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21. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural
22. My Horizontal Life: A Collection
23. The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical
24. Resilience: Reflections on the
25. The Secret: The Power
26. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive
27. The Mind's Eye
28. What to Expect When You're Expecting:
29. Eat This, Not That! 2011: Thousands
30. The Secret
31. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual
32. Deceptively Delicious: Simple
33. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:
34. Drive: The Surprising Truth About
35. Cook This, Not That! Easy &
36. Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick
37. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite:
38. Women Food and God: An Unexpected
39. Talking with God in Old Age: Meditations
40. The Last Lecture

21. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
list price: $16.00 -- our price: $7.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0143038583
Publisher: Penguin
Sales Rank: 181
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

A national bestseller that has changed the way readers view the ecology of eating, this revolutionary book by award winner Michael Pollan asks the seemingly simple question: What should we have for dinner? Tracing from source to table each of the food chains that sustain us—whether industrial or organic, alternative or processed—he develops a portrait of the American way of eating. The result is a sweeping, surprising exploration of the hungers that have shaped our evolution, and of the profound implications our food choices have for the health of our species and the future of our planet. ... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars Facing the dilemma I have been avoiding for years., May 12, 2006
Since I read Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" over five years ago, I have refused to eat any fast food of any kind. Both morally and nutritionally, my position is that if I were to eat that food again, I would be tacitly accepting an industry that is abhorrent on so many levels. Knowing what I now know, that degree of cognitive dissonance is simply too great for me to overcome.

When my son was born two years ago, my thinking about food choices returned and has become an important part of my day-to-day consciousness.

When I first read about "Omnivore" online, I found the premise compelling. What exactly am I eating? Where does it come from? Why should I care? Exactly the kind of book that I'd been looking for, especially as I try to improve my own health and try to give my little guy the best start in life.

I bought the book as soon as it came out and found it to be highly enjoyable, yet almost mind-numbingly disenchanting. We all know about corn and cows and chickens and how the government subsidizes their production (mainly through corn subsidies). But Pollan has given me a completely new view of corn, its processed derivatives, and secondarily, has made me rethink my view of the farmers growing this stuff and the industries who buying it. There is so much wrong with this picture.

Corn, in the wrong hands, can be used for some terrible things, among them high fructose corn syrup (a major player in the obesity epidemic) and as feed for cows (who get sick when they eat it, requiring anti-biotics!). I can't compartmentalize anymore, just because meat tastes good. As Pollan clearly outlines, there is a very selfish reason why the beef industry doesn't want us to see inside a slaughter house. Many of us would never eat it again if we saw how disgusting and cruel the process typically is.

In the section on the ethics of eating animals, Pollan compellingly summarizes animal ethicist Peter Singer's case against eating animals, making a strong argument for vegetarianism. Then he tries to argue for a more moderate (read: carnivorous) world view, and I have to admit, I wasn't convinced. I am a lifelong meat eater, but am seriously thinking about switching to a vegetarian diet. I can no longer reconcile the slaughter of animals with my own appreciation of them. And beyond slaughter, there are plenty of health benefits to eating a plant-based diet.

Here's my bottom line: If you aren't prepared to question your views on food, or are afraid of what you might learn, then you really need to avoid this book. This has all made my head spin and my heart ache over the past month. Faced with the facts, I actually feel as though I am mourning the loss of my old diet. But I am terribly ambivalent about becoming a vegetarian, not at all happy to be making such a drastic (yet healthy) change. I am embarrassed about it, and worried about how I will deal with a meatless lifestyle in the years ahead. I am glad Pollan opened my eyes to this, but secretly wish I weren't so curious about these issues. The truth hurts.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Trouble with Agriculture...., June 18, 2006
I didn't expect to learn much from Michael Pollan's new book, _The Omnivore's Dilemma_ - since I write and talk regularly about the problems of industrial agriculture, local food production and sustainability, I thought that while I'd probably enjoy his writing (I took a great deal of pleasure in his prior books on gardening), his book would be enlightening to a rather different audience than myself. But, in fact, I did learn a great deal. Pollan's gift is to entertainingly present complexities, without being weighed down by his own excellent scholarship - it is a gift, to know that much about something and to know which bits of evidence will compell and which will merely bore. He's an enormously erudite guy, without being even slightly dull. Several people I know who are far less engaged by food issues than I say they found it compelling and readable.

I will add up front, that one of the two things that most irritated me about this book was that in the mid-1980s, Margaret Visser, a brilliant food writer, wrote a very similar book, _Much Depends on Dinner_. Neither the book nor the author were particularly obscure - the book won several awards, and Visser went on to write another one about table manners (great book, btw, and highly recommended), and the books were published by Pollan's own publisher. And yet, Pollan's book does not cite or acknowledge the book, even though many of the chapters (those on chicken and corn especially) were very similar in their approach and analysis. Someone, either Pollan in his research (which, I think, was otherwise good), or his editor missed something - because the concept of eating a meal and being outraged by the history of its context is not his. Visser's book, particularly the chapter on rice, which I read in high school, was my biggest early influence in thinking about food, so it rankles me (even though these things happen in books) that Pollan ignored her.

But returning to the main point, I did learn a great deal from Pollan - I found out, among other things, exactly what Xanthan gum is (hadn't you always wondered, even if you knew it couldn't be good?), made a connection I'd never perceived before between the widespread alcoholism in America in the 19th century and the widespread obesity of today (both due to the need to use up agricultural excesses of corn) and heard as concise and compelling an account of the complexities of farm subsidies as I've heard before. I hadn't thought, for example that anyone could give me any more reasons not to eat at McDonalds, but Pollan added a couple.

The first section of the book traces a meal at McDonalds back to its basic ingredient - corn. From the corn that feeds the chickens to the xanthan gum in the milkshake to the sweetener in the ketchup and oil in which the fries are cooked, McDonalds is mostly corn. Since Fast Food Nation and the other exposes, I don't think there's anyone who cares who doesn't know how gross fast food is, and Pollan admirably stays away from the yuckiness factor (not that there isn't reason to go there, but it has been rather overdone of late). Instead, he goes to the aesthetic one, accusing Americans who eat fast food of having become like koalas, capable of absorbing only corn, to terrible cost. In some sense, as someone who likes to eat, his description of our reliance upon (and the costs thereof) corn is more grotesque than any expose of slaughterhouses could be.

He then describes the history of two organic meals, one of them bought on a trip to whole foods, and an industrially produced organic meal, the other local, sustainable and produced to a large degree from Joel Salatin's Polyface farm, where he acted as reporter/farm hand for a week. It may be here that Pollan's book is most valuable, because it makes a distinction that your average Mom who buys at Whole foods has never made - that industrial organic food is more industrial than organic. This book has been roundly hyped on NPR and in the New York Times, and has the potential to change a lot of minds - and despite my later critiques, I will be enormously grateful if Pollan can simply convince people to look beyond the word organic and think about the costs of their food to the environment and the people who grow it. This is a potentially influential book, and Pollan does not make the mistake that many, many food writers make, of reading the word "organic" to mean sustainable.

While acknowledges that large scale, organic, industrial food is better than nothing, he doesn't cut it a lot of slack for its drenching in fossil fuels, use and sometimes misuse of migrant labor, and general unsustainability. Perhaps his best writing in the book is when he attempts to analyze whether it is possible to grow food sustainably and well on any scale at all, and when he concludes that you can't, someone like me, who is trying to grow food on a small scale, looks up ready to cheer. Because such a conclusion should lead inevitably to the next step - ie, to the idea that the only solution to the problem of industrial agriculture is that a lot more people have to grow food, both for sale and at home. But he never quite gets there, and that may be the great flaw of the book. Still, however, I think that the line that the distinctions Pollan does draw are deeply helpful, and could potentially change things a great deal.

In the final section, Pollan eats a meal that he has hunted, or gathered, or grown himself. In doing this, he spends a lot of time coming to terms with hunting and meat eating (he kills his own chicken for dinner at Polyface farm, and also purchases a steer destined for McDonalds, although its final end is as much of a mystery as such things could possibly ever be). Here is where, I expected, Pollan will figure out how we might reasonably eat, humanely and sustainably. But in fact, the last chapter could be described as "Yuppie Jewish guy goes hunting for the first time" - and not just any kind of hunting, but hunting for wild boar in the California mountains with a bunch of European chefs bent on recreating the food of their homelands for Chez Panisse. Pollan may be violating the traditions of his Jewish upbringing (Jews don't hunt, not just because they are often urbanites, but because the laws of kashruth forbid it, and the sense of it as unfitting has lingered long past the observation of the law in other respects for many Jews), but he never actually leaves his class behind. And that is one of the deeper problems of the book - the meal he seeks to make is not a deer burger and homemade potato fries, but wine-braised leg of boar with boar liver pate and cherry something or other (admittedly, it sounded terrific).

Intermittently throughout the book, Pollan attempts to deal with the problem of elitism - whether or not sustainable food is yuppie food. And there's a legitimate case to be made that there is. Pollan, of course, points out the illogic both of what we spend on food (less than anyone in the world) and the externalities that are not figured into the cost of the McDonalds meal, but he never gets down and dirty with the question of class. He quotes Joel Salatin on the subject that regulation adds more to his cost than organic production, notes the costs of meals and that Salatin's customers are mixed in economic situation, but he never fully addresses who it is who mostly eats fast food and who it is who mostly eats organic, and the all-important whys of that question.

When Pollan finally gets down to the ultimate local meal, the chapter is mostly about his angst over killing animals and meat eating (although it was fun to watch Pollan duke it out intellectually with Peter Singer), but it all gets played out over a meal with class overtones so profound and powerful that you cannot escape them. Going boar hunting with a sicilian chef doesn't seem to have much relevance to going deer hunting with a bunch of blue collar guys who live next door, nor is the meal he plans to produce something that anyone could make and eat very often. Speaking as someone who does not hunt (that kosher thing) but whose father did, and who believes that human predation is a perfectly normal thing, and preferrable, say, to having lyme disease from an excess of white-tailed deer (oh, it isn't that easy, of course, but I'll write more on vegetarianism and meat eating another time), I think Pollan ends up using the meal he decided to make as a way of choosing to avoid the logical conclusion of his writing, and the book is the poorer for it. The closing chapter is not about how we could eat, but about the impossibility of producing our own food, and, to a large degree, about the impossibility of even eating sustainably. And I think to a large degree that's because he chose a meal that is unreproducable for millions - as opposed to the simple, ordinary chicken and corn or french fries of his organic and conventional prior meals.

His conclusions, drawn from his experiences on Salatin's farm and of hunting and gathering (and presumably of eating at McDonalds) are implicitly that sustainable eating is never going to happen on any great scale. At the end of his section on Salatin's farm, he likens Salatin to Luther, creating his own new denominations of people for whom food quality and healthfulness matters, small niches of (elitist) people who care about their food in the great wilderness. But implying this suggests that most other people (I wonder who - the ones who eat at McDonalds more and are mostly of a different class?) don't actually care deeply about their food's taste, health and environmental cost.

And his final set of conclusions are deeply disappointing to me, personally. Because he creates the ground work for a fairly simple conclusion - industrial scale food production, whether organic or non, is a failure, a disaster for those who care about ethics or the environment. In a way, it doesn't matter whether what you care about is the suffering of animals (industrial slaughter) or the suffering of humans (malnutrition), the extermination of songbirds (pesticides) or rising cancer rates (pesticides) or the extermination of everyone due to global warming, the conclusion that Pollan expertly and gracefully leads us to - ie, that many more people need to take a role in their own food systems, both by buying locally, encouraging the creation of millions of new small farms instead of an expanding industrial system, and by growing some of their own (or hunting it, or foraging), is finally left off, in the interest of implying that the problem is irresolvable. This, I think, is rather a cheap ending, and an unfair one to the person who has sorted through the complexities of his arguments and analysis and comes out wanting to know what to do next.

Pollan tells us at the very end, referring to his home produced meal and the one from McDonalds, "...these meals are equally unreal and equally unsustainable." But the fact that the home produced meal is unsustainable and unreproducable is his choice - because a dinner of potatoes and eggs with salad, equally local, equally gathered, is sustainable and available to anyone with a bit of backyard if they want it. By implying that self-provisioning is a fantasy in this modern world, Pollan essentially suggests we leave the farming to the farmers - but there simply aren't enough farmers to have a small, local, organic farm everywhere. If we're to reduce our footprint more than anyone can by hopping over to whole foods in the SUV and picking up a box of whole wheat mac and cheese and some organic apples from China, people are going to have to take some responsibility for feeding themselves. No, they don't have to go hunt wild boar. But they might have to grow a garden, or make possible a nearby farm. They might have to encourage their children to grow up to be farmers. And they might have to imagine a world in which feeding oneself is not either a work of magic or a work of industry, but simply the ordinary job that ordinary people have been doing for thousands of years.

5-0 out of 5 stars I could go on and on . . (look below), July 31, 2006
When I bought this book for my dad he simply said, "A book about food?" I laughed and tried to tell him it is probably more about what is wrong with the country (government, business, foreign policy) than it is about food.

I heard Michael Pollan speak on NPR about this book and that sparked my interest. He was railing against corn as he does in the first section of the book here: For instance, I had no idea we used so much fossil fuel to get corn to grow as much as it does. The book provides plenty of other interesting facts that most people don't know (or want to) about their food.

1) We feed cattle (the cattle we eat) corn. OK. Seems fine. But I never knew cows are not able to digest corn. We give them corn so the corn farmers -who are protected by subsidies and at the same time hurt by them - can get rid of all the excess corn we produce - (more of the excess goes into high fructose corn syrup which is used in coke and many other soft drinks). This sees company owned farms injecting their cattle with antibiotics so they can digest the corn. Not just to shed farmers' excess corn but to also:
a) Get the cow fatter in a shorter amount of time because . .
b) A cow on this diet could really only survive 150 days before the acidity of the corn eats away at the rumen (a special cow digestive organ FOR GRASS, not corn).
c) Also the pharmaceutical companies get big profits because they manufacture large amounts of antibiotics for these large mammals.

All this may lead to increase in fat content and other peculiarities in the meat we eat.

2) The amount of fossil fuel we use to grow food is ridiculous and helps keeps the Saudis happy. If you buy an apple from Washington and live in New Jersey, think of how much gas went into transporting that fruit to me! Better to buy from Iowa. Better than that: buy from a farmer's market and this is one of Pollan's main suggestions:

Buy your food local and maybe you can even find out what is exactly in your hot dog.

3) CAFOS - large corporate feeding pens - where pigs (who are very smart animals) and even chickens display signs of suicidal tendencies.

4) Pollan talks about Big Organic and spends a lot of time here. "Big Organic" is seemingly an oxymoron. He shows how Big Organic companies treat their animals and farms in many similar ways to other industrial farms. However, he makes you think by talking to one organic executive who says,

"Get over it . . . the real value of putting organic on an industrial scale, is the sheer amount of acreage it puts under organic management. Behind every organic TV dinner or chicken or carton of industrial organic milk stands a certain quantity of land that will no longer be doused with chemicals, an undeniable gain of the environment and public health." - pg. 158

True, but the similarities between big companies and how supermarkets only want to deal with them is what Pollan thinks is the problem with our food.

5) Pollan focuses the most of his book on Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms in rural Virginia. Salatin calls himself a "grass farmer" (no not THAT grass). You could call it "real organic" but for Pollan it is how we should be farming and what we should eat. Cows, chickens, pigs roaming freely eating grass, and tasting like they should in the end. The problem is that not every area of the USA is as fertile as southwestern Virginia . . .but I am sure Pollan would suggest that each region should specialize in its delicacies and get used to not eating things that aren't in season or animals we don't see. It would be hard for the average American to not be provided with bananas from January - December, but if we want to cut back on fossil fuels (though Pollan notes - trade is good), if we want our eggs to taste like eggs and chicken to taste like chickens and not McChickens, we need to do a better job of eating local. This sends Pollan on his final journey, to hunt for his own food and provide his helpers, with a meal totally foraged by him.

A lot of cool facts here that I never knew or took the time to care about (I never knew the mushroom was so mysterious). I would have liked him to talk more about trade, different areas' food specialties and also how preparing a meal such as his at the end seems a little too time consuming even for the outdoors enthusiast.

I think all Americans - conservatives, liberals, whatevers - can enjoy this book. Liberals for the "return to nature mentality," conservatives for the same reason: Pollan rails into Animal Rights' activists and shows how though they may have good intentions; they would rather upset the balance of nature before they kill anything.

Ominvore's Dilemma is a tremendous contribution, exposing how big corporations and old government practices continue to harm us and our country. The way we thought about food was changed with "Super Size Me" hopefully this book will change they way we want to go about obtaining our food.

5-0 out of 5 stars 'Omnivore' may forever change the way you think about food, April 11, 2006
Michael Pollan's beautifully written, eye-opening new book already has me thinking about everything I put into my mouth. Clearly, this is an important, even a ground-breaking book. The Omnivore's Dilemma is much more than just an indictment of industrial food systems, or our treatment of animals, though. That's what other reviewers are concentrating on, and they're right. What I took away from this book, though, was just how thoughtless we have become about what we feed ourselves. More than anything else, Pollan's book is a plea for us to stop and think for a moment about our whole process of eating. Just as we get the political leaders we deserve, we also get the food we deserve. Pay attention!

2-0 out of 5 stars Makes some good points, but critically flawed, July 24, 2010
In this book, Michael Pollan shows himself to be a master storyteller. Unfortunately, stories aren't just a way to communicate facts while keeping the reader engaged. One might even say that the facts are secondary to the stories. Rather than base stories on the facts, Pollan chooses stories to fit an overarching reactionary thesis: The best way to eat is following nature and tradition, and our attempts at progress only make things worse. The facts, then, are worked into his narratives, but sometimes they don't really fit.

Science is one victim of Pollan's reactionary thesis. Nutritional science receives part of the blame for America's health problems. "We place our faith in science to sort out for us what culture once did with rather more success" (303), he writes. Yet much of his evidence that "we place our faith in science" lies in our susceptibility to weight-loss diets and food fads that aren't supported by scientific consensus. Moreover, he seems oblivious to the successes of nutritional science in curing nutrient deficiencies, some of which existed in traditional diets.

Science also receives unfair treatment in the agricultural context. Pollan attempts to summarize parts of Sir Albert Howard's An Agricultural Testament, which he calls the organic movement's bible. Yet he makes Howard's work out to be some sort of anti-science treatise, when it just isn't. Pollan concludes from Howard's treatment of humus, "To reduce such a vast biological complexity to [nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium] represented the scientific method at its reductionist worst" (147). While Howard offers plenty of criticism of modern agricultural science in particular, he does not criticize the scientific method more broadly. Indeed, he even calls aspects of conventional agriculture unscientific, proposes a few scientific experiments, and expresses his hope that science be among the tools of the agricultural investigators of the future. Howard's work isn't an argument against science. It's an argument for better science.

Pollan's chapters on the fast food chain are probably his strongest, but even there he occasionally oversteps. For example, he suggests that E. coli O157:H7 live only on feedlot cattle, when the scientific literature indicates that this deadly strain of bacteria is about as prevalent in grass-fed cattle. Later, he goes on to include one of the active ingredients in baking powder on a list of "quasiedible substances " (113), apparently because of its chemical name. In both of these instances, he criticizes something new -- feedlots in the first and baking powder in the second -- with the effect of making something traditional seem more appealing.

The primary beneficiary of the reactionary narrative is the pastoral food chain, as represented by Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm. Even as Salatin describes his farm is a "postindustrial enterprise" (191), he explains that in some sense his farming methods aren't really new at all; they imitate the ecological relationships that exist in nature. To Pollan the farm is "a scene of almost classic pastoral beauty" (124). Its product, he says, "looks an awful lot like the proverbially unattainable free lunch" (127).

Pollan credits Salatin's farming methods with revitalizing Polyface's soil without chemical fertilizers. In particular, he writes, "The chief reason Polyface Farm is completely self-sufficient in nitrogen is that a chicken, defecating copiously, pays a visit to virtually every square foot of it at several points during the season." (210)

It's hard to tell whether he grasps the fact that the nitrogen in the chickens' feces comes from the food they eat, eighty percent of which is grain-based feed from off the farm. What is certain, though, is that he doesn't raise the question of what is happening to the land where that feed is grown. We would expect from the earlier chapters that the corn and soy in the feed was grown on a farm that was less classic, less pastoral, and less beautiful than Polyface, so it's striking that Pollan should choose not to look further. He also doesn't bother to discuss the question of whether that feed grain might be more efficiently used to feed people directly (as my calculations indicate it would). Either of these questions would be raised in a more fact-driven work, but there's simply no room for them here, as the answers might not fit the thesis. (Of course, when Pollan later mentions "a denial of reality that can be its own form of hubris" (361), he's talking about the vegetarians.)

As for the chickens, Pollan buys into Salatin's argument that they are a purely artisanal product. He doesn't mention that they are the same Cornish Cross hens that in the context of his Whole Foods meal represented "the pinnacle of industrial chicken breeding," and which "grow so rapidly...that their poor legs cannot keep pace" (171).

Pollan also points out that Salatin's pastures remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There's no mention, however, of the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from Salatin's hugely inefficient distribution system, which involves large numbers of cars traveling long distances to the farm. (This omission comes even after he's told us about the fossil fuels used to transport his industrial organic fruits and vegetables from distant farms.) When Pollan tells us that one customer drives 150 miles each way to the farm, it's merely to be taken as proof of the quality of Polyface meats. There's no mention of any environmental impact.

Where Pollan's dedication to his reactionary thesis is perhaps most obvious is in his discussion of vegetarianism. For although there are prominent conservative vegetarians (Matthew Scully among them), vegetarianism today is rooted in a progressive idea. It requires us to accept that we can do something, namely eat, better than our ancestors did it. Indeed, Pollan writes, "Vegetarianism is more popular than it has ever been, and animal rights, the fringiest of fringe movements until just a few years ago, is rapidly finding its way into the cultural mainstream. I'm not completely sure why this should be happening now, given that humans have been eating animals for tens of thousands of years without too much ethical heartburn" (305).

Vegetarianism is something new, and his preferred hypothesis for its recent success is the weakening of our traditions: "But it could also be that the cultural norms and rituals that used to allow people to eat meat without agonizing about it have broken down for other reasons. Perhaps as the sway of tradition in our eating decisions weakens, habits we once took for granted are thrown up in the air, where they're more easily buffeted by the force of a strong idea or the breeze of fashion." (306)

Being something new and representing a challenge to age-old traditions, vegetarianism simply doesn't fit with Pollan's reactionary message. In the reactionary view, it doesn't make much more sense than high-fructose corn syrup or factory farms. As such, it doesn't receive serious consideration.

Even before his section on the ethics of eating animals, there are signs that he won't take his debate seriously. He tells us, for example, that his friends' son is "fifteen and currently a vegetarian" (271), as though vegetarianism is merely a teenage phase. He also makes no secret of the fact that he's already made the decision to go hunting even before tackling the ethical issues associated with eating animals.

Pollan gives up meat for a while, inspired by an argument of Peter Singer: "No one in the habit of eating an animal can be completely without bias in judging whether the conditions in which that animal is reared cause suffering" (312). Yet he identifies himself as "a reluctant and, I fervently hoped, temporary vegetarian" (313), so it's not at all clear that the experiment does anything to lessen his bias.

As a vegetarian, Pollan struggles with the social ramifications of eating differently. He points out that "my new dietary restrictions throw a big wrench into the basic host-guest relationship" (313) and decides, "I'm inclined to agree with the French, who gaze upon any personal dietary prohibition as bad manners" (313). Yet he'll find himself able to justify only a very limited kind of meat-eating, which likewise represents a "personal dietary prohibition." He then proceeds to discuss his alienation from traditions like the Passover brisket, apparently not allowing for the possibility that traditions might evolve over time. This rigid view of tradition is an odd one considering his plans to hunt an unkosher pig.

Pollan then moves on to a discussion of animal rights philosophy. He claims to be debating Peter Singer, but he'll quote Matthew Scully when it better suits his point, never acknowledging any significant difference between the writers. Other times, he'll just quote Singer out of context.

Pollan eventually argues for meat-eating on the grounds that it serves the interests of domesticated species, which would cease to exist if people didn't eat them. He doesn't do much in the way of building up the argument, only hinting at how the interest of a species might be defined and not even beginning to explain why such an interest is more important than the individuals.

Instead of building that argument, Pollan relays a story intended to show that animal activists are out of touch with nature. As Pollan tells it, The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service need to kill feral pigs to save Santa Cruz Island's endangered fox, and the animal rights and welfare people oppose the plan out of a single-minded concern for animal welfare. However, the very same Humane Society op-ed that Pollan cites to prove this point actually includes a substantive discussion of the project's ecological goals. Moreover, Pollan does not address any of the more scholarly objections to the project, such as Jo-Ann Shelton's argument that the restoration of Santa Cruz Island is motivated by human interest.

Pollan then launches into a section called "The Vegan Utopia," where he points out practical difficulties of a vegan world. First, he reminds us that harvesting grains kills animals. It's a true statement that people who care about animals should keep in mind, but Pollan goes on to suggest that we would minimize animal deaths by basing our diets on large ruminants. That claim is an apparent reference to a study that was quickly debunked. He then argues that a vegan world would force places like New England to import all of their food from distant places. It's a dubious claim in view of existing production of soy, wheat, and vegetables in New England. He even goes so far as to suggest that the vegan food chain would be more dependent on fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers than our current food system. Thanks to the inefficiency of feeding grain to animals, that claim is almost certainly false.

As B.R. Myers has pointed out, Pollan does not mention a single thing he ate in his time as a vegetarian. Over the course of the book, Pollan describes at least ten meat-based meals, four of those in exquisite detail, so it's telling that he doesn't consider vegetarian cuisine to be worth writing about.

Pollan goes hunting, shoots his sow, and even enjoys the experience. Yet when he finds himself disgusted by the sights and smells of cleaning the pig, Pollan can't help but take one more jab at vegetarians. He expresses pity for the "tofu eater" for his "dreams of innocence" (361), seemingly rejecting the idea that we should even try to do better.

In spite of all these points of contention, I should acknowledge that Pollan gets plenty right in the book. There's a lot that's wrong with modern industrial food production. Making bad changes to our food supply has had profound negative consequences for the environment, public health, and animal welfare. On these topics, Pollan can remain faithful to his reactionary thesis while still representing the facts reasonably well. And so a reader learns about things like the psychology of supersizing, the environmental toll of growing corn to feed ruminants, and the miserable life of a battery-caged layer hen.

I suspect that many people find the information about industrial animal agriculture more powerful because they come from an author who so roundly rejects vegetarianism. After relaying the horrors of forced-molting and cannibalism in battery cages, Pollan writes, "I know, simply reciting these facts, most of which are drawn from poultry trade magazines, makes me sound like one of the animal people, doesn't it? I don't mean to (remember, I got into this vegetarian deal assuming I could go on eating eggs), but this is what can happen to you look" (318). It's much harder for a reader to dismiss a message as the sentimental ramblings of one of the "animal people" when it's coming from somebody who enjoys beating up on vegetarians.

In this way, this book brings awareness about important issues to a wide audience. The fact of it being such an enjoyable read further expands that audience. However, it should be at most a starting point for those learning about where their food comes from because the underlying reactionary premise sometimes leads Pollan astray. We live in a world that is increasingly unnatural and unlike the one that shaped our cultural traditions. Our population is growing, our planet is warming, and our values and lifestyles have evolved. It doesn't make sense for our food chain to remain in the past. As innovations like battery cages and high-fructose corn syrup show, not all ideas are good ones, but that shouldn't stop us from trying to make progress. The future will present us with new challenges, and we'd do well to keep an open mind to new solutions.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great, now everybody believes in Pollan's imaginary "corn test", December 6, 2008
This book was well written and the author obviously put his heart, soul, and lots of research into it. But it bears the inevitable mark of a book written by a person who is a novice in the subject he is writing about. It is journalism, not research - and far from science. There is way too much sensationalism and jumping to conclusions for my taste.

One thing that significantly annoyed me was Pollan's "wild" meal, of which nearly all the calories, except for the pork, were from store-bought, cultivated foods. He wouldn't buy one or two organic veggies to embellish a Burger King value meal and then call it an "organic" meal, so why did he do something comparable with his foraged meal?

I was also disgusted with the elitism that he expressed again and again throughout the book. I was surprised by his blatant condescension toward Joel Salatin, which reveals a deep-seated us-and-them worldview. He comes to no conclusion, no solution, in this book, because an obvious part of the solution to a sustainable food system is that more people need to be ivolved in growing food and feeding themselves. He doesn't want to do this himself; he feels that it is beneath him, so certainly he is not going to lead the discussion to this most appropriate end place.

An example of Pollan's poor scholarship is his discussion of a test that supposedly can tell how much corn a person is composed of. I teach about food, and have been hearing people talk about this "corn test" ever since the book came out. But there is no such test. The test he mentions can only differentiate between plants using two types of photosynthetic process: C3 and C4. Corn is a C4 plant. The test tells you how much of an organism's tissue is derived from c4 versus c3 plants. This would be a "corn test" only if corn was the only c4 plant. But there are thousands of others, and many of them are common foods. Like sugar cane. The "corn test" cannot even differentiate cane sugar from corn syrup. It also cannot differentiate grass-fed from corn-fed beef, as the grasses and forbs on many range areas, particularly in the arid west, are primarily c4. It seems that Pollan got the idea from a specific study in which archeologists sampled bones from one specific area of Mexico. The archeologists presumed that when a shift in c3/c4 ratios (toward more c4) was seen in the bones, that this represented the shift from a diet of acorns and avocadoes as staples to one of corn and amaranth as staples. If the assumptions are correct, this may be true, but the way Pollan wrote of this test was egregiously misleading. As an author read by millions, one has a respionsibility not to spread this sort of misinformation; now, due solely to his lack of either diligence or intelligence (and I'm assuming the faormer), it will permeate our culture for a generation.

But hey, it's an entertaining read, and it generates thought. I know this review sounds very negative, but I liked the book even if parts of it made me seethe. Definitely get it, read it, and contemplate.

4-0 out of 5 stars Corn: The vinyl of food, April 15, 2006
I never gave much thought to seeing so much corn growing in Ohio, but come to think of it, I really never have seen many other crops aside from some soybeans. Until I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals", I had only the vaguest idea what "they" did with all that corn. Sure, I knew they made artificial sugar for soft drinks from the stuff. And there's margarine. And there's corn on the cob. But that can't explain why there's so much corn being grown. Until Pollan set me straight, I had no idea that corn was the "vinyl" of foodstuffs, that it permeates the entire food chain, and that every piece of meat we eat is "corn-fed." Jeez, I thought cows ate grass. I think I was 40 years behind the times, and I thank Michael Pollan for educating me about our industrial food chain, its vulnerabilities and its hidden costs.

An otherwise fascinating and readable book is marred by numerous typographical and factual errors, unfortunately. For example, "Muscles" instead of "Mussels" - even a city boy knows the difference. And why does Pollan think Carbon is the most common element in the human body? Excluding Hydrogen, wouldn't it be Oxygen? - since we're mostly water?

Many thanks to NPR's "Fresh Air" (April 11, 2006) for introducing me to the book and author.

5-0 out of 5 stars An even-handed analysis of the ethics of eating., May 12, 2006
Here is an example on why you read books. To read a newspaper article or watch a TV news broadcast about animal rights or healthy eating is to get besieged by politics and heated debate, but to find little thought or consideration. Pollan takes the opposite tack, approaching what we eat and where it comes from in as open and thoughtful a manner as possible.

