Full disclosure: Like the author, I grew up in Iowa and live in Austin. Although those close to me will recognize many recurring themes between what tFull disclosure: Like the author, I grew up in Iowa and live in Austin. Although those close to me will recognize many recurring themes between what they have heard (endlessly) from me for the last couple of decades and the content of this book, this is not my pseudonym and I did not write this book.
TLDR: This is a good read and is recommended.
Who will profit from reading this book: Parents, business people, policy makers, teachers, young adults.
Downsides: Like many bright, observant people who are not personally involved in technology or who have never spent a lot of time on the ground in various regions of the world, the author plays fast and loose with some assertions. In this case, he attributes too much near- to mid-term impact to additive manufacturing (3D printing) and makes armchair-quarterback level assumptions about other cultures.
Secondly, he suffers the same fundamental conceit as economists: the assumption of rational actors. Here, the author assumes that nation states and the people who control them will act in a rational manner most, if not all, of the time.
Unfortunately, history does not support this contention. The variables at play here, including the ability to use nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, are completely absent from his analysis and projected outcomes.
The latter shortcoming undermines many of his projections for the general shape and outcome of the next few decades. While I am in violent, vociferous agreement with his foundational arguments related to demographics and logistics, his lack of acknowledgment of historically-proven, irrational human behavior undermines many of his primary projections.
In particular, he assumes that most of the rest of the world will spiral into decline and disarray and yet be perfectly fine with the U.S. reigning untouched as a shining tower of favorable demographics, logistics and ocean-spanning power projection.
Again, history does not support this contention. History shows us that nation states and stateless actors that are under existential threat, much less on the slippery slope of dissolution, will lash out with every tool at their disposal.
In this modern age those tools include weapons that make short order of carrier battle groups, cities and, in the case of nuclear weapons, wide areas of agricultural production.
Lastly, it requires some real perseverance to get past the "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" level of boosterism, self-promotion and fundamentalist exceptionalism in the early chapters and into the more meaty and rewarding sections. As such, this work functions perfectly as Holy Writ for those so inclined. Unfortunately, that cohort is probably the least likely to fully comprehend and understand the implications of what follows in later chapters.
Upsides: The author presents an accessible, cogent and well formed argument for the society-, culture- and history-shaping power of demographics, logistics and energy.
The book includes well designed maps, graphics and illustrations to drive home the lessons in the text. In fact, it is worth buying the book simply to skim the illustrations.
The author writes clearly and in terms that non-wonks and non-policy analysts can understand.
The reader will come away with a well founded understanding of how the world, and the societies and nations that make up the world, are determined, formed, rise and fall primarily due to demographic, logistic and energy factors.
In addition, the reader will be equipped with a set of projected outcomes for the next decade or two that have at least a reasonable chance of being realized, absent the factors noted above.
For many readers this will be a revealing, perhaps transcendental, book, especially if it is their first exposure to these building-block components of societies, nations and regions.
For all readers this work should help to inform their tactical and strategic choices for the near- and mid-term future.
Conclusion: If you want to understand how the world got to where it is and where it is likely to go in the next few decades, you could do a lot worse than investing a few hours in this book. You will gain more from that investment than any 400 hours of watching screaming heads shout past each other on television, listening to rants on the radio or in perusing echo chambers of online "we are the intelligent ones" partisan news sources.
Many people make a lifetime out of seeking to prove hidden, secret conspiracies to explain the state of the world, what it is and how it got to be this way. The author does an excellent job of teaching the elementary components that actually drive human history, including what will cause most of the events that will shape the history of the next few decades.
I have a friend who was in school in Poland when the Soviet Union collapsed. Soon after, his school received new textbooks. In those new textbooks wasI have a friend who was in school in Poland when the Soviet Union collapsed. Soon after, his school received new textbooks. In those new textbooks was a completely new and different retelling of history. Suddenly, overnight, everything that had happened in the 20th century was completely different. In one Orwellian moment, everything he knew was wrong.
If you grew up in the 60's, or have ever hummed along or danced to a pop or rock hit from that era, prepare for an equally jarring re-write of History As You Know It. After you read this book, everything you thought you knew about the pop and rock music of the era will be, completely and utterly, false.
I tend to read "weighty" non-fiction almost exclusively, yet I found this book to be entertaining, informative and, as mentioned above, jarring.
I found myself searching my memories for the melody line and lyrics of long forgotten pop hits (which I tended to avoid once I discovered, among other things, non-mainstream music). I also found myself instantly transported back to the time and place I first heard or memorably enjoyed epic hits and songs that defined me (or so I thought) during that era.
All in all, it's a great read. And whether you are a rock historian or somebody who just gave it a 9 because it had a good beat and was easy to dance to, you owe it to yourself to read this book. In doing so, you'll find out what really happened and who really created all those tunes still filling the airwaves of the oldies and classic rock stations.
