Books - Science

1-20 of 200       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 20

  • Science
  • Astronomy & Space Science
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Essays & Commentary
  • Evolution
  • Experiments, Instruments & Measurement
  • History & Philosophy
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Nature & Ecology
  • Physics
  • Reference
  • Technology
  • Research
  • Science for Kids
  • Subjects
  • click price to see details     click image to enlarge     click link to go to the store

    $14.29
    1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta
    2. On the Origin of Species By Means
    $14.99
    3. The Emperor of All Maladies: A
    4. Cinderella
    5. FREE Weights and Measures Study
    $12.95
    6. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues,
    $13.99
    7. The Grand Design
    8. Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto
    $20.71
    9. Cooking for Geeks: Real Science,
    $15.47
    10. Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic
    11. Siddhartha
    $23.00
    12. Publication Manual of the American
    $9.49
    13. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See,
    14. CK-12 Advanced Probability and
    $15.99
    15. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other
    16. CK-12 Calculus
    17. CK-12 Chemistry
    18. CK-12 21st Century Physics: A
    $14.26
    19. Packing for Mars: The Curious
    20. CK-12 Geometry

    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. 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
    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 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


    3. 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
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    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


    4. 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


    5. FREE Weights and Measures Study Guide: Conversion of over 1,000 units including Length, Area, Volume, Speed, Force, Energy, Electricity, Viscosity, Temperature, & more
    by MobileReference, mobi
    Kindle Edition (2007-06-04)
    list price: $0.99
    Asin: B000RG1ONE
    Publisher: MobileReference
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Boost Your grades with this illustrated quick-study guide. You will use it from high school to college and beyond. The full version is absolutely FREE.

    Features

    • Conversion of over 1,000 units.
    • Metric, English, and US customary systems.
    • Length, Area, Volume, Speed, Force, Energy, Electricity, Viscosity, Temperature, and more.
    • List of powers of 10 prefixes.
    • Explanation of SI writing style.
    • Approximate conversion of units.
    • Clear and concise explanations.
    • Difficult concepts are explained in simple terms.
    • Navigate from Table of Contents or search for words or phrases.
    • Add bookmarks and annotation.
    • Access the guide anytime, anywhere - at home, on the train, in the subway.
    • Use your down time to prepare for an exam.
    • Always have the guide available for a quick reference.
    • Indispensable resource for technical and life science students.
    • The full version is absolutely FREE.
    • FREE updates.

    Table of Contents

    Conversion of units:

    Length: Definition | Conversion

    Area: Definition | 2-D Formulae | 3-D Formulae | Conversion

    Volume: Definition | Formulae | Conversion

    Angle: Definition | Conversion

    Mass: Definition | Conversion

    Time: Definition | Conversion

    Speed: Definition | Conversion

    Acceleration: Definition | Conversion

    Force: Definition | Conversion

    Pressure or mechanical stress: Definition | Conversion

    Energy, work, or heat: Definition | Conversion

    Power: Definition | Conversion

    Angular momentum: Definition | Conversion

    Electricity: Current | Charge | Resistance | Voltage | Formulae | Conversion

    Viscosity: Definition | Conversion

    Information entropy: Definition | Conversion

    Temperature: Definition | Conversion

    Approximate conversion of units

    History: Systems of measurement | History of measurement

    Metric system (SI): Definition | SI writing style | Powers of 10 prefixes

    Other Systems: English system | Imperial unit | United States customary units | Comparison of the Imperial and U.S. customary systems

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference and Technical Refresher
    I bought this Kindle book thinking it would be nice to have a little reference of conversion units handy, and then neglected it for several weeks. Today I opened it up and what a surprise!! WOW! This is a great little book, filled not only with conversion units for virtually every imaginable unit of measure, but it is a great refresher for a myriad of technical principles. It is filled with explanations of the fundamentals behind the units as well has fascinating little historical snippets about how the units all came to be. Highly recommended. We need more like this!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The book was corrected on January 15th, 2009. The new version 11.1 completely resolves the image scaling problem.
    Comments from the Publisher:

    The book was corrected on January 15th, 2009. The new version 11.1 completely resolves the image scaling problem.

    MobileReference

    5-0 out of 5 stars Kindle book
    FREE Weights and Measures Quick Study Guide

    This is a very useful ebook. Works great on my Kindle!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Reference Work - Highly Recommended!
    The "Weights and Measures Study Guide", besides being free, is a very handy collection of units, definitions, and formulas for just every field. The book has all of the units you would expect (Length, Area, Volume, Speed, Force, Energy, Electricity, Viscosity, Temperature) and also adds worthwhile sections on the various histories of systems (English, Metric, etc) and conversion guides.

    While this looks good on the Kindle and formats just fine, it actually is very handy to have on the iTouch\iPhone and PC with the free Kindle App. On the iTouch it is the perfect pocket reference for when I'm working in my shop and am away from the computer.

    The navigation is good, complete with a linked Table of Contents, but the only issue I found was that the "Start" page was the middle of a chapter - not the Cover Page. Once I figured that out, it was easy enough to get started.

    Overall, this is a great free book with a huge amount of information that is very useful to students, professionals, and the overly curious. I leave mine "parked" on the conversion guide page since that is extremely helpful information.

    Highly Recommended!

    CFH

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent ebook for general knowledge and school work
    FREE Weights and Measures Study Guide

    This ebook is incredibly helpful and educational. But don't take my word for it. Give it a try and see for yourself!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The book looks fine on my Kindle.
    I am not sure what the other reviewer is talking about. The book looks fine on my Kindle.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Useful
    This was a freebie, so I thought why not download to have as a reference. I think my husband would use it more than I, but for free - why not? There is so much information in this book - it contains any conversion imaginable. ... Read more


    6. 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
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    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

    7. 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
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    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

    8. 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


    9. 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


    10. Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
    by Simon Winchester
    Hardcover
    list price: $27.99 -- our price: $15.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0061702587
    Publisher: Harper
    Sales Rank: 159
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Atlantic is a biography of a tremendous space that has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists, and warriors, and continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters—all have a relationship with this great body of gray and heaving sea.

    Winchester chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. More than a mere history, Atlantic is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope by one of the most gifted writers in the English language.

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another hit from Winchester...., November 1, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Simon Winchester's Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories is an arm chair explorers dream and yet another installment in a growing list of terrific books. Filled to brimming with stories of exploration and heroic figures, Winchester sees the Atlantic Ocean as the well spring from which all (or the major part) of European history and greatness finds its roots. Atlantic is as much a biography of the Atlantic Ocean as any other biography and a detailed examination of how some of mankind has interacted with that ocean and been affected by it.

    Not wanting to omit anything, Winchester begins the story with an investigation into the formation of the Atlantic basic 370 million years ago and rapidly advances to relatively modern times. Vikings, Norsemen, Portuguese, Dutchmen, the French, English, all have their place in Winchester's book. The title includes the phrase "Million Stories" and surely this is true. As I was reading Atlantic, I was often mindful of the fact that the stories included in the book aren't all of the stories; that there are more forgotten tales than there are remembered tales. That realization is numbing when you think about it.

    Still, Winchester has managed to pull together a gripping read. If you're a lover of adventure and history you'll want to spend some time with Atlantic.

    Simon Winchester's previous works include three terrific books among other writings. The Professor and the Madman (1998), The Map that Changed the World (2001), and The Crack at the Edge of the World (2005) are all extremely readable and highly interesting. Atlantic is certainly equally interesting.

    I highly recommend Atlantic by Simon Winchester.

    Peace always.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Winchester's winsome winner, November 3, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Atlantic is not easily described. I'm a science & history reader and so I believed I was undertaking another topical read. That was my mistake. Atlantic is a gently rolling hybrid of a travelogue, life journey story, geological epochs, and human history rolled up in a manner to grab the attention of the curious mind seeking the really `big picture' of half a billion years. Hundreds of books have been written to address the particulars of Atlantic's topics. From this legacy of writings and observations, Winchester derives a kind of "organic" Atlantic to describe with mans 'brief' encounter. Winchester pulls the many layers of man's history and experience together in just the right format of snip-it's in context to permit the reader to witness an Ocean that might otherwise be `missed' as a 400 million year old `life form'.

    This is not a technical read. It is an enjoyable, personal armchair reflection of man's geo-socio-rhetorical relationship with the Atlantic. It might be best enjoyed on your next transatlantic flight or on beach vacation or, if you're really lucky, a ship crossing looking out over the seas horizon ahead and behind. Sans the pain of an Atlantic flight, it is a poetic writing for all that have stared out across the pond and wondered. You are guaranteed to become the resident savant of Atlantic trivia at your next dinner party. The reader can relate to the author's penchant and his coming to terms with a life lived around the often unnoticed Atlantic's defining nature for Western civilization. The core story is the "Atlantic" ... man is the context around the story.

    Great book!

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Disappointing Effort from a solid author, December 13, 2010
    Simon Winchester is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of his books and did not wait long to order this, his newest. It started like several of his others with a geologist's explanation of history... always interesting. He then laid out the vital importance of the ocean to human evolution, civilization, exploration, and history... good stuff but lacking the detail and real human accounts of Krakatoa or Crack at the Edge of the World.

    The disappointment for me was that a large portion of the book is devoted to Dr. Winchester's view on how climate change is affecting the Atlantic and speculation on what future impact it will have. He gives anecdotal stories without solid science or data references and seems to imply that whatever changes have occurred are the result of man's use of the ocean an are harmful or bad - not just historical changes. I felt as if I'd been tricked into reading a case for man-caused global warming. Winchester is obviously passionate about the Atlantic and concerned about its future. However, I bought the book as a historical retrospective and did not care to read an exhaustive op-ed about climate change.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Winchester turns nonfiction accounts into page-turning literature, November 9, 2010
    "Men might as well project a voyage to the Moon as attempt to employ steam navigation against the stormy North Atlantic Ocean."
    - Dionysius Lardner, Irish scientific writer and lecturer, 1793-1859

    This quote opens Simon Winchester's latest book, ATLANTIC. The bestselling author of KRAKATOA and THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN has made a career of turning nonfiction accounts into page-turning literature. Now he is taking on the vast infinity that is the Atlantic Ocean in a work that reads like crisp fiction as it covers this immense space through a number of different themes, blending both fact and folklore along the way.

    What gives the book even more poignancy is how Winchester interjects his personal experiences into the numerous references he provides regarding the great Atlantic Ocean. Once nicknamed "the pond" by Victorian sailors of the 1600s, this body of water has been the site of famous events and the inspiration for thousands of artistic and literary productions.

    Early on in the preface, Winchester mentions the Atlantic Charter of 1941. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed the accord that signaled a changing of the guard, with the United States taking over from Britain as titular leader of the Western world. Winchester also refers to the Atlantic Ocean as a body of water that geologists predict will continue to transform in shape and size dramatically. Because of all the change that has taken place with the ocean over thousands of years, it is a reasonable subject that can have its story told in the form of biography.

    Winchester indicates that the origins of the Atlantic can be traced as far back as the Jurassic period 195 million years ago. However, it was not until the age of early aquatic explorers that this mighty ocean was discovered and recognized. The voyages of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus are well known. Yet the first European to cross the Atlantic and reach the New World was actually a Norse Viking, most likely from Norway. Prior to Columbus reaching the New World, Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci was the first to realize North America as a continent and the Atlantic as a discrete and separate body of water --- an ocean.

    Details of the great ships that crossed the Atlantic are covered at length by Winchester, with particular attention given to the HMS Challenger. Initially a warship, the Challenger not only traversed the Atlantic visiting numerous ports along the way but also carried a team of scientists and geologists during its initial three-and-a-half-year voyage. The findings of these men of science included the discovery of hundreds of specimens --- both animal and plant --- many of which still exist today. This was a formidable intellectual achievement that opened up the world and was the most comprehensive study of an ocean ever undertaken.

    ATLANTIC provides proof of the indelible inspiration the Atlantic Ocean has made in the areas of arts and literature. Thousands of poems, stories and artistic achievements claim the ocean as their muse. Among Winchester's references are the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Seafarer" and numerous writings by the great William Shakespeare that provide some of the first Atlantic-inspired literary works. Architecture along the thousands of Atlantic coastline areas also represents respect for the sea. French composer Claude Debussy titled three of his major works "La mer," which helped attach the word "Impressionism" to a new style of sea-centered music. Winchester also points out several famous pieces of art, with none more notable than those of English artist J.M.W. Turner, whose "The Wreck of the Minotaur" exemplified the power of the great Atlantic Ocean.

    No story of the Atlantic would be complete without outlining the role this body of water has played in the war experience. The Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and the English all sailed ships across the Atlantic during colonization efforts with the intent on beating their opponents to new territories. Winchester regales us with the golden age of pirates on the Atlantic, a term that originated from the Caribbean references to buccaneers and privateers. Writers like Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe told of the exploits of these infamous traverses and villains of the Atlantic.

    What Simon Winchester does best is to make his biography of the Atlantic Ocean read like a compelling fictional narrative that is never dull. In the hands of a writer with his gifts and talent for phraseology, what could have been an antiseptic textbook type of read is instead an exciting and enthralling literary experience that will appeal to anyone who is interested in history and engaging storytelling.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A rather ridiculous book, December 22, 2010
    I have enjoyed a number of Winchester's books, but this was not one of them. He is at his best when he is detailing a story that is not well-known and surprising. That was what drove the success of his previous work. In this book, he takes on an enormous subject and ends up with a catalog of his research interspersed with totally unsupported assertions and some rather dull writing about his travels.

