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    1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta
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    2. Guinness World Records 2011
    3. On the Origin of Species By Means
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    1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    by Rebecca Skloot
    Hardcover
    list price: $26.00 -- our price: $14.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1400052173
    Publisher: Crown
    Sales Rank: 11
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

    Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

    Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

    Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

    Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance? 
              
    Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Henrietta Lacks, February 5, 2010
    Wow. This book should be required reading for scientists and students of life. The true story of Henrietta Lacks and her family has finally been told, beautifully, in this book. The book encompasses science, ethics, and the story of a family who was terribly wronged in the pursuit of scientific research. I could gush about this book for pages but I'll try first to hit the main points of why this book is so remarkable in list form for the sake of brevity:


    1. The author clearly developed a strong relationship with the Lacks family, which was absolutely critical to ensuring the story was told accurately and with the respect to Henrietta Lacks that was so deeply deserved.

    2. The storytelling is amazingly moving despite the need to convey a lot of scientific information. It reads like fiction.

    3. Ms. Skloot's research into the science is impeccable.

    4. The book is FAIR. It presents the unvarnished truth, obtained DIRECTLY from as many prinicpal people involved in the story as is humanly possible. It would have been easier to simplify the story into heroes vs. villians, but Ms. Skloot deftly handles all sides of the story.


    For some detail: I have worked with HeLa cells in the past, but did not know even the barest information about the story of Henrietta Lacks until a few years ago. It simply was not common knowledge, until a few less ethical folks released her name and medical records to the public. This obviously should not have been done without the express permission of the Lacks family, which Ms. Skloot obtained. In the past, others have not been as ethical. The book covers Ms. Lacks' early life, how her cells came to be harvested, and what happened to both the cells and her family afterward.

    The contributions of HeLa cells to science are absolutely staggering and cannot be over-stated. The sections where the science was described were clear and accurate. With the story of Ms. Lacks' family interwoven, this book was fairly close to perfect. I found myself moved to tears several times because of the fate of the Lacks family and Henrietta's daughter's indomitable spirit. I do not think anyone but Ms. Skloot could have written this book. She worked with the family for over a decade in order to get the story right. This was critical, as the family had been wronged too many times in the past.

    Thank you for this astounding work of art. I will be donating to the Henrietta Lacks foundation in honor of the entire family, and I hope many others will read the book and be similarly moved.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating, engrossing, fascinating, heartbreaking, englightening...ALL in one stellar book!, January 16, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This is hand's down one of the best books I've read in years and I wish I could give it more stars. It is going to be difficult to capture exactly what makes this book so outstanding and so captivating, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

    First of all I want to say I am STUNNED that this is the author's first book. She has poured ten years of her heart, soul, mind and her life in general in this book. What she has given birth to in that long period of labor is worthy of her sacrifice and honors Henrietta Lacks and her family.

    Other reviews have given the outline of this amazing story. What I want to stress is that Ms. Skloot has navigated the difficult terrain of respecting Mrs. Lacks and her family, while still telling their story in a very intimate, thorough, factual manner. What readers may not know is that the Lacks family isn't just a "subject" that the author researched. This is a real family with real heartaches and real challenges whose lives she entered into for a very long season. The Lacks' family has truly benefitted from the author's involvement in their life and that is something I am very appreciative of. I believe that Ms. Skloot was able to give Henrietta's daughter, Deborah, a real sense of healing, deliverance, peace and identity that she had been searching for her whole life...that story alone would have made the book for me.

    It would have been very easy for the author to come across as condescending or patronizing or possibly as being exploitive as she wrote about a family that is poor and uneducated. Instead the story is infused with compassion and patience as she not only takes the family along with her on a journey to understand their current situation and the ancestor whose life was so rich in legacy but poor in compensation; she educates the family in the process. I get the sense that the author grew to genuinely love Henrietta and her family. I am in awe of this level of commitment.

    The author has managed to explain the complex scientific information in a way that anyone can comprehend and be fascinated by. The author's telling of the science alone and the journey of Henrietta's immortal cells (HeLa) would have made the book a worthy read in itself. Ms. Skloot and Henrietta captured me from page one all the way to the final page of the book. I read it in one pass and I didn't want it to end.

    The author manages to beautifully tell multiple stories and develops each of those stories so well that you can't help but be consumed by the book. This is the story of Henrietta. It is the story of her sweet and determined daughter, Deborah. It is the story of the extended Lacks family and their history. It is a story of race/poverty/ignorance and people who take advantage of that unfortunate trifecta. It is a story about science and ethics. It is a story that should make each of us reflect on the sacrifices made by individual humans and animals that have allowed us to benefit so much from "modern" medicine. It is a story about hope and perseverance. It is a story about love and healing.

    I cannot imagine a single person I know who wouldn't love this book and benefit from reading it. I will be purchasing the final copy of the book and am looking forward to reading the book again.

    I am counting the days til Ms. Skloot writes another book and can't wait to attend one of her upcoming lectures. A fan is born!

    5-0 out of 5 stars 2010 Non-Fiction Award Winner?, January 8, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    As I recall this book was categorized as CANCER, I believe it might be more aptly described as science based non-fiction. In the last two decades I've seen occasional news items alluding to human cells taken from a black woman in the 1950's that have been replicated millions of times. The cells are referred to as HeLa and on the face of it I wouldn't have thought there was much of a story behind the extraction of these cells and their use by the biomed industry. However, this book dispells that rather naive assumption completely and puts a name and a face, a family, and a story behind the contents of many petri dishes and slides. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS explains how the cells were obtained, replicated, distributed, and used without informed consent of the owner and family by John Hopkins and how they benefitted mankind w/o compensation to the family. Author Skloot tells the story of a family victimized by socioeconomic conditions and racism that can't get fundamental things like health coverage while these cells make a lot of money for the health establishment. It is a disturbing read that will stay with the reader long after the book is finished. It may also make the reader take a long hard look at the need for standardized health care in our society among many other things.
    The one thing that I found fascinating about this book is how Skloot managed to take a generally dry topic that might have been addressed in a scientific textbook and humanized it on a very personal level by developing a close relationship with Henrietta's family. The input received from the family took this book to a higher level and made it a very personsl story. From my perspective, it was very hard not to get involved with the Lacks family and not feel their sense of betrayal and loss.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb, January 17, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Equal parts history, psychological drama, expose and character study, Rebecca Skloot's gripping debut is a deeply affecting tour de force that effortlessly bridges the gap between science and the mainstream.

    Her subject is the multilayered drama behind one of the most important--and in many ways, problematic--advances of modern medicine. Captivated by the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American woman whose cervical cancer cells (dubbed HeLa) were the first immortalized cells grown in culture and became ubiquitous in laboratories around the world, Skloot set out to learn more about the person whose unwitting "donation" of the cells transformed biomedical research in the last century. Her research ultimately spanned a decade and found her navigating (and to some extent, mediating) more than 50 years of rage over the white scientific establishment's cavalier mistreatment and exploitation of the poor, especially African Americans.

    Skloot deftly weaves together an account of Lacks's short life (she died at age 31) and torturous death from an extremely aggressive form of cancer; the parallel narrative concerning her cells; and the sometimes harrowing, sometimes amusing chronicle of Skloots's own interactions with Lacks's surviving (and initially hostile and uncooperative) family members. Moving comfortably back and forth in time, the richly textured story that emerges brings into stark relief the human cost of scientific progress and leaves the reader grappling with many unanswered questions about the ethics of the scientific endeavor, past and present. While the goals of biomedical research may be noble, how they are achieved is not always honorable, particularly where commercialization of new technologies is at stake. Skloot offers a clear-eyed perspective, highlighting the brutal irony of a family whose matriarch was a pivotal figure in everything from the development of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine to AIDS research to cancer drugs, yet cannot afford the very medical care their mother's cells helped facilitate, with predictable consequences.

    The LA Times book review section named Skloot one of its four "Faces to Watch in 2010," an honor that, based on "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is well-deserved.

    Five stars--it was hard to put down this compelling, admirable and eminently readable book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic effort about the life of a forgotten woman, March 14, 2010
    Henrietta Lacks was born to an impoverished family of in rural Virginia in 1920. Her family worked on the same tobacco fields that their slave ancestors did during the preceding century, and after her mother died she grew up in her grandfather's dilapidated log cabin that served as slave quarters. She left school after the sixth grade to pick tobacco for ten cents per day on the farms of local whites. Henrietta had her first child with her first cousin Day at age 14, and they eventually married and moved to a small town outside of Baltimore during World War II so that Day could work at Bethlehem Steel for less than 80 cents an hour.

    In early 1951, Henrietta went to the gynecology clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital after feeling a "knot" in her womb. After she was taken to a "Colored" examination room, the gynecologist on duty found a firm mass on her cervix that seemed cancerous, but was unlike anything he had ever seen. He sent a slice of the mass for analysis, and Henrietta was soon diagnosed with cervical cancer.

    Henrietta returned to Johns Hopkins a few weeks later, where she underwent treatment for cervical cancer. She was given a generalized consent form that gave permission for her doctors to perform any operative procedures necessary to treat her illness. However, she was not told that one of the staff gynecologists was collecting specimens of clinic patients with cervical cancer for a clinical study, and biopsies of healthy and cancerous cervical tissues were taken from her during her initial procedure. The cancerous cells, which were named HeLa after the first two letters of Henrietta's first and last names, proved to be the first human cells that could be grown indefinitely in a nutrient broth, and the Johns Hopkins researchers were overjoyed at this long awaited success.

    The treatment she received at Hopkins was state of the art, but was unsuccessful, due to the aggressive nature of her primary tumor, and she succumbed to her illness several months later. The researchers wanted to acquire more specimens from her tumor ridden body by performing an autopsy with biopsies. Her husband, after initially denying a request for an autopsy, was misled into agreeing to allow the Hopkins pathologists to perform a limited autopsy, after he was told that the doctors wanted to run tests that might help his children someday.

    The HeLa cell line was provided to scientists and organizations worldwide for minimal cost, as neither the researchers nor Johns Hopkins profited from the first immortal human cell line. However, a number of companies made millions of dollars by mass producing HeLa and selling them at a much higher cost. HeLa was used in numerous important biomedical studies, including the development of the Salk polio vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-1950s, cancer and viral research projects, and studies of the effects of weightlessness and space travel on the human body by NASA.

    During this time Henrietta's husband and children were completely unaware that her cells had been harvested for medical research by the Hopkins doctors. By that time most of them were living in poverty in Baltimore, and were unable to afford basic health insurance. Articles about HeLa began to appear in medical journals and in the lay press, but it wasn't until 1973 that the family accidentally learned about the HeLa cell line. The family was contacted by Johns Hopkins, so that their cells could be analyzed and compared to those taken from Henrietta 22 years earlier. Once again they were misled into believing that the purpose of these tests was to determine if any of her children also had cancer, which caused Deborah, Henrietta's oldest surviving daughter, many years of anguish.

    Once Henrietta's name was released in the media, the family was besieged by journalists and others wishing to profit from her story, causing her husband and children to become distrustful and wary.

    Rebecca Skloot became interested in Henrietta Lacks after hearing about the HeLa cell line and its forgotten host as an undergraduate student. She spent many months and countless hours attempting to contact the Lacks family, and she slowly but painfully gained the trust of Deborah and her siblings, after she promised to tell the family's story alongside the history of HeLa.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fantastic achievement, given the hurdles that Skloot had to overcome to obtain information from the Lacks family, Johns Hopkins, and the other key actors in this story. In addition to an in-depth history of this ordinary yet quite remarkable family, she provides just the right amount of information about HeLa and what it meant for biomedical research, along with information about informed consent from the 1950s to the present, the effect of race on medical care in the United States and the views of African-Americans toward medical experimentation, and the biology of cancer. The book is meant for a lay audience, but it would be of interest to those with a formal medical background. I found the book to be a bit overly sentimental and personal at times, but this is a very minor criticism of a fabulous book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars 5 star story, February 17, 2010
    Just so id doesn't sound like I damn this book with faint praise, let me say that this was an excellent story told well (for the most part). I'll save the synopsis for others. Needless to say, Henrietta Lacks' story is just as gripping as the science that was done with her cells. You will most likely enjoy her story (as I did).

    My criticisms:

    The author spends a rather substantial portion of the book describing her own efforts. It didn't add to Henrietta's story and leaving it out would have made for a better, more concise narrative.

    Black people were treated inhumanely to say the least (go look up the Tuskeegee Syphilis Study, for example). At the risk of sounding callous, this is well trod ground and some of it could also have been omitted for the sake of brevity without losing any of the story's impact.

    Lastly, there is an implicit condemnation of the doctors that took her cells (the author does say that this was "common practice" at the time). I can tell you that as a former cancer patient who has been biopsied more times than I care to remember, once a doctor removes something from you, it's gone. They are not going to pay you for it.

    Those criticism aside, this is a worthy read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An astonishing scientific, sociological, racial exploration--and an engrossing work of art, December 28, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Rebecca Skloot's story of Henrietta Lacks and her cancerous HeLa cells is both a fascinating history and an engrossing work of art. The book combines sharp science writing with some of the best creative nonfiction techniques and a heartbreaking story. The result is a stunning portrayal of twentieth century medicine, science, race, and class like nothing I've ever read before.

    Skloot skillfully interweaves the saga of a poor young black mother and her children with an elucidation of the almost primitive-seeming medical practices that were once customary, and the culturing and dissemination of the woman's cancer cells (unbeknownst to her or her relatives) around the world. This was a period when even paying patients were seldom if ever asked for consent and frequently experimented on without their knowledge. Skloot brings to life not only Henrietta's tragedy but also her own quest with Henrietta's daughter to find the woman behind the HeLa cells and the incredible accomplishments those cells have made possible. Just about all of us on the planet have benefited, while medical corporations have made billions and Henrietta's children received not one cent.

    A disturbing and even haunting aspect of the situation is that the 'Immortal Life' involved here is not that of Henrietta's cells alone but rather of her cells overcome and transformed by the terribly aggressive cancer that killed her. That is what has lived on and been used in thousands of experiments and inadvertently contaminated other cells lines around the world, replicating so much times that one scientist estimated all the HeLa produced (laid end to end) could circle the earth more than five times.

    As the author states in her opening, the history of Henrietta Lacks, her cells, and the way the medical establishment treated her family raises critical questions about scientific research, ethics, race, and class. It's also a supremely engrossing story and one that taught me more about race in America, medical ethics, science, and what makes writing matter than anything I've read in years. Original in scope and presentation, personal, thought provoking, and even profound, this is the kind of nonfiction that rarely comes along.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good try, but could have been better, July 31, 2010
    I'm a big fan of science and medical non-fiction, so when I saw the rave reviews for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I was excited to read it. It started off strong; I'd give the first half five stars. The oral history of the Lacks family was fascinating, and I loved reading about how the cells got their start in the lab. When the author introduced the adult family (Deborah, et al), I felt a strong sympathy for them and what they'd been through. I was already recommending it to friends, anticipating that the second half would be as good.

    However, once I got to the second half, it went downhill considerably. The writing was fairly tight in the beginning, keeping all of the stories woven together in a comprehensible way, but seemed to unravel as the book went on. When I read the introduction, I didn't understand why Skloot was so defensive about inserting herself into the book (in my experience, medical non-fiction authors do it all the time), but I soon realized why - because by the second half, the book becomes less about HeLa, science, history, and ethics, and instead turns exclusively into a memoir about Skloot's dealings with the family. And at this point, the family became unsympathetic and insufferable. The writing became repetitive, somewhat informal, and ridden with unnecessary details. One reviewer called this book "deftly written" and I'd have to disagree. The second half gets one star.

    The book ended on a strong note, with the Afterward. The Afterward took us back to questions of bioethics. As I was reading it, I wondered why the Afterward was a separate part - couldn't it have been woven into the second half of the book?

    In short, I thought this book was merely ok, but as the reviews show, a lot of people loved it. If you think that you're one of the people who will love it, read it. If you're looking for a book that's just outstanding, look somewhere else.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Is Immortality really worth the price?, January 21, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Rebecca Skloot has written a book that certainly sounds like it could be science fiction, but in truth it is incredible science. However, it's not only about the science, but more importantly about who is behind it all. She has put a very real face to one of the most important medical research discoveries of our lifetime and given an appropriate name to the HeLa cells used in that research all over the world; Henrietta Lacks.

    This book recounts the life of Henrietta, the death of Henrietta and the immortal cells she left behind that became the basis of many life saving discoveries in the medical field. HeLa cells are those which were taken from Henrietta's cancerous tumor many decades ago. They were easily replicated and viable for testing therefore they became an important staple in laboratories doing medical research right up to the present. Many have her cells to thank for their treatment and cures of deadly diseases.

    Sounds like a generous donation to the medical community, doesn't it? But, what if Henrietta and her family had no idea any of this had taken place? They didn't know that her doctor had taken the cells, and upon realizing how unique they were, shared and traded them with other researchers. They especially were unaware that these were eventually being sold for a profit among labs and medical companies. Was this a case of explotation or was it simply how science progresses?

    The author finds the surviving family of Mrs. Lacks and realizes there is far more to the story than it would first appear. She touches on each of the sensitive topics that present themselves as the family approaches her with so many questions left unanswered. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with the complexities.

    The Lacks family are uneducated and living in poverty, struggling to understand how their loved one could have saved so many lives while her own could not be saved. They find it hard to believe their mother has done so much for the medical community, and made some companies millions of dollars, yet they cannot even afford good medical care. They wonder how cells were named after her yet there was no true recognition of her by her full, real name. The children hope that Ms. Skloot will not be another journalist to take advantage of them, but that she will give their mother the place she deserves as a real person, not just a "cell donor". Ms. Skloot does exactly that and I believe they would be very happy with the care she has given to the subject.

    It's my opinion that everyone studying medicine & science should read this book to gain insight as to the genuine lives of patients. The understanding that there is much more to a person than their cells, their lab results, their disease, etc., is such an important lesson to be learned. To take a quote from the book, stated by the assistant who helped retrieve the cells while Henrietta was in the morgue, "When I saw those toenails I nearly fainted. I thought, Oh geez, she's a real person. I started imagining her sitting in her bathroom painting those toenails, and it hit me for the first time that those cells we'd been working with all this time and sending all over the world, they came from a live woman. I'd never thought of it thay way".

    I would also highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the ethical and legal aspects of the medical and scientific communities. There is also a significant component relating to the Johns Hopkins, the black community and black history. Every aspect was fascinating and eye-opening.

    If you are wondering how this could have happened, be warned that it could just as easily happen to any of us tomorrow, as there are still no laws in place preventing any doctor or hospital from keeping and using our tissue, or our children's umbilical blood, or our parents tumors for research once collected. Perhaps it is better that we all contribute to furthering scientific discoveries. But, you might rethink "immortality" after hearing this story. Just one more good reason to read this book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Two different books, August 25, 2010
    I enjoyed the first half of the book. It was informative and educational. The second half - not so much. It took a bad turn with the introduction of Deborah and their trip together. The author depicted her as a woman who has the mind of a hyperactive 5 year old with ADD. "Oh my god. . . . I did this to her?" Maybe. Maybe not. The book went from the scientific and factual to the land of superstition and sensationalism I was left with the impression the book was a collage of facts and embellished observations. It's a good idea to leave your readers for a desire for more. I was left with a desire for less. ... Read more


    2. Guinness World Records 2011
    by Guinness World Records
    Hardcover
    list price: $28.95 -- our price: $15.05
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 190499458X
    Publisher: Guinness World Records
    Sales Rank: 29
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Guinness World Records 2011 continues to build on the intriguing, informative, inspiring and instructional records and superlatives that have made Guinness World Records one of the most famous brands and an annual best-seller around the world.Over 110 million copies have sold since the first edition was published in 1955.Nearly 4 million copies are sold every year in more than 100 countries and in 25 languages.Market research has indicated that Guinness World Records is one of the strongest brands in the world, with prompted brand recognition of 98.2% in the English language territories.
    What's New in GWR 2011...

    More US specific content including spreads dedicated to "American Heroes", "North American wildlife", "Route 66" andextended US sports pages!
    New unique design - new decade, new look.A fun, poster-style design reminiscent of the circus, the old wild west and letter pressed WANTED ads!
    Records GPS - starting at Greenwich, London - the home of time - we go around the world city by city revealing fascinating records set along the way.
    Glossary - improve your vocabulary by learning the meaning of new and unusual words.
    As Well as -- New spreads on....
    * Space Shuttle- being retired in 2010
    * TV's 75 years Diamond Anniversary
    * Pop Culture chapter - all your favorite movies, DVDs, comics, graphic novels, manga and so on....
    * Mr. World Record Breaker
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars They ruined this book, December 4, 2010
    I had the GBWR 1984 as a kid and used to look up records all the time. Based on my experience I decided to get the current GBWR for my kids. Boy what a mistake! I have 2 basic complaints.

    Number one, the format. This used to be a reference book, kinda like a dictionary. The new version looks like it was designed and laid out by somebody with serious ADHD and an espresso drip. I think they must have cut more than half of the records out to make room for the spinning artwork.

    Number two, the propaganda and fun-facts. I wanted my kids to be able to enjoy looking up who the tallest man is, or who can run the fastest, instead there are all of these little "did you know" blurbs about how people are destroying the Earth, and general facts about the founding of the U.N. and UNICEF. Why is this material in a book about world records? Nuclear energy isn't listed in the section devoted to alternative energy? Who owns this publishing company,...George Soros?

    I am severely disappointed. At least I can still get a copy of the older versions, the versions which are about, you know, world records. I just ordered the 1994 version, which is the last year before the reference book became a comic book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My first Guiness World Records!, October 29, 2010
    I have seen the Guiness Book of World Records over the years, and had gone though them while at my family or friend's homes. I must say that with this being my first personal copy, I'm not disappointed. And now I can browse through the records on my own time.

    Even though the book is not as thick as the older editions, it's still packed with ALOT of information more than you can believe for a book that's about 1.5 inches thick from cover to cover (hardcover)

    The quality of the pages is good and the print quality and layout is not bad either. At the bottom of each page there are records from around the world in small snippets, so when you're done going through the book, you can go though the snippets at the bottom.

    Overall, I'm happy with my purchase and I'm looking forward to the 2012 Edition.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great fun--as always!, November 25, 2010
    I look forward to this annual update each year. There are a lot of goofy records here, but also some interesting tidbits as well.

    This volume begins with "Fire" as a category. Here, we read of the largest gathering of fire breathers ever (269 people got together at Eindhoven in the Netherlands); we see the largest flaming image using candles (the image depicted the logo of the Sandoz company [Pakistan]); most people burned at the stake (133 witches were burned on one day in 1859 near Leipzig, Germany).

    Randomly turning pages yields other records:

    Oceans and seas--Oldest seawater (the water at the bottom of the 12,000 foot Canada Basin has been unstirred for several thousands of years); the warmest ocean (Indian Ocean); Newest forming ocean (the Afar Depression in Ethiopia).

    Insects and arachnids--Largest spider (a male bird-eating spider, with an 11 inch long span--ugh!); largest beetle (a beetle from Africa, coming in at 3.5 ounces [doesn't seem that bad to me]); hardiest beetle (1,547 were living in a bottle stoppered for 12 years).

    Human society--Most dangerous country in which to be born (Afghanistan, featuring such negatives as unbelievably high infant mortality rates [257 deaths per 1,000 live births]).

    3D cinema--first full-length 3D movies (in 1953, French, Indian, and Japanese 3D movies were released); most expensive 3D movie (A Christmas Carol, released in 2009).

    Roller coasters--Fastest (Ring Racer at Nurburgring in Germany at 134.8 mph); Most expensive (Expedition Everest, for $100,000,000); tallest (Kingda Ka at Six Flags Adventure in New Jersey--456 feet high; it6's also the second fastest roller coaster).

    Baseball--Most runs batted in a World Series game (Hideo Matsui, 6 for the Yankees in 2009, tying Bobby Richardson); most games played at shortstop (Omar Vizquel, 2681); most postseason wins by a manager (Joe Torre, 84 wins).

    Water sports--Largest race (13,755 participants swam the 2009 Midmar Mile in South Africa); Oldest Olympic canoeing medalist (Josefa Idem of Italy at nearly 44 years of age).

    Another year, another set of wacko records! As always great fun. . . .



    5-0 out of 5 stars Great for my 9-year-old daughter!, November 1, 2010
    My 9 year old asked for it this as soon as it was released. I bought her the 2010 edition last year for Christmas and the pages are completely worn out from reading it over and over. I have a feeling she will be asking for this every year to come.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Terrible Format, October 14, 2010
    This is a very pretty book, with lots of pictures; in fact, far too many pictures and photos instead of facts. Its pages look like comic book pages (I almost expected BAM, POW and BOOM to appear). The pages are confusing, distracting and disjointed, and its index is quite incomplete and useless. Just try to look up a specific record, like "the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world." Good luck! Normally, a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, but, with this edition, the opposite is true. Guiness sacrificed content and ease of use for "flash." I prefer the older editions, where you could look up a very specific record, read it, and say "wow." This book tries to say "wow" for you. Very disappointing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Knowledge book, October 30, 2010
    Saw someone with the 2010 book and decided I would buy 1 for myself and 1 for my son for Christmas.Actually, the 2011 book was cheaper than the 2010 book. Makes a great gift for some one who you don't know what to give them.I know he will be happy with this book. ... Read more


    3. On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
    by Charles Darwin
    Kindle Edition (1998-03-01)
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JML90Y
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars An amazingly accessible read...
    Almost everyone has heard of this book. But, how many people have actually read it? If you haven't yet, it is well-worth reading.

    Darwin spent over 20 years researching his ideas, preparing his arguments, and writing this book. He did a great job! "On the Origin" is surprisingly easy to understand. Just look at the beginning. Instead of trying to leap directly into his basic idea and premise, Darwin chooses to gradually lead the reader up to the basic idea of evolution by first point out how humans have caused evolution to occur in our domesticated animals (something very easy for all humans to see even in the 1850s). Darwin then goes on to point out some of the evidence that he and others had seen at that time that indicated that evolution had occurred. His leap in understanding the basic premise of evolution is amazing especially when you consider that he did not understand or have access to information about the basics of genetic passing of traits within species.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have for any Kindle reader
    Can't help but notice that the Bible is one of the top downloads in the Kindle Store.

    Actually, I'm a bit perplexed that Darwin's "Origin of the Species", which IMHO, is the Bible's touchstone naturalist complement, is not garnering as much attention and that this is the first review.

    As we celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of this book, I'm still hopeful that the typical Kindle early adopter - who is often technically-inclined and highly literate, will find the time to read the book.

    For such a landmark publication that is the basis of modern biology, its surprisingly readable and very accessible to the non-specialist.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Need to know for cultural literacy
    This is a quick review of the book not a dissertation on Darwin or any other subject loosely related. At first I did not know what to expect. I already read " The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches" (see my review). I figured the book would be similar. However I found "Origin" to be more complex and detailed.

    Taking in account that recent pieces of knowledge were not available to Charles Darwin this book could have been written last week. Having to look from the outside without the knowledge of DNA or Plate Tectonics, he pretty much nailed how the environment and crossbreeding would have an effect on natural selection. Speaking of natural selection, I thought his was going to be some great insight to a new concept. All it means is that species are not being mucked around by man (artificial selection).

    If you picked up Time magazine today you would find all the things that Charles said would be near impossible to find or do. Yet he predicted that it is doable in theory. With an imperfect geological record many things he was not able to find at the writing of this book have been found (according to the possibilities described in the book.)

    The only draw back to the book was his constant apologizing. If he had more time and space he could prove this and that. Or it looks like this but who can say at this time. Or the same evidence can be interpreted 180 degrees different.

    In the end it is worth reading and you will never look at life the same way again.

    The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Historical Piece
    Variations exist within populations that compete for scarce resources needed for survival, and many of these variations not only affect the ability of the individual to compete, but also can be passed onto children. Those variations better suited for competition will be passed on at a higher rate than those that are less suited for competition due to higher rates of survival. In this way, nature itself non-randomly selects those variations most fit, thus diversifying populations, creating branches in the Tree of Life.

    While this book is 150 years out of date, and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection has been significantly modified since its publication (especially since the discovery of DNA and the mechanisms present in both heredity and mutation), the main principles of Darwin's argument, stated in the above paragraph, remain the core of evolutionary science. This is an important work in the history of science, one that everyone should read for historical literacy. If, however, one is seeking to learn the modern evidence for evolution, collected both through laboratory testing and through field observations, then Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, or The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins would be better choices. Indeed, while the hierarchy of shared characteristics amongst animals, and the hierarchy of interspecies variations interpreted in light of the aforementioned hierarchy of shared characteristics itself constitutes great evidence for common descent, and Darwin's argument for natural selection as the mechanism by which diversity within the animal kingdom has increased remains extremely convincing and effective, it is best to familiarize one's self with all of the modern data, and all of the independently arrived at trees of life from non-overlapping fields of study that are all *gasp* identical.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A scientific breakthrough in it's day.
    If you have never read this book, you really should sit down and take the time to do do. You will learn a lot of what Darwin was thinking during the years after the Beagle voyage, and perhaps more than you wanted to know about pigeons.

