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The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life
4.16
it was amazing
I learned a lot from this book, and unlearned some old things about biology and biochemistry. Here's some notes I took about the book, to save on my c ...more
Oct 11, 2015
Oct 11, 2015
 
The Evolution of God
3.91
did not like it
A one-trick pony from Wright

This book could, and should, have one of two alternative titles.

It's either "Nonzero: The Religion Primer" or "The Evoluti
...more
May 28, 2009
Nov 29, 2012
 
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
3.74
did not like it
"Coming Apart" is quite possibly more mendacious than "The Bell Curve." It's certainly more hypocritical, and given that Murray's whole thesis is ulti ...more
Feb 18, 2012
Feb 19, 2012
 
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
3.84
liked it
This book is OK overall, no more, and IS deserving of the criticism Greenblatt has gotten, for overstating his case and more.

Greenblatt's good part is
...more
Feb 16, 2012
Feb 17, 2012
 
Isabella: The Warrior Queen
4.11
did not like it
The book's a comedy of errors and stereotypes.

In the first chapter, I could see what seemed to be some definite Christianist bias and bad-type revisio
...more
Dec 20, 2014
Dec 19, 2014
 
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
4.07
did not like it
No, this is NOT "THE book" ...

Want a real bio of Warren Buffett? You'll have to keep waiting, because this book ain't it.

This baby's got some major b
...more
Mar 14, 2009
Nov 30, 2012
 
The Happy Atheist
3.56
did not like it
Per my status update, for any non-Gnu Atheists, skeptics, agnostics, etc., who are familiar with PZ, this book is what you'd expect. Basically, it's a ...more
Sep 09, 2013
Sep 08, 2013
 
Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee
4.16
did not like it
A horrible, ethically challenged book that's also not that new, not that good

Korda's treatment of the Seven Days campaign is the only good think in th
...more
Aug 20, 2014
Aug 20, 2014
 
Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away
3.80
it was ok
I finally went with a 2-star rating for this book. I will note that Goldstein did stimulate my thought at times, albeit half the time to take notes on ...more
Jun 22, 2014
Jun 18, 2014
 
The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789
4.12
it was ok
This might, in reality, be worth a third star, but it's getting so many five star reviews that I had to downrate it.

Ellis is writing primarily pablum
...more
Aug 23, 2015
Aug 23, 2015
 
Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything
3.29
it was ok
Call this book review "The deep loneliness of Barbara Ehrenreich" or maybe "The Tragedy of Barbara Ehrenreich."

I wrestled with exactly how to rate thi
...more
Aug 17, 2014
Aug 17, 2014
 
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement
4.22
it was amazing
Free Leonard Peltier!

Why?

Well, you have to read this book, but here's a synopsis that nobody but the most diehard 1970s FBI defender can try to deny.

M
...more
Feb 2006
Dec 17, 2012
 
Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World
4.35
did not like it
Meh at best as a pop bio from a conservative evangelical POV; worse than that otherwise

Per the first half of my header, that's the only reason I rated
...more
Oct 29, 2017
Oct 28, 2017
 
Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind
3.97
did not like it
This book looked interesting on the shelves; I thought that, if nothing else, I might learn one or two things, at least, about post-Mycenean, pre-clas ...more
Jul 21, 2014
Jul 21, 2014
 
10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness
4.40
did not like it
First, the title of the book is arguably misleading.

Yes, by cell numbers, we're 90 percent prokaryotes. But, by mass, we're 90 percent human. That's
...more
Oct 18, 2015
Oct 18, 2015
 
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
3.94
it was amazing
The Commodore comes alive

It's hard, quite hard, translating 19th century finances to today, or stature.

But, pretend that one person was a pioneer in b
...more
Jun 30, 2010
Nov 26, 2012
 
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
3.91
did not like it
Presumably the last Sam Harris book I will ever read

What's wrong? Harris is a Platonic idealist in drag. He also engages in scientism. And, his Islamo
...more
Jan 25, 2011
Nov 23, 2012
 
Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground With The Religious
3.84
it was ok
Disclosure: I am a Facebook friend of Chris.

First, I agree with his take on Gnu Atheism. Very much so.

I also agree with the idea of trying to find co
...more
Jan 27, 2013
Jan 27, 2013
 
Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers
4.21
it was amazing
A great book on how the CIA was running Paris Review (in part via third-party funding) and other "culture" magazines like Encounter, most of them more ...more
Dec 16, 2016
Dec 16, 2016
 
Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power
4.06
liked it
I'm going to be a bit contrarian and down-rate this book. (Ideally, I'd put it at 3.5 stars, maybe 3.75.)

It's good, good indeed for what it covers. Bu
...more
Jul 17, 2012
Jul 23, 2012
 
The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the Twenty-First Century
3.39
it was amazing
David Rieff turns a critical eye to the holy trinity of modern international development and aid, the neoliberal holy trinity of the World Bank, the I ...more
not set
Jan 02, 2016
 
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence
3.88
it was ok
Once again, Armstrong offers up tendentious and inaccurate views of religion in general and individual religions in particular in pursuit of an agenda ...more
Feb 22, 2015
Feb 22, 2015
 
The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World--And Us
4.11
really liked it
Great until the last two chapters, then some slippage

This book is worth five stars for two starter reasons alone.

One is the sheer depth and breadth of
...more
Jun 07, 2017
Jun 07, 2017
 
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
4.18
it was amazing
Simply fantastic book about the run-up to World War I.

Things I learned include:
1. The Triple Entente, especially from the British angle, was not exclu
...more
Sep 2013
Aug 27, 2013
 
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
3.51
it was amazing
Fantastic!

Including the post-publication outside-the-ropes dustup between Sloppy Steve and Dipstick Donald, paralleled by Donald Duck's clueless attem
...more
Jan 10, 2018
Jan 10, 2018
 
The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power
3.86
it was amazing
Age of Acquiescence

First, Steve Fraser has a word for us to learn: “Precariat.” You can probably see the word from which this portmanteau derives, in
...more
Mar 03, 2015
Mar 03, 2015
 
The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success
3.96
did not like it
When Stark can make broad-sweeping, but not very accurate statements such as "Capitalism was developed by the great monastic estates," you know to buc ...more
Dec 20, 2005
Dec 18, 2012
 
The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters
3.95
really liked it
Good technological and business review; just so-so environmentally

This book is especially valuable for people wanting to understand the technological
...more
Jan 25, 2014
Jan 28, 2014
 
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
3.93
did not like it
You can learn to meditate, or something similar, without this book, without the "franchise" that Harris seems to be creating, and without the religiou ...more
Jul 25, 2014
Jul 25, 2014
 
Grant
4.59
liked it
Expansive, even exhaustive, but several errors

I'll first note what I appreciated about this book as compared to before having read it, before delving
...more
Oct 25, 2017
Oct 25, 2017
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