    The structural problem with the book is that Winchester has chosen a cumbersome thematic structure to organize his writing: the seven stages of man listed in the "All the world's a stage..." speech from As You Like It. While this may have seemed like a clever way to tackle a sprawling subject like the Atlantic, the structure overwhelms any insight Winchester may or may not have had about the Atlantic. Seeking to fill this outline, Winchester stuffs everything into it that either (a) features the words "sea" or "Atlantic" or (b) happens to have taken place in or near the Atlantic. The result is a combination of the obvious (jet travel ended regular ocean liner service) or the downright tautological (in a section on "cities," Winchester writes brief descriptions of New York, Cape Town, St. Helena, none of which have any connection to each other and all of which essentially boil down to the pointless statement 'these are Atlantic cities because they are on the Atlantic ocean.")

    Unsupported assertions abound. Apparently, musical instruments were not powerful enough before the 18th century to tackle the sea as a subject (whatever that may mean in the context of music). The "paramount" issue in the story of the Pilgrims is the Atlantic. What? How do you back that up? Even more bizarre, Winchester then undermines his own point by noting that it was important only as an obstacle to be crossed. Well, yeah. The Pilgrims are remembered for the founding of New England, not for their (total lack of ) seamanship or connection to the Atlantic.

    Aside from the structural problems, Winchester's prose is often leaden and tedious. The opening story about his transatlantic crossing drags on for too long, pulls in totally unrelated issues like the meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt that resulted in the Atlantic Charter, and then peters out with no apparent point. As other reviewers have noted, almost everything is weighed down with vague modifiers. I suspect that these pleading modifiers are Winchester's unconscious attempt to make his lack of insight or, frankly, point sound "important."

    Put simply, the book is a mess. The interesting subjects are covered in other books in better detail and with better writing. Winchester's writing about himself is dull and overwrought. Readers are better off sticking to books where Winchester has tackled a small, somewhat esoteric subject.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Axis of Western Civilization, December 6, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Simon Winchester's enjoyable sail through thousands of years of Atlantic history could easily double as a useful general primer on western civilization. Covering everything from the Phoenicians, chilean sea bass, Cadiz, and norse dragon ships to deep sea trawlers and the mid ocean mountain range, this book explores related fishy subjects down through the centuries.

    "Atlantic" can be nicely entertaining about its subjects, even if it's rather like a wine tasting party in overall coverage of any specific topic, say, on Germany's two fearsome submarine campaigns.

    In subduing this leviathan of biographies, Mr. Winchester turned to William Shakespeare for inspiration. He reveals his storyline as, "A stage setting that would transmute all the themes of ocean life into players, progressing for infancy to senescence, so that all could be permitted to play their parts in turn."

    Like weathering patches of rain squalls, Mr. Winchester's story tacks through brief bands of science and lore followed by rather intense short periods of history and geography story telling. Only rarely will the reader find himself fogbound in Mr. Winchester's reminiscenes. Indeed, his personal quest on Namibia's Skeleton Coast in the epilogue, is wonderful reading.

    This fine book is clearly not intended to be the last word on maritime references. But for any readers wanting a learned, entertaining and lucid introduction to a vast foggy subject, Mr. Winchester's "Atlantic" could certainly be their favorite.



    3-0 out of 5 stars A tantalizing but frustrating read, November 14, 2010
    This is an interesting book that could have been far more interesting if it were not so frustrating to read.

    The book is filled with non-sequiturs that leave the reader in total puzzlement. An example is found on page 122: "Who now remembers James Rennell, for instance, a young sailor from Devon, England, who first came upon the Atlantic proper on a long-sea trick from military service in Bengal." What?! Actually I think we can be fairly certain that it was some paleolithic man or woman "who first came on the Atlantic proper." We can only try to guess what a "long-sea trick" is or what this has to do with Bengal.

    The author drops bombshells on us and then blithely goes on to a new topic. We learn that tobacco has been found in an Egyptian tomb. This is a potentially profound discovery. When was this discovered and by whom? Are archeologists in general agreement about this? Has it been tested to determine where it was grown? Is it possible that there is an explanation other than a transatlantic voyage? You will never find out reading this book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Casting his net too widely this time, December 27, 2010

    Simon Winchester's books are always an adventure of one sort or another. He chooses a topic--person, place, event, in one stunningly expansive outing ("The Meaning of Everything") the Oxford English Dictionary--and covers that topic with infinite range and detail. I make it a point to listen to his books on audio, read by the author, for the joy of his linguistic pirouettes and pyrotechnics. I like his style.

    For his latest book, though, I believe he cast his net too widely. The title says it all: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories . In writing about the Atlantic Ocean he gave himself license to include anything that ever existed or occurred on, in or near it; art and music related to it in any way; warfare, trade, piracy, transportation of people and goods on or over the ocean; our overfishing and pollution of it; what will happen if global warming causes it to rise; and finally, the predictions (both dismal and majestic) of how the Atlantic will cease to exist when the continents ricochet back around and pinch it off in a few million years.

    Realizing that he needed a structure to manage this mass of material, Winchester chose Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from "As You Like It," relating aspects of the ocean to the stages: infant, school-boy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon (foolish old man), and second childhood. I didn't think this conceit worked perfectly, and in fact the structure that could bring order to this book probably doesn't exist.

    Winchester's first career was in geology, and his fervor for eruptions and in fact all geological phenomena makes the Atlantic a promising topic for him. On the other hand, writing about individuals--you can scarcely call these books biographies--somehow focuses and settles his writing; "human included for scale," so to speak. I hope his next book will, indeed, be more focused.

    Linda Bulger, 2010

    3-0 out of 5 stars Epic Sea Battles. War At Sea., December 8, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    What an interesting read. We needed a book like this. It talks about the history of the Atlantic Ocean and how she fared with the ships at sea. There were many battles in this ocean (still are) hundreds of ships and boats havetheir last resting place here with Titanic being the most famous one. But it's not just about the ships itself. No, the story is about the Atlantic Ocean and how she has survived through time during storms,battles, destruction, enviroment, weather, you name it and it's here.

    The only problem is that when you read the proofs to a book that has yet to be published, things tend to be out of place. Usually, this isn't noticable but here, you have pictures that are blocked with the source of where it comes from, spelling errors and things like that. What I have is basically a reviewers copy. Does it deter from the reading and enjoyment? No because if you are a fan of history, then this book for you will bring you enjoyment.

    It's also easy on the eyes which will wander to the bottom of the page where the footnotes are. Now, I like the footnotes here instead of the back of the book because this way it doesn't take away from the reading and you can understand things a bit more.

    Atlantic Ocean is the most popular one if you live in the U.S and Canada so it's something we should know about seeing as how one person goes out there every second on a daily basis. Reading this will give us a better understanding.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Fine Slice Through the Grey Waters., December 6, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    A book like this creates a slice with which to orchestrate an essay.

    One of the finest I have ever seen is Europe Between the Oceans by Barry Cunliffe, the story of Europe from 9000 BC through 1000 AD.

    This history of the Atlantic Ocean is quite good, a way for the author to weave the hydrological with the great explorers, the mapping with the peoples, the battles with the flows of peoples. The result is a window to the human condition as it plays out against the grey waters.

    I enjoyed the author weaving some of his own visits to places -- Monaco for charts and naming of the seas, for example, and he always seems to be sailing past a headland -- with his eye for events, such as the grand exploratory tour of the HMS Challenger. He uses clear, simple and engaging writing.

    I am never sure that these sorts of volumes really hang together, in the sense that there is no one story of the Atlantic, rather a series of short essays around the basin, so to speak. But the book is very interesting, the Atlantic from north to south, from cables on the ocean floor to the great ships above. The great scope tells the story of the peoples as they rose against this great ocean, and were consumed within it. ... Read more

    11. Siddhartha
    by Hermann Hesse
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQU7U8
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 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 All Is Connected, November 9, 2000
    Siddhartha is that most unusual of all stories -- one that follows a character throughout most of his life . . . and describes that life in terms of a spiritual journey. For those who are ready to think about what their spiritual journey can be, Siddhartha will be a revelation. For those who are not yet looking for "enlightenment," the book will seem pecular, odd, and out-of-joint. That's because Hesse was presenting a mystery story, also, for each reader to solve for herself or himself. The mystery is simply to unravel the meaning of life.

    As the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha would naturally have enjoyed access to all of the finest lessons and things of life. Knowing of his natural superiority in many ways, he becomes disenchanted with teachers and his companions. In a burst of independence, he insists on being allowed to leave home to become a wandering Shramana (or Samana, depending on which translation you read). After three years or so, he tires of this as well. Near the end of that part of his life, Siddharta meets Gotama, the Buddha, and admires him greatly. But Siddharta continues to feel that teachers cannot convey the wisdom of what they know. Words are too fragile a vessel for that purpose. He sees a beautiful courtesan and asks her to teach him about love. Thus, Siddhartha begins his third quest for meaning by embracing the ordinary life that most people experience. Eventually, disgusted by this (and he does behave disgustingly), he tires of life. Then, he suddenly reconnects with the Universe, and decides to become a ferryman and learn from the river. In this fourth stage of his life, he comes to develop the wisdom to match the knowledge that direct experiences of the "good" and the "sensual" life have provided to him.

    Few will find Siddhartha to be an attractive character until near the end of the book. Hesse is trying to portray his path towards balance and understanding by emphasizing Siddhartha's weaknesses and errors. But, these are mostly errors that all people fall into. Hesse wants us to see that we make too much of any given moment or event. The "all" in a timeless sense is what we should seek for.

    There is a wonderful description of what a rock is near the end of the book that is well worth reading, even if you get nothing out of the rest of the story. The "mystery" of what Gotima experiences when he kisses Siddhartha's forehead will provide many interesting questions for each reader to consider.

    I recommend that you both listen to this book on tape and read it. Hesse's approach to learning is for us to observe and feel. You will do more of that while listening than by simply reading. I was able to find an unabridged audio tape in our library for my listening. I encourage you to go with an unabridged tape as well. You will get more out of Siddhartha that way. I read the Hilda Rosner translation, and liked it very much.

    After you finish listening to and reading the book, I suggest that you think about what you have not yet experienced that would help you get a better sense of life. If you have tried to be a secular person, you could try being a spiritual one. If you have focused on being a parent, you could focus on being a sibling. If you have focused on making money, you could pay attention to giving away your time. And so on. But in each case, give yourself more opportunities to experience and learn from nature. That is Hesse's real message here.

    Ommmm

    2-0 out of 5 stars A great novel, but get a different edition!, September 19, 2006
    I'm a German teacher, and this is one of the most-loved books ever, but the translation in this particular edition is outdated and full of errors. (For example, the "sallow wood" in the first sentence is an outright mistake on the translator's part, it's really supposed to be a "forest of sal trees" - that's a kind of tree that's common in India.) There are a few more recent translations out there that are better. I like the one by Susan Bernofsky best, but there are others to pick from as well.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Quick, but reaches deep, April 27, 2000
    I don't think I read the novel in this translation, but am sure that does not matter overly. Hesse does write quite excellently, I am sure, but the impression left to me from this book, which I read in one morning in the summer, have sunk deeper than the words.

    In some ways, it is similar to Voltaire's Candide, another story of truth being sought by a youth. The great difference is in the nature of the quest - whereas Candide is a simple child of the world, forced to mature through the cynical experiences of life, Siddhartha embraces suffering and learning in an active and uncynical attempt to find wisdom. His greatest discovery is that you cannot just "find" it.

    This is a novel that can serve as a metaphor for all and everything. As a novel it is simple and beautiful; as a metaphor, it is important, as important as any other that exist in religion or spiritualism. Hesse writes openly and without prejudice - Hindus have no quarrel with Buddhists here. Here is a quick dose of fresh thought for anyone with a bit of time. I notice the trend of "little books of wisdom" is starting to wane...thank goodness - reach for something more substantial, right here.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Mystical Look at a Universal Problem, August 8, 2000
    Set in India, Siddhartha is subtitled an "Indic Poetic Work" and clearly it does owe much to both Buddhism and Hinduism, however the philosophy embodied in Siddhartha is both unique and quite complex, despite the lyrically beautiful simplicity of the plot.

    Siddhartha is one of the names of the historical Gautama and while the life of Hesse's character resembles that of his historical counterpart to some extent, Siddhartha is by no means a fictional life of Buddha and his teachings.

    Siddhartha is divided into two parts of four and eight chapters, something some have interpreted as an illustration of Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.

    Elements of Hinduism can also be found in Siddhartha. Some critics maintain that Hesse was influenced largely by the Bhagavad Gita when he wrote the book and that his protagonist was groping his way along a path outlined in that text. Certainly the central problems of Siddhartha and the Gita are similar: how can the protagonist attain a state of happiness and serenity by means of a long and arduous path?

    Hesse's protagonist, however, seeks his own personal path to fulfillment, not someone else's. It is one of trial and error and he is only subconsciously aware of its nature. Although many see Siddhartha's quest as embodying the ideals of Buddhism, Siddhartha objects to the negative aspects of Gautama's teaching. He rejects Gautama's model for himself and he rejects Buddhism; Siddhartha insists upon the right to choose his own path to fulfillment.

    The primary theme of Siddhartha is the individual's difficult and lonely search for self-fulfillment. Both the means used by the hero in his quest and the nature of his fulfillment are of prime importance and reflect recurring themes that thread their way through all of Hesse's work.

    Although Siddhartha listens with great respect to the words of Buddha and does not reject Buddhism as being right for others, he, himself, does not become Buddha's disciple, but decides to pursue his goal through his own effort, not by following a teacher. As in Demian, Nietzsche's influence is apparent; the reader is strongly reminded of Nietzsche's Zarathustra who exhorts his listeners not to follow him, but to excel themselves.

