Silent Archimedes

My Reading List

I AM CURRENTLY READING

yankee_years

The Yankee Years

Joe Torre and Tom Verducci

From Barnes & Noble

Even diehard Yankee haters found it impossible to despise Joe Torre. During his 12-year (1996-2007) managing tenure, the mild-mannered Brooklyn-born skipper not only led his team to six American League pennants and four World Series championships; he managed to avoid the ax wielded so frequently by George Steinbrenner. (In the 18 years before Torre arrived, the strongly opinionated owner had fired 17 managers.) In The Yankee Years, one of the most successful major league managers of all time describes how he and the Bronx Bombers survived and thrived in the Age of Steinbrenner. A revelatory, entertaining read.

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A New Earth
Eckhart Tolle
FROM BARNES & NOBLE SYNOPSIS

Building on the astonishing success of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle presents readers with an honest look at the current state of humanity: He implores us to see and accept that this state, which is based on an erroneous identification with the egoic mind, is one of dangerous insanity.Tolle tells us there is good news, however. There is an alternative to this potentially dire situation. Humanity now, perhaps more than in any previous time, has an opportunity to create a new, saner, more loving world. This will involve a radical inner leap from the current egoic consciousness to an entirely new one.In illuminating the nature of this shift in consciousness, Tolle describes in detail how our current ego-based state of consciousness operates. Then gently, and in very practical terms, he leads us into this new consciousness. We will come to experience who we truly are–which is something infinitely greater than anything we currently think we are–and learn to live and breathe freely.

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How Stuff Works
Marshall Brain
From the Inside Flap

From the award-winning Web site visited by more than 2.5 million people every month comes How Stuff Works, the definitive guide to the inner workings of everyday items. In this fun and infinitely informative guide, Marshall Brain and staff of “stuff” experts at HowStuffWorks, Inc. unravel the mysteries of more than 135 intriguing topics. You’ll be fascinated by the world around you!In Marshall Brain’s trademark easy-to-understand language, complemented by beautiful full-color illustrations, you’ll discover the basic mechanisms behind everything from toasters to turbochargers, dieting to DVD players, and cell phones to submarines.Technology and scientific principles are all around you: whether in the chips needed to execute commands on your computer, or in determining how many calories you need to burn in order to lose five pounds. This exciting book explains—in a way you can easily grasp—how technology is a part of everyday life.
Blood and Oil
Blood and Oil

Michael Klare

From Publishers Weekly
The world’s rapidly growing economy is dependent on oil, the supply is running out and the U.S. and other great powers are engaged in an escalating game of brinkmanship to secure its continued free flow. Such is the premise of Klare’s powerful and brilliant new book (following Resource Wars). The U.S.—with less than 5% of the world’s total population—consumes about 25% of the world’s total supply of oil, he argues. With no meaningful conservation being attempted, Klare sees the nation’s energy behavior dominated by four key trends: “an increasing need for imported oil; a pronounced shift toward unstable and unfriendly suppliers in dangerous parts of the world; a greater risk of anti-American or civil violence; and increased competition for what will likely be a diminishing supply pool.” In clear, lucid prose, Klare lays out a disheartening and damning indictment of U.S. foreign policy. From the waning days of WWII, when Franklin Roosevelt gave legitimacy to the autocratic Saudi royalty, to the current conflict in Iraq, Klare painstakingly describes a nation controlled by its unquenchable thirst for oil. Rather than setting out a strategy for energy independence, he finds a roadmap for further U.S. dependence on imported oil, more exposure for the U.S. military overseas and, as a result, less safety for Americans at home and abroad. While Klare offers some positive suggestions for solving the problem, in tone and detail this work sounds a dire warning about the future of the world.
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The Millennium Problems

