Books

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Review of Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

In Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyesicon, Tamim Ansary describes a historical narrative of the world from Islamic eyes, from the time of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and its effects on the modern day Middle Eastern socio-political landscape.

If you’re reading this review, there’s a good chance your narrative of history goes something like this: civilization developed in the Middle East and then the Egyptians, and the Greeks arose. The Romans then showed up and took over most of the world before converting to Christianity. When their empire collapsed, there were about a thousand years without any technological progress (but a lot of kings, wars, plagues, and churches). Suddenly, in the 1500′s, the Renaissance occurred, and people like DaVinci and Michelangelo appeared on the scene. During that time we had the discovery of the New World and the Age of Exploration, and the destruction of the Native Americans. This was followed by the Napoleanic wars and the American Revolution, then the Industrial age and finally the modern era.

What’s conspicuously missing from all this is a second major historical player, the adherents of Islam, whose citizens share an entirely different narrative for a thousand years, but who also share foundational roots with the West. That’s what Destiny Disrupted seeks to clue you in on. Read more…

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Posted by Gnorb - August 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

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Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What a Difference Life Experience Makes

Needing something to read while on a trip, and thinking a lot about monetary issues as of late, I decided to pick up a copy of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It seems the Rich Dad company is releasing a new edition of the book in mass-market paperback format which, for a book like this, is the perfect size.

Because it’s a new edition, you can expect some updates and additions, and while there are, there really aren’t many: the principles laid out therein hold, even after the real estate market crashed. That’s what happens with sound principles: they work during the good times and the bad.

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Posted by Gnorb - July 30, 2012 at 8:30 am

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Beer, Wine, Spirits, Coffee, Tea, and Coca Cola: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Egyptian slaves were paid in mead. The wine trade spread Greek (and later Roman) culture throughout the known world. Spirits drove the Age of Exploration, including the slave trade into the New World. Coffee fueled the Age of Reason and revolutionary thought. The tea trade shaped British policy at its height. Coca Cola is arguably the symbol in the age of globalization.

To understand the history of the world, it’s not necessary to understand the role drinks played in it, but it certainly helps. A History of the World in 6 Glasses by historian Tom Standage tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.

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Posted by Gnorb - July 23, 2012 at 8:30 am

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Ayn Rand’s Anthem: A Quick Review

Anthem Anthem by Ayn Rand

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Synopsis: The book first starts out as a dystopian socialist type of society where everyone refers to themselves as “We” (no concept of individualism). This, along with the main protagonist’s journey, mirrors that of Winston’s in Orwell’s 1984. Eventually, the main protagonist runs away from this society and discovers individualism. While the first part of the book scrutinizes the evils of runaway socialism and communism, the second part, the climax, exalts the virtues of selfishness. It’s like saying “The cure of Marx is Nietzsche.”

The book, while interesting from a psychological and philosophical point of view, nevertheless ends up as a diatribe, an ode to selfishness where the lesson taught is beat over the reader’s head; I at this point had to take a break from reading. While reading the conclusions I couldn’t help but think “this is wrong in SO many ways.” But I’ll give the book and author the benefit of the doubt: it was written during a time when the consequences of pure selfishness on a grand scale were as yet unfamiliar and unfathomable to the author. On a micro scale, the power of individualism is a great thing, and that which she exalts should be taken to heart by anyone: no one reading this should walk away without having learned something about the importance of individuality even when it runs counter to society. But this will to power, this rugged individualism shouldn’t be the basis of a societal system. In that sense I hope anyone reading this can see past her myopic fear of socialism and see the true danger: extremism and universal applications of a simplistic idea.

P.S.
If you’re into books check out GoodReads , and feel fee to friend me there if you see me around. I’d love to see what you’re reading.

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Posted by Gnorb - July 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksZombies. They’re sort of like vampires, but nowhere near as popular. Why is that? Aside from the fact that their mythology hasn’t yet been sexed up and corrupted, it’s because there’s not a lot of great zombie literature. Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War puts that excuse to rest. In short, it is to the zombie genre what Bram Stoker’s Dracula is to the vampire genre. And like with Dracula, if all zombie stories henceforth would use WWZ as a template, the literary world of the living dead will be a more enjoyable place. Read more…

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Posted by Gnorb - June 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Categories: Books, Life, Sci-Fi   Tags: , ,

Recent Book Purchases

Just put an order in with Amazon for a few books. Wanted to know if any readers have read any of these, and if so, what did you think?

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Posted by Gnorb - June 10, 2008 at 2:56 pm

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Le Linkage #17: “Can You Help a Brother Out?” Edition

“Can you help a brother out?” To a lot of you reading this that conjures up images of a guy in dirty clothes, wondering the streets or sitting on the sidewalk, hand outstretched and asking for some cash. In this case, it’s sort of like that, but not really. Actually this edition is named as such because it seems a lot of people have been asking for help lately, some of which I’ll feature here. Mostly, though, this edition contains a few articles that have caught my eyes.

By the way, if you really, really want to know what I consider a must to read, and you use Google Reader, go ahead and add me to your “Shared” list: gnorbx@gmail.com. And yes, it’s always reciprocal. If you don’t use Google Reader, then check out my Shared Items. I warn you, though, I tend to go on thematic blitzes, so if everything there looks like it’s about transhumanism or self improvement or writing or philosophy, try going back a few pages.

Anyway, here’s the new Le Linkage list of sites you should visit: Read more…

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Posted by Gnorb - June 3, 2008 at 8:48 am

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Soon I Will Be Invincible

I just picked up Soon I Will Be Invincible by first-time author Austin Grossman. If you’ve been to a bookstore lately, you may have seen a bright blue book with a pink, winged helmet on the cover. Looking at it, of course, just screams tacky. One look inside, however, and you’ll be hooked. At least I was. Read more…

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Posted by Gnorb - October 30, 2007 at 8:52 am

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The Age of Discovery: Two-Thirds of a Review

Take a quasi-Chinese culture and a quasi-Mayan culture, mix in a few gods and frog people, give them all a couple of ships, have them all utter words which no human mouth were ever meant to pronounce, and finally throw them all in a post-apocalyptic magic-ridden wasteland (you know, just for kicks). Stir the ingredients in the mind of a fantasy author, then let them until they rise to about 450,000 words (or 1800 mass-market-sized pages). This is the recipe for The Age of Discovery series by Michael A. Stackpole, and it serves three books. Since only two of these have been released, this series review will only really be two thirds of a review. Still, given the author’s style (and the manner in which I have approached the subject at had) it should be enough for you to get a taste of mostly delicious, yet at times somewhat bland literary treat. Read more…

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Posted by Gnorb - July 23, 2007 at 11:14 am

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Le Linkage #16: Around the Blogosphere

While I’ve tried — in vain — I haven’t been able to get one of these out (to my own disdain). Again, the glut of ideas currently swishing around my brain is like water around a drain: round and round it goes, and not in vain if I take this opportunity to sha… daing.

Alright, so that didn’t work out as planned. If it had been planned. I really should start reading more modern poetry. (Although by now you may already be aware of how I feel about poetry.)

Anyway, so here it is: another episode of Le Linkage, and this one’s about all the wonderful stuff making its way into my RSS reader as of late. Some of it is thought provoking, some just fun to read, but most, I’m sure you’ll side with me, won’t make your eyeballs bleed. (There now, that’s better, though not by much.) Read more…

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Posted by Gnorb - July 19, 2007 at 10:10 am

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