    Siddhartha's sense of fulfillment is a mystical one and cannot be defined with precision. In this respect, it resembles the Nirvana of Buddhism. The most important aspect of Siddhartha's growing awareness, however, is an unselfish and undirected love.

    The division of the world into the two opposing poles of masculine and feminine is another common theme in Hesse's writings. The Father World, or masculine, is dominated by the intellect, reason, spirit, stability and discipline; the Mother Word, or feminine, by emotion, love, fertility, birth, death, fluidity, nature and the senses.

    While this symbolism is more pronounced in other works, such as Demian and The Glass Bead Game, it is also present and consistently developed in Siddhartha.

    Siddhartha's position vis-a-vis the two worlds changes during the course of the novel. At times, he seems to embrace one world more than the other; at other times he unites the virtues of each.

    Two symbolic elements thread their way through Siddhartha; that of the river and that of a smile. Suggestive of fluidity as well as the paradoxical union of permanence and flux, the river is an age-old symbol of eternity and spiritual communion.

    A second important symbol in Siddhartha is that of the smile. The characters in the story who attain a final state of complete serenity are each characterized by a beautiful smile reflecting a peaceful and harmonious state of being.

    Each of these symbols is associated with Siddhartha at key junctures in his quest.

    Siddhartha is written in an extremely simple style, in keeping with the inherent simplicity of the plot, theme and general tone of the book. The syntax is uncomplicated and except for a few technical terms from Indian philosophy, the vocabulary is straightforward. Frequent use is made of leitmotifs, parallelism and repetition and, in the original German, the language is rhythmic and lyrical, reminiscent of a poetic religious text with a definite meditative quality.

    Siddhartha is told by an omniscient third person narrator with frequent direct and indirect quotations of the words and thoughts of various characters, especially Siddhartha. The narrator, almost invariably, looks at things from Siddhartha's perspective, and even when other characters are discussed or quoted, it is always to shed light on Siddhartha, himself.

    A mystical and lyrical book, Siddhartha is a beautiful story of a truly personal quest towards the self-fulfillment we all must strive to attain.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The secret of Siddhartha., April 22, 2001
    "A path lies before you which you are called to follow," Hesse writes in this story of enlightenment. "The gods await you." Hesse's 1922 novel opens with Siddhartha (not to be confused with Siddhartha Gotama, the Buddha) beginning "to feel the seeds of discontent within him." For the young man, "the world tasted bitter. Life was pain." Because of his unhappiness, Siddhartha abandons the comforts of his home and family, and joins the Samanas, "wandering ascetics . . . lean jackals in the world of men," with the goal of "becoming empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow." After travelling with the Samanas for three years, Siddhartha encounters the Buddha, and decides "to strike a new path" by following the Buddha's teachings on suffering: Life is pain. The world is full of suffering. There is a path to escape pain. However, always the wanderer, Siddhartha eventually rejects the Buddha's teachings--or so he believes--as he sets out to discover the truth from his own experience instead.

    In time, Siddhartha finds himself "deeply entangled in Samsara," caught in the empty prosperity, possessions, and riches of the world, like "a shipwrecked man on the shore." In the spiritual poverty of his material wealth, Siddhartha's inner voice becomes silent. In his despair, Siddhartha again renounces the comforts of his life by becoming a ferryman. He ultimately learns from the river. "Above all, he learned from it how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions." Throughout Siddhartha's wanderings and enlightenment, Hesse offers up profound insights into the human predicament.

    This is one of my all-time favorite novels. It teaches us that "your soul is your whole world." SIDDHARTHA had a profound impact on me when I first read it more than twenty five years ago, and now it has spoken to my soul again as I travel through my middle years. Wherever you are on your path through life, you will find SIDDHARTHA a meaningful novel.

    G. Merritt

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautiful novels I have ever read, January 7, 2005
    Siddhartha is an excellent novel for the post 9/11 world. No, I'm not prescribing a "Buddhist" religion to Muslims or Christians; this is because the novel Siddhartha does not prescribe any religion or doctrine. Neither does it really tell you how to be happy or spiritually enlightened; the novel simply deals with the fact that enlightenment is subjective from person to person. What made Siddhartha enlightened in the novel, did not make Gotama, the other Buddha enlightened. But the saintly thing about the character Siddhartha, is he did not judge Gotama for his spiritual differences or try to convert others to any doctrine.

    The prose in the novel is simple, yet lush, descriptive and profound, making it a short satisfying read, which should be taken in slowly, rather than rushing through where you might miss important words.

    In Siddhartha, a young Brahmins son, leaves a comfortable life when early in the novel he joins the Samanas, a group of wandering ascetics, practicing self denial. In Siddartha's journey he begins to distrust doctrines because they brought knowllege, but no wisdom, no peace or enlightenment. He leaves the Samanas and began a life which many would call "sinful" until he changes his lifestyle again.

    But the way Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is different than other religious books, is that the character Siddhartha has "to sin in order to live again." The fact is that everyone is a sinner. There is no way to not be a sinner, and Siddhartha has to have the "experience" of what is sin, to know what is moral and right. Many religious books simply tell you how to live, this novel doesn't. Please do not read it as an introduction to Buddhism, or something you can read and immediately achieve salvation, it's simply a work of art that shows spiritual freedom in the path one takes.

    The message I received from the novel was that life is too complex to prescribe a way of salvation that works for everyone. As Hesse says, "Wisdom is not communicable" and the book doesn't communicate wisdom universally, because no one can. In this fanatical world, religions might not clash so much if they took this into consideration.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Truth is not as much out there as in here., December 25, 1999
    I'm looking at the different reviews about this book and while majority has been favorable, there are some that are not towards this book. Each of these reviewers is exactly correct about this book for him/herself. It's about being on a particular path in your life that is exactly the right one for you at this time of your life. Siddhartha was very intelligent, yet intelligence has nothing to do with enlightenment that he desperately sought. He often felt superior to others, yet could not experience the intensity of passion that others experienced. It wasn't until he experienced humanity himself, including the hurts of love and conceit and sorrow with the appearance and disappearance of his son, that he understood that each person's path towards enlightenment is one's alone, yet intertwined with everyone else's. My favorite part was when Vasudeva reminded him that his role was not to spare his son of pain because each person has to experience life for himself in order to fully understand his own existence within that context.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Deep Impact, June 29, 2005
    I thought I had life sussed -- I thought I was enlightened already with just a little tweeking necessary -- I secretly thought I was "evolved" and "special". I know the book is just someone's perspective but for me there were many passages that occurred like I knew them but didn't know I knew them.

    When I started reading it, I was full of conflicting opinions (with me being right, of course) and it was about half way through that I started to understand the journey of the book - a journey that ended up being my own too. The last half was a greedy read for me with a wonderful sense of well-being encompassing me in the last few pages.

    What I got out of it is that one of my longings has been that I can share the knowledge and wisdom I have attained over my 55 years. It is liberating to acknowledge that Who I actually am is ordinary... one of the 'child people' mentioned in the book and not the would-be guru I've set myself up to be to inform people of how wrong they are doing things. I came to that I am content with being ordinary - who I am and where I am ... and life will change like the water of the river depicted in the book .. always there (life) but never the same water and no doubt, I will change with it.

    Who I am being about it is that I am setting myself free to just be me .. all that I am and all that I'm not and I know that will be a journey in itself.

    I'm really glad I had the opportunity to read the book .. as you can probably tell.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Knowledge Can Be Communicated, But Not Wisdom", February 20, 2005
    In a short essay or summary format, it is impossible to adequately describe in words the many qualities which make Herman Hesse's book, Siddhartha, a deeply satisfying masterpiece. However, the chance of bringing such a special book into the lives of others makes an attempt worthwhile. It has been written that Siddhartha is Hesse's most famous and influential work, and in many ways, I can easily understand why. This is a most effortless, yet incredibly profound book to read. The lucid, sagacious style in which Hesse explains an utterly complex subject matter is in itself an achievement to wonder at. From beginning to end, the words weaved within the story's context invoke curiosity, and at times a longing for what lies within the pages to come; and when those pages do come, the radiant words cultivate a deep spiritual air of enlightenment that will awaken your senses and encompass your thoughts.

    According to Hesse, "the true profession of man is to find his way to himself." Indeed, he may just be correct, if only in part. I would personally modify this assertion by saying that finding the way to ourselves is the profession of man's first stage of life; the other stage being that man must find his way to knowing and giving love in all its forms. Thus, the true profession of man is to find his way to himself and to others; but I do not believe that my latter assertion can be accomplished without first having successfully discovered the former. Perhaps everyone at some point learns to understand this, as the yearning for the way to ourselves is innate in each of us. The search for the inner-self and quest for answers to life's mysteries is one that has occupied and eluded mankind since the dawn of time; but in a small way, Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is an excellent blueprint in creating a roadmap to help you set your own course or direction in that journey. The sooner you move on from the first stage to the second, the longer your true happiness will have been found. I do believe Hesse understood this, however, as he writes: "It seems to me, Govinda, that love is the most important thing in the world." He continues, "...I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect" (Siddhartha, p. 147).

    As for the story itself, I suppose an oversimplification of Siddhartha will suffice for some, which is to say this is a rich and colorful novel about the search for self-knowledge and meaning of life; but to leave it at that would be to sell it short. An amazing piece of literary work originally published in 1922, Siddhartha is an enchanting, iridescent tale of one man's spiritual quest. The story is told in the context and feel of Eastern religious thought and philosophy that was most likely found in parts of India during the early 1900's. The novel begins as the title character, Siddhartha, is already a young man. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. He is at a point in his life where he begins to come of age. Having already long taken part in learned men's conversations, engaged in debate with his close friend, Govinda, we learn of Siddhartha's progress in life thus far. Well-practiced at contemplation and mediation, Siddhartha is well on his way to developing an astute intellect and discernment. He is a source of happiness and pride for his parents and all who know him. He is adorned with the love and adoration that many people would only dream of. Yet, true happiness still eludes him.

    Siddhartha's indomitable thirst for enlightenment is as innate as breathing. This ceaseless longing must be cultivated, which makes it necessary for him to leave his family and embark on a quest to find his true inner-self; and so begins Siddhartha's journey in pursuit of the ultimate enlightenment, nirvana. In an incredible saga of many personal evolutions, Siddhartha follows several paths in his life, going through several lifestyles, perspectives, and states of mind. Siddhartha leaves his family behind to become a wandering ascetic, but all is eventually lost as his spiritual gains erode and he is seduced by the pleasures of the flesh. He slowly begins to be enslaved by his earthly passions and is completely subjugated by his base desires until he becomes like all the other "child people" that he so loathed. Ultimately, Siddhartha frees himself from the grips of vice and moves on to live a quieter and simpler life; but it is not until he is an old man that Siddhartha, who has experienced a great deal in his lifetime, finally has an epiphany which challenges many of the Eastern ideals of enlightenment. It is in this revelation that Siddhartha finally realizes the answers for which he has thirsted for so long.

    Though it is not a grievous task to read Siddhartha, it may take a lifetime to truly comprehend its prodigious message. Subsequent readings will almost certainly provide revelations that were not realized previously. As time passes, I am realizing that, at first read, the depths and duality of its message may remain beyond comprehension; especially to the reader who has not learned to listen to their own "river" yet. As you read and follow along the path of discovery with Siddhartha, you will also discover, or perhaps rediscover, much about yourself in the process. Hesse makes it so easy to believe that the meaning of life is perhaps not as complicated as we think it is. Truly, my affection for this story has lingered since reading it, and I believe this affection will continue to linger in my heart for all the days of my life. I have a strong feeling that it will have the same effect on many, if not most of you, as well. Siddhartha is a satisfying, must-read book that everyone who possesses any depth to their soul should experience.

    I leave you with but a taste for your palate. Bantam Book 1971 edition, translated by Hilda Rosner:

    "'When someone is seeking,' said Siddhartha, 'it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose'" (Siddhartha, p. 140).

    "I learned through my body and soul that it was necessary to sin, that I needed lust, that I had to strive for property and experience nausea and the depths of despair in order to learn not to resist them, in order to learn to love the world, and no longer compare it with some kind of desired imaginary vision of perfection, but to leave it as it is, to love it and be glad to belong to it" (Siddhartha, p. 144).

    5-0 out of 5 stars deeply moving, April 21, 2002
    Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha is a profound novel telling story of a young Bramin who lived around 25 hundred years ago and was a contemporary of the Gotama Budda.
    The first time I read this book was when I was studying in a University. I, being a Theravat buddist, was amazed at the level of understanding Hesse had about Buddism and eastern spiritual belief. The story led life of a young Bramin through the quest for eternal serenity. The holy quest gave Siddhartha chances to learn the world and meet people including the Budda himself.