Pollan sets out to corn fields and natural farms, goes hunting and foraging, all in the name of coming to terms with where food really comes from in modern America and what the ramifications are for the eaters, the eaten, the economy and the environment. The results are far more than I expected them to be.

It is Pollan's open-mindedness and his insistence that he personally experience the entire process of getting the food to his plate from its very beginning stages before making any judgements that makes this book so good. He brings a reasonable approach to the discussion that makes for a great book, but probably wouldn't sell newpapers or draw TV viewers.

The conclusions Pollan draws from his experiences tend to eschew the ideas of radicals on either side of the food argument and instead focus on coming to terms with what we eat by truly appreciating where it comes from and what it consists of. He constantly refers back to a time when we were comfortable looking at the process by which our food got to our plates and still being comfortable eating it. Reading this book, you can't help but come away thinking that our inability to do that today has partly to do with the path the food takes to our plates today, a little to do with our becoming strangely uncomfortable with our true nature, and something to do with what we choose to put in our bodies.

All in all, this is a great book that will leave you thinking differently about eating and probably eating differently because of it.

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Industry Perspective, December 20, 2006
I read Mr. Pollan's Botany of Desire and enjoyed it. I have just finished Omnivore's Dilemma and very much enjoyed it. My graduate and undergraduate work was in seed science and sustainable production systems. I am currently in graduate school for Plant Breeding and Genetics. I have worked in production agriculture for the last 15 years. I am also an avowed foodie. I hunt game, I pick and grow mushrooms and I grow heirloom vegetables. I think Mr. Pollan has pulled together a lot of things that many of us in the industry know intuitively. I think the writing style is spot on. It is informative, but not overly technical. Some of the reviews by others in the field have picked apart the research or some of the technical facts and I could do so as well, but stepping back and looking at the whole is what is appropriate here. The writing style is not only informative, but also engaging and amusing.

I think that anyone who reads this book will have to take a moment and ask themselves how they can change a production system that is fundamentally flawed. I remind all of those people they have that power and they make that choice every day in how they shop. Vote with your dollars, that will bring about change the quickest. And, change some of your expectations. No more peaches and asparagus in December. Accept the fact that grass fed beef will vary in flavor based on where it is raised and when it is brought to market. With wine we often speak of terroir; the flavor of the vineyard and how the grapes are grown being expressed in the wine. But, the same can be true for many other agricultural products where the flavor of the site and the variety and how it is grown can also be very distinctive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read on Food, October 26, 2006
I can't believe it happened to me. I never thought it would, my ego integrity being such that I thought I would never become so completely a different person. But it did happen. In the span of a few seconds I uttered words that were so alien, so not me it could have been stated by a complete stranger. I was not being ironic or funny. I didn't even realize what I said until I was finished saying it and then for a fleeting few moments I couldn't be sure it was really me thinking and saying this phrase, "For Gods sake, this is a health food store, why are they selling soda? And for that matter, what the hell is organic soda?"

As my wife pulled away from the end rack of said offending soda I suddenly had the most jolting moment of clarity in the middle of our local Nature's Harvest health food store. Despite every effort to the contrary, my wife's newfound allergy to wheat plus our collective endeavor to lose weight and eat better had turned me into one of those obnoxious foodie types that turn up their nose to anything found at your local supermarket. Folks, this is not me. A scant year ago three square meals consisted of a cereal bar (Cocoa Puffs or Cheerios) for breakfast, Tyson breaded chicken patties for lunch, and a plentiful serving of Taco Bell for dinner.

My indulgence of Taco Bell was legendary going all the back to high school. In fact, I lunched their so often that when I went away to college in Pittsburgh for a semester, it was rumored that the local Taco Bell I frequented went out of business because I was not their to support any longer.

So how does one go from such a complete junk food junkie to obnoxious health conscious foodie so darn quickly? The answer lies in "Botany of Desire" author and journalist for the New York Times Magazine Michael Pollan's newest masterpiece, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals." In this book Pollan takes great pains to show his readers how the average American meal develops and evolves from the farm to our plate. Many books these days concentrate solely on fast food and how horrible it is for you but Pollan not only tackles that well worn material, he goes above and beyond in displaying the entire military-industrial food chain that supplies every mainstream food outlet from Wal-Mart to the local bodega, from any major Supermarket to most American eateries.

When I bought this book I figured I'd be taught many things about Mad Cow Disease, pesticides and growth hormones, concentration camp-like conditions for farm animals, and most probably Franken-foods (genetically modified or cloned). That's all in there but it is under the most odd of headings; corn.

According to Pollan corn is THE building block of the entire non-organic, non-foraged, food chain. That's right, I said corn. I realize that at first glance, aside from barbeques and vegetable medley's, one does not see corn so completely spread far and wide as Pollan insists it is. But that is what makes his book so incredible and such a pleasurable read. Pollan visits one of the biggest agribusiness farms in America and asks all of the right questions.

What we find is not only the history of how corn dominated human society by domesticating us (rather than the assumed belief that we domesticated corn) we follow Pollan on the path of corn as it finds its way into nearly every available food on the market in stores and restaurants. From the object itself, to meals fed to animals we eat (like chicken and beef), to byproducts such as high fructose corn syrup (which I swear is in nearly everything but the air we breathe) to even the heart of food policy as written by our Congress and paid for with taxpayer dollars. By the end of this section that was entirely dedicated to corn and its nightmare offspring, the quite literally named military-industrial food chain, I found myself wandering the eateries and shopping centers of Tampa crying out that everywhere lurked dreadful and unhealthy corn a la Charlton Heston of Soylent Green fame. Morgan Spurlock already had me yelling at every McDonalds that it was "Evil!" like I was a poor mans Abe "Grandpa" Simpson, so Pollans empire of corn revelation only made my food induced hysteria oh so much worse.

Incidentally, between the aforementioned wife's allergy and subsequent discovery that even hot dogs and hamburgers had wheat in them combined with my reading of Pollan's book and his description of corn, our car rides are peppered with the both of us screaming out of the car windows at every opportunity in banshee song, "Wheat...corn...wheat...corn, everywhere is wheat and corn...oh woe is us, woe-is-us!"

But Pollan does do what most anti-agribusiness people do. He doesn't rest easy on the lazy thinking that we should all blindly start shopping at organic food stores like Whole Foods Market without asking equally intrusive and instructive questions. Pollan tackles the organic food industry with as much veracity and gusto as he did with the industrial food chain. In the section simply titled, grass, we learn more about the natural order of food ecology and just how far we've drifted from what is the natural order of eating and raising food. He also teaches the difference between organic, USDA approved organic and the even healthier but lofty local food chain. By the end of this chapter Pollan had me searching the aforementioned Nature's Harvest for foods and condiments that were produced in Tampa, FL (where I live) because now even organic wasn't good enough for me. About this time a good friend called me and when I told him of my dilemma he suggested I start working a second job to pay for my new food obsession or seek an intervention.

The last chapter, the forest, is about hunting and gathering ones own dinner. Pollan manages to write a beautiful and intelligent piece about the way we eat in modern times without the trappings of hoity, elitist language and attitude present in most writings about food and health. However, though in the end the chapter is saved by Pollans humbleness and genuine intellectual curiosity about the subject of hunting and gathering, boy does this final part of the book skate close to the edge of unrealistic. Thankfully, Pollan acknowledges that we are not about to as a society start to reverse evolution and drop agriculture in favor of returning to hunting and gathering. He only goes through with this experiment for the purposes of illustration not as a viable alternative to eating corn meals and faux organic products. His message is simply know what you are eating, make smart decisions and moderate your impulses.

"The Omnivore's Dilemma," by Michael Pollan is a wonderful book. It has achieved the much-vaunted (if I do say so myself) position of one the few books I insist that everyone should read. Other books in this category include the Pulitzer Prize winning epic by Jared Diamond, "Guns, Germs and Steel." For anyone with a serious interest in the modern food chain or simply eating healthier, you should definitely read, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," by Michael Pollan. I promise it won't make you nearly as nuts as it made me, I'm just a bit overdramatic and obsessive is all. ... Read more

22. My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
by Chelsea Handler
Paperback (2005-06-06)
list price: $14.95 -- our price: $7.70
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Isbn: 1582346186
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Sales Rank: 223
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

In this raucous collection of true-life stories, actress and comedian Chelsea Handler recounts her time spent in the social trenches with that wild, strange, irresistible, and often gratifying beast: the one-night stand.

You've either done it or know someone who has: the one-night stand, the familiar outcome of a night spent at a bar, sometimes the sole payoff for your friend's irritating wedding, or the only relief from a disastrous vacation. Often embarrassing and uncomfortable, occasionally outlandish, but most times just a necessary and irresistible evil, the one-night stand is a social rite as old as sex itself and as common as a bar stool.

Enter Chelsea Handler. Gorgeous, sharp, and anything but shy, Chelsea loves men and lots of them. My Horizontal Life chronicles her romp through the different bedrooms of a variety of suitors, a no-holds-barred account of what can happen between a man and a sometimes very intoxicated, outgoing woman during one night of passion. From her short fling with a Vegas stripper to her even shorter dalliance with a well-endowed little person, from her uncomfortable tryst with a cruise ship performer to her misguided rebound with a man who likes to play leather dress-up, Chelsea recalls the highs and lows of her one-night stands with hilarious honesty. Encouraged by her motley collection of friends (aka: her partners in crime) but challenged by her family members (who at times find themselves a surprise part of the encounter), Chelsea hits bottom and bounces back, unafraid to share the gritty details. My Horizontal Life is one guilty pleasure you won't be ashamed to talk about in the morning.
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5-0 out of 5 stars A perfect trashy review
This is a classic memoir of some ridiculously funny random sexual experiences, coupled with rampant alcohol and drug overindulgence. Chelsea's is a rare breed; a talented comic and contagious writer. Each chapter is an outlandish collection of the painful things that go wrong in her sexual conquests and latent promiscuity. The midget sex story was my favorite. Oh my!

Some great one-liners and insults in every other sentence.

Very embarrassing and hilarious stories, right from the first chapter. Chelsea is the ultimate tomboy, and can be outrageously funny. What makes this book so great is the shock value. Not just the content. Heavy drinking, drugs, and numerous sex partners are just not what you expect to read from an accomplished woman. It's just so very rare a girl is so open about her excess indulgence and spontaneous sex life like this.
She has a real talent at storytelling as well, which comes from her stand up comic days.

For fans of this genre, I'd also highly recommend the male version of this book for out of control laughs. Ripping comedy - outrageous penthouse letter stories.

High Heels and Dirty Deals - Globetrotting Tales of Debauchery from a Binge-drinking Nymphomaniac
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23. The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Hardcover (2010-11-30)
list price: $18.00 -- our price: $10.92
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Isbn: 1400069971
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 136
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

By the author of the modern classic The Black Swan, this collection of aphorisms and meditations expresses his major ideas in ways you least expect.

The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects—modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.

Playful and irreverent, these aphorisms will surprise you by exposing self-delusions you have been living with but never recognized.

With a rare combination of pointed wit and potent wisdom, Taleb plows through human illusions, contrasting the classical values of courage, elegance, and erudition against the modern diseases of nerdiness, philistinism, and phoniness.
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5-0 out of 5 stars What's the rush? Slow down and think .....

An intriguing book based on an interesting thesis, well presented, in saying "we humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas ..."

"The person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself," Taleb begins, and shortly after continues, "to bankrupt a fool, give him information."

Okay, I declare bankruptcy. These aphorisms are an eloquent Luddite protest against the madcap technological excesses and follies of the modern world. I agree. Every new technology blossoms into excess, then retreats into practical use as newer ideas develop. Obsidian was once a new idea in cutting; but, anything this good soon evolved into ornaments and other impractical uses.

It's the inevitable fate of all new technology and all new ideas. All good ideas become complicated into absurdity, until wiser people ask, "Just what are we trying to accomplish here?"

Taleb is a wise man asking such questions, and this book is one of questions and relevant observations. It's the same question anyone with a cell phone and the choice of 250,000 apps might ask, like Taleb, "Why?" and the answer is "I dunno."

In brief, this is an eloquent plea to slow down and think.

What's missing is a recognition of human curiosity which creates all technology, from obsidian blades to Blackberrys. It's a book devoid of curiosity, of Rudyard Kipling's Five Faithful Serving Men and the journalist's eternal questions, "Who? What? Why? When? How?"

Of course, I'm not aware of the Luddites having many answers. But, Taleb, like those who sit and refuse to budge do serve to remind the rest of us that scurrying about accomplishes little. More power to him, and to those who ask, "Is this trip necessary?"

5-0 out of 5 stars Now it is proven that you don't need to be dead to have people enjoy your aphorisms
I love this book. If you are a thinking businessman or academic, I think you will like it. The style is harsh, masculine, thoughtful, to the point, non-religious and timeless. The style reminds me a bit of Livingstone (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now and Never Stop Dancing) even though he writes prose. The title of the book alludes to Greek mythology, but you don't need to know who Zeus was to enjoy the book. However, some people dislike the style of both Taleb and Livingstone, so the book is not for everyone. Finally, since the book is published this year (2010), you can utter some of the aphorisms out loud, causing the belief that you are a witty person :)

5-0 out of 5 stars Potently distilled Taleb
I'm among those people who will read pretty much anything Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes, so I preordered this book without needing to know anything about its specifics. I just finished my first pass and am not disappointed (and will need to read the book again, probably many times).

We shouldn't make the mistake of getting so impressed that we're in danger of worshipping Taleb, and indeed some of his points may be exaggerated, inconsistent, partially wrong, or even completely wrong (I think he might even agree with that), but he's also genuinely and uniquely brilliant, and my sense is that he's right about most things and thus a source of valuable real-world insights.

Others have suggested that one shouldn't try to summarize Taleb, but we can surely say that his work revolves around the realization that we humans, both individually and collectively, are unknowingly prone to many kinds of errors and biases, so we need to develop practical tools to help compensate and especially to avoid disastrous consequences.

Using its densely aphoristic format, the book richly and wittily fleshes out this general idea by providing more specific insights on a wide array of "philosophical and practical" topics spanning much of the human condition. And I'll add that while Taleb seems ambivalent about Wittgenstein, I think his ideas are closer to those of the later Wittgenstein than he may realize (which I intend to be a compliment, while agreeing that Wittgenstein can sometimes be rather opaque).

If you're willing to take a serious look at yourself and the social world in which you're embedded, at risk of undermining some cherished illusions, this is a book not to be missed. Others have made many of the same points as Taleb but, to my knowledge, no one else writing today has done so with the same level of broad erudition and artistically powerful flair (hence his outlier level of readership and influence).

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!
If you've read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's other books ("Fooled By Randomness" and "The Black Swan") then you have an idea of the power and magnificence contained in his writing. In my humble opinion, "The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms" is excellent; it's a must read. I have been anticipating this book's release for quite some time. Several months ago Taleb was testing out many of these aphorisms on Twitter, so it's interesting to see how the book came together. I certainly enjoy witty aphorisms and this book contains some of the best I've ever read.

"My best definition of a nerd: someone who asks you to explain an aphorism."

As Taleb says, aphorisms lose their charm whenever explained so I'll refrain from demonstrating my foolishness and ignorance by trying to interpret any of them in this forum.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent-Nassim Nicholas Taleb at his best
My copy arrived today, and I was anxious to read Taleb's book of aphorisms after following his progress at his website. He does not disappoint; he will make many laugh, many angry, and most think. His wit and insight spares no one; particularly academics, economists, and bankers (politicians, too).

The chapter I most anticipated was Robustness and Fragility, given Taleb's continuing dialogue at Facebook concerning anti-fragility.

This slim volume is highly recommended if you enjoyed Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan. Highest recommendation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sam Kinison of contemporary philosophy
Taleb is the Sam Kinison of contemporary philosophy: He shrieks mischievously about how we delude ourselves and allow others (e.g., consultants and intellectuals) to delude us. "The Bed of Procrutes" tells where not to look for answers and seems grounded in a profound respect for the ever-elusive: human dignity and courage. Unlike his seminal "The Black Swan," which overflowed with examples and explanations (and which should have been proofread more carefully) this book is spare and copy-edited. It is compulsory reading for the aspiring fl�neur.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great encouragement to think more!
I'm a big Taleb fan, but this review is not biased. I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a quick read, but is intended to make the reader think. Highly recommend it. ... Read more

24. Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities
by Elizabeth Edwards
Hardcover (2009-05-08)
list price: $22.95 -- our price: $15.61
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Isbn: 076793136X
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Sales Rank: 363
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The bestselling author of Saving Graces shares her inspirational message on the challenges and blessings of coping with adversity.

She’s one of the most beloved political figures in the country, and on the surface, seems to have led a charmed life. In many ways, she has. Beautiful family. Thriving career. Supportive friendship. Loving marriage. But she’s no stranger to adversity. Many know of the strength she had shown after her son, Wade, was killed in a freak car accident when he was only sixteen years old. She would exhibit this remarkable grace and courage again when the very private matter of her husband's infidelity became public fodder. And her own life has been on the line. Days before the 2004 presidential election—when her husband John was running for vice president—she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After rounds of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation the cancer went away—only to reoccur in 2007.

While on the campaign trail, Elizabeth met many others who have had to contend with serious adversity in their lives, and in Resilience, she draws on their experiences as well as her own, crafting an unsentimental and ultimately inspirational meditation on the gifts we can find among life’s biggest challenges. This short, powerful, pocket-sized inspirational book makes an ideal gift for anyone dealing with difficulties in their life, who can find peace in knowing they are not alone, and promise that things can get better.

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5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible Insight and Honesty
I have so much respect for Elizabeth Edwards. She has written a beautiful and heartbreakingly honest book - I have read all her books and have found all of them to be inspiring. This most recent book however, is the best. She is brutally honest about her cancer, the loss of her son and especially about the infidelity of her husband. I don't know why her husband chose to be unfaithful, but I hope he can live with himself. Elizabeth is a tremendous lady. I am grateful she has chosen to share her experiences with us - I draw strength from her wisdom.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Power of Adversity...
... is something that Elizabeth Edwards knows a lot about. Grieving mother, cancer patient and a wife scorned could all fit her very well, but the label she wears most proudly is survivor, to the nth degree. Edwards new book, which she muses about the nature of resiliency, is a powerhouse of endurance, self-help, and perseverance.

I can imagine that many people who are going to pick up this book are looking for the lurid details of the latest news in Elizabeth Edwards' life, mainly, the affair her husband Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards had with a videographer on his campaign. As Edwards says herself, those details will not be found in the book. What is there, which she talks about in her second to last chapter, is her reactions to the affair, and her thought process she went through as she dealt with the betrayal of vows.

But oh, the book is so much more than that. Sometimes, "celebrity" writers are choppy and rambling in their books, even if "ghost written" by someone else. Not so Edwards. Her writing is evocative, personal, and incredibly engaging. Much of the book she wanders through the myraid of feelings she had as her sixteen year old son Wade died in a freak of nature car accident. Edwards as a grieving mother is beautiful and heartbreaking. The chapter she devotes exclusively to Wade cannot be read with a dry eye. Her writing evokes her personal journey in a way that has to be experienced.

But this is not a book of sadness; no, this is a book of continuing on. In the first chapter, she talks about her father's massive stroke and how, after she was told he was brain dead, he continued to live on, almost eighteen years. That lesson gave Edwards the stamina and courage to face whatever obstacles she would encounter in her own life. As she so beautifully put it, you have to "adjust the sails".

I am planning on keeping this book for my lifetime. When time offers trials to me, and I feel like I cannot endure, Edwards' words will give me a renewed sense of comfort. This book would also be an excellent gift to anyone grieving the loss of a relationship, a child, a parent; while each of our journeys is personal, the wisdom shared from that path, as Edwards remarkably does in this slim yet powerful book, can enlighten the road for all of us.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and empowering
I found Elizabeth Edwards' opening chapter on her Dad compelling, empowering, and inspiring. Two weeks ago, I flew home to care for Mom. She wanted to get better, but her digestive system had inexplicably shut down. She was recovering from surgery and unable to eat more than a few bites per meal. The food at the 24-hour nursing facility was terrible. I cleaned by night and cooked by day...brought in alternate lunches and dinners...waterboarded her with food. Sometimes she would eat just once bite out of a whole entree. But Mom did not give up on herself, and I did not give up on Mom. "Do NOT go gentle unto that good night."

The breakthrough was my finding a drug side-effect that had been stanching her appetite among her dozen drugs. Now she's eating full meals and slowly regaining strength. Don't trust the "experts" to know what they are doing.

Mom says I had won her trust. Priceless.

The one thing that made me wrinkle my brow was that Elizabeth felt diminished by what her husband did. I don't think she should. Women often try to be all things to all people, and that is humanly impossible.

Regarding the chapter on Toshiko...who put on a resolute face despite her physical and emotional scars from the first atomic bomb. Geishas are trained to not show negative or strong emotion because that leads to wrinkles, which limits one's career. Emotional botox.

It is a pleasure reading Edwards for her wisdom and thought processes. My lessons from this book...keep a steady hand on the tiller and don't give the hard work of working through adversity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Misrepresented In Media
My spouse of 45 years died very suddenly 20 months ago, - 8 weeks after a terminal diagnosis of "unidentifiable Cancer". If I had listened to the press surrounding the release of this book, I may not have purchased it. Anyone who inferred that this was a juicy story about a politician husband having an affair DID NOT READ THIS BOOK. This book is Elizabeth's journey - and it's REAL! I went back thru the book and underlined thoughts that jumped off the page related to moving forward after ANY STORM that life presents. How do I embrace my new reality?? How do I create a new normal? moment at a time... I'm doing that now after losing my husband. Elizabeth Edwards is an Incredible Inspiration to me - she affirmed MY journey without ever knowing me. I'm a breast cancer survivor - Elizabeth isn't so fortunate, but her RESILIENCE will live on far beyond the day that she leaves us.
Sharon Sprunger, Las Vegas, NV

5-0 out of 5 stars I wish I was as reslient as Edwards
I am a great admirer of Elizabeth Edwards. It takes enormous courage to write about such personal and painful subjects as your own cancer, the death of your father, the death of your son and your husband's affair. She is certainly resilient, a quality one needs when faced with the kind of betrayal she has faced--both from her own body, and from her husband.

As the author of a book about older women and divorce, He's History, You're Not: Surviving Divorce After 40I am nowhere near as resilient as Edwards--I became clinically depressed when my husband left me for another woman. Eventually I moved on but it took a long time and a lot of therapy. It was touch and go for a while which was scary. However, I did run across many divorcees who went through worse experiences than mine, who were remarkably resilient and bounced back from incredible adversity.

Resilience is both our genes and our upbringing. If we're lucky enough to have a sunny disposition to begin with, and the kind of parenting which sets us up to feel secure and capable in the world, we can rescue ourselves when we need to. If we didn't have that kind of parenting, we can still overcome obstacles, but it's a hell of a lot harder. Edwards is a role model for women who face tragedy and who need inspiration and the reassurance that it is possible to survive just about anything.

Erica Manfred
He's History, You're Not: Surviving Divorce After 40 ... Read more

25. The Secret: The Power
by Rhonda Byrne
list price: $23.95 -- our price: $11.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1439181780
Publisher: Atria Books
Sales Rank: 242
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The Secret revealed the law of attraction. Now Rhonda Byrne reveals the greatest power in the universe -- The Power to have anything you want.

In this book you will come to understand that all it takes is just one thing to change your relationships, money, health, happiness, career, and your entire life.

Every discovery, invention, and human creation comes from The Power. Perfect health, incredible relationships, a career you love, a life filled with happiness, and the money you need to be, do, and have everything you want, all come from The Power.

The life of your dreams has always been closer to you than you realized, because The Power -- to have everything good in your life -- is inside you.

To create anything, to change anything, all it takes is just one thing…THE POWER.

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5-0 out of 5 stars A NEW WINDOW INTO PROSPERITY . . ., August 18, 2010
Rhonda Byrne has been a long-time favorite author of mine. Through "The Secret," Rhonda has helped me to have an inner confidence in the law of attraction. I've come to believe that what I think about (in the right way) will come into my life.

In "The Power," Rhonda takes the law of attraction in another direction and teaches the power of using your emotions to FEEL what you want to have so that what you desire will come quicker. It is a way of engaging the mind and heart and getting them to work together.

I felt "The Power" was inspirational, because it reminded me of why we have feelings and the different energy that comes from feelings. Not surprisingly, love is the most powerful feeling . . .genuine love can change anything. . . or any situation.

Rhonda teaches how to use the power of love in all aspects of your life, from relationships to money, to health, and more.

I would highly recommend getting this book along with another that I read early this summer and has meant a lot to me. It seems that there is a 3rd dimension to the Law of Attraction. The best way to describe it is "Serendipity."

I've been so inspired by Serendipitously Rich: How to Get Delightfully, Delectably, Deliciously Rich (or Anything Else You Want) in 7 Ridiculously Easy Steps which was written by Madeleine Kay, along with a foreword by Joe Vitale (a star in "The Secret" movie). This book gives you a really fun and delightful feeling as it moves you positively on a path of change. However, it also gives you some practical steps which are akin to putting the law of attraction into action by teaching how to make decisions based on serendipity.

It is like having a deeper level of faith. It has made a difference for me. . .it might for you too.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Have A Decision To Make, September 10, 2010
"The Power", by Rhonda Byrne, is a book about the power of love. The author wrote "The Secret" in 2006 and it became a world-wide bestseller. The author promises that this book will add immeasurabley to what you learned in "The Secret".

My father suffered a heart attack and I was spending endless hours at the hospital. One evening, I went to Walmart and I noticed this book on the shelf. I was instantly drawn to it. I spent the next couple of days reading this book as I sat in the hospital. It was a very anxious time but this book helped me gain a different perspective. The "power" in this book is the power of love. Your life is made up of only two kinds of things...positive things and negative things. This book explains how your attitude and way of thinking can make bad things seem better.

Most of the information in this book comes from the New Thought Movement of the early 1900s. These authors taught the principles of positive thinking and the law of attraction. Ms. Byrne quotes many of these authors in this book but she also describes how these principles can be used in everyday life to produce positive results in your life.

My favorite chapter in the book is "Keys To Power". One of the topics in this chapter is the "key of gratitude." Everytime I start feeling down, I think of things that I am thankful for. I am soon feeling much better. Ms. Byrne says, "No matter what negative situation you may find yourself in, you can always find something to be grateful for, and as you do, you harness the force of love that eliminates negativity."

Positive thinking does not always come easy to me. I remember my mom telling me when I was a child, "All you ever do is grumble, gripe and complain." Children tend to live up to spoken expectations so I tend to see the cup as half empty instead of half full. I like this book because it reminds me that changing your mind can change your life. I have a decision to make.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even better than the Secret!, September 13, 2010
I loved it! I thought it was even better than "the secret", but I love both. I have read "the Secret" several times and will do the same with "the Power". It's easy to flip through for quick inspiration and the book radiates love, which is what the power is about.

5-0 out of 5 stars Do not judge this, or any book until you APPLY it., September 17, 2010
The one star and five star reviews differ with people's attitude toward what this book calls them to do. It doesn't say sit and salivate and drool with love like a puppy. It tells you to take the attitude of love, meaning positivity in outlook and focus. So if you are the type of person that is mired in negative stuff and you cherish your state, then you will keep saying "buh-humbug" all the way. But if you have had enough of your pity-parties and you want to clear the junk in the attic of your head, then you will decide to APPLY the book's suggestions and God forbid, you may actually get out of your misery corner. So if you have no such intention, then don't waste your money. Not too many of the reviewers seem to have actually tried any of the concepts in the book. So they are not at all talking from experiential evaluation of the book. IF you want to try and APPLY the ideas, the book will be an uplifting start. Take the ideas and build on them, practice thinking only what you love and want, and if you still do not get any results, then come back to review with complaint that it was painful reading. If you honestly put it into practice, you will not need to! If it will sit on the shelf with all your other half-baked, half completed projects of yours, then save time and money now. So my suggestion:

You want to really APPLY and practice the book's way of living = BUY!!!!
You do NOT want to APPLY and practice = Don't buy.

You decide. Simple: In the end what you get is what you want and love.

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes, I liked this book!, September 7, 2010
When I was in seventh grade, I made my first "vision board." Of course, that was many, many years ago. Back then, I called it (among other things) my "dream poster." I cut up magazines and newspapers and did drawings of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see. I also wrote in notebooks with different colored pencils a "diary" of all the things I had achieved in life -- before any of it could have actually happened. I focused on my desires. I read biographies and novels and watched movies about people who did what I wanted to do. I worked on making my dreams come true. I got into the schools I dreamed about. I owned a business -- back when the "glass ceiling" in business was proudly made out of solid cement! I took a trip to Europe, and got a newspaper to foot the bill for all the expenses. I danced professionally. Yep, I was on the stage at Lincoln Center once! Later on, I got yet another job of my dreams.

And, I did this while lots of people spun their wheels in the background telling me what a fool I was, that I should give up -- over and over and over again. I've faced ridiculous obstacles, and conquered them every time.

So, I guess I discovered "The Secret" before Rhonda Byrne made it popular. But, even Rhonda Byrne admits that it is not her invention at all! Dream. Focus on those dreams. Keep going, even when reality and so-called realists tell you that you are wasting your time.

I laugh when I read the one-star reviews for The Secret and The Power. Sooo many people have the answer, they think. It's just that their answer is always "no." No, you can't have more money. No, you can't have that career. No, you can't get into that college. No, you can't dance, can't sing, can't paint, can't..... anything. And, for them, people who keep moving on are stupid, because we can't see it their way.

Enjoy your negativity, folks. I can't imagine what I might achieve next. But, I assure you it won't be sitting on my rump insulting others who dare to dream, and dare to achieve.

The Power, by Rhonda Byrne is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it to anyone capable of thinking outside of narrow limitations.

5-0 out of 5 stars something everyone should own, October 17, 2010
This is a book all should read and have to just open and take in daily. It is amazing how you can start to feel confused or down and just a few pages puts you right on track. It answers alot of questions and helps to understand why we and others do the things we do. And how we can look at something different to DO something differently.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Bible for us all!, September 21, 2010
Rhonda Byrne's timing in publishing her latest book was perfect! In these trying times when negativity abounds...we should all read and live "The Power"...the world would then be a wonderful place! Thanks, Rhonda, for your beautiful book and thought provoking words.

"The Secret" changed my life. Using the power of positive thinking, my house sold on the day I invisioned, for the amount I wanted, I was able to quit my job at a bank (Great timing there!), and move closer to my children and parents. My future husband then 'found' me and we are now happily married and living the life I had dreamed about. Does the Secret work??? You bet it does! I am living proof. All of my friends and family are amazed at how my life turned around. It can and will for them and for you, start to live "The Secret" and harness "The Power"!

5-0 out of 5 stars What a great way to live......., October 21, 2010
I have finished reading "The Power" for the 2nd time. This book has life changing suggestions to change the way you think to change the way you feel - it tells you how to look for the positive in all situations. Even when it is really hard to find a positive aspect to something that has gone wrong - there is always a lesson to be learned so that in itself is positive. It also has made me realize what love really is - not just for a person or family but for the whole of life. I have just purchased the audio as well because I'm going to take a 2-3 hour driving trip and I would like to listen to it on the way.

I'm not saying you are going to receive a million dollars but I'll bet you'll feel better about it if you don't :)

Barbara Johnson
Cave Creek, AZ

5-0 out of 5 stars Getting stronger everyday, October 20, 2010
I purchased this book in an airport in Washington DC on my trip home to Florida. I have been battling a life threatening disease for some time now. I love reading Rhonda Byrne. She gives me inspiration to keep up with the fight.

