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Suggestions for our May & June 2008 Non-Fiction book
Suggestions for our May & June 2008 Non-Fiction book
Please use this thread for making suggestions for our May & June 2008 Non-Fiction book selection. And when making your suggestion tell us a little about why you think your book suggestion would make for a great BookTalk discussion.
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Last edited by Chris OConnor on Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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
From Publishers Weekly Irrational behavior is a part of human nature, but as MIT professor Ariely has discovered in 20 years of researching behavioral economics, people tend to behave irrationally in a predictable fashion. Drawing on psychology and economics, behavioral economics can show us why cautious people make poor decisions about sex when aroused, why patients get greater relief from a more expensive drug over its cheaper counterpart and why honest people may steal office supplies or communal food, but not money. According to Ariely, our understanding of economics, now based on the assumption of a rational subject, should, in fact, be based on our systematic, unsurprising irrationality. Ariely argues that greater understanding of previously ignored or misunderstood forces (emotions, relativity and social norms) that influence our economic behavior brings a variety of opportunities for reexamining individual motivation and consumer choice, as well as economic and educational policy. Ariely's intelligent, exuberant style and thought-provoking arguments make for a fascinating, eye-opening read.
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Two that have been on my list are:
Stumbling Into Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert. This one comes out of the positive psychology movement begun by Martin Seligman. It is not a self-help book. It analyzes the factors that promote our self-representations of a state of happiness. From my information, it delves into some of the paradoxes that relate to our feelings of happiness.
Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5 Billion-Year History of the Human Body, by Neil Shubin. This is not a book to convince us of the reality of evolution, of course; it is beyond that. It's more about the wonder of evolution, how we can see in ourselves the history of evolution back at least as far as the fish. This recent book received high praise from reviewers for its engaging style and sustained level of interest.
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Dan Ariely's book seemed interesting, so I looked up what amazon readers were saying, and found one who had arguments against the book..
Still, the overall Amazon rating is 4 1/2 stars from 23 reviews, which serves a very strong recommendation. It's possible that we'll share that reviewer's negative opinion, but such a risk will be present no matter what book we choose.
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I thought this book sounded interesting. It is 1150 pages long though.
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia
From 1936 to 1938, journalist and novelist Rebecca West made three trips to Yugoslavia. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia is a record of her travels. This immensely long book, which runs to 1150 pages, is much more than a travelogue, however. It is also a vivid account of the violent history of the Balkans going back many hundreds of years. West admits that before she visited the region, she knew almost nothing about it, other than that events in the Balkans (notably the assassination of Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914) had led to World War I. Since the war had affected West's own life
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Great suggestions! I have not read "Black Lamb Grey Falcon" but have always wanted to. Decades ago I read and loved a couple of her novels. The Balkans area is an international boiling point (witness the recent sacking of our embassy in Serbia over the Kosovo independence issue) Hint: the Serbs freaking hate our guts...... they especially hate Bill Clinton and Wesley Clark whom they regard as war criminals. (if Clinton wants to be President again all he has to do is go to Kosovo -- they'll kiss his feet). On the flip side of the coin, Milosovic was evil and we hastened his demise. Richard Holbrook, former U.N. Ambassador and broker of the Dayton Accords, in his own book, actually blames "Black Lamb Grey Falcon" for fostering unhealthy Serbophilia that may have contributed to eventual ethnic cleansing by Serbs. Let's dig into this book!! Conflict in the Balkans will return soon in a big way and we should learn more about the area.
"In Cold Blood" affected me profoundly when I read it many years ago. The arbitrary manner by which a family gets slaughtered out in the middle of nowhere scared the crap out of me. At the time I lived in a small town with my wife and 2 kids. We never locked doors, left our keys in the car. For several weeks after reading this book I religiously walked through the house before turning in, locking every window, every door. A great choice.
I think a book about the Balkans is a great idea, this is something I only know a very little about and I've always wanted to learn more.
