Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Golden Age Shtetl by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

This book's full title is The Golden Age Shtetl; A new History of Jewish Life in East Europe. I had long heard about the Jewish Pale in East Europe, but I did not know that much about the area and history. So, when I saw this book, I just had to read it.

There are a few good reviews on this book at the bottom of the page on Amazon. Jonathan Rosenjuly of the New York Times posted a good review in 2014. There is some interesting and some critical reviews at Good Reads. Personally, I feel that all history is interesting and important. How would you understand the world today, without the history of yesterday?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern talks at Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. He starts over 3 minutes in the video and it is also some 6 minutes in before he speaks English. He starts talking about this book about 7 minutes into this video. Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern speaks at Cambridge.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Doomed to Repeat by Bill Fawcett

This book's full title is Doomed to Repeat: The Lessons of History We've Failed to Learn. It deals quite a bit with terrorism, but this is certainly a current issue especially for us in the West. The author suggests that the historical lesson from the assassins is that the use of terror for political and religious purposes is a major factor throughout Islamic history.

There are some good and some negative reviews here on Good Reads. I must admit that I very much enjoyed this book. Maybe it is a bit American centric. This review on Kukus is certainly negative. However, I have never read a history book that did not get some fact wrong. A brief, but interesting review is at True Review Online by Andrew Andrews.

Bill Fawcett writes in the Huffington Post about 9 history lessons we have failed to learn. This is an easy way to get to the essence of this book. There is an interesting YouTube video juxtaposition this book with other books. Video is short at just over 2 minutes.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

This book's full title is The Happiness Advantage, The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at work. Shawn Achor has his own web site here which he shares with Michelle Gielan.

One thing that I liked about Shawn Achor approach to happiness is that he says that doing acts of kindness will add to your happiness and give you a better more positive viewpoint.

There are some good reviews on Good Reads. Note that you have to scroll half way down the page to find them. On the Good Reads site there is also a list of quotes from this book. They are listed by the number of likes each quote got. Ivo Dias de Sousa on Intelligent HQ does a good review of this book.

Shawn Achor is on TED.com. In an article on Psychology Today, Shawn Achor talks a bit about his philosophy on Happiness. Shawn Achor talks about 6 exercises for happiness in this CBC broadcast (after two annoying ads). His exercises are also listed on the site. There is an article by Shawn Achor at the Huffington Post.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Hidden Half of Nature by Montgomery and Bikle

This book's full title is The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David R. Montgomery and Anne Bikle. I have just recently read this book. My other recent book reviews are all books that I read in the past year, but had not had time to put up reviews.

What I found interesting that does not seem to be mentioned elsewhere is in the beginning they talk about the start of life, including how life got to eukaryote life. Apparently there was a merger of an archaea and a swimming bacterium. This formed the first protist like pond scum. There was a second merger with a bacterium that breathed oxygen. This is our line. There was a third merger with a bacterium that did photosynthesis and this lead to plants. There are also remarks about how for every cell in our body we harbor 3 bacterial cells. There is a lot covered in this book.

David Montgomery and Anne Bikle have their own site called Dig 2 Grow. There is also a No Till site and organization as No Till agriculture has shown it does not erode soil any faster than natural process.

There are some good reviews on this book at Amazon if you scroll down the page. There is a short, but very good overview of this book at W. W. Norton Company Ltd. Lucy Rock has done an excellent review of this book for the Guardian.

Here David Montgomery speaks at a Health Conference. It is rather long at just over an hour. This is the only video I can find with one of the Authors. I can find nothing with Anne Bikle talking.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A New History of Life by Ward & Kirschvink

This book's full title is A New History of Life, The Radical New Discoveries about the Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth by Peter Ward and Joe Kirschvink. If you are interested in how life got started on earth, this is a great book to read.

One thing I found interesting is that when Brian Harland first published his theories about snowball earth, he rejected that fact that the oceans could freeze because climate modelers assured him that the planet could never have escaped. Now we know that is not true.

There are some good reviews on Amazon near the bottom of the site as usual. A number said that they found the book hard to read, but I have an interest in this subject and did not have a difficult time reading this book. There is good, but quite short review of this book at Bloomsbury Publishing. I found the review by Jonathon Keats at New Scientist quite interesting. He is right. Most animals that have ever lived have gone extinct. I doubt we are so special that we could not go extinct also. The book review by James Sullivan at Nature World News is short and interesting.

