After reading this book, some of my resistance to EIT has been lowered. I am glad Mr. Rodriguez has had the opportunity to set the record straight on what had previous been some bias reporting on the nature and extent of EIT. The program was far better reviewed, rigorous, and structured than much news reporting had suggested.
**spoiler alert** While it is a book about a baseball team, it is not just about baseball or something for baseball aficionados. It is partly an under...more**spoiler alert** While it is a book about a baseball team, it is not just about baseball or something for baseball aficionados. It is partly an underdog or "rags to riches" story, a morality tale, or a business or economics treatise touching on cost engineering. At times it is a stark assessment of culture and values of "America's past-time": Judging a baseball player's value based on having a "look" versus empirical statistics. Beane's repeated line of "We're not selling jeans" when debating with scouts and other managers on drafting a player is amusing, but also a sad reflection on the superficiality that baseball insiders thought was important in a player.
I really like Michael Lewis' writing style. He has the uncanny ability to make characters feel life-like, and even to make you feel like you are in the room at times. In addition to this book, I have also read some of Michael Lewis' other works, including the "The Big Short", his biopic on Wall Street traders whom were able to predict the collapse in the housing market, some four+ years before it occurred, and make bets which raked in millions, even billions. In writing this review now, I am recognizing a theme in some of Lewis' writing: finding people (frequently, eccentric ones) who were able to become hugely successful by being outliers and going against the grain.(less)
Fantastic insight in to a notable and truly bizarre criminal. The author did a fantastic job characterizing the criminal's behavior and his actions. P...moreFantastic insight in to a notable and truly bizarre criminal. The author did a fantastic job characterizing the criminal's behavior and his actions. Particularly insightful was identifying Braustein's misbelief that he was the victim at times, and projecting his own characteristics on those pursuing him.
I thought the author's comment on the Braunstein's spree, how it lacked any rationale, and comparing it to the line from The Dark Knight ("Some men just want to watch the world burn"). In light of the Colorado movie shooting last weekend, this is particularly haunting.
Additional psychological analysis, or some framing of how Braunstein falls on the spectrum of psychopaths, sociopaths, mass murders, and other criminals would have been interesting.(less)
I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars. Don't take this the wrong way, I did enjoy this book, and found it to be a good story of military working dogs, th...moreI rated this book 3 out of 5 stars. Don't take this the wrong way, I did enjoy this book, and found it to be a good story of military working dogs, their training, and their handlers. I will probably alter the training of my own dog slightly after reading this book.
There are a few nit picks I have, however, which caused me to give 3/5 stars.
The book could have been improved by having more vignettes about the dogs and their handlers. That is what we, the read, want to know about: the dog and their adventures and their bravery. That is what captivates the American public about a dog like Cairo.
Another review of this book criticized the author's frequent comparison and introspection on if her own dog could have ever been a military working dog. I thought at first this was a flippant comment. After reading though, I tend to concur, as it did detract from the story.
**spoiler alert** I overall enjoyed this book, but had one principle frustration with it: the continuous foreshadowing.
Almost from the first chapter...more**spoiler alert** I overall enjoyed this book, but had one principle frustration with it: the continuous foreshadowing.
Almost from the first chapter we are told (rather, significantly hinted at) that Vetrov will be caught and executed. As such, some of the storytelling factor of this true story is kind of moot ss already know it is going to happen.
Other books, such as The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB and Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan don't "give away" what will happen (Even though in both cases, we know the general outcome of history). As such, they are much more thrilling and interesting narratives.
Where this book did excel and was most interesting was in two areas.
The first was in providing a fair and balanced look at the entire Vetrov saga. Given that Vetrov is dead, it is impossible to know many of the details of his life, such as his rationale for defection, or even exactly when it occurred. Other things, like his reasons for attempting to kill his mistress, are also presented from multiple angles and the alternatives explored.
The second is the authors' psychological analysis of Vetrov. The author makes several dissections of Vetrov's behavior, motives, and thoughts, and compares/contrasts these with various events and his interactions with others. What is best, and similar to the first point I make above, is that the author presents several alternative interpretations, but does not settle on one, leaving the reader to choose.
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in Cold War/Intelligence/CI. Outside of that, skip.(less)
I was torn between three or four stars when rating this review. While I overall liked the book, it did drag in the middle (More on this below), which...moreI was torn between three or four stars when rating this review. While I overall liked the book, it did drag in the middle (More on this below), which almost derailed reading it.