    If you do NOT believe in evolution, you should read this book anyway. If you have not than you have no basis to refute it, and can make only the most idiotic of arguments. After all, just about everyone alive now who HAS read it, has read Genisis too. Darwin did NOT invent evolution, it was around in his grandfather's time. His grandfather actually wrote about it. Darwin (and another actually) came up with natrual selection, not evolution. If there was never a Charles Darwin, there would still be evolution.

    The person who said (sic)
    "evolution is not observable or testable and therefore not scientific. and by the way who are the favored races "
    OBVIOUSLY didn't read this book, and is only making a religious statement. And stupidly at that.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Religion does not refute science
    First, This book is free which is worth five stars in it's own right. The e-book is the new revolution and will create a better society. Now, let me acknowledge that I am catholic. Then let me acknowledge that this book is a fully interesting and wonderful read. It really is marvelous to think of genetic drift and I am completly in awe of the ramifications. As far as genetic drift is concerned the theory of evolution has no equal. It is a great explanation on the change in species and the statistics only compound the fact that this is not only possible, but actual. I accept this theory whole heartedly. I am confused on the paradox of the singularity, meaning the statistics of the individual. For mutation must occur in an individual before it can be passed on, but of course that individual must mate with another that does not contain the mutation. Considering a recessive gene how could the offspring be given that advantage if they don't contain the full mutation. If they don't have an advantage then what would be the imputus for increased spreading of the gene. Similiar to the classic chicken or the egg question. But yet blue eyes are recessive and yet here I sit with blue eyes, which means the initial mutation had to occur, and then enough offspring created to allow the recessive gene to express, or maybe the recessive gene was created then propogated and then finally expressed, or maybe two people simultaneously mutated... and oh no I've gone cross-eyed. Not even to mention the ramifications of new chromosomes or broken chromosomes, how are these passed on if an individual mututates on this scale?... But I feel my reaction (cautious inspection without blind obedience) is how all scientist, nay rational beings, should take all arguments. Otherwise science is no better than a cult. So read the book, it is excellent, but look for holes and see if you could refine or refute the argument. That is how progress develops. (my oppinion is that refinement will be what happens, but then again, who am I to say that) Long Story short, a great book and interesting read. Five stars from this catholic.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the new bible
    Excellant book ,should replace bible,koran and other nonsense.It is said by some of the reviewers that his theory lacks proof, and at the time it did, some thing Darwin himself admitted within the book.Later as also predicted by Darwin his theory as been proven time and again by science not superstition.
    ... Read more


    4. At Home: A Short History of Private Life
    by Bill Bryson
    Hardcover (2010-10-05)
    list price: $28.95 -- our price: $14.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0767919386
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 38
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    From one of the most beloved authors of our  time—more than six million copies of his books have been sold in this country alone—a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home.

    “Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”
     
    Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.” The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has fig­ured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.

    Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposi­tion imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars History as it should be taught
    This book changed my world. Well, at least my perception of my world.

    At Home is a fascinating account of how we got where we are today, domestically speaking. I read it whist living in a non-western, non-English speaking country and it illuminated for me the historical reasons behind some of the assumptions I make which are at odds with the society I'm currently living in, like why I think my dining room should be bigger than the one in my rented house is. Sure, knowing dates of major battles is important, but this book is history as it was meant to be: relevant, enlightening, and funny.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, enjoyable, fantastic history of home, comfort, and human innovation. Buy this.

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I adore this book. I sat up late reading it, and I woke up at 4:30am (really) to continue reading it. I expect to press the book into the hands of several friends with a stern warning about returning it *immediately* after they finish.

    Yet, I have a hard time summarizing the book in a manner that will make you understand my enthusiasm. When I tried to explain to someone why this book was so wonderful, she crinkled up her nose and gave me a "You gotta be kidding" look. This book discusses so many topics, from the history of the toilet to the reasons behind the 1851 Great Exhibition to the impact of world exploration on furniture building, that any description sounds like Bryson threw a jumble of facts into a book and had done with it. On the other hand, I explained to my friend just one of the anecdotes (the one that ends with "Nothing -- really, absolutely nothing -- says more about Victorian Britain and its capacity for brilliance than that the century's most daring and iconic building was entrusted to a gardener") and she got interested. And she giggled.

    Because somehow, amazingly, Bill Bryson ties together this collection of historical anecdotes and "what really happened" within a clear and recognizable structure: the Victorian parsonage in which he and his wife live, which was built in 1851. The chapters walk us through each room and the items within it. In "The nursery," for instance, Bryson debunks the oft-cited premise that "before the 16th century there was no such thing as childhood;" talks about Victorian tools for childbirth (and how a doctor's reluctance to adopt obstetrical forceps in 1817 changed history when Princess Charlotte died in childbirth); discusses the slow evolution of child labor laws; and mentions how Fredrich Engels embezzled from his family business to support his friend Karl Marx in London. And, honest, that's just a sample. Bryson doesn't flit from one subject to another, or at least it never seems like it when you're reading; he goes into exhaustive depth about a lot of subjects, like the fascinating person you wish you were seated next to at a dinner party (but somehow never seem to be).

    And besides: He is funny. Bryson has a wonderful droll sense of humor that made me laugh aloud many times, though it never gets in the way of imparting information. On several occasions I interrupted my husband to read him a a section of text -- something that usually annoys him -- and he forgave me every time. Here's one of them, in a section about the popularity of household servants: "At Elveden, the Guiness family estate in Suffolk, the household employed sixteen gamekeepers, nine underkeepers, twenty-eight warreners (for culling rabbits), and two dozen miscellaneous hands -- seventy-seven people in all -- just to make sure they and their guests always had plenty of flustered birds to blow to smithereens." There's plenty of ways Bryson could have said that formally, but the insertion of his personal view made me giggle. (And, oh, estate visitors managed to slaughter over 100,000 birds every year, so those staff were not idle.)

    By the time I finished reading the book, I was struck by several things: How often coincidence influences history; the number of brilliant technical innovations introduced by people with absolutely no business sense (one example: Eli Whitney and his partners demanded a 1/3 share of any cotton harvest, without recognizing how easy it was to pirate the design of the cotton gin); how often people were oh-so-sure of things that weren't so (like what causes disease); and how many amazing inventions we take for granted.

    I urge you to buy this book. If nothing else, reading it will mean that YOU are the fascinating person whom everyone wants to sit next to at the next dinner party.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully eccentric

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    If this book were a house, it would be one of those charmingly odd edifices put up by a single builder with a determinedly eccentric vision. The floor plan might be odd, and it might be a little hard to say exactly what architectural style it is, and on occasion you might find a gable where you'd expected a chimney. But you'd love it anyway.

    _At Home_ doesn't really have a theme, or an argument to advance. Rather, it's an interwoven fabric of anecdotes, historical tidbits, excursions, diversions, and useless but fascinating facts. Its organization (as a tour of the author's house) is just enough to give it structure and keep it from being a mere collection of curios. To pull this off requires absolutely top-notch writing skills--and Bryson has them.

    Still, this isn't a book to read in search of a cohesive understanding of much of anything. Rather, it's a book to be rambled through, eying the delightful scenery. (There's a more-than-passing resemblance to James Burke's _Connections_ series.) For example, the chapter on "The Passage" touches on the Eiffel Tower, the Vanderbilts, Thomas Edison's mania for concrete houses, the telephone, and the biggest mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. I'm not sure how much information any given reader will retain, but with writing this good, who cares?

    This is a big, sweeping story. It combines very broad historical scope with closely-observed minute detail. I did spot one or two places where Bryson's facts are incomplete or open to dispute. (To take a trivial example, the relationship among bushels, quarts, and liters is mis-stated.) I'm happy to let them go as quibbles; in general, Bryson is pretty good at overturning anecdotal history and providing a good, well-sourced, thoughtful synthesis.

    So don't look for a thesis, and don't approach _At Home_ as a textbook. Its joys are those of breadth, not depth. Step right in. Wander around. Make yourself comfortable. You might even get a little lost, but you won't mind. ... Read more

    5. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
    by Michael Lewis
    Hardcover (2010-03-15)
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $15.36
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0393072231
    Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
    Sales Rank: 30
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The #1 New York Times bestseller: a brilliant account—character-rich and darkly humorous—of how the U.S. economy was driven over the cliff.When the crash of the U. S. stock market became public knowledge in the fall of 2008, it was already old news. The real crash, the silent crash, had taken place over the previous year, in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn’t shine, and the SEC doesn’t dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can’t pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren’t talking.

    The crucial question is this: Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages?Michael Lewis turns the inquiry on its head to create a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 best-selling Liar’s Poker. Who got it right? he asks. Who saw the real estate market for the black hole it would become, and eventually made billions of dollars from that perception? And what qualities of character made those few persist when their peers and colleagues dismissed them as Chicken Littles? Out of this handful of unlikely—really unlikely—heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier bestsellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Who knew?, March 15, 2010
    Based on reading Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker and Moneyball, I wondered whether The Big Short would prove to be entertaining and informative. If you've read some of Lewis' books, you might agree that the "entertaining" part would seem to be a reasonably safe bet. It turns out, it is. The Big Short is fast-paced, straightforward, conversational and salty--very much like his earlier works. Indeed, if you didn't know Michael Lewis had written this book, you could probably guess it. It is easy reading and very hard to put down. In short (no pun), The Big Short doesn't disappoint in being entertaining.

    In a sense, this book is similar to Moneyball in that Lewis tells his story by following a host of characters that most of us have never heard of--people like Steve Eisman (the closest thing to a main character in the book), Vincent Daniel, Michael Burry, Greg Lippmann, Gene Park, Howie Hubler and others.

    How informative is the book? Well, it may seem that Lewis has his work cut out for himself, since the events of the recent financial crisis are already well known. More than that, lots of people have their minds made up concerning who the perps of the last few years are--banks and their aggressive managers, "shadow banks" and their even more aggressive managers, hedge funds, credit default swaps, mortgage brokers, the ratings agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Fed's monetary policy, various federal regulators, short sellers, politicians who over-pushed home ownership, a sensationalist media, the American public that overextending itself with excessive borrowing (or that lied in order to get home loans), housing speculators, etc. The list goes on--and on. Okay, so you already know this. The defining aspect of this book, however, is that it asks (and answers) "Who knew?" about the impending financial crisis beforehand. Who knew--before the financial crisis cracked open for everyone to see (and, perhaps, to panic) in the fall of 2008--that a silent crash in the bond market and real estate derivatives market was playing out? Indeed, the good majority of this book addresses events that occurred before Lehman's failure in September of 2008. In describing what led up to the darkest days of the crisis, Lewis does a good job helping the reader to see how the great financial storm developed. All in all, this is an informative book.

    Interestingly, in the book's prologue, Salomon Brothers alumnus Lewis explains how, after he wrote Liar's Poker over 20 years ago, he figured he had seen the height of financial folly. However, even he was surprised by the much larger losses suffered in the recent crisis compared to the 1980s, which seem almost like child's play now.

    For a taste of The Big Short, Steve Eisman was a blunt-spoken "specialty finance" research analyst at Oppenheimer and Co., originally in the 1990s, and he eventually helped train analyst Meredith Whitney, who most people associate with her string of negative reports on the banking industry, primarily from late 2007. Giving a flavor of his style, Eisman claims that one of the best lines he wrote back in the early 1990s was, "The [XYZ] Financial Corporation is a perfectly hedged financial institution--it loses money in every conceivable interest rate environment." His own wife described him as being "not tactically rude--he's sincerely rude." Vinny Daniel worked as a junior accountant in the 1990s (and eventually worked for Eisman), and he found out how complicated (and risky) Wall Street firms were when he tried to audit them. He was one of the early analysts to notice the high default rates on manufactured home loans, which led to Eisman writing a 1997 report critical of subprime originators. Michael Burry (later Dr. Michael Burry) was, among other things, a bond market researcher in 2004 who studied Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, and who correctly assessed the impact of "teaser rates" and interest rate re-sets on subprime loans. In 2005, Burry wrote to his Scion Capital investors that, "Sometimes markets err big time." How right he would be.

    Greg Lippmann was a bond trader for Deutsche Bank, who discussed with Eisman ways to bet against the subprime mortgage market. Before home prices declined, he noted, for example, that people whose homes appreciated 1 - 5% in value were four times more likely to default than those whose homes appreciated over 10%. In other words, home prices didn't need to actually fall for problems to develop. (Of course, home prices fell a lot.) When Lippmann mentioned this to a Deutsche Bank colleague, he was called a Chicken Little. To which, Lippmann retorted, "I'm short your house!" He did this by buying credit default swaps on the BBB-rated tranches (slices) of subprime mortgage bonds. If that's not a mouthful, read further in the book for a description of Goldman Sachs and "synthetic subprime mortgage bond-backed CDOs." Then there's the AIG Financial Products story, told through the story of Gene Park, who worked at AIG, and his volatile boss, Joe Cassano.

    Did I say this book is informative? Here's a bit more: Did you know that a pool of mortgages, each with a 615 FICO score, performs very differently (and better) than a pool of mortgages with half of the loans with a 550 FICO score and half with a 680 FICO score (for a 615 average)? If you think about it, the 550/680 pool is apt to perform significantly worse, because more of the 550 FICO score loans develop problems. Think about how that got gamed.

    There's more, but hopefully you've gotten the point. This is a very interesting, entertaining and informative book that accomplishes what it sets out to do. Chances are you'll enjoy it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars The Big Short Falls a Bit Short, March 15, 2010
    Let me get the easy part of this out of the way first. Michael Lewis is a remarkably gifted writer, and I have often found his books impossible to put down. When I first read his debut at book authorship, Liar's Poker, I literally read it straight through. I was not alone in this, as Liar's Poker rightfully made Michael a very well-respected author and a very wealthy man. Moneyball, The Blind Side, and numerous other best-sellers built on that reputation. The long-awaited newest contribution from Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, is 264 pages long, and I also read this in 24 hours. However, I doubt many others will feel the same. The book was compelling, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and nothing in the book modified my view that Michael Lewis is one of the most interesting writers of this era. I simply doubt that this book evoke the same response from the masses of people who will buy it. Perhaps I am wrong. So before I begin to disect the important parts of the book (its underlying messages, etc.), I will say that it was another hard-to-put-down book from Michael Lewis. Thumbs up, and all that stuff.

    So what did I really think of the book? Well, Lewis should be commended for writing a book on the 2008 financial crisis from the most unique perspective thus far. Rather than focus on the major characters that a plethora of other books have focused on (Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner, etc.), Lewis tells his story using some extremely obscure characters as his lead actors: A handful of hedge fund managers who made massive bets against the subprime industry (and by hedge fund managers, I am not referring to high profile, well-known hedgies; I am talking about very, very minor players). Readers will feel connected to the characters when they are done with the book, and a less gifted writer could have never pulled this off. It was a difficult task for Lewis as well, but he skillfully made the points he wanted to make and simultaneously told a story, all through a narrative of four or five unconnected characters of whom the public has never heard.

    What are these points Lewis wanted to make? I suppose the major tension of the book is the teeter-tottering between the greed/evil genius of the major Wall Street firms (on one hand), and then the utter stupidity and incompetence of Wall Street (on the other). It is a difficult balance to strike, and one reason it is difficult is because, well, one can not have it both ways. Lewis can not claim, as he astonishingly and explicitly does, that Goldman Sachs made AIG write credit default swaps on the subprime mortgage industry, guaranteeing AIG's demise and Goldman Sachs flourishing, but then on the other hand claim that the firms had no idea what they were doing, and were completely shell-shocked by what happened to their CDO's (the collateralized debt obligation instruments which served as the toxic assets you hear so much about). This inconsistency permeates the book, and tonight on 60 Minutes I heard Lewis repeat what his major thesis is: Wall Street did not know what they were doing. This is the correct thesis. But it is wholly imcompatible with the obscene Goldman Sachs conspiracy movement that has taken over the Oliver Stone mainframe of our society. Even a Michael Lewis fan like myself was taken aback by the audacity of this oft-repeated contradiction.

    Perhaps the most disappointing message of the Lewis book is the conclusion he saved for the final chapter - the one I have heard him preaching for some time now on the media circuit. Lewis has been preaching since the days of Liar's Poker that the great sin of Wall Street was when all of the major firms went public (i.e. rather than function as closely-held partnerships, they sold shares to the public in the IPO market and now have no reason to ever check their evil inhibitions at the door). It is a rhetorically effective charge, but one that is not up for the most routine of examinations. The individuals most responsible for the massive money-losing operations of 2005-2007 were the largest shareholders in the firms. Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns saw his stock holdings decline from $1 billion of value to $50 million of value, directly under his watch. Richard Fuld was thrown to the lions as Lehman Brothers burned to the ground, but it burned up his $550 million of Lehman stock as well. The gentlemen running these firms were wealthy, and they were driven by a desire to get even wealthier, but it is absurd to postulate that the performance of these companies in the public stock markets were not important to them. It was all that was important to them. Are we really to believe that Wall Street would not have found more creative ways to raise capital in the capital markets if they were partnerships? Whether the firms were partnerships or public corporations, they lived off of balance sheet capital that they mostly raised in the debt markets. It was the bondholders who were on the verge of utter collapse in September of 2008. Why would that be different if they were partnerships? The most obvious refutation of Lewis's thesis is the question many are probably dying to point out to him after reading it: If being a public corporation corrupts the intentions of financial firms, why couldn't the same broad brush be used for all public corporations of all industries? If the removal of the partner capital from the company capital is a self-corrupting event, why should any corporation ever be allowed to go public? What exactly is the difference? Do not huge retail businesses, manufacturing firms, and technology outfits also use shareholder money to grow and operate? Does Lewis really want to advocate the abolition of public equity markets in America? It is absurd to even carry that argument through to its logical conclusion.

    I do not want readers to be confused. There are some stellar observations in Lewis's newest book. He gets inside some of the most confused and ridiculous financial transactions ever conducted in the history of civilization, and he does it with the precision of a surgeon. But Lewis does not use his 264-page book to even apply one word - not one single utterance - against the malignant government policies behind much of this malaise. He could easily counter that his book was not meant to be a comprehensive introspection of the financial crisis, and that would be a fair response. But readers hoping for a biog-picture analysis of this crisis will not get it here. They will see the worst of a very small number of Wall Street traders, and they will see a system that was clueless to keep this process from ballooning out of control (his section on the high seven-figure bond traders being regulated by the high five-figure ratings agency analysts is choice). The risk management processes of Wall Street broke down. The hubris of a select number of people grew to a point of perversity. Contrary to Lewis's assertion, the bulk of these CEO's and executives did lose their jobs (Citi, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, etc.) all fired their Presidents and CEO's as their houses burned to the ground. But overall, the book has a ton of good to say about the crisis. Most notably, he demonstrates how "in an old-fashioned panic, perception creates its own reality" (a concept that I want to explore much further in the future). He summarizes in a single sentence the most important thing that can be said about Lehman Brothers ("the problem wasn't that Lehman had been allowed to fail; the problem was that Lehman had been allowed to succeed").

    I am truly glad that I read this book, and I do recommend it. However, as the pivotal work of evaluating the big picture of the crisis continues, the conclusion that Wall Street's transition to a shareholder-owned entity was at the heart of the matter is quite lacking. Unfortunately, both evil and incompetence exist in all kinds of business structures.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Liars Poker Squared, March 15, 2010
    Mike Lewis has the gift for watching America and picking stories that are interesting to the public: in the last ten years Moneyball (the effect of statistical analysis on baseball) and The Blind Side (Importance of Left Tackles in American Football and rescuing an impoverished athlete). But his undying fame was Liars Poker, the story of Solomon Brothers Investment firm where he worked when 24 and made bonuses of about $200,000 without really understanding what he was doing. Possibly the most interesting part of this book is the foreward where Lewis describes how he felt when writing Liars Poker Wall Street provided worthless value to the economy and it was just a matter of years before the market recognized this. Unfortunately he was about 24 years too late. Couple this with his closing lunch with John Gutfruend and you have a great bookend for closure.

    Now Lewis presents us with this bookend to Wall Street, how it universally missed the bad securities being issued backed by subprime securities destroying over $1 trillion in wealth. And his vehicle for this exploration is not a complete rehash but rather documenting the very few people (he estimates fewer than 20) that recognized that market crash coming and profiting immensely, people like Michael Burry, a Stanford Medical student who left to manage his own Hedge Fund. Actually there were many more than 20 people that knew this was coming. I began giving speeches in 2004 on "The Coming Crash in Home Prices". But these people he mentioned left conventional wisdom in believing that the subprime mortgages were worthless AND discovered the newly created tools to profit from them: credit default swaps and the ABX index. With the belief and knowledge these investors were rewarded handsomely whereas the rest of us suffered through a very downbeat market. But they deserved it and in Lewis' upbeat writing style he conveys eloquently but simply how the decisions were made and how they profited beyond belief.

    There is one problem with this book. The subject was just covered quite well in The Greatest Trade Ever by Gregory Zuckerman which was released in November 2009. I've now read both books and there is an overlap. Greatest Trade is a very fast read and tells the story well focusing on John Paulson. This book doesn't delve on Paulson but does cover Michael Burry who was featured in the other book also.

    Since so many reviews seem to be more interested in giving their political view of this tragic occurence, I'm compelled to weigh in on this issue even though I know this will upset some politcally closed minds. We must recognize if it was so easy to comprehend and solve we would have all profited in the manner these investors did rather than suffer through the last two years. We wouldn't have had the meltdown that we had. The smart people on Wall Street would not have overleveraged creating the steep downward ascent in destruction of wealth as we deleveraged. Specifically, I'm startled how many people want to blame politicians and FNMA/FHLMC. As a seller of $1 billion a year to these entities and some knowledge of their loss history as well as debating this issue with a former Vice Chairman of one of these entities who is a neighbor, it is shocking when you hear people talk of the subprime mortgages that FNMA/FHLMC owned. Did they do some such targeted loans? Yes. But half their losses came from their foray into Alt A loans. Coupled with the drop in property value and low equity position (they were leveraged at an unsafe 30 to 1 ratio) their insolvency was guaranteed if there was a downturn. Why were they not managing for this? It wasn't politically motivated. It was profit motivated. Quasi-guaranteed by the govt. they could issue callable agencies, their drug of choice, and arbitrage this money into a higher yielding security which they did. UNTIL the losses started. With 3% equity/custion, the 30 to 1 leverage immediately worked against them. Where were the regulators? Where was management managing risk? As the Vice Chairman said, the problem was property value drop. Well, with much advance notice and concern, WHY WEREN'T YOU MANAGING FOR THIS?????

    With that as a background, let's approach the question of should there be a FNMA/FHLMC? I believe there should be. Exactly what do they do? When they are not leveraging for earnings which BTW they started in the early 90s when loan volume dropped and they recognized they needed to do something else to "gin" earnings, they perform their intended function to make borrowing cheap for homeowners. If there were no FNMA/FHLMC for the past two years 30 year mortgage rates for the last two years would not have been 4.25% to 5.25% but rather approximately 5.75% to 7.50%. In addition there would have been a lot more balloon or adjustable rate loans. Now, does America want this higher rate when an effective "NON-Profit" or govt. entity could maintain this function? I think not and I think we need to recognize that the recovery would have been much slower if many people would not have had the availability of this lower cost money to buy homes and refinance to lower rates. Enough with policy and now back to a conclusion.

    But Lewis' writing style makes this book and his credibility from having written Liars Poker and the unique perspective of having worked in the industry and left it will make this a big hit. I strongly recommend this well written, important book.




    4-0 out of 5 stars "W/O Gov't Intervention Every Powerful Financier would Have Lost His Job, & Yet, The Financiers Used Gov't 2 Enrich Themselves", March 15, 2010
    Michael Lewis's "The Big Short" tells a rather disturbing tale of some of the biggest profiteers of one of America's worst financial crisis, which we are likely still in the midst of. The amazing thing cleverly illustrated by Lewis, is that while most of the brightest minds in America woke up to our shocking decline once it was too late, a small handful of speculators not only called it correctly, some became fantastically wealthy. The question that nagged me throughout the book was how should I feel about people who just made a killing while most of us watched our retirements suffer alarming declines, and witnessed friends & family lose their jobs and houses?

    Greg Lippmann is credited with being the first to expose the weakness in the market around 2006. He pitched the idea to hundreds of financial groups, but most seemed to invest in insurance policies to protect their exposure.

    P105:

    "A smaller number of people -more than 10, fewer than 20- made a straightforward bet against the entire multi-trillion dollar subprime mortgage market and, by extension, the global financial system. The catastrophe was foreseeable, yet only a handful noticed. Among them: Whitebox hedge fund, The Baupost Group hedge fund, Passport Capital hedge fund, Elm Ridge hedge fund, a gaggle of NY hedge funds, Elliott Associates, Cedar Hill Capital Partners, QVT Financial, and Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners. What most of these investors had in common was that they had heard, directly or indirectly, Greg Lippmann's argument."

    Mr. Lewis is a fun and witty writer and his energy in The Big Short is very reminiscent of Liar's Poker, but I really found something morbid and unappealing about this subject. Reading about Paulson's $15 billion killing in 2007 had a different feel than say Soros in the `80's & `90's, but maybe now I know how the English & Indonesians felt? Our society is bred to believe that hard work and ingenuity are rewarded, but in this case there is a tangible human tragedy as a consequence of speculators earning a massive imbalance of wealth in relation to the rest of the population.

    All of the speculators Mr. Lewis uses as examples technically did the right thing and chose wisely. Some were more sophisticated than others, but they all have one thing in common: they all made an obscene amount of money betting America would be brought down to its knees. I am also even more disgusted now with the rating agencies that were super-slick in stamping AAA ratings on what was absolute garbage in hindsight.

    I found the book both fascinating and disturbing. I think it is now clear to me that financial speculation that doesn't promote sustainable growth needs to be addressed and properly dealt with, and that adequate steps have not been taken. Lewis definitely added a new layer to my awareness of the credit crisis, and covered some fresh ground beyond typical news. I recommend the book if you want to gain a deeper understanding of the sucker punch that just hit most of us.

    5-0 out of 5 stars BookForum review, March 23, 2010
    In the run-up to the housing collapse of 2007-2008, houses weren't merely expensive, they were insanely expensive. Yet just when it seemed that prices couldn't go higher, some fool would come along and pay an enormous sum for a glorified hovel. You didn't have to be a genius to realize that American real estate was overvalued. It did, however, take something special to figure out how to make money off the madness. A group of between ten and twenty people did just that, making the bet of a lifetime that author Michael Lewis calls "The Big Short"

    The cast of characters in Lewis's highly readable chronicle of the collapse (and what led to it) includes a misanthropic former medical resident, a money manager who saw himself as Spider-Man, and a pair of men in their thirties who started with $110,00 in a Schwab account they managed from a backyard shed in Berkeley, California. "Each filled a hole," Lewis writes. "Each supplied a missing insight, an attitude to risk which, if more prevalent, might have prevented the catastrophe."

    Ever since he left Salomon Brothers to write Liar's Poker, the classic 1989 account of his years as a bond salesman, Lewis has been waiting for a day of reckoning. Little did he realize that the Wall Street he once knew now seems quaint. By 2007, it had morphed into a financial Frankenstein, a "black box" filled with hidden risks on complicated bets that could destroy its creators, but only if the government allowed it to do so.

    The first to figure out how to use the system against itself was a man named Michael Burry, who once described himself in an online personal ad as "a medical student with only one eye, an awkward social manner, and $145,000 in student loans." Burry possesses an intellect so unusual that Lewis turns his journey of self-discovery into a fascinating subplot. While working the grueling schedule of a medical resident, Burry started writing about stocks in an online forum. (He also took apart his personal computer and put it back together between 16-hour shifts at Stanford Hospital, prompting his superiors to send him to see a shrink.) When he quit medicine to start the hedge fund Scion Capital, admiring investors tracked him down and gave him money.

    When Burry started buying insurance in 2005 on nearly two billion dollars' worth of bonds backed by lousy mortgages, his investors thought he had gone nuts and nearly mutinied. But in 2007, when the housing market began to crumble and Burry's bet paid off, everyone realized that his predictions weren't crazy so much as a sane interpretation of a market gone mad.