Peter Ward talks at the University Book Store in Seattle about this new book. Peter Ward also did a TED talk on Mass Extinctions.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Rise to Greatness by Conrad Black

This book's full title is Rise to Greatness, The History of Canada from the Vikings to the present. I know that Conrad Black is quite a controversial person, but he does write well and he especially writes history well.

Jacques Poitras does a great review of this book at Canada's History. Usually I find good, well written reviews on Good Reads, but not this time. I know that Conrad Black is not a well-liked figure, but I find that he writes extremely well and I must admit I had no trouble reading this book and really enjoyed it. Don Marks of CBC called Conrad Black's history of Canada - Arrogant, misinformed and disgraceful. However, what can you expect from the CBC. Unlike the BBC, the CBC is narrow minded and extremely left wing and it is not a station for all of Canadians.

I must admit that Conrad Black's reply to his critics made me chuckle. David O'Brien of the Winnipeg Free Press gives a good and interesting review of this book.

Charlie Gillis of MacLean interviews Conrad Black. (There are two short annoying commercials in before you get to the interview. David O'Brien of the Winnipeg Free Press interviewed Conrad Black. He questioned Conrad Black's treatment of indigenous civilization in this book. Allen McInnis of Montreal Gazette has short interview with Conrad Black about the book. Jeremy Paxman and Conrad Black have an interesting discussion. Conrad Black at Ideal City gives an interesting talk about Canada's History.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth

This book's full title is The Almost Nearly Perfect People, Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. I personally would like to live in this area as I would find the conformity rather stifling. The Nordic countries have done the best for any country that has tried socialism. They seem a rather practical people and they do not let debt get too far out of whack. Michael Booth is on Twitter and has his own website.

There is some good reviews of this book on Amazon if you scroll to the bottom section of this site. There is also a good review in The Guardian by Mariella Frostrup and she is right, the book is a light hearted approach to the Scandinavian counties, but he does touch on some serious subjects.

There is short video of an interview via WSJ of Michael Booth.

An index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell

This book’s full title is The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm. From this book you can learn a lot of really basic stuff of how things work. I found it interesting how quickly he thinks our world could fall apart.

Lewis Dartnell has his own web site here. There is also a separate website for this book here.

The Guardian has an interesting review by Steven Poole. All we need to have survived a cataclysm is a 3-D printer with a stock of blue prints and if we can jerry rig power to it, we easily reboot. There are a few interesting reviews at the end of this Amazon page. There are much better reviews at Good Reads.

Lewis Dartnell talks at Google about this new book of his. There is very short video that shows how to open a can without a Can Opener.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Political Order and Political Decay by Francis Fukuyama

This book's full title is Political Order and Political Decay, From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy. This book is another very long and very fascinating book by Francis Fukuyama on political order. Francis Fukuyama is always quite weighty.

There is a very good review of this book by John Gray at Literary Reviews. There is a review by Nick Fraser in The Guardian. A lot of good reviews come from UK sources, but there is also a very good one at the Washington Post by Gerard De Groot.

This is a short video by Francis Fukuyama at the Economist. It is a speech by Francis Fukuyama at Chatham House. A Q & A session starts after around 25 minutes. This video is talks by both Francis Fukuyama and David Runciman. This video is a panel moderated by Isabel Hull with John Mearsheimer, Peter Katzenstein and Francis Fukuyama at Cornell University. This introduction is long to this video at some 16 minutes. However, talks by all three professors I found quite fascinating and well worth while.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This book's full title is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. This is an absolutely fascinating book. Harari has such a different view of history than I have read before. It starts from the beginning of time and ends at the present date. The concept of objective reality and imagined (or fictional) reality is quite interesting.

After this broad scope covering our past, he looks at our future. He sees a lot of our past and certainly our future in quite negative terms. He thinks that the agricultural revolution was awful for us humans. The great thing about this book is that it makes you think.

