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Leonardo da Vinci (Penguin Lives)
Leonardo da Vinci (Penguin Lives)
by Sherwin B. Nuland
Edition: Hardcover
135 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Nuland has done better, February 7, 2005
This is the second of Sherwin Nuland's books that I've read. The first, his biography of Semmelweis, was much better written. (I gave the Semmelweis book five stars.) Dr. Nuland's sentence construction in the Da Vinci book is often rather strange. I don't mean to pettifog, but I found his awkward sentence structure a distraction. That being said, I liked this short introduction to the life of Da Vinci. I knew almost nothing about Leonardo's life before reading this book. Now I'm equipped to read a weightier biography.


The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis (Great Discoveries)
The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis (Great Discoveries)
by Sherwin B. Nuland
Edition: Hardcover
50 used & new from $0.01

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good work, December 27, 2004
Wonderfully written. So many of these popular medical history books are full of fluff. But this one is tightly structured and full of substantive statistical and factual detail.


Dry: A Memoir
Dry: A Memoir
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Paperback
777 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw, real, and affecting, June 29, 2004
This review is from: Dry: A Memoir (Paperback)
After reading the first two chapters, I cast the book aside, deciding that it was too cheesey to bother with. But for some reason I picked it up again the next day and in the course of reading the next couple of chapters, the book had finally grabbed ahold of me. This is a gripping account of addiction, and the struggle to emerge from it. Except for a few short stretches of klunky writing, wherein the dialogue does not ring true, the book is very well written. I highly recommend it!


The Pact: A Love Story
The Pact: A Love Story
by Jodi Picoult
Edition: Paperback
343 used & new from $0.01

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical "chick novel", January 2, 2004
This review is from: The Pact: A Love Story (Paperback)
Assuming that this was another "chick novel", I would not have ordinarily picked this book to read. But since a friend had recommended it to me, I dived into it with low expectations. As I read, I became increasingly engrossed with the realistically-drawn characters and well-crafted plot. The novel is great for book discussion groups as it raises lots of questions: Can the legal system ever adjudicate the real truth, or is truth so relative that it can never be legally defined? Can one give onself over to another too completely? Is suicide ever a reasonable answer to life's challenges? This book is indeed a "chick novel" in the sense that it is primarily about interpersonal relationships. But it is more than just a light, entertaining read. Those who appreciated the movie "Ordinary People" will find in this novel a similarly sophisticated treatment of the despair that can attend adolescence and the impact it can have on families and communities.


Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America's Premier Mental Hospital
Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America's Premier Mental Hospital
by Alex Beam
Edition: Hardcover
66 used & new from $3.66

27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to paint a picture of McLean, Insanity, or Psychiatry, December 25, 2003
This book promises to depict the way in which caring of the mentally ill has changed over the last 150 years. I wish the author had kept his promise. Back when McLean was called the Boston Lunatic Asylum, life was a little different for the average schizophrenic patient. And the idea of tracing the development of psychiatry by way of a history of McLean is a great idea. Unfortunately, what we get instead is hodge-podge of Boston Brahmin gossip, architectural history, psychiatric theory, and mundane factoids. I was expecting anecdote, but I wanted revealing anecdote. For instance, Beam writes about all the McLean patients who had received lobotomies. But he never delves into how lobotomized patients acted or how they might have felt about the procedure. I would love to have known why old-time psychiatrists thought hydrotherapy was useful for depressed patients. Beam mentions hydrotherapy, but really doesn't do any more than skim the surface. I guess I wish the author had been someone with some background in mental health. As an aside, I thought it was interesting that the subtitle of the paperback ("Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital") is different from that of the hardcover version ("The Rise and Fall of America's Premier Mental Hospital"). I remember when the book first came out that McLean administrators were unhappy with the hardcover title since it suggested that McLean was on the decline. Why would Beam have changed the name? I tend to think that the reasons had to do with selling more copies of his book rather than with any change of opinion on his part. If that is the case, then Beam is more than just a superficial writer, he is also a sell-out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2010 9:32 PM PDT


Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders
Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders
by Dick Lehr
Edition: Hardcover
111 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and insightful, November 16, 2003
The authors have done a thorough job of researching the circumstances which led to the murder of the Zantoff's. I read this book with the hope of arriving at some kind of understanding as to why this murder happened. It is impossible to fathom precisely the confluence of circumstances that led to this terrible crime, but Judgement Ridge provides the reader with some measure of insight into the reason why this aweful thing happened. Why did this murder occur? Several circumstances had to intersect: two boys with complementary personality disorders; two sets of laissez-faire parents; a neglectful school system; and a 'boys-will-be-boys' community attitude. This is a cautionary story, and it is not emotionally easy to read. But it is very well constructed and will help those of us who are still dumbfounded by the horror of this crime.


Bodum Handheld Turbo Frother, Graphite Blue
Bodum Handheld Turbo Frother, Graphite Blue

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No substitute for a steamer, August 9, 2003
This is a strange little device that makes suds out out of the top layer of your glass of milk. I guess it might be useful in creating something to dollop over your cappucino, but it is no substitute for steaming, which sweetens your milk while also frothing it. The Turbo Frother is probably not worth your money, unless you get it for free with the purchase of something else, as I did.


Existenz [VHS]
Existenz [VHS]
VHS
Offered by thebookgrove
Price: $7.29
40 used & new from $0.98

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting to compare to The Matrix, August 9, 2003
This review is from: Existenz [VHS] (VHS Tape)
eXisteZ invites comparison to The Matrix, another movie that explores questions about what is real raised by recent advances in virtual reality technology. eXistenZ is fascinated by the question of what is real, but has no plot velocity to keep the viewer interested in the outcome. The Matrix, a more traditional Hollywood movie, has a structure that keeps you engaged. Overall, eXistenZ is worth seeing; but, unlike The Matrix, it is not worth seeing again.


The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
by William Irwin
Edition: Paperback
274 used & new from $0.01

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neo, Plato, Morpheus, Kant, Trinity, and Descartes, July 25, 2003
This is a collection of essays by philosophy professors ostensibly discussing the philosophical issues raised by The Matrix movie. As a collection, it does not form an organic whole: each essay stands alone without reference to any other. As such, there are endless retellings of Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Descartes' Dream Hypothesis, and other philosophical canons that have a connection to the themes raised by the movie. As a collection of discreet essays, it is not surprising that some essays are much better than others. The better essays stay close to the movie, specifically referencing scenes and themes to philosophical topics. The less engaging essays merely use the movie as a launching pad from which to discuss their own philosophical points. An example of the former type of essay is written by Cynthia Freeland of the University of Houston, who makes an interesting comparison between The Matrix and another 1999 sci-fi thriller: eXistenZ (starring Jude Law). An example of the latter type of essay is Slavoj Zizek's virtually unreadable contribution, "The Matrix: Or, The Two Sides of Perversion". Here's a line from Dr. Zizek's essay which will illustrate my point: "Hegel introduces here three terms: when a screen intervenes between ourselves and the Real, it always generates a notion of what is In-itself, beyond the screen (of the appearance), so that the gap between appearance and the In-itself is always-already 'for us.'" .....Whatever. My advice to the reader is to assess each essay by reading the first few paragraphs and then deciding whether reading the whole chapter is worth your time. There are several essays in this book well-worth skipping.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2013 3:24 AM PST


Oryx and Crake
Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Audio CD
8 used & new from $17.53

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully read by Campbell Scott, July 6, 2003
This review is from: Oryx and Crake (Audio CD)
I gave the audio CD of Oryx and Crake four stars, but the reading by Campbell Scott specifically deserves five stars. Scott reads the story so well that you forget about him and just listen to the tale. The story itself, a dystopian vision of unfettered genetic engineering married to oligarchic market economics, is smart and original. The first one-third of the story moves rather slowly, however. And I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying in that several questions about character motivation remain unanswered. Nonetheless, the story drew me in and continues to resonate in my mind.


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