    Burry might have set the trade in motion, but he was no salesman. The one who took his idea and ran with it, the "Patient Zero" of this tale, was a bond salesman at Deutsche Bank named Greg Lippmann, who went around telling everyone he could that the end was near. Only a few took his advice, but most who did became extremely rich. (John Paulson, who made an astounding personal profit of four billion dollars, is the subject of another recent book on the same theme, Gregory Zuckerman's The Greatest Trade Ever.)

    The reader can't help but root for this gang of financial renegades as they take on a corrupt and rotten system. Still, The Big Short lacks the pure narrative drive of Lewis' best-selling sports books, Moneyball and The Blind Side. The new work draws its energy from a different source, a palpable undercurrent of anger at the excesses of Wall Street the author shares with his subjects. Lewis is justifiably outraged at the behavior of Wall Street and what its trillion-dollar subprime-mortgage business truly represented: a means of extracting money from the bottom of America's social pyramid and moving it to the top. The problem isn't that Lehman Brothers failed, he shrewdly observes, but that it was allowed to succeed in the first place.

    Lewis reserves special scorn for the biggest banks. Goldman Sachs was selling large volumes of bonds backed by subprime mortgages and, at the same time, betting against the junk it was peddling. The Big Short also tells the little-known tale of how Morgan Stanley allowed a single trader to lose more than $9 billion.

    It's appalling, but not much has changed. Most Wall Street CEOs who set a course for the iceberg remain in power today. The blind are still leading the blind. At any rate, as Lewis observes, they still can't see things any better than a one-eyed former medical resident.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good book, but a little late to market, March 15, 2010
    First, I'm a big Lewis fan. Like many, my first exposure to Lewis was Liar's Poker; although, I've read several other Lewis books, his columns in the now defunct Portfolio, and occasional writings on Bloomberg. The Big Short isn't really a Liar's Poker experience.

    I enjoyed the book, and it's a quick read. It's just that a couple of Lewis's main characters--Burry of Scion and Lippman of Deutsche--were previously covered in another book, The Greatest Trade Ever. As a result of The Big Short being released comparatively late, some of Lewis's thunder has been stolen, so-to-speak.

    Regardless, the story is well written and if I had no experience with sub-prime, structured finance products, etc., I would have enjoyed it more. For the most part, I found myself grinding through the pages covering Burry. Ok, sits in his darkened office, listens to heavy metal, pouring over documents, investment from Gotham Partners, at odds with investors, Goldman not valuing CDS fairly, brink of collapse, etc. There's really little insight to add to this character if you've read The Greatest Trade Ever. In some ways, the same can be said for Lippman.

    I did enjoy reading about Eisman of Front Point and his crew.

    Bottom line, if you've read The Greatest Trade Ever and you're a huge Lewis fan, you'll likely enjoy the book, but you'll be familiar with the tale. Otherwise, there are probably other titles on your "To Read" list where your time may be better spent.

    Of course, if you haven't read The Greatest Trade Ever, The Big Short should be rewarding.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining, March 15, 2010
    Hugely entertaining look at the genesis of our current economic mess. Lewis finds the very few investors who predicted and profited from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and follows their journey from initial realization of the impending disaster to eventual payout. Following these eccentric characters and their interactions with the big Wall Street investment banks is at turns laugh out loud funny and head shaking incredulous. Lewis knows how to turn a phrase and does a good job teasing out the dark humor of the situations. He also does a very good job at explaining the essence of very complicated financial transactions and gives the reader a good understanding of the whys and hows of the financial meltdown. While this book is an important addition to our understanding of what happened, it isn't complete as it doesn't spend any time talking about US government policies that contributed to the crash (specifically, the special legal status given to the three rating agencies, and Fannie and Freddie's role in weakening underwriting standards). Nonetheless, this is still both an important and entertaining book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beware: One Star Reviews Based Only on Kindle Availability, March 16, 2010
    I just read through all the reviews. 35 of 41 one-star reviews were to punish Amazon for not making the book available on Kindle at the time of their review. They haven't read the book and don't intend to until it's on Kindle--but that's not going to stop them from punishing Michael Lewis to get back at Amazon. I suppose Amazon should have two rating systems--one for what the author actually wrote, and a second to tally the numbers of those expressing disapproval for the book not being available on Kindle.

    The Big Short is a wonderful read, well-written and informative. Lewis is a storyteller who roots his understanding of human activity in humans rather than in larger "processes". There's nothing wrong with observing the latter, but without humans there would be no economics, financial markets, etc. Nature doesn't provide for them, people do, and people have stories. They make decisions. They do intelligent things, selfish things and nutty things. These things are the threads woven into the larger tapestry. Lewis doesn't tell the WHOLE story of the financial meltdown, but he identifies many of the key players and how their decisions made a difference to the Big Short. He names Names. His prose, as always, is clear, witty and informative. The Big Short filled in many gaps in my understanding of how smart people can make a lot of money without really knowing (or caring) about how their industry actually works or what the consequences of their decisions might be. Makes you wonder.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another Michael Lewis gem!, March 17, 2010
    Contrary to the whining horde of "munificent" 1-Star allocating-Kindle owners, I actually read the book. Yes, through that "antique" medium, a hardcover printed edition. A medium which allows me to lend it out, have it signed by the author, pick it up in 20 years once more (after Michael Lewis pens the sequel), and place it prominently alongside other Michael Lewis volumes on the book shelves of my homely reading room.

    I refrain from a comprehensive review, given that numerous detailed and persuasive reviews appear on these pages, regrettably buried amongst an alarming preponderance of peeved Kindle owners, who have instead opted to commandeer the reviews for purely self-centered reasons. Reasons completely unrelated to the narrative. (Instead of unfairly skewing the book reviews of The Big Short, Amazon provides Kindle owners with the appropriate forum to voice complaints (below the book image): Tell the Publisher! I'd like to read this book on Kindle!)

    The Big Short is an interesting read, written in the delightful, thoroughly investigated, and remarkably enlightened style to which Michael Lewis aficionados are accustomed. While the book certainly doesn't encompass the entire body of the financial crisis, The Big Short provides an interesting account on some unlikely luminaries engaged in the markets prior and during the heights of the recent financial crisis. The book merits a prominent place amongst a collection of texts recounting products and players that contributed to the rise and fall of financial institutions, markets, and concepts.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Another worthwhile read on those who saw the sub-prime crisis coming, March 28, 2010
    Very much along the lines of Zuckerman's "The Greatest Trade Ever," Lewis explores the cast of characters who correctly deduced that the sub-prime fall was inevitable. Lewis' book arguably had much of its thunder stolen by being beaten to market by Zuckerman. Deciding between the two books, Zuckerman is marginally ahead, but Lewis' treatise covers enough new material and his style is different enough to make The Big Short a worthwhile read. It is an easy, uncomplicated read and flows quite well. It is not technical in nature, but should be more viewed as a populist commentary of characters and events. Lewis' analysis can't be viewed as being too in-depth (especially by market professionals) but then this book is not aimed at a dry academic market, but rather the general public interested in finance and the sub-prime crises. I enjoyed the book, but I'm still searching for the definitive account of the sub-prime debacle. ... Read more


    6. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
    by Siddhartha Mukherjee
    Hardcover (2010-11-16)
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $14.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1439107955
    Publisher: Scribner
    Sales Rank: 50
    Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist. From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease. Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars OFF THE CHARTS
    You remember the scene in the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"? From the top of the bluff looking into the distance at dusk, Butch sees the lights of the pursuing posse which doesn't stop tracking them even at night and says "How many are following us? They're beginning to get on my nerves. Who are those guys?" In the same threatening way cancers have been dogging human beings since the dawn of time, and although we now know quite a lot about cancer we still don't really know "who are those guys" or how to shake them. And they sure are "beginning to get on our nerves" as Butch said. Almost one out of four of us will eventually wrestle with cancer -- the defining illness of our generation -- and lose our lives in the process. Until it catches up with us most of us will try to ignore this fact, just as when we were very young children alone in our bedroom trying to go to sleep at night we tried to ignore the monster that we sometimes feared might be lurking in our bedroom closet.

    Enter oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee who almost parentally takes us by the hand to give us the courage to open with him the door to that dark and foreboding closet in order to see what is really lurking inside. Since eventually most of us are going to have to wrestle with this monster anyway -- either as a victim or as a loved one of a victim -- looking intelligently and closely into that dark closet does diminish fear and enhance wise perspective. And on this incredible journey into the depths of that darkness, what an absolutely marvelous guide is this modern day Virgil called Siddharta Mukherjee as he leads us on this long and often harrowing journey through the swarth that cancer has cut through mankind throughout time.

    Mukherjee is a veritable kaleidoscope. Turn his writing one way and you experience him as an exciting writer of page-turning detective stories or mystery stories; turn him another and he's a highly effective communicator of cellular biology; turn him a third and you get superb science writing; turn him a fourth and he has the grandeur and broad sweep of an excellent historian. It's hard to believe that this one book, combining all of these appealing characteristics, is the work of just one man. And underlying it all is his sterling medical training and credentials which have been enumerated often elsewhere.

    The book itself is a tour de force. It is the first book of such extraordinary scope regarding cancer. Its architectural structure brings to mind Melville's Moby Dick and how effectively and artfully Melville braided together the three strands of his great classic: a grand adventure story, the technology of whaling, and a treatise of humanity and philosophy. Equally effectively does Mukherjee weave together all the various facets of this iconic disease throughout history, from describing cancer from the patient's perspective, to viewing the never ending battles of physicians and medical researchers with cancer over the centuries, to examining the mysteries of the cellular nature of cancer itself and what really goes on in there, to the pro and con impact of this never ending plague on the spirit of the individual human and on our race as a whole, to peering into a crystal ball for a glance of cancer's and our future together. While doing all of this the alchemy of Mukherjee's writing continually turns science into poetry and poetry into science.

    Simply put, it is so good, and so incandescently clear and lucid, and so powerful, and so engrossing, and so easily consumed that you will not lay it down without someone or circumstances forcing you to.

    Had I read this book in my teens I would have found my life's career. I can only imagine that while you are reading this book, somewhere there will be some very young teenage girl or boy who will also be reading it at the same time you are, and who will become totally hooked by this book just as you will be, and who will go on to make a career in cancer research, a career that might provide the breakthrough that humanity has been searching and hoping for all of these many centuries. Thus although you will never know it, you will have "been there" at the initial motivation of that person and thus indirectly present at the earliest genesis of the eventual great idea.

    This book has THAT potential. It is THAT good.

    Kenneth E. MacWilliams

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Burden, The Mass, Onkos
    In the United States one in three women and one in two men will develop cancer in their lifetime. Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, a medical oncologist, has written a definitive history of cancer. It may be one of the best medical books I have read. Complex but simple in terms of understanding. A timeline of a disease and those who waged the wars. In 1600 BC the first case of probable breast cancer was documented. In the thousands of years since, the Greek word, 'onkos', meaning mass or burden, has become the disease of our time. Cancer. The title of the book, is "a quote from a 19Th century physician" Dr Mukherjee had found inscribed in a library book that "cancer is the emperor of all maladies, the king of our terrors".

    As a health care professional and as a woman who is six years post breast cancer, Cancer has played a big part in my life. I used to walk by the Oncology clinic, and quicken my pace. I used to give chemotherapy to my patients, before it was discovered that the chemo was so toxic that it needed to be made under sterile conditions and given by professionals who specialized in Oncology. Dr Mukherjee, wisely discusses cancer in the context of patients, those of us who suffer. After all it is because of the patients, the people who have gone before us, who have contracted some form of cancer, they are the base of this science.

    Dr Mukherjee started his immersion in cancer medicine at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He relates the beginning of the study of ALL, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, by Dr Sidney Farber in 1947. Dr Farber, a pathologist at the time decided to change his focus and start caring for patients. He was given a medication to trial for ALL, and though most of his patients died, some survived to remission. This opened his world and with the help of Mary Lasker, and Charles E Dana, philanthropists, they opened one of the first clinics that specialized in cancer care and research, The Dana Farber Cancer Center. Dr Mukherjee gives us the timeline of ALL and lymphomas and the medications that turned into chemotherapy. The development of specific care for blood cancers and the emergence of AIDS and patient activism. He discusses the surgery for breast cancer. It was thought that the more radical the surgery the better the outcomes. We now know that lumpectomies have an excellent outcome. But, women before me had a radical removal of breast, chest tissue, lymph nodes and sometimes ribs. The lesson learned is that breast cancer is very curable now and all those men and women, the patients who suffered, gave us the answers and cancer care has moved on.

    The onslaught of chemotherapies changed the face of cancer, and the 1970's served us well. In 1986 the first outcomes of cancer care were measured. Tobacco emerged as an addiction and soon lung cancer was a leading cause of death. Presidential Commissions ensued, politics entered the world of cancer, the war against cancer and the war against smoking. The Pap smear was developed, and prevention came to the fore. The two sides of cancer, the researchers and the physicians at the bedside, who often thought never the twain shall meet, recognized the importance of research to bedside.

    The story of the boy 'Jimmy' from New Sweden, Maine, became the face of childhood cancer. The Jimmy Fund, a Boston Red Sox charity in Boston, is still going strong today. 'Jimmy' opened the door to the public for the need for money and research, and care for those with cancer. We follow Dr Mukherjee with one of his first patients, Carla, from her diagnosis through her treatment. He has given a face to cancer. We all know someone with cancer, those who survived and those who did not. Cancer prevention is now the wave of the future.

    "Cancer is and may always be part of the burden we carry with us," says Dr Mukherjee. He has now written a "biography of cancer" for us, those without special medical knowledge. However, he does go astray in some discussions such as genetics. I have an excellent medical background, and found I was floundering at times. As I discovered,and Dr. Mukherjee agrees, our patients are our heroes. They/we withstand the horrors of cancer, and the horrific, sometimes deadly treatments. The stories of his patients make us weep, and the complex decision making about their care make him the most caring of physicians.

    The 'quest for the cure' is the basis of all science and research, and Dr Mukherjee has written a superb tome in language that we can all attempt to understand. The biography of Cancer. Cancer may always be with us,Dr Mukherjee hopes that we outwit this devil and survive.


    Highly Recommended. prisrob 11-13-10

    Jimmy Fund of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The (MA) (Images of America)

    Early Detection: Women, Cancer, and Awareness Campaigns in the Twentieth-Century United States

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Everyman Book of Cancer
    The brilliance of this book is the effortlessness with which the author draws the reader into the world of cancer and keeps him there as a tourist or witness. Dr. Mukherjee's engaging style, precision of prose and overwhelming compassion imbue this work with an energy that carries the reader along a ride like none other.

    Whether the reader is a basic scientist or sociologist, a patient or healthcare provider, a philosopher or philanderer, this book will appeal, entertain and educate.

    A remarkable achievement.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Cancer was an all-consuming presence in our lives."
    Siddhartha Mukherjee's monumental "The Emperor of All Maladies" meticulously outlines the trajectory of cancer (derived from the Greek word "karkinos," meaning crab) over thousands of years, starting in ancient Egypt. In 2010, seven million people around the world will die of cancer. Many have experienced the horrors of this disease through personal experience. The author provides us with a global view of this "shape-shifting entity [that is] imbued with such metaphorical and political potency that it is often described as the definitive plague of our generation."

    In "The Emperor of All Maladies," we meet a variety of patients, doctors, scientists, and activists. We also hear the voices of such iconic figures as Susan Sontag, author of "Illness as Metaphor," and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose "Cancer Ward" is a desolate and isolating "medical gulag." Cancer is such a complex subject that it can only be understood by examining it in all of its facets: through myths, the anguish of its victims, and the untiring efforts of its adversaries, both past and present, some of whom were well-meaning but horribly misguided. Mukherjee says in his author's note that he has made an effort to be "simple but not simplistic." In this he has succeeded.

    Ancient physicians thought that such invisible forces as "miasmas" and "bad humors" caused cancers. Many years of experimentation, studies of human anatomy, laboratory work, and clinical trials have shown cancer to be a "pathology of excess" that originates from the uncontrolled growth of a single cell. Cancer is "unleashed by mutations--changes in DNA that specifically affect genes that incite unlimited cell growth." What treatment to use--surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches--is rarely an easy decision. Equally significant are the efforts of public health officials, who seek to reduce cancer's mortality through early detection (mammography and colonoscopy, among others, are screening methods in use today). In addition, cancer may be prevented by encouraging people to avoid environmental carcinogens such as cigarette smoke.

    This elegant and heartrending narrative is far more than a biography of a terrible malady. It is also a story of paternalism, arrogance, and false hope, as well as inventiveness, determination, and inspiration. We meet Sidney Farber, who pioneered a chemotherapeutic approach to leukemia in children during the 1940's and helped launch "the Jimmy Fund"; William Halstead who, in the nineteenth century, disfigured women with radical mastectomies that, in many cases, were not curative; Paul Ehrlich, who discovered a "magic bullet" to combat syphilis from a derivative of chemical dyes; Mary Lasker, a powerful businesswoman and socialite who zealously raised money and political awareness in what would become a national war on cancer; and George Papanicolaou, a Greek cytologist, whose Pap smear "changed the spectrum of cervical cancer." Mukherjee constantly moves back and forth in time, showing how the past and the present are closely interconnected.

    Throughout the book, Dr. Mukherjee's keeps returning to one of his patients, thirty-six year old Carla Long. In 2004, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells. Carla would have a long road ahead of her, one filled with pain, fear, and uncertainty. We look to the future with cautious optimism that even greater progress will be made in our never-ending battle against a treacherous and multi-pronged enemy. Mukherjee is a brilliant oncologist, gifted writer, scrupulous researcher, and spellbinding storyteller. "The Emperor of All Maladies" is a riveting, thought-provoking, and enlightening work that deserves to become an instant classic.

    5-0 out of 5 stars All In favor say "Aye"
    There seems little left to say so I'll take a different tack, look to another facet of this book and its author.

    Today I heard Dr. Mukherjee interviewed on the Terry Gross show (Fresh Air - NPR), where the topic, the book, was biased in favor of the author ... and a wonderful treat it was. While I am interested in cancer and progress toward cure, the fascinating aspect of today's experience was the man himself. In all the interviews of all the interviewers I've listened in on - mostly literary in nature - I've never heard a more articulate responder than Mukherjee. He's a poet. His choice of words slice in toward meaning like the scalpel itself. He avoids vagueness and ambiguity, courts acuracy and precsion like no one I've heard. He is a treat just to listen to, never mind his insights into the disease, it's history and possible future.

    I ordered this book today in order to get more of his artistry but I wouldn't discourage those seeking the phycician's prowess - that is there too. If I should be in that 25% that ends up with cancer, I would hope Dr. Mukherjee would be there to consult with me and console.

    5-0 out of 5 stars As magentic as a biography can be
    As a work of scholarship, this book is just tremendous. Mukherjee traces the history of our understanding of cancer from 2500 BC to present-day. He writes of political battles for public attention, incredible wiles in the biology of the disease, and schisms among the researchers sent to conquer it. All major developments are present and sourced in sixty pages of footnotes. From this grand historical scope, Mukherjee has crafted a tight and coherent narrative that I found very difficult to put down. I'm aware of no lay-account of cancer with anything approaching the level of depth present here. This book is one-of-a-kind.

    Like anything so vast, it isn't quite perfect. Certain structural changes would benefit fluency, though they've no impact on my unqualified recommendation.

    * More humanizing characteristics and quotations. Smaller researchers, and occasionally even key players, are summed by little more than what they've accomplished. There are perhaps a hundred contributors that Mukherjee covers, but with exception to a handful that have had tens of pages devoted to them or some peculiar eccentricity, they're interchangeable and unmemorable.

    * A more even balance between discovery and those stricken by cancer. Mukherjee is at his best when he's describing the struggles of his own patients. These stories are touching, personal, and an intensely interesting ground-level foil to the bird's eye view of much of the book. The retrospective of cancer discovery is so vast and detailed that these rare moments where the story reverts to the present can feel like an oasis.

    Roughly half of The Emperor is comprised of five and ten-page vignettes where Mukherjee poses a question ("If XY, then could XYZ ... ?") and resolves it with the travails of a researcher ("Person Q, a scientist at H, noticed ..."). These accounts are often gripping, especially as advances accelerate in the mid-1980s, but sets of four or five in a series are enough to cause my attention to drift.

    * A different ending. In the final chapters, Mukherjee suggests he'd originally intended to conclude with the death of a particular patient. By serendipity, that patient was still living in late 2009. Given the great strides in cancer survival and the sense he conveys that genetics may well provide the magic bullets that so occupied the fantasies of early researchers, concluding on a high note would have been within the spirit of the book. Instead, Mukherjee describes another patient that did in fact die. This person was not previously introduced. She was a better fit for the narrative, but including her account for that purpose didn't strike the right tone to me.

    Structure aside, I'd like to have seen Mukherjee become more of a prognosticator in later chapters. I was reeling at the sheer mass of information on display by the last page, but I also felt as if I'd accumulated a great depth of trivia with little binding glue to the present. There probably aren't a hundred people alive in a better position than the author to comment on the state of cancer research, to predict, or to theorize in new directions. But these insights are spare.

    These points aside, if you've even a tangential interest in cancer or biology, Mukherjee's opus remains a must-read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Spectacular insight into the most feared of all diseases
    This is a spectacular book. I read 100 books a year and this is definitely in the top 10. It is very, very well written and, in some ways, it is like a mystery. The way the book is written, we follow the stream of research and clinical medical treatment over 150 years. It's like feeling around in the dark for a bomb that we know will go off. It is simultaneously horrifying and compelling. I am a doctor and think I am compassionate towards my patients. This book increased my compassion 10X. What surprised me the most was the politics involved in attempting to cure a disease that potentially affects everyone. Surgeons want to cut and oncologists want to drug. They each have their turf and don't want to give it up. The fact that 50% of all men and 33% of all women will get some form of cancer before they die is a very sobering one. The section on the evilness of the tobacco industry was particularly illuminating. I can't put the book down and will truly be sad when it is finished.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight into the science behind medical research
    Great book, I will read it again. I love learning and understanding the thought processes, errors and vast achievements of all aspects of scientific research, particularly medicine. This book does not disappoint. The author leans somewhat heavily on his thesaurus, be prepared to dig around in the dictionary. However, great history and insight into the scientific method. A fascinating peek into the mind of a scientist and a clinician. Must read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The New Standard for Cancer Stories
    It is difficult to even imagine the stacks of reports, articles, notes and interviews that Dr. Mukherjee processed to produce this fabulous book. Each page explains, in very readable prose, complex, arcane subjects. For anyone looking for reason to hope that their cancer is curable, this book is trove of stories of lives saved and changed by the work of cancer researchers.
    This book will be referenced in other works for a long time. ... Read more


    7. Cinderella
    by Henry W. Hewet
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JML0HG
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Preachy re-telling of Cinderella story is nauseating
    This rather over-cute and moralistic version of the ancient Cinderella story was written to emphasize, as many religions do, that virtue should be practiced because it is rewarded. Nine year old Cinderella, whose true name is not revealed, listens to her mother tells her as she is dying to bear everything with patience.

    Her father decides to remarry so that his daughter will have a step mother to care for her. He chooses badly and the step mothers with her two daughters mistreat the girl badly. She has to sit among the cinders of the chimney and, therefore, she is called Cinderella or Cinder-Wench.

    Nothing more is told about the father. We do not know whether he was still alive during the subsequent episodes. We also do not know how old the girl is in the subsequent episodes. Surely she cannot still be nine.

    When the prince arranges a ball and invites everyone, the step sisters have Cinderella prepare cloths for them and give them advice how to act because despite mistreating her, they knew that she had good taste. Cinderella, very virtuously helps her tormentors.

    The rest of the tale is well known. Suffice it to add that virtuous Cinderella merited help from the fairy godmother because she treated her well when the fairy came to her disguised as a poor hungry old lady. Cinderella, true to form, later gives her step sisters some of the food that the prince gave her. Also after she married the prince, she arranged good marriages for the two step sisters.
    ... Read more


    8. Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions Throughout the Ages
    by Leland Gregory
    Kindle Edition (2007-05-01)
    list price: $9.99
    Asin: B002TZ3D2G
    Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
    Sales Rank: 324
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    If it would shock you to learn that Benjamin Franklin didn't discover electricity, you'll appreciate this take on hundreds of historical legends and debacles. Historians and humorists alike may be surprised to learn that:

    Samuel Prescott made the famous horseback ride into Concord, not Paul Revere. As a member of Parliament, Isaac Newton spoke only once. He asked for an open window. On April 24, 1898, Spain declared war on the U.S., thus starting the Spanish-American War. The U.S. declared war the very next day, but not wanting to be outdone, had the date on the declaration changed from April 25 to April 21.With these and many other stories, leading humorist Leland Gregory once again highlights both the strange and the funny side of humankind. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Light reading on a weighty topic!
    I really enjoy trivia and I really enjoy history so it was nice to see them combined in a really funny collection. This is a collection of entertaining short, historical tales flavored with pieces of trivia and stupid acts through the ages. Leland Gregory has also peppered these narratives with "punny" jokes that are sure to make you crack a smile.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fun Read
    This is a fun book. The entries are one page little-known facts and anecdotes from history. I found the entries to be from slightly interesting to Wow! Plus, there are several laughs thrown in along the way. The one page entries made this perfect bedtime reading for me.

    5-0 out of 5 stars totally worth it impulse buy
    I purchased this at my local Borders Books. Unintentionally. They had it up at the register, and being a history fanatic, and a fan of all things trivialesque & stupid, I impulsively purchased the book. I'm so glad I did. As another reviewer said, the book is full of everything from, "Oh, really?" to "OH WOW!" and very 'punny' jokes.

    Totally worth the money. I'm glad it was on display, or otherwise I may have never known of it's existence. ... Read more


    9. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean
    by Susan Casey
    Hardcover
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $12.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0767928849
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 58
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth, an astonishing book about colossal,  ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out.

    For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.

    As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of peo­ple as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100­-foot wave.

    In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

    Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Discovery Channel meets ESPN, September 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Susan Casey's THE WAVE features an introduction that would be right at home in a Tom Clancy thriller. Following the headline "57.5 (deg) N, 12.7 (deg) W, 175 MILES OFF THE COAST OF SCOTLAND... FEBRUARY 8, 2000," she launches into sixteen pages of prose describing a handful of shipping disasters.

    Have you ever been on an ocean liner where half the passengers were turning green with nausea as the ship pitched and rolled in 25-foot swells? That's nothing. Dead calm by comparison.

    Monster waves, the height of a ten-story office building (and taller) have taken ships --big, huge ships-- and pounded, pummeled, and overturned them, split them in half and buried them forever along with everyone aboard under thousands of tons of water, and it happens with a frequency that you can't begin to imagine.

    I read those first pages, and by the time I got to Chapter one, I was electrified. This was going to be a page-turner of the first order.

    Only it wasn't. As it turns out, Casey's THE WAVE is about 1/3 "The Discovery Channel" and 2/3rds "ESPN's Gnarliest, Awesomest, Surfin' of the Century."

    Don't get me wrong. It's not that I have anything against people who surf. In fact, there was a fair amount of the surfing story that I found simply fascinating (and until reading this book, I knew NOTHING about.)

    Case in point: Cortes Bank. This is an area in the Pacific Ocean about 115 miles off the coast of San Diego. As it happens, there is a submerged, underwater chain of islands there, and when the large Pacific swells --beefed up by storm fronts-- hit the shallow water... well, surf's up, dude, in a majorly-tasty way.

    Casey's description of her six-hour trip out to this isolated area in a rather small boat with a band of some of the best surfers on the planet looking to ride 100-foot waves was astounding. I had no clue that surfing was anything but a near-the-shore sport.

    But my issue with the book --and the reason I've given it just three stars-- is the amount of ink she devotes to the surfers, their injuries, their families, their gear, their homes, the award ceremonies... well, you get the picture.

    The sections of the book that I was expecting --where she writes about the science of the waves, both what we understand, and that which remains (at this point) well beyond our ability to figure out, are very well written. I really like her writing style, and enjoyed her 2006 book about the Farallon Islands, "The Devil's Teeth" a little bit more than THE WAVE, if only because the subject was a touch more 'focused'.

    - Jonathan Sabin

    4-0 out of 5 stars Well written ultra press release for The Laird...Ultimate Wave Guy (TM), September 5, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    First things first. The Wave was fun to read because Casey is a very solid writer. She knows how to put a sentence, paragraph, and tale together. Technically, her writing is near impeccable; it's a pleasure to read a galley proof and see almost no errors, compared to so many authors who apparently can't write ten words without needing spellcheck and an editor. So from that standpoint, this was one of the best advance copies I've seen of anything over the past few years.

