An intriguing look into the mind of one of the greatest swordsmen to ever live. I was impressed by Musashi's supremely practical mindset disdainful ofAn intriguing look into the mind of one of the greatest swordsmen to ever live. I was impressed by Musashi's supremely practical mindset disdainful of fancy techniques and flowery styles in favor of simple, straightforward victory. However, I suspect my own lack of martial arts or combat experience deprives me of some very important context. I must investigate this thoroughly....more
Dry but informative, much like its predecessors. The author's academic detachment seemed oddly absent on occasion, but that did not noticeably detractDry but informative, much like its predecessors. The author's academic detachment seemed oddly absent on occasion, but that did not noticeably detract from the book....more
Quite an entertaining read, though I had more than a little trouble focusing on the book instead of visualizing the movie. I did enjoy seeing the authQuite an entertaining read, though I had more than a little trouble focusing on the book instead of visualizing the movie. I did enjoy seeing the author flesh out the movie's characters, though. I especially enjoyed her use of Joachim; limiting the viewpoint of Khan's followers to Joachim alone was a masterful decision that put Khan's ever-encroaching madness into perspective.
I also enjoyed her exploration of Saavik's history and Romulan heritage, even though these aspects were never addressed in the movie, or even mentioned. Much the same could be said for Kirk, David, and many other characters in the novel.
Overall, a great character study that happened to be overshadowed by a great film....more
A fine complement to the movie, but it suffers from some of its own shortcomings.
Though I enjoyed it overall, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is generalA fine complement to the movie, but it suffers from some of its own shortcomings.
Though I enjoyed it overall, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is generally — and rightly — viewed as a flawed film, usually in regards to the pacing (and the uniforms). The novelization seemed to do much to alleviate this, and I felt as though the plot moved at a comfortable yet brisk pace from beginning to end. The book also helped fill in some of the less obvious aspects of the movie's plot and characterization. This is especially true in the case of Spock and V'Ger; the parallel nature of their respective story arcs is made much more explicit. I was also amused by the tap dance the book did around the nature of Kirk and Spock's relationship, though this likely wasn't the author's intention.
The areas where this book falls flat are, ironically, the same areas where the movie excels. Namely, the visuals, or in this case the descriptions. The movie devoted several minutes (arguably too many) to stunning visuals that amaze even 36 years later. The book's language falls rather flat in this regard, and I found myself several times referring instead to my memories of the movie.
Nevertheless, this book works well for what it is: a flawed-but-still-enjoyable companion and complement to a flawed-but-still-enjoyable movie....more
Dry, much like its immediate predecessor, but that's to be expected given the nature of the book. Opts largely for a more thematic perspective of theDry, much like its immediate predecessor, but that's to be expected given the nature of the book. Opts largely for a more thematic perspective of the antebellum period—providing separate chapters for politics, demography, arts and culture, and other subject areas—as opposed to its predecessor's chronological overview.
Not an especially engaging read, but an invaluable resource for those with a interest in the subject beyond the grade-school classroom....more
Exactly what it says on the cover. A brief rundown of the major events in Irish history, from its first Neolithic settlements through to Irish indepenExactly what it says on the cover. A brief rundown of the major events in Irish history, from its first Neolithic settlements through to Irish independence in the 20th century and the unrest that followed. Not an in-depth discussion of the history of the island, but then again, it never claimed to be.
The biggest shortcoming is its age: originally published in the 1970s, it thus misses the critical developments of the 1990s, perhaps the most important meaningful events in the past 70 years of Ireland's history. This edition only provides a cursory mention of the Good Friday Agreement in a timeline at the end of the book, which was clearly a supplement added into later editions.
Nevertheless, A Short History of Ireland sets out to provide exactly that, and it accomplishes a very respectable success....more
Much of my review for McIntyre's novelization of Star Trek II holds true for this sequel, as well. McIntyre's writing is uniformly excellent throughouMuch of my review for McIntyre's novelization of Star Trek II holds true for this sequel, as well. McIntyre's writing is uniformly excellent throughout, but it shines even brighter when discussing less obvious aspects of characters like David, Saavik, and Kruge. I look forward to seeing how she handles the next movie....more
A surprisingly engaging book for required reading. Wu begins by detailing the birth of the telecom giants of the 20th century — AT&T's telephone sA surprisingly engaging book for required reading. Wu begins by detailing the birth of the telecom giants of the 20th century — AT&T's telephone system, the film empires of Hollywood, and the radio and later television networks of NBC and CBS — and how they demolished, and then supplanted, the previous monopolies of Western Union and Edison's movie companies. Wu studies these companies in the light of Joseph Schumpeter's economic theory of "creative destruction". The book finds a number of faults in attempting to apply Schumpeter's theory to the rise of the Internet without modification; while the theory seems to apply superficially, Wu argues, the resurgence of the media empires of the 20th century — this time as octopus-like media conglomerates — shows that Schumpeter's theories require considerable revision.
