This is a great example of what a travel guidebook should be. It has extensive descriptions of the places it covers - the road network, national parksThis is a great example of what a travel guidebook should be. It has extensive descriptions of the places it covers - the road network, national parks, mountain ranges, history, towns, campgrounds, pertinent laws, restaurants and shopping, wildlife, the geology of the mountains ...
It's well illustrated with several kinds of maps and lots of great photos, many of them NatGeo-worthy in quality. It makes me feel that I know more about this area after reading this (jumping around in it, as it's not really the kind of book to read front-to-back) than about some places I've actually lived. It also makes me want very much to see it in person. That's a trip I'm looking forward to making someday....more
Disappointing, especially from Roget's. This isn't a thesaurus, it's sort of a half-hearted blend of a thesaurus and a dictionary, and not a very goodDisappointing, especially from Roget's. This isn't a thesaurus, it's sort of a half-hearted blend of a thesaurus and a dictionary, and not a very good example of either. I have apps on my phone that do better jobs at both functions.
I got this online. If I'd had a chance to look the book over before buying it, I wouldn't have bothered. It's not completely useless - it's just not very useful either. Comparing it to the original-format Roget's I also just got, that's immediately obvious. This book is physically only half as thick and about half the page size of the larger work, even using a bigger font. The front cover announces prominently that this book has over 2,300 terms - the 7th edition original-style Roget's International Thesaurus has more than 325,000. Enough said.
Just got this, and it's still the best - "The original Roget's", as the dust jacket says. The way it's organized is counter-intuitive, at least for meJust got this, and it's still the best - "The original Roget's", as the dust jacket says. The way it's organized is counter-intuitive, at least for me, but it works better than anything else I've found. I've been accumulating - collecting sounds too organized - dictionaries and thesauruses (thesauri?) since I was a teenager, and I always come back to the original-format Roget's. Believing that using exactly the right word is important, for me this book would be worth buying at twice the price....more
Like the other Let's Bring Back book I've read and reviewed here, this is fun and informative. I got both to use as references in writing fiction. HowLike the other Let's Bring Back book I've read and reviewed here, this is fun and informative. I got both to use as references in writing fiction. However, this is a great book to sit and browse through. One interesting note: this book is apparently in fairly high demand - I ordered it online, only to get an email from the bookstore apologizing that they'd sold their last copy and refunding my money. Six times!
Recommended, if you're the kind of reader who finds things like those turn-of-the-20th-century Sears catalogues fascinating, and who could think they aren't?...more
A lot of fun, and very interesting. The book is exactly what the subtitle says it is, a dictionary of archaic words and phrases. Many were no doubt clA lot of fun, and very interesting. The book is exactly what the subtitle says it is, a dictionary of archaic words and phrases. Many were no doubt cliches in their time, but with disuse they sound fresh and conjure vivid images today. I got this to use as a writing reference, but it would be a pleasure to read for its own sake.
It is a tad humbling, however, to realize that I was around when a fair number of these bits of language weren't obsolete yet!...more
A great cookbook from one of my favorite restaurants - their unofficial slogan is "Ordinary food done extraordinarily well," but that doesn't do it juA great cookbook from one of my favorite restaurants - their unofficial slogan is "Ordinary food done extraordinarily well," but that doesn't do it justice. This book is full of most of their best recipes (the only omission I can find is their breakfast burrito, the best I've ever had.)
A lot of the food is Mexican, a lot more is mainstream American comfort food (one of their signature dishes is the B.L.O.A.T.E.M. sandwich - bacon, lettuce, onion, avocado and tomato on an English muffin), and quite a bit of it is a blend of both. Their pastries, pies, and cakes are downright evil.
If you happen to find yourself in Albuquerque, this is IMHO the first restaurant to try, and we have a bunch of great restaurants here....more
We stumbled on this restaurant during a visit to Atlanta a few years ago and really liked it instantly; the food was great, the service was excellent,We stumbled on this restaurant during a visit to Atlanta a few years ago and really liked it instantly; the food was great, the service was excellent, and the ambience was a lot of fun. We ended up eating there about every other day while we were in Atlanta - great comfort food! The cookbook has a lot of nice tidbits about the restaurant along with the recipes; it's interesting enough to just sit and read even if I'm not getting ready to cook anything.
My personal favorite is the Gratin of Eggs and Potatoes. But the biscuits are indeed very good....more
Great. As the intro says, the author traveled widely - eight trips around the world over almost four decades and hundreds of visits to dozens of museuGreat. As the intro says, the author traveled widely - eight trips around the world over almost four decades and hundreds of visits to dozens of museums - and studied both Western and Eastern art, and here he compares the works of many places and times ranging from thousands of years ago to the Renaissance. He explains why some of the stylistic elements in different traditions are what they are, e.g. why the Buddha is often shown with a knob on his head and long, dangling earlobes. Here he focuses on life-size or larger sculptures. The explanations increased my appreciation for works I already admired simply for their beauty.
