Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

The Mask Of Command — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Mask Of Command” (1987©), written by John Keegan.  Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE (Order of the British Empire) and FRSL (Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) was an English military historian, lecturer (at Sandhurst – the English equivalent of West Point) and writer.  Keegan is considered (in my opinion) one of the “modern” expert military historians. I understand his basic premise to be that conflict in general and war in specific is cultural and not necessarily an extension of political governance.  This is in contrast with Clausewitz who stated that war is politics by other means.  Keegan is criticized for “disagreement” with Clausewitz.
As a secondary aside, I started reading about military theory (“strategy”) back in my early 20’s when I began reading about generals (mostly Patton) and the works of B. H. Liddell Hart were recommended to me by a roommate.  I read Liddell Hart’s book: “Strategy: The Indirect Approach“, which I must say greatly influenced my life by profoundly changing my view of the world.  My hope was to learn about leadership by studying the great generals.  Instead, what I found was that leadership is not the same thing as strategy and is, instead, founded on the person and the time in history the person lives, whereas strategy tends to be principled and more timeless.
This realization pretty much ties into the basis for this book, which is a study of four “great” commanders / leaders and looks at what made three succeed and one (ultimately) fail terribly.  The three successful commanders are: Alexander the Great, Wellington, and U.S. Grant.  The failure is: Hitler.
Keegan’s proposal in this book is based on “heroic” aspects (“title”) of military leadership: heroic, anti-heroic, non-heroic, and fake heroic.  To do this, Keegan establishes the cultural climate of each commander and then tries to explain it’s (the culture’s) effect on the military leader via their proximity to combat and personal exposure to danger.  Essentially, for most of man’s history, muscle and physical courage were the requirement of military leadership.  As the age of gunpowder emerged, the risk to the commander increased and they were forced to withdrawal from danger and thus “military” leadership changed.  Alexander had to fight hand-to-hand to prove his courage while leading from the front; Wellington could stay within sight of his forces, but had to stay a minimal distance from accurate musket range; Grant could not frequently approach the front lines; and, Hitler never exposed himself to physical danger (with the exception of possible assassination) and used propaganda to convince his forces that he was a soldier battling at their side.
The book has five main chapters (one for each leader / type) and the last is about leadership in the age of nuclear weapons.  I found this the most fascinating (timely?) chapter of the book as it proposes a “new” type of post-heroic military / political leader and attempts to posit President Kennedy as this “ideal” leader.
While I found the book to be an interesting (sometimes fascinating) read, it was not an easy read.  Keegan loves his erudite words and his complicated phrasing of sentences.  The punctuation is “British” (I guess), and I found many times I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  Frequently, his sentences appeared to be declarative, but were, in fact, interrogatory (questions), or vice-versa, and you (“I”) couldn’t tell until you (“I”) hit the question mark or period at the end of the sentence.  Occasionally, even though I was aware of this writing style, Keegan still caught me off guard and I had to go back and try to figure out what he was on about.  Which means I knew it was happening, and anticipating it, but continued to find it distracting.
Other than this (quibble), I found the book to be quite enjoyable.  Keegan has a keen method of describing battles and you can sometimes feel yourself seeing the carnage and tasting the spent gunpowder in the air.  At less than 400 pages, it seems also to be a quick read, but I suggest not rushing head-long through it in one or two sittings as the book is widely considered to be a classic and deserves a bit of contemplation as well as enjoyment.
Final recommendation: highly recommended! This book is a classic for a reason…  The battlefield descriptions are superb and Keegan’s argument is well presented – even if not wholly convincing (to me, anyway).  Still, regardless if you are new to military history or a veteran of any military genre, I think you’ll enjoy this book.  There will, of course, be a few quotes from this book appearing on my blog in the coming weeks / months.
Two final thoughts: 1) I was not (am not) convinced President Kennedy is THE model for the post-heroic commander.  I found Keegan’s reporting on / analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis a bit simplistic.  And, 2) even if I had read this book on first printing, I doubt it would have influenced my world-view the way Liddell Hart’s book did.  Both are classics for any military reader, just different.  Just sayin’…
.
On This Day In:
2019 #ContinueToResist
Except Willful Ignorance And Prideful Stupidity
2018 More Executive Time For #DumbDonald
2017 Watched The Inauguration
Two Geniuses
2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
Happy Inauguration Day!
2012 One Path
Sorrow And Joy
The Seven Year View
2011 Emergent Practicality

