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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy)
by Stieg Larsson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.29
2176 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Queasy Dialogue & Feminist Overtones but Entertaining Enough, August 20, 2011
As a crime mystery, The Girl with the Dragon Tatto is the exactly kind of book that provides just enough suspense as a diversion for a couple of days...and then you forget about it. If you're the kind of person with an entire bookshelf full of airport novels, you'll love it. Others may be a bit more apathetic, having read it for the sake of tuning in to the hype.

The dialogue is probably it's biggest weakness, as some of the lines will make you wince, and there isn't much character development going on since most of the effort is spent on cultivating the whodunit. As is the case with a lot of crime fiction, there aren't any character arcs. Larsson doesn't develop Blomqvuist at all and we only have HINTS at who Salander really is. In other words, the characters manage to solve most of the extrapersonal conflicts they face in the story, but none of the inner personal conflicts because there either aren't any presented to solve or they're only HINTED at. While I realize character development was never the hallmark of crime fiction, you'd think there'd be room for more character than what we wind up with in 600 pages. I'm assuming Larsson left Salander a mystery to make her seem "cooler." I'm also assuming Larsson wanted to make Blomqvist cool by randomly sleeping with everybody.

The second problem I had were the overarching feminist themes (you know, most men in power are sociopaths who hate women and most women are blameless innocent victims struggling against repression in a violent patriarchal society). As an offshoot of these embedded overtones, we get a lot of stereotypical male and female characters that feminist fantasy has indulged and nutured for decades. Larsson no doubt had this in mind when creating Salander--the badass loner renegade chick wronged by men who knows martial arts, carries weapons, wears leather, and engages in high level espionage. This may have been sexy, unique and even interesting at one time; it isn't anymore. You could turn on almost any tv program or movie these days and see the exact same recycled character running around trying to save the world and stop crime.

In any case, while it may not be something anybody's ever going to hang up in the pantheon of great literature, it does accomplish more than many other completely overhyped books have failed miserably to do. Three stars, but not convincingly.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2011 11:03 AM PDT

When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order
When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order
by Martin Jacques
Edition: Hardcover
91 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read but obviously tilted, July 27, 2011
I happened to find Martin Jacques book in the library and was immediately drawn to its controversial title, which, apparently but not surprisingly, drew a lot of controversy when it was published about a year ago. My assessment after having read "When China Rules the World" is that the book is extremely comprehensive, well researched, and gives an acute although sometimes obvious account of China's past, present and future.

Jacques spends a fair amount of time analyzing China's unique relationship with each of its neighbors and/or rivals, and uses historical patterns to suggest how China will behave toward each of them as it continues to gain traction in the world. Jacques essentially believes that Western influence is on the eve of global decline, and sites multiple reasons for China's ascendancy as a superpower, one that will rival and eventually replace the United States as an exporter of culture, politics, economy, and so forth. Using China's historical context as a prognosticator, he believes China won't aggressively colonize the world through military might as the West has done, but will assert its political, cultural and economic interests in different ways (namely Confusianism). He states that the next 20 years will see a rise in contested modernity, i.e. the notion that developing coutnries like China will provide evidence and an alternative blueprint that modern life can be achieved in ways other than the captialist neo-liberal model espoused by the U.S. and the West. He also sites the return of the Chinese superority complex that existed before their "century of humiliation" in which that superiority complex foundered under the might of an advanced Western society between 1850-1950. In this renewed sense of superiority, he predicts a possible return to the tributary system over its neighbors, an increased effort to create a new international monetary system to replace the IMF and World Bank, the growing influence of Mandarin over English globally (as well as over the internet), and the yuan eventually replacing the dollar as the preferred international currency. Jacques also sites China's growing influence over Latin America, Africa, and their own region through investments in order to gain more natural resources, as well as America's preoccupation with the Middle East as playing a large hand in America's loss of influence in Southeast Asia over the last decade.

The only reason I give this book 4 stars and not 5 is simply because Jacques--a known writer for communist publications--spends the entire book stressing the growing weaknesses of the West while the downplaying any of its strengths going forward. This of course, is easy to do in light of the present circumstances, and it sometimes feels like the equivalent of kicking someone while they're down. Conversely, Jacques spends little time and even downplays China's own weaknesses, because after all, the entire framework of the book is built around China's collision course with global dominance. Simply put, you know right off the bat where his allegiances are.

That being said, Jacques' predictions using both historical patterns and statistical trends only reaffirms the growing belief that if the West is to maintain its pre-eminence in the world, it will have to out-innovate its new challengers. In other words, if the growing power and influence of a proto-communist country leads to yet another Cold War with the West, and the West decides to engage China in an ARMS race (as it did the Soviet Union) rather than an INNOVATION race, it will most certainly ensure the decline Jacques believes is already under way.

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate (2nd Edition)
The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate (2nd Edition)
by Clara Shih
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.37
118 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but disappointing, June 15, 2011
For such a young person--or anyone for that matter--Clara Shih is extremely bright and incredibly accomplished, but for some reason, I found her book hard to digest; I just didn't really like the way it was structured, and I didn't come away feeling like I knew a lot more for having read it.

If you're buying with the intention of learning the how-to part of social networking, you may as well just skip the first 185 pages because everything before that isn't much more than a repetitive account of how facebook is changing the way businesses interact with their customers, and quite frankly, the remainder of it left me wanting more.

How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Private Investigation Business: With Companion CD-ROM (How to Open and Operate a Financially Successful...)
How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Private Investigation Business: With Companion CD-ROM (How to Open and Operate a Financially Successful...)
by Michael J. Cavallaro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.16
45 used & new from $19.74

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars informative and eye opening, April 18, 2011
A lot of books cover how to become a private investigator, but this one covers that and how to open your own P.I. business. It delivers instructions on how to seek an internship with a P.I. business, licensing, the newest and most profitable niche markets in private investigating like TCSM debugging and private security for CEOs and high ranking officials, what type of business structure to use for the best tax advantage, tips for surveillance, the different types of cases a P.I. handles, and so forth. Well worth the read for anyone looking to establish a career as a private investigator and eventually run their own business.

Hello, I'm Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity
Hello, I'm Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity
by Hal Niedzviecki
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.66
117 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating social treatise, April 17, 2011
First of all, let me just say that I read this book several years ago, so it's not fresh in my memory, but when looking at some of the one star reviews here, I couldn't help but laugh at how some people can be so biased against a book that seemed to have offended them. I'll put it this way: if you need binoculars to see halfway to sociopolitical middle, you will be offended. This is absolutely NOT a one star book. It's well-written, insightful, and poinient--and I'm saying that as someone who considers himself left of center. I never at any time felt like I was being condescended to, as some of the reviews suggest. This is a good book, and you will look at our culture a little differently after having read it. I should also point at that a similar title on the growing trend of narcissism was written by a psychologist by the name of Jeanne Tweng, which came out at the same time this book did. Her book is a little more sour grapes, but it's a very good read as well.

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