    I haven't read Casey's other book, about sharks, nor have I read her as editor of Oprah's O Magazine (I have trouble picking up a publication that has its owner on the cover every issue, who also named it after herself). After reading The Wave, I might just check out Casey's other writing, as she understands what good scribbling is all about. She always keeps things moving, rarely bogging down in arcane detail even when discussing the science of climatology, waves, etc, and has a fine eye for the telling fact. Perhaps too fine, but we'll get to that in a minute. What's best about The Wave is the overall scope; Casey links how the earth's weather is changing to how waves are growing, and there's no denying the stats: there is a clear correlation. She visits various scientists and marine salvage folks and shares their stories; they all agree that we're seeing the oceans get nuttier, and it's only just beginning.

    Enter our hero! Laird "Larry" Hamilton, big wave rider extraordinaire. In this book he comes off as very humble, very brave, and very wise. You root for him at every turn on every wave and it's clear that Casey has quite a rapport with the guy. She always seems to be at his house, near the infamous Jaws/Pe'ahi, a Maui big wave break, chatting with Larry and Curly and Moe. Just kidding. These guys are no stooges; they've almost perfected the art of tow-in surfing, which is the only way to catch a 50 footer or above---paddling in is too slow. But towing is still very controversial to many, and Casey pretty much skips that argument altogether, a telling omission.

    We're taken to some of the world's best big breaks, like Todos and Cortes and even Jaws' big sister Egypt, which never breaks unless it's almost 100 feet high and provides the highlight of the book, a wild day where Laird and his tow partner almost get killed, and when they realize maybe it's not worth dying to catch the biggest waves. (The fact that Laird went out again at 80-foot Egypt that same session certainly dispels any doubts; this guy definitely does live for the really hairy waves.) That chapter, and the scene where Laird takes Casey on a jet ski down the face of Jaws, offer some visceral thrills for the reader, and are part of why this book is fun. Even if its title should really be The Wave: Kingdom Of Laird.

    Which brings me to some thoughts we're unlikely to hear much about when this book hits the stands. [If you're not a surfer or are just curious if The Wave is good, no need to go further. Enjoy the book, it's a fine read.]

    As a surfer, though sadly landlocked, I've followed Hamilton's exploits on occasion since I first read about him in the '90s. When his infamous Teahupoo monster wave was on the cover of Surfer mag in 2000, I remember standing at my mailbox in true awe at the insanely malevolent lip above his head. That thing could easily vaporize anybody. From that point on Laird became the Ultimate Big Wave Surfer, TM, and suddenly he was everywhere. But here's what's most interesting about LH: he disdains surf contests, for many good reasons, and is seen as the Pure Surfer. Seeking the biggest, baddest, bestest waves on the planet, he has jettisoned the crass commercialism of the surf world to live on his own ethereal plane of Ultimate Waveness.

    Except for those American Express commercials. And that Oxbow stuff. And his own brand of products. And...well, you know, a guy's got to make a living, right? Fair enough. But here's the problem: so do other guys. There's a scene in The Wave where Laird, with his faithful reporter tagging along, gives some grief to Sean Collins, who started the website Surfline, whereby anybody can see where the best waves will be on the planet. Laird feels that's cheating, and not everybody should get that knowledge. Just like many feel that tow-in surfing---which Laird, Buzzy Kerbox and Darrick Doerner pioneered in the '90s---is completely wrong, with its gas fumes and noise and pollution of Mother Ocean, and its disrespect towards paddle-in surfers.

    But you see, when Laird does it, it's pure. Sorry, Pure TM. Just as Surfline isn't pure. And contests aren't. And maybe they're not, fair enough. But you know what? It's time Hamilton realized that while he may be a better surfer than the rest, and thus deserving of more respect out there, he's not the only surfer, and other riders want and maybe even deserve the big waves too. And the magazine covers. And the videos. And the movies. And the American Express commercials.

    And the book written by Oprah's go-to writer gal, which when you really look at it is a long, very well-done puff piece on Laird Hamilton, posing as a scientific inquiry into the world of waves. Which it also is...but it always seems to come back to Laird. So why not call this book Laird: The Super Mega Master (And His Big Waves, Etc)? Well, that would be so crass. And maybe a little too transparent.

    Hey, it fooled me. One of the reasons I picked this up was Laird, but I also wanted to hear what the real wave experts think. And they confirm what many of us were talking about 20 years ago: the waves are getting bigger due to climate change, and there'll be some awesome tubes the size of houses out there, ever bigger. So it's only logical that guys like Laird and Doerner should be stoked, and studied. Wait a minute...who?

    Another weird thing about this book is Darrick Doerner's very peripheral status. He's barely mentioned, even though he was Laird's original long-time tow-in partner. Even though he was catching monsters when Larry was a kid (including a 1988 Waimea wave still considered one of the all-time great paddle-in (ie real surfing, non-TM) waves). Even though true waterman Doerner is seen by many in Hawaii as Laird's predecessor and teacher, in many ways. So why is Darrick barely mentioned? Good question. Just like Buzzy; he and Laird had a falling out and now it's all about Kalama and Lickle here. But if this book is really about big waves, Doerner merits far more time and respect.

    And where is Eddie Aikau?! Come on. He deserves at least a paragraph, if not a chapter. Same with Jeff Clark, who surfed the insanely hairy Maverick's alone for 15 years, probably the greatest big wave feat that ever will be. You'd think that Casey, whose comfort in and respect for the water adds much credence to her writing here, would give those guys the space they very definitely earned.

    Finishing The Wave, I decided to check out Laird's website, which I've never done. And guess what? It was only there and in linked articles that I found many fascinating facts skipped over in The Wave. Like, Casey lived with the Hamiltons on Maui for five years (never once mentioned in the book...why? Seems germane. Maybe too much so?). Like, Laird's site sells a bumpersticker, Blame Laird, a weirdly ironic theft of a sticker popular on many cars at many breaks now. He's being blamed for costing plenty of surfers endless waves by popularizing the stand-up paddleboard, wherein you stand on the board way outside the break and get ALL the best waves. It used to be the old longboarders way outside who peeved folks inside...now they too are mad at the stand-ups. So it goes.

    So Blame Laird. But also make sure to check out Laird's new line of....you guessed it, stand up paddleboards! Yes, the ads are all over his website, but Casey never mentions in the book that LH has this product on sale, but she does talk about him stand-up surfing and plugs it as a genuine Hawaiian thang, and ain't it cool, etc. Hmmm. Perhaps Casey is head of O due to a very skillful way with product placement along with her literary skills?

    And Laird's website's front page now has various articles about...this book! It wasn't until I read those articles that I saw very clearly that The Wave was practically commissioned by Laird, or perhaps his wife Gabby. Her own line of products is on his site as well, and she just wrote a gushing piece on she and Laird hobnobbing with the rich in the Hamptons while promoting...The Wave! Wait, are we still talking about Laird Hamilton, hater of surf contests and all that is phony in the surf world? Can't be.

    But it gets better, or worse, or something. Laird is also now sponsored by, try not to laugh...Chanel! Yes, the perfume folks, now hawking watches. Clearly from Gabby's starstruck article ("Laird sat next to super famous artist/New York scenester Julian Schabel at dinner!"), she is all about leveraging the Hamilton brand, and Laird is being dragged along.

    Or rather, towed, into the modern world's Greatest Wave of all: Selling Yourself.

    The pictures of Laird at that party for this book show him almost cringing , and who can blame him? This whole PR exercise can't be his doing (one hopes, but one wonders...). One also hopes that he soon pulls out of this ever-bigger monster wave, with a thousand logos across its face and all sorts of bumpy shelves on the way down to the trough of Eternal Product Placement, where there is naught but a crashing, crushing lip; that's one wave you can't bail on once you're in its brutally gnarly closeout barrel, bruddah.

    Sure, LH has to make cash for his family (always the ultimate excuse for selling anything), but he can't simultaneously hate on Sean Collins, other tow-in surfers, and the surf world in general for following his lead. Especially when he's making all this money selling himself as Mr. Ultimate Big Wave Surfer in TV commercials and books and movies. Pick one or the other, Laird. You're the purist, or you're the sell-out like everyone else. You can't be both...and you ain't. The Wave and its glitzy parties and no doubt upcoming Oprah tie-ins are no better than any surf contest or gaggle of tow-in noobs at Jaws on that rare huge day every three years...they're just somewhat more subtle. Judge not lest thee be judged. You may have started it, but you can't have it all to yourself while cashing in as well. (Just like you can't preach about the purity of Mother Ocean and then jet ski into waves while spewing gas all over your mother).

    So now, along with his t-shirts, movies, bumperstickers, hats, paddleboards, vitamins, watches, credit cards, etc etc etc etc, Laird has a book, The Wave. It's a very well-disguised, well-written, intelligent product placement, and it tricked me up until I went to Laird's website. Kudos to all concerned for the subtlety. But in the end this book The Wave is yet another all too crisp meta-ironic piece of modern culture, a warning of the dangers that modern human life has unleashed on the planet, while also being the kind of well-crafted consumer-culture advertisement that has lead to the selfish earth-trashing behavior that may have caused all these freaks of nature in the first place.

    Oh well. It fooled me and I had fun while it lasted. And that's what matters.

    Isn't it?

    4-0 out of 5 stars she's not one of the boys yet, October 22, 2010
    the book begins excitingly - susan casey is a tour de force when it comes to research. she knows her subject and does all the homework, ranging over continents to talk to sources in science and industry and sport. she obviously has money, because she spares nothing in expense. she also has an amazing ability to bring esoteric concepts to life by translating the phenomenon of these giant waves into little images and analogies that the reader can relate to - she writes vibrant, muscular prose. what disappointed me: when she finally gets to the big waves and big wave surfers, that boldness seems to dissipate. and she writes like a schoolgirl with a crush on things like laird's hamilton's muscles. no longer the intrepid adventurer, she writes about quivering with fear and nervousness at actually going out with the surfers to the wave break-- but in the flank of it, where all the boats and skis sit, the safe zone. she has a tin ear for her own dialogue - her questions seem to be suddenly a whole 6 octaves stupider, focused on feelings and "how do you feel" questions to men she's already characterized as not much for excess words. women surfers appear almost nowhere in the book. the more it annoyed me, the more i began to see casey as just another goggle-eyed chick in a bikini, and i was disappointed because her book began with such a dramatic crackle of energy. when i researched around and read on laird's website that she made a financial deal to pay for access to his world, i felt even more disappointed.

    so i went back to read her first book, about great white sharks. same tendencies. amazing writing, with the same snap crackle pop of good prose. prodigious research, and capacious funds to undertake it. and yet somehow in the middle of the book she becomes all thumbs - afraid to jump from a sailboat to a dinghy, afraid to bait a fishhook, afraid of the dark, afraid of ghosts. afraid her expensive underwear will get taken by a storm. pointing out that she feels sexy wearing fashion rugged gear in the company of men. once again she never really mentions the women interns who are actually living at the farralones - who actually deal every day with the things she finds overwhelming as a visitor. they're there, but the experiences she focuses on are her own, not the experiences of those with more mileage and qualifications under their sexy belts. when a shark researcher shows up (and yes, he's handsome!!! picture included!!) she admires his muscular forearms but seems vague about what he actually does. they go to the aquarium together at the end. meanwhile she manages to lose a sailboat, set off government inquisitions and insurance claims, break federal regulations, and get one of the top research scientists fired from his job, with not so much as a fare-thee-well of regret for being the cause of so much trouble.

    i look forward to the day when casey goes through the teeth of an experience and develops a little stamina and endurance of her own. so far both her books are based on having watched specials produced by others on tv - which means it's a recycled experience, more or less. someone else pointed the way, and she picked up well on the clues, but the path was already given. and she comes across as an amazing woman who still gets self-conscious and intimidated being in the world of rugged men. her claim to fame is access, not achievement. she has too much talent to waste on schoolgirl crushes. the best adventure journalists of our time don't just get their la perla underwear dirty - they write having already gone through transforming adventures of their own.

    apologies to all concerned. as a woman writing and working in the world of men, i took these observations as a cautionary tale about tone. and tone-deafness. and being naive instead of weatherbeaten.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Waves Are Not Measured In Feet Or Inches But In Increments Of Fear, September 9, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    "The relationship between the waves, the weather, the planet's rising temperatures, and the overarching ocean cycles is wildly complex. And, they result in more frequent and higher extreme ocean waves which are a result of Global Warming" Susan Casey tells us this, and so much more. I loved this book, the waves transfixed me, the information transformed me, and the oceans and seas filled me with the fear of God.

    The stories Susan Casey carries with her and places on the written page about waves, oceans, seas, surfs, research, surfing and the people who follow and do these crazy stunts have filled me with a sense that we, the humans that populate this earth, have done it wrong. The oceans absorb 80% of the heat, and as the water heats, the wind increases, storms become more volatile. The ice melts, and the sea levels rise and millions of us who live near the ocean are at risk. The more we know about the waves and our weather and how it affects us, the better off we will be. The next generation is in for a rough ride.

    Susan Casey is a superb writer, she strings the stories of waves and the researchers in language I can understand. The people who ride the surf, the Laird Hamilton's and the Lickles, seem heroic and foolish all at the same time. The risks they take, but it seems they must. They were born to ride the waves, and they must find the highest and the fastest. They become the best surfers. They know the waves, the science and how to read the oceans and the waves. The waves become their friends and their foe. They move from ocean to ocean and place to place to meet these waves and conquer them. Sometimes they succeed.

    What I find especially fascinating are the researchers of the waves. The people who make their life's work studying the waves and how they change in size and their relationship to the universe. The people who rescue the ships that are lost at sea, the products they carry, and the people they lose. One or two ships are lost every week at sea, and it was not until 2000 that a group of like minded men came together to study why these ships were lost. It used to be said that extreme weather was the cause, well, sort of. There is so much to learn, and the list of lost ships and their stories are listed in a ledger by Lloyds of London. The reasons are waves, earthquakes, tsunamis, wind, temperature and a little bit of this and that. The Caribbean particularly Puerto Rico and the North west are overdue for tsunami inducing quakes. Scares me, does it scare you?

    Climate change has been on all of our tongues for many years, and now, we must face it up close and personal. Hurricane Katrina was but one example that should serve as a warning. Look around you and listen, everyday there is an example of warming, floods, ships lost at sea, increase hurricanes, heat, and rain and snow of unheard proportions. Susan Casey has given us a book that enlightens us all.

    Highly Recommended. prisrob 09-09-10

    The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

    Women Invent!: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World


    2-0 out of 5 stars More the book about and from a extreme surfer groupie..., December 1, 2010
    ...than a book about waves! Susan Casey is obviously fascinated by extreme surfers and spends most of the book on them, their close calls, their family life etc... Now, granted that it is a fascinating life but despite her breathless prose, one does not really get the scale of what these guys are doing: maybe a video of them riding those monsters and talking about would do more justice to their accomplishments. But, in all that, what I had bought the book for, thinking on the basis of early reviews that it would be dealing with the forces creating these monster waves, was basically lost even when eventually she talked to scientists, drawing out of them more their personal experiences than the science of it. A more accurate title would be something like "In pursuit of the ultimate ride"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Surf's UP!!!!!, November 12, 2010
    An incredible account of nature in all her unsettled splendor. I was thoroughly caught up in the telling of how the oceans spawn monstrous waves which are both awesome to behold and at the same time can be devastating to people, ships, and the land.

    Ms. Casey wrote a wonderful book based on scientific evidence and personal accounts from many people who study, live and play on the world's oceans.

    Imagine surfing on a 70ft wall of water. Too hard to imagine? Look up at a 7 or 8 story building, then stand next to it and look straight up. That's where the surfer drops into the moving wave of energy. Can you feel it?

    Photos of ships being pummeled by giant waves; of the devastation left behind when monster waves hit land; and of the very brave people who surf these giants are included.

    I love this book! I grew up on the east coast and remember some very large waves that hit beaches during stormy weather. The waves described in the book far outweigh my experiences.

    A must read for anyone who thinks about global warming, and how weather is dynamically changing the very face of the oceans.



    3-0 out of 5 stars The ocean is full of unpredictable forces and characters too, December 14, 2010
    Here we are presented with a concept book that attempts to hold various subjects, incidents and characters together around one unifying piece of information. That the ocean is full of unpredictable forces that create huge waves, some as high at 100 feet. We join the crew and scientist aboard the RRS Discovery in the North Sea as it is hurled about for days. We attend scientific workshops where mathematicians try and study waves. Find out climate change is going to make the oceans even more unpredictable. We learn two large ships sink each week on average (worldwide) and no one ever studies the cause as we do with airplanes that crash. Their disappearance is simply recorded as the results of "bad weather". Susan Casey then layers on top of this what I found to be the complete idiocy of big wave tow surfing with Laird Hamilton of Maui as the main character we are to identify with. He is sort of the Spiderman of surfing. He and his buddies (in conjunction with the surfing industry who at one point offer $100,000 to the first person who successfully rides a 100 foot wave) risk life (several surfers deaths are covered in the narrative) to just get the rush of the big wave. And interestingly enough it does not count if it is not filmed so we also meet an incredible group of surf photographers. So you mix all this into the stew and bounce around a lot and you find yourself loving and hating the book.
    For me reading is much the joy of learning things you never knew or would know if you had not read a given book. And there is lots to learn in THE WAVE about the ocean and the phenomena of big waves and I doubt many people have heard of the sport of tow surfing or how one goes about doing it. Or that the biggest waves to surf are found some 100 miles off the coast of San Diego in some 6 foot deep water which covers the tops of a huge mountain range, an area called the Cortes Bank. So the book has much to offer. What seems wrong is its balance. The surfers, especially the hero worship of Laird Hamilton gets old after a while. Does Susan Casey ever think Laird's actions as a father with a family are a bit irresponsible no matter his skill and Zen like personality? Is he really a wave whisperer with no warts?
    The interesting character for me at the end of the book is Laird's buddy Brett Lickle who having suffered a major injury which left his left leg with a scar that was "though his entire calf had been melted" (and have being saved by Laird Hamilton) stands on a cliff watching his friends challenge the latest Maui big waves. Lickle made it clear that he no longer misses "the circus, the jeopardy, the nerves" by saying, "The only thing I'll say is that the accident was a kind of ticket out, you know what I mean? What we had was a gang. And you couldn't get out of the gang. There was no way out. There's so much peer pressure like, `come on, you're the man! Let's go!' You can't just walk away because.....you can't. But if you get shot up and almost die, they let you out." For the surfers the big waves are a personal challenge and thrill like climbing a mountain. For the scientist and ships crews the waves are something to respect and fear.
    If the subject interests you which I am betting it does I believe you will enjoy the book although I found it very uneven and is a bit to hero worshiping in its promotion of the tow surfing culture.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Scientists, ships and lots of surfing, October 1, 2010
    Susan Casey is a captivating writer. Somehow she is able to take the concept of something as comparatively non-threatening as waves and spin it into an interesting tale, highlighting how wrong I was about the pretty waves breaking on the beach.

    Casey interviews mariners, Lloyd's of London reps, physicists, and--primarily--surfers about their experiences with and predictions for a huuge wave, dude. The science is a little glossed over but I suspect that it would be difficult to go into wave physics in more depth without the reader glazing over. I really did enjoy the section about Lloyd's of London and their history in insuring ships (and Tina Turner's legs, of course).

    The major problem with Casey's approach is I think she got a bit too caught up in the surfing scene. For each original section where she talked to a scientists about their dire predictions for the potential destructivenss of waves, or someone on a ship who had been caught in a wave, etc., she intersperses it with a scene about another wave-chasing day with the surfers, and it got a bit repetitive by the end of the book. I don't know, I think I would have admired the surfers more had I actually known a little less about them by the time the book was over. Anyway, this flaw wasn't enough to drop it to 3 stars. I learned a fair bit about surfing, and I finished the book in awe of the giant waves that could pay us a visit any time they like.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Radical brah, September 27, 2010
    My surfing experience is limited to boogie boarding in San Diego when I was 22, but I had many surfing dreams for about a year after that. Whatever it is, it is powerful. Still, like many others I expected less surfers and a little more exploration into others who deal or have dealt with massive waves, but I still enjoyed the book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars More Stories than Science of Waves, but Conveys Their Beauty and Destructive Power., September 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Susan Casey likes water. In "The Devil's Teeth", she wrote about great white sharks in the Farallon Islands. In "The Wave", she explores the subject of big waves, taller than 50 feet, 100 feet, or even 1,000 feet high. Big waves are normally associated with storms, earthquakes, or reefs... and then there are rogue waves, whose very existence was doubted until recently, that seemingly come out of nowhere to swallow big commercial ships. Water in large volumes at high speeds is perhaps the most powerful force on Earth. To get a feel for these behemoths, Casey talked to the big wave surfers who seek them out, marine salvage experts and maritime meteorologists who help mariners escape them, and the scientists who are trying to understand them.

    Casey crisscrossed the globe for a few years speaking to experts in fields related to waves and tagging along with a group of big wave surfers whose most famous member is Laird Hamilton. Out of 13 chapters, only 5 are not about the experience of surfing big waves: Casey takes us along to the Tenth International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting and Coastal Hazard Symposium, where researchers present their theories on wave formation and prediction. She visits Lloyd's of London, which insures most of the world's shipping fleet, and learns how vulnerable bulk carriers are to big waves. She talks to geohazard experts, scientists at the National Oceanic Center in England, a marine salvage expert who saves ships in distress, and a geologist who speaks of the 1,740-foot wave created by a 1958 earthquake in Alaska.

    And Casey hangs out with people who like big waves: the tow-in surfers who routinely surf Pe'ahi in Maui, Teahupo'o in Tahiti, Mavericks south of San Francisco, and a handful of other big wave hot spots. She travels to those places with surfers and their photographers to get as close as she can to experiencing big waves for herself. And there's the carnage. Two dozen big commercial ships are lost at sea each year; surfers who seek out big waves don't always make it either. "The Wave" has a jaunty pace, and the surfing stories give it glamour and drama. Casey's decision to dedicate so much space to the folks who spend time inside these waves for fun is a good one. They are intimate with big waves and convey a fear and awe of them that helps the audience grasp the size, power, and beauty of such a thing. "The Wave" is a fun read. ... Read more

    10. My Passion for Design
    by Barbra Streisand
    Hardcover
    list price: $60.00 -- our price: $36.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0670022136
    Publisher: Viking Adult
    Sales Rank: 77
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    A lavishly illustrated personal tour of the great star's homes and collections.

    For nearly five decades Barbra Streisand has been one of the singular figures in American entertainment. From the cabaret to the Broadway stage, from television and film stardom to her acclaimed work as a director, from the recording studio to the concert hall, she has demonstrated that the extraordinary voice that launched her career was only one of her remarkable gifts.

    Now, in her first book, Barbra Streisand reveals another aspect of her talent: the taste and style that have inspired her beautiful homes and collections. My Passion for Design focuses on the architecture and construction of her newest homes, the dream refuge that she has longed for since the days when she shared a small Brooklyn apartment with her mother, brother, and grandparents. A culmination and reflection of Streisand's love of American architecture and design between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the book contains many of her own photographs of the rooms she has decorated, the furniture and art she has collected, and the ravishing gardens she has planted on her land on the California coast. In addition to glimpses of her homes, Barbra shares memories of her childhood, the development of her sense of style, and what collecting has come to mean to her. My Passion for Design is a rare and intimate private tour into the world of one of our most beloved stars. It will be welcomed by her many fans and all lovers of the great achievements of American design.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great photos & interesting journey, November 17, 2010

    From reading the book, I get a clearer picture of the woman behind the unsurpassed talent. It's that thorniness in her character about having things be absolutely right. Perfect. That's the driving force in her success. And she does address this quest for perfection in the book many times, both the positive side and the annoying side. I get the feeling that this incredible eye for detail causes much internal turmoil and is a doubled edge sword of sorts. Through the book, one can appreciate the style, the taste and creative vision... I'm crazy for the millhouse with waterwheel by a stream... the grounds are breathtaking! Organic gardens, chickens with pale green eggs and more roses than the Rose Parade!!
    My favorite photo in the book is of her sitting room/office... dead flowers on the coffee table... papers stacked up on the desk... real life. Just like the rest of us.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful book of Design, November 17, 2010
    As many long time Streisand fans and followers know, Barbra has collected art pieces,furniture & has had an eye for antiques,design and creativity from the beginning (about 50 years of collecting). I am glad a book of her recent efforts mixed with some treasures from the past have been put together in a nice book as such.I am just about done reading the entire book and I would recomend this for any fan of Barbra or anyone interested in design, antiques and style. A +

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book, November 16, 2010
    This book came this morning and I've already devoured it. The time, thought, and patience (not to mention money) that went into the building of this compound is staggering. A beautiful book with interesting and insightful text. A great Christmas gift with beautiful photography and great color.

    Of course, a must-have for Streisand fans.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully made catalogue/book - not so much the house itself, December 4, 2010
    I looked through this the other week and I must agree with others that it is a beautifully laid out and designed BOOK - good quality paper, easy to read layout, in depth essays on the designs etc. But from a design point of view this house is not anything terribly ground breaking, exciting, interesting, or revolutionary. I found the decor cluttered and the spaces of the house claustrophobic, certain features of the house (wine cellar, 'shops', guest house and so on) boring and gaudy, and the whole thing a rather New Englandy-Funny Girl mess. It seems like what Ms Streisand was going for was a palatial, Cape Cod cottagey barn xanadu compound. She has not succeeded (no one ever will with that combo). If she's happy with her home - then I am happy for her. But this is not a design cornerstone, revelation, or epic. It is however - Original.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Her Passions proceeds to charity, November 17, 2010
    Yes, this book is a little pricey, but most of the proceeds are being donated for "Women's Heart Health" She was interviewed yesterday on Oprah and stated that she wants to raise 5 million and will "match" the 5 million. The name of the hospital she is working with directly escapes me but she has made women's heart health her personal mission because so many women die of heart disease. A great book on Barbra's passion for a great cause!

    5-0 out of 5 stars What a beautiful book!, November 22, 2010
    I received my book today and am so impressed with it from start to finish! I am so glad that I ignored the negative (hateful & jealous) remarks because this book is definetly for those who are interested in design and home decorating with beauty. It inspires great initiative for you to take what you like and apply it to your own decor (only using a lesser monetary scale of course). As a project, Barbra's book reflects her perfection shown in gorgeous photos and indepth commentaries! I am truly glad that I made this purchase and if you love beautiful designs/decorating, you will too. I love it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars BARBRA'S MAGICAL WORLD....., November 16, 2010
    The "SO- CALLED" book review by PJ Samith (one star) sounds more like a personal attack on Streisand more than a book review. How can you review the book if you didn't buy it or read it? Sad really. Since I have bought the book, and read almost half of it today, I think I'll rebut your review and give the book 5 stars. My only complaint is that a
    couple pictures have a pixellated look to them. Other than that, Streisand's attention to detail is amazing, and her taste impeccable. Getting a glimpse inside the worlds greatest star's world is worth the price alone. Barbra's writing feels like she is speaking right to the reader, telling you her personal stories and filling you in on all that it took to create this magical place. BRAVO Barbra!

    SIDE NOTE: MR. SAMITH....WITH ALL RESPECT, I was there in the stadium at Madison Square Garden the night of the "outburst". People payed good money to hear Streisand, Not it listen to some blow hard Republican shouting stuff from the stands. Mis. Streisand did the right thing telling him to "SHUT THE ____ UP!" She also said she would give him his money back if he wasn't happy. The thunderous applause that night showed that 98% of the audience think she did the right thing. So please don't blame that event for your review. Thank you!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ! This book is great, November 16, 2010
    I'm so proud of this woman. To come from a poor childhood and become such a great success, she deserves everything life has to offer! yes there are many haters out there, but this comes from jealousy of things that we ourselves wish we had and sadly are without much to offer to society but bitterness, and at those people I simply "chuckle" Bless you Barbra and thanks for such a beautiful book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Proceeds of this book go directly to charity!, December 16, 2010
    I'm ordering this today. I have seens countless images of it on Oprah and GMA. Why would Barbra Streisand produce a book on design? Well, why not? Should she just stick to singing and acting? The woman has talent and she decided, after discovering the Heart Disease kills more women than all cancers combined, to use this book to raise money ( all proceeds go to her charity) and help rather than be silent. If this raises awareness and helps women in need like your Mothers, daughter etc., I hope she writes another book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars So much talent, PLUS such fabulous design!, November 16, 2010
    I was fortunate enough to tour Ms. Streisand's magnificent architectural masterpiece in the Malibu Canyon compound that she created, and then donated to the Nature Conservancy, and I was amazed and inspired, and never forgot it. So when I heard about the book she has written on design, I bought it immediately. What a delight to turn the pages and be transported into a dream world that ordinarily only Hollywood and smoke and mirrors could create. But Barbra did it! She made it real! What a heaven on earth she has created for her and her family and friends. How fortunate they are to live there and experience it, and how lucky we are to be able to savor it vicariously in the delicious pages of her book. Bravo Barbra for the book, and the home! ... Read more


    11. All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
    by Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera
    Hardcover (2010-11-16)
    list price: $32.95 -- our price: $17.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1591843634
    Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
    Sales Rank: 98
    Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    "Hell is empty, and
    all the devils are here."
    -Shakespeare, The Tempest

    As soon as the financial crisis erupted, the finger-pointing began. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, misguided regulators, sleazy subprime companies, cowardly legislators, or clueless home buyers?