5-0 out of 5 stars words to live by, October 17, 2010
I love this book and it has changed my life and the way I live. The world would be an even more beautiful place if everyone lived this way. If you want happiness in your life and good things to follow you, read this book. Even after reading it, I still refer to it often, especially if I am having a bad day or a challenge in my life. ... Read more

26. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health
by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell II
list price: $16.95 -- our price: $9.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1932100660
Publisher: Benbella Books
Sales Rank: 271
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Referred to as the "Grand Prix of epidemiology" by The New York Times, this study examines more than 350 variables of health and nutrition with surveys from 6,500 adults in more than 2,500 counties across China and Taiwan, and conclusively demonstrates the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While revealing that proper nutrition can have a dramatic effect on reducing and reversing these ailments as well as curbing obesity, this text calls into question the practices of many of the current dietary programs, such as the Atkins diet,that are widely popular in the West. The politics of nutrition and the impact of special interest groups in the creation and dissemination of public information are also discussed.
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5-0 out of 5 stars Every doctor, teacher and parent needs to read this book!, January 25, 2005
T. Colin Campbell has made a career of challenging the conventional wisdom around nutrition, and this book is the culmination of his work. His integrity, brilliance, and unflinching courage shine through every page.

The main point of this book is that most nutritional studies that we hear about in the media are poorly constructed because of what the author terms "scientific reductionism." That is, they attempt to pin down the effects of a single nutrient in isolation from all other aspects of diet and lifestyle.

While this is the "gold standard" for clinical trials in the pharmaceutical world, it just doesn't work when it comes to nutrition. Given that the Western diet is extremely high fat and high protein compared to most of the rest of the world, studies that examine slight variations in this diet (i.e., adding a few grams of fiber or substituting skim milk for full fat milk) are like comparing the mortality rates of people who smoke five packs of cigarettes a day vs. people who smoke only 97 cigarettes a day.

Campbell's research, which he describes in a very accessible and engaging fashion, has two tremendous advantages over the typical nutritional study. First, there is the China Study itself - a massive series of snapshots of the relationship between diet and disease in over 100 villages all over China. The rates of disease differ greatly from region to region, and Campbell and his research partners (including some of the most distinguished scholars and epidemiologists in the world) carefully correlated these differences with the varying diets of the communities.

It's not lazy "survey research" either - the researchers don't rely on their subjects' memory to determine what they ate and drank. The researchers also observed shopping patterns and took blood samples to cross-validate all the data.

The second amazing part of Campbell's research method is his refusal to accept any finding without taking it back to his lab and finding out how exactly it works. In other words, we discover in The China Study not only in what way, but precisely how, the foods we eat can either promote or compromise our health.

The book is part intellectual biography / hero's journey (although Campbell is always wonderfully humble - there's no trace of self-congratulation, just a deep gratitude for what he has experienced), part nutrition guide (the most honest and unflinching one you'll ever read), and part expose. The final section leaves no sacred cow standing, and names names! From the food industry, to the government, to academia, Campbell calmly reports on a coverup of nutritional truth so widespread and insidious that all citizens should be enraged.

I have a PhD in health education and a Masters in Public Health - and I can honestly say that no book has shaken my worldview like this one. Anyone interested in health - their own, or that of their family, friends, or community - must read this book and share it. Campbell has started a revolution. Skip this work at your own peril.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why, oh why didn't I take the blue pill?, December 24, 2006
I love juicy steaks, delicious cheese, and big bowls of ice cream. I love to eat out at nice restaurants. And I really like eating without thinking about the operations and consequences of our dietary industrial complex. But I don't get to enjoy these things any more because I read the China Study. Like Neo in the movie the Matrix, you have a choice, take the blue pill and believe what you want to believe, take the red pill and you will be exposed to the reality of the world we live in. The China Study is the red pill.

This is a fascinating book on the capitalism, politics, and human behavior that drives the food industry. It is also frighteningly insightful into the health consequences of an affluent societies' diet. I am not a scientist so I don't know if this is good science. But I did work ten years ago as a government attorney on the USDA dietary guidelines and was surprised by the political influence and acceptance of what the author would call scientific reductionism. I also worked for a man who lived and worked until he was 100 years old, and he had a dietary regime very similar to that recommended by the China Study: not vegan nor vegetarian, but largely based on plants and whole foods rather than animal based foods. So I found this book very persuasive - in fact, too persuasive. It scared me straight so I eat healthy now and that's good for the long term...but I don't enjoy it like I used to.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, December 25, 2005
This is a fantastic book that's loaded with so much eye opening information, it's the kind of book that I'll read again. I feel if you don't convert to a whole food plant based diet after reading this book, I don't think anything in the world will convince you....the evidence is just overwhelming.

As for my story, I was on statins for high cholesterol for over 6 years....and a moderate to high dose at that. Over the years, my cholesterol kept rising gradually and my total cholesterol was just over 300 and a triglyceride level in the mid 200's without statins. The moderate/high dose statin brought my cholesterol down to the range of high 190's to low 200's. Over the years, I tried to get off the medication and I was told to try to eat a low fat diet, don't eat shrimp, lobster, etc. I went off the statins, tried this diet for several months and none of this helped....actually my cholesterol went higher....I was told it's hereditary, there's nothing you can do, and I should take the statin and that I would be on them indefinitely. Well, after reading the book "The China Study", there's a few paragraphs tucked in this great book mentioning that the major factor causing high cholesterol is eating any animal protein. The only meat I ate at the time was fish and chicken and small portions of it....and maybe beef a few times a year, if that. I have to say I was skeptical and figured what do I have to lose, so I went on a whole food plant based diet (vegan diet)as Dr. Campbell in the book suggests. I started that last November (same time I stopped taking the statins), and I had my cholesterol checked this past summer and was stunned at the total cholesterol went from over 300 without statins, high 190's/low 200's on moderate/high does statin, to 175 without statins on Vegan diet, with good LDL and HDL. I'm guessing next time it's checked it will be even lower. Also, my triglycerides went from the mid 200's to 64! All as a result of just giving up animal products....amazing. Now I wonder....why wasn't I ever given this option by the doctor's I've seen over the years? Even if a person doesn't want to give up animal products completely as I have, why isn't this advice offered as at least an option to a patient.....and let the patient decide? What a concept!

Of course, I feel my cholesterol and triglycerides levels are just the tip of the iceberg on how my health has improved on a plant based diet....the only regret?....I wish I started the vegan diet earlier....I never have had so much energy and just downright have never felt so good....seriously...this is not an overstatement.

As to all the doubters out there with harsh reviews, I say to each is own but ignore the evidence at your own risk. I've seen many of my friends and family sick by what I feel this book has proven by many studies to be nothing more than a bad diet for the most part and most of them are looking for a magic pill to save them....and the old standby argument that it's all genetic doesn't appear to hold much water either....again, proven by studies in the book.

My friend, family, and co-workers know how I eat now and wonder why I want to live forever....that's not the issue....quality of life over quantity of life...isn't this what we should all be after?

5-0 out of 5 stars My Personal Experience, August 22, 2006
On January 21, 2006, the day I started eating according to guidelines given in The China Study, I was 63 years old, 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall, weighed 213 pounds and with a BMI of 130 was on the first rung of being obese, even though I did not look it. The first week I lost 5 pounds, the 2nd 5 pounds, the 3rd five pounds, the 4th 4 pounds, then 3, 2, 1, until I lost 35 pounds in about 3 months and then stabilized at about 178 pounds. My blood pressure went from an average of 141 over 91 to an average of 120 over 81. My total cholesterol went from over 200 to 127. I no longer feel that I am on a slow decline from 50 years onward, but feel happy and alive now. Much like when I was a kid. Today is August 22, 2006 and I know that this will be the way I eat and live for the duration. For me it's a matter of survival, physically and spiritually. I have given over 20 copies of the book to people I care about, including a waitress at an Outback Steakhouse in Virginia. It was May; she was worrying about her dad and wanted to get him something for Father's Day. By the way steakhouses are a great place to get real yummy vegetables. This is my true story. By the way, thank you Dr. Campbell and Thomas Campbell.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nutritional Excellence-A Nobel Worthy Masterpiece, January 17, 2007
As an M.D. nutritionist I was inspired by and practiced the concepts in Dr Campbell's book for over 10 years. I'm here to document that in practice,with very sick people these principles of nutrition work! For the past decade I have taught and guided many patients in vegan diets using Campbell's earlier booklet, The China Project, as my primary reinforcement. Thousands of very ill people with cancer, autoimmune disease,degenerative heart and vascular disease and other problems have reaped the benefits of this landmark nutritional masterpiece. Acheiving nutritional excellence does not "treat" disease. It does, however, enhance our body's innate physiologic mechanisms which fight disease. For over 10 years I've documented these often dramatic and unbelievable results. The beneficial response patterns over time are clear and undeniable. To delay reading this book is to postpone a journey into wellness. This book can and will change your life forever and you will never again fail to understand why you are sick and why conventional medical treatment may not be the answer. Doctor's, hospitals and medication kill over 200,000 people a year. Can you afford to trust your health to a medical system that may not have the answers to your dilemma? The answers you seek, the understanding you crave will be found in The China Study. Dan E. Chesnut,M.D.

2-0 out of 5 stars China Study Review, September 22, 2007
When I began reading this book, I couldn't put it down. In the first section, when Dr. Campbell described his own experiments on the effect of milk protein on liver cancer in rats, I just poured through page after page, thinking, "What great science"!

At that point in the book he reported his experiments, their rather dramatic results, was careful to point out the limitations and did not extrapolate. So far, very good.

In the next section he describes the China Study itself. There is also an addendum at the back, which gives more detail about the structure of the study. The foundation for the study was a database collected by the Chinese government during the 1970's. It listed the age and causes of death in each of China's provinces over a certain time period. For the follow-up study ten years later, they chose 67 rural villages and gathered data on details about diet, several markers from blood samples and other factors, on approximately 6000 individuals. He claims to have data on about 350 variables. However, only 57 of the 417 pages in the book are devoted to discussion of The China Study.

The purpose of the study was to try to relate diet and other factors, with the diseases that caused death, especially cancers. His particular interest was about the effect of a purely vegetarian diet. It bothered me that he had undertaken leadership of that follow-up study, with a pre-conceived notion of what he wanted it to show.

At this point in the book, Dr. Campbell began to make very broad statements about the Chinese diet and the benefits of a diet that was devoid of animal protein. This is where I really began to have trouble, because I felt that either the study itself or his description of it fell short of supporting the broad claims he was making.

There's no discussion of things like smoking, environmental pollution and sanitation, all of which plague China.... Even rural China.

Another thing that bothered me was his description of the Chinese diet. It flies in the face of my own observations and experiences during many trips to China and other parts of Asia, over the course of about 35 years.

Meat and seafood are a major staple of the Asian diet. They eat quite a bit of pork, chicken, duck, pigeons, fish, eggs and even snakes, organs and sea creatures that Americans would not eat. They do eat much less animal protein than Americans and always accompany it with lots of rice and vegetables. In that sense, their diet is much better than ours. But it is not vegetarian. Although much of their food is stir-fried in a wok, it is done with vegetable oils. Until very recently, junk food has not been available and it is rare to find beef. So it is a much better-balanced diet than ours.

In years past, during trips to Taiwan, I've been to markets where live chickens & ducks were laid on the ground with their feet tied together. People would either buy them live, or have the merchant slaughter & clean them before their eyes. In one market I saw a vendor selling the blood from snakes he had killed & drained as the people watched. Next day, my hosts took me to a snake-meat restaurant for lunch! (Not much meat & lots of bones.) In back alleys of Taipei, I saw families raising pigeons for food.

Just last year at a Shanghai food market in a very old and traditional neighborhood, the emphasis was on meat and fish. There was a section that sold vegetables & rice, but around the fringes of the central meat market. The displays were open and there was no refrigeration!

As the book proceeded through other chapters, making incessant claims about the preventative and curative effects of an all-vegetable diet, he begins to sound like a 19th century "Snake oil" merchant.

He's a zealot on a soap box. Mind you, HE MAY BE RIGHT. Most of what he says about nutrition has been heard before and is considered by many, to be the Holy Grail of diet. There is certainly a lot of public opinion that red meat, animal fat and highly refined carbs are bad for you. But after the first section, I felt that his science became lost in his rhetoric.

Throughout the early parts of the book, I began to wonder what the meat and dairy industries had to say about all this. He certainly got into that in excruciating detail. Again, to the extreme where unfortunately, he sounded like all the folks at the fringes who claim that "Big business" and "Government" are trying to discredit them. I kept thinking of all the stories of big oil companies buying the patents for a "90 mile per gallon" carburetor, to keep it off the market. (On the other hand, there's Galileo.)

After finishing the book, I went to the Internet to look for critiques. There are plenty! Most are by vegetarians and vegetarian societies, all were having orgasms over the book. Finally I did find a site with some criticisms. Now I'd better mention that this site belongs to an organization that advocates increased consumption of fats and oils. However, the critique of the book was limited to a few specific items and did seem to be based on good science.

I do have some experience with statistical methods of extracting the effect of individual variables from data involving many variables and felt a bit uneasy about the analysis methods while reading Campbell's chapters about the study. This critique pointed out that with 350 variables and just 67 samples, there are not enough samples to establish high (95%) levels of statistical confidence. The best that data structure could accomplish is an "Indication," but not proof.

Actually, Campbell himself does discuss the limitations of statistical methods. His problem is that as the book progresses, he wanders away from "probability" and speaks with "certainty" about too many diverse subjects.

The critic, who had apparently examined the actual 900 page Study report, also claimed that Campbell had ignored data that was counter to his theories and in some cases showed negative results of a vegetarian diet. (That does happen when dealing with probabilities.) He then went on to question the reliability of some of the blood markers that were used. (That part was far beyond any of my knowledge.) Also, the fact that the blood samples of each village were pooled, did enable more markers to be measured, but all data about the variability among individuals was lost.

Another thing that bothered me was that Campbell completely ignored the fact that anthropologists tell us that hominids have been eating meat for about 2.5 million years, apparently with great success. Also, if meat is so harmful, why and how do carnivorous animals thrive?

He tells that cow's milk can cause type-1 diabetes in babies, but that mother's milk is ok. He leaves a gaping hole in his discussion because he doesn't explain the differences between those two types of milk.

So, what is my bottom line on this book?
It is widely accepted that vegetables, especially fresh vegetables, are good for you. No argument there. His early research clearly indicates that there is a threshold, above which animal protein can do some harm. That is intuitively appealing. We Americans do eat much too much meat. But, given the extremely long omnivorous history of mankind, it would seem that a moderate amount of animal protein is an important dietary nutrient.

I feel that Campbell has raised many good points, but his zealotry has taken him too far from sound science. That's too bad. He's hurt his credibility.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Life Saving Experience, November 14, 2006
As a physician, I know how little is taught to medical students about nutrition. As an amateur chef, I've read for years about what we need to do for our diet in order to be healthier. Large studies, such as the Framingham study, do make comments about exercise and nutrition, but as far as I know have never gone into the detail that Dr. Campbell has. His credentials are impeccable. His research is impressive. It brought everything together for me. I've stopped eating meat and avoid most dairy. I bought 12 copies for family and friends immediately, because I felt that I was ethically bound to do this. Now I'm ordering more copies. It is a terrific example of how information that can literally be lifesaving is suppressed by many means. I only wish I'd had this info when I was 40 instead of 62. Of course, my husband, a cardiologist, so far has not read the book. He does eat everything I cook.

1-0 out of 5 stars Good science leading to bad conclusions, September 11, 2009
Review of the China Study

I am a scientist, not specifically in the field of nutrition, though I have touched on it as an aside of my main focus, and I know how to research and interpret (correctly!) scientific work. I have read The China Study and the China Project (a publication of the actual data from the study). Normally when reading bad science information I would just shrug it off and move on but thought that there would be people out there that would just take the authors word of the truth of the book, resulting in unnecessary dietary alterations and damage to health all with the aim of trying to get healthier. As such I have written my thoughts on the book - take from them what you will.

The China Study is an attempt by Campbell to promote veganism as a dietary lifestyle through scientific research. Unfortunately the scientific basis of the book if full off misinterpretations, omissions of conflicting data, and conclusions and statements based on unreferenced facts (possibly not facts?). I began reading the book with an open mind but from the outset it was clear that Campbell had one mantra - animal based food is bad, plant based food is good, and this is repeated over and over throughout the book.

Let's first look at Campbells own laboratory studies. In the presence of Aflatoxin, a carcinogen, rats fed a diet of 20% casein, a milk protein, develop cancer while those that are fed 5% casein do not. Okay, I am willing to accept that study on face value. How much casein causes cancer then? In a dose response study Campbell found that 10% casein doesn't contribute to cancer development, but above 10% does. Again, I am happy to accept that. A diet made up of 10% casein contributes to cancer development. How does that apply to humans? After describing a study about nitrosamines and how the dose wasn't relevant to the human population (page 45), Campbell has done the exact same thing with his Casein study. Casein is a milk protein. In 100ml of whole milk, the macro nutrient content is 5.2g of carbohydrate, 3.25g of fat and 3.2g of protein that equals 11.65g of nutrients, the rest of the 100ml mostly made up of water. Milk protein is 80% casein, 80% of 3.2g is 2.56, so out of that 11.65 total, 2.56 is casein which equals 22% of the total. Oh no! Milk will cause us to develop cancer! But don't worry, as long as we get the casein down to 10% we will be safe. How do we do that? Eat 13.95g of anything that is not casein. Pretty easy to do. So as long as we are not living of more than about 50% milk, then we are safe from cancer as a result of the casein in the milk. Do you know anybody that has that much milk? And that is ignoring the fact that casein extracted from milk for the purposes of his study is not exactly a healthy, natural source of protein purely as a result of the chemical extraction.

But hang on, what if other proteins contribute to the development of cancer? Campbell thought that so he investigated gluten and soy and found that neither of them had the same impact as casein. That clearly shows that not all proteins contribute to cancer, and having tested 2 plant proteins and 1 of the many animal proteins, we must therefore conclude that ALL animal proteins lead to cancer and ALL plant proteins do not. Does anybody else see a problem with this? All that we can conclude from these studies is a diet made up of above 10% casein, may contribute to the development of cancer and a diet below 10% casein does not contribute. That is all. Other proteins, both animal and plant, like gluten and soy, may behave differently and unless you have a milk fetish or you are downing large amounts of casein based protein powder (like the rats in the study) then the study is largely irrelevant to your diet or your health.

Before moving on I have one more observation; To test the impact of decreased protein from 20 to 5% they replaced some of the protein with carbohydrates to keep the calories the same. Commenting on the addition of carbohydrate he says "the extra starch and glucose in the low-protein diets could not have been responsible for the lower development of foci because these carbohydrates, when tested alone, actually increase foci development" (page 351). So carbohydrates, which come from plants, increase the development of foci? PLANTS CAUSE CANCER TOO?? Could this be something worth elaborating on or including in a conclusion? No, better not, lets keep that brief mention of carbohydrates causing cancer stuck away in an appendix in case anybody gets the wrong idea.

It is apparent from his casein studies that Campbell has come to the conclusion that "20% casein causes cancer, therefore all animal protein is bad". It is with this mindset that he then set out on the giant study of the China Project, a commendable effort that could have had many beneficial outcomes. Unfortunately, possibly as a result of his previous work, Campbell has gone in with blinders on, and all he can see is animal protein and the negative health outcomes associated with its' consumption. The project itself and the original publication arising from it produced a vast amount of data that provides some interesting insight into health and disease. However, what Campbell has shown in the China Study is but a fraction of the information to be gained from the project. It would require a whole new study (unbiased this time preferably) to go into all the beneficial knowledge we could gain, but I will touch on a few things here.

Campbells main conclusion in the China Study is that all animal protein contributes to disease and all plant protein prevents disease. In the original project, they performed a diet survey over 3 days, analyzing all the food consumed per person in that time. Guess how many of the measured mortality factors (about 50 of them), were associated with animal protein consumption measured from the diet survey. Zero. Zero. Zero. Okay, so Campbell can't have come to his conclusions from there. They also had study participants fill out a questionnaire that included one question on meat consumption. Guess how many mortality factors correlated with that? One type of cancer (naso-pharyngeal or something I think it was). An example of some of the many other inclusions in the questionnaire are canola oil and potatoes (not sweet potatoes) which both had a number of positive associations with the development of different types of cancer. Apparently that wasn't worth mentioning in the China Study. Speaking of oil, Campbell makes reference to %fat in the diet being a good indicator of animal protein consumption, despite the fact they clearly use enough canola oil (a vegetable fat) to measure in the study.

So a 3 day food consumption survey shows no association between animal protein and mortality and a questionnaire shows an association between meat and one of many cancers measured. From where can Campbell come to his evil animal protein conclusion then? They also took plasma samples and measured them for blood biomarkers of animal protein consumption. These biomarkers, listed in the references for chapter 4 #39 are "plasma copper, urea nitrogen, estradiol, prolactin, testosterone and, inversely, sex hormone binding globulin, each of which has been known to be associated with animal protein intake from previous studies". No mention of these previous studies of course. So the associations with most of those biomarkers and mortality rates are dubious, and the only biomarker statistically associated with cancer mortality is copper. Many places show food sources of copper and I went to [...] find the best sources of copper. The best? Calfs liver. The next 40 best? All from plants. 42 and 43 are shrimp and venison, the only other animal source in the list on the site. So for copper to be a biomarker of animal consumption then the participants in this study must be eating a lot of calf liver and avoiding a lot of vegetables. Sound realistic?

So from an association between blood biomarkers, the only real one being copper, and cancer mortality, Campbell has concluded that animal protein gives you cancer, despite the fact that the majority of dietary sources of copper are actually from plant sources. So that basically leaves Campbell with no actual evidence between animal consumption and mortality as a result of the original China project.

A final note. In his eating right section Campbell says supplements are bad (principle 2). Principle 3 then says "there are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants"(page 230), but over the page he says plants are not a good source of vitamin B12 and you probably should take a supplement. What? Then in the how to eat section on page 242 he says "the findings from the China Study indicate that the lower percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits-even when the percentage declines from 10% to 0% of calories". As I've clearly shown, the China Study does not show this, and his own study with Casein proved that there was no benefit in eating less then 10% of your diet from Casein.

Clearly Campbell is a vegetarian, as he states in the book, and promoting vegetarianism is his main goal, which he tries to back up with scientific research that actually disagrees with him, but that he has interpreted in a way that makes it agree with him. Bad science, bad book and definitely bad recommendations as far as health. While I'm not saying go out and live on animal products alone, I don't think you should stop eating them, especially because they are tasty, but even if only for a natural source of vitamin B12.

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Information about nutrition, food & drug industries and medical profession, December 10, 2006
It's about nutrition and chronicle diseases (heart, cancer, diabetes, etc.). A highly readable book, from the medical angle as well as from societal angle.

Here is shock #1: Protein in milk promotes cancer. Unbelievable? It's proven in animal trials and observed in human population study. The book presents findings of many researchers, including a large scale study on nutrition and chronicle disease done in China by Dr. Campbell (hence the title China study).

The author grew up on a farm (milking cows when he was a boy), became a well-trained, well respected and well funded research scientist at Cornell and participated in national-level nutrition policy making. He found convincing evidence through decades of research (funded by NIH, etc.) that switching to a plant-based food can reduce risk of top killers in the U.S. (heart diseases, cancer, etc.) and even stop and reverse them!. Ha!

So basically he calls for veggie diet (the whole-foods type, not the pasta, sugar and cookie type).

This is not a big news to many people. But I was really surprised by how readable his book is and how reasonable he is, addressing all possible suspicious aroused by his stunning conclusions. He was suspicious himself in the beginning and cautious in conducting his research. He asked "Am I crazy?" after he discovered the protein intake positively correlated with liver cancer in children in the Philippines, where he went to promote "good nutrition" by adding more protein in their diet. He then explained the solid follow-up research he conducted (all peer reviewed and funded by NIH and other reputable organizations).

He also spends maybe 50% of the text on powerful influences from industry as well as the medical profession itself that prevent research results like this to reach the public. For example, in Cleveland Clinic, the renowned heart-disease treatment center, some senior staff doctors and trustees, having heart problems themselves, go to see Dr. Esselstyn. Dr. Esselstyn was a top-ranked surgeon in the world. However these patients went to see Dr. Esselstyn not for his surgical skills, but for his plant-based nutrition treatment. Dr. Esselstyn, despite all awards he got during his successful career (in fact top earner in department of general surgery for over ten years!), he came to realize that without a change in diet, all the surgery and drugs didn't prolong patients lives, didn't reduce their chances of heart problem after these treatments. So he conducted a study of 18 patients following a low-fat, plant-based diet. Their heart diseases were reversed! Yet he couldn't get the Clinic to use his program to treat heart patients. So he had to set up his own practice. Then words get out and apparently the senior staff doctor and trustees KNEW this is a better option than surgery - many of them seeked help from Dr. Esselstyn. YET THEY STILL DON'T ALLOW DR. Esselstyn''s program to enter the Cleveland Clinic!!!

Wow! That's something, huh?

But think about it, it makes sense. Doctors are people, they need to make money to pay for houses, children's education, etc. If you tell them just by eating a true whole-foods veggie diet, people can avoid and indeed reverse heart diseases and various cancers, which the medical man cannot do yet, then their skills, and therefore their earning power, are rendered worthless. I wouldn't be happy if I were a heart surgery or cancer specialist.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book demands attention!, February 13, 2005
The China Study is a courageous survey of the best science has to offer about your health and what you eat. In addition, the China Study reveals a system of nutrition misinformation that has created public confusion equal to that which surrounded the health implications of smoking. Remember the days when "no one knew" that smoking was bad for you? That all ended when a few morally courageous individuals spoke out and demanded examination of the topic. We now know that the tobacco industry not only knew the health risks, they added ingredients to make their products more addictive. The current state of nutrition information is just as convoluted - and the food industry is just as interested in keeping you confused and addicted to its products. Dr. Campbell (writing with his son, Thomas) is the morally courageous voice in this field and he speaks the truth about what he has found, above the clamor of the objecting voices in "the establishment".

The book is organized into four parts. The first part follows the compelling life story / research career of Dr. Campbell. Campbell grew up on a dairy farm in Virginia and began his professional life trying to discover more efficient ways of raising cattle to deliver protein to our diets. Through an accidental series of discoveries, he became interested in the relationship between high levels of protein consumption and cancer development. He ended up with astonishing research that showed high levels of protein consumption to be a more potent promoter of cancer than high level exposures to Aflotoxin. This startling evidence led him to organize "The China Study" (namesake for the book) - a uniquely comprehensive study of the relationship between diet and disease in 65 counties of rural China. The study examined approximately 6,500 adults and looked at blood samples, urine samples, and food intake records (researchers went into homes to observe and collect this data), to document over 367 variables related to health status and diet. This data was systematically compared with disease rates for 48 different diseases.

The second part of the book is a survey of professional scientific research from around the world, regarding the relationship between diet and a whole host of diseases. Campbell focuses on a class of diseases - referred to as "diseases of affluence" - that are experienced at higher rates in developed countries than in developing countries. This part of the book meticulously documents the relationship between various diets and the following diseases: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, common cancers (breast, prostate, large bowel), auto-immune diseases (including type I diabetes, MS), osteoporosis, kidney stones, macular degeneration, dementia and Alzheimer's. This survey reveals that across this broad range of diseases, there is one diet that consistently prevents these diseases, and one diet that consistently promotes these diseases.

The third part of the book is a brief nutritional guide. It discusses eight principles of food and health, and gives advice on how to eat. In essence, these eight principles present Campbell's theory of nutrition - what is important to health and what is not. Principle six, for example, says "the same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis)." The principles create a well-founded summary derived from the evidence presented earlier in the book.

The fourth and final part of the book answers the question "so why haven't I heard all this before?" Campbell sits in a unique position to answer this question. He has been involved in the relationship between nutritional scientific research and public health information at all levels. As a university researcher, he built a career on publicly funded grant research, he sat on the approval boards for similar grant programs, and he experienced the politics involved. As a well-respected expert in his field, he was called to testify before Congress on food safety, he sat on the panel that developed nutrition information labeling for packaged foods, and he has been on the National Academy of Science's expert panel on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer. As a dedicated scientist, he helped found the American Institute for Cancer Research, and he is familiar with the policy and funding priorities of this and other cancer research groups. From this unique position, Campbell reveals a public health information system that is biased. Although he is deliberate to state that he does not see a back room conspiracy here, he is conclusive in arguing that our system is corrupted and unreliable.

The fourth section, combined with the strength of the scientific evidence presented in this book, strongly establishes that this book should have an appeal that is MUCH broader than the alternative crowd, the "vegan" crowd, or the "health nut" crowd. This is more than a diet book, more than a book for people who are already suffering from disease and looking for help, and more than a fringe perspective. This is a book that demands attention, demands answers and should be given not only deep thought but also wide publicity. Who will answer for this system of corruption, and how will we get them to do it? Ignoring the information in this book would be as grave as ignoring the first courageous individuals that presented reliable evidence against the tobacco industry. Read this book, share it with someone you love, and call your Congressman to demand action. This book should change lives. Though it sounds an alarm, it also pronounces that we have strong hope - a simple, proven and economically efficient means to prevent and treat a host of diseases and to create long, vibrantly healthy lives. ... Read more

27. The Mind's Eye
by Oliver Sacks
list price: $26.95 -- our price: $14.49
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Isbn: 0307272087
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 279
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.

There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.

There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.

And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.

Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision.” He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery—or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?

The Mind’s Eye
is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.
... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars The wonder of our visual sense, revealed through its pathologies, September 22, 2010

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If I were to ask you to descrbe the differences were between what your eyes see, and what you see, you'd probably think it an odd question. After all what you see is what your eyes see, right? Curiously enough, what you see when you perceive the world around you is very different from what your eyes "see."

Consider this: The human eye can detect fine detail over an angle of about 2 degrees. That's not much; it's roughly the area of a dime held at arm's length. Your first instinct is probably to say nonsense; after all, you can easily perceive the entire scene before you, over an angle of at least 90 and as much as 180 degrees. You're right, at least in part. You perceive the wide expanse of the world before you, but what you perceive and what your eyes take in are two very different things. The world you perceive is not the raw input from your eyes, but rather something constructed by your brain, using input from your eyes as well as a lifetime's experience and memory of the world around you.

Here's another example. You've probably, at one time or another in your childhood, placed a finger in front of your face, and then viewed it through each eye in turn, noticing how it appears to jump back and forth and you switched eyes. Obviously, your eyes see slightly different pictures of the world. Yet when you look at the world, you don't see two different pictures. You see a single picture of the world, with a sense of depth and dimensionality not apparent when viewing with either eye alone. That third dimension isn't there in the pictures coming from your eyes- it has to be added by the brain.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks has made a second career for himself writing about neurological affectations, and how they affect the people who suffer them. In this book, he examines how vision works, and what happens when it doesn't. Sacks has a particular insight into the problems of those whose vision differs from that of the population at large, as he himself suffers from prosopagnosia- the inability to recognize faces. For years, this was assumed to be a purely psychological problem. How could someone with excellent vision fail to recognize a face- even that of a family member? But for severe prosopagnosiacs, even the face of a parent or child is a nondescript set of features, no different from any other. This can and does affect recognition of things as well as people. Sacks, for example, tells how how he many times walked past his own house many times until a neighbor or family member spotted him and guided him home again. Prosopagnosia can range from the slight to the severe. Perhaps as many as 2.5% of the population carry a gene that predisposes them to the condition, and most mild prosopagnodiacs are probably unaware that they have the condition, thinking instead that they simply have a "bad memory for faces." Sacks speculates if many instances of social shyness may in fact be due to the difficulties brought on by prosopagnosia; his own mother was painfully shy, and he suspect, given the genetic component, that he may have inherited his condition from her.

