Overlong and over focused on minutiae. Instead of driving the story forward, it gets bogged down. It also does that thing I hate in non-fiction books.Overlong and over focused on minutiae. Instead of driving the story forward, it gets bogged down. It also does that thing I hate in non-fiction books...it makes up lengthy conversations and pieces of dialogue that cannot have been recorded. It's done for entertainment purposes, but makes you question the validity of everything else. ...more
A really fascinating and infuriating story. Shocking that it can even exist. There's a lot (A LOT) of technical jargon, but Lewis does yeoman's work iA really fascinating and infuriating story. Shocking that it can even exist. There's a lot (A LOT) of technical jargon, but Lewis does yeoman's work in trying to make it as accessible as possible. My only complaint is that because the book is written so closely to the events it's relating, there's no real resolution to the narrative. There's just a breaking off point, which, while satisfying, leaves you hungry for more....more
I cannot even begin to express how amazing this book is. In reality, my review should be nothing but superlatives and exclamation points.
This is, withI cannot even begin to express how amazing this book is. In reality, my review should be nothing but superlatives and exclamation points.
This is, without a doubt, the single greatest work of non-fiction I have ever read. It is intensely and impeccably detailed. It is amazingly compelling. The way Caro spells out each and every event and argument is so objective and couched in fact that there is no way one cannot follow the same logical progression that Caro, himself, followed in his research.
Additionally, the narrative structure is simply perfect, and puts the reader in a complicated position. **MINOR SPOILERS**The book starts out by amazing you with the breadth and depth of Moses' accomplishments by the end of his career. He simply accomplished so much and literally and physically impacted how New York city and state exist and operate, that you cannot help but be overwhelmed and awed by his career. But then, slowly and patiently, Caro begins to walk through Moses' manner and methods in achieving these accomplishments. And just as slowly and patiently, the reader begins to realize the questionable nature of Moses' actions. By the end, I was not only shocked at how Moses' accomplished what he did, but I simply could not believe that he was so expertly able to place himself in a position of absolute power without anyone checking the use of his actions.**END MINOR SPOILERS
This biography takes time to read, but it could not be more worth it. Do yourself a favor and read this!...more
I love Bill Bryson's work. I've read nearly everything he's written. And of all of his books, this, I believe, is one of his finest. Top 3 at least. BI love Bill Bryson's work. I've read nearly everything he's written. And of all of his books, this, I believe, is one of his finest. Top 3 at least. Bryson walks through some of the major events taking place in the summer of 1927, tracking the significance of those events along with the tangential histories related to them. He does this in an effortless, entertaining style that is equal measures serious and jocular. His history is at once an amazing slice of Americana, an eye-opening history, and an immensely entertaining story....more
There's a lot of good journalism sitting behind this book. Lawrence Wright researched this fairly meticulously, and his research was scrutinized and fThere's a lot of good journalism sitting behind this book. Lawrence Wright researched this fairly meticulously, and his research was scrutinized and fact-checked by an editorial team at The New Yorker. So it's fair to say that there's a solid amount of data and evidence backing all of the work up.
But on the flip side, this is a book that evolved out of an earlier piece by Wright in which he examined Paul Haggis' claims about the Church of Scientology after having left the church. So, there's a potential bias lying at the heart of the story as well.
With all of that said, if even half of what is documented, reported, claimed, or presented in this book is even remotely accurate, then the fact that the Church of Scientology exists at all is nothing short of astounding. There's some really fascinating, incriminating, and frankly terrifying information in here. If you're even vaguely interested in things like this, it's worth the read....more
A truly fascinating read. An insightful and intensely informative (and on occasion, alarming) look at the justices and politics moving behind the scenA truly fascinating read. An insightful and intensely informative (and on occasion, alarming) look at the justices and politics moving behind the scenes of the most important Supreme Court cases over the past 30 years. Really gripping....more
I don't know that my expectations were super high going into this, but the big problem is that there is nothing in this book that hasn't been presenteI don't know that my expectations were super high going into this, but the big problem is that there is nothing in this book that hasn't been presented in equally, if not more accessible forms in a number of other books. Also, those other books read better. Go read something else....more
I have an issue with this book. The first, is that it's really pretty entertaining. The second, is that that's precisely the problem.
Sex on the Moon:I have an issue with this book. The first, is that it's really pretty entertaining. The second, is that that's precisely the problem.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History is supposed to be a non-fictional account of a brazen robbery of priceless moon rock samples from NASA's Johnson Space Center by a rising star of a NASA co-op (read resident grad student). It's a pretty fantastic story in that the circumstances surrounding it are so bizarre, it's difficult to believe it's actually true. It's one of those stories you would expect to find in a News of the Weird column.
