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Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions 
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Post Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions


July, August & September 2007


This thread is for making (general interest) NONFICTION book suggestions for 3rd Quarter of 2007 (July, August & September). For those that are new to BookTalk I will briefly explain our book suggestion process.

We read and discuss 2 different nonfiction books concurrently each quarter.

1 book is a "freethought" nonfiction selection
1 book is a general interest nonfiction book

BOTH are non-fiction, but one is specifically of interest to freethinkers.

There is a suggestion thread created for each of the above two categories. The thread you are in now is where you make your general interest nonfiction book suggestions. Books that represent and promote freethought should not be added to this thread. Please use the above Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions thread.

We should probably come up with a better term than "general interest," since we don't read "just any" nonfiction book around here. Our focus is on books that are highly rated, of broad appeal, are available on Amazon.com, and are apt to generate deep thought and quality discussion. Books about specific obscure events or people are probably not going to be exciting to most of our members, so please put some thought into your suggestions.

Important

1. Provide the title, author, copied and pasted review or summary, and a link to Amazon where we can read more.

2. Please comment on other people's suggestions. This is probably the most important thing you can do. Don't make a suggestion and then vanish. Be ACTIVE in this thread.

So what general interest nonfiction books would you like to read and discuss for Q3, 2007?

And as I mentioned in the above freethought suggestion thread I'd really like to select our Q3, 2007 (July, August & September) books early this time. It is in our best interest to give plenty of advance notice so visitors and members have time to order the upcoming books at least 3 weeks before the start of the next reading period. So provide your suggestion now so that they have a chance of appearing on the poll!




Thu Apr 12, 2007 1:11 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Recently an author stopped by our site and suggested her upcoming book for consideration. After looking it over the book does indeed seem like a good read and one that would stimulate quality discussion as an official selection.

Ilona Meagher's new book, described below, doesn't hit the stores till May 1, 2007, but we're suggesting books for our July, August & September discussion period right now, so this shouldn't be an issue.

Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops by Ilona Meagher

Book Description
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in our returning combat troops is one of the most catastrophic issues confronting our nation. Yet, despite the fact that nearly 20 percent of the over half million troops that have left the military since 2003 have been diagnosed with PTSD, and that many who suffer symptoms are unlikely to seek help because of the stigma of this terrible disease, our government and media have remained silent.

Moving A Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops is a grassroots call to action designed to break the shameful silence and put the issue of PTSD in our returning troops front and center before the American public. In addition to presenting interviews with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering with PTSD, such as Blake Miller, the famous "Marlboro Man," this book will be the most comprehensive resource to date for concerned citizens who want to understand the complex political, social, and health-related issues of PTSD, with an eye toward "moving our nation to care" to do what is necessary to help our fighting men and women who suffer from PTSD.

About the Author
Ilona Meagher is editor of the online journal PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within. Her collaboration with ePluribus Media has resulted in the PTSD Timeline, a database of reported PTSD incidents. She has appeared in numerous media outlets, and has been interviewed on Fox News about the issue of PTSD in troops returning from Iraq.




Thu Apr 12, 2007 1:39 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Two books by the same author to be read in succession:

On Bullshit and On Truth by H.G. Frankfurt.

On Bullshit was the winner of the 2005 Bestseller Awards, Philosophy Category, The Book Standard. On Truth is the author's sequel. Both are very brief, but together could prove an entertaining, provocative and illuminating examination of what we mean by BS and telling the Truth.

On Bullshit , from Princeton University Press:
Quote:
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory."

Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.


On Truth , from Booklist:
Quote:
Frankfurt wrote the little bookOn Bullshit (2005) that became a surprise runaway best-seller. It focused on, as the title indicates, people "who are attempting by what they say to manipulate the opinions and the attitudes of those to whom they speak." This sequel, equally brief, trenchant, and deeply thoughtful, is another extended essay, this one on a topic closely related to the first. Frankfurt takes the position that a "deplorable mistake" would be unleashed abroad if there should develop in today's world a widespread lack of caring for the "value and importance" of truth. He finds a disregard for truth "endemic" among publicists and politicians, but he has discovered a similar attitude growing among authors. Frankfurt works with a broad canvas here, averring, "A society that is recklessly and persistently remiss in [supporting and encouraging truth] is bound to decline." Without an appreciation for truth, humans can not consider themselves--take pride in themselves--as rational animals, separate from other animals in that regard. The author is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton, and despite its brevity, this provocative meditation is not light reading.





Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:06 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Here goes my suggestion:
Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers

I agree with the idea that knowing the title a bit more in advance allows all of us to start reading 'at the same time'. Some of the US titles take time to get over here. ::152




Tue May 01, 2007 3:22 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
The Final Move Beyond Iraq: The Final Solution While the World Sleeps
by Mike Evans

Book Description
In The Final Move Beyond Iraq, Mike Evans addresses the greatest threat America has faced since the Civil War: the Islamic revolution, or Islamofascism. While the United States debates the best way to solve the situation in Iraq, the terrorists are claiming victory and planning to take their show to American soil once again. Drawing from extensive interviews with prime ministers, CIA directors, and other insiders, Evans looks at the history and ideology behind the Islamic revolution to explore its very real threat to U.S. interests --why radical Islamic terrorists will only step back when they fear us, why victory in Iraq is important to U.S. security, why the United States and Israel cannot sit idly by and let Iran achieve its desire for nuclear weapons, and why stabilization in Iraq now would sound defeat rather than victory. The Final Move Beyond Iraq is a wake-up call to mobilize millions to action. America is fighting for its life in the first war of the twenty-first century.