A related condition Sacks discusses at length is alexia, the inability to recognize letters.Usually brought on my injury, disease, or stroke, alexics can see letters, but the letters make no sense to them. One subject, a writer by trade, describes his post-stroke perception of English language as looking like "Serbo Croation (cyrillic) characters." Curiously enough, most sufferers have no difficulty writing, a condition known as "alexia sin agraphia"- alexia without agraphia. They can write, but they cannot recognize their own handwriting after they write. To a neuroscientist, this is strong evidence for very different areas of the brain being involved in the production of text and the perception of it; to a writer, or a voracious reader, it can be a devastating condition. Some found they can switch to audio books and dictation, and a very few have managed to teach themselves new strategies to read, if slowly.

Midway through the book Sacks describes the discovery of a tumor in his dominant eye. Though the tumor is treated, successfully, he loses a part of the visual field in the affected eye, and eventually, most sight. This leads to a number of very curious things. At one point, Sacks describes closing his eye- and continuing to see the scene about him, as if his eyes were still wide open. The brain, Sacks notes, is predisposed towards receiving information from the senses, and if deprived of that information, will fill in as best it can. There is a rare condition in which the sufferers are objectively blind, yet maintain that they can see, even as they find themselves bumping into objects, and many older people with visual impairment suffer from Charles Bonnet syndrome, a condition in which the mind creates objects (and occasionally people) to fill in for missing visual stimuli. (Charles Bonnet syndrome is rarely reported, as the sufferers are often afraid it will be taken as a sign of senility.)

Sacks also discusses stereo vision, and those who have lost and gained it, and the loss and recovery of vision in general. Interesting, although most sighted people who lose vision eventually lose their visual imagery as well, some gain an enhanced sense of visual imagery. One subject Sacks discusses became so good at integrating the information from his other senses into his visual imagery that he could confidently walk down the street without a cane or dog. Another repaired the roof of his garage- at night (terrifying his neighbor!), since the presence or absence of light made no difference to him.

As with all Sacks' books, "The Mind's Eye" is a superb synthesis of science, medicine, and insight into the human experience. His obvious empathy, and even affection, for the people he meets and consults with come through in his writing, and help the reader to see the person behind the affliction, and to give each of us greater appreciation for the wonder and the mystery of the senses we possess.

5-0 out of 5 stars Focused and Fascinating, October 1, 2010

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Oliver Sacks has a distinct style of story-telling. He comes across a patient with unusual symptoms. He takes the time to get to know the person in detail. The person is amazing, cultured, refined, and suffering from a brain dysfunction that his other noble qualities compensate for. The doctor visits the patient's elegant home, they share a love for classical music or some other refined art, and the whole discussion leads to musing on the nobility of the human spirit and the utter weirdness that can happen to the human brain.

This book starts out like that, with a story about a classical musician who slowly loses her ability to read, first words, then music, then an inability to recognize much of anything visually. At this point, I felt that the writing was pleasant and interesting, but a bit predictable. A second similar story follows. I still didn't realize that this book focused specifically on sight, vision, and the part that the brain, rather than the eye itself, plays in the ability to see. (I know, the title was a dead give-away, but I took it too metaphorically.)

But then the book veers off in a direction that I wasn't expecting. Dr. Sacks himself is diagnosed with cancer in his eye. He undergoes surgery and radiation, and his vision is changed in odd ways. Much of the book is based on his own detailed notes on his experiments with himself, his internal observations of what he experiences. There is a great deal of reflection on stereopsis, the ability to see in 3-D, which curiously, he had been a big fan of, belonging to a society in New York based on old 3-d imagery. Just like the people he so often writes about, now he himself turns out to be a patient whose particular gifts and interests are suddenly impinged upon by a peculiar ailment. (Are the gods mocking us? Beethoven becomes deaf, musicians lose the ability to read music, a man fascinated with antique View-master images loses the ability to see in 3-D? I once met an elderly woman who was a skillful pianist who had been the victim of a mugging in which the mugger had stepped on and smashed all her fingers.)

I found this book to be one of Sacks best, which is saying quite a lot. I have never forgotten The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, but I found Musicophilia tedious. This is first -rate Sacks. He always has impressed me as a man of unusual empathy. This time, he is not only the empathetic doctor, but a sympathetic patient. A stimulating and enriching read.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's All in Your Mind, September 24, 2010

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It's not surprising that such a complex system as vision can go wrong in so many ways. The eye itself is amazingly complicated, but it's the mind that makes sense of the images the eye sees. We all know about the trick the mind plays on us to make us ignore the fact that one's nose is in the field of vision of each of our eyes. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much the mind determines what and how we see.

In his latest book, The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks presents case studies of vision malfunctions. A concert pianist suddenly can't read music anymore. A novelist finds he can't read anymore - but he hasn't lost his ability to write in longhand. Other chapters cover face blindness and a lack of stereoscopic vision - a woman who sees in two dimensions rather than three.

This would have been a depressing book if it had just been about the many ways our brains can fail us. But Sacks also describes the incredible ways these people have compensated for their losses. The concert pianist finds that she can play by ear better than she ever thought she would be able to. She can memorize long pieces of music and improvise and compose. The novelist writes his drafts in longhand and has his editor read it to him so he can make revisions. In a non-vision related aside, Sacks tells of a woman who has been paralyzed following an accident, but finds she can still at least enjoy the small pleasure of doing the daily crossword puzzle by memorizing the grid and all the clues and then solving the puzzle mentally through the day. She could not have imagined being able to memorize to such an extent before the accident.

Is it possible to achieve feats such as super-memory without having been injured? Do we all possess amazing brains that we only put to the test when we're challenged by circumstances? Again we're left to marvel that, of all the fantastic things the brain can do, the one thing it hasn't been able to figure out yet, is itself.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not for your common Joe, October 22, 2010

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Oliver Sacks' Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood is one of my all-time favorites. It provides an interesting walk though science through the eyes of a child. It is both enlightening and charming... truly a rare breed.

Unfortunatley, "The Mind's Eye" is quite different and while it does offer some of the charm - it is much less readable. In truth, it requires a fairly large degree of prior knowledge in neurology in order for it to make sense. This makes the reading much more academic, and in my case, tedious.

I am sure that many people will enjoy "The Mind's Eye" but it may be restricted more to the medical community and not the average reader. This is unfortunate, because the stories offered by Dr. Sacks are interesting, but the level of detail is just too deep. An example was the discussion on "Face Blindness" which to me is a fascinating topic (my wife seems to think that I may suffer from this disorder!), but withing 5 pages I have a hard time following the technical detail of the discussion.

Final Verdict - Probably very interesting for the medical community, but it may be a tough read for common Joe.

2 1/2 Stars

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating window into the eye's mind, October 2, 2010

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I thought of warning psychosomatic individuals off this book, but then realized that, within a few pages, they would lose the ability to read any further, and so the damage might be rather acute and short-lived.

The extraordinary stories of human suffering, endurance and triumph that Sacks presents in this book all have to do with some aspect of sight: people who cannot recognize faces or places, people who all of a sudden lose the ability to read, to play music, or who cannot see in stereo. And they are fascinating stories told in Sacks' usual entertaining style that seems to benefit from his near photographic memory, so much detail does he lay down.

Of course, not all the stories are depressing tales of relentless decline into blindness or depression. There is also resilience and the overcoming of obstacles. And even the unlikely gaining of abilities lost. But every story is gripping and enlightening, not the least of which are the stories about Sacks' own related struggles (I won't throw in any spoilers here.)

An important take-away from this book is learning that such a high number of people suffer from aphasic disorders, yet they lead mostly normal lives, thanks to their will and their brain's ability to compensate and strengthen the person in other ways.

Read this book and you may never think about words (or faces or eyes) in the same way again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Real Life Adventures in Perception, October 14, 2010

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The Mind's Eye is my first exposure to Oliver Sacks; however, it will not be my last. The author is a seventy-six year old practicing physician with an uncanny ability to tell his patients stories, bringing the reader close to the afflictions experienced by both him and his subjects.

What do the terms agnosia, anomia, aphasia, dyslexia, prosopagnosia mean? This book explains them all and more in the context of stories about people with brain anomalies that result in visual problems. Sometimes these anomalies are genetic and other times they are the result of brain lesions; however, they drastically affect individuals' senses and method of adjusting to their affliction.

Whether it is the sudden or gradual loss of the ability to read, recognize faces or objects, or measure depth the brain has a remarkable plasticity an those areas associated with sight give way to sharpen other human senses.

I found Oliver Sacks' writing skills remarkable and zipped through this 240 page riveting real life medical documentation of visual anomalies in record time. He brings his stories to life making what could have been a difficult subject an easy and interesting read.

If you are interested in learning more about "perception," this is a must read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Accounts, September 24, 2010

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Dr. Sacks is an interesting writer. His accounts of different patients dealing with various ailments having to do with the brain's affect on vision is fascinating. But, for me, the book really got interesting when he chronicled his own battle with a tumor in his eye. His honesty and vulnerability during his ordeal was very compelling. Having been diagnosed with a melanoma tumor in his eye, he journals his fears, frustrations and daily battle with his symptoms.

When he wrote of his patients and their struggles it was interesting, and his compassion for their conditions was apparent. Suffering himself from prosopagnosia (inability to recognize faces), his writing and dealing with this condition was particularly detailed. When he chronicles his own battle, though, is when you really feel you get to know the man and what he went through. His writing is honest, no holds barred on how he felt and his fear. A lesser man, especially in the medical field, might have put on a clinical face, but Dr. Sacks really lets us in on how frightened and frustrated he was with his condition.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone, especially those that may be struggling with a chronic condition that requires a lifestyle change to accommodate your condition.

5-0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener for those interested in the mind., October 13, 2010

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THE MIND'S EYE by Oliver Sacks is a 254 page book by a seasoned author and trained professional (medical doctor). The book is written at the layperson's level. There are no attempts to teach the reader details of any techniques that are used for diagnosing mental disorders, and no attempts to introduce concepts that might be encountered only in a course in advanced psychoanalysis. (These observations are not meant as criticisms.) Of course, there are a few technical terms, here and there, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (page 7), "upper right quadrant of his visual field" (page 55), "prosopagnosics" (page 91, 107),"stereopsis" (page 123), and "ocular melanoma" (page 147). The book is also careful, now and then, to provide names of famous neurologists, such as Joseph-Jules Dejerine (page 57) Jean-Martin Charcot (page 77), and Gordon Holmes (page 229).

The book contains seven chapters. Each chapter details, in layperson's terms, the afflications of a different patient. In other words, this book contains seven biographies of seven different people. For example, the first chapter discloses the story of an older woman, a musician, who was losing her ability to read words, and losing her ability to read music. The name of the disease is, "alexia." This woman's alexia also included, "musical alexia." The woman was able to recognize letters, but was simply not able to read. Over the course of years, she became unable to recognize drawings, for example, drawings of a banjo or a dog. In contrast, the woman had no problem in identifying real objects, such as a real bell pepper or real eggs. Eventually, the woman also acquired the disorder of, "anomia," namely, the inability to find words for things, such as the word for a match, or sugar. Despite these problems, the woman -- a recording artist and music teacher -- was still able to play pieces on the piano, providing that she played them by memory.

The entire book contains fascinating stories of this nature. The book would make an ideal gift to any child of the ages ten and older, as well as for any adult. FIVE STARS.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ode to the Long-Term Adaptabililty and Plasticity of the Brain, even after Injury, October 27, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
This book is nominally about how people deal with visual impairment and loss. However, the real underlying themes of this book are: 1) there is no single way by which people adapt to the same neurological loss; and 2) the brain can keeps acquiring new skills and recovering old skills after injury for many years.

Typically neurologists tell stroke patients that they will improve for up to a year at most, but I observed in my father continual improvement after that, and Oliver Sacks offers other accounts as well. One case "Stereo Sue" involves a woman acquiring a new neurological skill (learning to see in 3D) in her 40s, that she had not had since childhood. It was really fascinating to see that you can teach the brain basic skills after decades, generally considered impossible after early childhood.

Sacks also wrote about how different people who became totally blind used a variety of strategies to handle the world around them. Some had a rich model of images that they constructed in their minds, other discarded imagery once they lost sight. It shows that their are a variety of cognitive styles out there, and that there is no one way of dealing with neurological loss.

Finally, in what I found to be a page-turner, Sacks writes about being struck with his own visual medical crisis.

As usual with the writings of Oliver Sacks, this book is an affectionate appreciation of people and the variety of ways in which minds work, which flowed well and was easy to read. But more importantly, it gives hope to any brain-injured person that improvement can continue after the initial healing period, and that brains are very clever at coming up with ways of dealing with deficits.

[A few of these chapters were previously published in New Yorker magazine.]

3-0 out of 5 stars Stories About Maladies of Recognition: Not As Absorbing As Dr. Sacks's Previous Books, November 12, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Dr. Sacks is normally an engaging story teller, and his forte is stories about brain, particularly the higher cortical function disorders, told as stories of patients suffering a variety of maladies of cerebrum. Higher cortical functions are what separates us from other primates.

Vision, recognition & perception are the focus in this book. First part of the book is about the stories of patients with higher cortical visual disorders; in the second part he describes his own vision problems due to melanoma of the eye and his lifelong inability to recognize faces, believe it or not, it is a disorder called Prosopagnosia.

First is the story of Lilian who starts out with musical alexia - inability to read musical scores by an accomplished musician - followed by general alexia. Then he describes the story of Canadian novelist Howard Engel who suffers from even rare form of alexia - where he is unable to read and recognize words but he is able to write - a condition called alexia sine agraphia.

Patty is another patient who develops aphasia - inability to speak and express in words but then she adapts and becomes expert by expressing with gesture and mime using just her left arm because her right side is paralyzed. Patty is inspired by Jeannette, a quadriplegic speech therapist. So the stories are about how people adapt when they lose the ability to recognize or express.

Sometimes losing one higher cortical function opens the other doors in the brain, for example, study by Nancy Etcoff showing how people with aphasia become better at detecting lies and emotion.

Dr. Sacks has tackled vision before in The Island of Color Blind but this book deals with a different aspect of cortical visual disorders. In A Leg to Stand On he described how he lost awareness of his leg after an injury. Coming from a tradition of British clinical neurology, his vignettes are mostly anecdotal about his patient's life and presentation and at the most he goes into the anatomical basis of the disease; rarely, if at all, does he delve into the neuroelectrophysiological, biochemical or genetic basis of the sickness.

Compared to Dr. Sacks previous books, this book is not as tautly written; at times it gets too technical for a non medical reader and feels dragged. If you have not read Dr. Sack's before then try The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales and Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood. Those are probably his best books. If you want to learn about higher visual, perception & recognition disorders and how the brain and people adapt when they lose some of those functions then this book is informative but less engaging. ... Read more

28. What to Expect When You're Expecting: 4th Edition
by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel
list price: $14.95 -- our price: $8.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0761148574
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 270
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Announcing a brand new, cover-to-cover revision of America's pregnancy bible. What to Expect When You're Expecting is a perennial New York Times bestseller and one of USA Today's 25 most influential books of the past 25 years. It's read by more than 90% of pregnant women who read a pregnancy book—the most iconic, must-have book for parents-to-be, with over 14.5 million copies in print.

Now comes the Fourth Edition, a new book for a new generation of expectant moms—featuring a new look, a fresh perspective, and a friendlier-than-ever voice. It's filled with the most up-to-date information reflecting not only what's new in pregnancy, but what's relevant to pregnant women. Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. More comprehensive, reassuring, and empathetic than ever, the Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy). There's more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (more advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food–dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what's hot and what's not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be.

Overflowing with tips, helpful hints, and humor (a pregnant woman's best friend), this new edition is more accessible and easier to use than ever before. It's everything parents-to-be have come to expect from What to Expect...only better?.
... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars The cute-ification of the writing upstages the value of the book, February 7, 2010
Pregnancy is an exciting time and it's good to have fun with it, but the 4th edition takes the most simple descriptions and turns them into terms 15 year olds use. Sperm is routinely referred to as "the guys", and the following is taken from page 8, "Knowing when the Big O (ovulation) occurs is key when doing the Baby Dance (aka trying to conceive). Here are a few ways to help you pin down the big day--and pin each other down for baby-making activities."
I will only use this until my new pregnancy book arrives at which point this is going to a book drive.

1-0 out of 5 stars so condescending!, March 21, 2009
This book assumes that pregnant women are idiots, and talks to them accordingly. It's full of cutsey language, puns, and linguistic tics that drove this English major up a wall. In terms of content, it contributes to our culture's position of "better safe than sorry" when it comes to kids - kids and pregnant women must be protected from anything and everything that might be the slightest bit upsetting. It does not provide any information on the research behind their advice, assuming that the pregnant woman is too stupid or lacking in self-control to make an informed decision for herself upon being presented with the facts, relying instead on making across the board recommendations on all kinds of things for which there is no scientific basis. I also hated that the miscarriage section had a big disclaimer warning pregnant women not to read it unless they actually had had a miscarriage, because the knowledge alone that miscarriage could happen would be so emotionally devastating to her that she couldn't handle it. After doing some research on my own and finding out how inaccurate and unnecessary many of their claims are, I find I no longer trust the book at all. I would not recommend it.

1-0 out of 5 stars As per our Midwife's advice: Throw it away... now!, July 21, 2010
This book is the worst book any newly pregnant woman can read. It is fear based to a degree that makes you wonder if Murkoff is intending to help you or to avoid a lawsuit. According to the book you are cursed if you do and if you don't. Diets are impossible to follow, and practically everything from green tea to vitamins can cause a birth defect. In terms of literary value, this book is filled with annoying and condescending cliches. Sadly, it becomes evident through the content that Heidi Murkoff has no formal training in these matters.

I followed my midwife's advice and decided to throw it away. Please, do not give it to your girlfriends as a gift. It may say that is the pregnancy bible, but it is in fact a misinformed alarming guide to complete freak out. My anxieties indeed stopped when I got rid of this book.

I would suggest "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide," by Penny Simkin. It is written by actual professionals in the field.

btw, I'm using my husband's account. This review comes from a pregnant woman :)

1-0 out of 5 stars To All the Expecting Fathers ..., May 31, 2008
Guys ... consider this a warning; this will be the worst book that your significant other can read and will make your life utterly miserable for the next nine months. It's been over four years since I had to deal with this serie's 3rd edition and I still can't stand the sight of it.

It may have been intended as a self-help guide, but its alarmist tone and condescending attitude leads this to act more as a bible for every worst-case scenario imaginable. After spending a few hours perusing this book's contents, your wife, girlfriend, whomever will become so overworked and paranoid that every little ache, pain, and irritation will become a sign of the baby being born with a forked tongue and three heads. The diet your partner will be instructed to keep is impossible for any human being alive to follow. She will be told to try and avoid ... damn near everything it seems like.

I was also incensed that after reading up on the author, all of this "wonderful" information was being brought to me by someone with NO MEDICAL BACKGROUND. If I'm going to want advice on dealing with pregnancy issues, wouldn't I want to consult an expert (i.e. someone with a degree)? Murkoff is no more an expert then I am ...

I'll be blunt, WTEWYE seems to be an EXTREMELY popular gift for someone who's pregnant for the first time and it's probably unavoidable. I came into three copies without any effort at all. I'm not going to stand here and pretend I know of a better source for information either, because (outside of ... oh I don't know ... a doctor) I don't. All I know is that if THIS is the definitive volume on the pregnancy experience, then God help us all.

I absolutely guarantee you, someone your partner knows WILL buy this for her. Your mission is to "lose it." If you're already stuck with it and you can't hide it or burn it, at least do your best to temper its pages with as much perspective as you possibly can. Again, for a first-time mom-to-be, who, frankly, is probably a bit nervous anyway about all the changes her body is going through, all this volume is going to accomplish is completely freaking her out.

Batten down the hatches and break out the antacid my friends, it's gonna be a long nine months

1-0 out of 5 stars Dry, bland, and uninformative, June 4, 2008
Unfortunately, this book wasn't really what I expected. If you are looking to be scared by you pregnancy, than I suggest this book to you. However, the offensive and judgmental tone of this book will do you no good. Try something else that won't make you feel bad while you read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The classic guide to pregnancy., April 16, 2009
A MUST have: If you are looking for a thorough pregnancy book, this has to be it. When I got it from my doctor (he gives one out to each new, expectant mom) I was suprised at how big it was. Wow! A lot of reading material. However, this one covers just about everything you want to know about pregnacny and then some. There was also some stuff in here that I particularily didn't want to know!! However, it's a good, solid read and one of the best. A classic. I also liked Really Pregnant! Confessions of a New Mom-To-Be or Why I Couldn't Stop Eating Brownies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not "alarmist" or "fear-mongering.", December 14, 2009
Luckily I purchased this book before reading the reviews. The reviewers that gave this book a poor rating, claiming it is "alarmist" and "fear-mongering," are using exactly the kind of hyperbolic language they accuse the authors of using. I am normally overly self-aware and concerned about every little pain or abnormal feeling I have; if anything, the book's month-to-month description of possible symptoms and conditions helped reassure me that all the things I went through were normal and easily explained. It made for a convenient reference to further research things that were pertinent to my situation. I didn't find the book frightening or agenda-pushing at all. In fact, I thought it was much less concerning than the book that the doctor's office gave me.

The section on birthing options seemed fairly diverse to me. It did not condone using medications or seem to favor hospital birthing in any way. It encourages you at around 7 months to start thinking about and preparing your birthing plan so you can make sure it is carried out in the way you want it to be.

There is a whole section, at the back of the book, SEPARATE from the month to month sections, which covers the various conditions that can potentially complicate pregnancies. I think this section is more for mothers who are pre-disposed to these conditions or have already been diagnosed with them. The book in no way made me feel like I was at risk for any and all complications or that I had to sleep with all eyes and ears open. I myself have been at-risk with a short cervix so I found that section, and the section on the signs of preterm labor, to be helpful, informative, and unbiased.

The best and first place you ought to go with a pregnancy concern is of course your doctor or midwife. But if you'd like some handy and concise information on the kinds of things you MAY encounter month-to-month, why these things happen, and some possible ways to deal with them, then this is a fine book. I did not find the tone threatening, condescending, or heavily prescriptive by any means. I'm not sure why anyone would give it one star.

1-0 out of 5 stars Really unhelpful and alarmist, August 5, 2008
This book offers only one version of pregnancy and childbirth - a managed, highly medicalized version. Which is totally fine if this is what you want, but this book doesn't present it as, "Well, you have this option or this option." It is straight away one version of high-drama childbirth that totally discounts the ability of most women to have a healthy, normal birth and healthy normal baby. Granted, all birth books seem to have a slant, but why not err on the side of what is healthiest for mom and baby? Sure, if you feel like you cannot birth without drugs or you don't care about having an episiotomy, this is fine and good, but lots of people find that when they are not scared into these procedures, and scared by birth in general, things tend to go more easily. The Sears pregnancy and birth books acknowledge the need/option for fetal monitoring, ultra-sounds, c-sections, drugs, etc., but at least give you the information about them rather than assuming that they are routine and 100% without risk. More on the alternative side is Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, but even if you don't end up going that route, everything in the book is well documented by studies, so it is a great source of information. I'm not trying to be harsh on this book, but it really stinks at giving a balanced, comprehensive view of your options, or of portraying birth as a natural, normal process. Try to avoid it if you can - it just makes you feel more nervous and stressed.

1-0 out of 5 stars scary!, July 23, 2009
DON'T READ THIS WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING!!!!!!! This book will only serve to scare you! Try "Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: the Complete Guide" by Simkin, Whalley & Keppler instead.

1-0 out of 5 stars Read this if you like having meltdowns, November 7, 2008
To make a long story short, after getting about 120 pages into this book, I called my best friend nearly in tears. I told her I was reading the book, and before I could go into details, she said "oh for goodness sakes, don't read THAT! It's all about what you can't do and what can go wrong."

Turns out that three other friends of mine echoed the same sentiments with no prompting.

This book is a great way to make a (probably already nauseous) pregnant woman even more miserable. ... Read more

29. Eat This, Not That! 2011: Thousands of easy food swaps that can save you 10, 20, 30 pounds--or more!
by David Zinczenko, Matt Goulding
list price: $19.99 -- our price: $11.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 160529313X
Publisher: Rodale Books
Sales Rank: 339
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

That brand-new physique you’ve been waiting for, the leaner, fitter, healthier body you thought you’d never had. Eat This, Not That! 2011—the latest, most up-to-date book in the best-selling weight loss franchise—is ready to start stripping extra pounds from your body today. And once you lose that weight, you’re going to keep it off. Forever.
That’s because Eat This, Not That! is a tool. It’s designed to make smart food choices easier, no matter where you’re making them. Consider just a handful of real stories from real people who’ve shed 25, 50, 75 pounds—or more!—and you’ll understand why Eat This, Not That! is “The no-diet weight-loss solution”:
• Michael Colombo of Staten Island, New York, shed 91 pounds in just over 8 months and conquered life-threatening sleep apnea, after picking up a copy of Eat This, Not That!. “My confidence has sky-rocketed!” he says.
• Erika Bowen of Minneapolis, Minnesota, dropped 84 pounds—without dieting. “I feel like I’ve always wanted to feel,” Bowen reports. Once she discovered the truth about her food, she learned she could lose weight and never feel hungry.
• Dana Bickelman of Waltham, Massachusetts, lost 70 pounds after discovering the shocking truth about the foods she was eating. Her secret: She learned to indulge—even at her favorite restaurants—but to do it more smartly.
Eat This, Not That! teaches you how to read nutrition labels and decipher misleading menu descriptions. It pairs classic food swaps, and helps you cut hundreds—or even thousands—of calories from your daily diet, without feeling like you’ve deprived yourself at all. Consider:
*One of America’s chain restaurants is serving a pasta dish with more than 2,700 calories? (That’s nearly a pound of flab—in one meal!)
*Choosing Breyer’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Ice Cream over Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream will save you 200 calories per scoop?
*The wrong milk shake at Cold Stone will cost you more than a day’s worth of calories? (But a smart swap will eliminate 1,520 of them!)
Additional features in Eat This, Not That! 2011 include:
• The Truth About What’s REALLY In Your Food (Think a Chicken McNugget is made out of just chicken? Think again)
• The Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Cheat Sheets
• Foods That Cure Any Problem
• The 20 Worst Foods in America
• Top Swaps at the Ballpark, the Mall, the Cocktail Party, Thanksgiving Dinner, and more!
• Restaurant Report Card—for Kids
• And more!
... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars More of the same??, October 14, 2010
I LOVE the Eat This! Not That! books and had the 2011 edition pre-ordered well in advance. I was extremely disappointed when I saw that much of the information is identical to the 2010 version. For example, the 'New Years Eve Party' pages are exactly the same. I didn't need to spend 13 dollars for information I already have. Otherwise, more of the same great work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Super helpful!, October 12, 2010
This book has easily digestible information--no complicated calorie formulas, just practical food swaps. You can walk into any fast-food or restaurant chain and know the damage to your waist and health. I keep this book in my car whenever I have a hankering for a quick bite. The authors rate each restaurant with a letter grade, which makes it easy for you to decide how healthy you want to be for lunch or dinner. There are some awesome recipes in the back that tell you the cost of making them versus buying them. I worship the chicken skewers--they come out super moist and flavorful!

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful book for singles, December 18, 2010
This book is so much fun. If you are cooking for one, like I am,
it will help you choose a good meal.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Resource - Never View Food The Same Again!, December 8, 2010
Eat This, Not That, is chocked full of surprising health statistics about eating out. Did you know that Arby's Beef and Cheddar is healthier than their Marketfresh Sandwiches?
Other interesting tidbits:

- Cheeseburgers often have less calories than fast food salads.
- Chick-fil-A is the best rated fast food restaurant, with all meals coming in below 500 calories.
- Wraps are not a healthier substitute for sandwiches.
- Pinto beans usually are cooked with meat in the sauce, so they are not vegetarian.

The book also lists menus for different types of cuisine, what is healthy, and why other options are unhealthy. It even gets into the details of holiday dinners, ball park treats, and other special occasion consumptions. There is also a section for what to eat when you feel... tired, nervous, old, etc.

This is a very thorough book, and is an eye opening read for the average consumer!

5-0 out of 5 stars Eat This, Not That No-Diet Weight Loss Solution!, November 29, 2010
This is my second book in this series. Following the suggestions in this, and the other book, I am losing weight, for the first time in twenty years, without the aid of pills!! I'm excited!

5-0 out of 5 stars Eat This, Not That, November 10, 2010
This is the best set of books I've ever had. I feel so much healthier since I have changed my eating habits using these books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, November 9, 2010
I find the information interesting, the very colorful, graphic presentation helps make a point and makes it easier to remember and the comparison of the included very nice recipes to restaurant food a real eye-opener. This is not a diet book, don't expect it to be - its a how to easily eat healthier book and just what I wanted.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book ever, November 2, 2010
It's the best food info related book you would find. it's simple but informative, and very ussefull. would recommend to any one.

2-0 out of 5 stars Been There, Done That; It's the Same Book Basically As All of His Books, November 26, 2010
I bought a previous book of this guy's and I thought it was fun. I read it once and never looked at it again. I guess it's nice to have a picture remind you of what you're reading about. But if you read one of the series, you've read em all. Guess what? Refined, sugared, fatty, greasy foods are bad! Simple, unprocessed, natural foods are good! I got the message the first time, and it's the message again in this book. ... Read more

30. The Secret
by Rhonda Byrne
list price: $23.95 -- our price: $12.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1582701709
Publisher: Atria Books/Beyond Words
Sales Rank: 281
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.

In this book, you'll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life -- money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You'll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that's within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.

The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers -- men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible. ... Read more


4-0 out of 5 stars The Review "They" Don't Want You To Read, March 6, 2007
Catchy review title? Thought so. Robert Cialdini, renowned psychology researcher and author of Influence: The Power of Persuasion (perhaps the best book ever written on the subject) identifies six basic rules employed by politicians, advertisers and scam artists alike to persuade others. Each of them are employed quite adeptly by Rhonda Byrne in this book.

Cialdini's first principle is SCARCITY; people want what's expensive, exculsive, or otherwise attainable. Byrne's mastery of this principle is clearly shown by the very name of the book: The Secret. We all learned this the first week of kindergarten as we felt the jealousy of watching two classmates, hands cupped over ears, sharing a secret out of earshot.

This message is reinforced throughout the book and its advertising campaign which pitches "The Secret" (whatever it actually is) as jealousy-guarded information hoarded by the happy, wealthy and successful. Whenever someone tries convincing you of something, whether it's a way to make enormous sums of money, to lose weight, etc - be wary of when it's pitched as "the knowledge THEY don't want you to have." Think about it - everything from the "secrets that Wall Street doesn't want you to know" to "uncovered - celebrities' secrets to staying young" are phrased not simply to pique your interest but to make you jealous. Appeals to our emotion are far more powerful than appeals to reason, and Byrne demonstrates mastery of this principle throughout "The Secret."

Cialdini's second principle is LIKING. We like those who like us, and in turn, we do business with them. Positive thinking and emotional intelligence has been linked to strong interpersonal relationships, academic and professional success, and good health, but there is a fine line when positive thinking crosses over to unjustified exuberance. Instead of simply noting the substantial benefits of positive thinking (a well-accepted principle which wouldn't sell books), Byrne crosses the line so blatantly that anyone with a modicum of modesty would find it blasphemous.

AUTHORITY is another Cialdini principle, also in play in "The Secret" in quite subtle ways. Another technique which differentiates this book from just another book of positive thinking is the heavy use of quasiscientific language, which gives the impression that the "law of attraction" is (or will become) an accepted scientific principle, just like the law of gravity or the law of attraction of oppositely-charged particles in chemistry. Many people are both intimidated and confused by the authority of science, a fact exploited by manipulators ranging from Byrne to peddlers of magic weight-loss pills.

