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March & April 2008 Non-Fiction Suggestions 
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Post March & April 2008 Non-Fiction Suggestions
March & April 2008 Non-Fiction Suggestions

Please use this thread for making non-fiction book suggestions for our March & April 2008 non-fiction book selection. Do your best to make suggestions that should be appealing to a broad audience, but no reason to stick with a "top 1000" or bestsellers list. Just put plenty of thought into your suggestions and explain why you're making the suggestion. Tell us more than just the book title and author -- tell us why you think your suggestion would make for a quality book discussion. And please create an active link directly to where other members can read more about your particular book suggestion, such as a book review or Amazon.com book description. If you don't know how to create a link I'll help you with it by editing your post and making the book title an active link.



Last edited by Chris OConnor on Sat Feb 16, 2008 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Dec 25, 2007 10:28 am
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Here are four books I plan to read. My wife liked the first three, while my real-life book group will discuss the fourth.

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
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I wish I had read this book when I was in medical school, and I'm glad I've read it now. Most readers will knowJerome Groopman from his essays in the New Yorker, which take on a wide variety of complex medical conditions, evocatively communicating the tensions and emotions of both doctors and patients.But this book is something different: a sustained, incisive and sometimes agonized inquiry into the processes by which medical minds-brilliant, experienced, highly erudite medical minds-synthesize information and understand illness. How Doctors Think is mostly about how these doctors get it right, and about why they sometimes get it wrong: "[m]ost errors are mistakes in thinking. And part of what causes these cognitive errors is our inner feelings, feelings we do not readily admit to and often don't realize." Attribution errors happen when a doctor's diagnostic cogitations are shaped by a particular stereotype. It can be negative: when five doctors fail to diagnose an endocrinologic tumor causing peculiar symptoms in "a persistently complaining, melodramatic menopausal woman who quite accurately describes herself as kooky." But positive feelings also get in the way; an emergency room doctor misses unstable angina in a forest ranger because "the ranger's physique and chiseled features reminded him of a young Clint Eastwood-all strong associations with health and vigor." Other errors occur when a patient is irreversibly classified with a particular syndrome: "diagnosis momentum, like a boulder rolling down a mountain, gains enough force to crush anything in its way." The patient stories are told with Groopman's customary attention to character and emotion. And there is great care and concern for the epistemology of medical knowledge, and a sense of life-and-death urgency in analyzing the well-intentioned thought processes of the highly trained. I have never read elsewhere this kind of discussion of the ambiguities besetting the superspecialized-the doctors on whom the rest of us depend: "Specialization in medicine confers a false sense of certainty." How Doctors Think helped me understand my own thought processes and my colleagues'-even as it left me chastened and dazzled by turns. Every reflective doctor will learn from this book-and every prospective patient will find thoughtful advice for communicating successfully in the medical setting and getting better care.Many of the physicians Dr. Groopman writes about are visionaries and heroes; their diagnostic and therapeutic triumphs are astounding. And these are the doctors who are, like the author, willing to anatomize their own serious errors. This passionate honesty gives the book an immediacy and an eloquence that will resonate with anyone interested in medicine, science or the cruel beauties of those human endeavors which engage mortal stakes.


The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World's Most Troubled Drug Culture by Richard DeGrandpre
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"The Cult of Pharmacology delivers important messages about the bias and irrationality behind drug policy and our approach to drug use, messages that both clinicians and the general public should hear."
--Walter A. Brown, Journal of the American Medical Association

"The crush of counterintuitive research DeGrandpre heaps upon us is meant to confound, demonstrating that drugs are a technology like any other: amoral, contextual and wholly imbued by the values of its end-users."

