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50 Book Challenge - Page 6

post #76 of 112
15. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Well researched history of the woman's cells that are used everyday in modern medical research. The book really has three parallel story lines - Henrietta Lacks and her death, her family's struggle coming to terms with the fact that medical science (and corporations) have benefited from Henrietta Lacks but they can't even afford simple health insurance, and the question of what ownership do any of us have over our cells and organs (answer - not much). The author successfully intertwines these themes to create a wonderfully written book - especially amazing since this is her first. 16. I Am Ozzie by Ozzie Osbourne. Excellent book that made me literally laugh out loud many times. I read this over the weekend and it made me appreciate Ozzie even more than I already do. A real treat.
post #77 of 112
3.) The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro. This is the best non-fiction book I have ever read. Seriously. It is probably the best biography, the best urban history, and the best study of power written in the latter half of the 20th century (though Caro's still-unfinished LBJ saga may top "Broker;" I haven't read those yet). Essentially, for 40+ years Robert Moses was the most powerful man in the entire state of New York. A large portion of his power was derived from his chairmanship of the Triborough Bridge Authority. Typically, a public authority shuts down after its bonds have been repaid and its construction projects have been finished. But Moses, called by Caro "the best bill drafter in Albany," set up the Authority in a way that allowed him to continually issue bonds year after year after year. And since the Constitution states that "No states shall...impair the obligations of contracts," no one could do anything about it. Triborough became a small empire for its homebase on Randall's Island, the TBA was the supreme law of the land, and it was enforced by some 200 TBA police officers. Moses often used them to escort his big limousine around NYC and Long Island. The big factor in Moses' power was the press. For four decades he maintained the image of a totally non-political and selfless public servant (he famously refused to take a salary for most of his positions). The sometimes-willful ignorance of the press to Moses' abuses of power are amazing to read. Caro painstakingly documents so many of them. His genius and his impact can almost be up as inimitable. Name a major bridge, parkway, expressway, thruway, park, or beach in the New York metropolitan area, Long Island, or New York State, and the MAJORITY of them will have been built by Robert Moses. This was a guy who almost never slept, who swam out into the middle of the ocean alone when he was in his 80s, who fell into absolutely horrifying bouts of rage when someone dared to disagree with him. He may have been one of the greatest abusers of power in our nation's history but holy shit did he get stuff done. I loved reading about the absolute control he exercised over various New York mayors, governors, and other officials. He would routinely ignore requests to meet with mayors; if they wanted to meet with Moses, they had to come to him. Every time a new mayor was sworn in, Moses would grab the slips on which mayoral appointments were written and write his own name and position on them. The mayor would then meekly sign it, knowing that he couldn't possibly deny Moses any of those positions. I could say so much more but I'll end with this: Moses was one of the most fascinating politicians in the history of this country. But so many have already forgotten him. I hope people will read this book to learn not only about Moses, bu about New York, Washington, and most importantly the use of political power in this country.
post #78 of 112
17. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

Up-to-date book on life in this screwed up country. Demick, a well known and renowned journalist, researched this book using extensive interviews with North Korean defectors. I am amazed at what these people have endured.

18. How to Instantly Connect with Anyone by Leil Lowndes.

I often read books about interpersonal relationships and communication as I am an introvert by nature and seek to improve my relationship skills. Some such books are informative and others are like this book. I can't recommend it.
post #79 of 112
Originally Posted by Mr T View Post
17. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

Up-to-date book on life in this screwed up country. Demick, a well known and renowned journalist, researched this book using extensive interviews with North Korean defectors. I am amazed at what these people have endured.

want to read this.

finally finished kafka's castle. just sat down and plowed right through it. i don't understand why people like the book so much. page after page of just drivel.

got the annotations to ulysses and then war and peace after that. -_- definitely not finishing 50 books this year
post #80 of 112
Originally Posted by Dakota rube View Post
I average about 60 books a year... (But I have no life, so ymmv.)
Dr. zeuss? jk, it would cetainly be challenge, I would be happy to do it though if i had no other responsibilities.
post #81 of 112
19. Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi.

I almost passed this book up because I have read several other books about Iran the past few years. What convinced me to read this book is that it was written by a Nobel prize winner, fierce advocate for the rights of women and children, and someone who has lived in Iran her entire life rather than an expat Iranian who occasionally returns to visit (although I am not sure if she is currently in Iran). I was not disappointed. This book portrays both good and bad of modern Iran - I highly recommend it.

20. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

The author spends most of the book showing how using checklists can be beneficial to the aviation and medical fields. What I expected, and did not find, was how checklists can benefit the rest of us. I suppose the concept is simple enough that I can figure it out on my own...if only I had a checklist to do so. If you have read this review you have all the information you would have at the end of the book so save your money.
post #82 of 112
Slightly related question: How fast do you guys read? (in sort of an "average pages/hour" unit of measure, i.e. if you look at a book, how do you determine how long it will take you to read it?) /U.
post #83 of 112
depends on the book. i read flower for algernon in 2, 3 hours. -_- goddamn ulysses took me five hours total for the 1st chapter. it took me maybe an hour for just straight up reading with no annotation reading and reading and thinking until the sentences made sense in my head
post #84 of 112
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by UFN View Post
Slightly related question: How fast do you guys read? (in sort of an "average pages/hour" unit of measure, i.e. if you look at a book, how do you determine how long it will take you to read it?)


