Archive for the 'Book Reviews' Category
July 27th, 2008 -- Posted in American Politics, Book Reviews |
I finally finished Eric Alterman’s Why We’re Liberals on Friday and I am sure some of my readers will be surprised that I have done two book reviews in two days. I often keep a normal book next to my bed side for reading at night but during the day when I am heading into Dublin, I often listen to audiobooks of some kind on my cellphone or PSP. Today’s book review is going to be different because I have not read a single page of this book, instead I have listened to the 10 Cd’s and roughly 230 mp3 files that comprise this audiobook. Initially I will admit the book starts of in a very lack luster manner which made me lose interest immediately however after forcing myself to finish the first CD, I actually started to enjoy the book.
The book is read by Malcom Hillgartner who is a fairly popular narrator from my quick amazon search. He speaks clearly and concisely without speaking too fast as some narrator’s tend to do in other audiobook’s. Mr. Alterman is an academic and this book is written in a style you might expect to read in a post-graduate thesis. There are lots of references to sources, which makes for a very factual read but at the same time given the “heavy” nature of the subject matter, can lead the average reader to become quite bored. However upon listening to the second CD, the structure and style of the book starts to shift into place so that the listening becomes much easier and more entertaining.
If I had to sum this book up into once sentence, I would say the author’s main focus is to debunk some of the popular myths about liberalism. Beyond this focus, the author does manage to discuss how conservative logic has failed America in recent situations over the last decade:
…Echoing William Kristol, Richard Perle suggested that the U.S invasion had the potential to transform the thinking of people around the world about the potential for democracy. Even in Arab countries where people have been disparaging of their potential, the cynicism of the administrations policy was revealed in the summer of 2005 when investigative reporter Seymour Hirsch exposed the right-wingers plot after all their rhetoric about democracy to subvert the Iraqi elections. A Pentagon consultant who deals with the senior military leadership, acknowledged that the American authorities in Iraq did an “operation” to influence the election…
My intent when listening to this book was to discover more about the concept of liberalism however upon finishing the book, many of my questions were unanswered. This book is mainly for liberals who want to discover why conservatives are wrong and conservatives who want to discover the arguments behind liberal attitudes. It is an excellent book once I got passed the first CD, I would not hesitate to give it an 8 out of 10. It can be purchased from Amazon.com on Audio Download for $18.35.
July 26th, 2008 -- Posted in Book Reviews, World Politics |
I don’t actually have 500 ways to change the world but it is the title of a book I recently completed today. It has been published by Harper Collins in conjunction with the Global Ideas Bank. The Global Ideas Bank is a project of the Nicholas Albery Foundation based in the U.K. The website itself has existed since 1995 and is the best place to visit if you are an idea guy/girl like I am, and would like to examine some of the creative ideas of other people.
You can order the book from Amazon.com in the U.S however they are out of stock as of today but you can easily get it second hand for as low as $2.71. The European cover is slightly different to the American cover however most of the people that read this blog are from the States therefore I will post the American cover:
The book contains 500 ways to change the world separated into categories ranging from relationships to the international and developing world for a total of 18 chapters. I would be remiss to mention that there is also a chapter devoted to political ideas that could change the world which I will discuss a little later in this review. The 500 ideas fit in 400 pages for a book that is fairly small but is quite heavy for its size, not something I would recommend you to carry if you are traveling anywhere.
It took me 40 days to finish the book; not because it is comprehensive, but some ideas are quite philosophical nature and require some thinking to really appreciate the writers concept. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in the possibilities that society holds for the future. My favorite idea was written by Michael Laub entitled: “post proposed bills for public perusal”
Prospective (or existing) laws, constitutions, bills of rights, and charters should be publicly posted for discussion. The general public could then list the reasons for believing they are good or not so good in columns provided alongside the documents. These reasons could then be reviewed to gauge whether the public thinks such measures are valid, feasible, and worth introducing, and what percentage of the respondents support their implementation. This concept could provide a simple, cost-effective exercise for all political parties to conduct research, and for all the public to communicate their views and wishes outside of the traditional political system.