Read Full Post »

3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated”  —  book review
Today’s review is for “3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated” (1991©) written by Donald E. Knuth.  Back in 2011, I read another book by Knuth, titled: “Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About“. (Review here.)  That book, was a discussion about the author’s faith and his prior book, which is being reviewed in this post.  When I retired (in 2017), I was presented with an Amazon gift voucher, which I promised to “waste” on books, music or technology.  In this case, part of it was used to buy this book (along with a number of other Knuth books).
To save everyone the time of reading my earlier review, basically, Knuth wanted to know if one can learn anything unique or unusual about the Bible by doing a stratified (but random) sampling / review of a particular Bible verse.  In theory, if you have a sufficiently large sample to draw from, you can gain “some” knowledge about any topic by analyzing a random sample of the topic’s data.
Because Knuth was not sure this type of investigation would work for literature, Knuth chose a verse he knew would have at least one interesting data point: “Chapter 3 Verse 16”.  The chapter and verse he was confident about was John Chapter 3: Verse 16 – “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only child, so that all people with faith in him can escape destruction, and live forever.
The first problem Knuth encounters is that not all of the books of the Bible have 13 verses in their chapter 3.  To get around this, he simply carried the sample forward the same number (count) of verses and take up wherever that left him.  There were, however, a number of books which were simply to short to use even this method.  In those instances, he simply chooses to drop the book. Knuth ends up with a sampling size of 59 verses.
The second issue was Knuth found scholars did not always (rarely, in fact) agree on what exactly was meant by the writings in the various Bible sources.  Not only were the scholars interpretations differing, so were the texts across the various Bible versions.  There was (is) even disagreement on if some source material is valid and / or should be included in the Bible.
In order to determine why this was happening, Knuth determined to read the Bibles in their original Hebrew / Aramaic and Greek / Latin.  He could then present his own translations as he felt they should be interpreted.  In addition, he felt he needed to translate the verses immediately before and after the target verse to ensure he was accurately relating context as well as the literal meaning.
The method of describing each of the 59 verses itself is interesting.  Each verse is covered in four pages.  Page one provides overall historic, geographic and character background information.  The second page is devoted to a calligraphic representation of the verse.  The final two pages are a word by word breakdown of the verse.  In order to do this in a manner which makes sense, Knuth sometimes adds an analysis of the preceding or following verse(s).  Just a word on the calligraphy.  Knuth approached a friend who happened to be a world renowned typeface designer to assist with the book cover illustration.  The friend (Hermann Zapf), in turn commissioned calligraphers from over 20 countries to provide the “illustration” pages.  This calligraphy, in turn, became part of a formal exhibit which I believe is currently “owned” by the San Francisco Library.  I don’t know if it (the entire exhibit) is ever shown publicly.  I know it was back in 2011, but I was not able to go view it back then.  My loss, I am sure.
So, is this book interesting?  Is it entertaining?  Is it enlightening?  Yes.  Yes, and Yes!  I am a life-long Roman Catholic, but I have never read the Bible through cover to cover.  I tried to a few years back, but had limited knowledge of the names and places and found it rather boring.  I attempted to co-read Isaac Asimov’s “Guide To The Bible“, but even this was of limited value.  I now think I just gave up too soon.  Mea culpa.
Almost every chapter of this book explained something I didn’t know or fully appreciate about the book being covered in that chapter.  Some were simple “interesting”.  Some were “that never occurred to me”.  And, some (a few) were “Wow! I’ve got to go back and read that!”  Anytime I read a book which prompts me to read more or more in-depth, I am grateful to the author.  (I’m still not sure if I’m weird that way…)  In any case, I’m now more determined than ever to read more of Knuth’s books.
In this case: final recommendation – very highly recommended!!  Even if you are not a Biblical scholar or particularly religious, this book will provide insight into one of the greatest books in all of literature.  At less than 270 pages, this is a fast read and the calligraphy is truly beautiful.  Two final notes: 1) in the afterward, Knuth wonders if his selection of “3:16” was not “influenced” and therefor not entirely random.  His conclusion was, with further analysis, it may have been, but was not intentional.  He adds, however, that he enjoyed the process so much he intends to use the methodology for further future study of other verses.  And, 2) I’ve seen in various places this book was copyright in 1990.  My version says 1991 and that’s the year I’m using above.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Happy 34th Anniversary, Hil!!
2017 Happy 33rd Anniversary, Hil!!
2016 Happy 32nd Anniversary, Hil!!
2015 Happy Anniversary Hil!!
2014 30th Wedding Anniversary
2013 Number 29 (And Counting)
2012 Hammer ‘N Roses
Happy Anniversary
2011 I Can Hear It Now