The theme is interesting in itself and it's useful to understand European history-- as I was reading and writing in my journal about France and immigration, the way that unfortunate events kept piling up on top of each other sometimes made me think of the Balkans, where things must have been much, much worse, until people find it so impossible to live together that they need to create tiny, perhaps economically non-viable Kosovo into an independent state.
As to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon:
First, a hint to newcomers: if you want to suggest a title you will make your case stronger if you give a link to amazon, or perhaps some other reviews as well.
I may read this book for myself, but at this stage I doubt whether other BT members will choose it, because of its length.
On a personal level: I'd love to discuss a book about the Balkans, whether it's fiction or non fiction, but I wonder if one could be found that included the present time? Ideally, from the Turkish invasion to the 1990's-- perhaps that's asking a lot for one volume (!).
When I checked "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" at amazon, I saw that there seeemed to be a lot of other books about the Balkans at the bottom of the page, in case somebody wants to investigate.
The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Paperback)
From Booklist The ethnic hatreds, war, and near genocide that have destroyed the former Yugoslavia over the past decade have their roots in events, perceptions, and myths that go back at least seven centuries. Gerolymatos, professor of Hellenic studies at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, has written a stimulating, engrossing, but ultimately discouraging history of the Balkan peoples since the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. In that battle, the flower of Serbian aristocracy fell to the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks; the resultant myths and hatreds that grew out of that defeat have inspired nationalist fervor and stoked ethnic hostilities up to the present time. Gerolymatos is a fine writer who interweaves fascinating vignettes about quirky personalities into the broader narrative, and his readers learn a great deal about the basis of the ethnic hatreds that still dominate the region. Yet, as Gerolymatos implies, knowledge of the causes is not enough to foster understanding, since the people of the Balkans seem willing to remain imprisoned by their past.
I liked Kurlansky's "Salt: A World History". He is a very engaging writer.
Book Description In this timely, highly original, and controversial narrative, New York Times bestselling author Mark Kurlansky discusses nonviolence as a distinct entity, a course of action, rather than a mere state of mind. Nonviolence can and should be a technique for overcoming social injustice and ending wars, he asserts, which is why it is the preferred method of those who speak truth to power.
Nonviolence is a sweeping yet concise history that moves from ancient Hindu times to present-day conflicts raging in the Middle East and elsewhere. Kurlansky also brings into focus just why nonviolence is a "dangerous" idea, and asks such provocative questions as: Is there such a thing as a "just war"? Could nonviolence have worked against even the most evil regimes in history?
Kurlansky draws from history twenty-five provocative lessons on the subject that we can use to effect change today. He shows how, time and again, violence is used to suppress nonviolence and its practitioners–Gandhi and Martin Luther King, for example; that the stated deterrence value of standing national armies and huge weapons arsenals is, at best, negligible; and, encouragingly, that much of the hard work necessary to begin a movement to end war is already complete. It simply needs to be embraced and accelerated.
Engaging, scholarly, and brilliantly reasoned, Nonviolence is a work that compels readers to look at history in an entirely new way. This is not just a manifesto for our times but a trailblazing book whose time has come.
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I propose Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed I think his thesis statement is:
Dangers to a society may be mortal without being immediate. One such danger is the prevailing social vision of our time --and the dogmatism with which the ideas, assumptions, and attitudes behind that vision are held.
Much of the continent of Europe was devastated in World WarII because the totalitarian regime of the Nazis did not permit those who foresaw the self-destructive consequences of Hitler's policies to alter, or even to ingfluence, those policies. In earlier eras as well, many individuals foresaw the self-destruction of their own civilizations, from the days of the Roman Empire to the eras of the Spanish, Ottoman, and other empires. Yet that alone was not enough to change the course that was leading to ruin. Today, despite free speech and the mass media, the prevailing social vision is dangerously close to sealing itsel off from any discordant feedback from reality.
The Historian Arnold Toynbe believed the seven civilizations which existed before our own, all self-destructed from within, never from without. Do we really think Western Civilization will escape the mistakes of history when we apparently have failed to learn the lessons of history? Obviously I don't, which is why I'm writing my blog.
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