Since no respected physicist would ever publish a paper on the universality of the "law of attraction," Byrne indirectly seeks experts in other ways. She attributes the success of people ranging from Einstein to Beethoven to adherence of "The Secret," thereby manufacturing experts. After all, if Einstein and Shakespeare mastered "The Secret," who are YOU to question it?

The last two Cialdini principles are CONSISTENCY and SOCIAL PROOF. The success of this book should leave little doubt it will be followed by more (and more expensive) forms of media peddling "The Secret." The audio recordings, weekend seminars, advertising tie-ins, and other follow-up products certain to follow will exploit these two principles. Once people commit themselves to believing happiness will come from "The Secret," they will attribute future successes, whether a promotion or a great new relationship, to adherence to it. Conversely, setbacks will be even more powerfully in committing people to "The Secret," as people will attribute their failures to not living up to "The Secret" (and buying more of Byrne's books). Consistency dictates it will be less painful to buy more books and immerse one's self further into "The Secret" than to accept the whole premise is a quite ridiculous; while not as pernicious as a domineering cult, "The Secret" promises to charge you handsomely for a positive outlook on life.

Byrne's book is problematic on many levels. On it's face, it's a manipulative marketing tool meant to flatter, confuse and deceive. It's also pseudoscience at its best, the last thing we need to encourage in an increasingly technological world which requires healthy skepticism and critical thought. Most damaging, though, is how the book perverts reality by encouraging people to equate a positive outlook on life with a childish, idiotic narcissism. Ayn Rand must be rolling in her grave hearing about the modern manifestation of her objectivist movement reduced to the intellectual equivalent of canned pork.

If you're interested in "The Secret," I highly encourage you to read the book - yeah, READ the book - if for any other reason so not to be manipulated by its brilliant marketing. Read it with a critical eye, with a copy of Cialdini's book in the other hand. You may not learn the secret of happiness, but you WILL learn a lot about manipulation and influence from a master of the subject in Rhonda Byrne.

1-0 out of 5 stars Reaches Too Far, Oversells, Underdelivers, January 1, 2007
I think a book like this, which makes some really big claims, should, roughly, do the following:

1) Present it's premise clearly
2) Since it's a self-help book explain clearly what you need to do
3) Provide compelling evidence that it's ideas work
4) Be credible.

The book does a decent job of explaining its premise, which is that everything in your life is the result of the law of attraction. I quote, "the law of attraction says like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you." In other words, think good thoughts and good things will come to you and if you think bad thoughts then bad things come to you. I've simplified this a bit but not a whole lot as the concept isn't rocket science.

Now, does this book explain clearly what you need to do? Actually, for a self-help book it does a very poor job of this. How do you control your thoughts? What kinds of practices and thinking produce the best results? The author and contributors basically tell you a bunch of stories about how "so and so did something and you can too by changing your thinking".

And that's it for the "how to" part of the book. There isn't any.

Now, if I wanted to prove something worked from a scientific perspective it would seem to be easy to test this stuff out. You take two groups of people, teach one the secret, let the other go on with their lives and see what happens. In theory those that know the Secret would be happier and more successful than the control group. It might not be perfect but it'd be a whole lot better than what we get in this book. But, of course, you'd have to have an actual methodology to test.

Instead the authors cite numerous anecdotes of how the Secret worked. One person's cancer went away. Another individual walks after a brutal accident. Still another finds romance. That's all fine and perhaps it's evidence but it's not proof. Cancer can be misdiagnosed. How many people who were injured like the "Miracle Man" never walked again despite the best attitude and trying the approach perfectly? The problem with anecdotes is that it's easy to start with a result, work backward and assume the conclusion. It's also very easy with anecdotes to only present the ones that make your case and ignore those that don't (when someone dies of cancer while practicing the secret for instance). It's just not good enough to use anecdotes for large claims like those made in this book.

The following quote struck a nerve.

"People hold that for awhile, and they're really a champion at it. They say, `I'm fired up, I saw this program and I'm going to change my life.' And yet the results aren't showing. Beneath the surface it's just about ready to break through but the person will look just at the surface results and say, `This stuff doesn't work.' And you know what? The universe says, "your wish is my command,"

I thought it was interesting that the universe instantly manifest failure but isn't quite so fast with success. In fact, a cynical individual might conclude that what they are really saying is, "when this program works it's because the secret always works, but, on the off chance it doesn't work, well, that's your fault." An even more cynical person might think, "gosh, I wonder what would help a person who failed? Maybe, a seminar with Bob Proctor would be just the thing to get them over the top?"

Lastly, is the Secret credible? On the one hand, I think a lot can be said for the idea that if you change your thinking you'd change your life. In many ways that seems obvious to me.

On the other hand, if the secret actually was true, especially at the scope claimed by the book it would mean that everything that's happened is the result of your thinking. So, when a child dies of pneumonia, well, it's because they brought pneumonia into their lives. Michael J. Fox, not only did you bring Parkinson's into your life but change your thinking and it will go away. Obviously these things aren't true and they obliterate, in my opinion, any credibility in the book.

Not only does the book go too far but most (I'd argue nearly all) of the contributors aren't credible. On a topic of this scope: the ability to 100% change your life and the world in an incredible fashion, does anyone really think you couldn't find psychologists, top flight scientists, therapists and thousands of mainstream individuals to support it, if it worked? Wouldn't there be tons of research instead of anecdotes? Instead we get a Feng Shui Master, a chiropractor, motivational speakers (err trainers), a metaphysicist, etc. combined with a half dozen anecdotal stories. So the most powerful like changing idea ever and you get it from the crew in this book presented in this fashion? I don't think so!

If this idea really worked, at anything other than giving material to self-help speakers and generating repeat students, it just wouldn't be found here. The book wouldn't even have to be written because we'd all already know it and be practicing it. Remember, this is not a new idea, it's been around for a very long time, and it's been the topic of literally thousands of seminars and hundreds of books.

In conclusion, I'm not opposed to the idea on a small scale but this book just goes way too far and I'm left with the feeling that all that's really going on is a bunch of people trying to get their name out and get you to pay for their seminars.

1-0 out of 5 stars a best-seller; folly of the masses, June 25, 2007
This book was given to me as a gift on father's day. I started reading it the way I read any book but soon I started reading faster and faster, more like scanning, with speed-reading techniques, and finished it in 2 hours, while taking notes at the same time.

I have no interest in self-help books or concepts like power of positive thinking. This book combines the two, with the main thesis being that the "secret" to anything in life, wealth, health, success, love, romance, happiness is positive thinking, thinking positive thoughts. More specifically, imagining things that you want to have and really, truly believe that you already have them, and feel good about having them now!

For example, if you want to be rich, you should first imagine that you are already rich; second, you should really believe that you are already rich; and third you should feel yourself in a rich life style, feel happy about it. If you keep doing this for awhile, miraculously the doors of wealth will open to you, all the opportunities will line up at your door and you will be well into your way to becoming that rich person you are imagining. Similarly, if you want to loose weight, you should imagine yourself in your ideal weight, really focus on that, only allow yourself "thin thoughts" and avoid "fat thoughts", and you will get thin. I quote; "if someone is overweight, it came from thinking fat thoughts". Another one; "Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can."

I felt like putting a smiley face right after the last sentence as I am smiling now, and was smiling throughout the book. All you have to do is just ask (oh, and believe, and feel) for the thing you want and lo and behold, thou shalt have it! I quote: "Make a command to the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The universe responds to your thoughts." Another one: "The Universe will start to rearrange itself to make it happen for you." Really? I didn't know the entire universe cared so much about me!

The method even works for some frivolous things. Like always finding a parking spot, never having to wait in lines, never being late etc. And a lot of people are, allegedly, already doing it: "We have received thousands of accounts of The Secret being used to bring about large sums of money and unexpected checks in the mail. People have used the secret to manifest their perfect homes, life partners, cars, jobs, and promotions, with many accounts of businesses being transformed within days of applying The Secret."

One look at the titles of the co-authors of the book says a lot: Metaphysician, moneymaking expert (ha?), healer, life coach, law of attraction specialist, feng shui consultant (sure)... How about gullibility specialist, swindling expert, or snake-oil salesman?

Actually I shouldn't be so hard. At least one person, the main author of the book made her wishes come true. In the foreword of the book, and elsewhere inside, she says that she was going through a very bad time, her company of 10 years was about to be history. In desperation she looked everywhere for answers and that's how she discovered "the secret". Judging from the success of the book and the film, it must have worked for her. I suppose she must have thought, believed, and felt something like this: "I want a large number of credulous people to buy what I am saying (and the book, and the dvd) so I can make a lot of money".

2-0 out of 5 stars Think and Grow Rich Meets The Power of Positive Thinking in Brief Quotes, February 22, 2007
I am in complete agreement with the idea that our thoughts need to be carefully marshaled and focused on what we want. My comments focus on how Ms. Byrne has expressed that point in this book.

Everyone I know swears by the DVD version of The Secret. I decided to read the book first and then look at the DVD.

In grading this book, I am comparing The Secret to the many books that encourage you to create your own reality through mental focus including books written by those quoted in The Secret.

First, what is the secret? As stated in a quotation by Bob Proctor:

"The Secret is the law of attraction!

Everything that is coming into your life you are attracting . . . by virtue of the images you are holding in your mind."

Second, what causes the law of attraction to work? According to Ms. Byrne on page 11:

"You are the most powerful transmission tower in the Universe. Your transmission creates your life and it creates the world . . . . And you are transmitting that frequency with your thoughts."

Third, what's the evidence that this secret is true? Each of 24 authors tells anecdotes of people who overcame hurdles after envisioning a more positive result. A few claims are made that quantum physics supports this conclusion, and Ms. Byrne confides that she understands a great deal about this subject.

Fourth, why is this a secret? Because Ms. Byrne had never heard of the law of attraction prior to a year or so ago.

Let me make a few observations about the development of this idea in the book:

First, science has shown us that we ignore almost all of the sensory input we receive. Our minds focus on a small percentage of what's considered relevant through something called the reticular activating system. Change what you focus on, and you notice things for the first time that have been there all the time. That's one reason why envisioning what you want works: You notice helpful resources around you that you've been ignoring. That observation, however, has never been tied to any evidence (to my knowledge) that we physically create anything with our minds beyond our own bodies, except by manipulating the physical world in various ways.

Second, religion points to a different phenomenon. Christians, for example, read in the Bible that God has filled those who have been saved by repenting their sins and believing in Jesus with the Holy Spirit which permits good works (including miraculous works) to be done by the desire of the believer. The source isn't the believer's mind, but rather God's spiritual resources which are greater than the physical world. Anyone who read these Biblical texts would say that an individual is far from a powerful source of creating reality: An individual can do nothing to change reality without God, but can do anything good with God's help to change reality.

Third, in Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill reported the results of many years of intensive interviews with the most successful people on Earth of his day. Many of them believed that their thoughts physically changed the exterior world by opening the door to possibilities that otherwise wouldn't have existed. But Mr. Hill presented the idea as expressed opinions, rather than as a proven fact. He also pointed to many other things that these people had done that helped them succeed. Mr. Hill reported that it takes more just focusing on what you want: There are other steps involved such as working with a mastermind group.

Fourth, our own bodies are very strongly affected by our thoughts. Scientific research keeps showing new dimensions of that fact. Think certain thoughts and your immune system is stronger. Think other thoughts and your immune system is weaker. In addition, placebos do heal people who think they are getting real medicine when they are not. Why? Because people are really healing themselves. You can extend that influence by behaving well or badly towards others, causing a mental reaction in them, which in turn creates a change in their body chemistries.

By comparing those earlier works, my sense is that what The Secret really represents is one woman's quick attempt to make sense of this kind of information. In doing so, she seems to have oversimplified and misstated what is known about the role of thought in creating life experiences. I doubt if the intent was deliberate or not well intentioned. But after all, she is a film maker, not a student of thought.

By ignoring the full range and roots of the evidence, Ms. Byrne runs the risk of discouraging some people who feel like they are real losers because they cannot evince a perfectly positive reality. If it were as simple as The Secret suggests, we would have billions of people living trouble-free lives. To my knowledge, even the most successful practitioners of The Secret aren't as wealthy as those the most successful people who don't. That would make an interesting study, and a far more valuable book than this one.

Here's an example of a misleading example. Ms. Byrne argues that food doesn't make you fat; it's what you think about food that makes you fat. The punch line of her story is that "I now maintain my perfect weight of 116 pounds and I can eat whatever I want." Every person I have met who is an authority cited in this book is noticeably overweight. Why don't any of them want a perfect weight and be able eat anything they want?

My point for you: Avoid this book.

I encourage you, however, to think positively and learn about how your thoughts can improve your life!

If you want to learn about how to improve your life through your thoughts, consider reading more reliably based and carefully presented sources. If you prefer a secular book, try Think and Grow Rich or The Success Principles. If you would like a book that half-way between a religious and secular focus, try Your Best Life Now. If you want to draw totally on the Christian or Jewish religious roots, read the Bible.

I'll look at the DVD now and let you know what I think of that.

1-0 out of 5 stars A book for losers, January 10, 2009
1. Bogus metaphysics, bogus science:

The Secret pretends it's a book about winners and how they win. It isn't. That's just the come-on. It's actually a happy make-believe feelgood book for losers.

Positive thinking is a powerful force, but it isn't magic. It's more like a necessary precondition to success: people who believe they can succeed are far more likely to succeed than people who are sure they'll fail.

For instance, say they're starting a new business, and they run into some big problem. The person who thinks in terms of success will say "Gosh, I'm going to have to figure out a way to get around this problem if I'm going to be successful." Then they get to work on figuring it out. The person who thinks in terms of failure will say, "I knew it was only a matter of time before the universe screwed me over -- I can never catch a break," and gives up trying.

Very important point: in both cases, positive or negative thinking didn't affect the universe. What it did was affect the way the people made decisions and addressed their problems in the real world.

That's the difference between a genuinely useful and valuable book like Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking, and the pile of steaming tripe that is The Secret. Peale's book tells you that positive thinking is the best starting point for getting what you want. The Secret says that positive thinking is enough all by itself. It dresses its idea up in bogus pseudo-scientific language, but essentially what it's saying is that positive thinking is magic.

That's premium-grade hogwash. Positive thinking isn't magic. Thoughts are not magnets. There is no Law of Attraction, no primal universal force that makes the events in our lives match the way we think about our lives. Positive thinking is a good mindset for making good decisions about the actions we take, but it's the actions that have the effect, not the thoughts.

That's why The Secret is a feelgood book for losers.


2. Some real-world implications:

If Rhonda Byrne's advice were any good, neither she nor her publisher would have to publicize her book. They'd just think the right thoughts, and readers everywhere would automatically be moved to pick up a copy.

People cycling through the manic phase of manic-depressive bipolar disorder would be such a nexus of inventiveness, serendipitous insight, and luck, that major corporations would bid on their services.

No baseball game could ever end as long as the fans on both sides believed victory was possible.

We'd never run out of petroleum.

Average global income would be far more evenly distributed than it is. After all, anyone can hope. Anyone anywhere can think good thoughts.

Alternately, there could be Third World sweatshops available to do our believing for us.

Finally, if Rhonda Byrne's advice were any good, the Evil Overlord list wouldn't include the observation that an Evil Overlord who shouts "I AM INVINCIBLE!" is a sure bet to die almost immediately afterward.


3. Fraudulent provenance:

If thinking the right thoughts really could do what The Secret claims, that fact could never stay a secret. Everyone has people they love; and because they love them, they want them to be happy and successful. If they learned an infallible secret for attaining power, wealth, and success, they'd pass it on to those they loved so that they could be happy too. Those people would tell others, and so the knowledge would spread. Soon it wouldn't be a secret any more. After that, people would start preaching it from the rooftops, and carving it into the sides of buildings.

Let's limit it to children. Can you imagine withholding such a secret from your own children? Could you keep silent while you watched them lead frustrated and impoverished lives, or died from conditions you knew how to cure? That's not believable.

Now, genealogists will tell you as a rule of thumb that everyone with European ancestry is descended from Charlemagne, who lived from 742 to 814 AD. That is: if Charlemagne knew this secret knowledge, and he only told his children about it, and they only told their children, and so forth and so on, by now half the world would know it. Yet author Rhonda Byrne says the Greek Philosophers and the Ancient Egyptians had this knowledge. The Greek Philosophers lived about 1,100 years earlier than Charlemagne, and the Ancient Egyptians lived more than three thousand years earlier. It's ridiculous to imagine that a simple, basic, easy-to-apply, and yet overwhelmingly powerful universal principle could stay a secret for even a fraction of that time.


4. Further real-world implications:

If what Rhonda Byrne says in The Secret were true, Las Vegas wouldn't exist. People don't place bets they think are going to lose. Gamblers are powerfully into positive thinking. Someone who's betting heavily while drawing to an inside straight is unquestionably visualizing success, and they're telling the universe exactly what form they want it to take. They nevertheless fail to fill their straights at exactly the rate predicted by plain old statistical probability -- that is, most of the time.

Positive thinking is all around us. New restaurants, new breakfast cereals, new television shows, and new political candidacies expect success. No one throws their heart into studying ballet from age six onward because they envision themselves having the wrong adult body type and winding up teaching tap and jazz to children in some dull but affluent suburb. The world is full of unemployed theatre majors, unpublished writers, unsuccessful beauty pageant contestants, unheard-of musical acts, and college athletes who never make the big time. None of them got there by thinking they wouldn't succeed.

If Rhonda Byrne's advice were any good, no singer would ever hit a wrong note. That goes double for singers who are drunk.

I know other reviewers have already covered the implications of The Secret's suggestion that misfortunes are caused by our own negative thoughts. Still, I have to say: NO KIDDING? SOMEBODY PHONE DARFUR NOW!

And while we're waiting for that phone connection: no kidding? Insanely bad high-level decisionmaking, failures of oversight, and a grossly irresponsible pursuit of deregulation for its own sake had nothing to do with our lives getting zapped by a collapsing economy? Look at Enron's employees and stockholders. They didn't expect to get screwed. New Orleans residents who didn't have cars never envisioned themselves drowning in their own attics. Homeowners with subprime mortgages never imagined they'd wind up in foreclosure.

Are we to understand that some families have an inexplicable tendency to attract the same ailment, generation after generation? How is it possible for devout Christian Scientists to die of cancer or eclampsia or ketoacidosis? If a guy in his late 50s has been in denial about his radiating chest pains for the last ten or twelve hours, and the first thing he says when the EMTs come through his door is "I'm not having a heart attack," has his attitude improved or decreased his chances of surviving the episode?

If I worry about drunk drivers, and then some night I get t-boned at 60 mph by an irresponsible lush with a DUI record as long as my arm, is the accident actually my fault because I had all those negative worries? If I've got a cheerful toddler with me, who's responsible for her death? If I kneecap Rhonda Byrne, and set fire to the warehouse where her books are waiting to ship, will she apologize to me for thinking thoughts that obliged me to do it?


5. In conclusion:

I swear, I've never had any thoughts that warranted the existence of this book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Think for a minute with me before you buy, March 14, 2007
Let's say something first: if it makes you feel better, you can even believe in Santa Claus, and there's no problem with that.
So, if you want to believe what Rhonda says, it's up to you.
For me, there are too many lies in this book.
They are appealing, because we all search for an easy way out. They sounds beautiful, like birds in the sky. But they remain lies.
They are also immoral: I think one of the best teaching in christianity is compassion. Compassion means to feel the suffering of another, to understand him deeply. It's the feeling we all feel when we see a baby cry for apparently no reason, so cute and so defenseless.
We feel his pain, we think we have to help.
But if you believe that feeling (mental) pain attracts to you disgrace, how can you embrace compassion?
Also, why help others if when they are in struggle it's all their fault? Why try to help them if you believe that their minds are responsable for that?
When we think of World War II, and Nazism, are we going to say that all the Jews were vibrating in a bad mood? I don't think it's a good answer to the evil that men do (and what about 9/11, or Katrina?).
Were all the people in the '60 anti-war movement creating more war? Vietnam was caused by John Lennon? Don't be a fool.
The poet says: the good sailor moves the sails, for he knows he can't control the wind.

I take this very personal. When I was just a kid, a friend of mine died. He was the happiest child in the world, we were shocked and thought about death for a long long time. He didn't attract his bad destiny, and we didn't attract anything, except tears.
Leave this book alone.

There's no need to say that the quotations of great men in the past are largely distorted. Take Bhudda: he spoke all the time against desire of material things, and he thought a lot about illness, aging and death. It's easy to take a quotation out of context and gain noble fathers for a poor idea.

1-0 out of 5 stars Unscientific Blather, April 5, 2007
The Latin phrase, Ad Ignoratium, is apt: the statements made in this book are true only to the degree of the reader's ignorance.

Hmmm, I can win the lottery just by thinking positively about it? What if everybody around me has the same thoughts? Can we all win? If I want a college degree, can I get one just by thinking really hard or do I have to actually attend classes? I have cancer; can I will it away by envisioning smiling faces? Or should I get chemo first?

The bulk of the book employs pseudo "experts" to elevate the very real power of positive thinking to the status of a wishing well. As most of us learned as children, wishing alone rarely makes things happen. Action makes things happen, and tragically little about action is talked about in this book.

Lots of people report great things coming to them after practicing the "Secret." But it's unlikely that anyone will report how often it doesn't work. Like psychic predictions, we breathlessly report the "hits" and ignore the misses.

I'm a believer in positive thinking, but not magical thinking. There is a difference. Keep that in mind when you read this nonsense.

2-0 out of 5 stars nothing new, April 3, 2007
There is a lot of talk about the "Secret" but I really did not think it was "new" material. I find it rather interesting that with all the brilliant healers and scientists on this planet, that the people included in this work are only from the U.S..
I certainly do not agree that little children or unfortunate people that live in war torn areas "draw" this to them. Sounds more like a marketing tool than a message of peace. Where is the compassion for others less fortunate than us?

2-0 out of 5 stars A Word to the Wise..., March 19, 2007
I am commenting on The Secret as a clinical psychologist who specializes in how cultural and spiritual beliefs affect health as well as the author of a book about converging science and mysticism to navigate our personal journey. First, The Secret is a compilation of opinions from a group of professionals in several fields, rather than a book by the author. It would be more accurate for Ms. Byrne to present herself as the editor, rather than the author of the book. Having said that, it is important to distinguish between wishful thinking and mind-body science. Although the concepts expounded in the book are beautiful examples of what we could achieve if we explored our potential, it leaves the reader with "feel-good" platitudes, by failing to convey that simply wishing something does not attract anything other than expectations that lead to disappointment. As a scientist, I have seen the mind bypass biology in miraculous ways, but this does not happen by just wishing and waiting for "the laws of attraction" to work. Instead, change requires honoring commitments, not blaming others for our failures, assessing the self-sabotaging that surface when self-esteem is compromised, and realistically defining goals.
The success of this book shows how hungry we are for someone to tell us that change happens magically without having to confront our demons and without taking responsibility for the life we created with our actions.
While I wish Ms. Byrne the greatest success, I want to caution the reader that if "wishful thinking" does not attract what you want, do not blame yourself, because it was only thoughts without action.

2-0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like this book., April 8, 2007
Recently I was at the airport and overheard snippets of a conversation taking place nearby. A gentleman was telling a fellow traveler about "The Secret". Intrigued, I got the book and just finished reading it.

First I should say I really wanted to like this book. It's a delicious think that the happier, shinier, more successful people of this world have access to a certain "secret" that causes them to attract good things. Unfortunately, as much as I hoped this book would blow me away, it didn't.

I found it difficult to stay awake while reading the first four chapters. The same basic themes ("Your thoughts become things" and "The Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction") were repeated over and over again. Mixed with the boredom was a sense of surprise that the book was so focused on material things. A chapter called "The Secret to Money" came before chapters on Relationships, Health, "the World", You and Life, which definitely made me go "Hmmmm."

"The Secret" starts with a great idea, but develops a credibility problem when it uses All Or Nothing and Overly Simplistic language. For example:

(a) "Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts." This would seem to suggest that everyone working in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 somehow INVITED the terror attack through their own persistent thoughts (which is, of course, pure hogwash.) Or terminally ill cancer patients fighting for their lives... SUMMONED the disease.

(b) "You have two sets of feelings: good feelings and bad feelings. And you know the difference between the two because one makes you feel good, and the other makes you feel bad." This seems to wipe out several dimensions of human emotional experience. What about ambivalence? ("I'm happy about the job offer in LA but, gosh, I'll really miss my family and friends in Boston.") Are we wiping out the concept of bittersweet? Isn't it a balance of a range of emotions that makes us human?

It is fine to say that, within reason, what you take the time to visualize for yourself in glorious detail is more likely to manifest itself in your life, or even that you can accomplish things you never thought possible by first seeing yourself doing, feeling, and thinking like you have already accomplished them (and, of course, following up with massive action to get you where you want to go.) I also realize that repetition and simple phrasing can be useful tools for teaching new concepts; however the scope of "The Secret" is too broad to use these techniques. (We're trying to learn a new blueprint for life here, not how to care for a potted plant.)

"The Secret" takes a valid concept to extremes. The unrealistic wording is unnecessary and raised red flags that were distracting and interfered with my ability to remain open to the overall excellent and useful message of the book. If you seek to learn more about the fascinating power of positive thought and creative visualization but do not wish to be brainwashed with extreme claims, then this book is probably not up your alley either.
... Read more

31. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle
list price: $14.00 -- our price: $5.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1577314808
Publisher: New World Library
Sales Rank: 273
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

It's no wonder thatThe Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light. In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, "the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death."Featuring a new preface by the author, this paperback shows that only after regaining awareness of Being, liberated from Mind and intensely in the Now, is there Enlightenment. ... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars Here and Now, November 2, 2008
After reading happiness books like "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World", I felt like I had a good handle on what science had uncovered about how to live a happy life and have to say that I am MUCH happier for having read them. But, while the field of positive psychology has made some great contributions to my happiness levels, it's books like The Power of Now that come along and let you know there's STILL more you can learn.

A key concept of the book (if I'm explaining it right) is that you will start to experience a certain kind of enlightenment when you learn to leave your analytical mind behind. In other words, instead of "thinking" try just "observing your thinking." And when you do this, you also need to realize that all this "thinking noise" that goes on in your head all day long is not really who you are- an enlightening concept indeed!

To that end, the book is set up in a question and answer format to help you get to understand these kinds of concepts. While it might seem ridiculous to some, it really isn't. Case in point, we all talk to ourselves or have witnessed others talking to themselves at times (maybe during a sporting event perhaps). If you ask someone who they are talking to, they will usually say "I'm talking to myself." And this, by definition, means that there have to be two "selves", an "I" talking to "myself"- and so justifies the idea of two selves (a "you" and a "thinking you" in the book).

Well, if these seem to be the kind of concepts you're ready to explore, this is your book. It raises some good questions and certainly brings up one that you can't argue with: all we have is the here and now. As the book so astutely points out, "Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing ever happened in the future, it will happen in the Now." And learning to live in the now IS the point of the whole book.

5-0 out of 5 stars An idea whose time has come, October 11, 2002
You've heard the old maxim that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. That's what The Power of Now represents to me. I have been in the book business all my adult life and consider myself somewhat jaded when it comes to books on self-help, gurus or enlightenment manuals. In fact, I almost never read them. There is something unique about The Power of Now that makes it stand out in an otherwise crowded field. It may be the clarity of the language, the absence of technical language, or more likely, the fact the author is clearly writing about a place the he authentically inhabits; and that my friends, is rare indeed. When describing this book to others, I compare the concepts and practices to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and to the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the core instructions of such Zen Masters as Dogen and Hongzhi. The thing that makes this book so magical is that you get all that pith instruction without having to wade through cultural artiface or the barriers of religiosity. This is only the second review I've written, and I'm doing it because I believe this book is fundamentally important. The teachings have had an immediate impact on my life in a way that few books ever have. I agree with the editorial review - within a chapter of reading this book, I was already holding the world in a different container. This is the real deal.

5-0 out of 5 stars This may just be THE book!, November 23, 2001
Eckhart Tolle's message isn't new. His book is meant to point us toward enlightenment,
and thus his teachings aren't much different than that of Buddhism. But the way this book SPEAKS...


I've been reading "Power of Now" slooowly, over the past week and a half.
I'm nearly finished with it, and plan on starting again on page one when I'm done.
This may be the ONE book that you've been looking for... it's that good.

You can FEEL the essence of Tolle's message while you read. The book BREATHES with spiritual insight.
As you read, you just KNOW that what Tolle says is "the truth."

In reading the book, meditating, and practicing these principles in everyday life,
I've noticed in myself an increased ability to be "fully present" in the world and STAY THERE.
This is the experience I've been wanting for many years.
I've been waking up each morning in a peaceful mood...
I think, while sleeping, I've been integrating the lessons I've learned!

Be here now... it's the only place and time to be.

5-0 out of 5 stars and Now..., January 24, 2002
I picked up "The Power of Now" in the "New Age" section of the bookstore. I was determined to make the reading about "spirituality" a short episode in my life... and I was probably right, as far as the reading goes, that is.

I got the book and continued reading at home, and, as I often do with study guides and textbooks, started underlining what seemed most important. Soon it became harder to separate the important from the unimportant, because it all seemed important! Then, I stopped, put down the pencil and said: "Wow!"

Where did this book come from? Why aren't we hearing about it on CNN? Reading it felt strange at first, as it demanded my total attention: either I was drawn deep into it, or not at all. Do you like to eat while reading? Well, this book will make you feel ridiculous if you try to eat and read at the same time!

The book showed me that I have a pretty thick mold of the mind to break through, and it took me very far on the first day, even farther after that. The message went beyond what I would probably recognize on my own. After all, I was (and still am but to a lesser degree) one of those constant thinkers who mistakenly believe that it's good to think all the time but almost never stop to see, hear and feel the essence of being. Although the message in the book seems familiar and simple, in the end it provided exhaustive answers to the few questions that I had and also those that I wouldn't have thought of before. Amazingly, it also managed not to raise new ones. What it did was grab me by lapels and put me into the present moment. Over and over again, it told me what it means, how to enter it, offered a few different methods, and suggested that with practice many opportunities exist to enter it.

Another point is that once I finished the book, its message lingered (may I say "in my mind" here?). The author's obvious and at the same time subtly effective, repetitive approach somehow kept reassuring me that I was absorbing and remembering the material. The text never strayed far from the core of the message, which seemed to stick with vivid clarity.

I soon began to practice shifting myself into this state of intense concentration, and it feels strange and alluring at the same time, this detachment from the mind. At first, I could only do it while being completely relaxed, just before falling asleep. Later, it became easier to do along with other daily activities. Don't worry; you will not get hit by a truck while crossing the street and trying to focus into the Now! Also, the people at work will not laugh at you because you look weird trying to focus, but they may notice a difference in you: that you are relaxed, focused and less confrontational (because you are surrendered to the present moment). The most immediate effect for me was that focusing into the present moment helped me communicate better. I began to listen more intensely, meaningfully and less judgmentally than before.

However, I feel that this is only the tip of an iceberg. Trying to be in the Now has inspired me more than any miracle. At the same time, it's clear that learning to live in the Now is a skill, and like any skill it can be enhanced with practice. The more you work at it, the better and more natural you get doing it.

