Didn't go into as much detail as I would have liked. George W. obviously respects his father a lot, and intended this to write this as a tribute his fDidn't go into as much detail as I would have liked. George W. obviously respects his father a lot, and intended this to write this as a tribute his father, but the reason I (and I'm sure many others) were excited to read this book is because it promised a glimpse into a president's life from the perspective of his son.
He says things about GHWB like the fact that he never heard harsh words exchanged between him and his mother. And every story he tells about his dad is positive. I'm willing to believe that his father was a great person, but where are the stories that humanize the former president? Where are stories about the time his father did something silly, or unexpected? This made me feel like I was reading about someone out of a parable, rather than a still living, former president.
As W points out, Bush Senior never wrote a presidential memoir, and if The President's Club taught me anything, it's that all outgoing presidents care about their legacy, and how they will be judged by history. Parts of this book felt like W was trying to draw parallels between his legacy, and that of his father's. That's fine, since former presidents are so rarely given the opportunity to speak candidly about their decisions without interruption. I don't mind reading that. However, then George W. should uphold his end of the bargain, and tell us something about his father that hasn't already been said by someone who wasn't his son....more
It was a great change of pace to read Kissinger's descriptions of more recent history, since most of the books I read are from the Revolutionary War uIt was a great change of pace to read Kissinger's descriptions of more recent history, since most of the books I read are from the Revolutionary War until the Civil War. Kissinger explains the Vietnam War and Cuban missile crisis in a way that explains the thinking of those in power. More importantly, he explains how each action influenced subsequent actions, and describes the chain of consequences.
I've heard this book described as Henry Kissinger's master's thesis, that he just kept on writing. It certainly seems that way - with some really scholarship-heavy chapters in the beginning of the book about England's traditional role of balance of power on the continent, and more personal memoir-like chapters after he gets to the 60's. There was definitely a page where Kissinger starts name dropping, and once he starts, you realize it's going to be happening for the rest of the book. Personally, I loved it, since it's rare to have someone who participated in so many of the meetings that occurred behind closed doors willing to share their experiences.
What Kissinger teaches us repeatedly is that diplomacy is a brutal game, based on the realities of power discrepancies between the participants. Those who forget this, or who don't understand their position pay for their lack of self-awareness: the Soviet Union in the 80's and France under the Sun King both grossly overestimated the cards they were holding, while America post World War II didn't understand its new position as the most powerful nation on earth. It seems like had we understood the bargaining position our nuclear monopoly gave us, we could have kept the spread of Soviet influence well before the USSR got into several of the satellite states (such as the Czech Republic, or Poland). The West ultimately ended up adopting a policy of containment, but it sounds like we blew a huge opportunity early on, which could have made things easier for us later on.
If the idea of being a fly on the wall in a meeting between diplomats appeals to you, or if you'd like just enough understanding about international diplomacy to be dangerous when reading the news, read this book....more
The title should have been: The King of Sports: what the NCAA and NFL don't want you to know about America's most popular sport.
Felt like the footballThe title should have been: The King of Sports: what the NCAA and NFL don't want you to know about America's most popular sport.
Felt like the football version of "A People's History of the United States". Easterbrook is trying to be the whistle blower for the parts of football that aren't all sunshine and rainbows, and he does a good job, but it was kind of painful to get through.
I think the main problem with this book was its false promise of giving a complete picture of football's "impact on America". What this book actually is, is actually an expose, which you knew you would be getting a fair amount of going in (especially if you you've ever read Easterbrook's column), but it felt a bit heavy handed, and even preachy at times.
I'm a big fan of Easterbrook's TMQ column on ESPN, but I guess I was hoping for more commentary on the game of football, rather than an endless list of the author's recommendations on how to improve the organizations that administer the sport.
Still, I give Easterbrook credit for talking about a lot of issues the NFL would rather left in the dark, and I suppose he does a good job of raising awareness about issues like how horrible the NCAA is, the harsh realities of the NFL, and the exploitation of the vast majority of football players.
Just don't go into it expecting Friday Night Lights....more
Pretty interesting pseudo-science. It could have been one extremely long chapter of a Malcolm Gladwell book (maybe if the title had been one word). ThPretty interesting pseudo-science. It could have been one extremely long chapter of a Malcolm Gladwell book (maybe if the title had been one word). The main premise of the book is that intelligence isn't nearly as effective a predictor of success (usually determined by completion of a college degree) as a measurement of a child's character.
Paul Tough clearly believes the thesis of his book, but the success stories in his case studies always seem to come up short of true success. Students get into college, but don't finish; a student is a chess wizard, but can't do well academically, etc. He sometimes answers this question with more questions: why couldn't James succeed in school, although he was so successful at chess? Why didn't the good grades students obtained from the KIPP program translate into college success? Sometimes these are answered, but generally, they are not, mostly because nobody really knows.
