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November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection 
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
Also I wouldn't object to "The Blank Slate". I read it before but it was years ago and I don't remember much about it.



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Chris OConnor
Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:18 pm
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
Anyone else interested in The Blank Slate?

Suggestions and feedback on current suggestions are welcome.



Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:56 pm
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
I would be interested in reading The Blank Slate.



Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:54 pm
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
I just discovered that Steven Pinker released a new book last year entitled, "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined."

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Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.


Review
"For anyone interested in human nature, the material is engrossing, and when the going gets heavy, Pinker knows how to lighten it with ironic comments and a touch of humor. . . . A supremely important book. To have command of so much research, spread across so many different fields, is a masterly achievement."
(The New York Times Book Review )

"An extraordinary range of research . . . a masterly effort."
(The Wall Street Journal )

"Better Angels is a monumental achievement. His book should make it much harder for pessimists to cling to their gloomy vision of the future. Whether war is an ancient adaptation or a pernicious cultural infection, we are learning how to overcome it."
(Slate )
About the Author

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching and scientific research, Pinker is Peter de Florez professor of psychology in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



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Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:09 pm
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
Hey Chris.

I'd like to try and make a run through the Federalist Papers. I think this would be a good little secondary non-fiction book selection. It could provide stimulating debate, teach us what some of our Founding Fathers wanted for the country, and may give some people the motivation to trudge through such a daunting and difficult read... and it is difficult. I've tried before and only got about halfway through - bring your dictionary!

If enough people are interested, I'd be more than willing to lead the discussion or participate while someone else leads it.



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Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:25 pm
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
Hi Chris,

I was thinking of The Better Angels of Our Nature as well. You could pick one as the discussion book and people could still read and comment on the other. I would also think about reading The Language Instinct, maybe others would as well. I know that Pinker has been criticized from the left for the political implications of Better Angels (and the Blank Slate too, if my memory serves). May be fuel for discussion here.



Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:24 am
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
I'm up for anything by Pinker. Blank Slate is my first choice, but Better Angels would be fine too.

I'd also participate in the Federalist Papers as a side project. I appreciate Camacho's offer to lead the discussion. This book from Amazon is 266 pages long, so perhaps not so daunting after all?

A review: "This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren ... should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." So wrote John Jay, one of the revolutionary authors of The Federalist Papers, arguing that if the United States was truly to be a single nation, its leaders would have to agree on universally binding rules of governance--in short, a constitution. In a brilliant set of essays, Jay and his colleagues Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explored in minute detail the implications of establishing a kind of rule that would engage as many citizens as possible and that would include a system of checks and balances. Their arguments proved successful in the end, and The Federalist Papers stand as key documents in the founding of the United States."

http://www.amazon.com/Federalist-Papers ... ist+papers


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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
A book LanDroid mentioned in discussion of Ayn Rand is The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

It is available for free online at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/140/140-h/140-h.htm

Cliff Notes are at http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/ ... ungle.html

Wikipedia summary is as follows
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The Jungle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by Upton Sinclair (1878-1968). Sinclair wrote the novel with the intent to portray the lives of immigrants in the United States. However, readers were more concerned with the large portion of the book pertaining to the bad practices and corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, and the book is now often interpreted and taught as a journalist's account of the poor working conditions in the industry. The novel depicts, in harsh tones, poverty, the absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and the hopelessness prevalent among the working class, which is contrasted with the deeply-rooted corruption on the part of those in power. Sinclair's observations of the state of turn-of-the-twentieth-century labor were placed front and center for the American public to see, suggesting that something needed to be changed to get rid of American wage slavery. A review by Jack London called it, "the Uncle Tom's Cabin of wage slavery."

During the time The Jungle was written, Social Darwinism was the philosophy that represented most Americans' attitudes. It applied such concepts as survival of the fittest, "buyer beware," and minimal regulation (especially of factory conditions and workers rights) to the economy. Sinclair was one of the muckrakers, or journalists who exposed corruption in government and business.

The novel was based on undercover work done in 1904: Sinclair spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards at the behest of the magazine's publishers.


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Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:49 pm
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Post Re: November & December 2012 Non-Fiction Book Selection
We now have 10 great suggestions so I'll create the poll right now. Thanks guys. :-)



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