The Undoing Project
A book about the fathers of behavioral science, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Lewis' writing follows the stories of these two men from childhood through adulthood. Lewis writes about the inspiration and findings of the research pair, along with the ups and downs of their relationship.
Overall this was an interesting book, though not much substance if you are looking for a deeper discussion about the research performed by the duo. It gives a general overview of most of their major papers and the effects their research had on so many fields of academics. The story was mostly focused on the friendship between Amos and Daniel, and as such should be treated moreso like a memoir than a scientific book. However, it is a great introduction to behavioral science and leaves me wanting to look into more technical readings of the field!
Verdict : Worth a quick read
Mission to Mars
What to say...Buzz Aldrin is a highly accomplished individual, and one of the most recognizable astronauts in history. When Mr. Aldrin writes a book on space travel it would be absurd to think there would be many superior sources to be found. He presents his vision for the future of manned and unmanned travel to Mars, and while his ideas are grand, the book, well, falls a little flat.
Unfortunately, Mission to Mars just doesn't deliver what one would expect to get from a topic as grandiose as space travel. Mr. Aldrin has several strongly supported opinions for how he believes space exploration should proceed, and gives several scenarios and layman descriptions explaining the logic of his ideas. The problem however comes from how repetitive and simply written this book is. There is not much more insight than what can be gained from Wikipedia, and the main ideas get repeated over and over again after the first few chapters. Out of respect, it is worth reading the first couple chapters, but a slog beyond that.
Verdict : I expected better...
Tides of War
Pressfield is the author of one of my top all time favorites, Gates of Fire. Tides is a book of a similar vein, a "based on a true story" intrepretation of ancient Greek events. It follows the multiple rises and falls of the Athenian General, Alcibiades through the eyes of a foot soldier.
While some of Pressfield's other works are well developed and engaging, this book fails to live up to expectation. Apart from Alcibiades and the foot soldier, character development is non existent. That's not to say is completely horrible, as with his other works you are treated to some excellent war time speeches and epic battles. They are few and far between though, which makes it difficult for the reader to stay engaged throughout the tale.
Verdict : Stick to Gates of Fire
Why American is Not a New Rome
Ouch. I read this book with a palm on my forhead the entire time. Professor Smil is a well researched academic, but his arguments are outstandingly absurd. Comparisons between Rome and the United States are abundant, and I expected a well researched analysis in refute of this theory. Well researched it was, analysis it was not.
Instead of spending time earnestly debating the main points that are argued when comparing the U.S. and Rome, Smil brushes those aside and focuses on the pedantic, and uses points of refute that nobody was debating in the first place. His primary argument is that America in not like Rome because America is not an empire by definition, and can therefore not be compared to an empire. Secondly, he makes direct linear comparisons between ways of life in ancient times compared to today, and says that because the U.S. is a more advanced nation with higher quality of living, it is therefore not comparable to Rome...because they are ancient. He argues that the United States has better energy efficiency because the Romans relied on wood burning and slaves for energy, therefore the U.S. is not Rome....no duh?? Why don't you argue what people actually mean when they say America is like Rome. It is amazingly filled with statistics and research papers though, so it is a trove of factual Roman history!
Verdict : Good for Roman statistics, horrible book
Phantom of the Opera
Before diving into this book, I didn't really know much about the plot, though I had a general idea of what the story was about. I had high expectations due to reputation, and I will say it lived up to them! A very fun thriller that has you thinking like Sherlock Holmes and keeps you attached until the very end. Follow along with the narrator as you slowly learn more revelations about the mysterious Phantom, and his ultimate goal. My favorite thing about what Mr. Leroux accomplished with this novel is that it makes you second guess your assumptions. You begin to form opinions about the characters, and then Leroux will throw a curveball that makes you completely re-evaluate what you thought and where you think the story is going.
Trust in the classics to give you a pleasant read.
Verdict : A classic for a reason, must read!
I will never turn down a Michael Crichton book. Jurassic Park is one of my other all time favorites. Something about the way Crichton writes, all of his books read so quickly yet are so wonderfully engaging.
Much like his other adventures, this one holds your attention throughout. It is a nonstop adventure makes you try to foresee what events will transpire. Sphere is like a puzzle where you are only given a handful of pieces at a time, and when you think you are almost done you realize your pieces don't actually fit.
I read this book on a long roundtrip plance ride, and couldn't put it down the entire time. It explores basic psychology and logic, along with a who-dunnit thriller. The mental and philosophical demands are basic and shallow, yet it still gets you thinking about them on a deeper level. Not an overtly complex literary work, but there's a reason so many Crichton works are movies, they are easy and entertaining.
Verdict : Not his best, but solid and quick
Boys Among Men
Sports stars. Throw a ball in a hoop and get paid millions, not a bad gig right? Abrams is an award winning journalist that has written for The New York Times and Bleacher Report. His book reads like an invesitgative report, Plutarch's Lives for basketball players. It follows the upbringing and summarizes the NBA careers of a handful of current and former NBA players who entered the league straight from High School.
It's easy to see these men (boys) on tv and scoff at the ridiculousness of the sports system. What Abrams does though is bring home the stories and sacrifices of the men who struck gold, along with those who risked it all just to fail. It is an engaging look at the upbringing of many of these children, and how nature and nurture are at constant battle to determine what your future will be like. Hardhsips are a common theme in most of the stories, you develop a respect for the individuals involved, and what they went through.
I found this book to be very a insightful look into the operations of the NBA, the power and battles between sponsors, and a human look at those who choose to play the NBA Hunger Games.