    Given that the book was written almost a hundred years ago, when the idea of eastern philosophy was almost no where to be found in the western world, I really have to say that Hesse had done an incredibly deep study on the topic. considering from the dialogue between the Budda and Siddhartha, I'd say that Hesse understood the thought of Budda better than most Buddist in Thailand. This book is outstanding. ... Read more


    12. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition
    Paperback
    list price: $28.95 -- our price: $23.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1433805618
    Publisher: American Psychological Association (APA)
    Sales Rank: 131
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" is the style manual of choice for writers, editors, students, and educators in the social and behavioral sciences. It provides invaluable guidance on all aspects of the writing process, from the ethics of authorship to the word choice that best reduces bias in language. Well-known for its authoritative and easy-to-use reference and citation system, the Publication Manual also offers guidance on choosing the headings, tables, figures, and tone that will result in strong, simple, and elegant scientific communication. The sixth edition offers new and expanded instruction on publication ethics, statistics, journal article reporting standards, electronic reference formats, and the construction of tables and figures. The sixth edition has been revised and updated to include: new ethics guidance on such topics as determining authorship and terms of collaboration, duplicate publication, plagiarism and self-plagiarism, disguising of participants, validity of instrumentation, and making data available to others for verification; new journal article reporting standards to help readers report empirical research with clarity and precision; simplified APA heading style to make it more conducive to electronic publication; updated guidelines for reducing bias in language to reflect current practices and preferences, including a new section on presenting historical language that is inappropriate by present standards; new guidelines for reporting inferential statistics and a significantly revised table of statistical abbreviations; and, new instruction on using supplemental files containing lengthy data sets and other media. This book includes significantly expanded content on the electronic presentation of data to help readers understand the purpose of each kind of display and choose the best match for communicating the results of the investigation, with new examples for a variety of data displays, including electro physiological and biological data. It offers consolidated information on all aspects of reference citations, with an expanded discussion of electronic sources emphasizing the role of the digital object identifier (DOI) as a reliable way to locate information. It features expanded discussion of the publication process, including the function and process of peer review. It contains a discussion of ethical, legal, and policy requirements in publication; and guidelines on working with the publisher while the article is in press. Key to this edition of the Publication Manual is an updated and expanded Web presence. Look up additional supplemental material keyed to this book. This book lets you test your knowledge of APA Style with a free tutorial on style basics. It lets you learn about the changes in the sixth edition with a free tutorial reviewing key revisions. Sign up for an on-line course to enrich and enhance your understanding of APA Style. Read the APA Style blog and share your comments on writing and referencing. Consult frequently asked questions to sharpen your understanding of APA Style. This title lets you examine additional resources on such topics as ethics, statistics, and writing. It lets you familiarize yourself with submission standards for APA books and journals. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars BEWARE! Many pages of corrections have been issued!, October 7, 2009
    I just received my copy. As a psychology professor, this text is required for my bookshelf--the same is true for students in this field. However, I was upset to learn that APA has already issued 7 typewritten pages of corrections to this manual, and they will not exchange the first printing for a newer print. This is a resource that you will use for years! Wait to purchase until the kinks have been ironed out and they are on a second or third printing of the manual! I am also disappointed that they do not clearly delineate the changes from the 5th edition. It looks to me that there are few important changes (2 spaces between sentences, etc.). Save your money for at least a few more months!

    1-0 out of 5 stars Greatly Disappointed, October 14, 2009
    I was very irritated to find that many errors existed in the 6th edition. I also contacted APA regarding the errors. They are not going to exchange the book for a corrected edition. They made several lame excuses for the errors and for not replacing it. My second email to APA pointedly expressed my displeasure with their stance - copied below...

    To have grammar and writing errors in a book about grammar and writing is shameful. How much does your organization really care about the reputation it is presenting? Do you have editors reviewing your works before publication? Are your editors paying attention to their work? If you cannot hold yourself to the standards you have set out in your own publication, then your publications should not exist!


    If you need this book, demand a corrected reprinting! If you are a university, you also demand a corrected reprint. This organization should not set standards they are not going to comply with. I give them an "F"

    1-0 out of 5 stars Do Not Buy, Join the Boycott!, October 20, 2009
    Do not buy the first printing of the APA manual, 6th edition under any circumstances. There are errors on eighty (80) of its pages. How outrageous for a manual on writing style! As of 10/20/09, APA refuses to exchange their error full copies with corrected second printings. Despite the fact that the list of errors goes on for 7 pages, the Editorial Director of APA books stated "there are no errors that impede using the manual with full confidence." Many of the errors are in the sample papers -- a part of the manual so many of us use as an important reference. The abuse of power that APA is wielding over students required to purchase this book for classes, along with graduate students and professors who must write in this style for journals is alarming. APA goes on to state that with its 80 pages of errors in this edition that "it is within my control, as a true expert who has been intimately involved with each stage of this project, to verify for you without hesitation that the first printing is correct, accurate, and fully functional." As a Professor, when I grade papers, I say to my students that 3 APA errors will get them docked 1/2 a letter grade. If I were to grade this APA manual, it would not only get an F, there aren't enough letters in the alphabet to go low enough for the number of errors it contains. Meanwhile, APA is happy to take everyone's money for the book they know we all have to purchase in so many fields of study.

    A formal boycott of this edition is underway on Facebook until APA agrees to replace the copies of the first edition that people are now stuck with. Please join us [...]

    5-0 out of 5 stars All is well, January 10, 2010
    Given all the emotional responses around the mistakes in the new edition, I was worried about ordering my copy. However, it just arrived, and as promised, it's the corrected version (the second printing) of the 6th edition. The changes to the style included in the manual are an improvement, particularly in the way electronic resources are cited. Additionally, the organization of this edition is better. Overall, I'm pleased.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Unhelpful Guide about an Unenlightening Style, May 6, 2004
    Like some of the other reviewers, I am in a program of advanced study in which APA is the "accepted" style of citation for scholarly research. As we can see, APA is an absolutely dreadful citation style, especially with its prohibition of footnotes, leading to incomprehensible paragraphs in which your prose is murdered by names and dates in parentheses. The lack of required page numbers in your citations also allows you, if you're so inclined, to transform your references into all sorts of unsupported speculation and conjecture, and no reader will be able to prove or disprove what you're saying. I realize that arguing about the merits of APA style is not the same as reviewing the merits of this book. But the weaknesses in the core citation style are so prevalent that it would be impossible to create a book of this nature with any sort of usefulness.

    Now let's get to the trouble with this particular book. First, it is unnecessarily humungous, trying to beef up the very thin body of APA citation requirements (which by the way can be found for free all over the internet) with hugely unenlightening chapters on basic writing style and methods. Infinitely better guides on how to actually write and conduct research can be easily found elsewhere. Even when you do want to find instructions on the core requirements of APA citation style, this is an annoyingly difficult task in this atrociously organized and indexed book. A thin and under-compiled index sends you to hard-to-find section numbers rather than page numbers. And finally there is the practice of this book's publishers to promote a "new edition" which is merely the same as before with a couple of new entries, sold with a new cover and of course a new full price. In case you're wondering, about the only new information in this edition concerns how to reference websites and online publications. Once again, this info can be found for free on the internet, while you could also spend a pittance on a used copy of the supposedly "outdated" previous edition.

    This book gets two stars because it is nominally useful (at least in theory) if you're stuck with it. But if you find yourself required to use the talent-crushing APA style in your attempts to write something of importance, first try to convince your mentors that APA is inherently anti-intellectual. Then find a way to get out of any requirements to buy this unhelpful book, and find the information on the internet instead. [~doomsdayer520~]

    3-0 out of 5 stars 5th Edition APA Publication Manual, October 17, 2002
    Even though there are only a few changes to the 5th edition, I would recommend getting it. It is too confusing to use an older edition especially if you are pressed for time or have never used this type of manual before.

    Also I recommend marking your book with tabs such as in the "Reference Citations in Text" section or the "Reference List" chapter. Marking the book with tabs helped me find my way to the information that I needed over and over again. I've tended to use the same type of references throughout my graduate courses.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Small changes, big headaches, October 14, 2001
    As an ABD-PhD candidate who's required to use APA format (and halfway through a dissertation using APA 4th edition), the small changes in this latest edition do little to add clarity and readability to a manuscript, but much to frustrate: Underlining references has been replaced with italics; after utilizing first-line indents in a Reference list (easier for a word processor) we've now gone back to second-line hanging indents; and none of these changes are clearly discussed in a "Revisions in the 5th Edition" chapter, you need to find them on your own in each chapter. I appreciate the updated guide for citing electronic resources, but the remainder seems to be aimed at "buy yet-another version" rather than major improvements and substantive changes. Maddening! If you're required to use it, you're stuck. Otherwise, keep the old 4th edition.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Very Difficult, But Necessary, September 16, 2003
    Out of all the stylebooks I have had occasion to use as a professional editor, I have found this one to be the most difficult to follow and understand--the most difficult to master.

    I am not a psychologist, but I am a professional medical editor, and I feel sorry for those who must follow this style when writing theses, articles, book chapters, and other items for publication. In addition, I find some of the APA's requirements (particularly in the references, which have their own unique style quite unlike most others) incomprehensible.

    That having been said, this book is a must for those who want to be published by the APA, and those who are editing for same. Once it has been read many times, and key passages put to memory, it is not as hard to understand--but it shouldn't be so hard. The section on figures and tables, however, is a truly excellent primer, for any professional writer, not just those in the health care professions.

    My grade: C plus.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Much better than previous editions..., August 18, 2009
    Easier to read with a lot less pages. The 6th edition is a mere 272 pages vs. a whopping 439 pages in the 5th edition. This improves its portability and lap-use. ( I never could understand why a book that insists on 1 inch margins all around used 1.5 inch margin on the outer margins and left so much wasted unused space on the pages).

    Material has been streamlined to reflect more of the electronic resources currently being used and the more obscure material has been consolidated. The newly added chapters on ethics, the publication process and journal article reporting standards are quite helpful. Some reviewers complained about the elimination of the chapters on writing for publication. Since each journal has it's own specific criteria for manuscript submission, I don't consider this a huge loss. Still has lots of sample for various references (and even includes video blog sources like you-tube) and information on how to display data results (Including radiologic and imaging data like MRI images)

    So glad I bought the newest version, especially since it's currently half the price of the old version and a lot more user friendly and up to date. If you required to use the APA style, I strongly suggest buying this book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Here we go again!, February 18, 2002
    Here we go again... more minor changes to APA style! The hanging indent is back, we don't have to type long lists of author names anymore, and we can now use parentheses (woo-hoo!).

    If you need to prepare manuscripts in APA style and don't have a previous edition of the manual, then you need this book. Though it remains relatively user-unfriendly, it is nonetheless the bible of manuscript preparation.

    If you already have the fourth edition... determine how many of the changes in the fifth edition apply to your work. If you mostly write "plain vanilla" research reports and your reference lists mostly consist of ordinary journal articles, you may be able to get by with some handwritten notes in the margins of your old book. ... Read more


    13. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
    by Alexandra Horowitz
    Paperback
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $9.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1416583432
    Publisher: Scribner
    Sales Rank: 134
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The bestselling book that asks what dogs know and how they think, now in paperback.The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees?

    Inside of a Dog explains these things and much more. The answers can be surprising—once we set aside our natural inclination to anthropomorphize dogs. Inside of a Dog also contains up-to-the-minute research—on dogs’ detection of disease, the secrets of their tails, and their skill at reading our attention—that Horowitz puts into useful context. Although not a formal training guide, Inside of a Dog has practical application for dog lovers interested in understanding why their dogs do what they do. With a light touch and the weight of science behind her, Alexandra Horowitz examines the animal we think we know best but may actually understand the least. This book is as close as you can get to knowing about dogs without being a dog yourself. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars It's good, but not fantastic. Not many spoilers in this review., September 17, 2009
    After having read this book weeks ago (advanced copy), I was left a little unsatisfied. I'd give it 3.5 stars if could.

    It's more of a cursory glance at canine cognitive ethology rather than a definitive volume, but if you're looking for a good introductory to canine cognitive ethology, this would be a great starter. The anecdotes are sweet and the science is pretty good, and written in a way that the regular Joe Dog Guardian can read it without breaking his brain.

    HOWEVER. There is one VERY glaring "scientific" experiment that I feel she used for a bad conclusion, a conclusion whose inclusion of the flawed scientific experiment betrays the entire premise of the book itself.

    In the section on "Hero Dogs" (dogs that have responded to emergencies and saved the lives of their owners and people in general), Horowitz details what she calls a "clever experiment" with dogs where

    "owners conspired with the researchers to feign emergencies in the presence of their dogs, in order to see how the dogs responded. In one scenario, owners were trained to fake a heart attack, complete with gasping, a clutch of the chest, and a dramatic collapse. In the second scenario, owners yelped as a bookcase (made of particleboard) descended on them and seemed to pin them on the ground. In both cases, owners' dogs were present, and the dogs had been introduced to a bystander nearby--perhaps a good person to inform if there has been an emergency.

    In these contrived setups, the dogs acted with interest and devotion, but not as though there was an emergency...

    ...In other words, not a single dog did anything that remotely helped their owners out of the predicaments. The conclusion that one has to take from this is that dogs simply do not naturally recognize or react to an emergency situation--one that could lead to danger or death." (pp.239-240)

    I really don't understand how she could have come to this conclusion after having written over 200 pages on how a dog sees, smells and relates to its world (the "umwelt" of a dog). She didn't consider that the dogs knew that their owners were faking? She wrote herself that a dog can sense the most minute changes in a person's own body chemistry, right down to sensing cancer and other things like an increase in heart rate or adrenaline. A person faking a heart attack isn't going to have the same body chemistry/physical changes that a person having a REAL heart attack is going to have, so in a sense--there is no faking a heart attack around your dog (believe me, I've tried, LOL--it was only playing/testing, but none of my dogs seemed to care if I plopped over in bed, "dead"). Same goes for adrenaline levels when you're in immediate danger, like when you're drowning (and I believe this was one of the examples she used just before this horrible "deduction" of hers; a dog saved the life of a child that was going to drown). And if a person was faking being hurt under a particleboard bookcase, I'm pretty sure that the dog could sense that, too.

    Anyway. That was the only part of the book that REALLY got me going "Hmmmnnn...no." Other than that, it's a good read, but left me wanting more (a whole lot of it sucks you in, but then you're left with a little bit of an unsatisfied thirst for more science and more talk about how dogs are in the world; the end chapter seemed a little rushed to me, too).

