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What non-fiction book should we read next? (probably in Oct. & Nov.) 
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I would like to see us read "One Nation Under Gods; A History of the Mormon Church." I have read the book and would welcome discussion. They would have us believe that they are a mainstream Christian religion but this book shows that they are not. Whenever things don't go their way they have a "prophet" have a new "revelation" and change things. What an odd way for a large religion to evolve!



Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:35 pm
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www.amazon.com/Nicholas-Alexandra-Robert-K-Massie/dp/0345438310#reader

I'm really enjoying Nicholas and Alexandra because it reads like a novel, but gives an actual historic account of the last of the Romanovs. You couldn't make up this kind of drama.



Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:37 pm
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After President Camacho's comments, I couldn't resist reading A Beautiful Mind, about the Economics Nobel Prize winning schizophrenic John Nash, as I have had it on my shelf for a few years but haven't seen the movie.

Amazon site is http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Mind-Ma ... 0743224574

This book opens major question about the relation between genius and madness, the stigma attached to mental illness, and how Nash's contributions, including the Nash equilibrium of non-cooperative game theory, underpin research in diverse fields with complex dynamic natures, such as trade, genetics and politics. The story of his brilliance, his descent, his remission and his triumph is intimately tied to central themes in modern America - the role of RAND, Princeton, MIT, the cultural role of mathematics, and the ability to recognise outstanding intellect despite the failings of the individual.

Quote:
Amazon.com Review
Stories of famously eccentric Princetonians abound--such as that of chemist Hubert Alyea, the model for The Absent-Minded Professor, or Ralph Nader, said to have had his own key to the library as an undergraduate. Or the "Phantom of Fine Hall," a figure many students had seen shuffling around the corridors of the math and physics building wearing purple sneakers and writing numerology treatises on the blackboards. The Phantom was John Nash, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his generation, who had spiraled into schizophrenia in the 1950s. His most important work had been in game theory, which by the 1980s was underpinning a large part of economics. When the Nobel Prize committee began debating a prize for game theory, Nash's name inevitably came up--only to be dismissed, since the prize clearly could not go to a madman. But in 1994 Nash, in remission from schizophrenia, shared the Nobel Prize in economics for work done some 45 years previously.

Economist and journalist Sylvia Nasar has written a biography of Nash that looks at all sides of his life. She gives an intelligent, understandable exposition of his mathematical ideas and a picture of schizophrenia that is evocative but decidedly unromantic. Her story of the machinations behind Nash's Nobel is fascinating and one of very few such accounts available in print (the CIA could learn a thing or two from the Nobel committees). This highly recommended book is indeed "a story about the mystery of the human mind, in three acts: genius, madness, reawakening." --Mary Ellen Curtin --

From Publishers Weekly
Nasar has written a notable biography of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash (b. 1928), a founder of game theory, a RAND Cold War strategist and winner of a 1994 Nobel Prize in economics. She charts his plunge into paranoid schizophrenia beginning at age 30 and his spontaneous recovery in the early 1990s after decades of torment. He attributes his remission to will power; he stopped taking antipsychotic drugs in 1970 but underwent a half-dozen involuntary hospitalizations. Born in West Virginia, the flamboyant mathematical wizard rubbed elbows at Princeton and MIT with Einstein, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener. He compartmentalized his secret personal life, shows Nasar, hiding his homosexual affairs with colleagues from his mistress, a nurse who bore him a son out of wedlock, while he also courted Alicia Larde, an MIT physics student whom he married in 1957. Their son, John, born in 1959, became a mathematician and suffers from episodic schizophrenia. Alicia divorced Nash in 1963, but they began living together again as a couple around 1970. Today Nash, whose mathematical contributions span cosmology, geometry, computer architecture and international trade, devotes himself to caring for his son. Nasar, an economics correspondent for the New York Times, is equally adept at probing the puzzle of schizophrenia and giving a nontechnical context for Nash's mathematical and scientific ideas.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
[/b]



Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:21 pm
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:P

Dude, I've finally printed out your essay on reconciling Christian beliefs with reality using fractal geometry. This is going to go well with the book I'm currently reading - From Dawn to Decadence by J. Barzun. The book is heavy with religious history.

