This is easily the most personal review I have done on Goodreads. As I continued to get further and further into this book, I saw myself in practicall...moreThis is easily the most personal review I have done on Goodreads. As I continued to get further and further into this book, I saw myself in practically every page.
I think this may be the most important book I have read in a decade. In our hyper-connected, hyper-active world, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for a person to be quite and contemplative. Susan Cain uses this book to tell us that for many of us, this is not a good thing.
Cain's book draws on the well-know work of Carl Jung and the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory to describe the differences between extroversion and introversion. However, the book goes deeper to explore how introverts adapt and change to function in a world that tends to value extroversion more.
About fifteen years ago as part of a non-profit board workshop, I took a Myers-Briggs personality inventory which labelled me as an INTJ. More specifically, my results mapped to extreme introversion. To this day, this was one of the most eye-opening experiences I had. Given this opportunity to understand who I am and how other people perceived me, I was able to learn how to modify my behavior to be more effective (something very important to an INTJ) and received great positive feedback. I think I have become one of the "pseudo-extroverts" described by Cain. I have learned how to engage others better, speak in front of others and express my feelings, but I still crave to have my lunchtime alone just for the re-charging that Cain prescribes for those types.
I am going to be recommending that the executive and management team where I work read this book. While I have learned to adapt my style and skills to be more successful in an extroversion-loving world, it would be nice if the world could at least me all of us part way.(less)
The first part of the book is hard to follow as it is: 1) Germans invade Rome and set up their pope 2) Germans go home because the summer is too hot 3)...moreThe first part of the book is hard to follow as it is: 1) Germans invade Rome and set up their pope 2) Germans go home because the summer is too hot 3) Romans revolt and set up their own pope 4) Germans invade again
Repeat until Renaissance.
Once you get past that, the rest of the book is quite interesting, and as usual, the villains are much more interesting than the saints, especially the Borgias. The recent history with Pius XII and WWII, Vatican II, the alleged murder of John Paul I, the fact that John Paul II created more saints than all the other popes combined, and the tenuous start to Benedict XVI make for fascinating reading at the end.(less)
Ron Suskind has written a series of books that I have all enjoyed (The Price of Loyalty, The One Percent Doctrine, The Way of the World). Confidence M...moreRon Suskind has written a series of books that I have all enjoyed (The Price of Loyalty, The One Percent Doctrine, The Way of the World). Confidence Men is on par with all of those. As one of those liberals that worked for, voted for and was moved by the election of Barack Obama and has later alternated between feelings of hope, anger, frustration and joy, I was very interested to see this look behind the curtains of the White House to understand the management failures of the President.
As with many of these books, there are those that are portrayed as heroes and as villains. For Confidence Men, Gary Gensler is the main hero as a man who left Wall Street to actually try to get some kind of meaningful reform accomplished. The primary villain is Larry Summers. Of course, Summer's failings have been noted in the press for a long time going back to his days as the president of Harvard and as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration.
Mainly, the overall tone of this book is a missed opportunities. Rahm Emanuel made the now famous quote, "You never want to let a good crisis go to waste." This book documents in great detail how the opportunity to make meaningful reforms in both health care and financial regulation were derailed by a set of advisors following their own policy recommendations, sometimes in defiance of Presidential wishes, and a President that did not have the confidence to enforce his will. (less)
Excellent point, not-so-good writing. This would have been much better as an article length study in a magazine. Filling this out to a book forced the...moreExcellent point, not-so-good writing. This would have been much better as an article length study in a magazine. Filling this out to a book forced the author to stretch a lot of points to where they seemed to be creaking. Read the first couple of chapters and you will have the main ideas that you can take from this. (less)
A marvelous opportunity to observe how to die with dignity, even as the indignities of cancer and its associated medical treatments combating it. Hitc...moreA marvelous opportunity to observe how to die with dignity, even as the indignities of cancer and its associated medical treatments combating it. Hitchens was famous for facing facts head on and letting his prodigious intellect lead him to the truth, no matter who it offended. Here he has faced the facts of his own impending death and still was able to go to where the truth was. If you are a mortal being, this book is an instructive manual for you.(less)
Soufan has written an important book. He was a first hand witness to the response of the intelligence and law enforcement communities response to terr...moreSoufan has written an important book. He was a first hand witness to the response of the intelligence and law enforcement communities response to terrorism and specifically Al-Qaeda.
The first half of this book deals primarily with the bombing of the Cole in Yemen. Soufan was one of the key investigators of that attack and, in the book, it serves to give him the evidence to prove he is credible to speak on this topic. However, this part of the book is laden with so many family an organizational tree details that it is hard to follow exactly what is happening.
As with many things in life, the narrative becomes more focused after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Here is where the book's main thesis is found. Even today the debate goes on about the enlist effective interrogation technique used in the "War on Terror". Avoidance provides example after example where he claims first-hand knowledge where he cooperative techniques yielded important results, but the "enhanced" techniques used by the CIA failed. Moreover, he claims that in many cases the CIA took the results of his interrogations, had the detainees repeat the information to them and then claimed it as a success for the enhanced techniques. If this is true (and I have heard no one challenge his claims), it reveals a troubling cynicism present in the CIA that should cause us all shivers. (less)
Good overview of the Fantunes system. It would take a lot of work for anyone to use the methods described in this book. But it is great to see how oth...moreGood overview of the Fantunes system. It would take a lot of work for anyone to use the methods described in this book. But it is great to see how others approach bidding.(less)
I went back and forth on the rating for this book in my mind. The topic of Hollywood and sex is always a ripe opportunity for a good, trashy read. Unf...moreI went back and forth on the rating for this book in my mind. The topic of Hollywood and sex is always a ripe opportunity for a good, trashy read. Unfortunately, this book is a bad, trashy read. I believe Bowers's biggest mistake in this book was his selection of his ghostwriter.
Problems I saw in the book: 1. His entire story strains credibility. If all or most of the book is true, the Bowers is a sexual Zelig, whose collection of secrets could have made him one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. It felt like every two or three pages he introduced another famous person as "my good friend". 2. Bowers's childhood, in which he was obviously sexually abused during the Depression (again, if everything is true), is treated as near-idyllic "Blue Lagoon" sexual awakening. There is no attempt in the book to examine how the events of his childhood could have affected his view of sexuality as an adult. 3. Bowers claims that he set up fifteen to twenty sexual encounters a day for several years, yet never accepted any money for doing that, other than sexual favor he performed himself. This just does not pass the smell test. He needed to provide more evidence than "I just wanted people to be happy". 4. There is no attempt to resolve what is unmistakeably neglectful behavior towards his long time companion and his daughter. The ending of their stories is callous and shameful. 5. There is no overall theme to the book other than "here are a lot of famous people that liked to have sex". We've seen that before and this book should have aimed higher.
There is material for something more interesting. But in order to do that Bowers and his ghostwriter (who is terrible) would have to be willing to explore more of the dark side of this story and not just portray Bowers as a pixie distributing sexual fairy dust.(less)