I have somewhat mixed emotions about this collection, which is more of an assortment. The selections are really good, until perhaps the ones in 20th cI have somewhat mixed emotions about this collection, which is more of an assortment. The selections are really good, until perhaps the ones in 20th century. I'm not entirely sure I agree with all the selections especially after the 25th book. The presentation is fragmented - each book being presented by different academics, which kind of breaks the flow. In addition some of the selections are transplanted from other courses, so it is or can be a repetition if you are already familiar with it.
Some of the books are presented almost as a dialogue and discussion ( very similar to podcast), which is slightly disappointing in a collection qualified as book. Overall good content, wish though they had tailored to it the actual title.
Also, there is quite a bit of overlap with Prof Rufus' 'Books That Have Made History', so if you have done that already, I'd find very little merit in doing this. ...more
Like all other Jon Ronson works, the book weaves together a bunch of curious stories on events or people - this time less fringe, more contemporaneousLike all other Jon Ronson works, the book weaves together a bunch of curious stories on events or people - this time less fringe, more contemporaneous characters. Jon explores a series of Newage digital stories with shame ( and public shaming) as the leitmotif of the book : stories of Jonah Lehrer, Justin Sacco, Lindsay Stone, Adria Richards etc ...
Stories are well presented with the usual Jon Ronson package : event background, Interview with person, reflection. Jon attempts to weave the stories into a narrative coursing back to very Gladwellian semiscientific theories ( Gustave Le bon, Philip Zimbardo) to explain social media outrage. There are interesting thoughts here and there, but overall the book is mostly descriptive - a sort of compilation of silly Facebook and Twitter gaffes that resulted in viral outrage than offer any true novel conclusion from the stories.
In my view, the general fallacy with finding a theory to explain generic internet/ social media behaviour is that internet unlike other human inventions before, can't be examined as a single entity. Internet, eventually is the people who use it; one can't pin down all the people in the world to a single theory or response, regardless of however consistent or predictable it is without accounting for a large number of factors in the context ( same mistakes of Zimbardo, Gladwell etc) .
I can't remember who says it but there is a line in the movie ‘Rush’ that describes James Hunt as the guy who can lose a race 9 out of 10 times but thI can't remember who says it but there is a line in the movie ‘Rush’ that describes James Hunt as the guy who can lose a race 9 out of 10 times but that one time when all odds are against winning, if you want someone racing to push for a win, it has to be him. That line for me describes KP in many ways.
I felt the manner of his sacking was unprofessional and abominable. So I was curious to learn of any details of his ousting. Out of confidentiality contract with the ECB this month, KP uses this book (ghost written by David Walsh who uncovered doping by Lance Armstrong ) to essentially narrate his side of the story. In this sense, it’s not much of an autobiography of his life, but of his sacking but then that’s the word doing rounds?
The book at times is funny but mostly is a lengthy grievance, many a times rightfully against Andy Flower, the ECB and a few of his now well-known select teammates all of who it appears implicitly colluded against him.
The book has no literary merit, but it does expose some of the inside sentiment of the English dressing room. The problems between the parties involved is not just of blanket clichés of ‘not getting along’ or ‘personality clashes’ but there seems to be clear undercurrent of alienation and division within the team, that grows to become distinct and leads to the inevitable.
Some of the points raised by KP are reasonable, some remain incomplete and one-sided. The book like all versions of conflicts will remain one-sided. One thing that is very clear is the awful unprofessionalism and lack of man management skills of the ECB. Shame that a country that is re-knowned in the man-management of mavericks (e.g Allenby with TE Lawrence) and get the best out of them cut a sorry helpless figure overall. Rest is politics of puny humans. ...more
I liked Weil's grasp of the issues he was writing about. Not another fancy namby pamby keen to ride the high waves of mindfulness successes of late. II liked Weil's grasp of the issues he was writing about. Not another fancy namby pamby keen to ride the high waves of mindfulness successes of late. I was quite impressed by the wonderful simplicity with which he introduced the principles and the scientific basis of his practice.
The remaining bit is the introduction to his practice of the various breathing exercises. He gives a basic primer, in a guided interactive manner. I guess the rest is to the reader to find out whether there is any actual freedom that is cumulated following these practices...more
Though I was burned by the Dork book which I had to abandon, I picked this one up because I thought the podcasts on Indian history were really good anThough I was burned by the Dork book which I had to abandon, I picked this one up because I thought the podcasts on Indian history were really good and filled a gap. But it was a mistake. I can think of hundred things wrong with this book starting right with its treatment, narration, content and general laziness, not to mention glaringly obvious factual errors. More on this later. Any book with that many things wrong does not deserve to be bothered about. I'd imagine it would merit a special sort of dunce to actually like this book, for he must have read very few books, if at all.
Indians apparently exchange a lot of 'India facts' in emails that are dubious and without proof. Sidin shamelessly constructs a few pages of baloney around these spurious facts wearing a pretend investigative hat with hacks of irrelevant personal stories, godawful narrative tone peppered with street standard jokes and a few homework assignments to complete this so called history book. A book built by googling stuff is neither a book nor history. It's riding one horse too many.
Let me give you an example, consider these paragraphs from the first chapter on plastic surgery:
'Each issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine came with a few pictures, and the October 1794 edition was embellished with three. Two were unremarkable: a ‘Picturesque view of Lullintgon Church, in Somersetshire’, and one page of ‘Accurate plans of the keeps of Chilham and Canterbury Castles’. The third was something quite different: ‘A portrait illustrative of a remarkable chirurgical operation’. The illustration features a Maratha man called Cowasjee. Cowasjee looks quite splendid in it. He is dark, lean and quite muscular. He wears a turban and is bare-chested except for a cloth over one shoulder. He also has the doleful eyes of a St. Bernard....
