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Q4, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions

Collaborate in choosing our next NON-FICTION book for group discussion within this forum. A minimum of 5 posts is necessary to participate here!
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Chris OConnor

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Q4, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions

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Q4, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions

October, November & December

This thread is for making (general interest) NONFICTION book suggestions for 4th Quarter of 2007 (October, November & December). 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 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 freethinker suggestion 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. If you vanish after making a suggestion we may assume you are not very committed to your suggestion and probably won't even participate should your book win. This assumption might be wrong, but please help us by assisting fully in this book selection process. Comment on the other suggestions you see. Even negative comments are valuable and appreciated. If you think a particular book suggestion sucks...say so.

So what general interest nonfiction books would you like to read and discuss for Q4, 2007

And as I mentioned in the above freethought suggestion thread I'd really like to select our Q4, 2007 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!
Last edited by Chris OConnor on Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:35 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Q4, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions

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Western Muslims and the Future of Islam by Tariq RamadanIn a Western world suddenly acutely interested in Islam, one question has been repeatdly heard above the din : where are the Muslim reformers ? With this ambitious volume, Tariq Ramadan firmly establishes himself as one of Europe's leadind thinkers and one of Islam's most innovative and important voices.As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslims becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context. French, English, German, and American Muslims -women as well as men- are reshaping their religion into one that is faithfuol to the principles of Islam, dressed in European and American cultures, and definitively rooted in Western societies. Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries but in the cultural reality of the West. He begins by offering a fresh reading of Islamic sources, interpreting them for a Western context and demonstrating how a new understanding of universal Islamic principles can open the door to integration into Western socities. He then shows how these principles can be put to pratical use. Ramadan contends that Muslims can -indeed must- br faithful to their principles while participating fully in the civic life of Western secular socities. Grounded in scholarship and bold in its aims, Western Muslims and the Future of Islamoffers a striking vision of a new Muslim identity, one that rejects once for all idea that Islam must be defined in opposition to the West.From Publishers WeeklyRamadan, named by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the 100 most important innovators of the coming century, argues that Islam can and should feel at home in the West. He takes stock of Islamic law and tradition to analyze whether Islam is in conflict with Western ideals; Ramadan is emphatic that there is no contradiction. He then spells out several key areas where Islam's universal principles can be "engaged" in the West, including education, interreligious dialogue, economic resistance and spirituality. Ramadan raises interesting issues about Islam's inherent critique of consumerism and its demanding spirituality, which "touches all the dimensions of life." Copyright
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Re: Q4, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions

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A Greener FaithReligious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future by Roger S. Gottlieb DescriptionIn a time of darkening environmental prospects, frightening religious fundamentalism, and moribund liberalism, the remarkable and historically unprecedented rise of religious environmentalism is a profound source of hope. Theologians are recovering nature-honoring elements of traditional religions and forging bold new theologies connecting devotion to God and spiritual truth with love for God's creation and care for the Earth. And religious people throughout the world are transforming the meaning of their faiths in the face of the environmental crisis. The successes and significance of religious environmentalism are manifest in statements by leaders of virtually all the world's religions, in new and "green" prayers and rituals, and in sophisticated criticisms of modern society's economy, politics, and culture. From the Evangelical Environmental Network to the Buddhist prime minister of Mongolia, the National Council of Churches to tree-planting campaigns in Zimbabwe, religious environmentalism has become a powerful component of the world environmental movement.In A Greener Faith , Roger S. Gottlieb chronicles the promises of this critically important movement, illuminating its principal ideas, leading personalities, and ways of connecting care for the earth with justice for human beings. He also shows how religious environmentalism breaks the customary boundaries of "religious issues" in political life. Asserting that environmental degradation is sacrilegious, sinful, and an offense against God catapults religions directly into questions of social policy, economic and moral priorities, and the overall direction of secular society. Gottlieb contends that a spiritual perspective applied to the Earth provides the environmental movement with a uniquely appropriate way to voice its dream of a sustainable and just world. Equally important, it helps develop a world-making political agenda that far exceeds interest group politics applied to forests and toxic incinerators. Rather, religious environmentalism offers an all-inclusive vision of what human beings are and how we should treat each other and the rest of life.Gottlieb deftly analyzes the growing synthesis of the movement's religious, social, and political aspects, as well as the challenges it faces in consumerism, fundamentalism, and globalization. Highly engaging and passionately argued, this book is an indispensable resource for people of faith, environmentalists, scholars, and anyone who is concerned about our planet's future. Features: - First comprehensive account on religious environmentalism - Covers political activism, as well as theology and ethics Reviews"At last someone has not only noticed the extraordinary story of the rise of religious participation in the environemnetal movement, but has written a book which tells this story in an engaging way. Gottlieb chronicles the increasing role played by faith groups but is also very good at pinpointing the areas of disagreement and tension with an often dismissive secular world. This should be vital reading for anyone who thinks they know what the future of the environmentalmovement is. Gottlieb will show many people worlds they didn't even think existed! A timely book; a wonderful collection of stories; and some hard questions. Excellent."--Martin Palmer, Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation "Roger S. Gottlieb is the foremost voice in joining spirituality, environmentalism, and progressive politics. In this critically important book, he creates a needed sense of community, engenders hope, gives us direction, and impels us to act on behalf of the earth and all its beings."--David Landis Barnhill, editor of At Home on the Earth: Becoming Native to Our Place "Roger S. Gottlieb's A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future offers a superb insight into the larger issues of an integral Earth-human survival...a most needed guide."--Father Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work: Our Way into the Future "This should be vital reading for anyone who thinks they know what the future of the environmental movement is. Gottlieb will show many people worlds they didn't even think existed! A timely book; a wonderful collection of stories; and some hard questions. Excellent."--Martin Palmer, Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation "Gottlieb's depiction of globalization as a non-democratic system of commodification of humans and environment is incisive. Religious environmentalism needs to face both its profound diversity and the inequality which globalization produces. Eminently readable, this book would make student discussions far more knowlegable and sophisticated. It provides insights to religious environmentalists and helps broaden the views of the despirers of religion. Above all, this is a hopeful and wise book." --Environmental Ethics "Roger S. Gottlieb has written a seminal book examining the emerging debate on environmental ethics among the world's great faith traditions and what that means for the future of environmental stewardship."--Carl Pope, Executive Director, The Sierra Club "Roger S. Gottlieb presents a comprehensive view of the nexus of religion and the environment. The specific stories of faith-based environmentalism provide a bright picture of the faith community's capacity for caring for God's creation. If we actively follow his lead, we will go a long way toward being more effective stewards of our fragile planet."--Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA About the Author:Roger S. Gottlieb is Professor of Philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass. Among his many books are This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, and Environment , now in its Second Edition, A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth and Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change .
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Re: Q4, 2007 Nonfiction Book Suggestions

