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Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild
Thom Hartmann has delivered another lucid explanation of what's gone wrong in America in recent decades, and, as ever, he is brief and to the point. I read this latest in one sitting and came away with …
Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for
William Powers believes that the billion or so of us who are networked via digital devices are so mindlessly addicted to the experience that we need a game plan for escape. He depicts us as so absorbed …
Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild
Julia Whitty has delivered a marvelous overview of the state of our oceans, a tale redolent of scientific knowledge and infused with poetry. The prospects are bleak. Taken altogether it is very difficult …
Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of
Alexander Zaitchick's critical biography of Glenn Beck is well researched, revealing and tedious. You'll learn more than you probably want to know about Beck, but if you buy this book you're probably …
Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted
Welcome to the Jungle is far and away the best book on bipolar disorder FOR those diagnosed with the disorder that I have encountered in almost 40 years of reading on the subject. With a family member …
The Sociopath Next Door
Martha Stout's frightening exposé of the presence of a huge population of humans without conscience is an eye-opener. For those of us governed by concern for others, for social norms, for the larger community, …
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of
Jared Diamond has established his reputation as a keen observer of the sweep of human history in two more recent books, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Collapse: How Societies …
The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff
Annie Leonard's delightful, spot-on video "The Story of Stuff" made the rounds on the Web a couple of years ago. If you missed it, use your search engine to find it. Amazon doesn't include urls in reviews.  &nb …
reviewed The Trade. May 06, 2010
The Trade
Fred Stenson's tale of the North American fur trade in the 1800s combines historical veracity with great story-telling to fashion a story that sucks you right in. The protagonists are endearing and repellent, …
The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the
Nathaniel Philbrick has delivered a wonderfully fresh look at yet another iconic piece of American history. The historian has made his career in such endeavors and his approach is refreshing and enlivening. …
Materials and the Environment: Eco-informed
This one is not light reading in any regard. Be prepared to study, to work, to change the world. Ashby has delivered a really terrific textbook on the subject. If this is your area of study, grab it.
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
If you've been a dedicated reader of the New Yorker for more than a dozen years there won't be much new in Gladwell's latest work - a collection of columns. If you shirked your obligation as a reader …
Where's My Wand?: One Boy's Magical Triumph over
If you are a fan of David Sedaris, particularly his autobiographical work, you might like this book, with a big underline on might. Elsewise, skip it. More self-obsessed than Sedaris and without his edge, …
reviewed 36 Arguments for the Existence of God.... March 25, 2010
36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of
Rebecca Goldstein had a wonderfully clever idea for a novel. Unfortunately the result is a dreadful bore, outside of a few pages of debate about the titular idea. Elsewise the story is terribly tedious, …
Evening's Empire: A Novel
Music fans are apt to find some pleasure in Bill Flanagan's novel about the fall and rise of a lawyer turned manager and his biggest band. Readers who love novels will come away disappointed. This book …
The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found
You who are reading this review are almost certainly more dependent upon and less informed about agriculture than is good for you or for us. You almost certainly need to read this book. There are only …
The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row
I was drawn to read this book because I am a death penalty opponent and I'm familiar with the work being done by the Center for Death Penalty Litigation here in North Carolina, which is the central organization …
The Butterflies of Grand Canyon: A Novel
I'm not particularly drawn to murder mystery novels and didn't recognize that The Butterflies of Grand Canyon was in that genre when I undertook to review it. But what fun! This is a lovely little tale …
Mayhem in Mayberry: Misadventures of a P.I. in
I can't claim I would have picked up this book if I didn't know the author, but soon thereafter I couldn't put it down. Having been asked, even begged, to review books written by acquaintances in the …
reviewed The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection: .... December 31, 2009
The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection: A Novel
Martin Page has delivered an amusing little novel. It isn't great, but it is fun and funny and not a bad way to pass a rainy afternoon. The story is simple enough: a man receives a "Dear John" message …
reviewed The Last Day of My Life. December 31, 2009
The Last Day of My Life