    According to Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America's most acclaimed business journalists, the real answer is all of the above-and more. Many devils helped bring hell to the economy. And the full story, in all of its complexity and detail, is like the legend of the blind men and the elephant. Almost everyone has missed the big picture. Almost no one has put all the pieces together.

    All the Devils Are Here goes back several decades to weave the hidden history of the financial crisis in a way no previous book has done. It explores the motivations of everyone from famous CEOs, cabinet secretaries, and politicians to anonymous lenders, borrowers, analysts, and Wall Street traders. It delves into the powerful American mythology of homeownership. And it proves that the crisis ultimately wasn't about finance at all; it was about human nature.

    Among the devils you'll meet in vivid detail:

    • Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, who dreamed of spreading homeownership to the masses, only to succumb to the peer pressure-and the outsized profits-of the sleaziest subprime lending.

    • Roland Arnall, a respected philanthropist and diplomat, who made his fortune building Ameriquest, a subprime lending empire that relied on blatantly deceptive lending practices.

    • Hank Greenberg, who built AIG into a Rube Goldberg contraption with an undeserved triple-A rating, and who ran it so tightly that he was the only one who knew where all the bodies were buried.

    • Stan O'Neal of Merrill Lynch, aloof and suspicious, who suffered from "Goldman envy" and drove a proud old firm into the ground by promoting cronies and pushing out his smartest lieutenants.

    • Lloyd Blankfein, who helped turn Goldman Sachs from a culture that famously put clients first to one that made clients secondary to its own bottom line.

    • Franklin Raines of Fannie Mae, who (like his predecessors) bullied regulators into submission and let his firm drift away from its original, noble mission.

    • Brian Clarkson of Moody's, who aggressively pushed to increase his rating agency's market share and stock price, at the cost of its integrity.

    • Alan Greenspan, the legendary maestro of the Federal Reserve, who ignored the evidence of a growing housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the lending practices that ultimately brought down Wall Street-and inflicted enormous pain on the country.

    Just as McLean's The Smartest Guys in the Room was hailed as the best Enron book on a crowded shelf, so will All the Devils Are Here be remembered for finally making sense of the meltdown and its consequences.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars I thought it would take at least a decade for a book this good
    I am only about 40% through this book but I had to stop and give it 5 stars! This is an excellent and balanced account of the events, laws and business practices that led up to the crisis. This is not a book that over-simplifies the crisis with terms like "Wall Street Greed". Instead, it sheds light on all the variety of players that it took to create this mess: Fannie/Freddy, The Sub-prime companies (many you probably never seen mentioned in press), policies and laws that go back to the Clinton era, failures of regulators and the justice department, the Fed, Banks, Wall St., the Rating agencies and of course, the general publics own stupidity.

    If you are willing to accept the fact the the answers to the cause of the crisis are not simple and you "can handle the truth" then you must read this book.
    ... Read more


    12. The Investment Answer
    by Daniel C. Goldie, Gordon S. Murray
    Paperback (2010-08-15)
    list price: $16.95 -- our price: $10.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0982894708
    Publisher: Dan Goldie Financial Services LLC
    Sales Rank: 39
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    What if there were a way to cut through all the financial mumbo-jumbo? Wouldn’t it be great if someone could really explain to us—in plain and simple English—the basics we must know about investing in order to insure our financial freedom?

    At last, here’s good news.

    Jargon-free and written for all investors—experienced, beginner, and everyone in between—THE INVESTMENT ANSWER distills the process into just five decisions—five straightforward choices that can lead to safe and sound ways to manage your money.

    When Wall Street veteran Gordon Murray told his good friend and financial advisor, Dan Goldie, that he had only six months to live, Dan responded, “Do you want to write that book you’ve always wanted to do?” The result is this eminently valuable primer which can be read and understood in one sitting, and has advice that benefits you, not Wall Street and the rest of the traditional financial services industry.

    THE INVESTMENT ANSWER asks readers to make five basic but key decisions to stack the investment odds in their favor. The advice is simple, easy-to-follow, and effective, and can lead to a more profitable portfolio for every investor. Specifically:

    • Should I invest on my own or seek help from aninvestment professional?
    • How should I allocate my investments amongstocks, bonds, and cash?
    • Which specific asset classes within these broadcategories should I include in my portfolio?
    • Should I take an actively managed approach toinvesting, or follow a passive alternative?
    • When should I sell assets and when should I buymore?

    In a world of fast-talking traders who believe that they can game the system and a market characterized by instability, this extraordinary and timely book offers guidance every investor should have.

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Elegant summary of the core of personal investing
    One of the advantages of a college education with a major in finance is that you learn the fundamentals, and, more importantly, you learn the boundaries of the universe in terms of what the field includes and what it excludes. Spend an hour or so reading this book, and you will also get that comfortable feeling that comes from knowing that you understand what personal investing is really all about. You will get the "big picture" and how it affects you.

    I have been a full time faculty member teaching at the college level for the past 35 years and must say that the authors have managed to capture the essence of personal investing in about as few pages as I have ever seen and with a clarity that is very rare in books on this topic. I intend to make it required reading for both my undergraduate and graduate personal finance classes.

    I might also add that any negative reviews posted to this site are likely to come from Wall Street brokers who make their living by exploiting the general public's ignorance on investing. These brokers don't like books that clarify and illuminate rather than mystify and obfuscate basic principles. As a lifelong educator, I applaud Goldie's and Murray's nobel effort to help readers educate themselves so as not to be fooled by the same Wall Streeters who disgraced themselves in 2008 and nearly destroyed our economy with their greediness. Anyone who feels they don't know enough about investing should read this book. It is a gem.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The title says it all - The Answer
    You won't be getting this book from your broker for Christmas. You don't need to read a bunch of "Beat The Market!!!!!" books to develop a sound approach to investing. Evaluate your personal investment goals and timeframe, take a gut check on your appetite for risk, and accept that risk and returns are correlated. The authors make a compelling, data driven argument in under 100 pages that describes a "no regrets" approach to investing. Market timing, stock picking, commodity speculating, etc. ultimately benefit the trading pros over the average investor. Choose your asset allocation model with a few simple principles, then buy diversified global capitalism for your equity component with low expenses. And hold it. Done. You won't be the big winner in any given year, but you will likely out perform 95%+ of investors who buy the proven myth that they can beat the market. There are many purveyors of this snake oil, but few truth tellers. Murray and Goldie get it right, and this book is so short and to the point that you must read it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the investment primer for everyone
    I just read The Investment Answer this morning in under an hour and it is brilliant -- comprehensive without being overwhelming, easy for a broad audience to read and understand, and most importantly, easy for anyone to execute.

    Over the last 30 years, this is the model we have used to invest, and it has served us very well. But we have not been able to articulate this sensible plan to friends and family (especially our children) in a way that was understandable and compelling. The temptation to "take the bait" from Wall Street is strong. Many friends and colleagues who are more "sophisticated" investors suffered the sad outcomes so elegantly described in the book.

    Gordon and Daniel -- thank you, thank you for writing this book. I am placing my order for 10 copies to give away to family and friends this morning. You have accomplished what few have -- a lasting legacy that will positively impact many families for a lifetime!

    5-0 out of 5 stars All you need to know for a successful investment experience
    Like losing weight, successful investing is based on a few simple concepts. However, also similar to losing weight, the concepts are not always easy to implement. It takes discipline to execute the simple concepts of eat less and exercise more. It also takes discipline to execute the simple concepts of diversification and rebalancing. Dan Goldie and Gordon Murray have done a terrific job of breaking down successful investing to a few core concepts. They explain the concepts in layman terms, always keeping it short and simple. The beauty of this book is the brevity yet clarity of each concept covered. You do NOT need to read a 300+ page book to understand investing. There is now this book, which is under 80 pages...but even a quicker read than you might think because of the font and graphs. I read the entire book in two hours one evening. I have an undergrad degree in Finance and Economics and have spent about five years combined time earning my CFA and CFP(r) designations. YET, if you simply commit to spending two hours reading this book, you will be privy to all the key investment principles that took me 20 years in the business to discover. Not only do I give this five stars, but I plan on buying 50 books and giving them away to every relative and friend I have. Disclosure: I don't know either author nor have I met either one. I'm just in the same industry and delighted that someone actually wrote the book that I wish I had written.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The book that I wanted to write!
    Dan and Gordon have written the book that I've wanted to write for years, but never found the time. It is clear and concise. I read it in less than an hour.

    The authors do a great job of explaining the difference between an independent investment advisor and a salesman working in Wall Street's broken business model. This is something that the vast majority of investors do not understand.

    Even novice investors will find this easy to understand. Perhaps even more important, it debunks the myths that prevent most investors from achieving success. Read it and buy another copy for someone that you care about.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect, Bite-Size, Investment Book for Any Level Reader
    This book is a perfect culmination of: Goldie's experience with frustrated clients due to Wall Street gimmicks, explanations of why Wall Street's solutions are substandard, and an academically, exhaustive, investment remedy for every investor. BAMM!

    The authors' abilities to "cut to the chase", and quit the "beating around the bush", leaves the reader feeling refreshed and informed. Simple examples and compelling stories will resonate well with all levels of readership.

    If you are looking for a way to quit worrying about your investments, ignore CNBC & WSJ, and "drop" that confused feeling you have about investing, this is your book! Grab a cold Coke, relax, and enjoy yourself for the next hour of your life. You will forever thank the authors for presenting the information in such a light manner. I bet you will refer the book to at least 3 of your friends.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Run, don't walk, to get this book!!
    Several years ago, Gordon sat my husband and me down to show us the beta version of this book. We'd been friends for years and he felt strongly that we needed to know how to protect our money. His arguments were so clear and compelling that we moved our investments from a traditional retail broker to an investment advisor with an investment philosophy based on the concepts in this book -- efficient markets, modern portfolio theory, diversification, and asset allocation.

    For the first time, we felt confident that we and our investments were in good hands. Then the recession hit. Our portfolio did less badly than many and rebounded faster than most. And with this book, we understood why.

    Run, don't walk to buy this book or download the pdf version. It will give you the peace of mind and sense of control that ONLY happens when you understand how the financial world really works. With what we learned, we felt ready to act in our own best interests. You will too.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Women should read this book!
    Like me, many women were not handling their family's investments and are now seeking to take control of this aspect of their lives. Now that I manage my own investments, I wanted to make wise and purposeful decisions. I didn't want to just take the path of least resistance. This book helped me ask the essential questions and seek answers that suit my objectives. I finally feel in control of my finances!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best basic investment book you'll ever need
    I read Dan and Gordon's book cover to cover in about 45 minutes last weekend. It is chock full of very good data and excellent advice on how to invest money successfully, something most investors do not achieve. I plan on giving the book to each one of my children to help them better understand how to properly invest their own money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book before you invest
    I wish that someone had written such a succinct treatise on investing before I first started investing my money. I could have avoided some very counterproductive forays into commodities, oil and gas ventures, and other highly suspect "investments". Read this book before you implement your investment plan. ... Read more


    13. The Grand Design
    by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow
    Hardcover
    list price: $28.00 -- our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0553805371
    Publisher: Bantam
    Sales Rank: 95
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    THE FIRST MAJOR WORK IN NEARLY A DECADE BY ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREAT THINKERS—A MARVELOUSLY CONCISE BOOK WITH NEW ANSWERS TO THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS OF LIFE
     
    When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation?

    The most fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, now occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet—if only to disagree. In their new book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by both brilliance and simplicity.

    In The Grand Design they explain that according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. When applied to the universe as a whole, this idea calls into question the very notion of cause and effect. But the “top-down” approach to cosmology that Hawking and

    Mlodinow describe would say that the fact that the past takes no definite form means that we create history by observing it, rather than that history creates us. The authors further explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe, and show how quantum theory predicts the “multiverse”—the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature.

    Along the way Hawking and Mlodinow question the conventional concept of reality, posing a “model-dependent” theory of reality as the best we can hope to find. And they conclude with a riveting assessment of M-theory, an explanation of the laws governing us and our universe that is currently the only viable candidate for a complete “theory of everything.” If confirmed, they write, it will be the unified theory that Einstein was looking for, and the ultimate triumph of human reason.

    A succinct, startling, and lavishly illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening some of our most cherished belief systems, The Grand Design is a book that will inform—and provoke—like no other.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A very interesting book., August 23, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This book began not with a Bang, but with a shudder. On the first page, I read the phrase (and yes it's a proof so this may be changed in the actual version): "Philosophy is dead". No one can argue that there is a modern day philospher with the influence of Aristotle; but surely, philosophy can't be dead!?

    However, reading onward, the authors made their point quite convincingly: philosophy is dead in the sense of answering the most mysterious of life's questions. It is up to science, and scientific theory, to provide clues to the true answers, as philosphy in its most ancient forms has taken a back seat, but modern philosphy, that of scientific philosophy, has taken root.

    This book, you'll find as you read, is dumbed down. But it's not stupid or simple. While the math and the proofs of the math are essentially missing (a great boon for laymen like myself), the philosophical science is presented in a very interesting, detailed, and thought provoking way. It is not as difficult, and oft-maniacal, a read as Emmanuel Levinas, instead it's somewhere closer to Lucretius's On the Nature of Things (ironically).

    And so the authors move on in sequential and ordered fashion, trying to answer: Why is there something? Why do we exist? Why this set of natural law? The theories they expound upon are sometimes old, and sometimes groundbreakingly new, but all will either surprise you, educated you, or both; but in the least, make you think about reality and your own existence, and the reality of your existence.

    This book has illustrations every now and then. Most are of no use but to entertain you, in my opinion. Some are there to actually educate you in at least a small way. But what irked me a few times was that while I was reading a thought, I'd encounter a picture in the middle of the text that had nothing to do with the thought I was just reading about. A slight moment of confusion erupted, but was quenched right after I read the paragraph after the picture/illustration. This may be of no consequence to many, but while reading such interesting ideas, and mulling them over in my head, I certainly didn't like being interrupted by something that hasn't been discussed or processed.

    Otherwise, the book is pleasent on the eyes, as it's set in what would be essentially type 14, Times New Roman. For 190 pages, and such a large font, it's a very quick read, especially once you get captivated by the arguments that are laid out in front of you. I don't want to discuss them in detail, as not only am I unable to lay out the argument as convincingly as two geniuses, but also don't want to spoil the though-provoking journey this book will take you on.

    I highly reccomend this book to anyone who wants to see how modern, scientific philosophers, answer life's ancient questions and/or those who just would like a leg-up on modern physics, so that you won't be left out in the cold should you encounter a group of people conversing about the topic.

    Those with scientific minds, will prosper with this book.

    Those that fear God, need not look away. This book does not disparage, criticize, nor impinge. It, as with all books, simply provides a story and its lessons.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Modern physics simplified, August 26, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This book is both shorter and more clearly written than any other physics book I've read, including Hawking's other works. If you are interested in physics but don't have the patience to read something long and detailed such as Roger Penrose's "The Road to Reality" then this is a great book for you. Even if you simply want to compare "The Grand Design" to less detailed pop physics books with minimal mathematics, it holds up very well. Usually the analogies that lay physics books employ in an attempt to make intuitive sense of mathematical concepts become quite strained, but for some reason everything seems to work here and the authors don't push them too far.

    I was concerned by some of the things that were said at the outset such as "philosophy is dead" - each academic discipline requires years of study and can't reasonably be dismissed out of hand by someone who is an expert in another field - but my concerns were eased by the rest of the book. The quest for a grand unified theory of physics, the ultimate topic of many lay physics books, does sound philosophical and has resulted in various theories that are currently highly speculative and difficult to test. The M-Theory discussed in "The Grand Design" sounds more reasonable than the many alternatives but all are still very weak as far as scientific theories go.

    If you lack patience for mathematical formulas and want a short, clearly written physics book that minimizes the mathematics while still surveying the basic concepts of physics and introducing the more speculative current topics, I haven't read anything better than "The Grand Design".

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of contemporary cosmology and physics, August 24, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    In a mere 180 pages, Leonard Mlodinow, the author of the excellent "The Drunkard's Walk" and of debates arguing against Deepak Chopra, and Stephen Hawking, expound a subjective interpretation of quantum physics, and offer a theory to try to unify all of the underlying forces of nature. A grandiose undertaking; along the way, they revisit the philosophical questions of Free Will, the origin of the universe(s) without a creator-God, and vividly describe some of the counter-intuitive concepts generated by quantum physics' strangeness.
    They believe that we inhabit one universe in a multiverse version of quantum physics, in which there are an almost infinite number of universes that can arise spontaneously from the "big bang", and which then dictate the laws of nature that follow. This promotion of the so-called "strong anthropic principle" may offend some scientists and philosophers. The role of observation in determining quantum reality, and of its ability to alter the past in events in the quantum world, are just some of the seemingly bizarre concepts elaborated. This includes even the consequences of the delayed slit-lamp experiments. The cornerstone of their approach to quantum physics utilises Richard Feynman's theory of a sum of histories. Further underlying this, is the assumption that "reality" in our world is dependent on the model we use, and that if different models can successfully explain scientific phenomena, then each model must be considered equally "real".
    The clarity of the explanations are garnished with bits of humor that are tastefully incorporated without being intrusive. There is no math required, merely good use of logic in order to follow the arguments presented. There is a well-rounded historical summary of scientific discoveries, right up to and including the most recent ideas in string theory and particle physics.
    But make no mistake, they are expounding one subjective view of cosmology, and this might come across as overenthusiastic, controversial, or even supercilious, by physicists, other scientists, and philosophers of science, who may not hold these views.
    I found the book hard to put down. Accompanying the text are a few diagrams that are helpful in clarifying certain concepts. Overall, a nice summary of physics and cosmology, which culminates in an ambitious and highly subjective analysis/synthesis to try to explain the universe and reality.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Very Disapponting to a Fan of Hawking and Mlodinow, September 12, 2010
    This is one of the prettiest books that has come across my desk in a long time: well-bound, slick paper, gorgeous pictures. All in all, it is an excellent example of the book-maker's art. Unfortunately, the actual text is so slight that I was disappointed from cover to index.

    My first disappointment was right on the cover. I understand that Stephen Hawking is a world famous scientist (and one whom I admire) but was he the primary writer of the text? I hope so, because why else does Leonard Mlodinow have his name in one-third the font size? Mlodinow's book on geometry (Euclid's Window) is a truly great book while Hawking's books, though interesting, are not nearly as well written. I understand that this likely has much to do with marketing but I'm always put off by "ghostwriting."

    Then there's the fact that we're being fooled into thinking this is a full-sized hardcover when, in fact, at normal font size and spacing, this book would be a third of its size. Essentially, it is nothing more than a longish essay. As a teacher, I couldn't help but be reminded of students who play around with font size, spacing, and picture inserts to try to appear to reach the required length of an assignment. Disappointing.

    Most importantly, however, is the fact that the argument these two highly intelligent men are trying to make is simply unconvincing. Joining the ranks of scientists out to convince everyone that there is no need for god, they are arguing that "M-theory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe" which means (among other things) that there are multiple universes that can spontaneously generate from nothing. Beyond that fact that I'm always cautious when any scientist proclaims absolutes and predicts the end of science, as this has happened as often as pastors predicting the end of the world with the same result, there's not enough depth to their development here to make their sweeping conclusions plausible.

    In fact, I couldn't help feeling that this was something of an exercise in ego. That Hawking, in particular, is relying on the power of his fame to be convincing rather than the power of his argument. This book simply isn't detailed enough to be a fully-formed argument. I have a degree in physics, know its history, am familiar with Feynman's work, and understand the basics of string theory, but I couldn't see how someone without this kind of background would be able to follow much of this. I don't feel I came away with a clear view of what they were trying to say.

    Still, they deserve credit for promoting their atheism without being strident or condescending to believers, and there are some interesting things here. I like some of the history, particularly in the early parts of the book. I like the hints at the difference between model-independent and model-dependent theories, though I thought they could have made more of this. I like the description of the "Game of Life" and what it might mean for the development of a "universe" based on a set of simple rules, though this seems to contradict the main assertion of the book, that an entire sequence of complicated theories is necessary to describe the universe.

    In the end, however, it suffers from the same problem as many books of this type. In its most important conclusions, it is all speculation masquerading as certainty. I don't mind speculation, and Hawking and Mlodinow may turn out to be perfectly correct in many or all of their conclusions. But I think the door is a long way from being closed on the debate here, and this book didn't bring me any closer to being convinced.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Expected much more from such elite minds, October 18, 2010
    The media hype is just that--hype. The Grand Design is a very disappointing performance by these elite minds. I expected much more substance from these authors. The essence of their thesis is covered in the final three chapters, a thesis weakly argued with unclear logic and minimal substantiation. I think a more authentic forum would have been an essay in Reader's Digest or Time Magazine.

    The authors seek to answer three philosophical/religious questions, seeming to assert that physicists are the new priests with physics as the new religion, because "philosophy is dead". Their modality is application of the suppositions (unproven ideas) of theoretical physics to arrive at a conclusion that M-theory can prove the universe spontaneously erupted from nothing and if proved "will be a model of the universe that creates itself." If the critics of "psi" accept these authors' example of argument I will lose faith in the critics' objectivity when it comes to their evaluation of theories on paranormal phenomenon.

    There is little that is new here. Proposing M-Theory as the basis for describing the origin of the universe is certainly not a new idea. Arguing for M-Theory describing a universe's spontaneous generation from nothing is a new proposal in the world of cosmology--but not for the realm of non-Greek based philosophy. Thousands of years ago the Taoist described the universe as self generated from nothing. It's nice to see cosmology is catching up to thousands-of-years-old philosophy, contrary to the authors' opposing assertion in their opening remarks.

    I will grant the book will stir thought and argument, which may be the authors' primary goal, since after 30 years of effort string theory /M-theory is wallowing in a quagmire due to its failure to simplify into the grand design. The authors' assert that the disjointed complexity of the M-theory is as good as it gets, just compromise and don't waste any more time on trying to make it better--it is already The Grand Design. Hmmmmm, what was the basis of that argument again?

    I hope the authors will take on the rigor of producing a mathematical model, derived from current work that has some validation from Cosmic Ray Background measurements to demonstrate their conclusions. That will at least, allow others to check their work and bring authenticity to the proposal. Maybe they've done that work and neglected to mention it--one can only hope?

    I for one, as a professional physicist and engineer, am not convinced by their arguments and do not see that they answered the three philosophical questions proposed in the first chapter. By the end of reading the second chapter I added a fourth question...should cosmologist attempt to become philosophers?

    Welcoming your responses,
    Bob Lindberg

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not Hawking's best, September 25, 2010
    While there is beginning to be a build up of negative reviews for this book, I want to preface my review by saying that Dr. Hawking is still one of the top players in his field and that his views hold considerable weight given his track record. That being said, I found this book to mirror what most of the reviews have already noted. Nothing new is presented here that wasn't already said in Hawking's earlier book A Brief History of Time. Hawking begins the book by saying that philosophy is dead and that scientists must answer the tough questions about life....then launches into philosophy for a good part of the book. While Hawking has done much work with quantum mechanics, there are reasons to be skeptical of his conclusions given what other prominent people in his field have to say and the current state of knowns and unknowns about quantum mechanics. The best I can say is that the book is interesting at times but highly speculative and the conclusions drawn are questionable. I would suggest reading Roger Penrose's review of the book to get an idea of what his colleagues (Penrose is certainly of the same stature as Hawking, just not as much of a name outside of the scientific field) had to say. Hawking so far as I know, has not really responded to some of the challenges from those within his community.

    Conclusion: Don't buy the book unless you're a really big Hawking fan or are doing research on the subject and want Hawking's thoughts on quantum mechanics and scientific determinism. The book is rather short and can be read in just a few days. Perhaps there was a letdown because people expected more from a Stephen Hawking book ( I may be guilty of this )but it feels like Hawking is going over familiar territory and did not do enough to substantiate his position on the subject. Regardless of your feelings about Hawking's atheistic conclusions I would say that theists, agnostics, and atheists alike will not find the challenging, cutting edge book that many had hope for or expected.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Something out of nothing, September 10, 2010
    Disappointing. I read the book in just a few hours - it is definitely lightweight reading. Most of the book is, as others have noted, a review of introductory modern physics, but not with much depth. I too was stunned at the ending which sort of pulled a rabbit out of a hat with "Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can." It may well be that M-theory leads to that, but I didn't feel prepared at all for that leap. The missing preparation is the book's problem for me.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Successor to A Brief History of Time, September 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Widely called The Most Purchased, Least Read Book in American Publishing History, Stephen Hawking's treatise on black holes and space-time was a classic amongst science writing, as well it ought to be. It managed to take extremely abstract and difficult to understand material and make it approachable for thirteen-year-olds. (I was one of said teenagers.)

    That said, the material in that book was, to my mind, simpler and more intuitive than what was in this book. Somehow, though, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow managed to take even trickier material (and far, far more counterintuitive science) and make it approachable for lay folk.

    Inside, we are taught a brief history of science, from Thales to Feynman, and many of the thinkers in between. We learn of the intuitive theories of Newton and the bizarre realm of quantum realities. As a person who was familiar with wave-particle duality exhibited by subatomic and elementary particles, there was an amazing moment where experiments done with fullerene (a particle roughly 40 times as massive as water) exhibited the same phenomenon. Literally, there were a half-dozen world-view changing moments in this book for me.

    As at least one news website has (woefully!) spoiled for all of us, Hawking's beliefs on the creation of the universe are here, and he doesn't make us wait for his point of view (it's on page 9). That said, there is no polemic, no screeching rant against creationism or even intelligent design. He merely seems to take the position of Laplace. He is far more offensive, actually, with other statements, particularly about philosophy. Yes, much like memoiai, I cringed at the speculation that "philosophy is dead", merely because "philosophers have not kept up with science". Certainly, by the time the book closes, he makes the case that philosophers generally will have to do some catching up if they are to remain the metaphysicians and epistomologists amongst us (but other realms of philosophy, thankfully, remain intact).

    Despite a few such grandiose claims (the claim that all biology is a result of the electromagnetic force leaps to mind), this is by no means a belligerent or offensive tract. Rather, it shines through in the entirety of the book, and on virtually every page, that both scientists have the single goal of enlightening and perhaps, dare I say it, entertaining.

    It is rare (alas!) to find a book so accurate, so detailed, so educational, and so darned fun to read. This is certainly one that I will read again, and I have already started recommending it to others. (Usually, I start with the mischievous statement, "Want to break your brain?").

    It's great. It really is. Things like this are why he deserves a Medal of Freedom, and perhaps a Nobel Prize in Peace as well.

    Harkius

    2-0 out of 5 stars A popularized science book that offers little science, September 8, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Stephen Hawking's reputation as a scientist is primarily based on his work on black holes in the 1970s. It was an early attempt to unite General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, an extremely difficult undertaking that engendered a measure of success, making it an important achievement in scientific history. His second claim to scientific fame was the unprecedented triumph of his book A Brief History of Time which sold more than 9 million copies. His well known battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease has confined him to a wheelchair making his raspy, unearthly computer voice instantly recognizable. It has turned him into the most famous scientist in the world but the media suggestion that he inhabits the scientific pantheon with Galileo, Newton and Einstein may be an exaggeration of his achievements. In the opinion of many scientists, legendary physicists such as Maxwell, Planck, Bohr, Dirac and Feynman have made greater contributions and Hawking's reputation as the great seer may be part of the problem with this book.

    Hawking and co-writer Leonard Mlodinow have written a short, popularized gloss of modern physics that assumes the reader knows almost nothing of science. We are told as if it were the very first time we had heard it that 2 dimensions means one needs 2 numbers to find a location and an ellipse is a stretched-out circle. The tone of the book can only be described as simultaneously lofty and dumbed-down in order to insure maximum sales. Anyone with even a little scientific sophistication may feel annoyed by this. In any event, the book is not targeted towards those comfortable with mathematics since not only are the simplest sums banished from the book but the very word mathematics seems to have been avoided by design. Where additional knowledge might have materially improved the book some tepid humor has been substituted instead. There are many cartoons included as well, as if emphasizing the book's popularized nature.