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Chances are slim, but here goes:I propose we read EO Wilson's, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth as the freethinker selection and Roger Gottlieb's A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future as our non-fiction selection. Wilson's book is written as a series of letters to a Baptist minister in a effort to bridge the divide between Biblical and Enviromental ethics...an appeal to "save life on earth". The thing is, we never get to hear from the other side. Therefore, I think we should examine the quest to "save life on earth" from the comparative religions perspective, using Gottlieb's text as the primary source for critiquing what religious environmentalism brings to the dialogue.Gottlieb's A Greener Faith is not a disinterested text, but a critically affirmative, progressively guided, academically reputable, environmentally committed engagement with religious texts, communities, organizations, and individuals from around the world. It embodies the best of comparative religions scholarship. I think it is a very worthy dialogue partner for the esteemed naturalist, EO Wilson.
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How about The Lucifer Effect?www.amazon.co.uk/Lucifer-...1844135772Quote: In "The Lucifer Effect", the award-winning and internationally respected psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, examines how the human mind has the capacity to be infinitely caring or selfish, kind or cruel, creative or destructive. He challenges our conceptions of who we think we are, what we believe we will never do - and how and why almost any of us could be initiated into the ranks of evil doers. At the same time he describes the safeguards we can put in place to prevent ourselves from corrupting - or being corrupted by - others, and what sets some people apart as heroes and heroines, able to resist powerful pressures to go along with the group, and to refuse to be team players when personal integrity is at stake. Using the first in-depth analysis of his classic "Stanford Prison Experiment", and his personal experiences as an expert witness for one of the Abu Ghraib prison guards, Zimbardo's stimulating and provocative book raises fundamental questions about the nature of good and evil, and how each one of us needs to be vigilant to prevent becoming trapped in the 'Lucifer Effect', no matter what kind of character or morality we believe ourselves to have. 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
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Five Minds for the Future by Howard GardnerGardner's newest book, Five Minds for the Future outlines the specific cognitive abilities that will be sought and cultivated by leaders in the years ahead.They include: The Disciplinary Mind: the mastery of major schools of thought, including science, mathematics, and history, and of at least one professional craft.The Synthesizing Mind: the ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres into a coherent whole and to communicate that integration to others.The Creating Mind: the capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena.The Respectful Mind: awareness of and appreciation for differences among human beings and human groups.The Ethical Mind: fulfillment of one's responsibilities as a worker and as a citizen. In the book, Gardner draws from a wealth of diverse examples to illuminate these ideas, designed to inspire lifelong learning and also to provide valuable insights for those charged with training and developing organizational leaders.Drawing on decades of cognitive research and rich examples from history, politics, business, science, and the arts, Gardner writes for professionals, teachers, parents, political and business leaders, trainers, and all who prize the cognitive skills at a premium for tomorrow.Quote:From Publishers WeeklyStarred Review. Psychologist, author and Harvard professor Gardner (Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons) has put together a thought-provoking, visionary attempt to delineate the kinds of mental abilities ("minds" ) that will be critical to success in a 21st century landscape of accelerating change and information overload. Gardner's five minds-disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful and ethical-are not personality types, but ways of thinking available to anyone who invests the time and effort to cultivate them: "how we should use our minds." In presenting his "values enterprise," Gardner uses a variety of explanatory models, from developmental psychology to group dynamics, demonstrating their utility not just for individual development, but for tangible success in a full range of human endeavors, including education, business, science, art, politics and engineering. A tall order for a single work, Gardner avoids overly-technical arguments as well as breezy generalizations, putting to fine use his twenty years experience as a cognitive science researcher, author and educator, and proving his world-class reputation well-earned. Though specialists might wish Gardner dug a bit more into the research, most readers will find the book lively and engaging, like the fascinating lectures of a seasoned, beloved prof. Copyright
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Re: Suggestion

