Most helpful positive review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent update of a good textbook
on November 26, 2008
The new edition of "A Gift of Fire" is a welcome update to a good textbook. My opinion of the second edition is that it's a solid three star book, but the restructuring and inclusion of new material puts the latest edition into four star territory.
The textbook itself is an excellent introduction to the material, with an emphasis on "introduction"; it is by no means a deep and encompassing work, but its accessibility is quite welcome in a field of supposed introductory works that are absolutely impenetrable to those actually in need of an introduction. I've given the book to a few non-experts - or, as one of them referred to himself, a "computard" - and they've enjoyed the book quite a bit. The mix of historical, philosophical, and light theoretical content manages to inform without overwhelming. I find the writing a bit preachy at times, especially considering the fact that the book is supposed to be an ethical primer as opposed to commentary, but those sections are few and far between.
I've taught out of this book, and I have to say that one of the book's greatest assets is the supplementary material on its associated website. Type the title into Google, it should be the first hit. Updates to the source material are posted every few months to keep up with changes in case law, the news, etc. The website also includes sample lecture schedules, assignments, discussion topics, and just about everything else you would need to develop a course.
So to sum up: welcome update on a good textbook, definitely for neophytes as opposed to experts, excellent value added by the website.