Just be prepared, your history is about to be rewritten.
The actual edition that I read was: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Arthur Conan Doyle, Kyle Freeman (EdThe actual edition that I read was: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Arthur Conan Doyle, Kyle Freeman (Editor)
I am unable to locate that edition on the Goodreads search engine.
The Holmes canon is one of my lifetime favorites. I read and re-read my thick compilation of the stories and novels many times as a child. This was my first return to them since then.
In the meantime, I grew up (some), and wrote a few books. Being a writer, I take a different view on the stories now than I did then. I also have a different perspective, having learned a bit about Doyle himself and his disdain for this work.
All of that enables me to see the tell-tale signs of rushed conclusions, sloppy writing (the wandering war wound of Watson, for instance) and repetitive plots.
Nonetheless, I still came away very satisfied from my reading of this entire two-volume collection. I still very much love the characters. I still very much love Doyle's patient teaching of the methods of deduction and observation. I still very much love this peek into London's people, places and things of that era.
Even with its shortcomings, this body of work is truly timeless, and remains highly recommended reading for all ages.
PS - This annotated version adds so much to the reading experience, especially in an electronic edition where you can bounce quickly between the notes and the text. Obscure and obsolete words and phrases that I simply skipped over as a child are now quickly and easily explained. ...more
In the future, when someone uses the phrase, "monumental effort," I will think of this book.
Mr. Wilkinson has not only attempted, but delivered, a suIn the future, when someone uses the phrase, "monumental effort," I will think of this book.
Mr. Wilkinson has not only attempted, but delivered, a summary history of the Egyptian civilization, from conception to Cleopatra.
Aside from the scope of the work, coupled with actually having achieved it, the most remarkable thing about this book is that Mr. Wilkinson was able to craft such an accessible work.
Even when faced with source material that was both sparse, thousands of years old and almost exclusively the output of dictatorial propaganda departments, Mr. Wilkinson created a narrative that is both engaging and enlightening for the everyday, non-academic reader.
To give some perspective to the scale of the timeline involved, Thutmose IV, who reigned from 1399 BC to 1389 BC, excavated and restored the Great Sphinx of Giza, built by a previous Pharaoh, which was by then buried in shifting sands and already more than 1,000 years old. In today's world of countries that are mostly less than 300 years old, it is challenging to imagine unearthing a national monument 1,000 years old in a nation that would survive 1,000 years more.
Thutmose IV is but one of 168 Pharaohs who are individually addressed in the book, along with relevant geopolitical and regional context for their times. Somehow, Mr. Wilkinson has derived, extracted and discovered anecdotes that illuminate the life and times of many of these pharaohs, from the famous, such as Tutankhamun and Cleopatra, to the obscure, such as Neferefra and Sobekemsaf II.
While pedants may long for more detail and champions of a particular period, Kingdom or Pharaoh may wish for a more sympathetic endorsement, the overall tone of the book is even and mostly suitably detached, all while avoiding academic sterility. The flaw in this regard is the author's persistent hectoring of the ancient Egyptians for not being a replica of modern Sweden, along with its leading U.N. Gini index. Despite his sterling credentials, Mr. Wilkinson loses perspective and thus credible assessment of the realities of ancient societies when he repeatedly calls the ancient Egyptian theocratic dictatorships to task for not being more of a socialist paradise. It is hard to imagine how such a goal could have been either achieved or sustained in an era of almost universal illiteracy, cultural isolation and xenophobia. However, in the scope of a work of this magnitude, this is a minor quibble.
It is daunting to even consider addressing, in a meaningful way, a time span of 3,000 years. Mr. Wilkinson has done so, and in a very readable and entertaining fashion.
Good read. The author has an interesting take on a well-covered topic. She chose to examine the protagonist's management of his image, market positionGood read. The author has an interesting take on a well-covered topic. She chose to examine the protagonist's management of his image, market positioning, personal brand, etc. in an era long before social media. That element added to the also very interesting core story of a conned man's relentless pursuit of his swindlers. ...more
Bruce Tate does the nearly impossible in providing a fast paced but accomplish-able guide through seven programming languages.
He provides a good balaBruce Tate does the nearly impossible in providing a fast paced but accomplish-able guide through seven programming languages.
He provides a good balance between the why and the how, while always focusing on pragmatic, delivered results. He spares no sacred cows in illuminating the weaknesses of each language, but also spares nothing in featuring their strengths.
In the end, you'll be left knowing, just as you always knew, that no one tool is the best at all things. But, you'll also know which of these tools is probably best at tackling a specific problem set.
An added bonus were the interviews of people involved with each language, often the person who invented it. They added depth and perspective, and, occasionally, surprising historical nuggets and language trivia.
Prerequisites: You'll do best if you've got some programming experience. This should not be your first toe in the water of computer programming.