With that said, I vow to learn fractal geometry in order to prove you are looney tunes. I'm going to write my own essay modeled on your own work, with my own unique formulas, and mathematically prove you're off your rocker. I'm going to numerically show that on a fractal scale of 1-10 (10 being the most cuckoo bananas) you are a certifiable 10.

I don't know if this is a self test of your intellect to see if round pegs can fit in square holes... or what. All I know is that this little pet project of yours is frothing at the mouth and needs to be put down. I'm not one for holding anyone back, but if I see someone about to step in some doodoo, I'm going to say something. ...and you're like neck high in doodoo.

my 2 cents.



Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:06 pm
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These are all such good choices. What if we tried psychology? I would love to study Carl Jung. What about On the Nature of the Psyche ?

http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Psyche-Rou ... 575&sr=8-1



Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:57 am
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That looks interesting spot. I'd vote for that one.



Sat Sep 19, 2009 1:01 am
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Robert Tulip wrote:
This book opens major question about the relation between genius and madness, the stigma attached to mental illness, and how Nash's contributions, including the Nash equilibrium of non-cooperative game theory, underpin research in diverse fields with complex dynamic natures, such as trade, genetics and politics. The story of his brilliance, his descent, his remission and his triumph is intimately tied to central themes in modern America - the role of RAND, Princeton, MIT, the cultural role of mathematics, and the ability to recognise outstanding intellect despite the failings of the individual.

If you see the movie, I think you'll find it entertaining. It gives an inaccurate picture of schizophrenia, however, in the elaborate visual and auditory hallucinations the Nash character has. The illness is not that picturesque. In Nash's case, I think there is no relationship between his genius and his mental illness. It is extremely rare for someone with schizophrenia to be able to function at such a high intellectual level, but Nash apparently did have that disease. There is no evidence that his mental illness aided his creativity; it slowly eroded his abilities, and his recovery late in life was a recovery to better health but not by any means to the level of brilliance that he had attained earlier. The madness that sometimes afflicts exceptionally creative people is Bipolar Disorder, formerly called manic depression. It is true that the manic phases of that disease can spur sufferers to creative achievement.



Sat Sep 19, 2009 11:53 am
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I have another suggestion. Health care is a big issue right now, at least in the US.
I found two books that may be interesting.

Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis---And the People Who Pay the Price Jonathan Cohn

http://www.amazon.com/Sick-Untold-Ameri ... 0060580453

Critical: What We Can Do about the Health-Care Crisis Tom Daschle

http://www.amazon.com/Critical-What-Abo ... 182&sr=1-1

Daschle's book is newer. It was just published in August of this year. Cohn's book was published in 2007 though, so not too long ago. Just another thought.



Sun Sep 20, 2009 6:10 pm
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President Camacho wrote:
:P

Dude, I've finally printed out your essay on reconciling Christian beliefs with reality using fractal geometry. This is going to go well with the book I'm currently reading - From Dawn to Decadence by J. Barzun. The book is heavy with religious history.

With that said, I vow to learn fractal geometry in order to prove you are looney tunes. I'm going to write my own essay modeled on your own work, with my own unique formulas, and mathematically prove you're off your rocker. I'm going to numerically show that on a fractal scale of 1-10 (10 being the most cuckoo bananas) you are a certifiable 10.

I don't know if this is a self test of your intellect to see if round pegs can fit in square holes... or what. All I know is that this little pet project of yours is frothing at the mouth and needs to be put down. I'm not one for holding anyone back, but if I see someone about to step in some doodoo, I'm going to say something. ...and you're like neck high in doodoo.

my 2 cents.
Well thank you Mr President. You are the first and only person to comment on my essay Christ and Time: Towards a Rational Eschatology. The ideas in it are not crazy, just difficult and new. I am happy to respond if some one wishes to start a thread on it. A link and synopsis are at http://www.booktalk.org/weblog_entry.php?e=381



Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:55 pm
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Well this is simply disappointing. We have over 1,700 registered members out of which at least 100 are actively participating on the forums. Why so few non-fiction book suggestions? And why so little quality feedback on the suggestions we've already received?