But one thing is beyond dispute: the Cowasjee story of October 1794 set in motion a series of events that changed medical science forever. Its impact was so immediate and so widespread that it is considered a milestone in the history of European surgery in general, and plastic surgery in particular.'
First, 1794 October edition of Gentleman's Magazine, could not come with one, never mind three pictures. Because the first basic camera was not developed until 30 years later, so there were no pictures in the world, not even on a frame on any wall, forget mass publication in magazines. What Sidin so disingenuously describes are hand drawn sketches! Yes, sketches, that you can find on google.
This is a huge deal of difference, given the spurious misleading description, especially if you are taking upon yourself to examine claims and counterclaims.
Secondly and far more importantly, Cowasjee's story did not set into motion a series of events that changed medical science forever ! ( Good Lord!) So called Plastic surgeries were being performed in India and elsewhere for ages. There are quite a lot of stories ( I'm sure googlable) about East India Company doctors spending time in India to try and learn various graft procedures practiced by indigenous doctors. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence to say many other civilisations, esp. The Egyptians knew of plastic surgery, hell they might have been even doing mastectomy with reconstruction. What the Cowasjee's story did was to hasten the experimental process of plastic surgery that coincided with the larger general bloom of interest in surgical field of the times. So essentially Sidin attributes a greater significance to an event that he is declaredly examining , without even bothering to ask one medical historian or surgeon! A series of such stories is this book.
He might as well just put his thoughts in an email and forwarded it to everyone.
Two stars for the effort, however dictated it is....more
I discovered this through George Saunders interview in the Shambala. A very short book ( shorter than his interview) of the transcript of convocationI discovered this through George Saunders interview in the Shambala. A very short book ( shorter than his interview) of the transcript of convocation speech Saunders gave to the graduates at Syracuse. It is an essential and succinct summary of some of the necessary qualities of being human, put down in a simple unadorned language. Find on the internet, if you haven't yet. ...more
A breeze of a list than a book. Nothing hugely significant or new. You'd want to glance through it if you are dating someone from Midlands! ( which inA breeze of a list than a book. Nothing hugely significant or new. You'd want to glance through it if you are dating someone from Midlands! ( which in itself is...well...) ...more
I can't remember why I downloaded this book; I had neither heard nor known of it. I caught it on amazon while lookingSometimes a book just finds you.
I can't remember why I downloaded this book; I had neither heard nor known of it. I caught it on amazon while looking for some other book.
As I read Harnden's introduction, I knew right away it was a unique book. And in spite of his suggestion not to read it in one go, I found myself at the end of the book in 2 hours - heavy, yet strangely calm and peaceful. And like many great books, it made me pause many a times throughout my reading, and reflect - at times completely without any thought on my mind. After the book ended, I kept revisiting the chapters, rereading, on occasions checking the references, but soon I realised the book will never have a psychological end; I will have to revisit it again and again and again, as long as I will live.
Book, though technically it isn't one, is an assortment of vignettes of unique travels and journeys, forty one in total- the unencumbered journeys - as Harnden describes them are drawn from real life, fiction and in fact one of them is a bird ( the arctic tern). The journeys are arranged as chapters. The first part of each chapter gives a brief introduction of the 'traveller', the second part describes the journey and its context, and third, arranged as a list ( in a poetic skeleton) is the list of possessions these travellers carried with them during these unique, exceptional travels. The book uses Travels and journeys as a metaphor for life , and the main motif of these journeys is sparseness and the wonder of simplicity.
Some of these journeys ( lives) are well known ( Thoreau, Gandhi, Jesus ), while some of them are unbelievably incredible ( Emma Gatewood, Ephraim M'lkiara) some are awe-inspiringly informative ( I didn't know that Herzog walked from Munich to Paris to visit Eisner, or that Marcel Duchamp travelled only with a toothbrush in his jacket pocket).
In a time where all of us as a society have collectively accepted to measure the worth of our identities and lives by our possessions, the book documents that all life will eventually amount to no more than how meaningfully you lived it. No more and no less. As Harnden illustrates in his example in the introduction 'Like a single Leaf'
The only crib I can force myself to think of, is that the book has too many American examples with Europe losing out ( e.g Wittgenstein ). This means the assortment can be improved.
As I have written, the book deserves endless revisiting, and as a testament, I will carry it during all my journeys.
To keep myself reminded. That life is no more than this....more
Malcolm Gladwell's writing has become like a girl you have gone out too many times with- predictable and increasingly less-stimulating.
Maybe it's becMalcolm Gladwell's writing has become like a girl you have gone out too many times with- predictable and increasingly less-stimulating.
Maybe it's because I've been reading too much Non Fiction that have almost boilerplate anecdotal narratives ( that's coz we have successfully mastered creating robots out of publishers / editors), but can't see anything worth of mention in here. David Vs Goliath was good in the first two chapters, then became too inclusive, diluted and repetitive. I thought the Northern Ireland example was weak and its choice and dominance in the book made the overall argument weak, and at times boring. It's like a travelling on a Gladwell train slowly losing its steam without any coherent argument for its fuel. You wouldn't miss any reading experience or an argument if you avoid it. ...more
Informative, light and relevant. Quite enjoyed it. But I read it at the back of Emperor of Maladies, so it felt a bit ordinary at times. Overall a verInformative, light and relevant. Quite enjoyed it. But I read it at the back of Emperor of Maladies, so it felt a bit ordinary at times. Overall a very useful resource for doctors and especially medical students who seem to be forgetting the art of medical examination....more