Keith Devlin

From Publishers Weekly
The noble idea that advanced mathematics can be made comprehensible to laypeople is tested in this sometimes engaging but ultimately unsatisfying effort. Mathematician and NPR commentator Devlin (The Math Gene) bravely asserts that only “a good high-school knowledge of mathematics” is needed to understand these seven unsolved problems (each with a million-dollar price on its head from the Clay Mathematics Institute), but in truth a Ph.D. would find these thickets of equations daunting. Devlin does a good job with introductory material; his treatment of topology, elementary calculus and simple theorems about prime numbers, for example, are lucid and often fun. But when he works his way up to the eponymous problems he confronts the fact that they are too abstract, too encrusted with jargon, and just too hard. He finally throws in the towel on the Birch and Sinnerton-Dyer Conjecture (“Don’t feel bad if you find yourself getting lost… the level of abstraction is simply too great for the nonexpert”), while the chapter on the Hodge Conjecture is so baffling that the second page finds him morosely conceding that “the wise strategy might be to give up.” Nor does Devlin make a compelling case for the real-world importance of many of these problems, rarely going beyond vague assurances that solving them “would almost certainly involve new ideas that will… have other uses.” Sadly, this quixotic book ends up proving that high-level mathematics is beyond the reach of all but the experts.
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Darwin’s Black Box

Michael J. Behe

From Publishers Weekly
Charles Darwin’s theory of life’s evolution through natural selection and random mutation fails to account for the origin of astonishingly complex biomolecular systems, argues Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. In this spirited, witty critique of neo-Darwinian thinking, he focuses on five phenomena: blood clotting; cilia, oar-like bundles of fibers; the human immune system; transport of materials within the cell; and the synthesis of nucleotides, building blocks of DNA. In each case, he finds systems that are irreducibly complex?no gradual, step-by-step, Darwinian route led to their creation. As an alternative explanation, Behe infers that complex biochemical systems (i.e., life) were designed by an intelligent agent, whether God, extraterrestrials or a universal force. He notes that Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA’s double-helix structure, proposed that life began when aliens from another planet sent a rocket ship containing spores to seed Earth. Perhaps Behe’s plea for incorporating a “theory of intelligent design” into mainstream biology will spark interest.
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The Buddhist Path to Simplicity

Christina Feldman

From Publishers Weekly
In The Buddhist Path to Simplicity, Christina Feldman illuminates the subjects of compassion, intention, mindfulness and awakening as they affect us daily. The path to peace, she suggests, is not necessarily complex or arduous. If we simply turn our attention to this moment, it will speak to us of wonder, mystery, harmony and peace. Feldman demonstrates that there is no better time to awaken and discover everything our heart longs for than this very moment.
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The World is Flat

Thomas L. Friedman

From Publishers Weekly
With the rise of technologies like high-speed Internet and the knocking down of barriers both literal (the Berlin Wall) and figurative (the opening of China’s economy to free trade) portions of this audiobook could have been outsourced to recording studios all across the globe. As Friedman notes in this lengthy but informative audio, new technologies, political paradigm shifts and, more importantly, innovative individuals at the helms of startups have leveled the playing field in the global economy. That this audio wasn’t outsourced is fortunate for listeners, as Wyman is a veteran nonfiction narrator with an extensive background in voicing animation. Upon first listen, one cannot help thinking of the exuberant heroes of Saturday morning cartoons; once listeners grow accustomed to Wyman’s youthful tenor, his professionalism and talent shine through. Though Wyman’s voice doesn’t have the professorial gravitas to match a journalistic work such as this, listeners should have no reservations about choosing this engrossing audio for long-distance travel or simply casual listening.

I HAVE READ (since May 2007)

Walmart-Effect
The Walmart-Effect

Charles Fishman

2009-03-19

My Rating: 9



(My Review)

From Publishers Weekly
Fishman shops at Wal-Mart and has obvious affection for its price-cutting, hard-nosed ethos. He also understands that the story of Wal-Mart is really the story of the transformation of the American economy over the past 20 years. He’s careful to present the consumer benefits of Wal-Mart’s staggering growth and to place Wal-Mart in the larger context of globalization and the rise of mega-corporations. But he also presents the case against Wal-Mart in arresting detail, and his carefully balanced approach only makes the downside of Wal-Mart’s market dominance more vivid. Through interviews with former Wal-Mart insiders and current suppliers, Fishman puts readers inside the company’s penny-pinching mindset and shows how Wal-Mart’s mania to reduce prices has driven suppliers into bankruptcy and sent factory jobs overseas. He surveys the research on Wal-Mart’s effects on local retailers, details the environmental impact of its farm-raised salmon and exposes the abuse of workers in a supplier’s Bangladesh factory. In Fishman’s view, the “Wal-Mart effect” is double-edged: consumers benefit from lower prices, even if they don’t shop at Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart has the power of life and death over its suppliers. Wal-Mart, he suggests, is too big to be subject to market forces or traditional rules. In the end, Fishman sees Wal-Mart as neither good nor evil, but simply a fact of modern life that can barely be comprehended, let alone controlled.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
50 secrets
50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Sally Beare