From the Back Cover
Could we lose the war on terror?
America is fighting for its life in the first war of the twenty-first century. The battle is for the soul of America, and ground zero is Iraq.

While the United States debates, the terrorists are claiming victory and planning to take their show to American soil once again. In The Final Move Beyond Iraq, best-selling author Mike Evans gives us a wake up call, demonstrating conclusively that:

An Islamic revolution is spreading and is on the brink of becoming America's greatest threat since the Civil War. A·Immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be disastrous and will embolden terrorists to attack America at home. A·Iran is playing a major role in the current violence. A·The U.S. must strike Iran within the next twelve months, or the next President may be presiding over a nuclear 9/11.

American soldiers are risking their lives for our freedom. We must see this war through to the end--or our next battle will be much, much worse.




Wed May 16, 2007 2:01 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
by Natalie Angier

From Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer-winning science writer Angier (Woman: An Intimate Geography) distills everything you've forgotten from your high school science classes and more into one enjoyable book, a guide for the scientifically perplexed adult who wants to understand what those guys in lab coats on the news are babbling about, in the realms of physics, chemistry, biology, geology or astronomy. More important even than the brief rundowns of atomic theory or evolution



Wed May 16, 2007 2:13 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
by Nathaniel Philbrick

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this remarkable effort, National Book Award



Wed May 16, 2007 2:17 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
by Philip Zimbardo

From Publishers Weekly
Psychologist Zimbardo masterminded the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, in which college students randomly assigned to be guards or inmates found themselves enacting sadistic abuse or abject submissiveness. In this penetrating investigation, he revisits



Wed May 16, 2007 2:22 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces. Beah then finds himself in the army



Wed May 16, 2007 2:26 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
by Jeremy Scahill

From Publishers Weekly
Scahill, a regular contributor to the Nation, offers a hard-left perspective on Blackwater USA, the self-described private military contractor and security firm. It owes its existence, he shows, to the post



Wed May 16, 2007 2:30 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right by Thane Rosenbaum
Quote:
American culture is obsessed with the law, the legal system, and lawyers. Much in our everyday lives revolves around the law, and we are bombarded daily by cultural images of lawyers and the legal system at work. We indulge in dramatic television shows and feature films about lawyers, we read legal thrillers, and observe trials as they unfold. Many of us wish for our children to attend law school and become lawyers. At the same time, most people report that they don't trust lawyers and hold them and the legal system in very low esteem. Those who have had unfavorable experiences with the law have walked away bitter and resentful. Some have observed that lawyers operate according to their own professional worldview, one that is emotionally detached and unfeeling, overly logical, technical, narrow, bureaucratic, and insensitive to basic human emotions and moral principles. We are, paradoxically, both fascinated and repulsed by our legal system. The dramatic allure of judgment keeps us enthralled; the absence of moral conviction in the law makes us furious. In The Myth of Moral Justice, law professor and novelist Thane Rosenbaum suggests that this paradox stems from the fact that citizens and the courts are at odds when it comes to their definitions of justice. Individuals seek out lawyers and enter courtrooms because they have an emotional grievance as well as a legal complaint. They expect the law to do the right thing. Yet our legal system, bent on separating the legal from the emotional, willfully ignores basic moral criteria. As a result, the justice system undermines truth, perpetuates secrets and lies, prevents victims from telling their stories, promotes adversarial enmity over community repair, and fails to equate legal duty with moral responsibility. Legal outcomes that make sense to lawyers and judges feel simply wrong to most people and enrage others.

With a lawyer's expertise and a novelist's sensibility, Rosenbaum tackles complicated philosophical questions about our longing for moral justice. He also takes a critical look at what our legal system does to the spirits of those who must come before the law, along with those who practice within it. Rosenbaum reinforces his themes with artistic representations of lawyers and legal systems from the classic works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Franz Kafka, along with various important feature films that illuminate why our legal system fails to do what's right.