    Hawking controversially asserts that God was unnecessary during the birth and evolution of the multitude of universes that his chosen M-Theory posits as the cosmic landscape. Although he makes a point of offering this latest offspring of String Theory as his current choice for a Grand Unified Theory of everything, Hawking scarcely provides any explanation of M-Theory other than to assert that it is a theoretical patchwork quilt and conceptually very difficult. Surely if one is writing a book there is an obligation to provide more information than that. It strikes me as odd that in order to banish the concept of a single Creator from the universe Hawking must first embrace a cosmic landscape of 10^500 (10 raised to the power of 500, a number so large that it might as well be infinity) universes in order to explain why our own fortunate universe is so meticulously fine-tuned for life. Prof. Hawking's reason for doing this, of course, is that an infinite number of universes would statistically guarantee at least one life-bearing one, theoretically eliminating the need to explain why ours is so well-adapted for biology. But wouldn't a Supreme Being by very definition bridge all possible universes regardless of their number, thus leaving us right where we started? So why add the unnecessary additional layer of complexity? Surely this cannot be in the spirit of one of science's first principles: Occam's Razor, which suggests that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

    This book suffers from a real weakness: it often makes vague suggestions without offering substantive science. We are left with hazy conjectures when hard scientific realism is mandatory. Science is based on proof with mathematics as its rigorous handmaiden. Hawking offers us a handful of illustrations and some short anecdotal evidence in its stead. I found that deeply unsatisfactory and inevitably caught myself wishing that Hawking's reputation as a great seer had not clouded his judgement while writing this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hawking at his Snarky Best, September 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    As I see it, The Grand Design was written with two purposes.

    The first, less controversial reason for its existence is to repackage the author's previous works - an Even Briefer History of Time, perhaps? - into a volume that could be subtitled "what we now know". Hawking and collaborator Leonard Mlodinow condense millennia of scientific advancement into just a few short chapters, then make their case that M-theory (a unification of the various string theories) is the best candidate for a complete model of our universe, the best method to reach a complete understanding of it. The supporting evidence for this view is laid out clearly and systematically, making cosmology accessible to the layman - not an easy task!

    The second purpose of this book was to deliver a message to Religion, that message being "your services are no longer needed. Science has either answered the great questions of life or rendered them meaningless. This we do not ask you to accept on faith - we can prove it with mathematics and computer models, if you are smart enough to comprehend them".

    Many will be offended by The Grand Design, and a great deal more will reject it... regardless, it is hard not to view its message as Professor Hawking's parting gift to the world.
    ... Read more

    14. Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto for Radically Rethinking Health Care Delivery
    by Jim Champy, Harry Greenspun
    Kindle Edition (2010-06-03)
    list price: $21.99
    Asin: B003HOXLDY
    Publisher: FT Press
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In their legendary book, Reengineering the Corporation, Jim Champy and Michael Hammer introduced businesspeople to the enormous power of a revolutionary methodology called reengineering. Using reengineering, businesses around the world have systematically retooled their processes--achieving dramatic cost savings, greater customer satisfaction, and more value.

     

    Now, Jim Champy and Dr. Harry Greenspun show how to apply the proven reengineering methodology in health care: throughout physician practices, hospitals, and even entire health systems. You’ll meet innovative and visionary leaders who’ve been successfully reengineering organizations across the entire delivery spectrum and learn powerful lessons for improving quality, reducing costs, and expanding access.

    This book doesn’t just demonstrate the immense potential of health care reengineering to revolutionize health care delivery: it offers a clear roadmap for realizing that potential in your own organization.

     

    Deliver Better Care to More People, at Lower Cost

    • How reengineering can lead to more efficient, safer delivery--and sharply reduced costs
    • How to focus on prevention and wellness, as well as chronic disease and hospital care
    • How to earn the trust, contributions, and passion of skeptical physicians and health care professionals
    • How to harness technology to create more seamless, accessible, valued, and sustainable health care systems--and avoid technology’s pitfalls
    • How Zeev Neuwirth transformed the Lenox Hill Hospital ER and the 700-doctor Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates practice
    • How Tom Knight is revolutionizing patient safety at Methodist Hospital System, one of America’s largest private, nonprofit medical complexes
    • How to start today in your own organization!
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent call to action on HC reengineering
    Amazon.com Review of "Reengineering Healthcare: A Manifesto for Radically Rethinking Health Care Delivery. Jim Champy, J.D., and Harry Greenspun, M.D. FT Press, Upper Saddle River, NY. 2010.

    Eric W. Palfreyman
    July, 2010.

    In the present cultural climate--with its emphasis on political absolutism--it would be easy to hand off responsibility for healthcare change to the government. To its credit, Reengineering Healthcare does not do this. In the beginning, it specifically places the action on those who can most directly and positively influence it:

    "Reengineering must be done, and it must be done by clinicians. No angel of government, even under the auspices of `national health care reform,' can reduce the cost and improve the quality of health care without the work and leadership of clinicians. It's time for all clinicians--physicians, nurses, technicians, physician assistants, and pharmacists--to assume their rightful role in directing change."

    The first question I want answered in any book I'm considering is whether it is a good read. The answer on Reengineering Healthcare is a resounding "yes". Champy's writing has always been high on a readability scale and Champy and Greenspun have delivered a book that is easy to read and engaging from beginning to end. It is an excellent mixture of case studies, narrative, inspiration, challenge, and technique. The book is long enough to convey knowledge and inspiration, but not long enough to become tedious. If its desire was to inspire as well as instruct, it is a very successful book.

    Their book begins by reviewing what reengineering is, and touches on ideas such as the idea that reengineering is not simply a look at discrete issues for resolution, but is an examination of the entire system of getting things accomplished. The authors place a focus on examining systemic issues and solving them in a comprehensive way. They recognize that reengineering is focused on fundamental change (not simply incrementalist tweaks), radical approaches that do not simply touch the surface, and focusing on areas that can create dramatic results. In brief, they state, "the methodologies and techniques may vary in name, but they all share the same ambition for dramatic improvement in the performance of work by focusing on process."

    They then turn to reengineering specific to healthcare. They lay the book around three areas of reengineering: Technology, Processes, and people. A thesis of the book is that any reengineering that is to be substantive must incorporate all three elements in order to fully create the kind of massive change that is needed.

    Another strength of the book is that while it strongly highlights cost improvements, reduction in time-to-results, and reduced duplication; it always maintains a focus on delivering quality healthcare and on maintaining a focus on patient safety.

    The book covers topics from selecting which processes/organizations need to be improved (and what criteria go into that decision) to a focus on continual interaction with the "front line"--the people who actually deliver healthcare. This effort may be authorized and funded by top executives, but the root cause analysis and proposals for process improvement are derived from and approved by those who actually deliver healthcare to patients--physicians, nurses, pharmacists, medical technicians, etc.

    A review seems incomplete without one criticsm, so if I had to come up with one deficit in the book, I would have like to have seen a couple of the case studies accompanied by simplified process flow charts showing a before and after architectural view of the process.

    For those interested in improving all aspects of healthcare delivery and in harnessing the power of innovative reengineering to accomplish this, Reengineering Healthcare is a must read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant analysis of a "new paradigm" of networked health care

    It is difficult for me to believe that almost two decades have passed since Reengineering the Corporation was published. In it, Jim Champy and co-author Michael Hammer define reengineering as "the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed." More specifically, "fundamental" refers to how work is performed and the basic questions that need to be asked, "radical" means going beyond superficial changes in the way things are being done, "dramatic" indicates that reengineering isn't about marginal or incremental improvements, and "process" refers to a group of activities that uses one or more kinds of input to create an output of customer values.

    What we have in this volume, co-authored by Champy and Harry Greenspun, M.D., are multiple collaborative applications of the same four basic principles to the challenge of reengineering the provision of health "and it must be done by clinicians. No angel of government, even under the auspices of `national health care reform.' Can reduce the cost and improve the quality of health care without the work and leadership of clinicians. It's time for all clinicians - physicians, nurses, technicians, physician assistants, and pharmacists - to assume their rightful role in directing change." This is a key point. Champy and Greenspun insist, and I agree, that those who are centrally involved in the provision of health care should be centrally involved in the process of radical thinking by which to determine the nature and extent of reengineering initiatives.

    According to Champy and Greenspun, the approach they propose is based on four "pillars": Technology ("In any science-based enterprise, technology developments offer daily opportunities for redesigning work"), Process ("Whether or not new technology is applied, an organization's work is best understood as a collection of processes"), and People ("No process can work properly without people trained as a team to execute"). Throughout their lively narrative, Champy and Greenspun focus on exemplary leaders of reengineering initiatives that vary in nature and extent but all of which rely (to varying degree) on the aforementioned three "pillars." With all due respect to the value of various real-world examples, their purpose is to illustrate core principles rather than prescribe how those principles should be applied. It remains for each reader to make that determination.

    Hence the importance if several reader-friendly devices that can help to guide and inform those decisions. For example:

    Ten lessons to be learned from MultiCare Health System's deployment of its electronic health records (EHR) program (Pages 67-87)

    "A Checklist for Implementing New Technologies" (Pages 92-95)

    Note: As a supplementary resource, I highly recommend Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, published by Metropolitan Books in 2009.

    How to change medical processes that have been developed and ingrained for decades (Pages 99-135)

    "A Checklist for Process (Pages 135-138)

    Lessons to be learned from various reformers that are "not only valuable, but replicable" (Pages143-165)

    "A Checklist for the People Side" (Pages 165-167)

    How to look for and locate reengineering opportunities (Pages 190-204)

    However different the health care "reformers" may be in most other respects, they share in common what aspiring reformers must also possess. Specifically, "an ambition to improve the quality and safety of care in dramatic fashion; a deep respect for the experience of patients; a passion for improving the outcome of treatment; a desire to create a better workplace for clinicians; an appetite for change to create better medical practice; the clinical leadership required to bring about change; the persistence to overcome the inertia of current practices and processes; and a willingness to acknowledge their own shortcomings or detrimental behaviors."

    Jim Champy and Harry Greenspun offer a manifesto, not an operations manual. Encouraged as they obviously are by the successful reengineering initiatives they have observed in various health care organizations, they have no illusions about the challenges and difficulties that new initiatives by other organizations must overcome. In some instances, it will take years of effort to achieve success. That said, I am reminded of the Chinese proverb that suggests that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
    This book is exceptionally helpful. The key messages are outlined clearly and the case studies are great examples of how individuals can make an impact in the way health care is delivered. The authors are thoughtful and practical regarding the process, and have helped me motivate my team to analyze how our system works and find ways to improve it. It is precisely what we need right now.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Overview of How to Improve Deliverables in Healthcare

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Jim Champy is known for helping change business for the better. Taking on a new challenges in Healthcare and as Reform has its own impact, the authors introduce us to wholescale potentials and needs in Reengineering of Healthcare from front to back.

    When you think of how profound all this is, health care has the most up to date technology in treating and evaluating/investigating illnesses and the like. Yet, the processes surrounding the care for patients, record keeping, tracking patients through the process and the hand-offs between disciplines is stilted in the least and broken in the worst of cases.

    Champy along with a Leader in Heath Care Reegineering gives us high points with interesting stories of how health care deliverables have improved. Using cases from across the country, he shows how the return on investment can be multiple times the cost to reengineering processes. Eliminating steps in tracking and paperwork, reducing processes in the number of steps required for each stake holder that gets the patient more focused care and the physicians and clinical staff actually doing the job they need to do. A lot of processes include paperwork, which sometimes keeps a physician plowed under with time consuming tasks that take away from practice and improvement of professional capabilities.

    The cool thing here is that there is a radical departure from a head cutting process to save money, there are so many opportunities to cut costs by improving the flow and storage of information, opportunities to assure that patients are getting the right combinations of meds and avoidance of the elderly of using older prescriptions. The concept of care and prevention of health issues is most important in the process. This is truly a win/win concept.

    The focus as the chapters tell us is Technology, Process and People. Getting it done will require work, yet, the tools for most improvements needed already exist within the facilities and providers themselves. Interestingly though, the legacy systems are antiquated in places that may have the best of tools to treat and evaluate patients.

    We know about the initiative to improve the storage and sharing of information of patients throughout the health care community, but the depth of need for improvement requires new thinking in how processes with the right technology will help the people being treated and improve the work of those providing that service.

    This book is an introduction and meant to spark the beginning of a surge in health care improvement wholescale. There are definate new books and case studies to be written and looked into yet ahead.

    Anyone interested in where health care could go should get this, Administrators, Nurses, Operations people, heath care IT practitioners would all benefit from the ideas this book introduces. There are so many opportunities in health care that I feel we can improve our economy in many ways by addressing this urgent and very large need immediately and consistently.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading for every student and practitioner in health care industry

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Written by the most talented authorities in change management and systems re-engineering, this book should be required reading for every student and practitioner in health care industry. Champy is the former Chairman of Consulting for Dell Perot Services and the author of Reengineering the Corporation. Greenspun, MD, has served as the Chief Medical Officer at Dell, Northrop Grumman Corporation.

    The heart of this book has 3 chapters, one for each of the key components of any service: processes, people, and technology. Each of these three chapters ends with a checklist to make sure that the reader has learned the lessons. The book offers 2 chapters that recount personal experiences of health care re-engineering. At the outset and at the end of the book we find the motivational chapter and the chapter broadly outlining the opportunities in health care re-engineering.

    First, they ask why do we have a health care problem? Their answer is that the physicians, like many managers and engineers in the past, have been trained to accomplish their jobs independently, not in teams. The problem arises because health care delivery today demands teamwork.

    Next, they define the process of re-engineering health care: The radical improvement of health care delivery process to enhance quality and dramatically lower costs, while greatly expanding patient accessibility to that improved care. Four words in this definition - fundamental, radical, dramatic, and process - are key to re-engineering.

    If you study the typical office workflow, you discover that highly skilled doctors passionate about the patient care, spend only one third of their time practicing medicine. The two-thirds of their time is spent on administration, billing, documentation, and preparation. Also, people are the key to process. Poor relationships within the clinic staff will result in substandard care and lost revenue for the practice.

    Smartest Quote (p. 104):
    "Cognitive change just takes too long. We believe that changing what people do is the best way to change how they think."

    Dumbest Quote (p. 81):
    "Making sure you understand exactly how the EHR technology will work in the physician's room before it's installed is one of the keys to successful implementation of the system." It's impossible to foresee exactly all the details. It's also not needed, as we've seen thousands of successful installations using a gradual approach, by improving at every stage through iterative solicitation of physician's feedback.

    All in all, a highly recommended book for everyone who cares about our health care system and a required reading for every student and executive in health care industry.

    Yuval Lirov, Medical Billing Networks and Processes - Profitable and Compliant Revenue Cycle Management in the Internet Age

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read on how to improve healthcare processes, quality and patient care.
    This book takes the reader into real-life situations where healthcare has been improved by a variety of healthcare organizations and professionals. This isn't about Healthcare Reform and doesn't address politics. Rather it is about Healthcare Transformation and putting the focus back on the patient by driving out inefficiencies in the care cycle and improving healthcare delivery overall. It's a must read for healthcare professionals and anyone interested in understanding how to enhance the care we all receive.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great guide and motivator.
    It was easy to relate to the struggles and challenges highlighted in the book, but great to get some practical advice on how to tackle them. While many books focus on health policy, this one has helped me figure out how to move my department in a much more productive direction. It has also given me a "call to action" for my managers, helping them understand the rationale moving forward. ... Read more


    15. Lost Encyclopedia
    by Tara Bennett, Paul Terry
    Hardcover
    list price: $45.00 -- our price: $25.90
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0756665949
    Publisher: DK Publishing
    Sales Rank: 153
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Featuring more than 400 pages and over 1500 images, the LOST Encyclopedia will be a comprehensive guide to the characters, items, locations, plotlines, relationships, and mythologies from all six seasons of the landmark series aired on ABC-TV and produced by ABC Studios. Created in full collaboration with ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios, this will be the first and only fully licensed and comprehensive reference to all things LOST, and it includes a foreword by executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.



    LOST © 2010. ABC Studios. All Rights Reserved.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great content; poor editing, October 15, 2010
    First, an initial statement of possible sources of bias: I am a professional academic and an unapologetic LOST enthusiast (you may read what you like into that conjunction). I ordered the LOST Encyclopedia on May 4 and received it on October 12 following a delay from its original listed release date of August 24, so I've been anticipating its release for a while.

    Second, an executive summary: as a fan of the show, I'm glad to finally have this "encyclopedia" on my bookshelf and think it an excellent resource. Nevertheless, the presentation of the book is somewhat less polished than I would have hoped, leading me to suspect that a second edition may be in the works. Any recommendation that I can give would therefore have to be a guarded one.

    Like the show for which it serves as a reference guide, this book must have been a massive undertaking for everyone involved with little guarantee of pleasing everyone in its audience. I can therefore forgive the omission of some items (no entry for the Hybird, or "Hurley bird," for example) and the lack of linked entries (e.g. "The Hatch: see Swan Station," or "Jeremy Bentham: see John Locke").

    My objections to the book's editing begin with the character entries, which are generally sorted alphabetically by first name. I have no problem with organizing an encyclopedia in this way, as this is hardly an academic text and there are a variety of minor characters whose last names are unknown; however, the glaring exceptions to this rule--John Locke, whose entry is filed under "L," and James Ford, whose entry is filed under "S" for "Sawyer"--happen to be among the most important entries in the volume. Finding those entries will only take an extra few seconds of the reader's time (especially since, as mentioned above, there are no linking entries), but the organization comes across as sloppy.

    Also sloppy are the various textual redundancies. In the "Man in Black" entry, for example, a text blurb entitled "Jacob's Spirit" calls attention to the fact that "The spirit of a young Jacob repeatedly appeared to the Man in Black while he was acting out his end game as Locke..." One page later, immediately facing that blurb, is another blurb entitled "Haunting Reminders" which calls attention to the very same fact using the very same text, the only difference being in the capitalization of a single word. Similarly, the entry for Magnus Hanso ends with a three-sentence paragraph: the first sentence states that "Hanso's death remained a mystery to the outside world [until] DHARMA Initiative member Stuart Radzinsky documented Hanso's final resting place on the Blast Wall Map"; the second sentence states that "Details of Hanso's death remained a mystery to the outside world"; the third sentence states that (you guessed it) "DHARMA Initiative member Stuart Radzinsky documented Hanso's final resting place on the blast wall map." Again, this book constitutes a relatively massive undertaking and it's understandable that various typos would slip through (and there are a number of those), but given the two-month delay in the book's release I would have expected the editors to catch these obvious artifacts of the rewriting process.

    I had initially speculated that the publication delay was a function of the writers' need to rewrite some entries in light of the final episode's controversial revelations regarding the "flash-sideways universe." That was apparently incorrect, as the only reference to the flash-sideways (that I've found, at least) comes at the tail end of Juliet's entry. Instead, all information about that "universe" is relegated to a few text-light and picture-heavy character entries that follow the encyclopedia's index. The entries seem arbitrarily organized (in order: Desmond, Hurley, Ben, Sun, Jin, Sayid, Kate, Claire, Locke, and Jack) and utterly disconnected from the rest of the encyclopedia. To the writers' credit, they call attention to some quotes from the final episode that should help confused viewers figure out where the flash-sideways universe fits into the overall story structure; however, one is left with the impression that someone involved with the book's production was embarrassed by the reception of the final episode and wanted to minimize its influence on the rest of the text. I would certainly hope that delaying publication gave the writers and editors adequate time to integrate this information--if they had wanted to do so. For better or for worse, this storyline is as much a part of LOST canon as anything else and it should have been treated as such.

    Finally, there are several minor factual errors in the text--particularly with respect to the descriptions of the philosophers referenced by the show--but those are more nits to be picked than they are problems affecting the book's presentation. Nevertheless, it's an editor's job to pick those nits before publication.

    Again, I'm glad to own the LOST encyclopedia and will readily admit that fans of the show (be they dedicated or casual ones) won't be able to find a better reference. The content is top-notch, covering both breadth and depth, as detailed in other reviews. If asked whether or not I would recommend that someone else spend $25 on it (much less the $45 cover price), however, I would only be able to answer that anyone considering doing so should take into account the very real possibility that an updated and cleaned-up new edition may be forthcoming. Of course, I also can't guarantee that any such edition will actually see the light of day. As such, I have no regrets on my part, but less risk-averse fans might think otherwise.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A good, if not definitive resource with some noticeable flaws, October 19, 2010
    The LOST Encyclopedia will not bring a bevy of new insights or craved "answers" for fans of the show, but it is a solid catalog of facts and histories from the show's vast mythology. I wouldn't call it comprehensive, but it's an enjoyably casual reference for fans of the show.

    The biggest negative trait of the book is the sloppy editing. Despite being delayed multiple times before its release, the articles still contain numerous typographical errors (I'd estimate one every couple of pages on average), far more than should be acceptable for a professionally published work like this. There are even entries that are OUT OF ALPHABETICAL ORDER: under "D," there are three entries ordered "Donovan," "Dogen" and "Doctors." I know it's something most people won't lose a lot of sleep over, but as an English major I found them impossible to ignore and quite distracting from the flow of the book.

    More important and germane to the nature of the LOST Encyclopedia, there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the emphasis placed on some elements of the show in contrast to others. For example, on the same two-page spread, Eddie Colburn, a minor character featured in ONE flashback episode, is given as much attention as Edward Mars, a character who appeared in multiple flashbacks and on the Island. Another example: there's a massive two-page entry dedicated to the RECORD PLAYER in the Swan station. The same amount of space is given to the blast door map, one of the pivotal set pieces of the series. If I had to guess, I'd say that such decisions were made to make the articles fit into neat two-page layouts, with the visual presentation emphasized over the relevance of information.

    As mentioned in a previous review, the alphabetization of the entries is slapdash. If you want to actually look up an obscure element of the show rather than just casually browse the book, you may find yourself taking several guesses on what your query may be titled before you find it. For example, if you want to look up the glowing river alternatively called "The Source" or "The Heart of the Island," you won't find it listed under either of those two names. Instead, it is mentioned in a brief paragraph in the massive entry "The Island," as well as intermittently in other entries. Other aspects of the show that this fan thinks should have entries but do not, based on their importance in the show, include the Whispers, Time Travel, and the Donkey Wheel.

    Now, to the positive. Given the existence of the much more comprehensive fan wiki "Lostpedia," the biggest appeal of The LOST Encyclopedia is not the depth or organization of its entries. Instead, it is the hundreds and hundreds of visual aids that accompany the entries, along with photos of LOST props and locales sprinkled liberally throughout the book. All of the entries on the major Dharma stations feature original diagrams. There are hundreds of close-ups of key props, such as Faraday's journal and maps used by the characters, as well as more obscure pieces like Drive Shaft promotional posters and the contents of Kate's time capsule. Most fans have never had an opportunity to see such components of LOST lore this clearly and up close.

    The encyclopedia also features a number of ancillary elements that exist outside of the show, thus establishing them as canon while also exposing them to fans who may not have seen them before. The entry for Alvar Hanso contains information about Thomas Mittlewerk and Rachel Blake, characters featured only in the LOST Alternate Reality Game "The LOST Experience." The article on the Purge includes a copy of the truce between the Others and the Dharma Initiative, previously available only to those who bought the special edition of the Season Five box set. There are even translations of many of the hieroglyphics featured on sets and props from the show, engravings that would be impossible to discern from screencaps.

    Ironically, the unofficial Lostpedia easily remains the definitive source of information on LOST even after the release of this book. Really, The LOST Encyclopedia functions best as a kind of coffee table attraction, a tome to peruse for the sake of curiosity as opposed to a serious study of the show's mythology. While its numerous textual errors give some entries an unpolished feel, from a strictly visual perspective the book is stunning. It's not easy to produce as many new images from a show as heavily scrutinized as LOST, but the material unique to the book, as well as the conversational tone best suited to enjoyable casual reading, make it worth the buy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars No buts-this book is canon, October 12, 2010
    I still highly recommend this book to anyone who loved Lost. If you want a gift for your favorite Lost fanatic, this is the only book you should consider buying. That is because this is the only book written with the help of the Lost producers. It is fact-canon. Other books may theorize what happened in the Lost world but this is the only book that tells you what did happen.

    "No great depth" said the previous review! I was amazed at all the depth and details. Just a few examples: Jacob appreciated Widmore's loyalty and allowed him to rise to leadership with Eloise. Jacob had Alpert strip Widmore of his position and banish him. Danielle arrived on the island after the Purge. Ben planned to fool Juliet into releasing the gas from the Tempest killing herself, the 815 survivors and the freighter crew. Plus it confirms things we suspected like Widmore being the one to execute the Purge of the Dharma Initiative via gas from the Tempest and the one who told his goons to slaughter the Ajira 316 survivors.

    There is very little on the flash-forwards. The 14 or so pages (text is limited to brief recaps) are tacked on the end of the book after the index like an afterthought. Given this is an encyclopedia there isn't much for the writers to say about them anyway but the placement is very odd.

    Know what else is odd? Apparently the editors didn't show up for work! I found too many instances of misplaced and repeated text including this gem in a series of bullets about Shannon; "Loudly whined about Marshal Mars dying too callously." LOL! It is sooo annoying when someone dies callously! That probably should have been "Callously whined about Marshal Mars dying too loudly."

    I also found overall that the text lacked clarity. Many paragraphs were poorly worded and clumsy. In places grammatical errors left the text unnecessarily ambiguous. It's obvious that neither the publisher nor the writers were up to the task of producing this book properly which is sad. Or perhaps the producers are at fault for not choosing writers who could produce clean text under a tight deadline.

    I'm still giving it five stars because the book looks great (all 400 pages), it contains a mountain of information that is all canon (which no other Lost book can claim) and it is relatively cheap for all it contains. For all its faults, it still makes the best gift you can buy for any kind of Lost fan from the causal fan all the way up to the Lost fanatic.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table Book, NOT Encyclopedia, November 27, 2010
    First off, let me explain that this is a coffee table book, plain and simple. It is hardly encyclopedic and exhaustive like I had expected. Every page is crammed full of large photos and the text is squeezed in the left over space as an afterthought. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with pictures, but why do they have to dominate the entire thing? I wanted an encyclopedia with lots of information and painfully detailed entries. Instead, they delivered an excersize in photoshop. When I actually saw this thing, I was really surprised how tall and thin it was. I was expecting something squat and fat, more along the lines of a dictionary. The proportions further emphasize the coffe-table-bookedness of this thing.

    If you already own this book and enjoy it, then I do not mean to take away from your enjoyment. I simply would like to warn those who haven't purchased this and who are on the edge to NOT buy it. At the very least, go to Barnes and Noble (like I did) and check it out first. If it's what you want and you are pleased, then I am happy for you. But I will be sticking with my guides by Nikki Stafford, which I can't say enough about. I really hope some day someone will come along and give us the thousand-page treatment this material deserves.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Overall nice, if not a complete presentattion, November 20, 2010
    Now I will readily admit that I do not actually own the book yet (I'm planning on ordering it ASAP), but I have read some of it at local bookstores and so far I do think it will be worth the purchase, and a nice complementary book to the LOST series. I did notice that some entries were oddly ordered, and although I haven't read much, I did notice an error in Alex's entry -- in reference to the episode "Stranger in a Strange Land" from season three, it stated that Alex opened the door of Jack's cell in the Hydra station so that he could stop Juliet's trial, which was not true -- in the episode "I Do," she unlocked Jack's cell door in the Hydra station which led to him seeing Kate and Sawyer on the monitor, but in the episode about Juliet's trial, Alex actually broke Jack out of one of the cages OUTSIDE of the Hydra station, when Jack asked to see Ben (so that he could save Juliet). I know this may be a minor mistake, and I may not have a right to gripe since I don't actually own this book yet, but as a rabid LOST/Jack fan, mistakes like that rub at me the wrong way. I also don't understand why some minor characters (like the undercover cop in one of Locke's flash back episodes), had a picture in his entry, but other characters (like Ben's childhood sweetheart, Annie) did not. Was it a space issue, or could they not get permission to use them? It was more likely the first, but still, that doesn't seem right to me. Especially since this is an offical encyclopedia.

    Also, I wish that the book had a section devoted to the Flash-sideways - not like the one in the back of the book, but a special one that explains characters only in that world (i.e, Sayid's brother, and David Shephard), and the events that took place. I wasn't expecting answers to be explained that weren't in the show (Lindelof and Cuse are determined to be cagey about those), but a whole season was devoted to the Flash-sideways, and although those stories may have confused/pissed off people, I liked the majority of them, and would've liked them included. To have them omitted feels to me like they weren't a part of LOST - like the writers had "buyer's remorse" a little too late. But it WAS LOST, and they should be in the book! It makes me sad that they weren't.