2009-01-03

My Rating: 8

(My Review)

Product Description
Today we are living longer than ever before, and a few of us can expect to live to 100 or more. But many people feel that they will inevitably suffer the diseases of old age in their final years. Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars trying to find a cure for the “diseases of aging”—they may have found ways to stem some of the symptoms, but they have yet to find a panacea. Yet there are places in the world where, all along, people have commonly lived to 100 or more without suffering so much as a headache. How do they do it? The answer is simple: through sound dietary habits and balanced, healthy lifestyles. The 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People looks at the nutrition and lifestyle mores of the world’s five most remarkable longevity hotspots—Okinawa, Japan; Bama, China; Campodimele, Italy; Symi, Greece; and Hunza, Pakistan—and explains how we too can incorporate the wisdom of these people into our everyday lives. It offers each of the secrets in detail, provides delicious, authentic recipes, and outlines a simple-to-master plan for putting it all together and living your best, and longest, life.
Coraline
Coraline (Graphic Novel)

Neil Gaiman

2008-09-19

My Rating: (Adult 6, Children 8 )


(My Review)

From Publishers Weekly
British novelist Gaiman (American Gods; Stardust) and his long-time accomplice McKean (collaborators on a number of Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels as well as The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons. After Coraline and her parents move into an old house, Coraline asks her mother about a mysterious locked door. Her mother unlocks it to reveal that it leads nowhere: “When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up,” her mother explains. But something about the door attracts the girl, and when she later unlocks it herself, the bricks have disappeared. Through the door, she travels a dark corridor (which smells “like something very old and very slow”) into a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. “I’m your other mother,” announces a woman who looks like Coraline’s mother, except “her eyes were big black buttons.” Coraline eventually makes it back to her real home only to find that her parents are missing–they’re trapped in the shadowy other world, of course, and it’s up to their scrappy daughter to save them. Gaiman twines his taut tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery (“Her other mother’s hand scuttled off Coraline’s shoulder like a frightened spider”), yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying. The imagery adds layers of psychological complexity (the button eyes of the characters in the other world vs. the heroine’s increasing ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not; elements of Coraline’s dreams that inform her waking decisions). McKean’s scratchy, angular drawings, reminiscent of Victorian etchings, add an ominous edge that helps ensure this book will be a real bedtime-buster
Why Men Die First
Why Men Die First

Marianne J. Legato

2008-08-30

My Rating: 6

(My Review)

From Publishers Weekly
Legato, a physician and one of the founders of gender specific medicine, provides a broad-brush look at the relative fragility of men who “at every point of their lives die an average of seven years earlier than women.” Much of the book will be familiar to anyone who read John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (or, indeed, Legato’s own Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget), emphasizing the debatable notions that men and boys are aggressive where most women are team players, and that women value “the ambiance of the workplace and their relationship with other workers” over attaining power within a corporate structure. She breaks newer ground when she examines the genetics; the Y chromosome, she contends, may be more vulnerable to mutation, leading her to ponder whether “men have a future,” or might disappear in 125,000 years (on the other hand, it may be that “the Y drives evolution”). Later chapters look at depression, diseases, sports and work as they relate to men. Though a well-sourced overview, Legato’s attempt to give readers a “new view of men” suffers from a lack of fresh perspective.

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The Coming Economic Collapse

Stephen Leeb

2008-05-25

My Rating: 8

(My Review)

Product Description
Stephen Leeb shows how hard times can be a boon for smart investors. As the world faces an energy crisis of unprecedented scope, renowed economist Stephen Leeb shows how surging oil prices will contribute to an economic collapse. With meticulous research and analysis, Leeb shows that due to strong competition from India and China, prices could soon double, a cost for which most countries and investors are ill-prepared. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Leeb not only shows how this crisis will affect consumers, but how savvy investing can turn these dire times into financial gain.
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Crash Proof

Peter Schiff

2008-07-10

My Rating: 8

(My Review)