The book is extensively illustrated with nearly 200 photographs, many of them full-page or half-page, showing great detail. It isn't designated as such, but it would make a fair textbook on this subject.
Amazingly enough, this author - a Rhodes scholar who attended Oxford and Yale - also served as a Marine officer on Guadalcanal and wrote two books on that campaign, along with a number of works on international law and a book on Gnosticism and the Apostle Thomas. He didn't begin writing full-time until his fifties and died at 94 in 2010. I would love to have met him - he sounds like a fascinating person....more
Excellent, though dated by more recent research (this was published in 2003.) The book was written to accompany a BBC series, but is a complete work iExcellent, though dated by more recent research (this was published in 2003.) The book was written to accompany a BBC series, but is a complete work in its own right. The subject is the many species of dangerous animals the first humans entering each part of the world encountered as they arrived. It should give the reader a healthy respect for those people's courage and resourcefulness in many cases, although not being aware of the long-term bigger picture, they unfortunately hunted a lot of these creatures to extinction.
The book is organized geographically and chronologically. The author catalogues and describes the megafauna of each continent at the time homo sapiens or homo neandertalis arrived, in the order in which those arrivals took place. A lot of it is about the lifestyles and technologies those people used to survive and thrive in places in which they were prey as well as predators.
It's well illustrated, with lots of photos of the animals that have survived, of living relatives of those that died out, and of fossils, along with excellent drawings, paintings, diagrams, and some maps. It's a suitable book for adult readers, but it would also be great to share with curious kids.
With the caution that the scientific views of a very few items have changed due to more recent discoveries, it makes a decent reference as well. If you're interested in zoology or the lives of prehistoric humanity, you'll probably like this....more
This one is fun, although the title is more than a touch misleading - it's about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event that takes place eThis one is fun, although the title is more than a touch misleading - it's about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event that takes place every November (although, of course, anyone is free to attempt it in any other month they choose.)
I say it's misleading, first, because it's not low-stress, as all the advice on coping with the stress suggests. NaNoWriMo is fun stress, but it's a fair dose of it. The second reason I call it misleading is that it would be more accurate to subtitle it " ... Writing a Very Rough First Draft of What Will Probably be Half to Two Thirds of a Novel." (The idea is to complete 50,000 words of a manuscript in a month.)
With that said, NaNoWriMo is a great idea and I'd encourage aspiring novelists to try it. Full disclosure: I went for it in 2014, and although I was derailed by major household repairs, an illness, and the aftereffects of a death in the family, I did come out of it with about 80 promising pages of a novel I've been thinking about but not quite writing for years. Enough that I'm still working on it and intend to finish and submit it in 2015.
Beyond the 30-day thing, this book has more than its share of good practical advice on how to tackle writing fiction, along with a ton of encouragement. It's also pretty funny. And if I hadn't read this, I wouldn't have tried NaNoWriMo, and - slight sidetrack here - if I hadn't gotten involved in that, I probably wouldn't have run across Scrivener, a writing software package I tried and liked so much I bought three copies (for my office PC, living room PC, and laptop. It's inexpensive enough for that to be a sane thing to do.)
As for NaNoWriMo: as Ahnuld said, Ah'll be bock....more
This book is a great reference for people lucky enough to have the chance to hike the Sandia Mountains (on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, NM, whereThis book is a great reference for people lucky enough to have the chance to hike the Sandia Mountains (on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, NM, where I live.) It has detailed descriptions of the trails throughout the Sandias and a folded pull-out map printed on heavy water-resistant paper. I've been using various editions of this book for decades.
These mountains are a beautiful place, but some trails are much more strenuous than others and can be dangerous during much of the year due to snow, ice, cold, and wind (the range tops out at over 10,000 feet, about a mile higher than the city below.) This guide is useful for avoiding getting in over one's head. It also shows where springs are located, another important factor, since some of the hikes take several hours and staying hydrated is a concern.
If you live in the Albuquerque area and are interested in the outdoors, you probably already hike in the Sandias and/or their foothills, and this book is well worth buying if you don't have it. If you're going to visit here, it's one of the most enjoyable things to do in this area, and this book is again well worth buying to bring along for the trip and then keep as a souvenir....more
Solid coverage of a wide range of gloomy possibilities. The author's tone is conversational and clear, with no apparent axes to grind, and he ends onSolid coverage of a wide range of gloomy possibilities. The author's tone is conversational and clear, with no apparent axes to grind, and he ends on a note of cautious optimism (as he calls it.) It's an interesting read - nothing really startling or new, but a lot of information. This isn't science fiction, but it could be a useful resource for anyone writing the kind of dystopian-future stories that are always popular....more
Interesting, enlightening, inspiring, clear, and fun. I think this may be one of the most useful books, in a concrete way, that I've come across in aInteresting, enlightening, inspiring, clear, and fun. I think this may be one of the most useful books, in a concrete way, that I've come across in a while.
