americans could bring about beneficial changes in the way people think....more
Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of America's top pop-scientist, brings forth some wonderful andWe should declare war on asteroids and comets!
Know your Enemy!
Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of America's top pop-scientist, brings forth some wonderful and interesting information about the past, present and future of NASA and the country of America in general. He writes in a manner that is quite accessible to the average reader. You can learn about the basics of Space Exploration from him without the jargon of advance math and science.
How was it America was able to direct some much (and yet at the same time so little) of its resources to put a man on the moon? What is the connection between the Hubble Telescope and the treatment of breast cancer? How can the science community save humankind from annihilation? How can NASA help America become a world leader?
By reading this book, you can learn the answers to these questions and much more. Also, you will be able to understand why we should declare war on asteroids and comets....more
Seeing the length of the book and the size of the actual text, I didn't go into this book with great expectations.
There was quite a bit that I did leaSeeing the length of the book and the size of the actual text, I didn't go into this book with great expectations.
There was quite a bit that I did learn about the Great King Sejong, the Choson Dynasty and the history of Korea. I did walk away with more knowledge, which I am glad but it still wasn't the type of book that I was looking for.
If I was going to recommend this book to anyone, it would probably be an ex-pat who has been living in Korea for a few months and is slightly familiar with Korean history. As for me, I am looking for more depth in my pursuit of learning. Of course I want to hear about the great achievements that the Great King Sejong accomplished but I know that real life isn't perfect. When I read about history, I want the whole story, especially the parts that the average public school history book would omit....more
"To learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”- NeilWhy read this book?
"To learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”- Neil deGrasse Tyson
I decided to pick up this book and give it a try after seeing Neil deGrasse Tyson's list of must read books on Reddit. Yes, there is a lot of good information in this book. Yes, it is a classic. But why only three stars?
When I rate a book, I rate it on its 'page turnability' (which is not in the dictionary) and its lack of 'put-downness' (which is also not in the dictionary). There was a lot of good information in here about the manner of obtaining and maintaining power, but also there was a lot of esoteric euro-centric historical references that I am not very familiar with. Additionally, the translation of 16th Century Italian into English is quite obtuse to me. Indeed, I am not a well educated Renaissance Man who can read through this type of text and understand everything clearly.
That being said, there was a lot of good information it. Machiavelli came out and said a lot of things that in my subconscious I realized. But when he puts these points down on paper, I can only respond Duh (in the words of another reviewer) when I read them. Looking at this information spelled out for me makes me stop and think about other examples, especially how King Jofrey and Queen Cersei's reigns failed so epically. ...more
Suggestion for an alternative title: Living Dangerously in Korea as a Missionary (and a few other stories not directly related to Christianity).
The tiSuggestion for an alternative title: Living Dangerously in Korea as a Missionary (and a few other stories not directly related to Christianity).
The title of this book caught my attention when I purchased it from a used bookstore. I was hoping to learn a lot about my host country of South Korea and I learned much more than I expected.
From the title of the book I didn't expect that so much of the book would be centered around the lives of Christian missionaries in Korea. After getting through a couple of chapters and realizing that I would be reading a lot about missionaries, I finally pieced it together and realized the author was the same Donald N. Clark who is apart of the Christian missionary family 'dynasty' that has lived in Korea for a long time.
There is no doubt that Christian missionaries played a giant role in the development in modern Korea. This book covers a lot of key aspects of this and gave me plenty of insight in how Korean and Western relations developed. I do feel that at times information concerning the missionaries went too deep. I wasn't really all that interested in their summer homes on the west coast.
The parts that were about the "White Russians" (those who supported the Czar, not a white power group) that were living in Korea was quite fascinating to me. Maybe it is because I am drawn to this sort of information, or maybe it is because it was refreshing in a book almost completely about missionaries.
The most eyeopening chapter of the book was about the American military occupation of Korea after the surrender of Japan. I am now able to better understand the world that my grandfather lived in when he was stationed here in 1948. In my opinion, while the Christian missionaries help set the foundation for modern Korea and its relations with this West, these five key years after WWII seemed to be some of the most pivotal years in contemporary Korean history. I would love to read a book that dived much deeper into this subject.
Overall, I am extremely glad that I read this book. At times the book could be a bit slow and boring, but many times I was amazed by what I was learning and kept burning through the pages. I would definitely read another book by Donald N. Clark, though I will read the summary first before I dive into it....more
This book introduced to me a very different way of looking at evolution. The overall actions of any living organiHurray! Biology 101 finally paid off!
This book introduced to me a very different way of looking at evolution. The overall actions of any living organism or their DNA within is done for the betterment and proliferation of the DNA or the genes. These actions and there benefits are explained by Dawkins in ideas of Game Theory. Individuals who choose a certain action (or who are genetically programmed to pick a certain action) benefit and as a reward will be able to produce more offspring. This action with benefits become the dominating or stable strategy for the organisms and end up out breeding those individuals that choose actions that don't lead to the optimum level of breeding. What may look like cooperation for the benefit of group is actual for the benefit of the replicating gene argues Dawkins.
The overall language and explanations found in the book are accessible to a reasonably educated person. Those of you who didn't fall asleep in the Biology class and paid attention would have an easier time understanding his explanations. At times the amount of information could feel overwhelming, but if the average reader is diligent, they can pick away at it bit by bit.
As for me, I loved studying Game Theory in my economics classes during college. His explanation of how certain actions become the Environmental Stable Strategy (ESS) were very clear to me in his explanation through Game Theory. I personally loved Chapter 12, Nice Guys Finish First, since the entire chapter and examples were all based in Game Theory.
While definitely not a light read, if you are up for a bit of a challenge and desire to feel a bit smarter, this book is definitely would be appropriate....more