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I was just beginning to read The Moral Animal by Robert Wright before my personal life flew wildly out of control due to job relocation and being a first time home buyer (both good things but leaving me with little personal time). This may make for a good Q4 reading. I have read 50 pages so far and am delighted at this point with the author's style and the content.
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I recently heard this author in an NPR interview, and I'm planning on checking out his book one way or another, so I thought I'd toss it your way:A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja, by Joost R. HiltermannReview"Joost Hiltermann has written an authoritative account of the real use of weapons of mass destruction in the contemporary Middle East-Saddam Hussein's massive use of chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s. His research documents with great persuasiveness not only Iraqi crimes but also the culpability of those in the international community who carefully looked the other way or tacitly collaborated. " Gary Sick, former member of the National Security Council staff, Director of the Gulf/2000 Project, Columbia University"In A Poisonous Affair Joost Hiltermann has crafted a gripping narrative out of some of the most chilling events of the last two decades. But A Poisonous Affair is not simply a rigorous and important piece of history. By revisiting Saddam Hussein's worst massacre and the US response to it, Hilterman masterfully excavates the roots of our current predicament. He shows how the traumatization of the Kurds spawned their mistrust of all things Iraqi, fueling the separatism of the present. He reveals the degree to which America's support for Saddam while he was gassing his own people bred fierce and lasting skepticism about whether Washington could be trusted in the region. And he demonstrates how America's indifference to Saddam's chemical attacks on Iran helped convince Iran to go it alone, and to acquire its own weapons of mass destruction. Hilterman has given us a necessary book about a ghastly crime, the legacy of which we will be managing for decades to come." Samantha Power, Harvard University, and author of A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide"Joost Hiltermann is one of the Iraq observers that journalists and policymakers count on most for historical memory and acute analysis. In A Poisonous Affair he has produced a gracefully written and timely reminder that the combination of weapons of mass destruction, geo-political mendacity, and vast human suffering has a rich history in Iraq. The story of Halabja reveals at once why the regime of Saddam Hussein deserved to fall and why America was a dubious agent of its demise." George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq Book DescriptionIn March 1988, during the Iran-Iraq war, thousands were killed in a chemical attack on a town in Iraqi Kurdistan. Both sides accused the other. Gradually it emerged that Saddam Hussein, with the tacit support of his western allies, was responsible. This book tells the story of the gassing of Halabja, and how Iraq amassed chemical weapons to target Iranian soldiers and Kurdish villagers as America looked the other way. Today, as the Middle East sinks further into turmoil, these policies are coming back to haunt the West.
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I was going to try to track down a copy of this in Borders and give it a cursory examination before I suggested it, but what the hell. It's a topic that we haven't really handled in a book discussion before, and I think it's likely to stir up some provocative -- and pertinent -- discussion.Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class Warby Joe BageantBook DescriptionAfter thirty years spent scratching together a middle-class life out of a "dirt-poor" childhood, Joe Bageant moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, where he realized that his family and neighbors were the very people who carried George W. Bush to victory. That was ironic, because Winchester, like countless American small towns, is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas. Nearly everyone over fifty has serious health problems, and many have no health care. Credit ratings are low or nonexistent, and alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.A raucous mix of storytelling and political commentary, Deer Hunting with Jesus is Bageant's report on what he learned by coming home. He writes of his childhood friends who work at factory jobs that are constantly on the verge of being outsourced; the mortgage and credit card rackets that saddle the working poor with debt, i.e., "white trashonomics"; the ubiquitous gun culture
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I like the idea of a book dealing with society/sociology. Would be interested to know if Bageant's book is of a good quality or shoddy journalism which generally tends to typify such first hand accounts. I live in a part of New England that is as described above with exception of the housing issue since housing is awful cheap (especially the trailer market). It is an amazingly baffling thing to see first hand.
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