Book Reports

Book recaps and reviews

  • Automation is not a Glass Cage (3/24/2015) - Recap/review of "The Glass Cage" by Nicholas Carr, in which he argues that automation is poised to cognitively cripple us, and I explain why he's thinking about the brain totally wrong.
  • guns, germs, steel, and creeping determinism (9/23/2014) - Review/recap of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel", a just-so story about how societies came to develop as they did thanks to local geography...
  • muscle car truth facts (8/26/2014) - Some trivial notes on "Engines of Change", mostly about the history of muscle cars, but also horrible names, Lee Iacocca, unbridled masculinity, and the wreck of the Andrea Doria.
  • sexual outlaw, erotic mystic (5/29/2014) - Recap/review of "Heaven's Bride" by Leigh Eric Schmidt. The story of Ida C. Craddock, a sex educator, free thinker, "scholar of phallic antiquities", and martyr to free speech...
  • being purified by fire (5/7/2014) - Recap/review of "Purified by Fire", by Stephen Prothero, on the history of cremation in the US, and how it went from an affront against god and humanity, to a novelty, to a monetized and otherwise unnoteworthy practice.
  • Yellow Journalism and Butchery (3/23/2014) - Recap/review of "The Murder of the Century" by Paul Collins. The ludicrous and nigh-unbelievable story of a dismembered corpse, a love triangle, sensationalized headlines, missing heads, latter-day phrenology, narcissistic and flamboyant lawyers, yellow journalism, and war.
  • where we’re going… (8/6/2013) - Recap/review of "The Big Roads" by Earl Swift, a story of how freeways came to be, which turns out to be far more interesting than it has any right to be.
  • out of the flames (7/23/2013) - Review/recap of "Out of the Flames" by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. The story of Michael Servetus, John Calvin, and how the printing press changed European theocracy and allowed their ideas to become permanent, rather than fleeting...
  • deceive, inveigle, obfuscate (2/5/2013) - Recap/review of "Charlatan" by Pope Brock. A story of quacks, flim-flam, balls, ballsacks, goat balls, pseudo-medicinal Ponzi schemes...
  • an undersea mass sponge migration (1/9/2013) - Review/recap of "Ghost Hunters" by Deborah Blum. A story of spiritualism, con-men, scientists, seances, and mediums. And, possibly, communication with the ethereal plane.
  • …an immunity to iocane powder (7/28/2012) - Review/recap of "The Poisoner's Handbook" by Deborah Blum. ..." The story of poisonings and medical examiners; fraud, deceit, the man who wouldn't die, many people who did, and the search for the perfect poison...
  • the Martians love Kuato (3/9/2012) - Review/recap of "Packing for Mars" by Mary Roach, featuring the space race, space vertigo, space pooping, and extreme high-altitude jumping.

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