This is my favorite idea because I beIieve that there is a certain disconnect between politicans, the bills they pass and the public. You can easily access the various bills, resolutions and measures via the Thomas website but the required information is often not easily accessed. I would like summarized versions of bills to be posted in major newspapers if not websites that recieve significant traffic so that more people can be engaged in matters that matter to them. I would give this book a rating of 7 out of 10 for being an overall good read but not everyone’s cup of tea.
June 28th, 2008 -- Posted in American Politics, Book Reviews |
I first decided to purchase this book when I heard about its imminent release on crooksandliars.com however there is a distinct shortage of books focusing on the political situation in America in Ireland. That is not too hard to explain given that there are only 4.4 million people in Ireland and it is simply logic to only sell the books that people want. Needless to say I was forced to order this from amazon.co.uk for about 15 pounds which is close to $30. I know that sounds a bit pricey to pay for a hardcover but I believe that books are slightly more expensive in Europe.
The title of the book is “Right Is Wrong” written by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, I don’t think many people have not heard about her but she runs the biggest online newspaper in America. The Huffington Post is the bane of many Republicans but the best place to read liberal news if you are a liberal like myself. The book has received mixed reviews on amazon.com with 9 people giving it a 5 star rating, 1 person giving it a 4 star rating and the other 6 people giving it below 3 stars.
The book is 331 pages in length divided into 15 chapters and took me just over a month to read. It is well researched with the occasional generalization that is blatantly obvious but helps drive the point home. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any liberal or independent who is debating about which party to support in the general election. The author touches on some valuable points with regards to immigration and healthcare with the last chapter focusing on Senator McCain.
Some of you may immediately think that this is another Republican/GOP bashing book but a startling fact that I found out while reading this book is that Mrs. Huffington is a former Republican and has actually travelled on the straight talk express. She knows John McCain and would actually have supported him if he had not “lost his soul” as she claims while courting the radical right. If you support John McCain, I would encourage you to purchase this book just for the last chapter where she compares the old John McCain to the new one and I have to say I would have supported the old Senator McCain after reading that chapter.
That being said, the new Senator McCain is not what America needs but I believe I have hammered this point home in earlier posts. The book is filled with valuable content so it is hard to choose one favorite passage but here is the best of the best:
The Right is wrong on immigration because they favor continued tough talk over policy reform. One suspects that a hidden reason the Right is wrong on immigration is their need for a scapegoat to divert attention from their massive failures in domestic and foreign policy. There’s a simple way to transform all these jobs American’s don’t want to do into jobs Americans would love to do: raise the wages for them. At a certain price, anyone would clean a toilet.
Out of all the politically inclined books I have reviewed on this site so far, this is by far the longest and the best. It is not everyone’s cup of tea but I would still give it an 8 out of 10 for excellent content but not 100% factually correct on some issues.
May 27th, 2008 -- Posted in American Politics, Book Reviews |
I finished The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter a few days ago and was quite surprised at the amount of negative facts an author can include about the presumptive Republican candidate in 150 pages. The book is pretty short and took me 10 days to finish it from beginning to end. I expected more of the same in terms of content; similar to what Suzanne Goldenberg wrote in Madam President, but I was pleasantly surprised. Cliff Schecter has done what most authors tend not to do, get right to the point from page two:
If it is not political calculation on McCain’s part to tell the evangelicals what they want to hear, then what is it?