My hands are really tied here. And I don't know how to handle it properly. We need more and quite frankly, better suggestions. And we can't even progress on to a poll without some decent feedback on the existing suggestions.

Those of you that have been around understand that we can't accept suggestions from brand new members. There is very little chance they'll stick around and participate in the discussion. But they are the ones making all the suggestions. Our active members with some history here seem to not be interested in selecting a new non-fiction book.

I have to remind people of something too. We won't accept religious books for our official discussions. We have plenty of forums for books that are advocating some sort of spiritual solution to life's trials and tribulations. But we don't put such books on the menu here. They are welcome in the Additional Book Discussions forums.

Also, people are suggesting what I'd call "fringe" books. How many people are going to really participate in a Carl Jung discussion? I congratulate you for your interest in stuff like that. I happen to be an Ayn Rand enthusiast, but you don't see me pushing fringe books like that. We need books of a broader appeal. Please try to consider that.

This thread has been open since AUGUST 2nd!

Please, do not convince yourself that we have decent book suggestions here and that we should be able to select one of these as an official book selection. I've been running BookTalk.org for 8 years and I know when we have a bunch of flops on our hands. No, the books aren't flops. But they are destined to be flops as discussion topics. How many new members are going to get excited about these suggestions??

Please, those of you that have been around a while and truly care about the book discussion aspect of BookTalk.org....please help us find some quality books. Visit Amazon.com and look for new releases and nest sellers. Find some books that will be of appeal to more than 2 or 3 members.



Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:55 pm
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I understand that almost every member here is liberal, but I'm suggesting this book because I think it might help some people understand what fuels conservatives to hold certain positions about the economy and national defense. Yea, I know. You would never read such trash. But maybe you should.

Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government
Glenn Beck


Product Description

FUNNY.

FRIGHTENING.

TRUE.

It happens to all of us: You're minding your own business, when some idiot informs you that guns are evil, the Prius will save the planet, or the rich have to finally start paying their fair share of taxes.

Just go away! you think to yourself -- but they only become more obnoxious. Your heart rate quickens. You start to sweat. You can't get away. Your only hope is...

...this book.

Glenn Beck, author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers An Inconvenient Book and Glenn Beck's Common Sense, has stumbled upon the secret formula to winning arguments against people with big mouths but small minds: knowing the facts.

And this book is full of them.

The next time your Idiot Friends tell you how gun control prevents gun violence, you'll tell them all about England's handgun ban (see page 53). When they tell you that we should copy the UK's health-care system, you'll recount the horrifying facts you read on page 244. And the next time an idiot tells you that vegetable prices will skyrocket without illegal workers, you'll stop saying "no, they won't" and you'll start saying, "actually, eliminating all illegal labor will cause us to spend just $8 a year more on produce." (See page 139.)

Idiots can't be identified through voting records, they can be found only by looking for people who hide behind stereotypes, embrace partisanship, and believe that bumper sticker slogans are a substitute for common sense. If you know someone who fits the bill, then Arguing with Idiots will help you silence them once and for all with the ultimate weapon: the truth.

About the Author
Glenn Beck, the nationally syndicated radio and Fox News television show host, is the author of three previous #1 New York Times bestsellers: An Inconvenient Book, Glenn Beck's Common Sense, and the novel The Christmas Sweater. His children's version of The Christmas Sweater is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster and America's March to Socialism is available now from Simon & Schuster Audio or downloadable from Simon & Schuster Online. He is also the author of The Real America and publisher of Fusion magazine. Visit www.glennbeck.com.



Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:08 am
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Now if this one doesn't get us debating I don't know what will...