Product Description
The economic tipping point for the United States is no longer theoretical. It is a reality today. The country has gone from the world’s largest creditor to its greatest debtor; the value of the dollar is sinking; domestic manufacturing is winding down – and these trends don’t seem to be slowing. Peter Schiff casts a sharp, clear-sighted eye on these factors and explains what the possible effects may be and how investors can protect themselves. For more than a decade, Schiff has not only observed the U.S. economy, but also helped his clients reposition their portfolios to reflect his outlook. What he sees is a nation facing an economic storm brought on by growing federal, personal, and corporate debt, too-little savings, a declining dollar, and lack of domestic manufacturing.
Crash-Proof is an informed and informative warning of a looming period marked by sizeable tax hikes, loss of retirement benefits, double digit inflation, even – as happened recently in Argentina – the possible collapse of the middle class. However, Schiff does have a survival plan that can provide the protection that readers will need in the coming years.
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Hot Commodities

Jim Rogers

2008-06-17

My Rating: 9

(My Review)

Amazon.com Review
According to Jim Rogers, “commodities get no respect.” Here are a few reasons why he thinks they should: they are easier to comprehend and study than stocks and behave more rationally since they are subject to the basic laws of supply and demand; they have outperformed many other investment options in recent years; it is foolish to ignore an entire sector of the marketplace; and a bull market is currently under way in commodities–a trend that Rogers expects to last for a least a decade longer. Further, Rogers believes that you cannot be a successful investor in stocks, bonds, or currencies without an understanding of commodities. Hot Commodities: How Anyone Can Invest Profitably in the World’s Best Market is designed to introduce the novice to the basics of investing in commodities as well as explain what they are and why they are important. In doing so, he shatters some myths about the relative risks of commodities, explains the relationship between the stock and commodities markets, and provides a succinct analysis and history of the global oil, gold, lead, sugar, and coffee markets. Rogers also offers practical advice and information for beginners, including the best resources, how to read the commodities reports in the newspaper or on television, the various ways to open an account, information on index funds (such as Rogers’ own index fund that he started in 1998), mechanisms, terminology, and other vital details people must know before investing. Clearly written and entertaining, Hot Commodities offers a solid introduction to investments that many people, including financial advisors, fail to give the proper respect.
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National Geographic Mysteries of History

Robert Stewart

2008-02-08

My Rating: 6

Amazon.com Review
The past holds many secrets. We don’t know whether the Chinese beat Columbus to America or why the pharaohs built the pyramids of Egypt. How much truth is there to the whole King Arthur legend? Did the Greeks really build the legendary Trojan horse? Why did the Hindenburg explode? The thoroughly engrossing, heavily illustrated, 192-page Mysteries of History, written by historian Robert Stewart, Ph.D., with Clint Twist and Edward Horton, examines several historical mysteries that span almost 5,000 years. Declassified top secret documents provide insights about whether the attack on Pearl Harbor was really a surprise. A lock of Napoleon’s hair offers clues about whether or not he was murdered. Each section of the book is devoted to a lingering historical question. For example, the 10-page section “Did Rome Really Fall?” is full of wonderful photographs of artwork and of Rome, a map of the Roman Empire, a timeline of both the Roman Empire and the world, and various quotations from historical sources. Stewart writes, “What historians now think is that, rather than asking why the Roman Empire fell, it is more fascinating to speculate on why so much managed to survive.” A perfect launching point for further investigative work–and who knows?–maybe more of these mysteries will be solved in the future by readers of this book.
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The Legend of Odysseus

Peter Connolly

2008-02-01

My Rating: 6

From School Library Journal
Remaining faithful to the stories set down by Homer, Connolly takes readers through the life and adventures of Odysseus in straight narrative prose. While the major exploits of such heroes as Achilles are told with relish, they are seen from a viewpoint which holds Odysseus central throughout. The text is accessible to curious ten year olds while remaining interesting enough for older readers. The chapters, illustrated with paintings that Connolly says are based on the most current information available on dress, armor, and weapon styles, are interspersed with inviting factual sections. Here, short informational paragraphs are balanced with maps, photographs, Mycenaean-era sculpture and paintings, palace reconstructions, numerous artifacts, and more. With these as evidence, Connolly attempts to answer questions about the type of helmets the Greek soldiers wore; where Scylla and Charybdis were; and if there really was a Trojan War. This book should prove quite satisfactory to history and mythology buffs.
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Buddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu

Osamu Tezuka

2008-03-11

My Rating: 6

From Publishers Weekly
Tezuka, the master of Japanese comics, mixes his own characters with history as deftly as he transfers the most profound, complex emotions onto extremely cartoony characters, and his work defies easy categorization. In Buddha, originally serialized in the 1970s and one of his last works, he lavishly retells the life of Siddhartha, who isn’t even born until page 268. Instead, Tezuka introduces Chapra, a slave who attempts to escape his fate by posing as the son of a general; Tatta, a crazed wild child pariah who communes with animals; Chapra’s slave mother, who stands by him no matter what; and Naradatta, a monk attempting to discover the meaning of strange portents of the Buddha’s birth. Throughout the book, the characters engage in fresh and unexpected adventures, escapes and reverses, as they play out Tezuka’s philosophical concern with overcoming fate and the uselessness of violence. Despite episodes of extreme brutality and broad humor, the core of the story revolves around various set pieces, as when Tatta sacrifices himself to a snake to save Naradatta and Chapra’s mom. After a moment of intense emotion, the scene is upended by the arrival of a bandit who mocks their attempts at keeping their karmic slates clean. “Why were you all fussing over some stupid trade? Why not just kill the snake and eat it?” The answer unfolds over succeeding volumes. Heavily influenced by Walt Disney, Tezuka’s often cute characters may take some getting used to, but his storytelling is strong and clean. Appearing in handsome packages designed by Chip Kidd, this is a stunning achievement.
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Superman: The Dailies 1939-1942, Strips 1-966

Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster

2008-01-23

My Rating: 5

Barnes and Noble Synopsis
Beginning in 1939, Superman reigned as the leading hero of both comic books and newspaper comic strips. These formative stories star a Man of Steel who boldly tackles the social injustices of his day. This deluxe edition collects the first three years of the classic Superman comic strips as written and illustrated by the Man of Steel’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Critical elements in the Superman mythos were introduced in the strips in this volume, which originally appeared from 1939 to 1942. Inside this book are nearly 1,000 daily newspaper strips, including the classic stories of Superman’s origin along with “Clark Kent—Spy,” “Superman Goes to War,” “The Unknown’ Strikes,” and “The Hooded Saboteur.”
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Inside the Helmet

Michael Strahan w/Jay Glazer

2007-10-11

My Rating: 7

Barnes and Noble Synopsis
Michael Strahan is one of the NFL’s most talented players, and he is also one of the game’s most vocal personalities. So it’s no surprise that his first book would be a no-holds-barred, hard-hitting account of life in the league, venturing into territory no previous football authors had the nerve to tread. Inside the Helmet is not a self-serving memoir or a collection of triumphant feel-good anecdotes. Yes, Strahan recounts exhilarating victories in vivid detail, but not without the hair-raising details of the ruthless grit required for every win. Sure to be controversial, Strahan’s account reveals never-before-seen details about the truth of life in the NFL, including the names of the dirtiest players, what it feels and sounds like to crush another player, which potent painkillers players take in order to return to the battlefield, the wild parties such as the Vikings’ infamous Love Boat romp, the pressure to live up to a multimillion-dollar salary, the intense and sometimes volatile relationship between player and coach, and the violent blowups that occur when that pressure gets too intense. For the 21.7 million fans who attend NFL football games, Inside the Helmet is an all-access pass into the huddle, the locker room, and even the minds of some of the most legendary players on the field today.
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The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1

Scott Kelby

My Rating: 8

Product Description
Scott Kelby, the man who changed the “digital darkroom” forever with his groundbreaking, #1 bestselling, award-winning book The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers, now tackles the most important side of digital photography–how to take pro-quality shots using the same tricks today’s top digital pros use (and it’s easier than you’d think). This entire book is written with a brilliant premise, and here’s how Scott describes it: “If you and I were out on a shoot, and you asked me, ‘Hey, how do I get this flower to be in focus, but I want the background out of focus?’ I wouldn’t stand there and give you a lecture about aperture, exposure, and depth of field. In real life, I’d just say, ‘Get out your telephoto lens, set your f/stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away.’ You d say, ‘OK,’ and you’d get the shot. That’s what this book is all about. A book of you and I shooting, and I answer the questions, give you advice, and share the secrets I’ve learned just like I would with a friend, without all the technical explanations and without all the techno-photo-speak.”
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It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life