Starting with how to work safely and how to set up and organize a workspace, this is a systematic exploration of a great variety of tools, how to use them, and the kinds of projects people can create with them, from the most basic hand tools to computers, lasers, and robotic projects. A lot of it is about how to improvise tools and systems. The author (whom I've seen on quite a few documentaries in which he's done that kind of improvisation) even includes some points on seeking crowdfunding and making a sales-pitch video.
Not bad, but I have one serious problem with this book - over 100 pages of it, Orson Scott Card's section starting the book, is reprinted word-for-worNot bad, but I have one serious problem with this book - over 100 pages of it, Orson Scott Card's section starting the book, is reprinted word-for-word from Card's earlier (1990) book titled How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. There is nothing in the online listings or on the cover indicating that this content, over a quarter of the book, is not original - no way to see it without buying the new book. I don't know whether this was Card's decision or that of the editors or publisher, and I don't know whether any of the other authors' content is also reprinted (I have an earlier book by Athans and his material here is new relative to that book, although I don't know about other earlier work of his.) But I feel that whoever made the call on the Card content is being less than honest with their readers.
I must admit that the recent revelations of Card's racist and homophobic politics leaves a sour taste in my mouth anyway, and I won't be buying any more of his work - while the personal failings of artists do not necessarily make their work less in quality, I'm one of those readers/listeners/film-goers that can't get past the issue - same reason I can't enjoy films or music by artists who I've learned are abusive human beings.
The rest of this book is indeed excellent, and its a shame that such outstanding and useful content by such excellent authors is at least somewhat overshadowed by this business with Card's section. The whole middle and much of the latter part of my copy is a forest of little post-it flags, and I'll be going back through it over and over, taking notes wherever they apply to things I'm working on. If it was just the Card part, I'd give it maybe two stars, but I'm giving it four for the sake of the other contributors....more
Six stars - important, deeply insightful, and very well organized and written. Col. Hammes argues that our armed forces are not organized, equipped, oSix stars - important, deeply insightful, and very well organized and written. Col. Hammes argues that our armed forces are not organized, equipped, or trained for the type of war we've been facing more often than not since Vietnam, i.e. 4th generation warfare or 4GW (1st gen was basically masses armed with pointy things or slow, inaccurate firearms trying to kill each other, i.e. everything before the Civil War; 2nd gen was use of firepower to destroy the enemy army, i.e. WWI; 3rd gen concentrates on speed to outmaneuver the enemy without necessarily destroying them, i.e. blitzkrieg; 4th gen shifts the focus from the enemy army to the national leadership giving the orders & persuading them the war is unwinnable or too expensive to be worth it, i.e. what happened to us in Vietnam.)
He further notes that we're moving backward, not forward - 3GW depends on the brass saying what they want to happen, then letting the tactical commanders on the spot figure out the 'how' part, based on the idea that war is chaotic and unpredictable, and there's no way a general can keep close enough track to effectively micromanage. The French tried in 1940 and lost their country in 10 weeks to Germans improvising on the spot. We got better at that in the '90s, particularly in the Marine Corps.
In '90-91 I had the great luck to be a Marine captain at Quantico attending the Marine Corps University's Command and Control Systems Course. Col. Hammes was there, as a major attending Command and Staff College, and I heard him present a couple of times. We had an iconoclastic Commandant, General Al Gray, who was pushing decision-making down as far as possible for a given situation, often to the junior NCOs leading squads. I saw that for the first time in history, instead of senior commanders having less information available than they needed, they had more than they could take in, organize, and analyze - hence the thrust to let the young leaders with eyes on the situation figure out how to do what they knew the commanders wanted done.
Unfortunately, as computer and communication systems increased in power, the urge to micromanage got the better of the brass, and they decided we could and should put the 'how' decisions back in the hands of the generals by using all those whizzing electrons to give them a perfect, real-time understanding of the situation at that micro level.
The reason it's unfortunate is that it's impossible. The butterfly effect applies in war. That god-like view is available only to the gods, if there are any watching, and they're not on the radio giving orders. What we need is ever-greater flexibility, cross-sharing of situational information, and leaders at all levels trained and trusted to make the decisions they can make instead of waiting on their bosses.
Not only that, by myopically keeping our focus on recognizably military enemy forces - the ones we're the best in the world at fighting, and the ones that therefore would have to be idiots to take us on in the ways we fight best (Saddam Hussein being the only recent example of that level of stupidity) we're ignoring all kinds of other threats. Like guys in civilian clothes hijacking jets and flying them into buildings. Like the very kind of computer virus fight we've engaged in against Iran but are nearly defenseless against ourselves (Col. Hammes wrote this in 2006, and in it he predicted China attacking the U.S. economically by using its hackers against American industries to steal information, thereby hurting our economy. I'm writing this in May 2014, and that story was in the news a few days ago.)
If you're interested in military affairs and/or history, read this book.