In short, I don't need to search for the truth anymore. I got lucky on the first try, by becoming a little curious with the book that seemed unassuming and light in physical weight. Thank you, Eckhart. NOW, I can be at peace, knowing how much I can look forward to in this life, and beyond.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a book for the mind - a book to teach you to be free, June 30, 2002
I have refrained from writing a review of this book for nearly a year and a half, being content to simply practice what Tolle has expressed so simply - remain in the present moment for that is all we have. After nearly three decades of practicing meditation to become enlightened (some day) I found it disheartening to conclude that I wasn't really getting anywhere, yet I was reluctant to give up the effort. Then Tolle popped into my life like a much needed life preserver, showed me who I really am, and put an end to my thrashing about in self-created whirlpools of despair - when you discover you are the ocean itself the whirlpools peter out in embarrassment.

Don't read this book in order to feed your mind, stroke your ego or validate your beliefs. Read it in order to learn to free yourself from pain and delusion. It is obvious when reading certain reviews that some people are looking to add mind stuff to their inventory and then to demonstrate what a fine mind they have with an erudite and academic rebuff. They will have to remain content with a mind dominated life, always looking for something outside themselves to give validation and meaning. At some point, however, if they are lucky they may tire of that and take the opportunity to practice living in the now. It takes courage to jump into the unknown and discover the freedom and joy in living life moment to moment.

Perhaps you are ripe for this book like I was. Even so it was not always easy to let go of cherished beliefs and practices, but ultimately it is the only thing you can do if you really want freedom. Tolle shows how conditioned we have become in a gentle and easy manner, leading you by the hand all the way to the door of freedom. But it is up to each one of us to open that door. At first you may spend only moments of clock time in the sweetness of the now. If you keep at it you will become more skillful in accessing the now, and you will find yourself dwelling there for extended periods of clock time. And then upon reflection you will realize the peace that is always available - that we ARE peace.

So, are you willing to see what life will be like without a mind and ego to steer your every move, as you have been so conditioned to do all your life? (and if you are, don't worry, you will always have access to the mind and ego). Are you willing to let go of everything and to simply BE and let life unfold naturally? (it will anyway, but not resisting it reveals the peace that underlies all phenomena). If you are you will not find a better guide than Eckhart Tolle.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clear, Intelligent, Gentle, February 5, 2001
Although I have always felt myself to be vaguely spiritual, I had never bought a book on spirituality before, shunned anything that smacked of religion, and wouldn't be caught dead in the New Age section. However, a friend recommended Tolle's book, and I found myself completely absorbed in it from beginning to end. Tolle himself would probably agree that there is nothing essentially "new" about the ideas in the book; the value lies in the clear, intelligent and gentle way in which they are presented. This book is carefully, thoughtfully and beautifully written. Not only does it illuminate the fundamental, slippery, destructive patterns of the mind or ego which confound one's spiritual and even physical well-being, but it also provides a variety of simple and practical techniques for breaking down and dissolving these various forms of mental pollution. I use Tolle's calming, contemplative techniques every day and throughout the day, and they work wonderfully for me. I've read the book twice so far and have given it to others as a gift. The companion tapes are excellent as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars One Power trip, April 13, 2005
In all of my 62 years, I have read numerous works on the topic of spirituality. Mr. Tolle's book follows many classics of which I so enjoyed-works by Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Harvey, Matthew Fox, Marianne Williamson, Alan Watts, Krishnamurti, Cayce infinitum. And though I enjoyed much of Tolle's book when it first appeared five years ago, when I look at it now(couldn't help but comment here on the author's vain and frighteningly egotistical preface to the new paperback edition), I am really wondering just who this teacher is.

I had the misfortune of hearing him speak when I was traveling in England last year, and the pomposity of which he came off -really appalled me. I never saw such an egotist in all my life. (in a so-called spiritual teacher-this is a bit off-putting) Tolle resonated with such vanity-that the spiritual "truths" he was attempting to make rang hollow. To me, those who remain modest and sincere and generous toward others are the real teachers. (Deepak Chopra, to me, is always so gracious and humble when he speaks; I also like Carolyn Myss and Andrew Weil-actually-- many spiritual communicators who come from a medical background-seem to walk their talk).

I can only say to those readers out there: "yes this is a good book-but pay attention to what may lie beneath the surface ". To me, the real spiritual teachers are always humble and helpful toward others. Tolle -in person- is very different from what he appears in his DVDs and books-I have heard he is cut-throat and very competitive when it comes to others' works (unfortunately, a good source of mine knows he has hurt others.) Bottom line? Everything must serve him. And that always says it all. Just be aware and go within and listen to your own inner communication to the divine. Forget this guy.

As one luminous Galilean soul once said: "By their deeds you shall know them".

5-0 out of 5 stars Practical tips for joyous living, September 17, 2001
Philosophers like Krishnamurti say that the path of spiritual enlightenment starts with being aware of one's own thoughts. Commentators (of Upanishads and Gita) such as Swami Chinmayananda suggest that spiritual enlightenment is attained when the mind quietens. I have great respect for the above authors. However, I was frustrated for a long time as "watching my thoughts" and "quietening the mind" seemed impossible to achieve.

In this book, Tolle gives very practical advice on how we can watch our thoughts - the idea is to simply live in the present, in the Now. "...Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed. Step out of the time dimension as much as possible in everyday life. If you find it hard to enter the Now directly, start by observing the habitual tendency of your mind to want to escape from the Now..." is a brilliant piece of advice from the book.

The book is organised in a question-and-answer format and it is easy to read.

When we start reading the book, many questions rise in our heads. E.g.
*How can we forget the past? Doesn't past influence on our current situation?
* How can we not think about the future? How do we, then, plan for the future?
*How practical is it to ignore the time (future)?
All these questions and many other questions that come to mind while reading are answered in the book.

If you plan to read this book please think about the following: many of us read books like these and find them 'interesting'. As long as we are reading the book we feel inspired and we live in the Now. A while later, we go back to our routine and forget about living in the Now. To get the true benefit from this book, my suggestion is to create some measures so that you are reminded of the principles regularly. Some things you can do:

*Write down your questions, their answers and your other thoughts that come to mind, while reading the book. Review these regularly.
*Find people who are interested in discussing the issues relating to spiritual enlightenment and discuss.
*Make it a point to read or listen to books that relate to living the Now, on a regular basis.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Truth is in the Power of Now, December 13, 2000
This book is so filled with truth, so powerful, so crystal clear that I was compelled to write this review and share it with other people. THE POWER OF NOW and WORKING ON YOURSELF DOESN'T WORK by Ariel and Shya Kane are the two most powerful and insightful books on self-awareness I've ever had the pleasure to read. Reading both of these books is like working with Zen masters, compassionate spiritual teachers who can free us from the torture that our minds and our judgments inflict on us constantly. I am not exaggerating when I say that THE POWER OF NOW was like a breath of fresh air. Tolle gets right to the point and explains so much about inner peace and how our minds actually work that I found myself wanting to share what he and the Kanes have discovered. If THE POWER OF NOW is the technical manual for reaching fulfillment (because it is mostly explanations about awareness rather than illustrative examples), then WORKING ON YOURSELF DOESN'T WORK is the practical guide with real world examples and insights that describe exactly how satisfaction is possible in everyday life. You'll want both of these books. I've found what I was looking for thanks to these wonderful authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Power of Tolle's message, June 1, 2000
In the past 25 years I have read spiritual books ranging from the works of Gurdjieff and his followers to the discourses and satsangs with Maharaj, Poonjaji, and Gangaji. These have helped me and probably thousands of other seekers. They were the best written accounts available to all of us on the Path who refused to swallow the sugar pills of superficial knowledge of spirituality and enlightenment offered by many. NOW comes Eckhart Tolle with an unbelievably clear, powerful and succinct account of how and why our mind-based ego consciousness runs us, robs us of our birthright as humans, and why our society, at every turn, supports this process. His message is exquisitely eloquent and direct: Learn, through endless practice (unbending intent as Don Juan would say) to observe your mind without judgement. See where this leads you again and again as your sense of who you are escapes psychological time and the vastness, wholeness, and beauty of Creation opens before you. I have read only the first 50 pages and already I know that it will be THE ONE BOOK that goes with me everywhere as I read and reread it until it is part of me. ... Read more

32. Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food
by Jessica Seinfeld
list price: $12.95 -- our price: $7.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 006176793X
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 420
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

It has become common knowledge that childhood obesity rates are increasing every year. But the rates continue to rise. And between busy work schedules and the inconvenient truth that kids simply refuse to eat vegetables and other healthy foods, how can average parents ensure their kids are getting the proper nutrition and avoiding bad eating habits?

As a mother of three, Jessica Seinfeld can speak for all parents who struggle to feed their kids right and deal nightly with dinnertime fiascos. As she wages a personal war against sugars, packaged foods, and other nutritional saboteurs, she offers appetizing alternatives for parents who find themselves succumbing to the fastest and easiest (and least healthy) choices available to them. Her modus operandi? Her book is filled with traditional recipes that kids love, except they're stealthily packed with veggies hidden in them so kids don't even know! With the help of a nutritionist and a professional chef, Seinfeld has developed a month's worth of meals for kids of all ages that includes, for example, pureed cauliflower in mac and cheese, and kale in spaghetti and meatballs. She also provides revealing and humorous personal anecdotes, tear–out shopping guides to help parents zoom through the supermarket, and tips on how to deal with the kid that "must have" the latest sugar bomb cereal.

But this book also contains much more than recipes and tips. By solving problems on a practical level for parents, Seinfeld addresses the big picture issues that surround childhood obesity and its long–term (and ruinous) effects on the body. With the help of a prominent nutritionist, her book provides parents with an arsenal of information related to kids' nutrition so parents understand why it's important to throw in a little avocado puree into their quesadillas. She discusses the critical importance of portion size, and the specific elements kids simply must have (as opposed to adults) in order to flourish now and in the future: protein, calcium, vitamins, and Omega 3 and 6 fats.

Jessica Seinfeld's book is practical, easy–to–read, and a godsend for any parent that wants their kids to be healthy for a long time to come.

... Read more


4-0 out of 5 stars Let's Compare: "Deceptive" Vs. "Sneaky", February 8, 2008
Deceptively Delicious VS.The Sneaky Chef

First of all let me start by saying:
!) I don't have young kids any more BUT
2) I HATE veggies but I know I need to eat more of them, so any system that gets them into me and the grownups in my life: BRAVO!

Yes, I'd recommend BOTH books and here's why. They each have their strong and weak suits.

A) pictures, which is helpful and fun
B) tips and comments by her taste-testers
C) used one type of puree for each recipe
D) is spiral bound so it will lay flat. The whole layout is really nice, just as a cookbook to read!
E) doesn't beat you over the head with the whole nutrition thing

A) combination purees, which add a lot of variety and ease into the cooking part
B0 really cute names for the dishes. Makes it easy to remember!
C) isn't afraid to use butter and milk!
D) goes seriously into the nutrition thing. Almost the first half of the book is a prelim and explanation of the whole concept.
E) the recipes seem to taste a bit better!

DD. The recipes are a bit bland. If you're cooking for an adult palate, you need to add more spices. For example her "Chocolate Chip Cupcakes." I suggest substituting milk (even skim) for the water, add an extra T. vanilla and 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon. One of the veggie purees her recipes call for aren't covered in the "how to prepare puree" part.

SC: Very few pictures. It's not spiral bound but a trip to Office Max can take care of that for you. (Best tip I ever got regarding cookbooks by the way and found it here!) It's a bit "textbook" like. I get the whole nutrition thing already.

I wish both books went into greater detail about the pureeing part. They're pretty good but if you're not a veggie person to begin with, you might not know what is the proper consistency.

I understand that Missy (The Sneaky Chef author) is writing a cookbook for adult with hidden veggies and I hope Jessica will do the same!

3-0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm..I thought this was going to be easier!, October 16, 2007
I also was so excited for this cookbook to arrive. I immediately rushed to the grocery store to get $50.00 worth of vegetables and other baking ingredients.

My first attempt was the brownies, and my victims were all adults. The look on their faces was priceless. Not so good because of the very weird texture to them.

Next, eggs with cauliflower for my 3 year old. Hmmm, he was wondering whey the eggs that have always been yellow, have now turned white. Add a little cheddar, and bam, they are yellow again.

The blueberry cupakces with cream cheese filling, total disaster. They looked horrible, and tasted even worse. I didn't even attempt to try to get anyone in the house to eat them would have thought I was feeding my husband horse meat. They were NASTY! Very slimy with a funky aftertase.

What I learned is that you don't need this cookbook for recipes. Puree some veggies and slip them in the everyday food you make. Don't go overboard, and chances are your kids won't know the difference!

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice recipes but lots of prep time, October 20, 2007
After seeing this on Oprah, my child and I decided to buy it. My child is one who actually eats and enjoys vegetables but we were both intrigued by the idea of incorporating extra vegetables into our diets.

The book is well-organized, offers detailed information about both the recipes and the benefits of the major ingredients, and I really like that the tone is not a "lecture" on the benefits of vegetables. She doesn't talk down to the reader but offers lots of helpful suggestions.

I do have one suggestion for busy parents - use organic baby food. I don't have a food processor and I don't have a dedicated block of time to clean, cook and prepare all the purees for the week. For about $.65 (or less) per jar, I can have 1/2 cup of organic winter squash etc. that has already been cleaned, cooked and pureed for me. Plus, it will keep on the shelf until I need it so I can buy extra when they go on sale.

Furthermore, I have started adding the purees to the recipes or boxed mixes I already use. I added 1/2 cup of mixed vegetables to a batch of Pamela's gluten-free brownie mix tonight and it was delicious. There was no noticeable change in texture and we could not taste anything but rich chocolate.

Don't be afraid to experiment :)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is the BEST!!!, October 13, 2007
Well let me begin by saying that I am not a professional chef, nor I am an uber-fan of the "Seinfeld" show - so I could care less who the author is. I also had a feeling that anything that deals with food and children and not being 100% honest with kids in this "kid-centered" world we live in would push a few buttons. And it did! I am a married mom of two boys and I am also interested in better health for my family. I do believe in eating fruits and vegetables in their natural state but let's be honest: Who among us eats five servings a day? I saw Ms. Seinfeld on Oprah and thought to myself, Well I have beeing doing the puree thing myself so let's see what she has to say. How are thre recipes? Pretty good, as a matter of fact. Here is what I did to try some of the recipes out:
First, I plugged my Bob Seger CD and got the ball rolling. The Beatles work just as well, the decision is yours. Then I washed my hands, put on my "Lutheran Jello Power" apron and said to myself: "It's Go Time!" I own a Vita-Mix blender which double as a food processor. I own a rice cooker which can be used to stream veggies. If you do not own a food processor or a steamer, do not despair. You can bake a lot of the veggies or put a colander in a shallow pan of boiling water to steam them. You can always invest in a steamer and/or food processor if you want, later. The first recipe I tries was:
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: 5 star.They are delicious! The only tweaking I did to the recipe was I pureed the chickpeas before adding them to the batter. I also used brown sugar Splenda rather than regular brown sugar; when done you have a batch of cookies that have 1/2 cup of brown sugar plus protein in them!! There is no white sugar in this recipe and I also used whole wheat flour. Excellent!! I have actually made these twice in a week.
SPAGETTI AND MEATBALLS: 5 stars. My kids are not that into meatballs and they ate them. This was my first attempt at meatballs, ever, and they turned out great. I put the broccoli puree and the sweet potato puree in the spagetti sauce and no one tasted anything different.
CHOCOLATE PUDDING: 5 stars. I put the avocado puree in this and believe it or not my two sons complained that is was "too much chocolate tasting!" The pudding was that good.
MACARONI AND CHEESE: 5 stars. I tried putting the sweet potato puree in with a box mix and there was no taste difference. I mixed the puree withe the milk and you could taste the puree. The kids actually said it tasted better than before!!
FROZEN YOGURT POPS: 5 stars. Very good, very sweet. I do not own popsicle molds so I used those multi-color cups from toddler days (my kids are 8 & 10 yrs old) and although they worked great - I bought popsicle sticks from a craft store - next time I am going to use smaller dixie cups so the portions are smaller.
The recipes are mistake proof as well; I put avocado puree rather than the brocolli puree in pizza sauce to make pizza burgers (Jessica says to label your bags, guess now I know why) but it still tasted good. It actually made them taste a bit sweeter, like I had put banana peppers in the recipe as well.
One error I made was when I was done with the puree was I put all the puree in one large Zip-lock bag. Follow Jessica's advice and use smaller bags so you can pull out just how much you need. I pureed the following veggies the first day: Summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, avocados, spinach, zucchini and sweet potatoes. I bought a bag of frozen blueberries. I am little type A but I wanted all the puree to be available so I could try as many recipes as possible. If you want to try a recipe or two but don't own all the equipment (especially a food processor, which if you are going to do this long term you will need) try the sweet potato recipes. You can bake a sweet potato and mash it up with a fork and some water. And one sweet potato goes a very long way. I used three and I have enought puree to feed a day care. For a week. The avocado would be another one to try without all the equipment, as it is easily mashed with a fork and some water. The borcolli and caulifower recipes will require a food processor as they are tougher vegetables to mash, even in a steamed state.
There has been much discussion about another book that was published last spring and "competition" with this book. Well I am no expert but there is no way that this book could have been put together and published in six months. Why can't both books be on the market? I am sure both authors want the same thing: Better diets for us all. I have ordered the other cookbook as well, there is room for both on my shelf.
As for the argument that we are lying to our kids: Big whoop-de-doo. I have eaten more sweet potatoes, brocolli, califlower, carrots, etc. in the past week that I have in the past six months. Do I present veggies in their natural state? Yes. Do my kids always eat them? No. But at least they are presented and I know they are still eating them in the puree. Mealtimes should be about talking and sharing, not arguing over food. My younger son likes to help with cooking and baking and he knows the purees are in there and he could care less, as long as can still eat. I highly recommend this cookbook and as soon as I receive the other cookbook I will write a review of that book as well. This book, to me, is a great teaching tool about nutrition. My kids and I have gone through the recipes together and discussed which ones we want to try. Do my kids eat cake and ice cream? Of course, just not every day. We talk about nutrition in a matter of fact way: These are the things to make your body grow. Period. No arguing, no crying, no bribing. I am sort of like Dragnet that way: "Just the facts, ma'am!"
I also want to edit my review to add that I could not help notice that all the one star and rwo star reviews are very critical of the author's personal life. I sincerely hope that folks can see through such attempts at being critical of the author because she is once divorced and is now married to a celebrity. It is sad that such personal attacks are listed in what should be a simple book review.

1-0 out of 5 stars Deceptively not so good..., November 15, 2007
Quesadillas- The flavor wasn't too bad if you dipped in Salsa otherwise you can taste the squash and it doesn't come out crip it comes out pretty mushy.
Chicken nuggets- The breading doesn't get very crisp, the breading falls off when cooking and if you use brocolli the nuggest have a green look to them.
Chocolate cake with beats was good. Chick pea chocolate chip cookies were good the first 2 days. After that the chickpeas got so hard you couldn't chew them.
Brownies are spongy.
Grilled cheese you can taste the veggies and it is pretty mushy tasting
Egg Puffs were just gross
French toast isn't too bad, but my kids won't eat it
Chicken soup I didn't care for, but my son's did eat it.

Overall the recipes don't taste that bad, but the texture wasn't that good. I have one son who isn't a fussy eater at all and he wouldn't eat these recipes. Normally he eats anything you give him. Actually I think I made a mistake feeding him food from this cookbook because now he is a fussy eater when he never was before. Now my other son who is always fussy and we can't get him to eat much of anything wouldn't eat these either. He was the reason I bought the book, but he won't have anything to do with the food. He even likes cookies, cakes etc, they are his favorite. He didn't like the cookies. He did eat the cake and that was about it. I would say don't buy it. In fact I think I am going to have to sell my book. It was a waste of money for me.

1-0 out of 5 stars Brownies Taste Deceptively... Green Waste-ish..., January 3, 2008
My wife picked up this book in the hope of fooling our kids into eating more vegetables. She tried the inexplicable chocolate-spinach brownie, but the recipe failed for the following reasons:

1. The brownie texture was wrong. The surface of the brownie forms a shiny, mucousy layer that looks a bit like Freddie Kruger's skin in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series.
2. While I had long been of the opinion that nearly anything can be made to taste good as long as it is smothered with enough chocolate, I am sad to find that I have been wrong in this belief. While the brownie looks like it should taste good, it has a strange metallic flavor. My mom thought it tasted like we had put some kind of fruit in it, while I thought it tasted like a tray of brownies that had been stored alongside some rotting vegetables.

The sad thing is that the overall idea is pretty good. Try replacing the spinach with zucchini, which already has a solid track record as a dessert ingredient.

Meanwhile, I'm off to cleanse my palette.

1-0 out of 5 stars Recipes may work for those with very young children, however..., November 15, 2007
As a dietitian I am always looking for good resources for my clients. I bought this book hoping to find some tasty recipes for both clients and my own family. While I can see how some of these recipes may work for very young, undeveloped palates, they certainly did not work with my children who are 6 yrs and older, nor did my husband and I find them tasty. I have made several recipes over the past few days and the only ones that we found edible were the macaroni and cheese (edible but not well-liked) and the bolognese sauce. The tofu nugget recipe simply did not work and the coffee cake (marshmallows and butternut squash??) was terrible. While the premise of adding pureed vegetables to recipes is logical (and has been done before many times) in some of the recipes it seems that they are added for no reason. The bolognese sauce already has tomatoes, carrots and onions- is pureed sweet potato really neccessary? Additionally, is it in our child's best interest to "hide" healthy food in foods that are traditionally not "healthy" (cookies, cakes, etc) rather than educate them and introduce them to the whole food as part of a normal diet? Once a child is able to distinguish tastes, it is important for them to understand where they are coming from in their natural state so they have some idea of where their food comes from (spinach is not naturally found in chocolate brownies!) The recipes did not make enough to feed a family with big boys (and I do not mean teenagers- 10 yr old boys can eat quite a bit too.) Clearly this is more of a baby through toddler type book of recipes for those just starting off in the food-introduction process! Not food I would serve to adults!

3-0 out of 5 stars The reviews, the recipes, the nutrition factor and Oprah., October 16, 2007
A couple of thoughts on this book, its reviews, the recipes, the nutrition factor, & Oprah.

- First, re the reviews that are here - it seems that no one can post a negative review without immediately being shot down - this really makes me believe that the reviews are being monitored by interested parties in the book's success - perhaps, publisher, family & friends? If you note the first few reviews of the book, they were all made by members of Jessica's family, so they're here and active.

Second, re the recipes - I've made a few of them, and some work and some don't. The burgers have *way* too much garlic - maybe to overpower the cauliflower? The mashed potatoes are good and, on my own I put some cauliflower puree into some frozen spinach, and I ended up not needing to add any cream to jazz it up - it just worked. So, as a jumping off point, the purees are inspirational to incorporate into your own existing recipes - these recipes on their own, are a little touch and go, but overall the concept is brilliant - even though Jessica cannot be credited with having the idea first, as seen by the description of The Sneaky Chef, published previously.

Re the nutrition factor - this is becoming a sticky point as people bring up the question of why nutritional content was not included, especially considering that the foreward is written by a nutritionist. I think I can guess why - a 1/2 cup of spinach puree in a batch of brownies or 1/2 cup of cauliflower in a pot of mashed potatoes does not go a long way once you divide that up into individual servings. There is no way anyone is getting a full serving of vegetables from this technique, but I tend to be in the camp that thinks more veggies is better than less, even if the more is negligible. And, it may be even less than negligible considering the additional cooking beyond the steaming that is robbing the veggies of their enzymes.

Finally, re Oprah. I watched yesterday as Jerry came on to promote his new Bee Movie, that Oprah happens to be in. I realized this is why she had Jessica on in the first place and say, not the Sneaky Chef. There's definitely a bit of cronyism going on. And, was telling when Oprah groused about the book being number one on the bestseller list that Jerry thanked everone for contributing to "Seinfeld World Media".

All in all, I have no regrets about buying the book, and I'm sure I'll be doing purees from here on out.

1-0 out of 5 stars So disappointed by these recipes, December 15, 2007
I was so excited when I heard about this book, I ran out and got it, as did a couple of other fellow moms I know. We are all so incredibly disappointed with the recipes. I made the chocolate cake with beets, and it was so disgusting, it didn't taste like anything, I can't imagine anyone liking it, I had to throw almost the whole thing away because no one would eat it. The textures are all wrong, the scrambled eggs with cauliflower are so watery, the chicken nuggets are not crispy, but mushy, and you can see the green specs in them.
It's a great idea, but it's definitely overhyped, I wish these recipes had worked for us but they were a total disappointment. I'm off to EBay my copy.

3-0 out of 5 stars If you want to hide the veggies, this is a very good cookbook, October 31, 2007
I checked this out of the library and made several of the recipes over the week. My kids are between 12 and 5 and are like most kids when it comes to likes and dislikes of food. The recipes met with mixed reviews, but not because they knew what the ingredients were; I didn't even tell my husband.
For the time and effort I'll stick with what has worked in the past; presenting lots of fruits and vegetables, in all forms, to see what works and what they like.
I have had great success with recipes by Annabel Karmel who focuses on "fun" healthy food and also with Susan Branch's vegetable recipes because they are so simple.
Despite the time involved I'll stick to making radish flowers and celery brooms, low-fat dips and fun shapes with any vegetable that will submit to a cookie cutter (cucumbers, squash and peppers work best).
While many of the recipes are interesting and are worth making, in the end I want my kids to like a vegetable when they see it, not view it as a subversive enemy.
As for the controversy between the two's just stupid. This idea is not a new one (there was a woman on the Today show a couple of years ago who was suggesting we make brownies with mashed up black beans for more fiber) and there will be more that follow. ... Read more

33. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman
list price: $35.00 -- our price: $22.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0764524836
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 253
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The ultimate one-stop vegetarian cookbook-from the author of the classic How to Cook Everything

Hailed as "a more hip Joy of Cooking" by the Washington Post, Mark Bittman's award-winning book How to Cook Everything has become the bible for a new generation of home cooks, and the series has more than 1 million copies in print. Now, with How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian, Bittman has written the definitive guide to meatless meals-a book that will appeal to everyone who wants to cook simple but delicious meatless dishes, from health-conscious omnivores to passionate vegetarians.

How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian includes more than 2,000 recipes and variations-far more than any other vegetarian cookbook. As always, Bittman's recipes are refreshingly straightforward, resolutely unfussy, and unfailingly delicious-producing dishes that home cooks can prepare with ease and serve with confidence. The book covers the whole spectrum of meatless cooking-including salads, soups, eggs and dairy, vegetables and fruit, pasta, grains, legumes, tofu and other meat substitutes, breads, condiments, desserts, and beverages. Special icons identify recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less and in advance, as well as those that are vegan. Illustrated throughout with handsome line illustrations and brimming with Bittman's lucid, opinionated advice on everything from selecting vegetables to preparing pad Thai, How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian truly makes meatless cooking more accessible than ever.

Praise for How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

"Mark Bittman's category lock on definitive, massive food tomes continues with this well-thought-out ode to the garden and beyond. Combining deep research, tasty information, and delicious easy-to-cook recipes is Mark's forte and everything I want to cook is in here, from chickpea fries to cheese soufflés."
—Mario Batali, chef, author, and entrepreneur

"How do you make an avid meat eater (like me) fall in love with vegetarian cooking? Make Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian part of your culinary library."
—Bobby Flay, chef/owner of Mesa Grill and Bar Americain and author of the Mesa Grill Cookbook

"Recipes that taste this good aren't supposed to be so healthy. Mark Bittman makes being a vegetarian fun."
—Dr. Mehmet Oz, Professor of Surgery, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center and coauthor of You: The Owner's Manual ... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars This is the one I've been looking for!, October 29, 2007
Let me start by saying I'm a busy working mom of two. I grew up eating Hamburger Helper and hot dogs, so I didn't learn to cook until I was an adult. My dad's had triple bypass and my mom's having gastric bypass, so we're trying to learn from their mistakes and eat not entirely vegetarian, but definitely a more plant-based diet. I'm sure all this sounds familiar to a lot of people!

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is exactly the cookbook I've been trying to find for a long time. It has the simple, everyday recipes that I sometimes need, combined with a LOT of wonderful vegetarian dishes from ordinary supermarket ingredients. How about Peanut Soup, Senegalese Style? Or Korean-Style Noodles in Cool Bean Broth (in less than 20 minutes for when the kids are whining for dinner) Mustard Cheese Fondue?

This book is written in Bittman's typical `theme and variations' style, with a basic recipe (like for waffles) and then a sidebar or list following the recipe that gives variations (like a list of things you can add to waffles for flavoring). The great thing about this is that it means you rarely have to reject a recipe because you don't have the exact ingredients, just go with a variant. The only quibble I have with it is, it's sometimes difficult to keep track of what you are supposed to sub out & sub back in when you have a crying toddler on your ankle.

A basic cookbook should also walk you through basic techniques and ingredients. I was a little surprised to see the vegetables chapter was nearly 200 pages. Then I looked through it and realized a lot of that is guidance on how to select and prep the various vegetables. It's also helpful that he includes substitution suggestions - I may be out of broccoli, but if I can make the same recipe with green beans, then I can forgo the trip to the store one more day.

Another nice thing about this cookbook is, unlike most vegetarian cookbooks I have seen, it doesn't rely heavily on unusual ingredients or meat substitutes. It seems like there has to be a happy medium between burgers & fries on one hand and stuff you've never seen before. Surely we can make a healthy diet based on basic veggies, fruit, grains, and legumes, and that's JUST what this book focuses on.

But it doesn't matter how great the book is if the recipes aren't good! So I tried a few. The Spicy Autumn Veggie Burgers (we made less spicy for the kids) were terrific with a dollop of peach chutney, although the kids preferred ketchup. I was pleased at how quickly they came together too. The Glazed Carrot Soup the kids ate without any complaint at all. And oh my the Apple "Fries"!!!!

Because I'm sure people are wondering - yes, he has another cookbook called How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian that came out several years ago. This is NOT just a remake of that slim volume. This is a completely new book. (Why his publishers wanted to do two books with titles the same except for a colon I'll never know.) There's no exact overlap with How to Cook Everything, that I saw - even for recipes like Waldorf Salad, that are essentially the same in both books, there is some slight variation and different text that shows that this was re-written, not just a cut-and-paste job.

In short, I'm very happy with it. I've cooked out of it every day since I got it and I'm sure this will be one of my `go-to' cookbooks for years to come.

3-0 out of 5 stars It's o.k., but the same problem I always have with Bittman, January 25, 2008
I'm a vegetarian of 15 years (with a meat-eating but open minded fiance) and an avid home cook. I got this book for Christmas and have slowly been exploring it. It's an interesting book and there are a lot of recipes that I'm tempted by, but it's the same problem I have with "How to cook everything": something is always wrong with the recipe. For example, his kosher pickles: the first time I tried making them with his measurements, the pickles were inedibly salty (and I love salt!) I'm now working with about a third less salt than he recommends and it's getting better. And that's what I always find with his recipes: they give you a promising start but require some major tinkering before they are really good, and I don't usually feel up to committing to that sort of trial and error. I am a passionate fan of Debbie Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." As an example of the difference, this week I had a dinner party and I made her cauliflower salad with green olives and capers even though I'd never tried it before, and it was a hit. Having used her book so much, I trust her recipes to be at least decent right out of the gate. I would never serve a Bittman recipe that I hadn't made before to guests because there are pretty good odds that the initial recipe needs some changes.
That being said, I'm certainly not sorry that I have this book. It has a good section on condiments that I'm sure I'll make use of fairly often, and it's a good cookbook to have on hand if you're tinkering in the kitchen and want some perspective on your technique. It's really more of a reference book than an book of recipes, and in that it is useful. But if you want ideas for delicious, satisfying vegetarian food, get "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone."