Lance Armstrong

2007-08-12

My Rating: 7

From Publishers Weekly
In 1996, young cycling phenom Armstrong discovered he had testicular cancer. In 1999, he won the Tour de France. Now he’s a grateful husband, a new fatherAand a memoirist: with pluck, humility and verve, this volume covers his early life, his rise through the endurance sport world and his medical difficulties. Cancer “was like being run off the road by a truck, and I’ve got the scars to prove it,” Armstrong declares. Earlier scars, he explains, came from a stepfather he casts as unworthy; early rewards, from his hardworking mother and from the triathlons and national bike races Armstrong won as a Texas teen. “The real racing action was over in Europe”: after covering that, Armstrong and Jenkins (Men Will Be Boys, with Pat Summit, etc.) ascend to the scarier challenges of diagnoses and surgeries. As he gets worse, then better, Armstrong describes the affections of his racing friends and of the professionals who cared for him. Armstrong is honest and delightful on his relationship to wife Kristin (Kik), and goes into surprising detail about the technology that let them have a child. The memoir concludes with Armstrong’s French victory and the birth of their son. The book features a disarming and spotless prose style, one far above par for sports memoirs. Bicycle-racing fans will enjoy the troves of inside information and the accounts of competitions, but Armstrong has set his sights on a wider meaning and readership: “When I was sick I saw more beauty and triumph and truth in a single day than I ever did in a bike race.”
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Bone: One Volume Edition

Jeff Smith

2007-09-15

My Rating: 9

Product Description
An American graphic novel first! The complete 1300-page epic adventure from start to finish in one deluxe trade paperback. Three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, speanding a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. Their many adventures include crossing the local people in The Great Cow Race, and meeting a giant mountain lion called RockJaw: Master of the Eastern Border. They learn about sacrifice and hardship in The Ghost Circles and finally discover their own true natures in the climatic journey to The Crown of Horns.
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State of Fear

Michael Crichton

2007-06-27

My Rating: 8

From Publishers Weekly
For his latest foray, Crichton alters his usual formula–three parts thrills and spills to one part hard science–to a less appetizing concoction that is half anti-global warming screed and half adventure yarn. This adds a mission impossible element to Wilson’s narration: how to make pages of research interesting enough to hold the listener’s attention until hero and heroine face their next peril. Unfortunately, Wilson approaches the statistical information like a newscaster communicating via Teleprompter. This earns him an A-plus for elocution and timbre, but a more average grade when it comes to dramatic interpretation. Consequently, the scientific material that Crichton spent three years researching seems even more copious in audio format than in print. And it’s certainly much harder to flip past. Wilson is more successful in handling conversational passages, employing accents and adding subtle touches to various voices–a cynical tone for the hero, who’s a mildly hedonistic corporate lawyer, and an edgier, less patient attitude for the beautiful, ready-for-anything heroine. As they hot-foot it around the globe, assisting an Indiana Jones-like MIT professor in thwarting evils perpetrated by a mass-murdering environmentalist, Wilson stirs up a little suspense by speaking faster and more energetically. But the book’s abundance of statistics would slow any narrator’s momentum, and Wilson is no exception.
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The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

2008-07-12

My Rating: 7

From Publishers Weekly
The premise of this facile piece of pop sociology has built-in appeal: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or “tipping point” is reached, changing the world. Gladwell’s thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors “spread just like viruses do” remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of “word-of-mouth epidemics” triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened. (Paul Revere, for example, was a Maven and a Connector). Gladwell’s applications of his “tipping point” concept to current phenomena–such as the drop in violent crime in New York, the rebirth of Hush Puppies suede shoes as a suburban mall favorite, teenage suicide patterns and the efficiency of small work units–may arouse controversy. For example, many parents may be alarmed at his advice on drugs: since teenagers’ experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, seldom leads to hardcore use, he contends, “We have to stop fighting this kind of experimentation. We have to accept it and even embrace it.” While it offers a smorgasbord of intriguing snippets summarizing research on topics such as conversational patterns, infants’ crib talk, judging other people’s character, cheating habits in schoolchildren, memory sharing among families or couples, and the dehumanizing effects of prisons, this volume betrays its roots as a series of articles for the New Yorker, where Gladwell is a staff writer: his trendy material feels bloated and insubstantial in book form.


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