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Author Topic: Nonfiction  (Read 4572 times)
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« on: April 16, 2007, 08:48:51 PM »

Share your thoughts on your favorite works of nonfiction.
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samiinh
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2007, 04:24:29 PM »

I can't possibly pick a favorite non-fiction work, but am currently finishing up Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and wonder if anyone else has read Sacks, and if they experienced a post-reading tendency to find examples of the conditions described in one's fellow creatures, celebrities and figures from the past (artists being a group offering a rich vein to mine--pardon the metaphor). 

I have not read this book.  I recently completed "Internal Combustion" by Edwin Black.  It is basically a history of energy, power, and the advent of the automobile and internal gasoline engines.  It was an interesting history.  Currently, I'm reading, Chris Hedges, The Christian Right, a rather freightening look at the desire of some to change America into a theocracy based on the old testament.  It is a stealth type operation, but there are many involved on the radical fringe of this religion, people like Pat Robertson, James Kennedy, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell et al.
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kidcarter8
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2007, 11:13:13 AM »

BEYOND THE GAME - Gary Smith - highly recommended.

One of the top 5 writers of sport with his BEST OF compilation.  Truly moving, wonderfully selected material.  Even the Yankee piece was OK.
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samiinh
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2007, 05:12:45 PM »

In High Society, Joseph Califano points out that a child who reaches twenty-one without smoking, using illegal drugs, or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so-and chronicles the fearful cost in personal pain and public dollars of our nation's failure to act on this truth.

Califano shows how substance abuse is the culprit in violent and property crime, soaring Medicare and Medicaid costs, family breakup, domestic violence, the spread of AIDS, teen pregnancy, poverty, and low productivity. He takes on alcohol and tobacco interests that buy political protection with campaign contributions and seed a culture of substance abuse among our nation's children and teens. He explains the importance of parent power, proposes revolutionary changes in prevention, treatment, and criminal justice, and calls upon every individual and institution to confront this plague that has maimed and killed more Americans than all our wars, natural catastrophes, and traffic accidents combined.


Has anyone read this one?
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Dzimas
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2007, 09:59:05 AM »

I enjoy reading Sacks.  I found his book The Island of the Colorblind to be absolutely fascinating, as he illustrates how recessive genes actually benefited these indigenous people, as being totally colorblind allowed the villagers to better differentiate the tones and textures in the dense jungle in which they lived.  In many of Sacks' case studies, he shows how abnormalities can be beneficial, a form of natural selection.  Of course, Sacks also delves into some nightmarish situations like The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, which I believe has even been made into play.  It would seem like something Beckett would write, if it wasn't so painfully real.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2007, 07:55:43 AM »

I'm not sure boycotting the IRS will help, only create more problems than its worth, but I can understand Hedges' frustration, especially when the Republicans insist on backing the failed policies of this president.  I guess it will be some time before someone writes a book that sums up W's legacy with a more or less detached eye.  Right now, it is just too emotional!  Probably end up being a book like Dutch.

I've been reading mostly architecture books these days in the way of non-fiction.  I was pleasantly surprised with Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness, which avoided the pratfalls of Tom Wolfe when he tried to poke fun at the modern movement in Bauhaus to Our House.  De Botton looks at the qualities of home in a poetic way.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2007, 07:58:29 AM »

"The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a 1985 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks describing the case histories of some of his patients. The title of the book comes from the case study of a man with visual agnosia. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat became the basis of an opera of the same name by Michael Nyman, which premiered in 1986."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Mistook_His_Wife_for_a_Hat_%28opera%29

This was what I was looking for.
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2007, 11:11:28 AM »

It is a slow morning on the National forums, so I am exploring. A book I am reading now is not suitable for American History, but I am enjoying it so much, I felt I had to share it.

Microbe Hunters, by Paul De Kruif is a delightful set of biographies of the men who began using microscopes to find "the little beasties" and discover what they did. The book was written in 1938, so does not include the great advances of the later 20th century. The edition I am reading includes a new introduction by F. Gonzalez-Grussi. G-G lets you know that you are in for a true treat in reading, and de Kruiff does not disappoint. He has a wonderful style of writing that would make this book a must for school library shelves and even required reading lists.

Happy Reading!
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samiinh
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2007, 12:44:12 PM »

Now I'm reading Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg.  It is another account of the religious right and its goal to take over this country of ours and make us into a bunch of lunatics like themselves.
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2007, 10:25:57 AM »

If you guys want, whenever you want to poll for a book to review, shoot me a private message with the books that you are considering and the date that polling should end and I will post a poll so that you can track results.
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2007, 11:53:26 AM »

Sacks is fascinating, though his more recent memoir (title escapes me at the moment, something like "Uncle Chemistry" but that's not it....) about growing up and developing a fascination with science was not quite as compelling as his neurology tales, and I found myself just dipping in here and there rather than reading it all.

If you like Sacks, I'd recommend the book (or two) by V.S. Ramachandran, the famous neurologist, who also writes for the educated layperson on neurological weirdness.
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"Nothing more foolish than a man chasing his hat!"
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2007, 10:58:31 PM »

In High Society, Joseph Califano points out that a child who reaches twenty-one without smoking, using illegal drugs, or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so-and chronicles the fearful cost in personal pain and public dollars of our nation's failure to act on this truth.

Has anyone read this one?

Not yet, but would like to. Califano has good intentions, but has often resorted to using questionable research. He is also too reliant on the criminal justice system to treat medical issues for my taste. Not surprising, as he seems to think that all abusive behavior is by choice, discounting other factors that lead to them.

I'm currently reading two books that I highly recommend. Blowback - The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson, is an interesting discussion on actions by the US government that have, and likely will continue to have, serious consequences. Those who would like to understand the animosity much of the world has for the US will likely appreciate it.

Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero is an excellent book detailing the history of religion in the US, and explains the need for understanding the influence of religious belief on our history without pushing any particular ideology, in fact encourages understanding the basics of each of the major religions.
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chauncey.g
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2007, 05:44:40 AM »


I'm currently reading two books that I highly recommend. Blowback - The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson, is an interesting discussion on actions by the US government that have, and likely will continue to have, serious consequences. Those who would like to understand the animosity much of the world has for the US will likely appreciate it.

Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero is an excellent book detailing the history of religion in the US, and explains the need for understanding the influence of religious belief on our history without pushing any particular ideology, in fact encourages understanding the basics of each of the major religions.

Ever since the first GOP debate, Lew Rockwell has been promoting a reading list for Rudy G. (and anybody interested in the current state of affairs, i reckon) and the Chalmers Johnson book has made the list.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/reading-list3.html
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2007, 11:29:44 AM »

I just finished and greatly enjoyed 40 Days and 40 Nights by Matthew Chapman..an account on the recent trial in Dover Pa. about teaching of Intelligent Design as science in public schools. 

http://amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/102-1836052-2131349?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=40+DAYS+AND+40+NIGHTS&Go.x=8&Go.y=10
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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2007, 11:35:25 AM »

A highly recommended and very readable book about the debacle in Iraq:
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who covered Iraq for several years for the Washington Post.

http://www.amazon.com/Imperial-Life-Emerald-City-Inside/dp/1400044871/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-1836052-2131349?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1181835180&sr=1-1
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