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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2011
Like many self-improvement books, Moonwalking with Einstein is long on narrative and short on practical 'how to improve your memory.' The narrative is well written and easy to read. Most of the 'how to memorize things' is in the context of memory contests, and not very applicable to everyday business. (Mr. Foer does mention this towards the end of the book.)

Overall, this book is a good read, but do keep your expectations reasonable for your personal memory improvement.
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68 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2011
Although you will learn a lot about memory technique in this book, it is by no means another cheesy How-to book, which makes it both an enjoyable read as well as educational.
After reading many books on the subject I feel that this book puts the subject in the right perspective and reveals all the truths and mythes about memory and its capabilities.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
It was a very fun read into the lives of professional mental athletes. The mental athletes are people who compete at national and international competitions of memory. The competition includes memorizing numbers, playing cards, names and faces, poetry, and some other odds and ends.
The book will give you an idea of how these athletes learn to memorize information, but it goes as far as saying. They use a memory palace in which you must visualize crazy, unique, and/or lewd images to ingrain the information in your brain. But beyond these shallow summaries, you will not (as the author states) learn any memory techniques.

There are many books that will tell you how to memorize information through the techniques referred to in this book. But this book will not teach you the techniques.

The book is a fun look at the world of mental athletes, the question of how useful the techniques are in real life, and the study of memory in unique humans that CAN memorize everything they see.

Very entertaining book. It is basically a documentary.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2011
Being a memory athlete myself and having competed in a number of memory competitions, I can honestly say that "Moonwalking With Einstein" does a tremendous job of representing the sport and doing it justice. Joshua Foer's writing style is fluid and easy to read; I probably read the book in two or three sittings. Foer writes with a clever wit and successfully avoids writing one of those boring self-help books about "how to improve your memory in a month!" I never thought this book would actually be released, but it did, and it's awesome! Highly recommended!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2011
Since reading 'The Memory Palace of Mattheo Ricci' I have been interested in this way of memorizing things. I picked up this book not as a guide to memnonincs but rather I wanted to have an entertaining romp through the art of memorizing.
This Foer definitely delivers. Therefore why do I only rank a 3 out of 5?
First, because Foer writes so much in the self agrandizing style which I know so well from my friends who do or did science in Ivy league school. Everything always had to be the best, the weirdest, the craziest. People do not become intoxicated, they become homerically drunk. It is not a rowdy party but 'the rwodiest party ever seen in......' Everything always has to be a superlative.
This can be nice, as it is a way of seeing the unusual even in ordinary events and people. But it tends to get out of hand. Thus these memnonists Foer describes maybe nice, interesting etc. people, but are they really 'the wild bunch'? Or just geeks gone wild?
Foer also shies away from calling a spade a spade or a fraud a fraud, which sits ill with his journalist credentials.
Yet finally where he disappoints is with his statements regarding the practical applicability of these memnonic techniques. After explaining how for many thousands of years Memnonics was a core of western learning he in the end basically says that it is useless and impractical. This surprises. Were all others before him stupid? Did Matteo Ricci use his memory palace in vain for learning Chinese?
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2011
The subject was an interesting one to me, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed Moonwalking With Einstein. What did surprise me was how hard it was to put it down. I found Foer's writing style really entertaining, and the trip through the science of memory, history of mnemonics, and his exploration of the world of memory competitions just flew by.

It's not often that I'm sad a non-fiction work reaches its conclusion, but I was in this case. Great book!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
As Joshua Foer explains and demonstrated by winning a memory competition, it's within our grasp to master memory techniques and they work. Mnemonic techniques include the Roman room system; the journey system, the link method and story method - and more. The more mental tools one can use, the better.

Memory issues are everywhere. We make lists; file electronic documents; use calendars and tickler files. We place things in visible locations so we don't have to remember to use them or tote them somewhere. Yet we can't capture, store and properly retrieve most information using such external systems. We're stuck relying on our physical memory. Fortunately, per Moonwalking with Einstein, our physical memory is robust. We can do more than we think, and this affects our self-confidence.