Lawyer-turned-novelist Rosenbaum argues for the ideal of a morally centered legal system rather than our current one, which is so rigid and formulaic that it rarely delivers just outcomes. What most often brings people to court are "indignities done to the spirit" that require more than the remedie s of punishment and monetary compensation. Sometimes it is spiritual and restorative remedies that are required, such as simply giving victims the opportunity to speak and be heard. Instead, our system is plagued with machinations from plea bargaining, settlements, evidence rules, technicalities, and widespread lying under oath, which lead to a loss of faith or, worse, untreated emotional injuries that get played out in conflicts, riots, and vengeance. Looking at literature and movies, from The Verdict to The Merchant of Venice, and real-life trials, including the O. J. Simpson trial, Rosenbaum explores the moral complexities within the law and human lives and our never-ending fascination and frustration with the law. This is a thoughtful look at the shortcomings of the American legal system. Vanessa BushCopyright



Sat May 19, 2007 3:36 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
I'm currently reading the following book, which is well-written and has lots of important ideas:

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs
www.amazon.com/End-Povert...04-7126359
Quote:

Amazon.com
Celebrated economist Jeffrey Sachs has a plan to eliminate extreme poverty around the world by 2025. If you think that is too ambitious or wildly unrealistic, you need to read this book. His focus is on the one billion poorest individuals around the world who are caught in a poverty trap of disease, physical isolation, environmental stress, political instability, and lack of access to capital, technology, medicine, and education. The goal is to help these people reach the first rung on the "ladder of economic development" so they can rise above mere subsistence level and achieve some control over their economic futures and their lives. To do this, Sachs proposes nine specific steps, which he explains in great detail in The End of Poverty. Though his plan certainly requires the help of rich nations, the financial assistance Sachs calls for is surprisingly modest--more than is now provided, but within the bounds of what has been promised in the past. For the U.S., for instance, it would mean raising foreign aid from just 0.14 percent of GNP to 0.7 percent. Sachs does not view such help as a handout but rather an investment in global economic growth that will add to the security of all nations. In presenting his argument, he offers a comprehensive education on global economics, including why globalization should be embraced rather than fought, why international institutions such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank need to play a strong role in this effort, and the reasons why extreme poverty exists in the midst of great wealth. He also shatters some persistent myths about poor people and shows how developing nations can do more to help themselves.

Despite some crushing statistics, The End of Poverty is a hopeful book. Based on a tremendous amount of data and his own experiences working as an economic advisor to the UN and several individual nations, Sachs makes a strong moral, economic, and political case for why countries and individuals should battle poverty with the same commitment and focus normally reserved for waging war. This important book not only makes the end of poverty seem realistic, but in the best interest of everyone on the planet, rich and poor alike. --Shawn Carkonen

From Publishers Weekly
Sachs came to fame advising "shock therapy" for moribund economies in the 1980s (with arguably positive results); more recently, as director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, he has made news with a plan to end global "extreme poverty"--which, he says, kills 20,000 people a day--within 20 years. While much of the plan has been known to economists and government leaders for a number of years (including Kofi Annan, to whom Sachs is special advisor), this is Sachs's first systematic exposition of it for a general audience, and it is a landmark book.For on-the-ground research in reducing disease, poverty, armed conflict and environmental damage, Sachs has been to more than 100 countries, representing 90% of the world's population. The book combines his practical experience with sharp professional analysis and clear exposition. Over 18 chapters, Sachs builds his case carefully, offering a variety of case studies, detailing small-scale projects that have worked and crunching large amounts of data. His basic argument is that "[W]hen the preconditions of basic infrastructure (roads, power, and ports) and human capital (health and education) are in place, markets are powerful engines of development." In order to tread "the path to peace and prosperity," Sachs believes it is encumbant upon successful market economies to bring the few areas of the world that still need help onto "the ladder of development." Writing in a straightfoward but engaging first person, Sachs keeps his tone even whether discussing failed states or thriving ones. For the many who will buy this book but, perhaps, not make it all the way through, chapters 12 through 14 contain the blueprint for Sachs's solution to poverty, with the final four making a rigorous case for why rich countries (and individuals) should collectively undertake it--and why it is affordable for them to do so. If there is any one work to put extreme poverty back onto the global agenda, this is it.

Sachs would totally disagree with this statement from the review of the Liberia book.
Quote:
Pham argues that these states must take responsibility for their own reconstruction and reconstitution as democratic nations, without Western intervention, if they are ever to emerge from their current struggle.

Edited by: JulianTheApostate at: 6/6/07 1:32 am



Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:31 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Chris, I'd be interested in the Liberia book, and having it be the official selection for next quarter will make me a lot more likely to participate.




Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:10 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Then let's try to find the very best book on Liberia and get it in this suggestion thread. Or do you think the one I listed is pretty decent?




Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:17 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions
Cool beans. THe book you suggested looks like it might be worthwhile. Here are two other suggestions I found on Amazon:

The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War
(This one might appeal to the forum at large, since it discusses the religious factor of the Liberian civil war. I don't know a hell of a lot about the current situation in Liberia, so I'm not even sure what that factor is, but if nothing else that component of the book ought to contribute to discussion. A potential drawback -- some of the reviews describe the book as having a very "academic" style, which may be a turn to people who might otherwise get in on a discussion like this. We might do better to look for something more accessible.)

The Evolution of Deadly Conflict in Liberia: From 'Paternaltarianism' to State Collapse
(Looks like a broader approach, and based on the book description, I'd say it probably provides a more systematic view of the history of Liberia. I also like the approach: the author is specifically trying to answer the question of why civil conflict keeps taking place there, which is part of the reason I raised the topic in the first place. The big problem here is gonna be price: so far as I can tell, the book is only available in hardback.)

Ps. here is the Amazon.com browse page for Books



Thu Jun 07, 2007 4:57 pm
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