Read Full Post »

Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

Read Full Post »

Delay, Don’t Deny”  (2017©)  —  book review
Today’s book is “Delay, Don’t Deny“, written by Gin Stephens.  The book was loaned to me by my sister while we were visiting for the Labor Day BBQ at her house.  The book is sub-titled: “Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle“.   Basically, the book is a cheer-leading exercise for the “One-Meal-A-Day” (OMAD) intermittent fasting protocol which the author feels should be adopted not as a “diet”, but as a “lifestyle”.  In other words, once you start, you can’t go back.  The author’s claim goes beyond that.  She believes the benefits will be so obvious to you that you will choose to never go back (to your old eating habits / lifestyle).
The book is very short – only 155 pages.  It is written in a very friendly and easy to read style with short chapters and a few photos thrown in.  I would estimate a reader could speed through this book in a day (evening) if you were motivated to just sit still.  It took me a couple of days to get to it and then I read a couple of chapters a night before turning off the light.
In full disclosure:  I turned my sister on to Alternate Day Fasting, which is one form of intermittent fasting, so I am already a “true believer”.  I believe in fasting as a jump start to a healthier lifestyle and have done strict veggie broth fasts and veggie / fruit juice fasts of various duration’s over the last thirty-five years.  I have tried (and consider myself still on) an alternate day fasting protocol and it was working for a couple of weeks before “life” got in the way.  Besides my excuses, I feel the ADF or “modified ADF”  (MODF)- which is what I am / was trying – is a workable lifestyle for me.  Prior to reading this book, this (a MODF) is what I was planning to return to when I finish my current (12 completed days) veggie-juice / blended fast.  After reading this book, I think I will substitute the OMAD for the MADF.
So, what is a one-meal-a-day fasting lifestyle?  According to the author, you can eat anything you want and as much as you want, but only for / at one meal a day.  You have a window for eating each day.  The window may be as long as eight hours or as short as one hour.  The remaining hours in the day, you are fasting.  “Fasting” means water, black coffee or unflavored green or black tea.  No sweeteners.  No creamers.  The more common windows are: “8/16”, “6/18” and “4/20”.  This varies from the traditional alternate day fasting in that with OMAD, you do eat EVERY day.  In the ADF, you eat no more than 500 calories (female) or 700 calories (male) on your “fasting” days and you eat whatever you want (whatever you normally eat) on the alternate eating day.  An eating window is also recommended for both the ADF and the MADF.  In fact, many proponents suggest you water fast on occasion just to super-charge the process.  The water fast is also frequently added to the “5:2” version of the ADF.  In the 5:2, you eat within an eight hour window five days a week and then water fast for two days.  You can pick the two days and they don’t have to be consecutive days – just any two out of the seven day week.  The 5:2 is briefly mentioned in the book, but the author does not favor it.
The author does not discuss sleeping, but this is a critical part of the ADF protocol.  You are expected to get 7 to 8 hours of continuous sleep each day for the ADF protocol.  This is where I definitely have a problem with ADF.  I typically can only manage six hours and almost never get over seven.  This is mostly a bad “lifetime” habit of mine.  As it’s not mentioned in the book, I guess the author doesn’t feel it’s that critical for OMAD.
The strength of this book is its approachability, both in ease of reading and in terms of the protocol.  She says:  “Try it.  You’ll like it!”  In fact, she believes you’ll like it so much, you’ll feel comfortable dropping it for special occasions (vacations, holiday weekends, Christmas, etc.) and then you’ll recognize you are out of sync with your body and want to drop back into the protocol.
The book has a particularly useful section listing the author’s favorite books (15) about alternate day fasting and intermittent fasting.  The author says these books contain all the science which she has chosen not to include in her own book.  She writes a paragraph or so on why each book is recommended.  Many of the authors of these books I was already familiar with from watching their videos on YouTube.
Final recommendation:  Very highly recommended!!  I fully intend to give this protocol a go whenever I finally come off of my current blend fast.  I will be sure to include updates in future posts.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Here And Hope
2017 Choose
2016 All I Ever Wanted
2015 Compassionate Toward Yourself
2014 All And None
2013 Voices In The Dark
2012 Does Uncommonly Flexible = Flip-Flopping?
2011 A Modest Review Of A Modern Day Classic
Encouragement Is The Path To Immortality