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's a Dog's World, October 13, 2009
    Scientifically, we might know a lot more about rats than we do about dogs. There are some experimental labs that have dogs as subjects, but lab rats get a lot of scientific attention. Dogs get a lot of domestic attention, but scientific study of dogs, and the ways they get along with humans and with other dogs, has not been a high concern. That may be because we think we know dogs; they are frank and open, and we live closely with them. Alexandra Horowitz thinks we don't know enough, and some of what we know is wrong, and she is out to change our perception of dogs and to do it scientifically. She has to work at making herself a detached observer; she might be a psychologist who has studied cognition in humans, dogs, bonobos, and rhinoceroses, but among the first sentences of her book _Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know_ (Scribner) is, "I am a dog person." Is she ever. She didn't deliberately make Pumpernickel, her mixed breed live-in friend (she is an advocate for adopting mutts), a subject of scientific study, but Pump was her entrance, for instance, to the dog park where she could film the interactions of other dogs for acute detailed study later. She gives loving anecdotes of the late Pump in every chapter to illustrate her more objective findings, nicely showing how her scientific examination of dogs paid off in her understanding of her own dog. There are people who worry that scientific examination of any phenomenon takes away the mystery and specialness of the phenomenon, and among the fine lessons in this amusing and enlightening book is that this is far from true.

    Dogs do not sense the world we do. To take one of Horowitz's examples, a rose for humans is a thing of visual and olfactory beauty, and also has connotations of a love gift. Dogs are having none of this. It is just another plant among all the plants that surround it; it does not look attractive, and unless some dog has urinated on it recently, it does not smell attractive. Otherwise, the rose doesn't exist. The dog's world is one largely of smells. Everyone knows that dogs are better at detecting odors than we are. It isn't just that they can smell more scents, at thinner concentrations, than we; it's that they gaze at the world by sniffing, and it presents a very different world from ours. Smell, for dogs, has plenty of meanings, but one of them is time. A strong spell is new, a fading one is old. Not only that, but the future may be borne on a breeze if the dog is walking upwind. In scents, the dog doesn't just experience the current scene in an olfactory way, "...but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it." Dogs are evolutionarily descended from wolves, and sometimes dog owners are advised to treat their dogs as lower-caste members of a pack. Horowitz prescribes caution in such interpretations. Dogs are not wolves and have cast away many wolf traits during their evolution. A person (non-wolf) attempting to subdue a dog (non-wolf) in wolf fashion is missing what is special about the human-dog bond. Dogs, for instance, like eye contact; wolves avoid it. There are many experiments described here (some of which Horowitz has herself been in charge of), and one of them involves "gaze following". Dogs can look at our eyes, and can tell where we are looking, so they look over that way, too. The sections of the book that are the most fun are the ones on play. Dogs play more than wolves do, and unlike most animals, they play as adults. It is a bit of a mystery; it isn't essential for dogs to play to get their needed social skills, and it does cost energy and the risk of injury. Horowitz describes the play cues dogs give that can only be seen by humans using very slow video replays, but which keep the play non-aggressive for the participating dogs. Dogs are good at following these rules; a strapping wolfhound and a tiny Chihuahua can negotiate a play session efficiently, with the former handicapping itself to enjoy the mock aggressiveness of the latter.

    Horowitz has provided a useful service in her brightly-written summary of experiments and current theories on the minds of dogs. I have an idea that people keep dogs around not just because of their goofy affection for us, or because they are so entertaining, but simply because they are interesting. It is fun to see how a creature who has evolved an intelligence different from our own gets along in the world. Horowitz's book helps explain that interest, and heighten it.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Could not finish it, September 19, 2009
    I expected to love this book. Unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired.

    First, there is surprisingly little information in it. The author touches on each subject so briefly that only the most superficial observations can be made. Dog body language gets maybe two pages and includes such revelations as the meaning of a tucked tailed (discomfort and/or submission). Is there a dog owner in the world who doesn't already know that? Note: if that's new to you and you own a dog, stop reading this review and find a dog trainer immediately. In the 250 pages I managed to read, I found two things of interest: the description of canine vision, and speculation on a potential flaw in experiments on dog intelligence (to wit: dogs know that humans are great providers of food, so if a dog that gives up on the puzzle in front of him and runs over to the researcher for help, maybe he's being smart, not dumb).

    Second, the author spends way too much time bemoaning human chauvinism. Apparently, all research into animal behavior is done to shore up our belief that humans are the rightful masters of the earth.

    Third, the tone of this book is insistently, forcibly whimsical. Sometimes it hits the right note, and I did find myself laughing out lot a few times, particularly at an anecdote about a doberman put to work guarding a collection of valuable teddy bears. Unfortunately, it's more often grating, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the little vignettes about the author's dog that start every chapter. It truly pains me to write that, as love between a dog and an owner is such a wonderful thing.

    Fourth, the text has some odd contradictions, one which is noted by the reviewer below me. The author also starts one chapter raving about dogs' almost preternatural ability to understand our intentions -- and supports this assertion by noting how easy it is to fool a dog into thinking you've thrown a tennis ball.

    Finally, I came to the point where I had to put the book down. The author begins to describe dogs' sense of personal space, which she gets almost entirely wrong. She makes a common mistake in saying that dogs have a much smaller radius of personal space than we do. This may be true of ultra-friendly, well-socialized dogs like many retrievers, but it is *not* the norm. Dogs are in fact extremely concerned with personal space, and much of what we know about their communication involves conveying the boundaries of their "bubbles".

    The final straw was here: "Repeating itself on sidewalks across the country is a scene that demonstrates the clash of our sense of personal space: the sight of two dog owners as they stand six feet apart, straining to keep their leashed dogs from touching, while the dogs strain mightily to touch each other. Let them touch!" This is horribly bad advice. There are a thousand reasons why two strange dogs should not be allowed to greet each other unrestrainedly, first and foremost that lunging towards another dog is actually very aggressive behavior. Dogs have a plethora of signals indicating that their interest is respectful, including look aways, medium-to-low tail carriage, and a sideways approach. A dog that jumps straight up into another dog's business is socially inept at best, and intending harm at worst.

    Instead of this book, I would recommend almost anything by Temple Grandin (who isn't always right either, but has a fascinating perspective), Turid Rugaas, Karen Pryor, or Brenda Aloff.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Dog Book Ever, September 17, 2009
    As an avid reader of dog literature I approach each new entry in this field with a mix of trepidation and eagerness. Will it merely be a rehash of things I already know? Will it be a sophmoric jumble of memoir and whimsy? Or will this be the book that truly broadens my understanding of the world of canids? Inside of a Dog falls into the last category - plus some.
    This book is hands down the finest exploration of canid intelligence that I have ever read. Horowitz writes with a crisp, almost puckish tone - it draws the reader in effortlessly. The book is a delightful blend of an examination of the latest developments in the world of scientific study of dog cognition, and Horowitz's own experiences with her dog as she became one of the scientists who study this animal.
    She is one of those writers of whom you think that they could make anything seem interesting. It is to our benefit that she has chosen to do this with dogs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and poetic, September 27, 2009
    This is a fascinating book, full of terrific details and interesting research about dogs. So many of the specific elements that she describes still stick in my head. There's great material in here, for instance, about dog's noses and how they smell, and how much they encounter the world through scent and odor. It's not simply that Horowitz tells us that dogs have a powerful sense of smell; it's that she goes well beyond that to help us think about how different their sense of time must be, for instance, since they are smelling old smells along with new ones at the same time. That's just one example of many. The book is chock full of the latest research about dogs, but told in a winning and delightful manner.

    That's worth stressing: the writing in this book is great. It's colorful and idiosyncratic. Sometimes the syntax of a sentence is intriguing all on its own. The book is fun to read, in part, just because Horowitz writes so darn well. And, I should add, with a fair bit of whimsy and playfulness. She is a talent as a writer, as well as a scientist. And she makes the science accessible, interesting, and sometimes laugh-worthy.

    But the book is also wonderful because it's so full of Horowitz's own enthusiasm for how great dogs are. She's a scientist, but she's hardly clinical. Her excitement about dogs comes pouring out in the small praise-of-dog moments that abound in the book. I feel like I finished the book not only knowing more about dogs (and impressed by all the things that Horowitz knows), but wanting to spend more time with dogs, looking at other people's dogs on the street, and thinking about when we might be able to get a dog of our own again. Her interest in the dog-human relationship -- which is so much the focus in the last chunk of the book -- spills over with her joy in it, and it's an infectious joy.

    I can't recommend this book highly enough. I plan to give it as a gift this year to all my dog-owning and dog-loving friends!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Some nice stories, November 5, 2009
    Sadly, this is one of many, many books that are filled with assertions, not facts. We now have an enormous amount of information about dogs thanks to scientists who decided that the reason for not studying dogs because they weren't in their "natural habitat" is incorrect. Living with humans IS a dog's natural habitat. They are, in fact, our first domesticated animal. Trustworthy books on the dog include those by Vilmos Csanyi, If Dogs Could Talk, or Lindsay, the three volume treatise, the Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training.

    But even better is to do your own work understanding your dog. Buy the Brenda Aloff book, Canine Body Language or the Abrantes book, Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior. Then watch your dog, study your dog, see what he does when presented with various stimuli.

    As to horrible mistakes based on, perhaps, just her dog (the fallacy of reasoning from the particular to the general) is Horowitz's comment on meeting another dog. She's right AND she's wrong. When two dogs meet, they SHOULD be allowed to do the "sniff test," etc. on a loose lead. Why? Dogs that are restrained may respond negatively out of what some believe is the "frustration" of not being able to make a dog-like "meet and greet." This is very similar to fence behavior between two dogs which presents the same difficulties for the dog. Two dogs on opposite sides of the fence often start barking and snapping. When allowed to meet without the fence in between, there is a far more subdued "conference." As a member of a rescue group, I have witnessed this over and over and have stopped using the "time-tested" recommended "first have them meet on opposite sides of a fence" approach to introducing one dog to another (A far better approach is to find a partner and walk the two dogs together for a mile or so.)

    So her recommendation is, on the surface, a good one, loose lead meeting, good. Unfortunately, two completely clueless dog owners (remember, I'm in rescue) can't possibly tell if their dog or the other one is "targeting" the other dog or just harmlessly anxious to meet this canine passerby. "Oh, but my dog/other dog is wagging their tail." Ah, wagging. Here's an example where a little studying of the Abrantes book would pay dividends. Wagging comes in lots of varieties. Is the tail going around madly in circles or is it high and stiff and wagging back and forth slowly like a metronome...it makes a difference. Did one of the dogs avert their eyes? How about the approach? Did one dog attempt to approach the other dog from the side or are they both coming towards one another head to head. And of course there are the tailless Dobies and Rotties, so you need to look at other signals, ears, lips, body language. I don't normally allow my dogs to meet other dogs on the street because there is too much risk and very little reward. If you like to walk your dog on busy streets, teach your dog to "heel" or "on by" when meeting another dog. See, for example Koehler or Patricia Burnham.

    All in all this book is like most of the mass media junk, sitting on shelves in your favorite book store, either filled with anecdotal information or making statements unsupported by anything other than the uncited "study." There are good books on dogs, but they are far and few between, the McConnell series comes to mind as well as Be the Dog by Duno, The Dog's Mind, by Fogle or the Domestic Dog by Serpell.

    But if you have a dog, then you really have the best available information curled up next to you. Just don't draw conclusions based on "human logic" or what's more accurately called anthropomorphisms. What I mean, for example, is the call we often get (by the wife) about a recently adopted dog, that the dog is urinating in front of the husband as soon as he walks in the door. And the husband (it's invariably the husband) is sure that the dog is doing it for spite and no matter how loudly he screams at the dog, the dog continues to pee as soon as he walks in the house. Well I am sure most of you know what's going on here. Dogs don't do anything for spite (their range of emotions are far simpler than ours). The dog is being deferential. It's what dogs do to show submissiveness to a senior, more dominant animal. So we tell the wife to tell the husband to stop screaming at the dog and make believe he actually is happy to see the pup...or feel free to return the dog to us and go out and get a nice stuffed animal

    As to this book, unless you're in the book store, sipping a latte while skimming the book (and looked up the reviews via wi-fi...or you're a relative...pass...

    5-0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS E-BOOK FOR ALL DOG GUARDIANS!, August 9, 2010
    I am a long time dog guardian and dog lover and have read many dog-related books. This book is about the best I have ever experienced in terms of improving one's understanding of dogs and their actions. Not only was the book well-written in an interesting and easy to understand style, the audiobook was also exceptionally well spoken. I learned many new things from this book, and I also appreciated the many references to dog rescue groups and the promotion of mixed breed dogs at shelters/rescues over pure breed dogs as family pets.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Nosing Out the World, April 23, 2010
    Alexandra Horowitz, the author of this book, has a PhD in cognitive science and studied cognition in rhinos, bonobos and dogs. As the order indicates, she came to dogs last as objects of scientific study and in this her career mirrors the efforts of cognitive scientists generally who (as she notes in her book) have only turned seriously to dogs in the last twenty-five or so years, perhaps because the nearly omnipresent dog was mistakenly thought to be a simple and uncomplicated creature. As most dog owners will tell you, nothing could be more wrongheaded than to think of dogs as simpletons of the animal kingdom.