    And to the reviewer who mentioned the ordering of the characters listed in the Flashsideways - I think it begins with Desmond and ends with Jack because they were the two most important people in the FS. At least, that's what I think...?

    Overall, though, I will gladly get this book in a few weeks if I can. It's a nice looking book, and the LOSTIE in me demands it. =)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great book, but with painful grammatical and other editing errors, October 19, 2010
    This is a great book for any die-hard LOST fan. It includes a number of details and clarifications that have not been offered anyplace else, which makes it indispensable. At the same time, many valuable features that one can find on Lostpedia.com (unofficial Lost encyclopedia online) are missing. Things like full lists of episode titles and summaries of each season, and, especially, timelines, character and mystery statuses. The book is also missing an index, which is quite odd for a publication of this nature, and makes it impossible to cross reference. This would lead me to believe there was not enough room to include all these features, which makes it somewhat curious that Sawyer's reading list, for example, is including twice in the book. Indeed, a number of facts and pictures are duplicated, while others are left out entirely.

    My biggest complaint though is the number of grammatical errors. Someone who wrote or edited the book has a lot of trouble identifying the subject of a sentence. For instance, one sentence reads "Before his father went on the Kahana mission, Michael tried to make contact with Walt." What this sentence means is that Michael's father went on the Kahana mission, but this is incorrect--it was Walt's father, Michael, who went on the mission. This type of incongruent-subject error is very frequent in the book. I've only read about 1/10 of it so far and have found similar mistakes five times already, as well as a number of typos.

    Most books have some mistakes, partly because our eyes tend to see what we know to be correct, so even astute editors miss some of these things. But there's a reasonable limit on just how many mistakes there should be, especially when this book is published by DK, known for its reference and educational books.

    I'm glad I bought the book now, but I'm also hoping for a second, improved edition, at which time I'll sell the current one on Ebay and cut my losses.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Informative Book for the LOST fanatic, October 15, 2010
    I just received my copy of the LOST Encyclopedia last night and while I have only read about 20 entries so far, in no particular order, I can tell I will be very pleased with this purchase. From what I've read so far I am very happy with some of the information I have got from it. It seems there is an entry for every single character that ever had a speaking role on LOST, whether it was a main character or someone who just appeared on the show once and said only 3 words. Almost every location has a detailed entry as well. Another great aspect of the book is that it seems to tie up some small loose ends on the show. While you aren't getting answers for all major mysteries I have noticed loose ends such as why Libby was in the mental institution and if she recognized Hurley was answered to my surprise. I'm excited to read more of the book and I believe it's a must have for any serious LOST fan.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Overall pleased, October 20, 2010
    As a fanatic of the show who followed all things CANON, I enjoyed the book overall. It's a great overall resource if you want to look something quick for reference. Whenever I thought something was omitted, it would pop up as information under a different entry.

    There are some small errors here and there. But I think they can be taken with a "grain of salt."

    Overall it's a great resource for the show. It doesn't offer "answers", but I felt the clarifications on things can be considered as new information. Such as how Ethan joined the others, that Widmore ordered the purge an JAcob suggested to Richard that he be removed from power, etc. ... Read more


    16. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
    by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
    Paperback (2007-01-30)
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $6.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0143038257
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 84
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard

    Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story ofGreg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A blueprint for making a difference
    After four trips over the past three years to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, and after founding Kashmir Family Aid (www.kashmirfamily.org) to aid victims of the Oct 8, 2005 earthquake, I whole-heartedly endorse Greg Mortenson and his work. This book adds new life to the over-wraught dictum that "one CAN make a difference." Beyond that, if one wants to truly get inside the rural Pakistani's heart and soul, this is mandatory reading.

    My personal experience has been that once I met these people (and yes, had tea with them in their tiny homes, or in the quake region, in their tents), it was difficult to want to leave to return to the West. It's a hard thing to explain but Mortenson's book will absolutely do the job. A powerful thread within his story: It would be impossible not to love these people after getting to know them one-on one.

    These remote village people are simple, strong and proud. Their lives are spent nurturing their families and working hard in a politically and environmentally tortured region. BUY THE BOOK, get inside the people of this place and then send Greg Mortenson your donation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One man's remarkable vision
    "Three Cups of Tea" is a compelling account of the difference one fiercely determined person can make in the world. I won't use this space to repeat the descriptions already covered in the editorial reviews, but Greg Mortenson's passion for educating children, especially girls, in the rugged mountain regions of northern Pakistan is truly remarkable. The relationships he has patiently built with local people and moderate Muslim leaders in the area over many years are key to his success.

    In addition to education, Mortenson's Central Asia Institute funds projects that provide health care and clean water. He is also building schools in northern Afghanistan, again with the support of local people.

    One alarming chapter of the book includes a discussion of the spread of fundamentalist madrassas in the mountain regions of Pakistan, which should deeply concern Americans, including the government. It is essential for Americans to support Mortenson's Central Asia Institute initiatives to provide children with educational alternatives.

    "Three Cups of Tea" is very well written, with heartfelt portraits of courageous people. It is a superb and moving story of an exceptional man.

    5-0 out of 5 stars So Much More Than Just a Book
    It's a book but then so are the latest bestsellers yet they offer nothing beyond a mindless distraction. To say Three Cups of Tea is about peace is to say that Mortensen goes hiking in the mountains. To say it's about building schools in the most desolate, remote, obscure part of the planet is to say an idealistic young man had a wild idea.

    Mortenson and co-author David Oliver Relin bring the reader to the foot of K2, into a village so isolated from everything that there doesn't even exist a bridge to connect them to the world beyond the raging river that flows from the glacier fields. There Mortenson introduces us to children so eager to learn they work multiplication tables in the dirt without benefit of a teacher or books.

    How does this man, so grateful to the people who saved his life, repay them? One school at a time. It's a truely inspirational story of what any of us, including a kid born in Minnesota, can do to change the world. The fact that the book is also a true page-turner and is so "can't put it down, don't interrupt me, I gotta know what happens next" good makes this must reading for every high school senior, every empty-nester, every one of us wondering what to do with the rest of our lives. Although I likely won't venture to the high mountains of Pakistan or Tibet, Mortenson has inspired me to find a way to make a difference. Go read it and find your inspiration!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars STOP what you are doing...
    you.. yes YOU behind the terminal, surfing the web, maybe finding that cheap chotcky to buy or something. Stop what you are doing if you have come across this book and this review. You need to read this more than you think!

    Within the confines of 350 pages you can be transported to a world that for most Westerner's and specifically Americans, is probably very unknown, and more than likely, highly misunderstood. In this world you will be introduced to a man named Greg Mortenson, or as you soon to know him, as Greg Sahib..

    The story that is told by David Oliver Revin, will not just be inspiring, will not be just teeth clenching, it will make you re-evaluate what you do in your life. While most of us may talk about the incapacity of the administration, or some (unfortunatly) the hatred of the middle East, or maybe some of you are even lying down in the streets, but there is ONE person who is TRULY doing something about the problems of foreign policy by litteraly getting his hands dirty touching the earth to build a school foundation, and risking his life ten times over.

    When you have read this journey, you will be saying to yourself, did he really do that? That guy is CRAZY! Did that really happen?, the Taliban? , How is that possible? In the journey that is fortold of a change of fate through a failed mountain expedition, you can see what the spirit of the individual can do and how it can be transformed. As the events of 9/11 soon come to fruition, Greg couldn't be in a better place at the right time, and with David's narration, you are litteraly put in the drivers seat.

    After reading Mortensen's journey, you will want to litteraly book a plane ticket to somewhere you have never been before. In reading the accomplishments of a somewhat flawed (hey what person is perfect) individual, you will feel small and insignifigant. David Relin will not just explain what Greg did, he will make you live it, with some enjoyable side narrations that will make you grin.

    In Three Cups of Tea, David has managed more than anything to explain the heart of a problem (Islamic hatred of the West) of a very complicated nature (through numerous foreign policy debacles and politics spanning decades), and how one man knows of an easy solution (Go to poor regions of the Middle East and give education and extend the olive branch. Build schools for the poorest of the poor, ecspecially for girls. And more importantly, let them know that it was done.. by an American).

    As if it was so difficult to understand.

    I encourage you to take this journey and figure out that sometimes the biggest problems in life require some of the most common sense solutions. I also echo the other comments on here that you should buy this book from the actually CAI institute and consider a donation as well.

    Greg Mortensen is doing what he is doing best, and his passion comes through the pages. For myself my passion is to write. Like Gregg I feel it is what I can do best (when I put my effort my passion, and my soul into it).

    now if you'll excuse me...

    I have to go write a check.

    5-0 out of 5 stars What an incredible story...
    My goodness. I just finished the book, and I am in tears. I am a world traveller (32 countries in just about every region on the globe), and consider myself compassionate to a fault; but even I, after September 11th, possessed a fair degree of anger at Muslims. I had spent some time in the Middle East and North Africa, and although I tried to respect the traditions as much as possible (covering my arms, wore long skirts, not looking at men in the eye), I was still assaulted in broad daylight in a street bazaar in Cairo, Egypt, surrounded by at least a dozen of my classmates (an old man came up and grabbed my [...]). The anger that started then had totally blown up after September 11th and consumed me, the point where I had actually said that I will never believe Islam is a religion of peace, especially after the reaction to the Mohammed cartoons.

    Well.

    I was wrong.

    This book has reminded me why I loved the regions in the Himalayas and beyond; the simplicity of life, the fierceness and protectiveness towards family and friends; and their incredible desire to do the best for themselves with whatever they have on hand, even if it means going to school on a bare field covered with morning frost. Greg and David describe these people in Baltistan and beyond so well that you cannot help admiring or even falling in love with these proud, strong people.

    I've always told people if you encourage positive change for just one person, you'll change the whole world for them. Greg and his CAI cohorts have done that for literally hundreds of thousands of children. It was so gratifying for me to read, despite the selfishness of our people today, that there are still some who passionately believe in changing the world for others.

    For me, it was the speech by Syed Abbas (on page 257, hardcover) that broke the last of my hard-core attitude towards Muslims and Islam.

    I am off to make my contribution - meager but still a contribution - to CAI so they can continue their incredible work.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST read
    Greg Mortenson's three cups of tea is an account of his unsuccessful attempt on mighty K2, world's second highest peak in Himalayas. Though unsuccessful, his failure embarked him on a mission to educate people of an area inhabitants of breath taking hills and valleys and virgin plains. Whats mind boggling about his adventure is his spirit of self sacrifice for a people of a land much misunderstood by the west. His story proves that with love, compassion and sincerity, you can melt the hearts, even those of mountains. Rightly regarded a hero in Northern Pakistan, his book would go a long way in bridging the divide between the inhabitants of East and West. If you haven't read the book, you are Missing on something. Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Promote peace on Earth. Read this book.
    This is the most amazing and inspiring book I have read in a very long time. I am a high school teacher and the mother of a U.S. Army Seargent who has completed a tour in Afghanistan and is currently serving in Iraq. I bought the book to send to him, but thought I would read it first. I'm very glad I did. The book is as exciting as an adventure novel, but it's true. Anyone who cares about the education and welfare of children and who desires to understand the problems faced in fighting terrorism should read this book. There is hope for peace in this world and Greg Mortenson is doing wonderful things to make it happen. He is a true American hero. Everyone needs to read this book and everyone who does will want to share it with others.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A lesson in altruism
    This book is absolutely wonderful. Mortenson shows us how one dedicated person can make a difference. He also poignantly shows the world that education and non-violent assistance does a profoundly better job of winning support and "attacking" terrorism than warfare! (Duh!) I think there are very few Americans who would be willing to make the kind of sacrifice Greg Mortenson has but he has certainly inspired me to support his and similar efforts in the best way I can. In my opinion, he deserves a Nobel Peace prize. I would like to see this book in every high school library in America. ... Read more


    17. Winners Never Cheat: Even in Difficult Times, New and Expanded Edition
    by Jon M. Huntsman
    Kindle Edition (2008-10-29)
    list price: $18.99
    Asin: B001M60BKU
    Publisher: Prentice Hall
    Sales Rank: 461
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Author royalties from this book go to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation

     

    “The way Jon conducts his business and lives his life will not only inspire you to be a better person, citizen, and entrepreneur, it also will give you hope that the good guys don't finish last.”

    Glenn Beck

     

    "Jon Huntsman is a different breed. He believes business is a creative endeavor, similar to a theater production, wherein integrity must be the central character."

    Larry King, CNN

     

    "Jon Huntsman's own life and personal values lend credence to his words. He walks his ethical talk."

    Neil Cavuto, Fox News

     

    "This book could put me out of business. Nobody would be happier about it than me."

    Wayne Reaud, Trial Attorney.

     

    The nationwide bestseller--fully updated for today’s tough times and worldwide financial crises

     

    “Everyone does it.” Everyone cheats. Cuts corners. Tells lies. Maybe it was different once. Not today. If you want to succeed in this economic climate, you simply have to make compromises. Right?

     

    Wrong. You can succeed at the highest levels, without sacrificing the principles that make life worth living. The proof? You’re holding it.

     

    Jon M. Huntsman built a $12 billion company from scratch, the old-fashioned way: with integrity. There were short-term costs and difficult decisions. There were tough times. Times just like today. But ultimately, leading with integrity wasn’t just personally right for Huntsman, it also proved to be the best business strategy.

     

    In Winners Never Cheat, Huntsman tells you how he did it, and how you can, too. This book is about remembering why you work, and why you were chosen to lead. It’s about finding the bravery to act on what you know is right, no matter what you’re up against.

     

    It’s about winning. The right way.

     

    Think about the kind of person you want to do business with. Then, be that person--and use this book to get you there.

     

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Honesty & Integrity is the Winning Formula
    Jon M Huntsman is a humble & self effacing man who quietly goes about his business; and business is good. He's a self-made billionaire who knows that success is attainable through hard work, determination, and of course; through honesty, integrity and generosity.

    This book captures Huntsman's vision of setting good examples for the rest of society, by consistently doing the right things. This is a man who builds trust through his actions, and helps those less fortunate with his contributions of time and money. In his mind, whatever success he's attained is irrelevent to the big picture; and that's making our planet a better place to inhabit.

    I'm sure all of us, from time to time, have witnessed actions of people we once trusted that made us think otherwise; whether it be shaving a stroke off their golf game to avoid losing a few bucks, double crossing us on a business deal, or worse, sabotaging a career. Once the trust has been destroyed, everything else collapses with it.

    Huntsman, on the other hand, with his remarkable philosophy on life, is a shining example that successful people are measured more by their basic core values as human beings, than their net worth. Some, if they're really good; possess the ability to do it all.

    Huntsman clearly fits that bill; and we're all just a little bit better off because of it. This is a great book, written by a truly great man.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Being morally right makes might - in more ways than you might think!
    Many ethics courses taught at business and law schools across the country for the past decade or so have focused on the idea of "situational ethics" - a Machiavellian concept that supports no objective "right or wrong" only contextual circumstances that define "right and wrong" for a specific moment in time. While that may be interesting for theoretical discussions, it has little place in the real world and business leader Jon M. Huntsman would agree. In his breakthrough book titled - "Winners Never Cheat" - Huntsman point blank states that there are overriding moral principles that need to guide our work and lives. Huntsman is chairman and founder of the largest privately held chemical company in the world. He writes that he built his career and fortune on ethical principles including accountability; integrity; addressing the needs of others; honor; sacrifice; personal responsibility and teamwork. Soundview highly recommends this book because Huntsman provides many examples where he personally made difficult, moral decisions that (he argues) always turn out to be the right decision in the long run. Every organization would be well served by reading this book and putting it into practice.


    5-0 out of 5 stars Ethics at its finest!
    What a refreshing view of ethical business practices by one of the most down-to-earth men to ever be successful. Jon Huntsman is an inspirational figure who practices the basic human skill and desribes how we are born with these "sandbox" skills and ethical behaviors. Corporate America, WAKE UP!

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is one of those "difficult times" Jon Huntsman writes about
    Jon Huntsman says a whole lot in 206 small pages. He reminds us that there is no victory when there is no integrity. The behavior in corporate America the past few years should make this book a mandatory read for every executive and every board member of every company. We've been confusing valuable with value for too long and Jon Huntsman's message is a reminder that not only is integrity the right path to follow, it is also the most profitable path to follow!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Easy read, excellent.
    This well written book will leave you feeling good and wanting to be a better person. It makes a great gift too.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
    I think this book is terrific. It is perfect for the times that we are in where greed and self indulgence is so rampant. If we all did business the way that John Huntsman conducts his business we would not be in the financial shape that we are in!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Written by a man of integrity!
    A must read for every graduate or person going into business. Integrity, simplicity, honorable man. My favorite book!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Values Are Not Negotiable
    Are your values unwavering especially in the wake of those necessary daily critical business and even life decisions? In this book, Winners Never Cheat, Jon Huntsman Sr. shared through his personal stories the importance of not sacrificing your values and that you can still be successful.

    This book goes beyond the usual writings on ethics, morality, business conduct and is really a small treatise on how to treat people. Jon Huntsman believes in adversity and how that builds character. One far reaching statement about character is "the adherence to an ethical code is best defined as how one honors a bad situation or a bad deal."

    Huntsman believed that an ethical code of conduct is by its very nature a non-denominational religion because situations may be altered, basic values must not. In other words just because everyone else does it does not give you permission to walk away from your values. This type of belief creates a slippery ethical behavioral slope where one can never return to the top.

    One of my new found favorite quotes is "Values provide us with ethical water wings." This is a great mental visual for understanding how to stay above the less than ethical behaviors of others.

    With the passing of each chapter, Huntsman's simple words take on a life of their own. The reader can see and begin to understand the message behind the message that Winners Never Cheat. For me, this is now in my top 10 most favorite non-fictional books. This book shows you how to be The Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits.

    P.S. Maybe this could have been titled that Ethical Leaders Never Cheat or Winners Never Cut in Line. ... Read more


    18. StrengthsFinder 2.0
    by Tom Rath
    Hardcover (2007-02-01)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $10.80
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 159562015X
    Publisher: Gallup Press
    Sales Rank: 118
    Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    From the author of the New York Times bestsellers

    How Full Is Your Bucket? (Gallup Press, 2004, Strengths Based Leadership (Gallup Press, 2009), and Wellbeing (Gallup Press, 2010) a book that features the new Wellbeing Finder assessment.

    STRENGTHSFINDER 2.0

    Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?

    Chances are, you don't. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.

    To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in 2001 which ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents.

    In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more (see below for details). While you can read this book in one sitting, you'll use it as a reference for decades.

    Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this new book and accompanying website will change the way you look at yourself -- and the world around you -- forever.

    AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY IN STRENGTHSFINDER 2.0
    (using the unique access code included with each book)

    * A new and upgraded edition of the StrengthsFinder assessment

    * A personalized Strengths Discovery and Action-Planning Guide for applying your strengths in the next week, month, and year

    * A more customized version of your top five theme report

    * 50 Ideas for Action (10 strategies for building on each of your top five themes)
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars What are the strengths YOU can rely on?, July 14, 2009
    Strengths Finder 2.0 is the follow up to Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book includes a revamped version of the StrengthsFinder test that shows you not just what your top five strengths are, but also how you rank in the rest of the 34 strengths from Clifton's model. The new book is light on content (very light) but the test is a substantial improvement.

    Here's how the book is set up:

    StrengthsFinder: The Next Generation
    (A short introduction explaining the need for the enhanced edition of the test based upon new thinking and research in strengths psychology)

    I: Finding Your Strengths
    (A 30-page overview of strengths psychology and how the Gallup system works)

    II: Applying Your Strengths
    (150 pages outlining each of the 34 themes including what people with that strength look like, how to manage them, and ideas for action if you have that strength).

    The StrengthsFinder
    (If you haven't taken it before, the code to take the test is provided in a packet inside the book. You actually have to buy the book to take the test)

    Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is another book I really enjoyed that follows the SF 2.0 format. Obviously, that test measures emotional intelligence (EQ), but Emotional Intelligence 2.0 has a unique format where the test tells you which of the book's 66 strategies will increase your EQ the most.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Beware: You Only Get Your Top 5 Themes And Not All 34 In Order, March 24, 2008
    The book is a quick read and very helpful in getting one to think about one's strengths and the potential complementary strengths to look for in others to offset one's weaker areas, if you work in a team environment. However, once I completed the online test and obtained the resultant reports, I was shocked to learn that I would only get the Top 5 Themes, and the other 29 remain a mystery. Upon contacting the company, I learned that for an additional $550.00 I could then obtain the other 29 themes, as well as their order of ranking. It is obvious to me that this book is being used as a sales "hook" to try to get you to spend more money with the company and may also be being used as a "beachhead" sales device to penetrate into potential corporate accounts. I was not surprised or enlightened at all by the results, as I have been through a number of these types of profiling and behavioral characteristics tests over the years. However, they were "somewhat" useful to reconfirm some of my prior findings as still being current as of today. I would recommend the book and online test if you have never been through something like this before. They are quick and very easy to use. Just be aware that the top 5 themes are only a glimpse of your total "being" and the other 29 are just as important to your knowledge about yourself. However, unless you are willing to cough up another $550.00, you may end up disappointed and still a bit "in-the-dark" about your overall strengths. Good luck.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Liked the info in the book...nice assessment...but..., January 4, 2009
    ...there should be a way to purchase additional assessments online without buying another copy of the book. My wife and I don't need two copies. Better yet...all of the information from the book could be better organized online for a fee. In an age where most people are trying to become more "green", I am surprised that the exclusive online format did not get more consideration from Gallup or the author...

    It is also worth pointing out that the book is worthless on the secondary market and there is no use checking this type of book out of the library.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Should be called "Strengths Reminder", May 26, 2008
    Strengths Finder 2.0 and the accompanying test on the website of the same name doesn't tell you anything about yourself that you probably don't already know. This is especially true if you've been out in the work world for more than 10 years and are looking for a new career; or are in any way introspective about your own feelings, i.e. whether you like or dislike certain tasks, people or processes at work. Save your money and take one of the free Myers-Briggs tests at humanmetrics or any other free MB website, then read everything you can about your MB type in the book "Do What You Are" by Tieger and Baron-Tieger. "Discover" also lists what other careers people with your type have. Way more helpful than Strengths Finder 2.0.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Took the test twice and only one talent remained the same!, October 23, 2009
    The main concepts of the book can be summarized in 4 pages or gleaned from the reviews here, but what you are really paying for is a one time chance to take the online test to assess your strengths.

    Unfortunately Gallup provides only your top 5 strengths without providing your actual score or an indication of how they measure relative to general population. Their claim is that telling you the score will distract you from the value of the strength and that only the top 5 strengths matter. I suspect the real reason is that they don't want to let anyone reverse engineer the test and find out how the scoring is done.

    All this would still be fine by me if test scores were not important. But that is not the case. I took the test twice just to verify the publisher's premises that the results don't vary much based on your mood or from one test to another. As it turns out only one of the top 5 traits in the test existed in both results. The other 4 out of 5 were not shared. This makes the test of limited value.

    To be fair, there was a common thread between the two sets of tests. For example in one test I was the "Futurist" who is concerned with "What if..." and "Wouldn't it be interesting if..." type of scenarios. In another test my strength was "Ideation" that is the ability to bring fresh ideas to the table. But this raises another key question, how reliable are the categories as whole if 4 out of the 5 strengths can be replaced with each other? This makes the strength categories defined here more like zodiac descriptions than real statistical clusters. At the very least then, Gallup should publish all your "strengths" that fall within some margin.

    Given all of the above, you are probably more aware of your own strengths that Gallup can tell you. The test would be of more value if it provided your score for each of your strengths and how they measure relative to the full database.

    2-0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY USED!, July 18, 2008
    I bought this book used and it is a waste of money. The book hinges on using the online evaluation test and then reading the book to analyze results. Buying the book second hand means you do not have access to the online account. In fact, inside the book it specifically says not to buy the book used.
    The book descriptions do not make this clear. The seller posted anote saying the access code was used, but it is not clear that the book is useless without. I contacted the publisher about buying the online access code separately, their reply was "buy a new book." what a waste!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Why the book?, August 8, 2007
    Really, the reason for this book is to get the access code to take the online StrengthsFinder assessment. The book doesn't give you much more information than what you get online, so it's clearly just a ploy to make more money. If they really wanted to give people more value with the book, they should include more occupational information, and more information about using your strengths throughout the lifespan. Or, how about a section for counselors to help them utilize the StrenghsFinder in the career counseling process?

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not recommended, June 23, 2008
    Unless this is a corporate requirement, you shouldn't buy. The book is only valuable in obtaining code necessary to take on-line questionnaire. The on-line information is much more complete than anything in the book. A better solution would be for Gallup to offer on-line registration (they may already, but it is not apparent on the WEB site)

    2-0 out of 5 stars This Woo was not wowed!, March 8, 2007
    Since Now Discover Your Strengths was very interesting and helpful, I've been very excited to read 2.0.

    I was expecting 2.0 to be a new layer of the strength finder "onion" (aka more insight, more inforamtion, deeper understanding), but instead it is just the same onion is a slightly different format.

    The ability to create a "customized version of your top five theme report" is really a print out of the same check lists found in the book. You can "customize" the check list by only including the predetermined action items that you want in the report.

    The action items are similar, to the ones found in Now Discover Your Strenghts, so if you photo copied your Now Discover action items and crossed off the ones you don't like - Presto! Instant "customized version of your top five theme report."

    My advice, if you've read Now Discover, you are covered. If you haven't, 2.0 is full of the same great information. ... Read more


    19. Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food
    by Jeff Potter
    Paperback
    list price: $34.99 -- our price: $20.71
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0596805888
    Publisher: O'Reilly Media
    Sales Rank: 118
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Are you the innovative type, the cook who marches to a different drummer -- used to expressing your creativity instead of just following recipes? Are you interested in the science behind what happens to food while it's cooking? Do you want to learn what makes a recipe work so you can improvise and create your own unique dish?

    More than just a cookbook, Cooking for Geeks applies your curiosity to discovery, inspiration, and invention in the kitchen. Why is medium-rare steak so popular? Why do we bake some things at 350 F/175 C and others at 375 F/190 C? And how quickly does a pizza cook if we overclock an oven to 1,000 F/540 C? Author and cooking geek Jeff Potter provides the answers and offers a unique take on recipes -- from the sweet (a "mean" chocolate chip cookie) to the savory (duck confit sugo).

    This book is an excellent and intriguing resource for anyone who wants to experiment with cooking, even if you don't consider yourself a geek.

    • Initialize your kitchen and calibrate your tools
    • Learn about the important reactions in cooking, such as protein denaturation, Maillard reactions, and caramelization, and how they impact the foods we cook
    • Play with your food using hydrocolloids and sous vide cooking
    • Gain firsthand insights from interviews with researchers, food scientists, knife experts, chefs, writers, and more, including author Harold McGee, TV personality Adam Savage, chemist Hervé This, and xkcd


    From Cooking for Geeks: Butternut Squash Soup

    Purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender:
    2 cups (660g) butternut squash, peeled, cubed, and roasted (about 1 mediumsquash)
    2 cups (470g) chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock
    1 small (130g) yellow onion, diced and sautéed
    1/2 teaspoon (1g) salt (adjust to taste)

    Notes

    • The weights are for the prepared ingredients and only rough suggestions. So, prepare each item individually. For example, for the squash, peel it, then coat it with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, and roast it in the oven at a temperature around 400–425 F / 200–220 C until it begins to brown. When you go to purée the ingredients, hold back some of the squash and some of the stock, taste the purée, and see which you think it needs. Want it thicker? Add more squash.Thinner? Add more stock.
    • This soup by itself is very basic. Garnish with whatever else you have on hand that you think might go well, such as garlic croutons and bacon. Or top with a small dab of cream, some toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries to give it a feeling of Thanksgiving. How about a teaspoon of maple syrup, a few thin slices of beef, and some fresh oregano? Chives, sour cream, and cheddar cheese? Why not! Instead of purchasing items to follow a recipe exactly, try using leftover ingredients from other meals to complement the squash soup.
    • If you’re in a rush, you can “jump-start” the squash by microwaving it first. Peel and quarter the squash, using a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Then, cube it into 1–2” / 3–5 cm pieces, drop it into a glass baking pan that’s both oven and microwave safe, and nuke it for four to five minutes to partially heat the mass. Remove from microwave, coat the squash with olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt, and roast it in a preheated oven until done, about 20 to 30 minutes. If you’re not in a rush, you can skip the peeling step entirely: cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, add oil and salt, roast it for about an hour (until the flesh is soft), and use a spoon to scoop it out.

    Pumpkin Cake

    There are two broad types of cake batters: high- ratio cakes--those that have more sugar and water than flour (or by some definitions, just a lot of sugar)--and low-ratio cakes—which tend to have coarser crumbs. For high-ratio cakes, there should be more sugar than flour (by weight) and more eggs than fats (again, by weight), and the liquid mass (eggs, milk, water) should be heavier than the sugar.