It is interesting that reviews either just praise this book to the sky or they are rather critical. A quote from the Strawson review is "Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism." Another quote is "Harari hates "modern liberal culture", but his attack is a caricature and it boomerangs back at him."

Ranjeev Dubey in Good Reads says "Every once in a decade, a book comes along that has the capacity to radically change the way we think about matters of substance. This book is one of them." Also Hedva in Good Reads says "It is amazing that such a young person could grasp the whole history of mankind, synthesize it and present it in such and interesting, coherent, fluent way."

There is a very interesting, but quite negative review by Galen Strawson in The Guardian. He points out some big flaws in this book. This review is quite different from a lot a read from reviewers that were just overall by this book. There are also quite a number of good reviews of this book at Good Reads. Tom Payne at The Telegraph also has an interesting review. John Lewis-Stempel's review in the Express might be entertaining.

Yuval Noah Harari presents this book as a course on MOOC. Harari speaks at RSA in September 2014. After a short introduction, Harari speaks to about 17 minutes into the video. This session is moderated by Tim Feilden of RSA org and ends with a Q and A. The series of lectures Harari gives are here. There are some 20 lectures divided into segments.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

India by Stanley Wolpert

This book's full title is India, Fourth Edition. I bought this book and one on Iran as I have read a lot of history, but I do not know that much of about either of these very ancient countries or areas. What attracted me to this particular book was they it covered not just the history of India. There is a biography of the Arthur Stanley Wolpert on Wikipedia.

As I have said this book covers more than just the history of India. The book covers the geographical area, Religion and Philosophy, Society (caste system etc.), Arts and Science and Polity and Foreign Policy. You get a broad scope about the area, the people and the history.

India, I had already knew had greatly affected the Western World via Math. We got our numerals from India, via the Middle East and so call them Arabic Numerals. I had also known we got the concept of zero from India. What I did not know is that we also got the idea of decimal point.

There are some good reviews on Good Reads. There are some people who really hated this book and found it hard to read. Most gave it a good rating as would I. I found the book very interesting and good to read.

There is not video on this book, but Stanley Wolpert is interviewed by Connie Martinson in a book called India and Pakistan. The second part of this interview is here. There is another interview of Stanley Wolpert on C-Span. (You have to go a bit into the video to get the interview.)

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Flash Points by George Friedman

This book's full title is Flash Points: The Emerging Crisis in Europe. Here he talks about Europe. George Friedman is always interesting. He has very settled points of view and you may or may not agree with him. He certainly makes you think about what is going on in the world. He is a bit of an alarmist.

However, there is a lot of unsettling news coming from Europe lately. They seem to be in quite a mess, especially financially. Russian seems to be pushy. You have to wonder how all this might turn out. That is why this book caught my interest.

As usual there are some very good reviews at Good Reads. Peter Szopo onIntellinews has written a good review on this book. Brad McMillan posted a good review of this book at the Independent Market Observer.

You can also get a peek at what Stratfor provides here.

George Friedman speaks at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. He speaks about 45 minutes into this secession and then there is a Q and A. This was a wonder speech and well worth watching. This is a speech by George Friedman on c-span. It is basically the same speech as the one at Carnegie Council. I have included it because there is a written transcribe of the speech. This is an interesting 6 minute video of MSNBC's interviewing George Friedman.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le

This book's full title is 100 Million Years of Food: What our ancestors ate and why it matters today. Basically he is saying if we eat the way our ancestors did, we would have far fewer problems. Another way to put this is not to anything our Grandmother's would not recognize as food. He takes us on a great journey to get to this conclusion. Stephen Le has his own web site here .

One thing I found interesting is that a number of cultures would not eat fish. There are drawbacks to eating fish. One is that fish bones can pierce the esophagus or the intestines. Fish are also quite lean and too much protein can be a problem for people. Another drawback is that toxins can accumulate in fish from marine plankton and cause paralysis and death.

Another interest idea was that eating meat may help you be fertile, attractive and strong at a younger age, but it will also help you to an early grave. The thinking is that you should eat little meat while young, but older people should eat more to be stronger and live longer.

There are some good reviews at Amazon but you have to scroll down to almost the end of the page. There is a great review at the Globe & Mail Dilia Narduzzi. There some very good reviews also at Good Reads.