Read Full Post »

High Justice” (1974©) — book review
Today’s review is for an “old” science fiction collection of short stories written by Jerry Pournelle.  Most of the stories were originally published in “Analog: Science Fiction And Fact” magazine.  Analog has been around since the 1930’s and has published a whole lot of “pulp” SciFi over the years.
Pournelle (and his partner – in many other works – Larry Niven) is one of the “greats” of SciFi.  I have my standard of SciFi “demi-gods”: Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clark and Isaac Asimov.  Pournelle (and Niven) rate just below this level.  He is definitely amongst the historically significant writers in SciFi from the last century.
Pournelle is considered a “polymath”, that is, a person who is accomplished in more than one scientific / technical field.  After many years in the aerospace field, he changed career and concentrated on writing.  He created a number of SciFi (actually military / paramilitary SciFi) novel series which I’ve enjoyed over the years.  The series I have most enjoyed (of his) was his “John Christian Falkenberg” series.  I purchased this book thinking it might be a prequel to that series.  It isn’t.  Well, it kind of is, but not really.
(The Falkenberg series is a similar vein to the “Hammer’s Slammers” military SciFi series by David Drake which I also like.  But that’s for another post…)
Anyway, this set of stories is not “really” about military SciFi.  It’s more or less a precursor book to what has come to be know as Pournelle’s “CoDominium Future History” series.
Pournelle’s personal politics leans to what is known as “paleoconservative” and this is reflected in this anthology.  Basically, think Ayn Rand “lite”: government’s are welfare traps, society is going to hell in a hand-basket, corporations will save the world (if we get out of the way and let them), and, (of course) unions are bad.
Putting aside the politics, Pournelle has some insightful views of where the world is headed over the “next” 50 to 100 years – basically, where we are now.  Or, where we soon could be.  (Remember, these stories were written back in the 1970’s.)
The stories deal with clean power, corporate greed, political corruption, increasing food production, space based manufacturing (and asteroid mining), and rights and laws in space, in general.
So, are the stories any good?  Yes!  Once I finally got the hang of his theme, I quite enjoyed all of the stories.  Pournelle is considered a “hard” science SciFi writer. This means he goes into some detail about the science behind the technology discussed in each story.  If you lean more to the fantasy (“horror, dragons or magic”) SciFi, you may not care for his writing.  I found the technology being proposed (like using icebergs to get fresh drinking water) interesting.  They are definitely BIG engineering ideas which would take governments or very large corporations to fund.
Final recommendation: Strong to Highly recommended.  Not the “action” SciFi I normally prefer, but I enjoyed it and look forward to looking back at more of his future histories.
.
On This Day In:
2018 True Measures
2017 Hoping For Tapes
In It Now
2016 On Viewing This Mudball
2015 It Takes A Village
2014 In God’s Eyes
2013 We Root For Ourselves
2012 Like A Shark
2011 Discernible Virtue

