A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens My rating: 3 of 5 stars The opening and closing lines are immortal classics, and the book does has some great characters and set pieces. But it’s my least favorite Dickens, showing off his biggest flaws, especially overwrought language, rank sentimentality and coincidence so arbitrary as to […]
The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster My rating: 5 of 5 stars I read it long ago, but it’s been hugely influential on my thinking. Another case of a writer with uncanny prescience. View all my reviews
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis My rating: 4 of 5 stars Pretty scary stuff about the global financial crisis, and great insights and anecdotes. I’m not sure I’m as convinced as Lewis that each country’s unique flavor of crisis can be attributed to each country’s unique national character, but it’s […]
The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro My rating: 5 of 5 stars Caro continues to overwrite, but his obsessive love of detail not surprisingly makes for a fine-grained story, a mark of great history writing and sufficient payoff for those who have the patience to slog through it all. In this volume he […]
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker My rating: 4 of 5 stars Steven Pinker’s core argument is compelling and important. Contrary to the nearly universal assumption that things have never been worse, human society is actually becoming less violent. As horrifically as the wars and genocides of the […]
What?s the Matter with White People? Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was by Joan Walsh My rating: 5 of 5 stars A resonant and highly readable political memoir that attempts to unlock some of the most stubborn mysteries of modern politics, including why false promises work so well, without falling back […]
From my fat and lazy perspective I don’t have much standing to grouse about the tactics of the Occupy movement. Whether they’ve clearly articulated their goals, or whether I would agree with them all if they did, or whether I find the drumming annoying, at least these people are trying to do something active about […]
If racism has become a non-issue for minorities, as some believe, how odd that it remains a widespread and life-destroying influence on white males, which seems the basic premise of the opposition to Sonia Sotomayor.
Not every offer to help is a passive-aggressive effort to assert control.
Bureaucracy is the most practical cure for irreconcilable differences.