There is a short interview on The Morning Show of Global News.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Civilizations Die by David Goldman

This book's full title is How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is dying too) by David P. Goldman, online Columnist Spengler of the Asia Times online. I do not agree with all he says, but David Goldman is a very interesting writer. I had not realized that the fertility rate was falling in the Muslim world. However, there are all sorts of statistics that you can find on the web that verify their drop in fertility.

This is where you find the blog Spengler. It is interesting that the reviews tend to give good or low ratings to this book depending on whether or not they agree with David Goldman. I would give good ratings to someone I disagree with but is an interesting read and shows a different way of looking at the world.

On the Amazon website you often get very good reviews from unknowns. When you go to Amazon website you should start scrolling to the bottom. That is where the good reviews are. There is an interesting review in Forbes by Reuven Brenner. At the site Good Reads there are various views on this book.

Islamic Civilization is Dying talk by David Goldman. There is a interview of David Goldman by Ezra Levant. There is a second interview with David Goldman talking about Europe. In this recent video David Goldman interview with Ezra Levant talks about Iran.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Third Plate by Dan Barber

I have gotten way behind on talking about the books that I have read. I read this one almost a year ago. I find books on how we are changing our views about food very interesting. I do love books by Michael Pollan, but Dan Barber in this book also has very interesting things to say on the subject.

This book's full title is The Third Plate, Fields notes on the future of food. Dan Barber has his own web site here. This is a very interesting book about what new things are being done by people to improve the food and the food supply in the US. I found it quite fascinating.

Here again Amazon has come great review. You have to scroll quite far down to get them. There is a good review of this book at the New York Times by William Grimes. There is also a short interesting review at NPR. The Toronto Star has a review by Jennifer Bain that also includes recipes for a third plate.

Food Farmer Earth interviews Dan Barber on YouTube. This is a relatively short video of some 15 minutes. This is a talk between Ira Glass and Dan Barber. This last one is just over an hour. Both these videos have adverts, but the type that let you skip after a few seconds.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Voice, The Word, The Books by F. E. Peters

This book’s full title is The Voice, The Word, The Books, The Sacred Scripture of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is one of the few books that admit that Islam was spread by conquering armies. First it the armies was led by Mohammed and then later his Islamic followers. The conversion to Islam was not the effect of being conquered, but it was a consequence of it.

What I found interesting in the book that I had not read before was the fact the conquest by Islamic armies Arabized people. First there was Arabic acculturation and then conversion to Islam. It took a while. From Spain to China, in the abode of Islam there was not a majority for the Islamic religion until the mid-10th century.

However, Arabization did not occur everywhere. In Iran the local Daric-Farsi culture refused to yield to Arabization. However, their written script became written in Arabic script. The same thing happened with the Ottomans. Their vernacular was written in the Arabic Script initially. However, when the Turks made Islam their state religion, they changed their script to a Latin script.

There is a review of this book at Princeton University Press. On this site you can also review the table of contents and the Introduction to the book. There are also some reviews at Good Reads. There is also a short interesting review at the Publishers Weekly.

You can read about the author, professor Francis Edward Peters here. He is also on Wikipedia. There is a short except from the film From Moses to Muhammad with F. E. Peters.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

World Order by Henry Kissinger

There is a good review in the Guardian by Rana Mitter. Jonathan Powell of the telegraph gives a thoughtful review of this book. Ultimately, he feels that Kissinger is just trying to justify all he has done. There is also a very good review at the New Republic Anne-Marie Slaughter.

There is a short piece of an interview of Kissinger about this a New World Order, but video is old being dated in 2009. There is a 13 minute interview of Kissinger at MSNBC. This video features clips from a Berlin confab in 2009 where former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other globalists described their vision of a global network of geopolitical regional blocs.

I know there is a lot on the internet of how awful or evil Kissinger is. My god he is calling for a new world order! However, I feel that what he says is reasonable. We need to come together and prevent global misunderstandings that could annihilate civilization as we know it. If you want some thoughtful criticism of Kissinger and his book, the reviews by Jonathan Powell and Anne-Marie Slaughter are very good.

Also, an index of the books I have reviewed are on my website at Books. Follow me on Twitter.