The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran
By Robert Spencer

Product Description
Written in an extremely accessible style by bestselling author Robert Spencer, "The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran" is a fact-based but light-hearted look at the key elements, values, and beliefs in the Koran.

From the Inside Flap
The Koran: It may be the most controversial book in the world. Some see it as a paean to peace, others call it a violent mandate for worldwide Islamic supremacy.

How can one book lead to such dramatically different conclusions? New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer reveals the truth in The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran: not many Westerners know what's in the Koran, since so few have actually read it -- even among the legions of politicians, diplomats, analysts, and editorial writers who vehemently insist that the Koran preaches tolerance.

Now, Spencer unveils the mysteries lying behind this powerful book, guiding readers through the controversies surrounding the Koran's origins and its most contentious passages. Stripping out the obsolete debates, Spencer focuses on the Koran's decrees toward Jews, Christians, and other Infidels, explaining how they were viewed in Muhammad's time, what they've supposedly done wrong, and most important, what the Koran has in store for them.

About the Author
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is the author of nine books on Islam and Jihad, a weekly columnist for Human Events and the website Front Page Magazine, and has led numerous seminars for the U.S. military and intelligence communities.



Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:22 am
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Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
By Chris Hedges

Product Description
Pulitzer prize–winner Chris Hedges charts the dramatic and disturbing rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy and illusion.

Chris Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. In this “other society,” serious film and theatre, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins.

In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Hedges navigates this culture — attending WWF contests as well as Ivy League graduation ceremonies — exposing an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author
Chris Hedges, the author of the bestselling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and writes for many publications including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones. He is also a columnist for Truthdig.com. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:25 am
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This book has 830 reviews with a 5-star rating on Amazon.com.

The Revolution: A Manifesto
By Ron Paul

From Publishers Weekly
Congressman, Republican Presidential candidate and author Paul (A Foreign Policy of Freedom) says "Let the revolution begin" with this libertarian plea for a return to "the principles of our Founding Fathers: liberty, self-government, the Constitution, and a noninterventionist foreign policy." Specific examples demonstrate how far U.S. law has strayed from this path, particularly over the past century, as well as Paul's firm grasp of history and dedication to meaningful debate: "it is revolutionary to ask whether we need troops in 130 countries... whether the accumulation of more and more power in Washington has been good for us...to ask fundamental questions about privacy, police-state measures, taxation, social policy." Though he can rant, Paul is informative and impassioned, giving readers of any political bent food for thought. With harsh words for both Democrats and Republicans, and especially George W. Bush, Paul's no-nonsense text questions the "imperialist" foreign policy that's led to the war in Iraq ("one of the most ill considered, poorly planned, and... unnecessary military conflicts in American history"), the economic situation and rampant federalism treading on states' rights and identities ("The Founding Fathers did not intend for every American neighborhood to be exactly the same"). Though his policy suggestions can seem extreme, Paul's book gives new life to old debates.



Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:30 am
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Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
By Tom Vanderbilt

Amazon Best of the Month, July 2008:
How could no one have written this book before? These days we spend almost as much time driving as we do eating (in fact, we do a lot of our eating while driving), but I can't remember the last time I saw a book on all the time we spend stuck in our cars. It's a topic of nearly universal interest, though: everybody has a strategy for beating the traffic. Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) has plenty of advice for those shortcut schemers (Vanderbilt may well convince you to become, as he has, a dreaded "Late Merger"), but more than that it's the sort of wide-ranging contrarian compendium that makes a familiar subject new. I'm not the first or last to call Traffic the Freakonomics of cars, but it's true that it fits right in with the school of smart and popular recent books by Leavitt, Gladwell, Surowiecki, Ariely, and others that use the latest in economic, sociological, psychological, and in this case civil engineering research to make us rethink a topic we live with every day. Want to know how much city traffic is just people looking for parking? (It's a lot.) Or why street signs don't work (but congestion pricing does), why new cars crash more than old cars, and why Saturdays now have the worst traffic of the week? Read Traffic, or better yet, listen to the audio book on your endless commute.



Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:36 am
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