|I cannot live without books. -Thomas Jefferson||Reading Lists|
|Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. -Ambrose Bierce||Quotes|
Book Book Review, Title Ordinary Geniuses, Author Gino Segrè, Rating 3.0,
This is a good but not great biography of two lesser-known 20th century scientists, George Gamow and Max Delbrück, both of whom show up in many historical accounts of the history of molecular biology, hence my interest. I was particularly interested in the author's depiction of Delbrück, a Nobel Prize winner late in his life for work done thirty years prior. Delbrück, who is routinely depicted as a great thought leader and a fiercely intelligent scientist, is elusive in other historical accounts, begging the question: What did he contribute, and why was his input so prized?
Book Book Review, Title What Men Live By, Author Leo Tolstoy, Rating 4.0,
What Men Live By
Tolstoy remains one of my favorite writers. His War and Peace and Anna Karenina were reading investments that still pay dividends. These four short stories, in particular What Men Live By, represent some aspects of Tolstoy's later turn to a simpler and more universal religious outlook, when he eschewed organized religion, and embraced a code based on Christ's teaching alone, centering on the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount.
Book Book Review, Title Mink River , Author Brian Doyle, Rating 4.5,
The Department of Public Works in the coastal village of Neawanaka on the Mink River, besides performing the ordinary public works of cleaning streets and repairing sidewalks, slowly expands over time to 'preserve history, collect stories, repair marriages, prevent crime, augment economic status, promote chess, manage insect populations, run sports leagues, isn't that a bit much? We even give haircuts.' ( page 15) Worried Man and Cedar are its two aging employees, idealists who doggedly work to carry out their mission statement: 'Brains against Pains.' ( page 45)
Book Book Review, Title The Hunters: A Novel, Author James Salter, Rating 4.0,
The Hunters: A Novel
Salter, a former fighter pilot, writes directly from experience in this novel of U.S. fighter pilots in the Korean War. He draws an internal picture of the psychology of the single combat warrior, and it feels genuine. His portrayal of heroism in the cloistered world of aerial combat does not always translate into obvious laudable accomplishment.
Book Book Review, Title Monument Road, Author Charlie Quimby, Rating 4.5,
Book Book Review, Title Perfect Rigor, Author Masha Gessen, Rating 3.5,
The Poincaré conjecture, one of the great unsolved topological problems, was finally proven at the end of the 20th century by Grigoriy Perelman, a Russian mathematician of genius. Topology might be described as distilled geometry. The historian Masha Gessen, who grew up herself in the Russian mathematical culture, invites us into the Aspergian milieu of world-class geometers to tease out the tale.
Book Pocket Review, Title A New History Of Early Christianity, Author Charles Freeman, Rating 3.5,
A New History Of Early Christianity
This is a very readable historical treatment of the early gestation of Christianity. The approach is explicitly historical rather than theological, allowing the author to examine the early documents and archeology in light of the culture and politics of the early Christian writers. In particular the diverse perspectives and the many contradictions found in their writings can make more sense when considering wider historical influences, such as the region the writer came from, the language(s) they spoke and didn't speak, whether they were Jewish or Gentile, their position in society, and so on.