It's a pretty interesting theory, but there isn't a ton of evidence that the reactive measures we're putting in place have a lasting impact. That's the thing about studying people - there are so many potential cases to study, and so many ways of spinning the same resulting person, that you can ascribe several factors to that person's success. At the end of the book, you feel that character probably matters; most likely matters; but you come short of being able to describe exactly how. Still, it's a book clearly written for mass consumption, so maybe I was expecting too much.
Three stars, since it made me think that there might be something to what he's saying. Two stars short of five because it promised so much, but delivered ~60% of it....more
Pretty fantastic series of case studies about things we make predictions about. He's refreshingly honest about how his success stems from making bettePretty fantastic series of case studies about things we make predictions about. He's refreshingly honest about how his success stems from making better predictions in areas where there wasn't a lot of previous work already done. It seems he leaves the complex modeling to others, and spends most of his time observing general trends, and making macro-level forecasts.
Some parts of the book were kind of very "Nate Silver" - his initials are embossed on the front cover, he name drops constantly, mentioning that he had lunch with this famous forecaster, or how he had a running bet with some other scientist. I suppose some people enjoy that kind of detail, but I really didn't care about who Nate Silver has lunch with. It wasn't really that annoying, it was just strange, since he could be so simultaneously humble about how lucky he has been with some of his forecasting successes. I actually wonder how different this book would have been if he had written it after his incredible success predicting the 2012 election.
Anyway, this book was super interesting, and I think anyone reading this book will come away with a better sense of how we make educated guesses about the world around us....more
Heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. My childhood was not nearly as sad, so I can't relate to a lot of this guy's experiences, but you get thHeartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. My childhood was not nearly as sad, so I can't relate to a lot of this guy's experiences, but you get the sense he's telling the truth. Some of these descriptions were so vivid and specific (cockroach eggs apparently look like brown tic-tacs, his mom telling him to 'ignore' his molester uncle) that it's really hard to think he'd lie about something so awful....more
Lipsky follows cadets through 4 years of West Point, who graduate after the 9/11 attacks. I pulled a couple late nights reading this, so the people inLipsky follows cadets through 4 years of West Point, who graduate after the 9/11 attacks. I pulled a couple late nights reading this, so the people in the book are definitely compelling. You really feel for them as you read about their lives.
I think the biggest realization I came to while reading this book, was that people at West Point are pretty diverse. They have moments of weakness, they rely on each other, they fail (for guys like George, they fail often). But man. Such heart. Such conviction. It's not me, but I respect the idea these guys embody.
I came away feeling like you've gotta be crazy to go to West Point. It was also interesting to see how serious people some of the students took everything. It seemed like you had to decide after your second year whether you'd be army to the core, or if you're willing to walk away eventually. It's unfortunate that there is so much pressure on cadets to join the army, and that so many feel guilty when they realize that a career in the military may not be what they really want. Can't there be another way that doesn't rob these kids of so much of their lives?...more
Great book. The FBI was incredibly frustrating to read about. Not many people would have been persistent enough to stick with this. I'm impressed withGreat book. The FBI was incredibly frustrating to read about. Not many people would have been persistent enough to stick with this. I'm impressed with how diligently the author worked to track this guy down.
One small gripe though - the author seemed way too self conscious about his political identity add a result of cooperating with the guys in suits. Was he trying to spin it as an internal struggle between who he was, and who this experience made him become? Not buying it, Cliff....more
Wasn't as good as the vodka one. All of her stories are kind of the same, but maybe she's doing that on purpose, to make a point about one-night standWasn't as good as the vodka one. All of her stories are kind of the same, but maybe she's doing that on purpose, to make a point about one-night stands?...more
While I agree with a lot of his sentiments, these are obviously the thoughts of someone deeply immersed in the tech community. Compared to his averageWhile I agree with a lot of his sentiments, these are obviously the thoughts of someone deeply immersed in the tech community. Compared to his average reader, he's speaking from the perspective of someone who has always been ahead of the curve, and I think this skews a lot of his opinions to the extreme.
Still, many of his basic points about the general devaluation of the individual are more or less correct. For all that the internet has improved our lives, it is also dangerously easy to allow it to erode our value, as people. Lanier is right that this is something we should be aware of, and that we should fight against the way technology threatens to make the individual irrelevant....more
Bissinger captured the heart and soul of West Texas. Eye-opening for people like me, who wouldn't know anything about that. Also captured the ephemeraBissinger captured the heart and soul of West Texas. Eye-opening for people like me, who wouldn't know anything about that. Also captured the ephemeral essence of high school hopes, dreams, etc....more