    Using the findings of many dog studies, mostly from the last thirty years, Horowitz shows that dogs are marvelously complex creatures whose senses and brains are exquisitely attuned to their environment, a large part of which is humans. Dogs know their world well, and humans intimately. Part of this comes from the intense focus that dogs bring to bear on us and part from the array of extraordinary sensory equipment that they use to focus. Dogs' sense of smell, for example, is (practically speaking) infinitely better than ours and easily able to detect chemical "tells" about our emotions, state of mind, and past and present activities.

    Horowitz takes us on a grand tour of dogs' sensory apparatus and how it compares to the human equivalent. She explores what is known of their social behavior, including the many signs and signals they use in dealing with one another and with us; and she discusses their emotions and psychological processes, including cognition and the possibility of canine self-awareness.

    Horowitz's overriding purpose is to let the reader share something of how a dog actually perceives, interacts with, and communicates with the world and other creatures. She repeatedly points out that we do a disservice to the complexity and uniqueness of dogs when we either anthropomorphize them (see them as limited humans) or treat them as insensate creatures which exist merely for our convenience.

    Horowitz does all this in a direct and interesting style that neither over complicates things nor talks down to the general audience for which it is intended. She gives many clear factual examples to illustrate her points (providing factoids for those inclined to amaze their friends). With her main narrative she also mixes frequent mini-essays talking about her personal relationship with her obviously much loved dog Pumpernickel (usually called "Pump"), revealing herself as a dog lover as well as a dog scientist. She also provides simplified notes for those who may wish to explore her sources.

    This is an excellent, well-written and delightful book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Popular book, if you want science..., October 7, 2009
    A scientific book on the dog's mind is 'Canine Ergonomics' by William Helton (2009).Canine Ergonomics: The Science of Working Dogs. Reacting to other viewer's comments, keep in mind that this is a popular book. If you are looking for a scientific book on how the dog's mind works read Canine Ergonomics.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Inside a Dog...still unsure, November 1, 2009
    The book was strong on anecdote and personal experience but a bit short on hard science and firm vet science. ... Read more


    14. CK-12 Advanced Probability and Statistics
    by CK-12 Foundation
    Kindle Edition

    Asin: B0042XA308
    Publisher: CK-12 Foundation
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    CK-12 Foundation’s Probability and Statistics (Advanced Placement) FlexBook introduces students to basic topics in statistics and probability but finishes with the rigorous topics an advanced placement course requires. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Good Probability and Statistics Textbook, November 1, 2010
    This is a very approachable and well presented text on Probability and Statistics. It is written with a beginning college student in mind, but could be used by advanced high school students or anyone else who needs to learn about statistics. It covers all the traditional topics in a probability and statistics curriculum - acquiring and analyzing data, visualization of data, introduction to probability, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, regression and correlation, chi-square test, analysis of variance, etc. The material is presented in a very straightforward manner and it is very easy to follow. There are multiple worked-out examples throughout the text, and each section ends with a several problems and their solutions. The problems vary in difficulty, and many are designed with practical applications in mind. The book also emphasizes the use of scientific calculator in working out of many problems, which is pedagogically a good approach.

    This book is available under the Creative Commons License through the CK-12 foundation, which means it can be reprinted, modified and resold if necessary. It is also a fairly large file, pdf version being over 800 pages long, so be prepared for a longish download.

    The Kindle formatting of this textbook leaves something to be desired. The book was originally typeset in LaTeX, and this did not translate all that smoothly into the Kindle format. I've found that getting this textbook on other e-readers or computers in the epub format rendered it much more satisfactorily.

    This is not the flashiest textbook that you will come across, but in my opinion it gets the job done.
    ... Read more


    15. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
    by Sam Kean
    Hardcover
    list price: $24.99 -- our price: $15.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0316051640
    Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
    Sales Rank: 188
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The Periodic Table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

    From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Accessible science for any age, July 2, 2010
    I have to confess I didn't pay much attention to chemistry. Once the instructor talked about electrons, protons, atoms and the nucleus I usually turned on my Walkman (the cassette kind, now antique!). It never seemed interesting because it wasn't something that related at all to real life. If I had a teacher like Sam Kean, however, that could have been different.

    Fast forward too many years, and now I'm engrossed in this nonfiction 'memoir' of the Periodic Table of Elements. Like any good biography, this has scandal, lies, fraud, madness, explosions (!!!) and lots of name-dropping. Kean explains just what the periodic table is, but in a format that reads more like a novel, with anecdotal details to liven it up. Mercury pills were used by Lewis and Clark for their health? Yep, and you can trace their path (um, at least their bathroom trips on their journey) by where scientists have found unusually high amounts of mercury in the soil. The poet Robert Lowell? Did lithium ruin his work by making him sane? Who knew the lies and fraud and mind games played by scientists intent on getting a Nobel Prize!

    There's no getting around it, this is a book that makes you think. It's not simple and it assumes you have a basic knowledge of science. Some areas were over my head, but not for long. Kean is a wonderful teacher with a sassy wise guy voice that livens up any of the deeper areas.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Periodic Table Tour de Force, July 13, 2010
    Sam Kean has written a marvelous book that will delight general readers and experts alike. The writing is crisp and sharp and includes an unusual political savyness for somebody treating scientific issues. Kean uses his journalistic skills to succeed in doing what many, perhaps most, academics fail to do when presenting the relevance of chemistry to the real world. Not just applications but also how the history of individual elements has affected the lives of ordinary people. See for example his account of niobium and tantalum. Then there are chapters that weave together the lives of famous chemists and physicists such as one on Segre and Pauling, all in the context of the discovery of elements and developments in twentieth century chemistry and physics. Technicalities are kept to a minimum and when necessary explanations are provided in a clear and lucid manner.
    Everybody should read this book, period.

    Dr. Eric Scerri, author of The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance, Oxford University Press, 2006.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A fun and interesting read!, July 14, 2010
    I love books but only have so much time, so I'm pretty careful about what I choose to read. I heard great things about this book through word of mouth, and it didn't disappoint! Kean does a masterful job of explaining the interesting facts and stories behind the elements that make up our universe in a way that's easy to understand and fun to read. Especially for people like me, who love to learn...but maybe spent more time in high school science class shooting spitwads than actually reading our boring text books! With "The Disappearing Spoon," Kean truly makes science and history come alive--I highly recommend!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth its weight in Au, July 24, 2010
    This book is going to join a very select group of those which I have read multiple times. There is so much fun and interesting information in this work that I suspect I will keep finding new things upon another go-around. Sam Kean has created what is truly a scientific masterpiece with this book.

    Breaking up the periodic table into various sections which blend the elements into tales of science, politics, medicine, and philosophy--to name just a few--Kean pulls off the magic trick of making the dreaded periodic table exciting and interesting again. There is no shortage of future conversation-starting facts and tidbits in this book. I confess that in some parts I had to go through it rather slowly to make sure I understood what I was reading, because the breadth of the book is very impressive and roams all over physics and chemistry. But trust me when I say that I have serious doubts that anyone could have made the science more accessible than the author of this book. It may be the case that experts in some of the more esoteric areas about which he writes might quibble about over-simplification, but for the general reader, the book is a fine example of how to bring science out of its perceived shell of boredom.

    This book was an absolute trifecta for me, including science, humor, and suspense wrapped up with some brilliant writing into a near-perfect package. I read it on my Kindle but am going to buy a hard copy for my library. A big thank-you to Sam Kean for such an enjoyable read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Start in Chapter 2, August 15, 2010
    As a professor of chemistry, I have to say I was a bit worried after reading Chapter 1 of this book. A great case study in classic misconceptions -- that there is something "satisfying" for an atom to have a complete octet, for example, or that lungs regularly deal with carbon dioxide and so "see nothing wrong with absorbing its cousin, SiO2...." or that in chemical compounds, "rings are states of high tension" just to cite a few.

    But overall, it was a great read. Kean has a great sense of comic timing and is a wonderful story teller. I especially enjoyed the story of aluminum (aka aluminium), which I had never heard.

    Just ignore most of the chemistry being "taught"! Start in Chapter 2.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific!, August 3, 2010
    From Sam Kean:
    "I ended up with an honors degree in physics, but [...] my real education was in my professors' stories. [...] I realized that there's a funny, or odd, or chilling tale attached to every element on the periodic table."

    Kean came to those professors already primed for their stories -- by having been fascinated to find mercury not only in the Periodic Table of science class but also in his childhood thermometers ... and in literature's mad hatter ... and in the mercury-laxative leftovers discovered in Lewis & Clark's trail of latrines.

    Though I didn't keep strict track, I think Kean includes a tale for every single element in this terrific book. And while he did so, he opened my eyes to things I'd forgotten (or not ever known!!), for example:

    * Chemistry is based on atoms' electrons and physics on their nuclei;
    * "Alchemy" is true: every element traces back to the fusion of solar hydrogen atoms;
    * The familiar Periodic Table is just one of many potential configurations of the elements, some of which are 3D;
    * There are more than three states of matter;
    * Our bodies don't monitor whether we're inhaling enough oxygen, only that we're exhaling enough carbon dioxide;
    * Midas was real as well as fictional;
    * Why sci-fi life-forms are based on silicon;
    * Why Americans call it "aluminum" but it's "aluminium" to everybody else.

    There's chemistry here, and physics and biology. But there's also astronomy, geology, history, politics, warfare, economics, gender studies, human ambition and inter-personal conflict. And there's a whole lotta humor. There are also dozens of entertaining and informative endnotes, suggestions for further reading, and an index. The only way to make it even better would be to read it alongside Theodore Gray's The Elements.

    (Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Opinion of a chemist, July 29, 2010
    Kean strikes a good balance between entertaining and informing. He blends the history of chemistry, the science of chemistry, and entertaining anecdotes - all relayed in a clear style with mostly nontechnical language.

    I noticed some errors in his discussion of fluorescence and phosphorescence, but overall it is a very well researched book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book - A Real Page Turner, August 22, 2010
    If this guy (Sam Kean) had been my Chem teacher, I would be headed for a Nobel Prize.

    A great read with info that sticks to you like duck tape

    Read this and ignore the bad (3 star) Reviews.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Lively and Sweeping Portrayal of Science, August 8, 2010
    This is five-star science writing at its best. Although the book's main theme is the periodic table of the elements - chemistry's rallying point - the scientific fields that are discussed are quite diverse. They include: various branches of physics, geology, palaeontology, biology and several others. But that's not all. The scientific discussions are blended into a backdrop of archaeology, history - from ancient through medieval to modern - as well as the occasional political and social machinations. And last, but definitely not least, the author has enriched almost every page with the ever-present, always-fascinating, often-confrontational and sporadically-baffling human element that many authors often omit.

    As pointed out by at least one other reviewer, there are some technical errors; I found some in the discussions involving radioactivity and nuclear physics. But these minor shortcomings do not detract from the book's important qualities.

    The writing style is very lively, friendly, often humorous/tongue-in-cheek, entertaining, widely accessible, never boring and quite captivating. In short: a page-turner. This book can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone, especially those with a fascination for science: how it works, how some discoveries came about, some of the people involved (ancient to recent) and science's wonderful history. It is also a special treat for science buffs. I believe that this work is an important contribution towards making science understandable and fun for the general population. It may even inspire future Nobel Prize winners. To the author: well done!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars I'm reminded to take my dose of lithium, August 22, 2010
    "Between hydrogen at the top left and the man-made impossibilities lurking along the bottom, you can find bubbles, bombs, money, alchemy, petty politics, history, poison, crime and love. Even some science." - Sam Kean (stating perhaps the briefest possible synopsis of his THE DISAPPEARING SPOON

    "Never underestimate spite as a motivator for genius." - Sam Kean

    In THE DISAPPEARING SPOON, science writer Sam Kean attempts to do what Bill Bryson does with his magnificent A Short History of Nearly Everything, i.e. tap dance with humor over a wide-ranging subject for the entertainment and edification of the reader. In the Bryson's case, the arena is, well, nearly everything, while Kean's is a much more constricted stage, the Periodic Table of the Elements. The fact that the former performs more nimbly shouldn't dissuade one from reading the latter's book, which is, for the most part, a work of popular science that's likely to be both engaging and largely comprehensible to the sweaty masses. (It's currently in the mid-90s outside. Schvitzy work, this.)

    Sam doesn't proceed through the squares of the Periodic Table in an orderly progression as one might progress across the squares of a hopscotch court from start to finish, but rather jumps around randomly, the element of the moment being determined by a larger context whether that be its relation to medicine, money, poisons, explosive weaponry, temperature, tools of measurement, gold rushes, human insanity, misguided science, artistic output, or the politics of the Nobel prize.