The book is several vignettes, each covering a different disease outbreak which the CDC EIS teams investigated. Those in the first third or so of the book are well written. They reflect the real "shoe leather" detective work required to isolate an infectious disease outbreak to the source. Consequently, they're among the most interesting.
The middle third of the book had a long chapter on CDC EIS work in a refugee camp in Africa. I found this to be the most disappointing part of the book due to simply dragging on through this section. What made it most uninteresting was that there was no disease detective work.
Detective work is naturally dramatic and captivating. Its the reason Law and Order and its 800 spin offs have been on TV for 10+ years. People are drawn to the hunt/chase and the high stakes. However, when there is no hunt and the narrator is self-admittedly helpless to do anything meaningful, there is not much to be interested in, other than a sad story of a humanitarian disaster. As such, it did not fit well with the broke pacing and the overall theme of the book.
However, the end of the book, particularly the part covering the bird flu pandemic in 2003, made up for this. Reading the details of the outbreak, it read more like a thriller, and I wasn't sure if I was reading this book, or first half of The Stand. In some ways it put a knot in my stomach knowing how close we could have been to a true global pandemic.
This change of pace was a departure from the first third (and thankfully the 2nd third) of the book. While it was at a different tone/pace, it was in some ways even more engrossing.
I'll first say: this book is LONG. Having it on my Kindle meant that I did not really understand how long this book would be. It is definitely a commi...moreI'll first say: this book is LONG. Having it on my Kindle meant that I did not really understand how long this book would be. It is definitely a commitment.
Where the book did drag was some sections on disease outbreaks, especially where it go too much in to statistics. Several pages seemed to blur together as it seemed to just be statistic after statistic on multiple drug resistant tuberculosis. Absent the drama of following disease hunters in the field as they searched for the source of Machupo, Lassa, Ebola, Hanta, and other deadly disease outbreaks, this book seemed to drag significantly, making the 700+ page length seem unbearable.
This book probably could have improved in this area, and one other, which would have been an updated edition that included more contemporary outbreaks, including the 2001 anthrax attacks, SARS, bird flu, and salmonella.(less)
I've recently been reading a lot about high reliability organizations, safety cultures and specifically, Just Culture. While this book is a good prime...moreI've recently been reading a lot about high reliability organizations, safety cultures and specifically, Just Culture. While this book is a good primer on some of the ideas behind it, and a rationale for it, it did little to fix my itch on actually implementing it, or case studies on how it had been successfully implemented. Moreover, it is written in a pedestrian manner, intended for mass public consumption. While not a bad book, it was not what I needed.(less)
This book is fantastic, in a Greek tragedy kind of way. Grind does a superb job mapping the rise and fall of WaMu through unchecked subprime lending....moreThis book is fantastic, in a Greek tragedy kind of way. Grind does a superb job mapping the rise and fall of WaMu through unchecked subprime lending.
Where this book really excels though is painting the broader picture of WaMu's failure, and the greater market and the actions of federal regulators. WaMu did not fail because of subprime loans, it failed because every chance it had for raising capital or finding a buyer was systematically taken away from it, until it was sold in a fire sale to JPMC.(less)
I had really mixed feelings on this book. I can agree with many of the other reviewers on the quality of its thematic and storytelling elements. Howev...moreI had really mixed feelings on this book. I can agree with many of the other reviewers on the quality of its thematic and storytelling elements. However, it may have just been a bit too long in tooth to get to the point, resulting in some degree of dilution.(less)
Thrilling account of the Lincoln assassination, ensuing manhunt, and its aftermath. I am far from a Civil War buff, but I found it very interesting an...moreThrilling account of the Lincoln assassination, ensuing manhunt, and its aftermath. I am far from a Civil War buff, but I found it very interesting and exciting.(less)
A captivating view inside the CIA and its personnel. Also an excellent primer on some of the lesser known figures in al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliba...moreA captivating view inside the CIA and its personnel. Also an excellent primer on some of the lesser known figures in al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.
Reading the book is haunting and almost tragic at times, especially since we know the outcome.(less)
This book could have been an interesting essay, or perhaps a thesis paper. I gave up 20% in. I was hoping for Freakonomics, in that it would be intere...moreThis book could have been an interesting essay, or perhaps a thesis paper. I gave up 20% in. I was hoping for Freakonomics, in that it would be interesting and thought provoking. This book was the opposite.(less)