Jim Moret had a great idea for a book but, unfortunately, he was unable to make good on it. This small volume is chock full of Hallmark quality quotes and aphorisms, name dropping, family joy and pain …
reviewed Death & Sex. December 23, 2009
Death & Sex
This flipside tome earned a four star rating in a two-way split. Cleverly packaged with two fronts, the subjects of Death & Sex are a good match but the writers are not: Three for the first subject, five …
reviewed Fun with Problems. December 06, 2009
Fun with Problems
All too often it seems that the literary world is fractured between works and authors graced with prestigious awards and academic praise and others which actually reach out to the real world. This is …
reviewed Water for Elephants: A Novel. December 06, 2009
Water for Elephants: A Novel
Sara Gruen delivers a readable tale that's a tad too formulaic to be fully engaging. In the same way that the narrator of the story insists from personal experience that it is impossible to carry enough …
Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living
David Owen pops holes in environmentalists' cartoon thought balloons to help us see the world as it is, instead of how we think it is. He is adept at reframing one's thinking with examples and explanations …
reviewed Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny.... November 11, 2009
Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global
Absent willful ignorance we have all been aware for many years of the massive and concerted effort of fossil fuel companies and their commercial and political allies to deny the reality of global warming. …
America's Report Card: A Novel
As with too many comic novels, McNally's jab at the world of standardized testing and right wing politics starts out smart and funny and quirky and runs out of steam. This is not the read you seek.
reviewed The Inheritance of Loss. November 01, 2009
The Inheritance of Loss
A powerful novel set in recent history in India and NYC which delves deeply into lives struggling through post-colonialism and undocumented worker status. The stark conditions and lack of legal protection …
reviewed Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathe.... October 10, 2009
Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical
Unless you are the sort to take extreme delight in minutiae, I would suggest you pass this one by. The story of Grisha Perelman's brilliance and eccentricity is compelling. But this volume offers the …
Departing at Dawn: A Novel of Argentina's Dirty
Well written historical fiction can better inform our understanding of the world's workings than simple history, and Gloria Lisé has cast a clear and gripping light on Argentina's recent history. The …
reviewed Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hi.... September 30, 2009
Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders
Michael Specter has delivered a strong argument to back his assertion that denial of scientific proof is a threat to personal and planetary health. He makes a compelling case that those who reject vaccinations …
reviewed Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti. September 25, 2009
Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti
Chad Eastham's derivative book (a teen take-off on Bill and Pam Farrel's Men Are Like Waffles--Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences) contains some useful insights …
One Drop: My Father's Hidden Life--A Story of Race
Bliss Broyard has constructed an admirable memoir about her upper-middle-rank-writer father, Anatole Broyard. Her angle is his chosen white life versus his (and, of course, her) partly black ancestry. …
I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage
Susan Squire's history of marriage is occasionally funny (calling Augustine the "original spinner" was my favorite) and offers some details you might have missed about the abuse women have suffered at …
The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights
As a child I lived through the racial and political drama of the 1950s and '60s, saw the photos and headlines and witnessed the rise of television news, but there was an element of only seeing the media …
Evening's Empire: The Story of My Father's Murder
Psychologists have come to understand that our memories change each time we remember them so that those things we recall most often become the things we misremember best. Author Zachary Lazar held almost …
A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur
Michael Pollan is a fine writer and a deep thinker who has made much of his career out of taking on our relationship to the world at a personal level and reporting on it. He did this with gardening in …
Things Fall Apart (Norton Critical Editions)
Insofar as this book offers a glimpse of indigenous life in Africa just before the intrusion of European government and Christianity, it is interesting and feels genuine. The story itself is dull and …
reviewed No Room for Doubt. August 02, 2009
No Room for Doubt
Angela Dove's account of the murder of her step-mother and the eight-year search for the killer is compelling. The author's father was the chief suspect in the court of public opinion, though the police …
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the
Lawrence Lessig offers a clear voice in favor of copyright law reform, but there's something more, perhaps even more important, happening in this book.    In order to present his sometimes …
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