Mezrich does a fine job of telling the story. And while I have no doubt that he committed huge effort to pouring through interviews, court records, investigative reports, and the like, it's what he does with that information that is somewhat troubling.
At the very start of the book, there's a qualifier, in which Mezrich states he has taken liberties with the creation of dialogue and has altered depictions of some of those involved for reasons of privacy. That's all well and good, but the bulk of the book (honestly, every single page) is dripping with descriptive language, detailing things that could not possibly have been known through any amount of research.
Conversations that could not have been recorded or recounted are lovingly presented. Motivations, emotions, and inspirations are given concrete form, in spite of their only having ever existed (if they existed at all) in the minds and hearts of their owners. And those altered depictions? They are most glaring in the characters of Rebecca and Sandra, two of the accomplices involved in the moon rock heist. What changes were made? Well, for starters, their names are actually Tiffany and Shae, which is a matter of public record. It took me all of 10 seconds on a Google search to learn that, so claiming privacy concerns here is pointless. On top of that, these two girls are constantly described as attractive to the point of being glistening, female athlete/models. Depictions of the tan, toned, and intensely attractive bodies are addressed multiple times. In point of fact, they're actually fairly average looking women.
So, if these two central characters are changed so drastically for no apparent reason, it begs the question, what else has been embellished?
This was a really entertaining story. But the way it's presented, undermines all aspects of its truthfulness, which, I feel, kind of defeats the point. It would have been better to say this is a tale "based on true events."...more
What a heartbreaker of a book. Mike Piazza is my favorite ball player of all time, and I was really excited to read his autobiography. But this book wWhat a heartbreaker of a book. Mike Piazza is my favorite ball player of all time, and I was really excited to read his autobiography. But this book was so poorly written that I didn't even finish it. Moreover, (and maybe this is just a fan boy complaint) it doesn't seem to pay attention to a lot of the things I would have thought deserved greater attention. The coverage of the 2000 playoffs and World Series occurs in a matter of pages. It's almost over before it began, and it felt like it was just kind of shrugged off. There's also a lot of superfluous bloat in the text that deserved to be trimmed, but that's an editorial issue.
I've got the book on my shelf, and who knows, next baseball season when my annual yen for baseball books comes back, I may just pick this up and finish it...but right now, I don't relish that thought....more
A (painstakingly) detailed history of how information has been communicated through the history of humanity. From tonal inflections of African drum beA (painstakingly) detailed history of how information has been communicated through the history of humanity. From tonal inflections of African drum beats to Telegraphs to Turing Machines and beyond. It's a really fascinating story. Don't get me wrong, though, this is a heavy and dry story, but it's a fascinating one to read. Gleick does his best to convey the technological evolution in relatable and meaningful language and does an admirable job of it. If you're at all interested in this kind of history, Gleick's work is about as accessible as it gets, and it's entertaining to boot....more
Not only one of the best sports-centered autobiographies I've ever read, but, quite honestly, one of the best autobiographies I've ever read, period.Not only one of the best sports-centered autobiographies I've ever read, but, quite honestly, one of the best autobiographies I've ever read, period. It's a fascinating story, it's well written, it's very insightful, and it really does a good job of capturing the persona of the R.A. Dickey I knew when he played for the Mets. ...more
I love Bill Bryson as an author. He's clever and witty, he knows how to tell a story, and he pieces together mounds of terminally dull information andI love Bill Bryson as an author. He's clever and witty, he knows how to tell a story, and he pieces together mounds of terminally dull information and somehow makes it fascinating. He's done this is all of the books of his that I've read, and At Home: A Short History of Private Life is hardly an exception.
Bryson uses this work to deftly walk the reader through the history of domesticity, the evolution of the human living space, and all the things that reside within it or are related to it. He takes frequent asides in the process, but each diversion is a joy.
Frankly, I can't imagine telling anyone that I would enjoy a book that espouses the finer points of what makes a Chippendale chair a "Chippendale," but damn if I can't say it now. And please don't get the impression that the book is all about minutia. Bryson lovingly and skillfully describes matters of terrific importance, such as London's Crystal Palace.
