Category Archives: Book Notes

Pinker and Crane: Quotes and Comments about Faith and Religion

Still working my way, slowly, through Steven Pinker’s THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE. In Chapter 4, The Humanitarian Revolution, he discusses various kinds of violence over human history, beginning with human sacrifice, and then to violence “against blasphemers, heretics, … Continue reading

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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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