Wu's choice to begin his book with the David-and-Goliath story of Alexander Graham Bell and his fight with Western Union to establish a telephone system was, while not uniquely inspired, nevertheless a wise one, providing that eternal appeal of the underdog. The middle of the book, depicting the corruption of the empire's enlightened dictatorship and their eventual downfall, makes for equally engaging reading. Unfortunately, Wu's argument seemed to lose steam as it approached its conclusion. I'm not sure if this is a legitimate fault of the book or due to my own sense of urgency in completing it, but I would gladly give it a second read to make sure. I was also somewhat dismayed that Wu never covered the resoundingly successful efforts to crush grassroots initiatives for municipal computer networks; I feel this would have proven another important parallel between the birth of the telephone and the birth of the Internet. Overall, though, The Master Switch is an engaging story of corporate empires both newborn and born-again, as well as a compelling call for vigilance as the Internet continues to integrate itself into our daily lives....more
A brief but telling overview of health care systems around the world — and how America's falls short.
Reid begins by covering a few of the universal trA brief but telling overview of health care systems around the world — and how America's falls short.
Reid begins by covering a few of the universal truths of health care that he encounters in a quest for a healthy shoulder. He profiles six methods of providing national health care, including Germany's plethora of non-profit insurers, Britain's publicly-funded privately-run businesses, Canada's nationalized health insurance, and the out-of-pocket methodology prevalent in the United States. He details the origin, benefits, and problems of all his examples, including low pay in Japan and long wait times in Canada. Reid saves his most damning criticism, though, for the United States. He discusses, at length, the conflicting motivations of the American for-profit health care system, especially the preference for costly hospital treatment instead of inexpensive and effective preventative care. He also discusses health care in Switzerland and Taiwan — two examples of health care reform that the United States can draw from for its own efforts — and attacks the various myths of "socialized" health care. Reid concludes by returning to the statistical comparisons he makes throughout the rest of the book and noting that, despite proponents' focus on America's excellent statistical inputs, the results from America's health care system are inexcusably poor.
Since this book was published in 2009, at the height of the negotiations over Obamacare, it is somewhat outdated. However, Reid does make a brief mention of Massachusetts's recent health care reform — presumably the Romneycare that served as a model for Obamacare. Reid has few kind words for this system, so it seems reasonable to conclude that he would not be a fan of Obamacare.
All in all, The Healing of America is an engaging and understandable primer on health care systems around the world, an enlightening comparison of their myriad benefits and deficiencies, and a call to action for proper reform of American health care....more
Isaac Asimov is often cited among the most prestigious canon of science fiction authors. After reading Foundation, I can see why. As an early review —Isaac Asimov is often cited among the most prestigious canon of science fiction authors. After reading Foundation, I can see why. As an early review — itself quoted in Asimov's introduction — notes more eloquently, the appeal of Foundation lies not in its action, which is nigh absent, but in the careful introduction of seemingly insignificant details, demonstrating Asimov's mastery of Chekhov's gun. It is the astute observation and manipulation of these details, in the enduring spirit of Seldon's psychohistory, that enable the protagonists to calmly safeguard the interests of the titular Foundation in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles. And this complex and subtle battle provides much of the grand appeal of the story....more
A good idea spoiled by dense, murky writing. I'll give Peters credit. He came through with a coherent thesis in the end, and one that was well worth rA good idea spoiled by dense, murky writing. I'll give Peters credit. He came through with a coherent thesis in the end, and one that was well worth remembering: Ideological extremism is a bad idea. I can also appreciate how he used various earlier authors to support his arguments. Unfortunately, as often happens with such books, Peters seems incapable — or at the very least unwilling — to state his thesis clearly and succinctly....more