--Ben Gore, The Brooklyn Rail

"[W]ell researched and documented and full of interesting facts. For many readers it will produce a whole new perspective that will have an impact when they reach for the prescription pad or a cup of coffee or disparage the drug user on the street."
--Allen Shaughnessy, British Medical Journal

" Very highly recommended. . . ."
--Joel M. Kauffman, LewRockwell.com

"[A] insightful book on the difficult subject of drugs. . . ."
--Andrew Benedict-Nelson, Rain Taxi


Lust in Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee by Pamela Druckerman
Quote:
Former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal now living in Paris, Druckerman offers an anecdotal rather than a scholarly exploration of the international etiquette of adultery. From American prudishness about the subject to French discretion, and from Russian vehemence about the obligatory affair to Japanese adherence to the single marital futon, one factor rings true in all cases: people lie about sex. Druckerman interviews numerous adulterers, starting with the conflicted Americans who "gain status by radiating an aura of monogamy" while sneaking around on the side; guilt more often than not brings them to confession and absolution by therapy. Druckerman is at pains to uncover reliable statistics about infidelity where such research is suppressed, such as in Islamic countries or those formerly Communist; in contrast, Finland demonstrates the best sex research, e.g., clearly half of men there enjoy "parallel relationships." Druckerman concludes from one study that people in warmer climes cheat more (Scandinavia is the exception), while people in wealthy countries tend to cheat less than those in poor countries (exception: Kazakhstan). Druckerman found that the rules of sexual cultures differ widely: adultery is the least dangerous social evil in Russia, while in Japan, buying sex doesn't count as cheating. Druckerman's work is quirky, digressive and media quotable.


Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart by Ian Ayres
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Yale Law School professor and econometrician Ayres argues in this lively and enjoyable book that the recent creation of huge data sets allows knowledgeable individuals to make previously impossible predictions. He calls the data set analysts super crunchers and discusses the changes they're making to industries like medical diagnostics, air travel pricing, screenwriting and online dating services. Although Ayres presents both sides of this revolution, explaining how the corporate world tries to manipulate consumer behavior and telling consumers how to fight back, his real mission is to educate readers about the basics of statistics and hypothesis testing, spending most of his time in an edifying and entertaining discussion of the use of regression and randomization trials. He frequently asks whether statistical methods are more accurate than the more intuitive conclusions drawn by experts, and consistently concludes that they are. Ayres skillfully demonstrates the importance that statistical literacy can play in our lives, especially now that technology permits it to occur on a scale never before imagined.



Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:04 pm
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Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson is a discussion of cognitive dissonance and some of the mental strategies we employ to reduce it. The book was released in mid-2007 and has been well received by readers.

The subtitle: Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts gives some insight into the contents. The ways in which we choose to deal with cognitive dissonance can have harmful effects on us and our relationships with others. They can also affect how we, as a society, deal with issues and problems. Although all of us employ these strategies at one time or another, and necessarily so, the authors suggest awareness of what we are doing can help to mitigate some of the damage.

For more about the book, including reviews, go to Amazon.com at

http://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198958547&sr=1-1

Mistakes Were Made is well written and covers the subject matter clearly with a minimum of jargon. It's as enjoyable as it is informative. I recommend it as a future non-fiction selection.

George


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Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:21 pm
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Hi,

I'd be interested in reading either "How Doctors Think" or "The Cult of Pharmacology".

Great suggestions.

Jan.



Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:12 pm
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TOWARDS THE LIGHT (OF LIBERTY): The Struggles for Freedom and Rights That Made the Modern Western World
by A.C. Grayling

In the introduction Grayling says that the book is a response to Lord Acton. Acton believed that modern liberty and rights are a result of Christianity and Grayling is arguing the opposite, that our modern rights and liberties were earned through struggling against religion.

There seem to be two editions of the book, and here are some links to reviews:

Amazon (2 editions, slightly different titles, second link has reviews but first link has none): http://www.amazon.com/Towards-Light-C-G ... 633&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Toward-Light-Libe ... 034&sr=1-1

Bloomsbury:
http://www.bloomsbury.com/ezine/Article ... le_id=2383

The Age (Melbourne) Newspaper, 2 pages:
http://www.theage.com.au/news/book-revi ... 98786.html



Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:43 am
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Hello, Bradams, and welcome to Booktalk! :)


Thank you for a very interesting suggestion, and for giving several different links to read about the book, this will be useful.

Would you like to write an introduction and tell us a little about yourself?
Do you read mostly non-fiction?

I look forward to hearing from you again on Booktalk.


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Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:26 am
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I'm sorry, I think I might have made a mistake here. Could someone please advise me as to whether I should have put that book suggestion in the Freethought section or in this one?
Thanks.



Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:37 am
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Looks like it probably should have been a freethought selection, although, I haven't taken a really close look at it yet. You may want to repost it over there and let Chris decide where it's most appropriate.



Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:06 pm
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Mad suggested this already and I think we should reconsider it. Ten Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Forster Stevenson http://www.amazon.com/Theories-Nature-Leslie-Forster-Stevenson/dp/B0002D6CHK/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199471685&sr=1-2

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Book Description
Over three previous editions, Ten Theories of Human Nature has been a remarkably popular introduction to some of the most influential developments in Western and Eastern thought. This thoroughly revised fourth edition features substantial new chapters on Aristotle and on evolutionary theories of human nature; the latter centers on Edward O. Wilson but also outlines the ideas of Emile Durkheim, B. F. Skinner, Nikolaas Tinbergen, Konrad Lorenz, Noam Chomsky, and recent evolutionary psychology. This edition also includes a rewritten introduction that invites readers (even if inclined toward fundamentalism, or to cultural relativism) to careful, critical thought about human nature; a useful new section that summarizes the history of ideas from the Stoics to the Enlightenment; and a new conclusion that suggests a way to synthesize the various theories. Lucid and accessible, Ten Theories of Human Nature, 4/e, compresses into a small space the essence of such ancient traditions as Confucianism, Hinduism, and the Old and New Testaments as well as the theories of Plato, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The authors juxtapose the ideas of these and other thinkers and traditions in a way that helps readers understand how humanity has struggled to comprehend its nature. To encourage readers to think critically for themselves and to underscore the similarities and differences between the many theories, the book examines each one on four points--the nature of the universe, the nature of humanity, the diagnosis of the ills of humanity, and the proposed cure for these problems. Ideal for introductory courses in human nature, philosophy, religious studies, and intellectual history, Ten Theories of Human Nature, will engage and motivate students and other readers to consider how we can understand and improve both ourselves and human society. --This text refers to the Paperback edition


I've suggested the anarchist anthropologist, David Graeber, before and this recent book looks like a fascinating combination of athropology, social activism, and global theories of justice. Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber http://www.amazon.com/Direct-Action-Ethnography-David-Graeber/dp/1904859798/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199472667&sr=1-3

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Book Description

Anthropologist David Graeber undertakes the first detailed ethnographic study of the global justice movement. The case study at the center of Direct Action is the organizing and events that led to the one of the most dramatic and militant mass protests in recent years-against the Summit of the Americas in Qubec City. Written in a clear, accessible style (with a minimum of academic jargon), this study brings readers behind the scenes of a movement that has changed the terms of debate about world power relations. From informal conversations in coffee shops to large "spokescouncil" planning meetings and tear gas-drenched street actions, Graeber paints a vivid and fascinating picture.

Along the way, he addresses matters of deep interest to anthropologists: meeting structure and process, language, symbolism and representation, the specific rituals of activist culture, and much more. Starting from the assumption that, when dealing with possibilities of global transformation and emerging political forms, a disinterested, "objective" perspective is impossible, Graeber writes as both scholar and activist. At the same time, his experiment in the application of ethnographic methods to important ongoing political events is a serious and unique contribution to the field of anthropology, as well as an inquiry into anthropology's political implications.

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist who teaches at the University of London. Active in numerous direct-action political organizations, he has written for Harper's Magazine and is the author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, and Possibilities.


Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration by Charles L. Griswold http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Philosophical-Exploration-Charles-Griswold/dp/0521703514/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199473163&sr=1-3

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Review
"Rarely has a philosopher offered his fervent students and readers such depth, knowledge and sensitivity as Charles Griswold has done in this volume that deals with one of the most urgent topics facing humankind today."
-- Elie Wiesel

"Griswold's arguments are deep, far-reaching and all the more effective for the many interesting examples, drawn from recent events and biographical accounts. He sets a paradigm before us, in which one person injures another, seeks forgiveness and then receives it...Griswold tells us much about forgiveness, about the mental processes involved in it, and the way in which interpersonal relations are shaped by it."
--Roger Scruton, Times Literary Supplement

