I was hooked from the first line on the dust jacket notes - "It was the saddle on the dinosaur that did it." If you've seen Bill Maher's film 'ReligulI was hooked from the first line on the dust jacket notes - "It was the saddle on the dinosaur that did it." If you've seen Bill Maher's film 'Religulous', the image probably just flashed in your mind as it did in mine. The author pulls no punches in this book, a hilarious, scathing, sometimes angry examination of the seemingly-ever-growing part of our national character that consists of willful, boneheaded, superstitious, stupid thinking or non-thinking. There truly has been a culture war raging in America for about the last 150 years, with many of the battles taking place in the educational system and the results showing up in the phenomena Pierce documents here. One side wanted education to have the aim of producing well-rounded citizens, learning not only math and sciences but also critical thinking, civics, and liberal arts. The other, the winners as it has turned out, wanted education to produce docile workers just skilled enough to work a deep-fat fryer or cash register but ignorant enough to be easily led by the nose in political matters. Read this - along with Carl Sagan's 'The Demon-Haunted World' and Kurt Vonnegut's 'Armageddon in Retrospective' - and weep, then start teaching your kids how to be good skeptics. ...more
Eloquent, passionate, at times angry - like Kurt Vonnegut's 'Armageddon in Retrospect', this is a final gift to humanity, from the heart, from one ofEloquent, passionate, at times angry - like Kurt Vonnegut's 'Armageddon in Retrospect', this is a final gift to humanity, from the heart, from one of our best minds. Carl Sagan makes a powerful case showing the many ways that irrational thinking and action, by individuals and by entire nations, has caused death, disasters, misery, and missed opportunities, and could yet become the means of our species' suicide. I wish that every high school student had to read and intelligently discuss this book to graduate, and every candidate for public office had to engage in public discussions and debates about its content....more
Very nicely done. Dr. Pipher strikes a good balance between substance, i.e. what people might choose to write about, and technique, how to do so mostVery nicely done. Dr. Pipher strikes a good balance between substance, i.e. what people might choose to write about, and technique, how to do so most effectively in a variety of genres or forms. This is a down-to-earth, humble book about great things. I'd recommend it for any aspiring writer in particular, as well as for a general readership and all the people looking for ways to leave the world a bit better off for their having lived in it....more
Caleb Carr's analysis of the workings of terrorism, which he wrote after the 9/11 attacks and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan but before the invasionCaleb Carr's analysis of the workings of terrorism, which he wrote after the 9/11 attacks and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan but before the invasion of Iraq, is clear, well organized, and compelling. He makes an eloquent case for seeing terrorism as counterproductive as well as immoral, whether practiced by groups like Al Qaeda or by nations either in the course of fighting wars or in the ways the CIA and KGB have used it at times. The book explains the idea of limited war, as seen in actions that attack only military targets and/or the political leaders of the enemy, and offers examples like Frederick the Great, who fought a number of wars with minimal military casualties (on either side) and even fewer civilians killed or wounded; that king achieved these results by relying on maneuvering his opponents into positions from which they could see that Frederick was sure to win if pitched battles were fought, leading them to surrender. As Carr points out, this is basically the approach described by Sun Tzu in The Art of War and by Liddell Hart in Strategy. Studying the practices and results of strategies based on terrorizing enemies, with examples from groups like Al Qaeda and the PLO to insurgencies to regular military forces targeting civilians, he points out that these methods end up generating hostility and stiffer resistance rather than intimidated surrender.
I'd have given this book five stars except for a significant point I believe the author got wrong. He states categorically that an international terrorist group like Al Qaeda cannot exist or function without a host government somewhere providing support, i.e. sanctuary, training, weapons, and funding. That view is in error - terrorist groups are also able to base themselves and function in and from failed states, governments lacking the strength to prevent the terrorists from using their nations' territories for havens and training and obtaining funding from many sources including individual supporters around the world. The last few decades have seen this happening in places like Somalia, Afghanistan, and potentially in Iraq if its government can't control its territories, borders, and people once the U.S. military and other foreign forces leave.
Still, this is a very worthwhile read for anyone interested in these issues....more
One of Frank Herbert's best novels, one that can stand comparison to his better-known Dune. As in that book, he's started with a situation, a place, tOne of Frank Herbert's best novels, one that can stand comparison to his better-known Dune. As in that book, he's started with a situation, a place, that pushes people (in the sense of sentient beings including but not limited to humans) to the extremes of possible endurance, and draws his conclusions about how that might affect their culture(s). Then he drops a crisis in their path to see how they would adapt and cope with it. As with his other books, Herbert has done a thorough and vivid job of creating nonhuman characters and cultures that are truly alien, complex, and plausible, not just funny-looking creatures that think, feel, and act like humans as is the case in too much fantasy and science fiction. If you like Dune, you'll like this book....more
Excellent - well researched, well organized, flows smoothly, and the prose is not as dry as that found in some writing about extreme crimes, but scrupExcellent - well researched, well organized, flows smoothly, and the prose is not as dry as that found in some writing about extreme crimes, but scrupulously factual. The author describes the murders committed by female serial killers from the Roman Empire on to the present, and in each case study he examines questions about how and why the woman being discussed became a predator on other people. In his view, it is usually a combination of abuse or neglect in childhood combined with some kind of inborn predisposition, along with various other influences. He presents the idea that if any of these factors are missing - damage in childhood, unhealthy personality traits (extreme narcissism and desire for admiration, lack of empathy for victims, etc.) - then the person is very unlikely to kill anyone, let alone make a habit of it. Peter Vronsky's tone in this book is sometimes very personal and informal, as he records his own opinions of various events and things people had to say. Occasionally that's jarring, but it wasn't a problem for me. I recommend this for any mental health professional - any one of us is unlikely to end up working with a serial killer, particularly a woman, but a lot of these cognitive and emotional patterns exist in less virulent forms in many folks we're likely to be trying to help, and this book could be an aid to understanding some clients even if the most murderous thing they've ever done was to swat flies....more
Warm, brilliant, and deeply empathic - I think this is Dr. Yalom's best work yet. This is a subject I've had to deal with over and over - as a careerWarm, brilliant, and deeply empathic - I think this is Dr. Yalom's best work yet. This is a subject I've had to deal with over and over - as a career Marine, as a psychotherapist, and in the deaths of friends and of my parents. I find a lot of what Irvin Yalom wrote here resonating with my experiences and what I've come to believe and feel, and a lot of conversations with my wife, who is a clinical social worker and worked for a while in a hospice program. I would recommend this book for anyone in a helping profession and any adult; we all face the deaths of those around us and our own deaths, and our quality of life is much better if we face death directly. ...more
This is the companion volume to the author's text/reference on the same topic - this will be useful in applying the principles of Dialectical BehaviorThis is the companion volume to the author's text/reference on the same topic - this will be useful in applying the principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for any clinician whose clientele includes people suffering from the problems that go with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or with its root causes - posttraumatic stress disorder, attachment issues, addictions, and others....more
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is widely recognized as the best variation of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for helping people suffering fromDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is widely recognized as the best variation of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for helping people suffering from the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Its components aren't new or revolutionary, but their combination in this model is very effective, and much more respectful and humane than the responses to BPD of a lot of clinicians - there's a widespread tendency to either dismiss these clients as beyond help or to stigmatize them in what amounts to a clinical version of calling them whiners and wimps. This book is a useful adjunct to the work of Dr. Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT, and I anticipate wearing this copy out in the years ahead....more