    Consider this pumpkin cake, which is a high-ratio cake (245g of pumpkin contains 220g of water--you can look these sorts of things up in the USDA National Nutrient Database, available online at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/).

    In a mixing bowl, measure out and then mix with an electric mixer to thoroughly combine:
    1 cup (245g) pumpkin (canned, or roast and puree your own)
    1 cup (200g) sugar
    3/4 cup (160g) canola oil
    2 large (120g) eggs
    1 1/2 cups (180g) flour
    1/4 cup (40g) raisins
    2 teaspoons (5g) cinnamon
    1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon (5g) baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
    1/2 teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract

    Transfer to a greased cake pan or spring form and bake in an oven preheated to 350 F / 175 C until a toothpick comes out dry, about 20 minutes.

    Notes

    • Try adding dried pears soaked in brandy. You can also hold back some of the raisins and sprinkle them on top.
    • One nice thing about high-ratio cakes is that they don’t have much gluten, so they won’t turn out like bread, even with excessive beating. With a total weight of 920 grams, of which only roughly 20 grams is gluten, there just isn’t enough gluten present in this cake to give it a bread-like texture. There’s also a fair amount of both sugar and fats to interfere with gluten development.
    • ... Read more

      Reviews

      5-0 out of 5 stars Explains the scientific how and why of cooking, September 9, 2010


      You've got to have a lot of confidence and nerve to write and try to sell a nearly 400 page book on cooking to the take-out pizza and cola set. No cookbook is likely to turn many geeks into chefs or take them away from their computer screens. However, even though "Cooking for Geeks" contains a large number of recipes, it is not a conventional cookbook but a scientific explanation of the how and why of cooking which will certainly appeal to that group, as well as to cooking professionals and intellectually curious others.

      The author is a geek himself and brings "geek-like" approaches to the subject matter - deep intellectual curiosity, affinity for details, appreciation of problem solving and hacking, scientific method, and a love of technology. What is even better is his filtering of cooking concepts by a computer coder's framework, analogizing recipes to executable code, viewing of ingredients as inputs and as variables, running processes over and over in a logical manner to test and improve outcomes. This is not a mere literary shoe-horning of cooking concepts into a coder's framework but an ingenuous approach to the topics that should loudly resonate with geeks.

      The subject matter includes selecting and using kitchen and cooking hardware; prepping inventory; calibrating equipment (especially your oven, using sugar); understanding tastes and smells; the fundamental difference between cooking and baking (and the personality types which gravitate to one form or the other); the importance of gluten and the three major types of leavening (biological, chemical, and mechanical); the types of cooking; using time and temperatures; how to use air as a tool; the chemistry of food combinations; and very thorough and detailed discussions of food handling and safety. The book is organized into seven chapters and includes an appendix dealing with cooking for people with allergies. The recipes are indexed in the front of the book.

      The major conventional flavor types of salt, sugar, acids, and alcohol have been supplemented by modern industrial elements - E- Numbered (a Dewey decimal system-like index) additives, colloids, gels, foams, and other yummy things! All are itemized, charted, and explained in the chapter entitled "Playing with Chemistry." A whole chapter (and an interview with mathematician, Douglas Baldwin) is devoted to the latest and greatest food preparation technique -sous vide- cooking food in a temperature-controlled water bath.

      Threaded through the sections are short sidebar interviews of mostly computer and techie types who are serious cooks or involved in the food industry. Some of these contributors are Adam Savage (of Myth Busters fame) on scientific technique, Tim O'Reilly (CEO of the book's publisher) on scones and jam, Nathan Myhrvold, on Moderist cuisine, and others. Other interviews deal with taste sensitivities, food mysteries, industrial hardware, pastry chef insights, and many more. There is an insightful section just on knives and how to use and care for them.

      Anyone who is interested in cooking will learn from this book. I now pay attention to things I've never heard of before: browning methods like caramelization and the Maillard processes, savory as a major taste, transglutaminase (a.k.a. meat glue), for example. There is stuff I didn't really want to know - "if you've eaten fish you've eaten worms."

      Although one of the strengths of the book is the systematic organization, there are useful tips spread throughout. For example, keeping a pizza stone permanently in your oven will help even out heat distribution; storing vegetables correctly requires knowing whether they admit ethylene gas or not (a chart is included); you can test your smell sensitivity profile by using a professional scratch and sniff test kit obtainable from the University of Pennsylvania. Whatever specialized information not contained in the book is referenced to external sources, especially on the Internet.

      If all of this is not stimulus enough for the geek crowd, how about learning how you can spectacularly kill yourself cooking with dry ice, liquid nitrogen, blowtorches, and especially an electrocuted hotdog. Cool! This is mad scientist stuff. Engineering-minded types can learn how to make their own ice cream machine from Legos. You'll also learn how NOT to kill your guests with bacteria and other toxins.

      The production is nicely done with easily readable text, plentiful drawings and charts, color captions, and many other quality production features. Weights are based in both grams and US volume-based measurements.

      (FTC disclosure (16 CFR Part 255): The reviewer has accepted a reviewer's copy of this book which is his to keep. He intends to provide an honest, independent, and fair evaluation of the book in all circumstances.)

      5-0 out of 5 stars Alton Brown Fans Take Note--You Need This!, August 6, 2010
      Alton Brown fans take note! You need a copy of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks and Good Food. Seriously, this book takes everything I enjoy about Alton's shows and combines them into a book for the beginner, novice and pro alike.

      Sure some recipes may seem basic. Extremely basic actually. It may seem weird to some that there are people who cannot even scramble an egg, but I've learned from experience that these people do exist. When my neighbor came flying out her house with a smoking pan, it had simply contained olive oil and water for boiling pasta but she'd turned on her stove and forgotten all about it. It became apparent that people can even burn water if given the opportunity.

      Everything you need to know about cooking is in this book. From kitchen set-up and equipment to simple tips like reading a recipe completely before getting started, Cooking for Geeks has everything you need to start preparing home-cooked meals.

      The book offers more than 400 pages of tips, recipes and even interviews with geeks of today. I loved reading Mythbuster's Adam Savage share his love of science and cooking. Learn easy recipes like a 30-Second Chocolate Cake or ones that may seem a little tougher like Butterflied Chicken. By the time you're done, you'll understand that kitchen and be able to whip together nutritious meals for yourself and others.

      It's a very rare event that I come across a review book that I feel I must rush out and purchase a copy as soon as it is released. This is one of those situations. I can't imagine NOT owning this cookbook and I love to cook and know more than the basics already. With outstanding recipes, entertaining interviews and witty writing, this is definitely a book you should hand your friends, family and especially neighbors who do come running out of their home with flaming pans.

      5-0 out of 5 stars Goes Ways Beyond a Collection of Recipes, August 5, 2010
      This isn't your ordinary cookbook. Sure, there are recipes--good ones, too--but the author presents a wealth of information about the science of cooking, cooking techniques, and even the psychology of cooking. It's not so technical that you need a degree in chemistry to understand it. Instead, the author explains things like how human taste senses work in plain terms. There's also a bit on nutrition towards the beginning, and there are charts and tables now and then to illustrate the mechanics of food and cooking throughout.

      If you're an "innovative cook" (see the interview with Brian Wansink, p. 7), this is right up your alley. Potter gives lots of hacks. Usually, cookbooks are very prescriptive and give exact measurements and ways of doing things. Here, the author encourages us to improvise, and he even gives great tips how to do so. For example, did you know you can roast peppers in a toaster?

      I have dozens of cookbooks and love to cook. Cooking For Geeks has surpassed them all and is now my favorite one. Check it out yourself. Well worth the money.

      5-0 out of 5 stars Takes you beyond the "what" into the "how" and "why"... great stuff!, August 14, 2010
      The typical geek doesn't just want something to work. They want to know *why* and *how* it works. If your geekness extends to the kitchen, this book is perfect... Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter. It's a wonderful mix of science and hands-on activities, and definitely opened my eyes as to why things work as they do in the kitchen.

      Contents:
      Hello, Kitchen!: Think Like a Hacker; Cooking for One; Cooking for Others
      Initializing the Kitchen: Approaching the Kitchen; Kitchen Equipment; Kitchen Organization
      Choosing Your Inputs - Flavors and Ingredients: Smell + Taste = Flavor; Tastes - Bitter, Salty, Sweet, Umami, Others; Adapt and Experiment Method; Regional/Traditional Method; Seasonal Method; Analytical Method
      Time and Temperature - Cooking's Primary Variables: Cooked = Time * Temperature; Foodborne Illness and Staying Safe; Key Temperatures in Cooking
      Air - Baking's Key Variable: Gluten; Biological Leaveners; Chemical Leaveners; Mechanical Leaveners
      Playing with Chemicals: Traditional Cooking Chemicals; Modern Industrial Chemicals
      Fun with Hardware: Sous Vide Cooking; Commercial Hardware and Techniques
      Appendix; Afterword; Index

      There's just so fun stuff here, it's hard to know where to start. Potter does an excellent job in explaining the science behind what happens when you mix the eggs, flour, and milk together and apply heat. While most books on cooking tell you *what* to do, this one goes into the *why* and *how*. For instance, why does heat change food, and how does that happen? What is involved in protein denaturation, the maillard reaction, and caramelization? And why does knowing all this make a difference to you when it comes to knowing when a particular item is "done cooking"? It's this type of information that takes you beyond saying "but I left it in for the 10 minutes they said... why wasn't it cooked?" After reading Cooking for Geeks, you can start to understand what's going on within the food, and make educated decisions about what happened, what is happening, and what will happen next.

      Fortunately, Cooking for Geeks isn't just a chemistry manual though. It's full of actual recipes that look delicious, as well as interviews with other cooks who reveal some of their secrets and mindsets behind what they do in the kitchen. Again, it all serves to take you beyond the "follow steps 1, 2, and 3" method of cooking, into something that is creative and fun.

      This is like reading a season's worth of Alton Brown's Good Eats shows. Plenty of fun and very informational... and you can eat or toss your mistakes. :)

      Disclosure:
      Obtained From: Publisher
      Payment: Free

      4-0 out of 5 stars A new way to look at cooking and science!, September 6, 2010
      Cooking for Geeks, by Jeff Potter, published by O'Reilly Media

      Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter is the cookbook for people who pestered their parents with "why" questions and were never content with the universal answer of the exasperated, "because I said so."

      Cooking for Geeks offers an in-depth look at the science of food, and provides detailed and well researched answers to many questions: Why is it better to weigh, rather than measure, your ingredients? (Weighing is more accurate.) Why is commercial baking powder better than the common tightwad substitute of 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda? (Because the commercial kind typically uses multiple types of acid, allowing the CO 2 to release over time, rather than all at once.) How do you create a super hot pizza oven in your own home? (According to Jeff Varasano, C++ programmer turned Atlanta pizzeria owner, clip the lock and bake pizza during the oven's cleaning cycle.)

      Cooking for Geeks also include interesting interviews with well-known geeks who answer even more questions--Adam Savage, of Mythbusters, discusses how they test myths on TV, and how the same principle (change one variable at a time!) can be applied to cooking, while Adam Ried, of America's Test Kitchen and The Boston Globe, talks about developing new recipes by making charts comparing the ingredients and methods in 40 or more existing recipes for the dish he wants to cook.

      Offering 30 pages on kitchen equipment and organization, Cooking for Geeks seems to assume that geeks are novice cooks. The recipes, however, are often lacking in sufficient detail to be successfully prepared, even by an experienced cook. For example, the "Rosemary Mashed Potatoes" recipe on page 201 offers a novel method of preparing potatoes for mash: by microwaving them. Potter explains why this works, but neglects a couple of key points: what are the properties of a microwaved potato when it is ready to mash? And, is it necessary to pierce or cut the potato before cooking? (We ordinarily would poke a potato before cooking it, but since it wasn't mentioned in a book that seems geared to unexperienced cooks, we didn't want to assume. We thought perhaps piercing the potato allow too much moisture to escape, leaving the potato starch unable to expand. But also wondered if the unpierced potato would explode.) In keeping with the theme of the book, and, honestly, hoping to witness an explosion, we designed our own experiment: three batches of potatoes, one pierced; one un-pierced, and a control batch boiled the old fashioned way. We found that the un-pierced potatoes didn't explode. We hypothesized that this was because the recipe called for red potatoes with thin skins, not russets with heavier skin. Further, the unpierced potatoes didn't cook as thoroughly as the pierced potatoes. After 6 minutes, both were soft enough that we could poke them with a fork (the common test for doneness of a potato) but the unpierced ones had hard spots throughout. They were difficult to mash and left crunchy bits throughout. The pierced potatoes cooked through, resulting in coarse and chunky mashed potatoes. The boiled potatoes control group lost less than one-half the water of the pierced group and one-fourth the water of the non-pierced group. We should have adjusted the amount of sour cream and milk, for they had an almost oatmeal-like consistency.

      Cooking for Geeks made acids and bases far more entertaining than our Chemistry textbook ever did, helped us understand what people mean when they say they "need an E-numbers fix" and introduced us to Doug Powell's amusing food safety site: [...]. We copied the lists of flavors used in various ethnic foods and the chart of substitutions for foods that commonly cause allergies to keep in the kitchen for easy reference and inspiration. Cooking For Geeks offered us a method to explore many of the questions we've had about food and cooking. Yes, we wish the recipes were more detailed. No we don't plan to use liquid nitrogen the next time we make ice cream or to flash-pickle cucumbers with a vacuum sealer. Even so, we appreciated and enjoyed this book--it's a far more entertaining introduction to science than anything we read during our K-12 years.

      4-0 out of 5 stars The Z-axis of cooking, September 6, 2010
      This book was designed for me. I've never been comfortable in the kitchen and I haven't been a fan of cooking, as I just don't "get it" and always fear I might ruin other people's meals botching the cook job. I've tried cookbooks, or getting recipes online, but just following directions rote is tedious and boring and I still feel like I might screw it up.

      This book really goes into the how and why of Cooking. I'm learning things like how temperatures and seasons can effect the quality, consistency, and nutrition of foods. It's like learning the legos of cooking, the building blocks, and the recipes are examples of the types of things you can make. But once you understand the blocks, you start to see how you can re-assemble them in new, exciting ways, and its ok to experiment.

      There are also great inteviews with cooks and twitter/internet celebrities. The latter is kind of an interesting choice; Some of them work, others don't, but it's like the author experimented with the traditional recipe for a book, so I still dig it.

      My only real complaint is with the table of contents. I'm reading the ePub version in iBooks on an iPad. I don't know if it's the publisher, the technology, or a combination of both, but the TOC links don't line up with the correct pages. As I read, I have insights and/or get excited about a topic and want to jump to other sections of the book to see the recipes, but the links are quite a few pages off in some cases. The book also tells me there are 929 pages, which I don't think is the case, but if true, I guess that makes it the cryptonomicon of cookbooks. So there is much page flipping, but all in all, a great, useful read!

      5-0 out of 5 stars The Why of Cooking, August 15, 2010
      Cooking is chemistry. With maybe a little physics thrown in on the side. You know, temperature control, stuff like that.

      You may think you don't like to cook. Too boring, too restrictive, you have to follow the recipe - or else. If so, this book is for you. It answer questions that most cook books don't think about asking. And if you have any curiosity about why recipes turn out like they do, and are interested in experimenting, using a knowledge of chemistry and physics to improve your dishes, this is a great book. It includes interviews with fellow geeks who explain why and how they prepare favorite dishes, including one with the publisher, Tim O'Reilly. Each interview adds something to the final mix.

      Although there is some organization to the book, like most cook books, it can be opened to any page, and you'll likely find something interesting to peruse. It is not put together as a textbook on cooking, more as a smorgasbord. Some of the more basic elements of cooking are covered in the early chapters, but the science is available in side bars and short essays throughout the book.

      Other reviews have listed the books table of contents, I won't repeat them. Suffice it to say, if you enjoy experimenting, using the scientific method in your cooking, if your curiosity isn't satisfied by just following a recipe time after time, if you like to know the "why" as well as "how," you'll enjoy this book. Would also make a great gift for that nerdy son/daughter newly living on their own. Highly recommended.

      5-0 out of 5 stars Great cookbook from an unlikely source!, August 9, 2010
      To tell you the truth, I was a little hesitant about a cookbook coming from O'Reilly Media. They produce design and programming books like Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps and HTML5: Up and Running, not culinary books...or so I thought...

      While waiting for the book release, I checked out Jeff Potter's videos on Facebook and on the O'Reilly site. From there I was hooked. This book, just like the title says, is designed by a geek for geeks (and non-geeks). This book is all about getting hands on with your "software" and "hardware" in your "lab" :) Jeff Potter did a great job in making easy for cooks of all levels to get started. My girlfriend, who claims she's a novice, enjoyed reading cover to cover. Someday I'll read it cover to cover myself, but I'm having too much fun learning about the science of cooking a la carte.

      The cool recipes I keep experimenting with are the timeless "shock & awe eggs" and the 30-Second Chocolate Cake:)
      Awesome job Jeff and O'Reilly to get everyone I know reinvigorated with cooking! Highly recommended for geeks, non-geeks, foodies and novices alike!

      5-0 out of 5 stars Don't be afraid to burn your dinner!, September 7, 2010
      Reading this book is like listening to an old friend who has taken an interest in cooking and is trying to convey his knowledge to you, his good old friend, because he has learned some best practices he would like to share. It's an interesting journey about temperatures, melting points, chemical reactions and what not, it's all in there. One of the main lessons is; "Have fun! Learning is about curiosity, not work," which should not only appeal to us geeks, but to people, eager to learn, in general. Another great lesson "Don't be afraid to burn your dinner!"... In our daily routine, don't be afraid to make mistakes! That's the only way you'll learn what NOT to do. Life lessons.

      Cooking is all about time and temperature, chemistry and flavor, smelling and tasting and you can experiment right in your own kitchen. Sometimes the result of the experiment is even edible, now isn't that cool! In what other cooking book can you read sentences like this: "buttermilk has a pH of 4.4-4.8, while regular milk has a pH of ~6.7, so it follows that baking soda will buffer and neutralize the more acidic buttermilk," not in my moms!

      The book is littered with jokes and references to our geeky-jobs, like RTFR (last R being the "recipe", you know the other letters in this acronym ;-) Or making 'subclasses' of a sauce, and trying various 'instances'... You know exactly where to place these kind of sentences. Brilliant stuff! Apart from that this book is very complete. It covers setting up your kitchen and tools, talks about the various flavors and to smell and taste food, has great interviews with people with various types of relation to cooking or food and is packed with great recipes and ideas. I bet not only geeks have found its contents invaluable and a must read for everyone who regularly has to turn on the stove or oven!

      Great job to Jeff and his team! I wonder what other subjects he and the team could geekify! These could turn out to be much more interesting than the "For Dummies" books!

      P.S. One thing I haven't found yet in the book... How to best clean my burned pan!

      5-0 out of 5 stars Excercises in creativity AND molecular gastronomy!, September 6, 2010
      Sometimes I forgot I was reading a cook book. Cooking for Geeks reminds me of other books I've read and they're mostly craft books. Lots of info about the craft, short but inspirational interviews with people who have done amazing things, and projects that are as much about the process as they are the finished object. The book is already being compared to Alton Brown and it's definitely a must read for AB's fans but it's also for people who want to play with food, experiment, and learn by doing.

      I love Jeff Potter's attitude about cooking. Especially about failure. You will make things that will turn out poorly so stop worrying and start learning. I've messed up plenty of dishes but it's rare that I can't salvage it in some way and this is one of the few cook books I've seen that encourage that kind of thinking. Most will just suggest a few alternative ingredients instead of leading toward thinking up entirely new applications.

      The recipes are more examples of things explored earlier. This isn't a staple cookbook in terms of recipes but it would be very, very good for a beginning cook to have this (as well as anyone else interested in cooking). Concepts, philosophies, and, yes, science are all explored and then demonstrated with recipes. Many recipes have alternate serving suggestions as well.

      The section on molecular gastronomy is very cool. I thought I'd never get to do much of that kind of thing since the ingredients and equipment are expensive and it looks rather difficult for a regular home cook. I was wrong! There are plenty of things the home cook can do without breaking the bank. Granted, I now have more agar flakes than I really need but I can give them to friends who want to make panna cotta pie. It'll be like that Amish friend bread recipe only with strange ingredients and probably more taste. And more calories. ... Read more


    20. Doing Both: How Cisco Captures Today's Profit and Drives Tomorrow's Growth
    by Inder Sidhu
    Kindle Edition (2010-05-27)
    list price: $19.99
    Asin: B003R0KYZ6
    Publisher: FT Press
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Over the past seven years, in a highly unstable global economy, Cisco doubled revenue, tripled profits, and quadrupled earnings per share. How? By Doing Both. When companies face key strategic decisions, they often take one path and abandon the other. They focus on innovation and new business at the expense of core businesses or vice versa. They stress discipline and sacrifice flexibility. They focus on customers and ignore partners. And they struggle. Cisco believes there is a better way: Doing Both.

     

    Doing Both means approaching every decision as an opportunity to seize, not a sacrifice to endure. It means avoiding false choices, reduced expectations, and weak compromises. It means finding ways to make each option benefit and mutually reinforce the other. In this book, Cisco Senior Vice President Inder Sidhu explains why “doing both” is today’s best strategy. Then, drawing on Cisco’s hardwon insights and the experiences of companies like Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool, and Harley-Davidson, Inder presents a complete blueprint for “doing both” in your organization, too.

     

    Win by Doing Both!

    • Sustaining and Disruptive Innovation

    • Existing and New Business Models

    • Optimization and Reinvention

    • Satisfied Customers and Gratified Partners

    • Established and Emerging Countries

    • Doing Things Right and Doing What Matters

    • Superstar Performers and Winning Teams

    • Authoritative Leadership and Democratic Decision Making

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Living Example of why "Both-And" wins over "Either-Or"
    There is evidence showing up everywhere that the "both-and" theory is not only real, but far more powerful than the limiting "either-or" postulate. "Doing Both," by Inder Sidhu is not only strong evidence that it works, but a wider, broader scope for its use.

    We've seen parts of the both-and theory at work in business through co-opetition. However, simple collaboration habits often times do not include the factors that influence business success. Some people might think that today's collaborator would more likely be a new college graduate who works for a start-up technology company who uses a BlackBerry to increase personal productivity.

    But, there is more to it than that. Both-and is allowing product innovation and the balancing of many seemingly conflicting goals to be maintained within an organization. Profitability is enabled by balancing seemingly conflicting purposes, not by choosing one or the other.

    Inder Sidhu addresses multi-evolutionary product development agendas with a very elegant way of "Doing Both" things. Cisco has become a role model of sorts, where workers are empowered with personalized services, choice, and work-life balance in a human network to get their work done and make organizations thrive. The opening analogy on doing both form and function with the Golden Gate Bridge Bridge is very powerful as it became the symbol for Cisco.

    Hopefully their example will inspire you to influence your current environment with the expectation that cultural factors influencing collaboration will include role modeling by senior leaders, a formal collaboration process, tools, training and rewards that will work for you.

    "Doing Both" provides insight that will help ease the transition from the old management style to this new more profitable one. This book earns 5 stars because it is inspiring, insightful, and most importantly, practical. It is very well written and is fluid as well as engaging. It very proactively makes the both-and theory come across as quite believable and doable.

    This book represents some fresh thinking to current business challenges. Definitely worthwhile spending some serious focus time on.

    Let me also tell you about another new business challenge that I believe would be just as important spending some good focus time on...it is proactive managing your online reputation. In addition to "Doing Both" I would highly recommend getting Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier.

    Even though Cisco is a great company, it still has customer problems ... and you will to. It is inevitable that you will get some bad product reviews, or even worse, revengeful customers who will try to ruin your company's online reputation. Wild West 2.0 tells you exactly where to look for reputation problems and then how to repair them. Internet Reputation Management should not be delegated to your webmaster. From my experience it is now a critical management and marketing issue that concerns everyone from the CEO on down.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and inspiring


    Inder begins with sharing how Cisco's TelePresence video conferencing technology has enabled him to see, hear and almost feel his mother's presence who is 8,000 miles away back home in India. The intro is touching and a friendly reminder of how technology has changed our lives in many ways and most importantly how we stay in touch and always connected.

    Inder takes you through the various steps that Cisco has taken to grow to a $40 billion dollar company with over 60,000 employees. Its an interesting read as Inder walks through the history and the strategic decisions made to remain competitive through innovation and bold moves. Inspired by the stories of the background of the leaders chosen, the difficult questions and challenges faced and their paths take to success.

    Doing Both is an interesting and inspiring read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Business wisdom not to be missed
    This book hones in on the point that optimal business decisions are not necessarily trade-offs between two choices but usually involve doing both. Written in an engaging, easy-to-read, story-telling style, the book offers numerous examples of how Cisco has been "doing both" to enable its success from multiple angles: technology innovation, market segmentation, supply chain management, organizational design, and more. Inder Sidhu's examples from his personal life are moving and help to make the book quite inspirational. A joy to read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Unique Insights and Lessons Not To Be Missed
    Business books are a "dime a dozen". Fortunately, this book is one that stands apart from the pack. Insightful, thoughtful, compelling and thought provoking, "Doing Both: How Cisco Captures Today's Profits and Drives Tomorrow's Growth" takes the reader on a dynamic journey into the inner workings of Cisco and it's remarkable transformation. Inder SIdhu's storytelling is highly entertaining and provides unique insights that today's business leaders must not miss. This book will be one that I highly recommend to my friends and colleagues.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Organizational transformation is not -- repeat not - a zero-sum game

    One of the most self-defeating mindsets is suggested by the admonition, "You can't have your cake and eat it too." Obviously there are situations when there are two options that are mutually-exclusive. However, most of the time, when facing a choice, it is a mistake to select only one and dismiss all others. Inder Sidhu does not advocate "a balanced compromise between two objectives, but a mutually reinforcing multiplier in which each side makes the other better." He cites comments included in Built to Last (1994) co-authored by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras when discussing a highly visionary company "that doesn't want to blend yin and yang into a gray indistinguishable circle that is neither highly yin nor highly yang; it aims to be distinctly yin and distinctly yang - both at the same time, all the time. Irrational? Perhaps. Rare? Yes. Difficult? Absolutely."

    Sidhu devotes the bulk of his lively narrative to explaining how exemplar companies such as Apple, BYD, Cisco, GE, Google, IBM, and Procter & Gamble achieve these strategic objectives:

    o Improving the core business while conducting disruptive innovation
    o Strengthening current account relationships while adding new ones
    o Fine-tuning what is done well while transforming or eliminating what isn't
    o Creating customer evangelists while creating steadfast partners
    o Thriving on "Main Street" while exploring "the road less traveled"
    o Doing it right and doing what is right (i.e. what matters)

    Obviously, doing both (of whatever) is not always possible or, when possible, advisable. Also, any lessons learned from the exemplar companies such as those Sidhu examines (especially Cisco) must be modified to accommodate the specific needs and resources of much smaller organizations.

    With all due respect to the value of these lessons, I think the single greatest benefit of this book is the mindset it can help its reader to develop. Although Sidhu does not cite them and their books, he has clearly been influenced (albeit indirectly) by business thinkers such as Henry Chesbrough (Open Innovation and Open Business Models) and Roger Martin (The Opposable Mind) as well as Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouilllart (The Power of Co-Creation). Their major recommendations track almost seamlessly with Sudhu's own:

    1. Be open-minded to possibilities, whenever/wherever they occur
    2. Respect and examine those that are plausible, especially if unorthodox
    3. Seek out collaborations that are mutually-beneficial
    4. Welcome each "failure" as a precious learning opportunity
    5. Juxtapose (for rigorous scrutiny) contradictory ideas and options
    6. Embrace change as an ally, not as a threat
    7. Achieve constant improvement with a discovery-driven process
    8. Welcome and support principled dissent
    9. Cultivate and nourish an insatiable appetite for learning
    10. Challenge what James O'Toole characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom"

    Congratulations to Inder Sidhu on a brilliant achievement.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful Premise
    Mr. Sidhu effectively presents the issues faced by Cisco in balancing its interests in maintaining current products, services and markets, and expanding into very different ones. He outlines how Cisco has dealt with avoiding the complacency and inflexibility in maintaining current products, services and markets by expanding into new areas, but simultaneously, avoiding overextending the company.

    I thought the anecdotes from the experiences of other businesses were instructive, especially for us non IT types. The example of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge was especially helpful.

    The concepts outlined in the book would be helpful to the owner of any business, from a local sole proprietorship to a company such as Cisco.

    I higly recommend this book.

    ... Read more


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