It depends...

The next two reviews are:

Ordinary Injustice by Amy Bach -- an interesting premise, would have been much better if she hadn't undermined everyone of her points.

Supreme Conflict by Jan Crawford Greenburg. Good book. Interesting to see how little things have huge impacts on Justices.

There were some others I've read but I forget them ATM. As you can see my impression of OI and SC have faded. Doing these reviews is a PITA.
post #85 of 112
21. Shop Girl by Steve Martin. I feel a bit guilty including this as it is really a novella - just 120 pages. I will edit this later to add another novella by Martin that is on my list and count them together.

This story (a re-read for me) is surprisingly well written. Martin's style is slightly reminiscent of Milan Kundera in that he explains why the characters act and feel as they do. This device, which I cannot adequately describe (I have the writing talent of neither Kundera or Martin), makes it seem as if the reader is in the same room as the writer. As if Martin were telling this story rather than writing it. That is probably the best way to approach this novella - as a story about loneliness, love, and change - told over a few drinks between friends.

22. Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle.

If you are familiar with John Bogle (as I am) this book is a good reminder of his outlook on investing and life. If you are young or have never heard of Bogle this is as good a place as any to learn about investing in inexpensive, passive, index mutual funds - something Bogle has championed for all of his long life.
post #86 of 112
4. Hardball: How Politics is Played, Told by One who Knows the Game by Chris Matthews I don't know that there were any revelatory strategies outlined in this book but Matthews provides great supporting evidence for several maxims of politics. Stuff like "don't talk unless it increases the silence," loyalty, how to handle the press. A lot of the stories are great...I love all the old political lore. 5. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan As usual, superb writing from Sagan. He outlines a lot of modern pseudoscientific movements and deconstructs them with logic, philosophy and real science. Written in 1996 but a lot of it remains true: some more nefarious brands of pseudoscience are still on the march. Great book.
post #87 of 112
23. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

The protagonist is an outlawed priest in Mexico running from the law. Torn between his desire to live and his desire to fulfill his calling as a priest he ends up doing neither very well. This book is typical Graham Greene with heavy emphasis on dialogue - a great read.

24. Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen.

I love Leonard Cohen. Nothing else needs to be said.
post #88 of 112
Thread Starter 
14 The Prince of Providence -- Very good at explaining how Buddy Cianci let his vices consume his life, very even handed discussion of the court case and charges against him. Really a fascinating story.

15 -- Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

Before I get to the review I'll say I don't really get most of the criticisms of this book. Almost all of them rest on "Moyo doesn't really differentiate between the different types of aid" which is patently absurd. She very clearly says in the book what she is against is multi-million dollar inter-governmental loans to African governments. Aditionally I've heard three or four speeches from her about the book and in each one of those she clearly says "emergency relief is necessary, many donations of goods are OK, but huge loans are bad."

I'm willing to accept most of her arguments about the problems aid leads to just from the simple stats. We've spent billions in Africa and in almost no way has the continent improved its lot in life. What I don't think she adequately addresses is the impact of AIDs on Africa, she just kind of says in an offhand way "AIDS did this, moving on". She also doesn't address the impact of Europeans leaving Africa just pointing out that poverty increased and life expectancy etc all decreased at the start of decolonization.

What she does very well is show how aid (billion dollar loans) creates huge dependence on the West and offers no incentive for Africa to change. This part of her book is difficult to refute.

One thing that might improve her argument is if she says how Western policy makers could in fact actually put her suggestions to work. I don't think she realizes the PR hit any country would take if they say "in five years the aid taps are turned off" which she suggests. Don't forget, celebrities are used to promote Africa for a reason, they have a huge following and having a huge group of them criticizing you for what people would likely completely misunderstand is a huge barrier to implementing her prescriptions.

At times some of her suggestions make her sound like something of a shill for micro loans but that could just be a misinterpretation of her conviction that these programs work. However, the look at what has worked in Asia and Latin America pitch that she gives rings hollow when considering both areas still have rampant poverty and merely mimicking what worked there might not work in Africa.

While it is a little depressing to think that 50 years and a trillion dollars has been wasted there is hope for the continent and it likely does involve at the very least, HUGE reform in the way we distribute aid. As the proverb she ends Dead Aid with says "the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now".
post #89 of 112
25. While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within by Bruce Bawer.

Relaxed immigration policies of many European countries and the inability or unwillingness of Muslim immigrants to integrate leads to cultural conflict in those countries. This thesis is not really new - not sure why Bawer thought to add his two cents other than he lives in Europe now and has witnessed many of the things he writes about. Still, the book is well written and is worth a look if this topic interests you.
post #90 of 112
26. The Guts to Try: The Untold Story of the Iran Hostage Rescue Mission by the on-Scene Desert Commander by James H. Kyle.

Extensive write-up detailing the planning and attempted execution of this mission. I enjoyed this book but if you don't appreciate the intricacies that goes into military planning this book may not appeal to you. Also, this is focused on the air element of the mission since Col Kyle was in charge of that aspect. All in all a good book on a mission that deserves to be remembered.
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