Read Full Post »

This book review is for: “Loving Each Other” (1984©), written by Dr. Leo Buscaglia.  (The “Dr.” is for PhD, not Medical Doctor.)  Dr. Buscaglia was half-known as “Dr. Love”, and was pretty much world famous as an author and motivational / relationship speaker back in the 1980’s / 1990’s.  He was also a lecturing professor at the University of Southern California.  He has since passed away (1998), but you can view some of his lectures and interviews on YouTube.
This is a book I’ve been carrying around for decades and just never got around to reading.  Back in the 1980’s, my wife and I used to watch Buscaglia’s lectures on Public Television (KQED) during “pledge week”, and this book (my copy) is marked as being from KQED and “Not For Sale”.   Which is okay, because I’m probably not going to sell it.  It has too many quotes for me to use as future posts on my blog (LoL).
The book is sub-titled: “The Challenge of Human Relationships” and that’s pretty much what the book is all about.  It seems as part of his academic work researching “successful” relationships, Dr. Buscaglia sent out a survey to 1,000 folks and received back an over 60% response rate.  Dr. Leo analyzed the responses and this book is his summary of what the respondents opinions were of why relationships succeed (and fail).  The book has ten chapters: an intro / definition of a “loving relationship”, three ending chapters – kind of a two-headed summary of the book, a chapter quoting some of the advise from the survey / questionnaire, and it has six chapters dealing with (what the Dr. believes) are the key components of  a successful, long-term relationship.  The components are: Communication, Honesty, Forgiveness, Joy, Letting go of jealousy, and Intimacy.  The chapter with the advise quotes is really just filler to get the book up to the 200 page minimum for this type of relationship / self-help book.  (IMHO)
So, is the book interesting and any good?  Yes and yes.  The Doctor is a terrific public speaker and the book completely mimics his style.  There are absolutely no “airs” about him or his family / up-bringing and this makes for a true family history story-telling.  At just 208 pages (including notes and bibliography / further reading), the book will be a fast read for most.  The book took me a couple of weeks to get through, because I was using it as a prompt to my imagination of future conversations I could have with my wife.  I started the book while she was away visiting her family in Liverpool this month.  Even a slow reader (like myself) could get through this book in three days of a couple of hours each day.  The author’s conversational style of writing makes for a pleasant break in an otherwise hectic / “normal” day.  I found myself intentionally pacing myself so I could enjoy the book longer.  Reading it was like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile and wanting to stay just a few minutes longer.
Final recommendation:  Very Highly Recommended!  I have actually gone online to try to find a copy of the survey Dr. Buscaglia sent out, but have not located it.  I am tempted to re-create a portion of the survey to post on this blog to see what results I might get.  Given I have so few followers, it might be possible for me to offer up the results “raw” and / or if I did happen to get sufficient responses, I might analyze them and compare / contrast the results with those from the book.  It just sounds like it might be an interesting project for the future…
There is a saying in the martial arts that when a student is ready a master will appear.  I guess the time was ripe for me to finally read this book.  Again, if you can’t afford to buy Dr. Buscaglia’s books, several of his lectures are available online (on YouTube).  I highly recommend those, too!
You will, of course, see multiple quotes from this book appearing in the future.
Love, Hugs and Smiles to all…
.
On This Day In:
2018 No Pride There
London To The Hague
2017 At Least Twenty To Go
2016 A Sweet Smelling Blog Post
Pre-Reacher
2015 Getting The Story Right
2014 Like Shells On The Shore
2013 More And Why
2012 How To Gain Effective Fire
2011 Patriot Act

