Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thinking the Twentieth Century, Judt, Snyder

The co-authors of this book are Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder. The book is written as a discussion between Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder. It is obviously a very left wing view of history, but it is a lively and interesting discussion. However, the discussion is about mostly Europe. It does touch on US, but mainly it is a discussion of Europe, so the scope is rather narrow.

I had not known about the Europe too much in the 20th century and the fact that it took until 1970 for Western Europe to get back to the same level of prosperity that they had in 1914. Basically, Western Europe suffered a 60 year decline marked by 2 world wars and unprecedented economic depression.

The book also dwells a bit on the European Jewish question. Tony Judt is Jewish and he grew up in Europe so this is not a surprising subject. Mostly nothing in the book is new and surprising to me. However, I have read a lot of history, so this maybe why.

The Guardian has a great review of this book .

See Timothy Snyder talk about this book at Cornell University. This lecture is part of a series of talks at the university called Foreign Policy Distinguished Speaker Series at Einaudi Center's. It is rather long at 1 hour and 20 minutes. Timothy Snyder starts to speak about 8 minutes into this video. Timothy Snyder's lecture last until just after 51 minutes and then there is questions and answers period.

There is an interview with New York Times Journalist Tony Judt . It is quite interesting and is just over 7 minutes long. There is also an interesting question and answer period at Boston College in 2007.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Judt. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cooked by Michael Pollan

This book's full title is "Cooked - A Natural History of Transformation". This is an absolutely wonderful book as all Michael Pollan's books are. You do not need to be a cook to thoroughly enjoy this book. All you need is a sense of wonder and an appetite for food. He interestingly divides in book into cooking methods of fire, water, air and earth. Michael Pollan has an interesting approach to food that makes his books must read books.

Here is the Facebook page for the Skylight Inn run by Pete Jones. Here is a site that shows a picture of the Skylight Inn as described in this book.

In 'Cooked,' Michael Pollan Reclaims Culture of Cooking, an interview on PBS News Hour on YouTube. This is a longer (over 1 hour) video of Michael Pollan talking about food at UC Berkeley. Michael starts talking about 3 minutes into the video. Michael Pollan talks about Deep Agriculture YouTube by Fora.TV. This is also a rather long video of over 1 hour.

Michael Pollan: A plant's-eye view at TED. This is an older video, dated 2008, but a wonderful point to be made about life.

Michael Pollan Takes on Cooking video is at THNKR. Michael and a number of people talk about this book "Cooked". Navigating the Supermarket Aisles with Michael Pollan and Michael Moss by The New York Times. This video is showing a short conversation between Michael Pollan and Michael Moss at a supermarket. (They found Yoghurt with more sugar in it than pop has!)

10 Questions with Michael Pollan is a Times video about food. This was done just after Michael Pollan published his book "Food Rules".

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Pollan. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking by Matthew Hutson

This book's full title is "The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy and Sane". Matthew Hutson has a web site for this book. You can read the introduction to this book from this site. Matthew Hutson also has a blog on this site.

This is a great book. We all have irrational beliefs and thoughts. This can be helpful. The thing is not to let such beliefs and thoughts take over your whole life.

There is a short review of this book at Publishers Weekly and a much longer review on Jeff Sexton's blog.

Matthew Hutson's blog shows up in the Huffington Post magazine. There is an article by Matthew Hutson in the Psychology Today magazine.

There are a couple of videos to watch on Big Think. There is a MIT talk by Matthew Hutson. This second video is much long at 1 hour and 20 minutes. A lot of this talk is Matthew Hutson reading from his book and then answering questions.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Hutson. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Barbarous Years by Bernard Bailyn

This book's full title is "The Barbarous Years, The Peopling of British North America: Conflict of Civilizations, 1600 to 1675". We live in such a non-violent world compared to our pass that I think we do not appreciate how violent our pass was. The settling of North America was dangerous and violent.

I thought that the depiction of North American natives was quite good and quite sympathetic. However, I realize that there are very different views on this subject. There are also huge variations in, almost staggering, views on the population of North America at the time it was found by Europeans.

This is a great book and very readable one on how Europeans came to populate North America. If you are at all interested in the early settlement years of Europeans in North America, this is the book to read. It is not only the violence that might shock you, but also how many Europeans that died trying to settle the "new world". Ironically, without help from the Indians that might now have managed it.

There is a review of this book at See Harvard Magazine. The author of this review, Daniel K. Richter, is quite critical of Bernard Bailyn's treatment of the Indians. Alan Taylor, in a The New Republican article is also critical of the book, but is critical on how bleak a picture that Bailyn paints of this period.

I cannot find much in the way of video for Bernard Bailyn. However, there is one YouTube video of Bailyn talking about the relationship between the United States federal government and the states. Also, there is Bailyn giving the First White House Millennium Evening Lecture . This lecture is called the "Early American Experience".

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Bailyn. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Flight of the Eagle by Conrad Black

This book’s full title is Flight of the Eagle, a Strategic History of the United States. This is a great overview of American history. Conrad has a unique view of the world and the book is largely quite a sympathy view of the USA. As always this book was a very good read. It is long, but it is also quite hard to put down.

The Toronto Star book review by Tony Wong has what is supposed to be a review of this book, but really a review of Conrad Black. I guess that the Star cannot help itself. They have to admit that he is a great writer. Too bad they did not actually say much about the book except that it is a love letter to the US.

The Globe and Mail book review by Carol Chin also has an interesting, but quite critical review of Conrad Black’s book. She thinks that the book is light wait history. She thinks better books cover the same ground and Black writes from a basic faith of America’s greatness. The Globe and Mail has an interesting interview with Conrad Black and Margaret Wente, but you have to listen to a commercial first for a very short video of 2 and one half minutes.

No one is impartial when it comes to Conrad Black. He does bring out strong views from anyone he comes in contact with and anyone who reads him. This includes the review by Rafe Mair for The Tyee. He is not very complementary in his review but admits that he could not put the book down. He complains that Black is biased. The fact is all history is biased and this is why you should read lots of history from different authors with different axes to grind.

This reviewing also brings up the fact that reading the writings of Black will add to your vocabulary. He has an interesting way with language, for example when he says Obama chose as his running mate the “malapropistic” Joseph Biden.

There is book review by an American paper Washington Times. However, they farmed it out to a Canadian, Victor Fic, and it is rather mediocre. There is a much better review at The National Interest site.

There is a 10 minute interview with Conrad Black on Book TV. The full 44 minute interview is here. There is a longer one of just over 1 hour on the Agenda Steve Paikin.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Black. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.