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent General Cookbook for Liberal Vegetarian. Buy It!, November 20, 2007
`How to Cook Everything Vegetarian' by New York Times culinary columnist, Mark Bittman, is an important entry into the best vegetarian cookbook sweepstakes. Please be clear that this green covered book is far larger and far better than the yellow covered subset of his earlier best-selling `How to Cook Everything'.
Since I gave that yellow subset a bad review, a kind commentator pointed out that what is a person to do if they are vegetarian, and don't need to know how to make veal parmesan, meatballs, or fried chicken! This volume clearly answers that question.
The competition for this book is Deborah Madison's classic `Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone'. An encyclopedic companion to both would be Crescent Dragonwagon's `Passionate Vegetarian'. If space and finances permit, I would suggest you own all three volumes.
The difference between Bittman and Madison may lie primarily in the fact that the former is a culinary journalist and the latter began her career as a professional chef. So, Bittman has a better eye for communicating to a larger audience while Madison is better on some of the basic truths of cooking. Her discussion of soups and stocks is especially brilliant.
Bittman addresses the largest possible `vegetarian' audience, which includes the most liberal, who consume eggs and milk products. But he is quite effective in identifying for the vegans among you which recipes are free of all animal products, both in icons accompanying each recipe and in a master list of recipes at the back of the book. Eggs are so prominent that the index contains a full page, that's four columns of small print, of entries under egg related recipes. Under cheese recipes, there are two pages, eight columns of fine print of recipes. Bittman explains this in the section on vegetarian substitutions when he gives easy replacements for butter, milk, and cream, but says that virtually nothing can replace eggs and most cheeses in traditional recipes. I am puzzled and grateful that Bittman does not suggest using synthetic lecithin in the place of eggs in recipes. Lecithin does not even appear in the index of this book. This substitutions section also has some really great suggestions for omnivores in the realm of less saturated replacements for butter and flavored butters.
This is a full service cookbook. I am especially impressed by the fact that he starts out in the same way as James Peterson in his recent textbook, `Cooking'. Both begin with a description of `The Ten Essential Cooking Techniques'. Being a teaching book, Peterson's sections on each method are longer, running to three large pages compared to Bittman's two to three paragraphs. But, if you are vegetarian, Bittman's book is still more useful, as much of Peterson's space is dedicated to cooking animal protein. Another interesting contrast to Peterson is that while the teacher uses series of photographs to illustrate techniques, Bittman uses black ink drawings. And, amazingly enough, the latter is generally the more successful technique, as nothing is out of focus and there are never any obscuring shadows, and only the essentials of the technique are depicted.
A common technique in many of Bittman's recipes is to amend each recipe with several variations, as when he suggests five fillings for sweet crepes and six fillings for savory crepes. Hard on this section is '10 Other Ideas for Pancakes' and seven `Pancake Variations'. Bittman also spends much time on teaching us the range of ingredient types, and general ways to handle each type. For example, we get `A Lexicon of Salad Greens'. This material is even more important for the vegetarian, as they need to seek the greatest possible variety of tastes and colors in the vegetable world. A vegetarian salad repertoire which knew nothing beyond iceberg lettuce would be dull indeed. Bittman does better in this area than the salad queen, Alice Waters, in her excellent `The Art of Simple Cooking'.
Bittman's mastery of communication is best represented by his many cross-indexing of recipe types, as he does in a sidebar of lettuce cups and wraps, giving the names and page numbers of fourteen recipes scattered throughout the book which use this technique. The centerpiece of this cross-indexing is the `Recipes by Icon' in the back of the book which tick off those which are `Fast', `Make Ahead', and `Vegan'. A similar feature is the list of forty menus for Breakfasts, Brunches, Lunches, Dinners, and Holiday Dinners. For his vegetarian audience, this is far more useful than for omnivores, who have a far greater choice of protein types.
Every trend in the book is magnified in the excellent chapter on pasta, noodles, and dumplings. Every sidebar seemed to offer not ten, but up to 50 variations on all sorts of stuff. I was momentarily disappointed to find no recipe for making fresh pasta in the first 10 pages of the chapter, but there it was, of page 474 and the following 21 pages. Everything you would need to make fresh pasta, gnocchi, dumplings. It even included the German specialty, Spaetzle, bless his heart. While all the standards are well-represented, some peripheral ingredients such as rhubarb and celeriac get good representation in uncommon recipes. I was especially pleased to find four excellent recipes for my favorite Brussels Sprouts. Even chestnuts get a dozen entries in the index. Madison has nothing on chestnuts!
Bittman's `How to Cook Everything' is always my first stop whenever I want to try a classic dish unfamiliar to me, and I have been invariably pleased with the clarity and results of his recipes. This book continues this trend. Every recipe I read is clear, unfussy, and easy to follow. If you are a vegetarian who permits milk and eggs, this book is a must. If you are a tad stricter, Deborah Madison's classic may be more useful for the money.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book lives up its title., October 26, 2007
As a vegetarian who loves to cook, I have been waiting for a book exactly like this. It is more than a mere collection of recipes. It is a treatise on vegetarian cooking.

Its comprehensiveness is astounding. Consider, for example, the entry on pureed vegetables. Bittman first explains in detail how to prepare a puree. After then identifying the best and worst vegetables to puree, he presents a table with suggestions for pureeing specific vegetables; each entry recommends a binder, fat, seasoning, and garnish that works particularly well for that vegetable. Bittman then gives a recipe for a basic vegetable puree, suggests ways to serve purees, and identifies 17 recipes whose leftovers serve as good bases for purees.

I really cannot give this book enough praise. I plan to read it cover to cover.

3-0 out of 5 stars thorough but not foolproof, March 30, 2008
I appreciate the huge range of well-organized recipes in the book and the helpful reference section, (he convinced me to soak my own chick peas rather than use canned, and there is a huge difference!). However, as another reviewer on this site said, his recipes are not foolproof. I follow his instructions to the letter, and still must adjust seasonings, cooking times, spices, etc to yield good results. It's like he unconsciously left out steps that are "second nature" to an experienced cook like himself; or else you have to use the exact same pan as he, or the recipe doesn't work. It's like he needs his own personal "epicurious" site, where users of his cookbook can log on and share tips on cooking his recipes. I'm not sorry I bought the book, but my results have not been as tasty as I would have expected.

2-0 out of 5 stars But the recipes aren't good!, July 16, 2008
I am firmly convinced that Mark Bittman invents all his recipes without actually making them. Not one of them has ever turned out well. Examples:

- "Mashed cauliflower with cheese." More like cauliflower sauce. I had to serve it in bowls and eat it with a spoon.

- "Baked pinto beans and sweet potatoes, enchilada style." Tastes fine, but the potato cubes were still hard after 40 minutes in the oven.

- "Millet mash." Millet does *not* burst after 30 minutes of simmering. It's edible, but it sure isn't mashable.

- "Roasted quinoa with potatoes and cheese." Interesting, but 5 minutes of boiling isn't enough for the quinoa to then finish cooking in the oven. And there's no need to jump-start the potatoes either.

- "Bean and cheese empanadas." The dough is impossible to roll out - it's way too tender and dry. And the texture ends up throat-catchingly grainy after baking.

- "Lentils and potatoes with curry." This was actually disgusting. Too much dry spice. And of course the potatoes disintegrated before the lentils were soft.

I'll go ahead and give the book two stars because there's a *lot* of stuff in it, and some of the recipes might be worth tweaking. But I don't recommend buying it, especially if you get discouraged easily.

5-0 out of 5 stars Meatless cooking for everyone, November 9, 2007
I've been a ovo-lacto veg for nearly 20 years, and own several shelves of cookbooks (from Mollie Katzen to Frances Moore Lappe, Seppo Ed Farrey to Laurel Robertson, Deborah Madison to Madhur Jaffrey.) When I stopped eating meat, I first picked up Moosewood and Diet for a Small Planet. The differences between their approaches to vegetarianism and vegetarian cooking were stark. Mollie made easy, tasty food that just happened to be meatless, while Frances labored to assemble combinations of amino acids that she called food (oh, Lord, the loaves!) Where Frances wrote a cookbook about politics and economics, Mollie wrote a cookbook about food.

Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" is of the latter camp. This is not a screed against meat, it's not a holier-than-thou polemic about the destruction caused by meat production. It's a book about tasty food that just happens to be meatless.

For a popular food writer and TV host of Bittman's status to have assembled nearly 1,000 pages of recipes and instruction for cooking without meat is a coup for the vegetarian community. By demystifying what it means to eat meatless to a mainstream, primarily non-veg audience, Bittman is providing solace to all those vegetarians who tire of answering questions and defending their diet to others. By including familiar dishes like Tuscan style white beans, risotto, and chili, Bittman leads the reader to ingredients like tofu, seitan, nori, gai lan, and kohlrabi, rendering these ingredients more familiar to a broader audience. Ultimately, the mainstreaming of vegetarian eating and cooking is a win-win for everyone, and for his efforts in this direction I thank Mark Bittman.

3-0 out of 5 stars Finally a General All Purpose Cook Book for Vegetarians, November 12, 2007
If you don't own the original "How to Cook Everything" this is a great buy and may truly the only book you'll ever need. It covers everything from baking to desserts sans the meat.

Thumbing through it at my local book store I noticed most of the recipes in this book are in the first "How To Cook Everything." To be fair the vegetarian version expands on tofu, beans, grains and pastas. Still for me, this wasn't enough reason to buy it. However, if I hadn't owned the first book I would have bought this without hesitation.

5-0 out of 5 stars What's a Flexitarian?, January 28, 2008


By Mark Bittman

Review by Marty Martindale

Julia Child once said of Deborah Madison's cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, "You don't need to be a vegetarian. Simply cook up a piece of meet along side." And this holds true for Bittman's new, 996-page, Vegetarian cookbook. Bittman states, "Increasingly, Americans are becoming `flexitarians,' a recently invented word that describes both vegetarians who aren't that strict and meat-eaters who are striving for a more health-conscious, planet-friendly diet." So, regardless of your eating persuasion, Bittman's book is a great reference book for many variations on his quickly adaptable recipes affording variety for all.

This book also addresses the cooking beginner. For instance, at the start of each section, be it fruit or veggies, wheat, grains, soups or desserts, each category, he carefully lines out cutting, preparation and handling details. Bittman is very much a method man, and he shares liberally. He stints not on: vegetables, tofu, herbs, breads, spices, chiles and sweets. Here's just some of the varieties he offers for recipes in this book:

23 Salads that Make Great Meals
3 varieties of Egg Hash
7 Pancake Variations
6 variations of Cheese Fondue, also 12 great additions to fondue
18 additions to Stir-Fried Vegetables
25 Dipping Sauces for Battered and Fried Vegetables
25 dishes in which to use Grilled Vegetables (includes 5 pages for grilling veggies)
35 ways to make Twice-Baked Potatoes
25 varieties of Vegetable Gratins
18 Stuffed Vegetables
48 Stuffings for Stuffed Vegetables
15 Alternative Toppings for Pasta
13 Sauces, Salsas or Condiments for Fast Pasta Sauces
39 Vegetable and Legume Dishes that can be tossed with Pasta
5 Pasta and Nut Butter Combinations
39 dishes that can be Stir-Fried with Asian Noodles
3 pages of charts for cooking Everyday Grains
15 Legumes Recipes
12 combos for Beans and Greens
15 ideas for Pizza Toppings
14 Cold Sandwiches
13 Hot Sandwiches
9 Wraps
10 Taco and Burrito ideas
8 ideas for Chile Pastes
12 ideas for Flavoring Mayonnaise
11 Yoghurt Sauces
27 Chutneys
15 basic and exotic Ice Cream Flavors
6 pages menu suggestions
17 pages of Recipes coded for : Fast, Make Ahead and/or Vegan.
63 index pages

As a particular, for instance, see page 430 and his Grilled Watermelon Steak. He suggests you serve it with lemon wedges, or Mexican-style, rubbed with his homemade chili powder, page 814. Bittman's take on food is amazing! I think every household can benefit from owning this book.

Visit Marty Martindale's website: Food Site of the Day.

5-0 out of 5 stars Encylopedic No Matter Your Semantics About "Vegetarian", November 8, 2007
I like Mark Bittman's columns and his TV shows. He writes and cooks in a no-nonsense way that makes me trust his recipes (and they have yet to fail for me). As a thirty year vegetarian and twelve year serious home baker/cook, I have amassed many great cook books and several so-so ones. This one is among the tops for its exhaustive selection of recipes; clear, easy-to-follow directions; insightful notes; and clean layout.

Even though Mr. Bittman admits to enjoying meat throughout the text, clearly a little too often for some readers, I'm glad he didn't shun meatless meals and created this cookbook. Not all the recipes are healthy and I'm okay with that. With this many recipes I'm sure you'll find one or two (or a dozen!) to disagree with.

I recommend this cookbook both as a solid companion for experienced cooks as well as a good choice to those just starting out. I won't say that it's the only cookbook you'll ever need because I don't think there's any such beast but it certainly would do for quite some time. ... Read more

34. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
by Daniel H. Pink
Hardcover (2009-12-29)
list price: $26.95 -- our price: $15.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1594488843
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Sales Rank: 275
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people--at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink explains in his new and paradigm- shattering book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does--and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it's precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today's challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:

*Autonomy- the desire to direct our own lives
*Mastery- the urge to get better and better at something that matters
*Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.

Drive is bursting with big ideas-- the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.
... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars Biased and selective presentation of important ideas
Before plunking down your credit card for a copy of Drive, by Dan Pink, consider making do with just his TED talk. The talk contains the substance of this book without the excess padding.

The book has about 250 pages. One hundred fifty or so of those are for the basic content. It includes the Introduction and Parts I and II (chapters one through six).

The other hundred pages are a "Toolkit." This includes some material that didn't seem to fit anywhere else, a glossary, a recap of Drive, twenty conversation starters (useful at cocktail parties), a reading list, and a fitness plan. That's forty percent of the book. And none of it helps you put what you've read to work.

The core points of the book are covered in the TED talk. You can listen to it in about fifteen minutes or read it in about ten. You won't get the fitness plan or the conversation starters. You will get the essence of Pink's message.

If you're a boss or concerned about leadership, you need to become familiar with that message. The ideas are important. Pink's rendering of them, for good or ill, will define and influence the discussion of motivation in business for quite a while.

He does get the big picture right. He says that people would prefer activities where they can pursue three things.

Autonomy: People want to have control over their work.

Mastery: People want to get better at what they do.

Purpose: People want to be part of something that is bigger than they are.

This matches research that I've done with class members for over twenty-five years. They discuss a time when "it was great to come to work" and then create a description of what those times are like. The descriptions vary slightly in wording but always include the following.

Interesting and meaningful work.
Clear and reasonable expectations.
Frequent and usable feedback.
Maximum control possible over work life.

I'm describing the kinds of workplaces where intrinsic motivation happens. Pink is describing three things that provide that kind of motivation. In most highly effective workplaces, it's the boss that is the most important force creating an environment when intrinsic motivation can happen.

Top management sets the basic compensation and benefits structure. If that isn't perceived as fair and consistent, natural intrinsic motivation won't kick in.

It's your individual supervisor who has the biggest effect on your daily working environment. That's why there are pockets of excellence in otherwise horrid companies and why even the best companies have workers who are unhappy and teams that are unproductive.

This book won't give you the connection from concept to workplace. But Pink does deliver many key ideas that matter.

Key Idea: There is a difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Key Idea: Intrinsic motivators are more powerful.

Key Idea: If you use monetary rewards to get people to perform the way you want, those rewards may have the opposite effect.

These are important things for a boss to know, but if you only have Drive to guide you, you will get some things very wrong.

The examples that are used are heavily weighted toward academic and consulting studies. It's not apparent that Pink talked to a single worker or frontline supervisor. The book would have been more helpful if he had.

There are some pre-requisites to having intrinsic motivation kick in. Pink mentions in passing that there needs to be fair compensation in place. That's true, but it's not an "oh-by-the-way" point. It's Maslow's Hierarchy in work clothes.

Throughout the book, Pink equates "monetary" incentives with "extrinsic motivation." That ignores praise, promotion, preferment (in scheduling, eg), the admiration of peers, time off, and a host of other positive incentives. It also skews the discussion toward academic studies and away from the real workplace.

Pink also presents the issue as if it were intrinsic motivators (good) versus extrinsic motivators (not good). In the TED talk he even says "This is the titanic battle between these two approaches."

That's not how things work in the real world. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and their effects interact. You don't have a simple choice of which lever to pull. You have to understand and influence a complex system.

Those shortcomings are important. They derive from one of the most important things to understand if you've going to study this material critically and turn it to good use.

Pink has written this book like a political speech. He writes to make a point, not to present a balanced argument.

Like a good speech writer, Pink uses language that implies value judgments. He uses terms like "humanistic psychology" for things he agrees with. When he doesn't agree he uses terms like "rat-like seeking."

Like a good speech writer, Pink makes sweeping statements without providing support for them. "Sometimes" and "a surprisingly large proportion of the time" are used with no indication of what they actually mean. He says that sales quotas "can be effective," but doesn't tell you when or how often.

Like a good speech writer, Pink leaves out things that don't support his simplified message. There's no mention of studies that support the use of rewards in business settings.

Like a good speech writer, Pink boils his facts down to only the ones that support his argument. If all you read was Drive, you would think that the work of Deci and Ryan is about the superiority of intrinsic motivators to extrinsic in all situations.

But their work is more complex than Pink describes it. It includes analysis of effective extrinsic motivators as well as extrinsic motivators that are counter-productive.

Like a good speech writer, pink, picks up studies from one sphere and applies them elsewhere without telling you what he's doing. Deci and Ryan have done admirable and important work, but it's on motivation in personal development, not in the workplace.

Like a good speech writer, Pink ignores contradictions. He describes a horrid, slave ship workplace ruled by carrots and sticks. Later he mentions that most "flow" experiences happen at work.

Pink tells us about "20 percent" time for creativity at Google and Atlassian. But he doesn't discuss why they only offer their intrinsic reward of creativity to engineers and not the other workers in the company.

Like a good speech writer, Pink sets up the straw man of "Motivation 2.0" so that he's easy to knock down. And, inconvenient truths are sometimes mentioned in passing and then never heard from again.

The Bottom Line

You should learn what's in this book because, for better or worse, it is influencing the conversation about what makes a great workplace. But because of the presentation and selective use of facts, you can't rely on this book alone to help you do a better job as a boss.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just as important as "A Whole New Mind"

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Daniel Pink's new book follows well in the tradition of "A Whole New Mind," as he picks up on a new trend and explains it well. This time it's the apparent paradox of motivation - why do some people like Google pay their staff to regularly work on projects of their own choosing when they could be working hard on what they were hired to do?

Pink shows that there has always been monetary motivation, but that has lost its attractiveness as we've moved from the "top-down" management system to the more heuristic style (workers being free to decide how to do their jobs). He points out that repetitive jobs lend themselves more to traditional rewards, whereas money doesn't seem to motivate innovation.

I used to work for a major corporation (which we'll call "EMC," because that is their name). Pretty much everyone I met had responsibility for something, to the degree that supervisors were enablers - you went to them and told them what to do. Supervisors could (and sometimes did) give you reasons why not, but they weren't about to come into your cubicle and micromanage you. And the wider your responsibility, the harder you worked.

This system was totally unlike anything I'd come across before. Most businesses would act as though their employees couldn't be trusted. And although I was looking behind me nervously, I shone in this environment, and now I realized that's what they wanted from me.

Pink mentions Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (if that's new to you, look it up on Wikipedia), and I think he is right that now that there's a relatively well-paid group of workers, they can ask for something more than basic salary. As Pink puts it, we need to feel that the work we do is worthwhile, and thus we move to the top of Maslow's pyramid and realize esteem and self-actualization.

Hopefully you will have recognized some of the tenets of your organization. However, I think it's unlikely that all Pink's principles will have been adopted, so get this book now. It gives you a great deal to think about, and in the last section, Pink quotes people that have influenced his thinking.

Whether you run a company or see yourself as "just an employee," you need to read this. It shows pretty much everything to know about what will drive you or your staff to much better performance. It involves more than having an employee of the week, and you may find that if you work in a place that doesn't use these principles you may have to change jobs. But it will be worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Real Winner

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Daniel Pink has written a highly interesting and very informative book on the truth about what motivates us.

He uses a very interesting analogy - comparing motivation to different generations of operating software. Motivation 1.0 the basic operating system for the first few thousand years was based on the primary needs of the human - food, shelter, clothing and reproduction. Eventually we moved to Motivation 2.0 - basically the carrot and the stick - reward and punishment worked fairly well for a time.

But according to Pink and other scientist, reward and punishment no longer work in most situations. We need to move to Motivation 3.0.

Pink goes into great detain about why the carrot and stick motivation does not work. "The traditional `If then' rewards can give us less of what we want. They extinguish intrinsic motivation, diminish performance, crush creativity and crowd out good behavior. The can encourage unethical behavior, create addictions and foster short-term thinking. These are the bugs in our current operating system."

The "if then" reward/punishment system does work under very limited conditions. Pink explores these.

He then introduces the I Type and X Type behavior - named for intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Type I behavior concerns itself less with external rewards and more with doing things for the joy of doing them.

There are three elements to the I Type behavior: Autonomy - we all long to be autonomous - to have control over our lives and destiny. To the extent that we don't have autonomy we feel something missing. The second element is Mastery. We need to learn to master the tasks we are undertaking. The third element is Purpose. We need to "buy in" to why we are doing things. There needs to be a reason.

The final section of the book is a Toolkit section where there are strategies for individuals, companies, tips on compensation, suggestions for education and suggested reading.

This is highly entertaining and thought provoking. At some time we all face the challenge of trying to motivate others. For the most part we have relied on the reward/punishment approach. You will learn why this does not work and a better approach to motivation no matter who you are working with.

The book is well written and there are many references to back up the claims made. I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The "Light Bulb" turns on in your brain
Okay, so that's the way it really works!

Every now and then, I come along a book that challenges enough lifelong assumptions I've held about myself and others to be "enlightening", and this is such a book.

The book is easy to read and accessible, and the research backing up the author's conclusions are also laid out to impact.

I spent the first hour reading this book sitting next to my wife, and about every 3-4 minutes, I'd blurt out "Did you know . . ." or "I never knew . . . " and then read her a passage. A day later, the book was gone from the end table next to the sofa, and my wife had absconded with it. If you are a professional or manager, you will see major implications into your own behavior and that of others. If you are just reading out of interest, you will learn a lot about yourself I haven't seen in another place.

The writing is worthy of the exciting revelations -- fresh and vigorous, making the book as enjoyable for me as it was informative.


5-0 out of 5 stars If you hate your job, this book will help you understand why
I read 39 books in 2009, just "a few" shy of my goal of 50. Thanks to a little nudge from some friends I've set my 2010 sights just a little bit higher: a book a week, for a total of 52. I got the list off to a good start this weekend when I finished this latest from Dan Pink. Interestingly, one of the first books I read in 2009 was also one of his, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

In that previous book, as the title suggests, Pink describes the type of workers that will emerge - actually are emerging - to solve the complex business and social problems now facing us. Taking that as a starting point in Drive, Pink provides some guidance on what will be necessary to "manage" these new types of worker by exploring the what motivates these workers to perform. Or, as the title put its, what drives them.

Part One of the book explores the evolution of the motivation "operating systems" at play throughout human history and how the science of motivation is leading us to version 3.0 of that Motivation OS. Or, at least, how it should be leading us to this new version. I found it fascinating that much of what Pink describes in the book is not new at all, but has been known for several decades. Known and ignored. Known and actively buried buy those who just couldn't believe it or didn't want to accept what it meant for them and their positions of control within organizations. Fascinating reading.

At the end of Part One, Pink delves into the differences between workers who are intrinsically (Type I) and extrinsically (Type X) motivated, and leads right into Part Two, which explores the three elements that make up Type I behavior: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The chapters for each of these elements includes some insight into each, along with practical examples of what they mean.

Part Three is the "Type I Toolkit", which includes suggestions, reading lists, and other tools for individuals and organizations to help them become more Type I. As Pink says, Type I's are made, not born, and this toolkit can help you remake yourself, or your organization, as a Type I.

Perhaps the most damning statement about the current state of affairs, at least in my mind, comes in the sentence: "Unfortunately...the modern workplace's most notable feature may be its lack of engagement and its disregard for mastery." Longtime readers of my blogs know that mastery is a concept I've long thought and written about. Pink's chapter on mastery in the context of work pulls together many ideas that I've struggled with over the years. This chapter alone was worth the price of the book.

All the rest is an excellent bonus.

5-0 out of 5 stars I am giving this book to my son's school
One of the most helpful things that I took from this book is the varying value of rewards. I had noticed that bribing my son for even little things led to some less than desirable long-term results; I loved reading the research to back it up.

One measure of a powerful book is whether it leads to action. I just ordered a second copy for my son's middle school faculty library. It's my personal mission now to encourage them to include free-style learning/creating days in the curriculum. It's a pretty conservative school so I'll have my work cut out for me. Thanks for providing the inspiration, Dan! ... Read more

35. Cook This, Not That! Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals
by David Zinczenko, Matt Goulding
list price: $19.99 -- our price: $10.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1605291471
Publisher: Rodale Books
Sales Rank: 380
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Tired of always being too hungry (and tired!) to make smart food choices? Ever wonder why the less food you try to eat, the more fat you seem to gain? Ready to start enjoying all your favorite foods and never see an ounce of weight gain? Cook This, Not That! Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals is the ultimate cookbook for people who love to eat—even if they don’t love to cook. The authors of the best-selling diet and weight loss series Eat This, Not That! teach you how easy it is to turn the expensive and unhealthy foods in America’s restaurants into fat-blasting superfoods that cost just pennies—and take just minutes to make!

Can you believe…

*At Olive Garden, an order of Chicken Parmigiana will cost you half a day’s calories—and a day and a half’s worth of sodium! Cook our Chicken Parm recipe at home and save 730 calories and $9.94!

*At T.G.I.Friday’s, a Santa Fe Chopped Salad carries a whopping 1,800 calories—the equivalent of three Pepperoni Personal Pan Pizzas from Pizza Hut! (You call that a salad???) Try the Cook This, Not That! home version and save 1,460 calories!

*Hungry for a panini? At Panera Bread, the Italian Combo on Ciabatta comes loaded with more than 1,000 calories and a side of 45 grams of fat! (In less time than it takes to order their version, you can whip up ours and save 690 calories)

With this illustrated guide to hundreds of delicious, simple, lightning-quick recipes—along with the nutrition secrets that lead to fast and permanent weight loss—you’ll make the smartest choices for you and your family every time.

Additional features in Cook This, Not That: Easy & Awesome 350 –Calorie Meals include:

  • A step-by-step illustrated guide to every cooking technique you’ll ever need to know

  • The 50 Best Foods in the Supermarket

  • The Milk Shake Matrix

  • The Rules of the Grill

  • 12 Ways to Better a Burger

  • The World’s Best Condiments

  • And more!

... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars TOTAL KNOCKOUT!, October 12, 2010
I am shocked at how engrossed I am with this book. I want to cook every single recipe! The biggest surprise--aside from learning how many calories I could save by cooking for myself--was how motivating the recipes are. Beautiful pictures and simplified cooking tips turn complex dishes into super-easy recipes. Many of the recipes even come with variations in case you can't find a certain ingredient or just want more variety. Here are my four favorites so far:

*Red Pepper Alfredo - AMAZING dish, and I saved 830 calories and $10 over the same meal at Olive Garden.

*Loaded Calzone - Far easier than I ever imagined, and I saved 1,025 (!) calories and $4.50 over Pizza Hut's Meaty P'Zone Pizza

*French Toast Stuffed with Strawberries -Whole-wheat toast stuffed with ricotta cheese, strawberries, honey, and almonds. Yum. I will definitely be making this again! And I saved 810 calories and $11.40 over IHOP's version.

*Curry with Cauliflower & Butternut Squash - I had no idea I was capable of making curry. Or that I could save 717 calories and $8.50 in the process.

My kitchen skills are improving, I'm motivated to cook, and I already feel healthier. And if I don't feel like cooking one night, I'll just dive into the chapter dedicated to 10-minute meals. That should be easy enough. Though, to be honest, nothing I've cooked so far has taken me much more than 20.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome utility!, December 2, 2010
I bought this book at Walmart (paid a lot more for it there) and it was completely worth it. So far, I have tried a half dozen of the recipes, and ALL of them have been a huge success. One reviewer rights about how it is only restraunt selections..... false. At the bottom of each ORIGINAL recipe in here, they show what a restaurant alternative is, and how much money and calories you save by cooking at home. Also helpful in this book is new cooking tips and techniques. For example, as a southerner - I love fried foods. This book showed me how to "oven fry" foods to have that familiar taste and crispy outside without all the extra calories from submerging foods in hot grease. Other techniques in this book that have been helpful are how to braise meats and use the natural drippings to make your own sauces while cooking, increasing the natural flavor of dishes.

2 weeks in, 11 pounds down

5 Stars in my book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Foodies and Flunkies, November 4, 2010
I'm a recent college student turned amateur chef. This book not only educated me on healthy food I should be cooking, but how to cook it easily. Many of the ingredients can be found in local grocery stores and recipes aren't complicated. That being said- the food is delicious. As a former junk food binge eater, I almost don't taste how good the food is for me.

Very well-written and educational, but also personal.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book, November 28, 2010
I can not say enough good things about this book. The recipes are delicious and very easy to make. I have also found that I can buy fresh ingredients and use them for other recipes in the same book. I have been eating out of this book for about 2 months now and find the recipes easy. I had to eat processed food the other day and felt so sick afterwards. This has made meal planning in my house easier also. LOVE LOVE LOVE all the books, but this one is by far my favorite. Thank you!

5-0 out of 5 stars 350 Calorie Wonderful Meals, December 17, 2010
Excellent! Everything I have tried has been successful and utterly delicious. I am having a wonderful time cooking with these recipes. There are wonderful choices for each meal and the techniques learned are most helpful and easily adapted to cooking in general. I already had on hand most of the ingredients. I was surprised and delighted when I started falling in love again with my cast iron skillet. Who would have thought carmelized onions could be a staple in our diets! The selections turn out just like the beautiful pictures! I am ordering two more for family!

5-0 out of 5 stars This book ROCKS!!!, December 4, 2010
This book is perfect for the dieter who doesn't want to let go of all flavors in life that many times dieting will do. It's a very simple, easy to follow book with amazing recipes! The key lime pie recipe is to die for!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good ideas for cooking healthier, November 17, 2010
This gives me a better idea of how to prepare the meals I like with healthier ingredients cooking with less fat.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great recipes, November 7, 2010
This book is well worth the investment in healthy cooking. Every recipe we have tried has been great.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Resource!, November 19, 2010
This book has a ton of useful information on just about everything food related. I've only thumbed through it so far, and haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but there are several that sound great and I can't wait to try them out. The only downfall I see to this little book is some of the recipes require things I will never already have on hand, and some require ingredients that I would have to travel to a specialty store to pick up. Most of them won't require anything special though.

That said, my plan is to start at the beginning, and work my way through, making the recipes that I can do without having to go out of my way. Some items they require are used again in other recipes so not a big deal to buy them as they will get used, but others... I'd be better off skipping them completely.

I'm definitely glad I picked up this book, and am looking forward to cooking with it. The portion sizes seem to be fair as well as I can figure form reading ingredients and looking at number of servings, so I don't think I will be starving anytime soon! ... Read more

36. Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby
by Annabel Karmel
list price: $16.00 -- our price: $7.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0743289579
Publisher: Atria
Sales Rank: 320
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Babies grow more rapidly in their first year than at any other time in their lives, so how you feed your newborn will be one of the most important decisions you make for your new baby.