If you are even remotely interested in learning the story behind the world you live in every day, you would be well-advised to pick this up....more
This marks the spot where I first dipped my toe into the DFW pond. Frankly, I was ready for something a little too highbrow and esoteric. One of thoseThis marks the spot where I first dipped my toe into the DFW pond. Frankly, I was ready for something a little too highbrow and esoteric. One of those things that people tell each other they love, so they can appear to be a better person. What I got though, was an amazingly accessible and wonderfully insightful discussion on such a wide range of very interesting topics. Color me hooked....more
I can't quite remember where I first heard about this book. The Times Book Review? ALA? Anyway, it seemed like an interesting read, so I quickly tosseI can't quite remember where I first heard about this book. The Times Book Review? ALA? Anyway, it seemed like an interesting read, so I quickly tossed it onto my library holds list and sat back and waited. Upon picking it up, though, and starting my way through, I was forced to ask myself about why I was initially intrigued by this book because the actual thing was nowhere near as tantalizing.
Ben Goldacre takes a look at the science and the sometimes obfuscation thereof behind some of the more notorious fads, cures, treatments, and "miracles" found in our world, from the homeopathic to the commercial. It's an interesting topic, or rather it could be. However, I found Goldacre's approach to be cold and condescending more than inviting and engaging.
First things first. The book is presented by looking at various instances of bad science (detox programs, homeopathic practices, cosmetics, and the like) and analyzing what they claim to offer, and then explaining the science behind the actual things and how that in turn either proves their claims to be utterly false or exposes the gray areas in which they are able to present half-truths as scientific fact. The trouble with a good deal of this, is that, to my mind at least, the fact that there's no reality behind things like detoxifying footbaths is akin to saying the earth is round. I half expected to see a chapter on snake-oil salesmen or diet pills.
To be fair, Goldacre does examine in detail some far more complex and cleverly obscure areas, such as pharmaceuticals and nutrition, but by the point we'd gotten there, I was already glazing over.
Furthermore, Goldacre insults his reader fairly regularly. He breaks his narrative to define the most basic of scientific terms. He makes a statement towards the beginning of his first chapter the most people (especially those who might find some truth behind these various practices--and I am not one of them!) have never performed an experiment, much less taken the time to look at information in an analytical and evaluative light. Well, no, most people have not positioned themselves in a fully stocked laboratory, but people perform experiments on small scales and observe their results on a daily basis. Not to mention the fact that you're hard pressed to make it out of any type of grade-level schooling without performing legitimate experiments regularly. It's not going too far to say that the public at large frequently takes things for granted and at face value, but to start off by insulting your audience, one can hardly expect to improve from there.
In the end, Bad Science is a fine book. It's a little dry, but it is full of useful information. The trouble is, it's just not presented very well. ...more
I had a lot of fun reading through this book. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising, since it's a book that's totally and completely, "Yay, LibrariI had a lot of fun reading through this book. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising, since it's a book that's totally and completely, "Yay, Librarians!"
Johnson is an author who becomes intensely interested and excited about the topics she writes about. This is evident in this book and the her previous book, The Dead Beat. It's to her credit that she jumps all in.
On top of that, she gets a lot right. She hits on the salient points and arguments that are at the center of our field right now. She champions both the new school (digital) and old school (print) aspects of our jobs in a way that even makes me as a librarian re-consider how I stand on some subjects.
It's a well written and largely entertaining book, but I do have some concern about it. Mainly, who's going to read this book besides librarians? The audience that needs to be reading this book is probably not picking it up, which is discouraging. I guess that's where reviews like this come in. So....READ THIS BOOK! Learn just how awesome librarians are! :-)...more
It's clear that Stephen Jay Gould has a supreme love of baseball, which is why I picked this book up in the first place. The trouble is, this is a posIt's clear that Stephen Jay Gould has a supreme love of baseball, which is why I picked this book up in the first place. The trouble is, this is a posthumous collection of articles published in the Times or various other publications. Small snippets that briefly touch on the topic du jour from when they were written.
The problem here is that many of these articles no longer possess the intensity or passion they once did when the subject was fresh. And worse, some of them lack all credibility and credence due to events that have happened since they were written. An example: Gould (who, I should note, is a brilliant paleontologist by profession--someone I admire for what he's done in his field) writes a brief piece singing the praises of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as they chased the home run record.
Now, I remember watching every Cards or Cubbies game I could find that summer, trying to get a glimpse at history. Hell, in the late months, when McGwire was inching ever closer to the record, television stations would break into a program so you could watch his at bats. It was stunning! And even though I hate the Cardinals, I cheered loud when I saw that final home run clear the outfield wall.
Today, though, I get a little nauseous at the thought of that race because of all the scandal that now surrounds it. Steroids and corked bats and congressional hearings have long since wiped away that nostalgia, and Gould's article, as a result, now feels laughable and without merit.
I can't really hold this against Gould. After all, as I just admitted that I shared his same feelings during many of the events he describes. But that was a long time ago, and that kind of jubilant fan sentiment feels naive.