When I read at night, I often have some sticky notes close by so that I can mark important passages in the book. Initially I started off marking about the first fifty pages before I realized that Mr.Schecter has managed to include every negative substantive fact about Senator McCain in this book. Senator McCain has denied the contents of the book because Mr. Schecter mentions using anonymous sources at several places in the book however in an interview with BuzzFlash he mentions Senator McCain’s reaction to the book:
He did, and he denied it. And I guess that’s the point I’m making is that he denied the charge [of assaulting Renzi], and that’s been proven. Because he said that I had anonymous sources and I was making it up. But now, of course, he’s had to admit that it did happen, and try to say, well, it happened, but it didn’t happen exactly the way I said. But that’s the newest line out of the McCain camp.
I enjoyed this book for the most part but chose to read it over an official autobiography of John McCain because as a liberal I don’t know how much republican rhetoric I can stand to read before I go to bed at night. I enjoyed the book because it was clearly well researched but it got quite boring towards the end because the endless negativity (not in a bad way). It is a definite must read for any liberals or independents who are debating on whether to vote for John McCain.
The overall conclusion I drew from this book based on the facts presented is that Senator McCain is the typical personification of a politician. He says what he needs to say to please the crowds and the people who support him. It is impossible to know what he truly stands for because of his changing nature but I believe this kind of politician cannot exist in the 21st century but we will have to wait to see whether the general election proves this statement. If I were talking a rating out of 10, I would give The Real McCain 6 out of 10 for being enlightening but far too negative for a book of only 150 pages.
May 15th, 2008 -- Posted in American Politics, Book Reviews |
Well I just finished Suzanne Goldenberg’s latest book entitled: “Madam President - Is America Ready To Send Hillary Clinton To The White House?” It was quite a revealing book for me because I never knew too much about Hillary Clinton beyond my examination of her healthcare policy in an earlier article on this website. I knew Senator Clinton was quite popular in New York and that she was fairly famous because of her husband; former President Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was also my favorite American president in my short 25 years of life but I think I was too young to follow politics before President Clinton came to office so that may not be a fair statement.
Suzanne Goldenberg is an award-winning journalist for The Guardian and has been the newspaper’s US Correspondent since 2002. I never realized that British papers had a base in Washington but here is this lady covering American politics for The Guardian which is a fairly well-read paper in the U.K. The book is exactly 160 pages long and I finished it in just over a week reading over 10 pages a day. The book really starts on page 7 and ends on page 167. It is fairly small compared to the previous book I read by David Mendell but surprisingly captures the essence of Senator Clinton and her past few years in politics in an accurate and non-historical manner. It was an easy read without overt complexity and I believe anyone above the age of 12 could appreciate.
The book is also quite objective and discusses the good and the bad about Senator Clinton but concludes in the end that:
“…a safe pair of hands might be just what America needs.”
I found the conclusion, or the final line of the book fairly surprising considering that during my read of the book, I felt that the author viewed Senator Clinton negatively. I could be wrong but that might be due to my Senator Obama bias kicking in. Given that bias, I went through this book highlighting the portions that worried me about Senator Clinton as the potential presidential candidate or Senator Obama’s VP. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get elected; this showed when she was running for the Senate in NY. She has also adopted the centrist approach of her husband without elaborating to the general public what she stands for but tells people what they want to hear.
Don’t get me wrong, even with all these negatives, I still admire the Senator but I don’t think she epitomizes what I want in a President. I know what Senator Obama stands for which is why I support him and hope he will win in the general election. This is a great book and honestly if you are like me and want to know the essentials of Senator Hillary Clinton than I encourage you to buy this book. If we had to talk a rating, I would probably say 6 out of 10. Mainly because there were certain portions of Senator Clinton’s past that I believed the author skipped out on and that she didn’t really answer the question whether America was ready to send Senator Clinton to the White House. My favorite portion from the book which goes back to my earlier point:
“The problem was, it was never quite clear what those beliefs and ideals were, and at least some of that confusion seemed deliberate. As Charlotte Mull Young, a high school teacher and committed Democratic supporter in her 50’s, noted after an election meeting in the town of Council Bluffs, Iowa: “I think she is a good public servant. I am just not sure who she is serving yet.”"