"Charles Griswold's Forgiveness is a truly wonderful book, which not only wisely and eloquently treats a significant feature of the moral life and moral psychology, but also sheds unexpected light on moral theory and the history of ethics. The book also includes a fascinating discussion of the role of apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation in political life during the last fifty years."
--Stephen Darwall, University of Michigan

"One of the lessons of modernity is that there is no consolation in the human condition, unless perhaps it consists in somehow reconciling ourselves to evils so sublimely absurd that at each new moment they test our capacities for acceptance. In such a world, an understanding of forgiveness - the concept of it, the varieties, its human sources and limits - is more central to life than ever before. Charles Griswold's clearheaded and perceptive new book explores forgiveness both analytically and realistically, helping us toward all these forms of understanding."
--Allen Wood, Stanford University

"Forgiveness by Charles Griswold is a philosopher's attempt to hone the complexity of interpersonal and political forgiveness to make them accessible. The book honors sources both historical and current, and while it is not primarily religious nor psychological it includes both as it integrates an enormous range of material with deep intelligence and insight. The book is well referenced, quite readable and taught me things about forgiveness I did not know."
--Frederic Luskin, PH.D. Director Stanford Forgiveness Projects, Author of Forgive for Good, Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project (www.learningtoforgive.com)

"This in depth study of a topical issue will be accessible and of great interest to public library patrons as well as scholars, and it is highly recommended for both."
--Leon H. Brody, Falls Church, VA

Book Description
Nearly everyone has wronged another. Who among us has not longed to be forgiven? Nearly everyone has suffered the bitter injustice of wrongdoing. Who has not struggled to forgive? Charles Griswold has written the first comprehensive philosophical book on forgiveness in both its interpersonal and political contexts, as well as its relation to reconciliation. Having examined the place of forgiveness in ancient philosophy and in modern thought, he discusses what forgiveness is, what conditions the parties to it must meet, its relation to revenge and hatred, when it is permissible and whether it is obligatory, and why it is a virtue.

About the Author
Charles L. Griswold is Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. He has been awarded fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the National Humanities Center. Winner of the American Philosophical Association's F. J. Matchette Award, he is the author and editor of several books, most recently Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment.



Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:12 pm
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No, you did everything right. We dont have a freethought book selection anymore. Your suggestion is welcome right here. :)


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Fri Jan 04, 2008 3:33 pm
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I'd be interested in Ten Theories of Human Nature. It's actually used as a text at my university for the subject "Philosophy of the Human Person" but I never actually took that subject. The lecturer who runs the unit is brilliant so if he's using the book I'd say it's very useful and interesting.



Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:10 pm
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Post Two cents on non-fiction selections
I'm so excited about the cerebral selections suggested now and in the past I can't come up with anything myself...I just want to get everything mentioned and stop time so I can sit and do nothing but read...and maybe enjoy some bread, wine and cheese. I ramble...

Of those mentioned here, I have listed my preferences below based on the short blurbs about each:

1. Lust in Translation (keep us warm for the winter, perhaps? teehee)

2. Ten Theories...Human Nature

3. Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me (are we sure that wasn't written by "W".? teehee)

4. Forgiveness...

It occurs to me I'll have to try and post more often so folks get a feel for my sense of humor ;)


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Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:01 pm
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My vote is 100% for Ten Theories of Human Nature. In fact, I'm sure I will read it even if it isn't picked. I think a book of this topic is exactly what I need right now.

Jan.



Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:39 pm
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As I said when I signed up, I'm not big into non-fiction. I'm going to make an effort to read all fiction books, regardless of if they seem like something I'd like, but in non-fiction I'll probably only read what I specifically find interesting.

I think Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) sounds very intriguing. Also, Ten Theories of Human Nature sounds like it's very informative, though I get a "textbooky" vibe which means I may never finish it.



Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:13 pm
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It is probably a bit textbooky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It covers the theory of human nature as outlined by Confucianism, Hinduism, the Bible, Plato, Kant, Marx, Freud, Sartre, Behaviorism and Evolutionary Psychology.

It seems a slight pity that the publishers recycled comments from the original book Seven Theories of Human Nature for the back cover! :roll:



Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:25 pm
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