Using techniques covered in this book, I was able to recall most of what I wanted in a snap. This made me feel more confident in myself, and that helped me to remember even better. My experience with this book makes me believe the two go together: memory and self-confidence.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
While the author is upfront about the fact that this is not a "how-to" book on improving your memory, he does attempt to teach the reader some of the techniques he used during his year of training. From my perspective, though, he never went far enough in any of these sections. So, he would begin to explain something, and use some examples, but never really went all the way through a technique and his experience with it. Most frustrating, perhaps, was the chapter "How to Memorize a Poem," since its title suggested he would actually teach you how to memorize a poem. Instead, he mentions how hard memorizing poems is and briefly mentions a technique or two, but does not show how they're really used, or which of them he found useful -- though later in the book he mentions having memorized numerous short poems. With a little more explanation this chapter -- and other sections -- could have been much more interesting and possibly even useful.

On a slightly related note, the endnotes to this book aren't particularly helpful. There are numerous occasions on which the author is referring to secondary literature, but does not give a citation or tell the reader where he could go to get more on a specific topic. More often than not, I found what few notes there were unhelpful, in part because they seemed usually to be about something other than what I went to that note hoping to find. A bit more diligence in writing responsible notes would have made this book more useful.

The book is well written and enjoyable, but a little bit more thought and work could have made what is only a good book a great book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2011
Okay, I have to admit this book surprised me. I went in expecting Knaak to be his usual self. While I'm not among his legion of haters, I will admit that Golden is usually the superior writer. Not this time. Richard Knaak has outdone himself, taking the characters of Tyrande, Malfurion, Varian, and Maiev and bringing them to live with an interesting story about acceptance, both of others and oneself.

First, I want to address the complaints about "bland characterizations." I'm often wondering if I read the same book as some other people. Yes, Varian Wrynn does start off his usual, obstinate, annoying self. But one of the plots of this book is deconstructing that, and moving Varian past his "King/Gladiator" dichotomy and making him one whole, balanced person again.

Tyrande is a bit sticker question. In World of Warcraft, the character has done remarkably little, so her only "in-game" characterization comes from Warcraft III, where she was a bloodthirsty, borderline racial supremacist who had no qualms murdering her own people if they got in her way. In other words, she was a lot like Maiev. Does Knaak portray her differently? Yes. he treats her a High Priestess. Someone's who believes in faith and hope, and thinks carefully before acting. I personally find this characterization vastly more endearing than the one from WCIII, who I didn't care if she lived or died. To each their own. As for accusations that she just sits there, that again, is overlooking her role in the conference, and her own (admittedly short) fight scenes.

Okay, back to the review. If you loathe Knaak's style, this book probably won't change your mind. But if you've been on the fence, or merely didn't like his own author-created characters, "Wolfheart" may just change your mind.

For Alliance fans, this book gives the faction a much needed boost of morale. In the game itself, the Alliance has taken the short end of the stick in regards to the storyline. By the third act, Varian Wrynn has finally mastered his rage and (some of) his prejudices, and leads the Alliance to it's first major victory in the face of the new Horde Blitzkrieg.

My other reservation is for new readers. If you're not already familiar with the Warcraft world, you'll be a bit lost by what's going on. This book is *not* a jumping on point for those not already familiar with Warcraft lore. Try "Rise of the Horde" or "Arthas: Rise of the Lich King" instead.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2011
As an avid fan of the Warcraft series and lore, I found this book great. The story and action were detailed but doesnt drag on. The action sequences are epic and the storyline itself is well written.

Overall the book is written pretty well except for some minor pet peeves that I have.

Heres some information for you Knaak, if an object is fired from a bow, its called an arrow, if its fired from a crossbolt THEN you can call it a bolt......

But seriously, check this book out. Its a good read.
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