    Occasionally, the author becomes a bit too arcane and the reader not heavily grounded in chemistry (or physics!) may find his/her eyes glazing over, such as when he discusses bubble chemistry, superatoms, quantum dots, the alpha constant, or electron jumps between orbitals. And when the narrative became wrapped up in the personalities and rivalries of the investigators involved in the discovery of the transuranic elements, I had to ask myself if I cared much about the soap opera. The answer was "no." Generally speaking, however, the tales Kean has to tell are interesting and worth storing away in memory to retell around the office coffee maker or as part of interesting small talk at the next cocktail party (even if there are no chemistry geeks in attendance). Who knows? It may be useful to rescue a lagging conversation by declaring that the longest word ever to appear legitimately in an English document not for the purpose of setting a length record names a protein in the tobacco mosaic virus:

    "Acetyl seryl tyrosyl seryl iso leucyl threonyl seryl prolyl serylglutaminyl phenyl alanyl valyl phenyl alanyl leucyl seryl seryl valyltryptophyl alanyl aspartyl prolyl isoleucyl glutamyl leucyl leucylasparaginyl valyl cysteinyl threonyl seryl seryl leucyl glycylasparaginyl glutaminyl phenyl alanyl glutaminyl threonyl glutaminylglutaminyl alanyl arginyl threonyl threonyl glutaminyl valylglutaminyl glutaminyl phenyl alanyl seryl glutaminyl valyl tryptophyllysyl prolyl phenyl alanyl prolyl glutaminyl seryl threonyl valylarginyl phenyl alanyl prolyl glycyl aspartyl valyl tyrosyl lysyl valyltyrosyl arginyl tyrosyl asparaginyl alanyl valyl leucyl aspartylprolyl leucyl isoleucyl threonyl alanyl leucyl leucyl glycyl threonylphenyl alanyl aspartyl threonyl arginyl asparaginyl arginyl isoleucylisoleucyl glutamyl valyl glutamyl asparaginyl glutaminyl glutaminylseryl prolyl threonyl threonyl alanyl glutamyl threonyl leucylaspartyl alanyl threonyl arginyl arginyl valyl aspartyl aspartylalanyl threonyl valyl alanyl isoleucyl arginyl seryl alanyl asparaginylisoleucyl asparaginyl leucyl valyl asparaginyl glutamyl leucyl valylarginyl glycyl threonyl glycyl leucyl tyrosyl asparaginyl glutaminylasparaginyl threonyl phenyl alanyl glutamyl seryl methionyl serylglycyl leucyl valyl tryptophyl threonyl seryl alanyl prolyl alanylserine"

    Finally, for a reason I can't really explain, one of the more fascinating paragraphs in the book was that describing the action of lithium to ameliorate mood swings in manic depressives.

    I'm always happy to report on any volume that increases my knowledge about the world around me without being too impenetrable. I wish THE DISAPPEARING SPOON had been available to me in high school Chem 1A. So, despite a sporadic unevenness in presentation, I'm recommending it with four stars. ... Read more


    16. CK-12 Calculus
    by CK-12 Foundation
    Kindle Edition

    Asin: B0042XA2Y0
    Publisher: CK-12 Foundation
    Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    CK-12 Foundation’s Single Variable Calculus FlexBook introduces high school students to the topics covered in the Calculus AB course. Topics include: Limits, Derivatives, and Integration. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Decent Introductory Calculus Textbook, October 8, 2010
    This is a very approachable and well presented introductory text on Calculus. It is written with an advanced high school student or beginning college student in mind. It covers all the traditional topics in a calculus curriculum - functions, graphs, limits, derivatives, integration, etc. The material is presented in a very straightforward manner and it is very easy to follow. There are multiple worked-out examples throughout the text, and each section ends with a several problems and their solutions. The problems vary in difficulty, and many are designed with practical applications in mind. The book also emphasizes the use of scientific calculator in working out of many problems, which is pedagogically a good approach. This book is available under the Creative Commons License through the CK-12 foundation, which means it can be reprinted, modified and resold if necessary.

    The Kindle formatting of this textbook leaves something to be desired. The book was originally typeset in LaTeX, and this did not translate all that smoothly into the Kindle format. I've found that getting this textbook on other e-readers or computers in the epub format rendered it much more satisfactorily.

    This is not the flashiest textbook that you will come across, but in my opinion it gets the job done.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Solid with one major flaw for kindle, November 18, 2010
    It's nice to have a free calculus text on kindle. In that sense, this book is nice to have. It covers the standard calculus topics and is nice to look at for a quick review. But key equations throughout are highlighted in what appears on the kindle to be illegible black text boxes. This is very frustrating. You can follow a problem along and then come to the black text box with the tiny symbols and it's completely incomprehensible. Nevertheless, you can still pick up on quite a bit without those key parts. I also would not recommend this book for a solitary text because the sections seem rather sparse. It would be hard to fully digest in a first reading of calculus. But for a free review, it's not bad. (I'd give it 2 stars if it wasn't free.)

    1-0 out of 5 stars too complicated -- but Calculus is complicated, December 17, 2010
    Got this for my 17 year old daughter who is in AP Calculus. She was not able to get any help from the book. I know Calculus is very difficult, but I had hoped she would get SOME help from the book. ... Read more


    17. CK-12 Chemistry
    by CK-12 Foundation
    Kindle Edition

    Asin: B0042XA34O
    Publisher: CK-12 Foundation
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    CK-12 Chemistry covers Matter, Atomic Structure; The Elements and Their Properties; Stoichiometry; Chemical Kinetics; Physical States of Matter; Thermodynamics; Nuclear Chemistry; and Organic Chemistry. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Decent Introductory Chemistry Textbook, November 14, 2010
    Chemistry is one of the fundamental scientific disciplines, and it is considered one of the physical sciences. It is also one of the scientific disciplines with a great amount of new research, and hardly a year passes without some new profound discovery being made. Sometimes even the experts are hard to keep up with all of the recent developments, and although most of the material in a standard chemistry course is already well established, there are enough of the new and exciting discoveries every year to justify new editions of chemistry textbooks. Unfortunately, the prices of new textbooks have been steadily increasing over the years, so it is incredibly refreshing to come across a well-organized free textbook that can be used in introductory chemistry classes.

    This is by and large a very approachable and well presented introductory chemistry textbook. It is written with an advanced high school student or beginning college student in mind. Topics covered include chemistry as a physical science, the atomic theory, quantum mechanics model of the atom, electron configurations for atoms, periodic table, ions and compounds, covalent bonding, chemical reactions, states of matter, acids and basis, pH factor, thermodynamics, organic chemistry, and many others.

    Each chapter ends with a several questions, many of which are quantitative. The textbook stresses critical and scientific thinking as well as the quantitative skills. It is a very interesting and well organized textbook and provides an excellent introduction to chemistry. In addition to questions, there are also numerous vocabulary terms listed at the end of each chapter. These provide the student with an opportunity to systematize the knowledge gained in the preceding chapter. There are also numerous references for further study and links to other outside resources.

    The book is replete with many illustrations, but most of them are not very advanced or detailed. They are definitely of inferior quality to most other CK-12 textbooks.

    This book is available under the Creative Commons License through the CK-12 foundation, which means it can be reprinted, modified and resold if necessary. It is also a fairly large file, the pdf version being over 1200 pages long, so be prepared for a long download time.

    The Kindle formatting of this textbook leaves something to be desired. The book was originally typeset in LaTeX, and this did not translate all that smoothly into the Kindle format. I've found that getting this textbook on other e-readers or computers in the epub format rendered it much more satisfactorily.

    This is not the flashiest textbook that you will come across, but in my opinion it gets the job done.
    ... Read more


    18. CK-12 21st Century Physics: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies
    by Andrew Jackson, James Batterson
    Kindle Edition

    Asin: B0042XA31W
    Publisher: CK-12 Foundation
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The 21st Century Physics FlexBook is a collaborative effort of the Secretaries of Education and Technology and the Department of Education that seeks to elevate the quality of physics instruction across the Commonwealth of Virginia. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Supplementary Physics Textbook, October 28, 2010
    I am a college physics professor, and I am always interested in new pedagogical texts and tools that will help me with my instruction. This is by and large a very approachable and well presented introductory Physics textbook, although it is presented in a somewhat nontraditional way. It is written with an high school student or beginning college student in mind, and it is not Calculus based. The textbook consists of eleven chapters. The first eight deal with contemporary topics of theory and applications, including gravitation, nuclear and particle physics, nanoscience, and the current technologies used for medical imaging and visual display. The final three chapters focus on laboratory work employing state-of-the-art equipment and the rapidly modeling field of modeling and simulation. Unlike most traditional textbooks, this textbook is comprised of a collection of chapters each of which reads like and independent essay. Each one of them was written by a different author, and each reflects an individual's unique voice.

    Each chapter ends with a several questions, most of which are not quantitative. In fact, this is not a very quantitatively oriented textbook, and would probably not be suitable as the primary textbook in most curricula. However, it is a very interesting book in its own right and makes great supplementary material.

    There are many illustrations throughout the textbook, and they are generally of fairly good quality and on the average probably better than in most other CK-12 textbooks.

    This book is available under the Creative Commons License through the CK-12 foundation, which means it can be reprinted, modified and resold if necessary. It is also a fairly large file, pdf version being about 450 pages long, so be prepared for a longish download.

    The Kindle formatting of this textbook leaves something to be desired. The book was originally typeset in LaTeX, and this did not translate all that smoothly into the Kindle format. I've found that getting this textbook on other e-readers or computers in the epub format rendered it much more satisfactorily.

    This is not the flashiest textbook that you will come across, but in my opinion it gets the job done.
    ... Read more


    19. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
    by Mary Roach
    Hardcover
    list price: $25.95 -- our price: $14.26
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0393068471
    Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
    Sales Rank: 208
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars "To the rocket scientist, you are a problem.", July 31, 2010
    It seems like a previous life: the mid-1980s and NASA's program to send the first American "civilian" into space. I was interested, then sidelined when applications were restricted to teachers, then stunned by Challenger's launch disaster. But now I'm delighted to get a sort of ride-along with the clever and uber-curious Mary Roach in PACKING FOR MARS.

    She begins: "To the rocket scientist, you are a problem. You are the most irritating piece of machinery he or she will ever have to deal with." And then she dives in to explore that human machinery in space and how everything -- procedures, equipment and supplies -- is designed to best serve it.

    Through examples from animal simulations and crash-test cadavers, the race-for-space/ shuttle/ space-station projects, and planning Mars-length missions, she examines astronaut selection; the effects of isolation, inactivity and cramped spaces; the spectrum from weightlessness to multiple g-forces; eating, eliminating, and hygiene; and ... well, enough with the listmaking; it hints at dull and anyone who's read Roach knows she doesn't do dull. Instead, she mines excellent and surprising facts about physics and biology -- and what most captures me is her practicality, for example this from a passage about religious observations aboard the international space station: "Zero gravity and a ninety-minute orbital day created so many questions for Muslim astronauts that a [guideline] was drafted. Rather than require [them] to pray five times during each ninety-minute orbit of Earth, they were allowed to go by the twenty-four-hour cycle of the launch location." How to stay oriented toward Mecca at such speed and prostrate oneself in weightlessness are also addressed.

    I loved Roach's Stiff, but Spook -- not as much, so skipped Bonk (until now, maybe). She's a front-and-center kind of narrator, a participant even, and Spook seemed too much about her. Here, she's back in terrific Stiff form -- (wo)manning the audio and video for us like a TV news crew, giving just an occasional glimpse of her metaphoric microphone to remind us she's there. Though she isn't a slave to structure and linearity, there's a satisfying organization of her material into chapters here. And all of her interesting-but-off-topic segues? -- they're here too, in a hundred witty footnotes. She also references dozens of space-travel articles, histories, biographies and memoirs and lists them in a bibliography. Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mary Roach hits another Home Run for Weird Science, August 4, 2010
    As I suspected, Mary Roach's new book is rocketing (pun intended) up the best-seller list. She has once again focused her splendid sense of humor on the weird aspects of science to reveal the most human dimensions of preparing for space exploration.

    I had always been frustrated with NASA's stopping at the moon. "Let's go on to Mars," I would say. "What are you waiting for?"
    Mary Roach points out that human biology, sociology, and psychology are the weak links in the chain. The engineering is in place. People are the problem. And these problems are the ones no one much talks about in polite company. What do you do with all the pee? How do you keep from hating the guy or gal next to you when they reek of B.O.? How do you remain sane for nearly two years cramped into a space the size of a small SUV, with all sun and no stars to keep you company?

    Mary Roach tells us that there are people uniquely, biologically qualified for such a journey. Evidently the ideal astronaut could well be an African-American who is deaf. This would help with loss of bone density and with not tossing your cookies in space.
    These are some of the strange quirks of nature she turns up, which has become her trademark. She asks the questions that few have the audacity to ask, and she asks them of people who generally would not talk, on the record, about such things. I have a feeling that the book might be beautifully accompanied by videos of the astonished faces of her interviewees, trying to cope with questions they have never had to field before.

    This is a delightful read. Mary Roach will entertain you and keep you laughing out loud and she maintains your sense of wonder about space. In the end, you will want us to go to Mars more than ever because it represents a conquering of our biological limits even as we conquer our little corner of the cosmos.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can man really make this trip? With a big suitcase...., August 4, 2010
    Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach is a must read for any of us that are curious about space exploration and what it would be like to live in the "void". This is my first Mary Roach book and I can already tell that I'm going to have to take a long look at her backlist, especially Stiff.

    I know that most space exploration advocates have been completely frustrated by our lack of progress in colonizing space after the Apollo moon missions, especially the hold up on the trip to Mars. The issue isn't technology, as Roach points out, but the frailty of the human animal. Packing for Mars is a wake up call and a realistic look at what it would take to make that trip: food, social issues, psychological issues, and just the basic "how do you handle the lack of.....?." What does happen to a human who is deprived of familiar earth environments for a long period of time? What do you do with human waste on long trips? Do we really have to drink pee (recycled of course)? What's the impact of not being able to stand or run for more than a year? What is "fecal popcorning"? And on and on.

    Packing for Mars isn't a comedy, but there are moments of absolute humor in this read.

    Well researched, well written, and terribly interesting Packing for Mars is a terrific read, especially for us space program fanatics and amateur astronomers.

    I highly recommend.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Wonderfully Entertaining Underside of Exoplanetary Whatever, September 15, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    First, audio books are okay, as they're mobile and offer something interesting to listen to in wretched DC traffic. But there's no paper, binding, printed words. I can't highlight, or go back and re-read passages, which makes a thorough review more difficult.

    A note on this audio version: The "performer" is Sandra Burr (the Bonk reader), and she does just fine. Her voice is akin to Fresh Air's Terry Gross, mature, smooth, somewhat familiar.

