I read the Lionel Giles translation of The Art of War. I picked this up because it is so often referred to in other things I've read that I thought itI read the Lionel Giles translation of The Art of War. I picked this up because it is so often referred to in other things I've read that I thought it would be worthwhile.
This is a book of military strategy. Of course, it is pretty incredible that something written 1,500 years ago contains lessons on warfare that are as relevant today as they were then. Much of it seems pretty obvious stuff, but I suppose that is at least in part because it has become received wisdom.
What struck me most about this, though, was not really the book at all. When others have referred to this, they've suggested that it has great lessons for surviving modern life, or for succeeding as a politician, or for informing business strategies, or for managing a team. I think, therefore, that I was expecting something more along the lines of a philosophical discussion with war as an allegory, rather than a straightforward handbook on fighting. It makes me feel a little bit sad that people see so much in this for other parts of life, as it suggests that they have a much more oppositional view of the world than one might like to think. This isn't a book about avoiding a war through dialogue or compromise or negotiation, but rather a book about how to slaughter your adversaries.
So this left me with a general sense of pensive melancholy, not so much about the book itself, but about the place many people see it taking in the modern world....more
The title of this book is bizarre: it's neither particularly for atheists nor a comprehensive history of belief. Rather, Kneale presents interesting pThe title of this book is bizarre: it's neither particularly for atheists nor a comprehensive history of belief. Rather, Kneale presents interesting potted histories about the development over thousands of years of various aspects of various religions, picked - by Kneale's own admission - for the fact that they are interesting stories.
And the stories were interesting: for example, tracking beliefs about violence within Christianity from Jesus's time through witch trials and the crusades to the modern day; or following the theistic aspects of Buddhism from it being simply a way of life through to a fully fledged religion and, in some cases, back again.
This isn't a detailed book (it often deals quite superficially with beliefs) and it is by no means complete, but it was an interesting and enjoyable read....more
Ryan Holiday is angry at how easy it has become to manipulate bloggers into publishing stuff that is blatantly untrue - and how credulously other mediRyan Holiday is angry at how easy it has become to manipulate bloggers into publishing stuff that is blatantly untrue - and how credulously other media outlets then pick up those posts and re-report them as fact. Holiday draws on his experience in using this exact technique to court controversy as a marketer for American Apparel, among other clients, and sees this book as his 'confession', which he is making in hope of improving the media landscape at large. Holiday gives no suggestions for fixing the problem and admits that he sees no easy solution. He writes admiringly about subscription-based approaches to journalism, which seem to me to be at least a part of the answer.
Sometimes, Holiday's anger spills over into him using the kind of snarky writing that he so vehemently criticises in the book. If I could change one thing in this book, I'd tone down the language which I often found distractingly strong. I was surprised by the strength of his repetitious criticism of Professor Jeff Jarvis, whose own books on similar topics I've enjoyed: Holiday calls him a "moron". In fact, I think Holiday's and Jarvis's views on news media are not as far removed from one another as Holiday seems to think.
But there is no doubt that I feel better informed as a result of reading this: it gives a very lucid overview of the news media landscape today, and the problems with the way financial incentives are structured for journalism in the online age. Holiday does a good job of setting this in the historical context of the development of media over the last century or so, which I appreciated....more
I struggled a bit to get through this, which is saying something considering that it's quite a short novel.
In a nutshell, this novel finds Quatro's prI struggled a bit to get through this, which is saying something considering that it's quite a short novel.
In a nutshell, this novel finds Quatro's protagonist attmepting to reconcile her Christian faith with a lifetime of sexual encounters. There are interesting ideas to unlock in that premise, but I didn't really gain any real insight into them. This partly because Quatro often took approaches which extended beyond my sphere of knowledge without anything like adequate explaination (treatise on apophatic theology, anyone?). It was also partly because the writing didn't lead me to particularly care about any of the characters.
There are some great passages in here, and I think the intersection of faith and sex at the "everyday" level, rather than the extremes at which these ideas are usually discussed, is ripe for further exploration. But Fire Sermon just didn't quite do it for me....more