REVIEW: Glenn Greenwald’s excellent “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” (ISBN: 9781627790734) is not only about Edward Snowden and the NSA; it’s also about power. Who gets to watch you? Who gets to know your life’s decisions? Who gets to monitor your activities? And who is watching the watchers?
REVIEW: With an eye-catching title, Elijah Wald’s “How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music” (ISBN: 9780199756971) is an off-kilter look at the progression of music from ragtime to rock to rap, with lots of insights on swing, jazz, folk, and blues. Consistently interesting and fun to read, the book pays special attention to what the media and the American mindset have done to influence the music we hear today.
REVIEW: Peter Schuck’s “Why Government Fails So Often: And How it Can do Better” (ISBN: 9780691161624) takes 30 pages of brilliant observation and crams it into 412 pages of text. His combination of garrulousness and impenetrable language makes it a very long and extensive and extended and elongated and lengthy and protracted and time-consuming and boring read.
BOOK REVIEW: Peeling back the thick tapestries of privacy shielding the odious Koch brothers, Daniel Schulman’s “Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty” (ISBN: 9781455518739) is consistently compelling and a good read. There’s a lot here: the Koch’s anti-American politics, their disgusting waste of personal wealth, their in-fighting and lawsuits, their dysfunctional family life, and their attitude of total warfare against people in the middle class.
BOOK REVIEW: Spies! Treachery! Deception! Camels! With an eye for detail and a love of intrigue, Scott Anderson plunks you down in the desert for ‘Lawrence in Arabia’ (ISBN-13: 978-0385532921). The author unleashes a rip-snortin’ tale that ultimately reveals a lot of the backstory on the muddle that is today’s Middle East.
BOOK REVIEW: When you die, what happens? Lots of folks are attempting to make money by demonstrating they have the answer, but there’s this teeny-tiny thing called facts getting in their way. Mary Roach finds humor in every bone-chilling moment of her investigation.
The dozen essays in “Jazz/Not Jazz” all tend to pick, poke, and prod the meaning of the term and the elastic nature of the genre. Which is good, but the book is often academic in the extreme and often turns into a snooze-a-palooza. After trying for years to interest friends in jazz, it must be […]
BOOK SERIAL: ‘Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,’ written and lived by John Scott G. Chapter 1 Your Place in the Universe. Much like you, I came into this world unable to type. That skill was acquired later, allowing me to take part in the highly-paid ‘word nerd’ thing enjoyed by swanky novelists, playwrights, poets, bloggers, and writers of auto dealership advertising.