    This book is another thoroughly enjoyable Mary Roach work, with the same diligent research, humor, inquisitiveness and hot pursuit of answers to the very common yet too-often-unasked questions that I loved in Bonk. Her humor is not snide or cutting, is sometimes a bit, ah, earthy, but is simple, straightforward, and derives often from the irony of what she is seeing, being told, or the curious and fascinating juxtapositions of facts and observations in what for her is a new world; she's not above a good doody joke.

    This book really isn't about upcoming Mars missions and preparations to undertake them. There's some of that, but this is more about the less-publicized but arguably much more important aspects of space travel, the enduring challenges from the first days of space chimps and dogs. The biggest problem with space is accommodating humans. That means food, water, air, and finding ways to handle what results. It means finding ways for humans to adjust to/deal with each other for days on end when crammed into the equivalent of the front seat of a Yugo. This book is about the universe of problems in putting humans into the most anti-human environment, and then handling all of the little yet absolutely critical details: breathing, eating, excreting, staying clean, fighting boredom, preventng psychosis.

    Roach has an unabashed curiosity for the more, ah, fundamental aspects of things. She's not interested in the ready-made PR line that we're all fed. Above all, Roach is a good sport, up for travel to NASA sites, the Arctic or Russia, up for trying experiments and situations herself, a willing and normal buddy who reports fully on what she's experiencing. I'd love to sit next to her on a very long plane flight.

    So, you wanna be an astronaut? You'd better be ready to put up with a lot. The space agencies are watching, listening, and evaluating. Never mind their intentional little mind-games, with sneaky, roundabout evaluations, tests-within-tests, calls at 0-dark-thirty, lying about lost tests results, trying to stress you. If you don't do well with repetition and petty annoyances, then a major mission malfunction at 7 bazillion miles from Earth is really going to set you off; so goes the candidate-selection logic.

    There is not a great deal of deep scientific discussion or technical language; thankfully this book does not read like Scientific American. But, Roach does provide the necessary scientific and technical background and context to set up her explorations, and thankfully she does not dumb it down, using spot-on technical and scientific terms as needed, but never in excess (and often for humor).

    You get a myriad of thoroughly fascinating explorations of all things space-y, and Roach's frequent and highly entertaining footnotes, on such delightful subjects as: the importance of vaginal contraction for lifelong health; urine collection in zero-g; cadaver use in impact studies; space farts, and whether a good one might actually propel you in zero-g; how to treat with respect and dignity the various remains of a trailblazing, national-hero space chimp; the coefficient of flatus; mess hall pork and sub-optimal animal research outcomes; space-chimp Enis the Penis, and the quest to find out if he was a stinker or a wanker; fecal papier-m�ch�'; getting your whosis all lined up--on camera--on the space toilet simulator; food tubes/cubes/bricks/bars/blocks/rods; the unpleasant choice of slow suffocation in a space suit or a cyanide capsule if you can't get back through the hatch; helmet vomitus; why gravity is your urethra's friend; human skin oil secretion and its role in underwear decomposition; egesta; bear hibernation bloodborne calcium regeneration; the "bursting" of a body in the vacuum of space; human body reactions to and actions in zero-G, and in lots of Gs; a BAMF; the corned beef sandwich incident; an exploration of the suffix "-naut," and lots more.

    And yes, Ms. Roach drinks her own urine, and pronounces it a nicely sweet and restorative lunchtime beverage.

    And never forget this sage advice: "...anal leakage is not your pal."

    Chapter 12 probes sex in space and/or zero gravity, and determining whether this actually has taken place yet. The Mary Roach who got it so right in Bonk is all over this investigation, asking prickly questions of aerospace professionals who either have been sworn to secrecy or are just being prudent. Roach tracks the issue relentlessly, even chasing down a retired Czech porn actress to discuss her reported earth-shattering contribution to aerospace exploration. Roach chases this expertly, and in the end offers a few clear answers, but no definitive answer to the central question.

    The language is salty at times, with a couple f-bombs (nevertheless thoroughly in keeping with context). There is some quoted profanity, and a bit provided by Roach herself, a nice accessible, earthy touch. This being said, it's really pretty tame. Age-wise, this is acceptable reading for a well-read, mature 13-year-old, although some of Roach's jokes will go right over said reader's young head.

    Bottom line: the unbridled curiosity, intellectual rigor, conscientious research and entertaining humor that made Spook, Stiff and Bonk such successes is fully present here. Roach has crafted a wonderful, highly entertaining and informative book that blows out of the water, uh, explosively decompresses almost every science fiction film ever made, and sucks almost all of the glamour and some of the glory out of space exploration faster than a defective airlock. Until they perfect warp drives and localized gravity generators, I'll stay down here, where I'm in control.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not outstanding, September 1, 2010
    In many ways I really like Mary Roach's Packing for Mars. It's an extraordinarily inventive approach at space travel and our space program. When the book is good, it's really good. The book is at its best when it looks at how the absolute mundane parts of being alive translate when taken into a zero gravity environment. But the book sometimes veers off course (especially in many of the footnotes) and at times becomes a little to cleaver for its own good.

    Packing for Mars is a perfect beach read - it's light, engaging and often funny, but it wasn't strong enough to make me want to run out and recommend it to friends. It's the kind of book that would be ideal to pick up when it comes out in paperback to read on a long plane ride or on a beach trip.

    4-0 out of 5 stars ...And take this with you on the trip!, August 25, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Mary Roach is, easily, one of the funniest writers in America. What makes this even more interesting is that, she isn't a comedienne or even a comic novelist; she's a SCIENCE writer. Both "Stiff" and "Bonk" were hilarious... AND informative, but she has outdone herself with "Packing for Mars". Having said all that, the question becomes: Is the audio version (read, not by Roach, but by Sandra Burr) able to bring out all the humour AND THE SCIENCE of the written text? Yes... in spades! Indeed, this leads to a dilemma. One of the best places to listen to audio books is, of course, in your car, only... How safe are you when you're laughing hysterically at the functioning of a Space Toilet? If you think Texting while driving is dangerous, let me tell you, picturing an astronaut with a vomit filled space helmet can be lethal at 60 mph! But, if you can handle it, this is one enjoyable experience... oh, and you'll learn something, too!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lets Go To Mars, August 14, 2010
    Packing For Mars is the first book by Mary Roach that I've read, but it won't be the last. I judged it by the cover and I'm glad I did. It's rare to find a book that's interesting and educational, and at the same time really funny. This book is that and more.

    The truth is usually stranger than fiction, and the story of our reach for the stars is no exception. Humans are not designed to live and work in outer space and the challenges that this presents are numerous. Packing For Mars goes behind the scenes of space exploration to meet the people who make it possible.

    You can tell Mrs. Roach did her homework. She talks with everyone from the astronauts to the guy who designs the space toilets. She goes to the training facilities and test labs to see what types of crazy and amazing things people are doing for science. She also uncovers lots of the little noted but fascinating details.

    It's a great story but what makes Packing For Mars even better is that it's so funny. Mrs. Roach has a terrific sense of humor and this book will make you laugh, out loud, many times.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Droning and monotone., September 13, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I really wanted to like this audio book. I love the subject matter, anything about space usually gets me excited. When I got the opportunity to review this title I jumped at it!

    The author, Mary Roach, has been recommended to me several times. I purchased and loved "Stiff" and was really looking forward to this title. The book could be amazing. There were several parts that really got my attention. However, this is more due to my interest and the writing than the reading.

    After listening to the first CD (out of 9) I assumed that the reader was a first timer. I am always willing to give a new reader a chance, they all get better with time. However, looking at the back of the box, I found that the reading is performed by Sandra Burr. I've never listened to anything else read by her, but her credits state that she is a long time performer of audio books and is a best seller.

    I don't know. Maybe Ms. Burr had a bad few days while reading this book. I found her performance droning and monotone. Many times I listen to audio books while working or driving. In the past I have always been able to follow along just fine. With Ms. Burr's reading, listening to "Packing For Mars" was like listening to white noise on a broken radio. While a signal came through a few times, usually the story was completely missed.

    All of that said, I think I would have really enjoyed the book. I hope to read it in the near future and, when I do, I'll post a review. As it is, I have to recommend that you buy the book itself over the audio version.

    5-0 out of 5 stars 100% educational, 100% entertaining and 100% hilarious!, September 15, 2010
    The ability to land a spacecraft on Mars is old hat. As a matter of fact, the technology, although it was and remains prohibitively expensive, existed over thirty years ago. The real impediment, indeed, the only impediment to manned space travel to Mars is man himself.

    In PACKING FOR MARS, an inexhaustibly curious, incorrigibly irreverent and perennially humorous Mary Roach explores the myriad issues and problems that the biological package known as "man" presents to space travel. It is no exaggeration to suggest that preparation for long term survival in low gravity and extended confinement in extremely close quarters touches on virtually every aspect of man's life - biology, culture, morality, sexuality, psychology, politics, leisure, health, hygiene and even religious practice.

    Although the scientific content of PACKING FOR MARS is 100% real and informative, Mary Roach's approach to the topic is light-hearted and, from cover to cover, tongue in cheek and 100% hilarious and utterly entertaining. With the practical problems of zero-gravity defecation and the logistical problem of what to do with the results of any successful elimination being very near the top of the list of engineering conundrums, it's probably not a big surprise to let a potential reader know that scatological humour runs rampant throughout the book. Tears of laughter positively streamed from my eyes as I learned, for example, that the gas volume and the speed of expulsion of even the most flatulent person conceivable would not be sufficient to propel him or her across the room in a zero-gravity situation (Note to self - watch for a potential future MYTHBUSTERS episode!)

    PACKING FOR MARS ends with the acknowledgement that pure research on Mars is probably best conducted by robots, computers and pure hardware technology without benefit of man's presence. But, she also pleads the case that, since governments are so prone to fritter away vast sums of money on unproductive and entirely wasteful projects anyway, perhaps it may actually be prudent to plan some frivolous spending on a manned Mars landing. After all, you never know what may come of it!

    PACKING FOR MARS is highly recommended with the comment that, aside from being thoroughly entertaining and wonderfully educational, it undoubtedly makes my Top 10 list of the funniest books I've ever read. How can you go wrong with a combination like that?

    Paul Weiss

    2-0 out of 5 stars Entertainingly lacking, October 4, 2010
    In the last few pages of "Packing for Mars," Mary Roach displays a touch of passion in making the case for a manned trip to Mars. Sadly, in the preceding 300+ pages, passion was kept firmly in check in favor of a random set of anecdotes. The anecdotes, by themselves, can be quite good, but I'm left wanting the story that hasn't actually been offered.

    Billed as an uproarious trip into the world of space travel, I was hoping to get "In the Shadow of the Moon" with a funny edge. Maybe the reverential Alan Bean meets Mr Bean. PfM is often funny, although not side-splittingly so (my kids were, however, in stitches at a turd floating around the Apollo 10 capsule). As a comedy, though, the author's writing style wears you out with repetition in the form of all-too-frequent overreach; trying to squeeze out one crass metaphor too many just because she could. Good comedy writers know when to pause, Ms Roach does not (Deke's 1-star review is spot-on in describing how the humor reads).

    2 stars for some good snippets - many of which the average reader will not have known about previously - in what can only be described as a random collection of anecdotes aimlessly delivered. By the time Ms Roach sets her sights on making the case for a manned Mars shot, we no longer care.

    Frequently entertaining, but not a memorable read I'd recommend to others. ... Read more


    20. CK-12 Geometry
    by CK-12 Foundation
    Kindle Edition

    Asin: B0042XA2Z4
    Publisher: CK-12 Foundation
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    CK-12 Foundation's Geometry FlexBook is a clear presentation of the essentials of geometry for the high school student. Topics include: Proof, Congruent Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Similarity, Perimeter & Area, Volume, and Transformations. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great free geometry book, October 4, 2010
    The ck12.org foundation has made more than a dozen free math and science textbooks available, and this geometry textbook is one of them.

    There are full images in this. This book is much larger than what is typically available for free. The images look good, but they are typically roughly two times too large at the moment. Also, all places where TeX is used, a too-large blocky image is used instead. For example, "(3,3)" is presented three times larger than the surrounding text. There are many of these on every page, but at least it's consistent.

    I noticed several spelling mistakes. Since this is a digital textbook, I'm sure those will be fixed. The errors above will also probably be addressed quickly.

    This is worthwhile download. The PDF version is 918 pages, so this is a big book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Decent Free Geometry Textbook, October 9, 2010
    This is a very approachable and well presented introductory text on Geometry. It is written at a very elementary level, but it can be used by anyone who is unfamiliar with this subject. The book is filled with multiple illustrations and images, which makes it a very It covers all the traditional topics in a Geometry course - points, lines, planes, plane figures, angles, etc. The material is presented in a very straightforward manner and it is very easy to follow. The book places special attention to reasoning and proofs, which are invaluable skills to have for any branch of mathematics. There are multiple worked-out examples throughout the text, and each section ends with a several problems and their solutions. The problems vary in difficulty, and many are designed with practical applications in mind. This book is available under the Creative Commons License through the CK-12 foundation, which means it can be reprinted, modified and resold if necessary.

    The Kindle formatting of this textbook leaves something to be desired. The book was originally typeset in LaTeX, and this did not translate all that smoothly into the Kindle format. I've found that getting this textbook on other e-readers or computers in the epub format rendered it much more satisfactorily.

    This is not the flashiest textbook that you will come across, but in my opinion it gets the job done.


    ... Read more


    1-20 of 200       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 20
    Prices listed on this site are subject to change without notice.
    Questions on ordering or shipping? click here for help.

    Top