Category Archives: Book Notes

Bertrand Russell: Why I Am Not a Christian: Summary and Comments

This is a famous essay/lecture by one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers. I first read the book containing this essay in 1979, when I was 24, and happened to pick it up again today, and thought it worth … Continue reading

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Link and Comments: NYTBR reviews Kurt Andersen’s FANTASYLAND

Just published, a big book by novelist and journalist Kurt Andersen, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (Random House), which is in my to-read stack. For the time being, here are some passages from Sunday’s front page review … Continue reading

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Pinker: Better Angels: Passages and Outline from the Preface

This is Steven Pinker’s big 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, that takes a long-range view of human history to show that the human condition, over millennia and especially in recent centuries and decades, … Continue reading

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Links and Comments: Tyson v. Douthat

I started writing up a few notes about the new (small) Neil deGrasse Tyson book, ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY, and got sidetracked by a passage that reminded me of a Ross Douthat column from a few weeks ago. … Continue reading

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I Can Do Anything: Mark Haddon’s THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Last week I posted a look back at 20 Years of Locus Online and, having asked my lead contributors over the years for their best or exceptional posts, revisited an 11-year-old essay by film reviewer Gary Westfahl, Homo aspergerus: Evolution … Continue reading

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Harari on THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION

In today’s NYT Book Review, Yuval Noah Harari reviews THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION: Why We Never Think Alone, by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach. The review’s opening echoes Harari’s own work, e.g. What gave Homo sapiens an edge over all other … Continue reading

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Lawrence M. Krauss: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD — SO FAR

Lawrence M. Krauss’ new book is a book by a theoretical physicist, and so the greatest story turns out to be — a history of physics, especially of the last few decades. He begins by emphasizing how this is a … Continue reading

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Rereading LORD OF THE FLIES

Even before the reaction to Tr*mp’s election brought renewed attention to the famous dystopian classics like Nineteen Eight-Four [that’s the proper, bibliographic, title; ‘1984’ is a sort of nickname] and Brave New World, I had contemplated returning to some of … Continue reading

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Anne Fadiman: EX LIBRIS

Here’s a pleasant, ‘occasional’ book of short essays about reading and books — a book about books. The author is the daughter of the famed Clifton Fadiman, an editor for Encyclopedia Britannica, an editor for Book-of-the-Month Club back in the … Continue reading

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Philip Roth, INDIGNATION

I saw the film Indignation a couple weeks ago, and here’s what I posted about it on Facebook: — We saw the film Indignation today, based on a short Philip Roth novel that I’ve not read. It’s about a Jewish … Continue reading

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