Making your own baby food is not only more economical than buying commercial brands, it also assures that your child consumes only the freshest, top-quality ingredients. British television personality and children's nutrition expert Annabel Karmel's essential collection of best-ever purees grants new parents their wish: one hundred quick and easy recipes that will make for a healthy and happy baby. From first tastes and weaning, right through to meals for older babies, all the recipes are suitable for children aged six months and older. And with all these fruit and vegetable favorites, and innovative fish, meat, and chicken purees, the dishes are so tasty you will want to eat them yourself!

In addition to easy and delicious recipes, Top 100 Baby Purees also includes information on:

  • Weaning your baby and transitioning to solid foods
  • Food allergies
  • Time-saving food preparation tips
  • Freezing and reheating your homemade baby food
  • Tricks on finding the hidden nutrition in everyday foods

Featuring a preface by Dr. Michel Cohen, New York pediatrician and author of The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent ... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource, Wonderful Recipes, But Be Careful, December 29, 2006
I am so glad I bought this book; it agrees with my philosophy about shaping children's palates early, using whole foods, and organic eating in general. The recipes are easy and delicious, and give you ideas for all the way into toddlerhood. I love the inclusion of recipes using meat, fish, and chicken. My daughter has loved everything I have made from this book so far; my husband and I have even eaten a few- with salt and seasoning added for adult taste- and enjoyed them.

I do, however, agree with Lynn W.- USE WISDOM with certain recipes, since the author does not seem to follow the AAP's recommendations about when to introduce certain foods, and seems to lack a current understanding about food allergies in children. There are lots of recipes with cow's milk, tomatoes, and citrus, for example, for very young babies.

Otherwise, I highly recommend this book as an excellent resource.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what I was looking for...but I'm still glad I ordered it!, July 3, 2006
My daughter is turning eight months this week. She is not eating textured foods yet or finger foods, but she is getting bored with one-ingredient foods and bland food like just sweet potatoes by themselves, so I'm starting to make her some varied purees with different ingredients and spices. Hence, why I ordered this book!

What I was expecting to find was exactly what the title said...100 puree recipes. Not a book divided into ages with age-appropriate recipes. The first section tells you how to steam and puree vegetables and fruits. Then moves on to 6 month old foods, and then 7-9 month foods and then 9-12 month recipes which aren't even purees. They look more like recipes I would make for my husband and I, not that it's a bad thing at all, because we want her eating what we're eating in a few months!

I'm not returning the book, because some of the recipes look awesome and I can't wait to try them, but it's not what I was looking for at all when I ordered it. It really should be retitled to something other than Top 100 Baby Purees when that's not really what it is.

But the BEST part of this book that is so different than other books is that it has some great puree recipes for chicken and beef and fish, and I haven't been able to find that anywhere else. And the recipes call for onion and garlic, which are two ingredients that my husband cook a lot with, so it's going to be a good cookbook for us. So, three stars for the quality of the book and the ease of the recipes which I can tell already by reading them since I'm an experienced cook, but a two star deduction for the bad title.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Great Food, February 1, 2007
I bought this book looking for homemade baby food recipes and got so much more. Besides having lots of tasty recipes for each stage of your baby's development it provides valuable nutritional iformation. Each recipe is easy to follow and easy to make. The best part is that they actually taste good! I usually spend 3-4 hours over 2 days to make enough baby food to last a month. A tip, pick a few recipes that use similar ingredients and as Rachel Ray says, "Use it twice, chop it once."

To make my life easier most recipes are suitable to freeze. I freeze them in 1 ounce ice cube trays (mostly the fruit purees to add to yogurt, cottage cheese, or baby cereal) and in 4 ounce portions (for the more complete meals). Some of my baby's favorites are the Lovely Lentils, Apple-Mango Puree (mixed with plain yogurt), and the Sweet Potato with Spinach and Peas. I love this book and I love knowing my baby is eating healthy, tasty food that I've prepared.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, But Use With Caution, June 26, 2006
This is a great baby cook book. My son liked almost all the meals I made out of the recipes and they even tasted good to me. It is a fine book with colorful pictures which made it fun to read and use.

But it is more a book for babies who are less likely to develop food allergies or negative reactions because of the use of some ingridients like cow's milk, orange juice and various spices. Furthermore, trust your own judgement and that of your doctors' on when to introduce certain foods because the author's opinions do not always comply with the recommendations made by The American Academy of Pediatrics.

If you are free of those concerns, I would highly recommend it to you!

1-0 out of 5 stars Terrible, April 19, 2009
This book is very, very wrong about a lot of things. I asked my pediatrician about what I could feed my baby and a lot of things in this book he said NO. The time frame is awful. You are not supposed to give babies butter, onions, fish, eggs at 6 months of age. I will not use my book anymore and will get a new one.

5-0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT for easy first time moms, April 29, 2008
I am a full time working basically single mom. I thought, "there is no way I can add making baby food to my list of things to do! I am just too busy!!" But as soon as I got this book, I began. And it's been 3 weeks straight of preparing my own home-made food for my 7 month old son....who has LOVED EVERY SINGLE THING.
I made the pears-apple-cinnamon recipe...and took leftovers to work for myself! hehe
It is very easy to follow, great recipes, easy to read through, organized well, and I don't have a single complaint. Thank you Ms. Karmel for giving me the tools to do it myself. :-)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book proves it's easy to DIY!!, February 8, 2007
I decided to try making my own baby food for my third child and I am SO sad that I waited!! Using recipes in this book I have made all sorts of different foods and he LOVES them. He is 7 months old and today he had broccoli and sweet potato and he couldn't get enough. My other kids never did like broccoli -- still don't.

The fruit purees are so yummy that I have been known to steal a few bites myself. And I love knowing exactly what is going into my little guy's body. These recipes are easy, add alot of variety to their diet, and are simple to understand. I spent two hours yesterday and two hours the day before and now I have a freezer full of little cubes. They are ready to thaw and eat and I have enough to last about six weeks. And I think I spent about $20 on ingredients. With my older kids I would spend that much in a week on the jarred stuff.

Give homemade baby food a try. This book is a great start, and the recipes aren't "out there" like some of the other books. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!, August 2, 2007
This book is awesome. A quick word of advice for breastfeeding mothers. If you don't plan on feeding your baby a lot of solid foods until fully weaned do not make a lot of this food at one time. I made 5-6 recipes one day to stock my freezer, one month later I'm going to have to toss out some of it to make room for new foods as she is now 7 mo. old and ready to eat heavier stuff. The Trio of Vegetables recipe is a HIT and she voraciously eats it whenever I put that one in front of her. I love it too as it relieves any constipation she may get while breastfeeding.
I bought this book along with the "Blender Baby Food." Both are great, however this is my favorite as I like being able to see pictures. If you want to make your child's food please note, it IS easy and fun to do...I can't tell you how many people gave me a hard time for wanting to make my own and are now jealous that I don't have to go to the store, nor deal with all those empty jars. Ice cube tray's and ziplock bags are all that are needed to store the food. Highly recommended. You can probably get away with just this book as there are SO many recipes I doubt I'll ever get around to making them before she begins eating the real deal!

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice book, BUT be careful with some recipes, November 23, 2007
For example, there are recipes with fish and cheese for ages 7-9, while fish are not reccomended for babies until 2 years of age and cheese for babies until 12 months. Then scrambled eggs for ages 9-12 months - babies should not have egg whites until 12 months and the later you introduce them the better. The author might be a good cook, but she definitely doesn't know anything about what are babies NOT supposed to eat to prevent allergies and other problems.

1-0 out of 5 stars Check with your family doctor or pediatrician first!, July 3, 2009
I recommend checking with your Family Physician or Pediatrician before following the advice in this book. Butter, tomatoes, cow's milk/cheese, and citrus before age 1? Not advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics! Not to mention whole eggs, strawberries, and canned tuna. The bio on the author does not state she has any nutritional education whatsoever. Buyer beware. ... Read more

37. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights
by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
list price: $27.95 -- our price: $15.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0385529694
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Sales Rank: 327
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is a lifestyle guide for the Francophile and the Anglomaniac, the gourmet and the style maven, the armchair traveler and the art lover. It’s an homage to the esoteric world of glamour that doesn’t require much spending but makes us feel rich.

Taking a cue from the exotic encyclopedias of the sixteenth century, which brimmed with mysterious artifacts, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins’s Encyclopedia of the Exquisite focuses on the elegant, the rare, the commonplace, and the delightful. A com­pendium of style, it merges whimsy and practicality, traipsing through the fine arts and the worlds of fashion, food, travel, home, garden, and beauty.

Each entry features several engaging anecdotes, illuminating the curious past of each enduring source of beauty. Subjects covered include the explosive history of champagne; the art of lounging on a divan; the emergence of “frillies,” the first lacy, racy lingerie; the ancient uses of sweet-smelling saffron; the wild riot incited by the appearance of London’s first top hat; Julia Child’s tip for cooking the perfect omelet; the polarizing practice of wearing red lipstick during World War II; Louis XIV’s fondness for the luscious Bartlett pear; the Indian origin of badminton; Parliament’s 1650 attempt to suppress Europe’s beauty mark fad; the evolution of the Japanese kimono; the pil­grimage of Central Park’s Egyptian obelisk; and the fanciful thrill of dining alfresco.

Cleverly illustrated, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is an ode to life’s plenty, from the extravagant to the eccentric. It is a cele­bration of luxury that doesn’t necessarily require money.
... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars Lives up to it's name, November 12, 2010
Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is a fantastically delightful read. It was clear when I read the introduction that the author and I are kindred spirits. This book engages the little girl in me who thought the glass doorknobs on our old house were made of diamonds and clearly had magical powers. Each entry is it's own adventure, like a peephole into a bygone era. The author writes clearly and beautifully, making each bit come to life on the page and the illustrations are gorgeous!
I'm having to force myself to read only a little at a time to make it last longer, like I'd do with a fancy bar of chocolate. I'm already wondering if she'll consider a second volume, as I am now noticing exquisite things all around me that I'd love to know the story of. I know I'll be giving copies to friends for years to come, beginning with this Christmas!

5-0 out of 5 stars earthly delights, December 6, 2010
From Nectar and Ambrosia to Sequins, from Omelets to Frilly Lingerie, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins has compiled a handbook of pleasures, a guide to refinements, both exotic and humble. Readable and whimsical, it's a book to savor, like a big box of chocolate Truffles, which sublime fungus, of course, merits an entry--and a recipe. This is not a frivolous compendium; Jenkins has done serious research, so readers learn the Venetian origins of the Umbrella, and how it was used by Thai acrobats in performance. She also understands that the exquisite is not limited to the material world, and there are entries on Twilight, Wanderers, Far Niente, and the elusive Quintessence. There is an extensive bibliography, too, for those whose curiosity has been inflamed. And as an object, the book itself is exquisite, with deckle-edged pages, and a binding stamped with gold.

5-0 out of 5 stars a total delight, December 11, 2010
A delicious book. Kerwin-Jenkins has done meticulous research to bring us bits of way-off-the-wall history. Each entry is more fascinating than the preceding one. Did you know about the Elephantine Colossus at Coney Island, one of three huge buildings shaped like the animal that were all the rage at the turn of the century. A big blue one at the Paris World's Fair in 1899. Only one remains, the 65-foot Lucy at the Jersey Shore. And that is just the "E's!
This is a jewel of a book to be savored very slowly.

5-0 out of 5 stars awesome writer!!, December 2, 2010
Each entry not only enlightening, but exquisitely written. This book is like a sequence of prose poems inspired by Joseph Cornell. I hope it's only the first of many volumes!

5-0 out of 5 stars deightful book, November 12, 2010
So engaging and well written is the Encyclopedia of the Exquisite. the illustrations are beautiful as is the general design of the book. it has been a surprisingly fun and educational read. can't wait to give it as a gift...
( make sure to read the introduction!)

5-0 out of 5 stars Get a copy for every room!, November 15, 2010
The title says it all - wonderful vignettes about well known as well as obscure treasures. I want a copy for every room of the house - I am delighted every time I pick it up.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful find!, November 10, 2010
This is one of those great treasuries that you and your friends can revisit time and time again. Entertaining, amusing, and extremely interesting, this timeless catalog of the extraordinary makes a great holiday/birthday/housewarming gift. More sophisticated than your average "coffee table" book but not so high-brow that it can't be enjoyed by one and all. Each entry is a gem and the book surpasses the sum of the parts. I stumbled onto this and I'm glad I did!

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm buying more to give as gifts this year, November 7, 2010
I absolutely do not regret this purchase. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is exquisite itself. It's a beautiful book filled with charming illustrations, anecdotes and facts about historical figures and phenomena of all kinds. Kerwin is an excellent writer who has clearly done serious research with an impressively wide reach, but she delivers is with wit and levity. Every entry is a short, concise piece so I have been picking it up and putting it down for days, skipping all around the book. I wish I had one in every room in the house. And it really is a beautiful book in itself. I am definitely buying a copy of this for everyone I know for Christmas. It's perfect.

2-0 out of 5 stars Oops!, December 2, 2010
I was interested in the book and clicked on the illustrated champange entry shown above. The very first sentence had a typo! These kinds of things are becoming routine and hardly elegant.

2-0 out of 5 stars Lack of Creativity in subjects - nothing new to report, November 22, 2010
While the book was well researched and I learned a few new things, I found the book extremely dull and boring. For example, the color black along with crickets, are labeled as "elegant delights." I like crickets and the color black is elegant but they are both predictable and nothing enlightening. I really wanted to like this book but in the end was bored and would not recommend it. ... Read more

38. Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything
by Geneen Roth
list price: $24.00 -- our price: $10.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1416543074
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 333
Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all.

If you suffer about your relationship with food -- you eat too much or too little, think about what you will eat constantly or try not to think about it at all -- you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don't run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself.

Since adolescence, Geneen Roth has gained and lost more than a thousand pounds. She has been dangerously overweight and dangerously underweight. She has been plagued by feelings of shame and self-hatred and she has felt euphoric after losing a quick few pounds on a fad diet. Then one day, on the verge of suicide, she did something radical: She dropped the struggle, ended the war, stopped trying to fix, deprive and shame herself. She began trusting her body and questioning her beliefs.

It worked. And losing weight was only the beginning.

She wrote about her discoveries in When Food Is Love, her first New York Times bestseller. She gave huge numbers of women their first insights into compulsive eating and she changed huge numbers of lives for the better.

Now, after more than three decades of studying, teaching and writing about what drives our compul-sions with food, Geneen adds a profound new dimension to her work in Women, Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God. But it doesn't stop there. Geneen shows how going beyond both the food and feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul to the bright center of your own life.

With penetrating insight and irreverent humor, Roth traces food compulsions from subtle beginnings to unexpected ends. She teaches personal examination, showing readers how to use their relationship with food to discover the fulfillment they long for.

Your relationship with food, no matter how conflicted, is the doorway to freedom, says Roth. What you most want to get rid of is itself the doorway to what you want most: the demystification of weight loss and the luminous presence that so many of us call "God."

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body...and almost everything else. Women, Food and God is, quite simply, a guide for life. ... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars "How We Eat is How We Live"--A Spiritual Perspective on Overeating, March 2, 2010
Geneen Roth hits a home run with her latest book about overeating and so much more in "Women Food and God". The theme of the book is that the way we eat, the way we think about food and handle ourselves around it is the way we do everything. The author then shows us how and why this is the case. She describes the food retreats she runs and the women who attend them, and as a reader you will surely identify in some way with every single person--and with the lesson she illustrates from their lives. This is a more complex book than her earlier books because of the spiritual dimension; she sees problems with overeating as gateways to spiritual enlightenment. She convinced me (and will convince you as well) that instead of trying to get rid of or fix our eating problems, we need to use them to see within ourselves, to learn important spiritual life lessons from our feelings, and to grow and heal so that we will end up eating as a spiritual practice. And so that we'll have a permanent end to the misery of always struggling with our weight and self-image, and always striving to improve our relationship with food.

The book is so good that for me, just reading it was like a spiritual awakening in this area of my life. I found it motivational, inspirational, and scary in a good way--and the author makes the whole process doable with descriptions of practices that can be used on the food healing/awakening journey such as meditation, inquiry, and eating guidelines. These practices are all specific to the process and they are described in detail. This spiritual dimension is generic and does not require a particular religious belief, or even any religious belief. It would be compatible with any type of spirituality. The type of eating practiced is intuitive eating (listening to your body to discern what it wants), and no matter what your way of eating, you can apply an intuitive approach to it--this book is about a way of living and relating to food, not about a food plan.

If you have read the author's other books (as I have) you will find much new information here. Other key themes of the book include mindfulness, presence, and feeling your feelings. The author is brutal but honest in describing how destructive the dieting industry is to women. Again, this is definitely not a diet book or eating plan, but instead a way of experiencing life which allows you to be present and aware so that you are able to listen to your body and choose food based on nourishment and self-care.

Although it is a quick read (I read it in one evening), this book is so valuable that you will want to refer back to it, highlight it for future reference, take notes in the margins, and use parts for journal prompts. There is only one negative, and it is a biggy: the paper in this hardback book is similar to super cheap mass market paperback-type paper. I have never seen an actual book of any type with such paper, though! I tried to highlight sections and the highlighter not only would bleed through to the reverse side of the page, but sometimes onto the previous page! It is hard to describe how frustrating this was---a book that is a true keeper on throw-away paper. I highlighted anyway and my book is a mess, but I decided to rebuy it on Kindle when it comes out. I've never done this before, but it's that good of a book--worth months (or maybe years) of therapy. I also would buy it again if it is reprinted (and I'll bet it will be) with a paper that matches the quality of the book.

That flaw aside, I'm so glad I bought this book. I have read many, many books on overeating, diet and nutrition, self-help, styles of eating, and more, and this book stands apart from the crowd. The message is an important one for any woman who wants to handle her relationship with food, her weight, and her spirituality in a healthy way, and to become whole. If that is you, you will not be disappointed, I promise.

Highest recommendation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read This and Start to Really Live Again, March 30, 2010
Wow, this book was wonderful. So well written, with humor and spiritual wisdom. Very powerful sentences throughout.
I have had eating disorders since my first diet at the age of 14. I remember getting a bit of approval for losing weight; even though I wasn't overweight to begin with. Thus started my long, sad, disordered eating story. I never did get the real love from my parents; but boy did I try to look good striving for it.
I continued to eat everything on my plate and be a "good girl". Certain foods were BAD, others GOOD. I was an excellent student. So, by the time I was an adult I am exactly as Geneen Roth describes herself - eating for every reason besides hunger. If I felt angry or lonely I'd eat. I'd binge when I couldn't express myself to those I wanted to be close to - family members and boyfriends. I was living on a field of death. I would get so tired of the yo yo, up and down with the weight gain and sorrow, then a time of eating healthy, and then cravings, and more binges.
Finally I understand more about this illness: Geneen makes it clear that I am distracting myself with the focus on this yo yo story. I now want to look at the truth, at all of me (short comings and positive traits), and start living. I don't need to be stuck in this compulsive eating hell. I no longer need my mom's approval, or anyone else's - just my own self- validation will do, thank you.
The guidelines and suggestions are helpful and yet, not so easy to follow; but well worth it for me. The spiritual guidelines and love throughout are priceless. Hello, I can really learn to love Eileen on a daily basis, around food, around work, my friends and family, anything (as long as I'm in the moment). Food is not love, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it, and eat it when I'm hungry and when I'm craving something. It all comes down to what Geneen calls THE VOICE; and I know very well that mine needed to change. I have started that change. My voice speaks slower now, and with more kindness towards myself. I don't judge food and I don't judge myself eating food (all kinds of food). I find that I am even being kinder to my husband lately; he noticed as well.
I have heard a lot of these ideas before, but the way they are presented in this book; it's like a Bible for compulsive overeaters. Keep it handy; I will refer to this book, and read it many times - as it is helping me create the habits I want, to be as close to God, and to a normal eater as I can get.
Thank you so much Ms.Roth for this creative work of art and compassion!

4-0 out of 5 stars THE Book About Relationships, March 21, 2010
What is happening in your life is reflected in your relationship with food. This is my one sentence summary of this book. When you think of it you realize that this is actually true and obvious, yet we needed the insight of Geneen Roth to open our eyes and point that obvious fact to most of us. The most eating disorders, whether starving or overeating, stem from our psychological problems and our inability to cope with them. If we are unhappy or broken-hearted, food is often relied upon as a quick and temporary fix to the underlying bigger problem that we are not able to deal with at this particular point in time.

This book is for all food addicts, which means for most of us. In our culture food is not only there for you when you are hungry. It also plays a major role in our social life. When you want to meet someone, you often meet them for lunch, dinner, coffee, tea, desert, etc. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we surround ourselves with food and this becomes a major problem when food turns to a drug to hide from our feelings, to anesthetize ourselves, or to escape.

But this is not all the book is about. The author shows the reader how going beyond the food and the feelings will take you into spirituality -- "to the bright center of your own life."

It is true that the way we eat mirrors the way we feel. But the opposite is also true. The author of the book titled "Your Body Maintenance Handbook" states that "by reducing sugar, meat, and coffee in our diet we can reduce aggressive behavior by 50%" He further cites old Japanese joke: "If a couple starts their day with a fight, they should recall what they ate the previous day"

1-0 out of 5 stars Doesn't Do It For Me, July 13, 2010
I am very happy for the people who find this book helpful, but I am not one of them. Some of this is quite logical, and it is certainly important to examine what your emotional motivation is for eating, but mindful eating is nothing new. I do not believe that every single thing you eat, you are eating for some deep, emotional reason. Sometimes, a piece of cake is just a piece of cake and I want it because it tastes phenomenal.

3-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, but Hard to Grasp, April 23, 2010
Women, Food & God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is a book that could help you stop overeating. However, Roth's ethereal language can make the concepts hard to grasp in practical terms. Plenty of "aha" moments, but these can be fleeting with Roth's airy way of nailing it down and applying it to your life.

If you want a tool to reinforce what you've learned after reading the book, try downloading Geneen Roth's MP3s. Be forewarned, I don't recommend listening to the MP3s unless you've read the book, and it can be an expensive proposition to purchase each track at almost $14 a piece.

Ultimately, the book opened my eyes for the first time to certain patterns of overeating. While the book forces you to be more thoughtful, it's still up to you to reinforce the patterns and learn the new habits she introduces. I wish there were a workbook or some kind of lesson plan we could use to help make everything stick.

Update! Since my complaint about the book is that it's too hard to put into practice by myself, I hope Geneen Roth's weekly Women Food & God online retreat from May 25 to June 29 might address that issue. Check out my site for weekly reviews of Roth's online seminar.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pedantic & Verbose, September 29, 2010
This material might have been better presented in a magazine article - and I still would not have liked it, but I would have wasted less time.

While I do not disagree with all of the author's ideas, I am immediately irritated by her delivery. Instead of, "This is my experience, perhaps you will find something useful in it," she seems to say, "This is my experience. This is the truth, and if you do not agree then you are in denial."

I'm glad I lent it from the library and did not run out and buy it as an enthusiastic friend suggested.

1-0 out of 5 stars Total disappointment, July 20, 2010
I just finished this book. I knew from the first page that it wasn't something that would resonate with me. My heart bleeds for the women in Geneen's retreats. It sounds as if they all need some major couch time with a good psychologist. The book is full of comments about these women's childhoods, mostly aimed at their mother's who did these women wrong and are the source of their eating disorders. Geneen herself seems to have been raised by a real doozy of a Mother....

I'm not trying to dismiss the correlation between self esteem issues caused by inept parents and all kinds of disorders (including eating disorders), but NOT everyone has the issues that the author seems to believe are the sole source of over-eating. Not everyone had a horrible Mother, or was abused or stuffs their feelings or is lonely. The list of sheer misery goes on....and on...and on in this book. I kept hoping it would end but it was there, from start to finish.
There are some of us out there that REALLY just like food. People like myself who had a very loving, supportive Mother that told me how wonderful I was and how much she loved me every day....who has been in a great relationship, married for nearly 30 years to her best friend...has 2 kids that never have her a minute of heartache.
So where do the 'unscarred' women fit into this equation??
As for God...God was hardly a part of this book. Geneen briefly talks about meditation, but that's about it.

If you have baggage...LOTS of it, or mother issues or have suffered abuses in any way, then this book is for you.
If you love food, love to cook, love to feed people and are just passionate about food and have battled with 40 pounds because of it, but otherwise have a pretty dang nice life and actually like yourself, SKIP this book. There are eating guidelines posted at the very end of the book...10 common sense things that are the only redeeming feature to the book, and if you can pick the book up in the store and find those, take 10 seconds to read through them, you'll have all the information that was worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, Healing, and Nourishing for Disregulated Eaters, April 1, 2010
As a long-time fan of Roth's, as a recovered chronic dieter and binge-eater, and as someone writing, counseling and teaching in the same field, I wondered she could say that she hadn't said before. The answer is not so much about brilliant new material as it is her way of pulling it altogether and writing with such clarity, humor, and beautiful language. Roth is wise, no doubt about it. Her wisdom comes from working through her own struggles with food (and life) and from experiential study of what makes for health and happiness. As a secular-leaning person, my one fear about the book was that it was going to be about spirituality or religion. It isn't. It is about finding and loving the best in yourself. Whether you're an overeater, undereater or yo-yo back in forth, you will be moved and changed by reading this book.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed.
The Rules of "Normal" Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between!, Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever, The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health, What Every Therapist Needs to Know about Treating Eating and Weight Issues

1-0 out of 5 stars boring book, September 17, 2010
This book was so boring and repitiious that I eventually gave up trying to read it. Paragraph after paragraph it repeated the same ideas and concepts. Definitely not worth purchasing.

1-0 out of 5 stars Great Publicist, Bad Book, August 13, 2010
After having read over 50% of this book and having the same idea presented in at least 20 different versions, I gave up...I got it the first time. There are no new ideas here folks. Just a great publicist that got her on Oprah. If it was at least well written I would feel a bit better about it, but she apparently believes her audience is incredibly dense and must be spoken to like 10 year olds to understand her "oh so deep" concepts.

I came home yesterday to find that my dog had taken this book off of my nightstand and ripped it to shreds. Smart Boy! I will not be replacing it so I can finish it. ... Read more

39. Talking with God in Old Age: Meditations and Psalms, Enlarged Print
by Missy Buchanan
Perfect Paperback
list price: $12.00 -- our price: $10.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 083581016X
Publisher: Upper Room
Sales Rank: 703
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The so-called golden years have arrived, and you hate to admit it, but you often wonder what is so golden about them after all. You re concerned about your health, your finances, and all the changes you face.
As a person of faith, how are you to cope with the challenges and find purpose for the rest of your life? Missy Buchanan knows first-hand what it s like. She addresses such heartfelt topics as the fear of falling, despair over feeling useless, and grief after the loss of a spouse. She pleads with God to help her see the beauty of life and the world in the midst of these trials. As you read this series of poems paired with selections from Psalms, take comfort in the company of a friend who is in the same place. Share the journey with Missy Buchanan as she faces the heartache and finds hope in the process of aging.
... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars Stop Thinking of Aging as a Problem. Start Thinking About Spiritual Gifts!, March 16, 2010
For all the thousands of books about aging--usually regarded as a problem to solved--there are precious few writers exploring the spiritual gifts of aging. One of those rare and important writers is Missy Buchanan and her newest offering, published by Upper Room Books, is well worth buying.

Why dwell on aging? Let's face it: As a nation, we are aging! As much as our Baby Boom generation wants to envision our lives as an endless, youthful adventure--the deep truths of global religious traditions involve aging. Many of our greatest ancient stories don't make sense without an understanding of maturity and advanced years.

What Missy points out, over and over again in this new book, is that the ancient Psalmists often were touching on these truths. For this new book, she has written her own contemporary Psalm-like meditations--each one connected with a relevant Psalm from the Bible. And here's evidence that Missy and her publishers both are thinking wisely about these themes: The book is printed in large type. It's great if you're a family member caring for someone who is older--and it's also a great gift for an older person you love.

5-0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of knowledge, recommended, April 10, 2010
God knows no age. "Talking with God in Old Age" is a Christian inspirational book aimed at seniors who wish to understand God's plan for them even as they go into old age. Drawing much inspiration from Psalms, presented in large print for easier reading, Missy Buchanan does well in reminding seniors that even at an advanced age, you can do well inspiring others. "Talking with God in Old Age" is a treasure trove of knowledge, recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book Review of Talking With God in Old Age, September 7, 2010
"Another straight-to-the-heart project from Missy Buchanan written with genuine reflection and honesty."

There are those who share their heart openly and honestly. In Talking With God in Old Age: Meditations and Psalms by Missy Buchanan, there are 42 conversations, reflections, poems, and on-point messages for those approaching their golden years.

These are topics that are not openly discussed with children or other family members but only among deep friends.

Issues like loosing privacy and independence, pain from an aging body, and coming to grips with new titles like `shut-in.' All these issues pass through the minds of the elderly but are not openly admitted in general conversation with friends and family.

But here, in this grouping of meditations, the reader can identify with the topics and find hope and comfort from God's word. I recently began assisting in our ministry to the elderly by doing visits to our shut-ins and was happy to offer them this book as well another of Missy Buchanan's' books, Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults.

This is a wonderful resource for anyone who has an elderly loved one or a perfect gift from the ministry of a Church. I recommend it highly.

Review copy provided free of charge by the author and donated to the library of Westwood Baptist Church.

Reviewed by: Keiki Hendrix
Reviewed for: Missy Buchanan

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book for all..., June 8, 2010
As we become older, many changes will take place in our lives. For example, we will wonder if our finances will be there for us when needed the most; we will find ourselves becoming frustrated by the many physical and mental processes of aging itself; there will be times of intense loneliness...when our thoughts may turn toward God, asking Him why He is allowing all of these things to take place; there are moments of picturing unfulfilled goals and dreams - against the background of the limited span of life itself. The list of the effects and implications of aging is endless. Missy Buchanan has once again presented a book of spiritual encouragement...words that will bring a tear to each of our eyes as we enter into the very thoughts of those who are living in their latter years. Well-written and thought-provoking, this is a "must-read" for those of all ages and stages.

1-0 out of 5 stars Talking with God in Old Age, October 10, 2010
This book has no redeeming qualities. I was expecting an interesting message, but was disappointed in the lack of uniqueness it had. I do not recommend it since there is no earth-shaking attribute to it. I was looking for something that I could take to my meetings at church, some useful information to relate to my peers, but there is nothing to really share. ... Read more

40. The Last Lecture
by Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow
Hardcover (2008-04-08)
list price: $21.95 -- our price: $9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1401323251
Publisher: Hyperion
Sales Rank: 351
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture."Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them.And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying.It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think").It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe.It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form.It is a book that will be shared for generations to come. ... Read more


5-0 out of 5 stars If "he not busy being born is busy dying", Randy Pausch is immortal
In all mediums, Randy shows exceptional courage and grace in this real-time tragic situation. I found the book good, somewhat overlapping the lecture, providing interesting details.... I found the details on his wife and children more interesting having already seen the lecture. I had hoped for more philosophical reflections rather than stories, but that's apparently his communication choice and style. His intensity and certitude left me wondering what he was like before the cancer diagnosis. In fact, other than his talent for communicating, and substantial professional achievements, I think we are left with very little idea of what the man is like aside from his consistent messages of working hard and having fun, but that may be unrealistic realizing that the book was by necessity,a rushed book. It did relate a bit more perspective around the lecture itself which was interesting. It's a quick read, I suggest checking it out at the library for an afternoon read, unless you would like to buy it simply to benefit his family. The Diane Sawyer piece is good as well. ... Read more

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