Read Full Post »

David And Goliath”  (2013©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for non-fiction “popularized science” / sociology genre book” “David And Goliath“, written by Malcolm Gladwell.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Gladwell, Steven Levy and James Gleick are my favorite three “modern” “pop”-science writers, so I have a natural inclination to review this book favorably.  (Of course, my “All-time” favorite for this genre is Isaac Asimov, who could explain almost anything to the common reader – and with over 500 books to his name, he certainly tried.)
Anyway, as stated, I was (am) predisposed to a favorable review.  And, I’m giving it that…
It’s not a “great” book and it didn’t make me feel like I just hit myself on the side of the head (“Wow!!).  But, with Gladwell, you pretty much know what you’re getting when you hand over your dosh.  One, two or three observations about human behavior, a bit of socio- / psychological support (a few facts to support the point and not much to contradict the point) to bolster the observations, and then a bit of storytelling to make Gladwell’s conclusion seem more palatable.  Generally, if you “want” to agree with Gladwell’s observations you won’t look too closely at the support, because, heck, you already agree.  Right?  And if you are not predisposed to agree, Gladwell offers almost twenty pages of “Notes” for further research.  But, if you’re going to all that trouble, you probably have some subject matter expertise and don’t need to read a “popularized science” book on this topic.   Do you?
Per his normal format, Gladwell breaks the book into three main sections:
1) The advantages of disadvantages (and the disadvantages of advantages);
2) The theory of desirable difficulty; and,
3) The limits of power.
Amplifying the observations:
1)  Underdogs win more that we (the average reader) would expect – in some specific categories as much as 30%.  Why?  Because we see our disadvantages as their disadvantages, when they (the underdogs) don’t.  And, if they don’t see themselves as underdogs, they have no incentive to quit before they even try to succeed.
2)  Sometimes disadvantages turn out to be advantages and vice versa.  Great schools and small class sizes don’t necessarily produce the best employees or academics.  Gladwell introduces the idea of a inverted U shaped graph to explain this phenomena.
3)  People with challenges (dyslexia, early family tragedy, ADHD) can still become very successful.  Sometimes / somehow the “challenges” early in life prepare them better than their peers for challenges later in life, so they are “ready” when the real life test happens.  And,
4)  You can never “really” know how people will react when they are placed under pressure.  You generally, expect them to fold (because we believe we would, too), but sometimes they exceed your expectations.
My reaction to all of this?  Yes, it may all be true, but how do you build a society around the observation / hypothesis?  With no controls, you have observations, but you cannot test hypothesis.  And, if you could create similar situations, is it ethical to do so?  …For a hundred people, just so five or ten or thirty percent can overcome them?  What does society say to the others who don’t overcome and become super-achievers?  We’re sorry we ruined your life, but we wanted to see if you were “destined” to be elite.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  The book presents some interesting ideas and promotes thought by the reader.  (It certainly made me think!)  It successfully brings academic observations to the masses by means of popular writing.  However, in the end, I was left feeling neither individuals nor the government have the ability (or wisdom) to use power effectively in attempting to control the actions of others.  But for me, making me think is enough to prompt me to recommend the book.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Still More Prejudice
A Well Trod Path Of Hopes, Expectations And Surprise
2017 …And With It Civilization
2016 Just Like My Mother
2015 All Omissions Are Mine
2014 Precise Order
2013 Uh, No. Not Really…
Deep Regions
2012 A Pre-Valentine’s Day Message
2011 Easy Like Sunday Morning
May I Have A Little More, Please…
2010 Valleys and Peaks

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: