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Antiphon (Psalms of Isaak)
Antiphon (Psalms of Isaak)
by Ken Scholes
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from $1.55

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply bad, October 31, 2012
There has been much written here already, so let me sum up my view briefly:

While the first volume starts out somewhat promising, the second already suffers from too much repetition, unlikely plots, and ridiculously mechanistic thinking regarding human psychology.

All these negative tendencies are 10-fold in the third volume.

1. The entire cast has been formed for their particular role, planned often over generations in advance, and act like robots would: you feed them a and b, and they will do c.

2. The same facts or happenings are repeated dozens of times through the thoughts of the individual characters. While this might fill pages, it makes for a very boring read.

3. Lastly, the plot itself. Not just over a generation or two, over literally millennia actions taken revolts started are planned in a conspiracy involving countless people - without ever being detected of course.

To fill 5 volumes with this sort of nonsense (I had bought the first 3 in one go, as I was told it is a trilogy. I will refrain from getting the final two) is, if it actually sells well, almost incomprehensible considering the all-around low standard (story-line and story-telling-talent of the author). Compare this to, say, 'The Name of the Wind' and consider which is the book or series worth reading.

Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern
Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern
by John Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.95
39 used & new from $0.01

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new angle, September 28, 2004
As, once more, I am by far not the first to review this volume, and most worth saying has already been stated, let me just add a brief praise.

Gray has, once more, given us an excellent analysis of a highly pertinent issue. He invites us to take a look, from a very different and new angle when compared to mainstream media and authors, at fundamentalism, US policies, and globalisation in general.

To read this book is time well spent.

Descartes' Baby: How The Science Of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human
Descartes' Baby: How The Science Of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human
by Paul Bloom
Edition: Hardcover
47 used & new from $0.63

30 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A nice tale - just little science, September 27, 2004
As there already are quite a number of reviews, I will be brief. From my vantage point (as a philosopher of science), Bloom spins an entertaining socio-biological yarn, and 'backs it up' with evidence that could just as well provide a basis to justify a wide array of other hypotheses. There is little in his framework that provides for falsifiability, a hallmark of serious scientific inquiry. Furthermore, the large amount of factual mistakes, false similes and sometimes mind-boggling use of pop-culture (as already pointed out in another review) do not help to enhance the author's credibility on the points that matter. In my personal opinion, a poor contribution to science.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2012 1:24 AM PDT

Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edition)
Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edition)
by Robert B. Cialdini
Edition: Paperback
170 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but Good!, May 1, 2002
The headline already sums up why you should read this book - it is very good in general - and why on the other hand it didn't get 5 stars - it is too short and often sadly superficial.
But lets start from the top. With his very engaging writing style, the author seeks to establish that there are six little secret 'buttons' with which to influence other people: 1) Authority 2) Commitment 3) Liking 4) Social Proof 5) Scarcity 6) Reciprocation.
Those six points correspond, according to the author, to underlying mechanisms, instincts so to speak, which make it very probable, that people will react in a preprogrammed way to certain situations.
This predetermining of responses of course makes a lot of sense in an evolutionary context; after all, we or our distant forbearers cannot afford to ponder every single decision endlessly, what makes following `shortcuts' that consist of proven paths tried and tested over many generations quite useful.
In our modern day world though, while still in general helpful, we have to be careful to not follow our intuitive response non-thinking or we might be quite misled.
A straightforward example is that a scientific statement coming from a Prof. Dr. So-and-so is more likely to be taken serious than coming from someone without the academic credentials, whereby it doesn't matter if the subject is in any way connected to the 'authorities' field of expertise. Another everyday occurrence is that if we like someone, we are more inclined to help or follow that person, which can lead to quite silly
decisions as the one or the other might have experienced already.
Not only does Cialdini outline these and more elaborate mechanisms, along with some tidbits of scientific research to the respective topics (one of the parts where one would have wished for more, especially the almost complete lack of references is quite an embarrassment), he also shows a considerable number of common schemes with which people around us, for the most part sales professionals, try to use our built-in responses to their advantage.
Each chapter is topped off by some guidelines of how to detect such `misuse' of our inborn reaction patterns. This is another part of the book I find a tad unsatisfying, since in the end all he says in those chapters can be summed up with `Be careful, don't stop thinking for yourself, keep your eyes open, be aware of the methods of deceit you just learned.'
I do hesitate though to give the book a minus for this, since to be honest, I cannot come up with better advise myself, nor do I know of anyone who did.
Overall, this book is highly recommendable, and if you do read it, I cannot imagine anyone being dissatisfied with it, apart of course, that it does treat its subject in such brevity.
If you have any further questions or comments regarding this review, feel free to contact me.

The Ancient Near East, c. 3000-330 BC (2 Volume Set)
The Ancient Near East, c. 3000-330 BC (2 Volume Set)
by Amélie Kuhrt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $140.95
45 used & new from $70.95

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for everyone, April 14, 2002
This comprehensive, 2-volume book about the Ancient Near East clearly has some outstanding points in its favor, but sadly also several serious drawbacks.
On the upside, there is not too much more you would want to know about the history of Anatolia or Mesopotamia in the timeframe covered, unless you are upper division college student in history or archeology. The book gives a painstaking account of all major sources, has an outstanding bibliography, and the author certainly went to great lengths to portray pro's and con's of various interpretations to points of contentions regarding the interpretation of historic evidence in general, and in particular while discussing specific sites, possible historical outlines of a region etc.
Be advised though, that the coverage of areas like Egypt, Eastern Iran or Afghanistan, to name a few, is by far not as substantial as that of the other two.
If, on the other hand, you are not a student in aforementioned subjects, or at least a very interested layperson with a previous solid foundation in the science, and simply want an overview of the regional history, this is not your book.
Among several things that will be unsatisfying for you are her endless enumeration of sources (incredibly boring, unless you actually have access to those), a constant jumping from region to region, which makes sense on the one hand, but is not exactly enhancing the readability for the casual reader.
Another very unsatisfying aspect, and maybe even one of the worst parts of the book, while having the general reader in mind at this point, but also to some extend to the more informed reader, are the maps. While there are quite a number of them, their quality is, to put it mildly, pitiful. Many don't name the real points of interest (as for example it would be nice to have the maps actually show the sites she discusses in the text that refers to them), they never show any regional boundaries, as to make clear for example where, when, who was in charge of what territory. Also don't hope for anything like a timeline, or other features that will help the lay reader to follow more easily the course of her presentation.
To sum it up, a book with good use for the serious student of the subject, while only of limited, if any, interest for the layperson.
If you have any further questions regarding this review or the subject in general, feel free to contact me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2011 8:09 PM PDT

Universe & CD-Rom
Universe & CD-Rom
by Roger A. Freedman
Edition: Paperback
53 used & new from $0.01

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, April 2, 2002
This review is from: Universe & CD-Rom (Paperback)
I had the fortune, and sometimes misfortune, to read a fair number of textbooks. All of them did promise to teach, though some proofed rather very disappointing on closer inspection.
This book on the other hand most certainly holds everything one can expect.
The book is divided into four parts: first, there is a small introction into the basics of astronomy, followed by a more in depth discussion of the solar system. The third part then covers stars and stellar evolution, while the final part is devoted to galaxies and cosmology.
The math required is minimal (i don't think the average high school graduate should have any problems), and a wealth of pictures and graphs, together with elaborate explanations in the text make sure, that this book will be a pleasure to learn from for the interested college student.
Every chapter (30 in all) ends with a short recapitulation of the most important concepts learned, a good number of review questions (to which the answers are supplied in the back of the book) and suggestions for further reading (books, magazines and weblinks).
The book comes also with a CD, on which there are further review tests to all chapters (of course with answers), as well as additional animations and much more.
As if that were not enough, there is a companion webside that offers additional tests and answers plus updated information, since after all, astronomy is progressing swiftly.
All in all, there cannot be much doubt that this is one of the best and most well rounded astronomy textbooks on the market. If you have to learn the basics of astronomy due to a course, or if you simply want to enrich your horizon, this book will make either task both easier and more enjoyable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2011 10:55 PM PDT

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