Profile for M. Strong > Reviews


M. Strong's Profile

Customer Reviews: 290
Top Reviewer Ranking: 184,444
Helpful Votes: 4257

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
M. Strong RSS Feed (Milwaukee, WI USA)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us
The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us
by Robyn Meredith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.93
224 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important information for Americans explained clearly., January 2, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've read a number of books about the emergence of India and China into roles of prominence on the world scene, they've all been good, but Robyn Meredith's brings up some important points that others haven't. The topic itself is both important and controversial and Meredith does a nice job of staying mostly unbiased and just laying out the facts of the situation for readers to interpret however they'd like.

What is best, in my mind, about Meredith's treatment of the topic is what she does differently from other authors who've written on the subject.

First, she doesn't paint India and China with one brush, she compares and contrasts their situations. She points out that India got a later start in changing its economy than China did and she does a great job of explaining the modern economic history of both countries that led to the difference in starting points. She also shows how India's democracy presents obstacles to economic growth with which China's more totalitarian system needn't worry itself. Further, she shows how China's focus on manufacturing and India's on white-collar services impact each country.

Second, Meredith explores how the economic changes in each country are spilling over into other realms. She has penetrating insights on the impact on politics, competition for resources, military spending and positioning, and international relations. You finish the book with a strong mental framework for thinking about the changes the world might go through if China and India continue to grow at their current pace.

I recommend this book highly for anyone who wants to understand the effects that India and China's economic growth may have on our world.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.61
839 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener and a riveting read., December 18, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's hard not to have a different perspective on your own life while reading this book. Ishmael Beah's story is so tragic, tumbling from one low point to another, new, lower point so many times that you just have to stop and be thankful for what you have.

Beah tells the story of growing up in a village in Sierra Leone and how the outbreak of civil war turns his life and the whole social fabric of the country upside down. Beah's storytelling is compelling and his writing pulls you quickly through his tale.

While everyone knows that war is terrible and tragic, Beah emphasizes a couple of points about his experiences that I'm unaccustomed to seeing and I think they are important insights.

First, Beah really shows how the war in Sierra Leone destroyed the country's culture, causing people to distrust and mistreat one another out of mutual fear. Several times, before becoming a soldier, Beah was captured and threatened with death by villagers who feared he was a rebel soldier.

Second, Beah focuses in on the mental evolution of a child who becomes a soldier and the ways the military brainwashes them. As a soldier, Beah's life becomes a stew of drugs, Rambo movies and merciless violence. In his writing, Beah conveys the sense of a human being becoming broken and emotionally dead. It is terribly disturbing and yet important to understand.

This is a hard book to read and yet almost impossible to set down. It makes you what causes the lives of people living in this world to be so tragically different. Very highly recommended.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
by Steve Martin
Edition: Hardcover
540 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book pulls you in with its tangibly personal feel., December 11, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Born Standing Up draws you in immediately. It possesses the same quality that has made so many of Steve Martin's performances so magnetic; it feels authentically personal. The book is about several things, all presented through the eyes of Steve Martin.

The book focuses in on the background, success and ending of Steve Martin's stand-up career, but Martin captures so much more in his telling of that story.

First, Martin creates a real sense of being in California in the 60s and 70s. Martin's stories about working at an early age at Disney Land and Knott's Berry Farm put you into the scene. His description of low-rent clubs in San Francisco make you feel his discomfort for yourself as he plays to a literally empty room. The era and the place become characters in the book and Martin introduces you to them from his own unique perspective. The effect is striking.

The second thing that is so impressive is how you come to appreciate the level of thought and development that goes into the comedy that looks so effortless and fun when you see it on the stage. Martin tells about the very beginnings of his interest in entertaining and how he evolved from magic into banjo and comedy. It's fascinating to hear him describe the moment of revelation that you know - having watched him - will become the basis of his success. Martin writes his past so well that you feel like it's the present. It gives you this feeling of being able to see the future. Even though you know better, it doesn't stop you from somehow feeling like an insider.

This book is really well done. You come away knowing Steve Martin better and knowing the world from one more man's perspective. Highly recommended.

Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories
Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.66
129 used & new from $1.18

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some of Vonnegut's best work - but a word of advice..., December 10, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A short story is a great format in that it allows a writer to focus in on a single idea or episode, then forces the writer to make their point quickly and concisely (or at least that's the hope). In the instances when Kurt Vonnegut executes that formula well in this collection of short stories, you get some of his clearest and most insightful work. At the same time, there are a few turkeys thrown into the mix, but they don't take much away from this book.

One thing I'd recommend to readers is that they read a story or two at a time, then read something else before returning to this collection. The stories start to sound and feel quite similar after a while and begin to lose their impact. I wish I could go back and space out my reading more than I did.

In my opinion, the best stories come early in the book with weaker tales bringing up the rear. However, another reviewer makes exactly the opposite point. Maybe I was just worn out on Vonnegut stories by the end, or maybe that's just the fun of reading something and having your own reaction to it. In the end, that's what makes Vonnegut so good: he makes you react as a reader.

Essential reading for the Vonnegut enthusiast.

An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems
An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems
by Glenn Beck
Edition: Hardcover
549 used & new from $0.01

72 of 121 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kudos on a timely and thought-provoking book., November 28, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Well, Glenn's got a controversial book on his hands here and that controversy is already selling lots of copies. I hope the sales continue because there are a lot of good thoughts articulated in this book that don't get heard as much as they should. At the same time, I hope the book is read thoughtfully, not being rejected out-of-hand by Democrats or accepted as gospel by Republicans, because there are important points and also flaws, just like any thoughtful work.

Among the high points of policy discussion:

1. The environment - Glenn brings important doubts about global warming to the table that are very tough for most people to talk about these days without being decried as a horrible person. Glenn's up for it.
2. Minimum wage - It's one of those ideas that sounds great, but hurts those it claims to help. Glenn does a nice job explaining how and why in layman's terms.

High points for entertainment:

1. Parenting - Glenn covers everything from diapers to dating and it's insightful and funny.

A couple issues:

1. His entertaining blind date chapter truly contradicts the chapter that proceeds it about the fashion industry promoting unhealthy body image. (Not a huge deal)
2. His final chapter on immigration isn't as well explained as his other policy chapters. Glenn explains that he wants the borders closed, is against a tighter relationship with Canada and Mexico and hints that he's probably opposed to immigration, but he really doesn't articulate his reasoning, just his conclusions. It's really the only meaningful low point in the book.

Republicans are likely to love this book, but I hope they read it critically and Democrats are likely to hate this book, but I hope they can read it with an open mind. Overall, a solid, thought-provoking book by Glenn Beck
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2008 10:08 AM PST

A Man Without a Country
A Man Without a Country
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.52
164 used & new from $1.00

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Vonnegut in this Vonnegut. And that's sad., November 26, 2007
I love Kurt Vonnegut. What I love , specifically, is that his thoughts, viewpoints and ideas have always been unique - they were concepts I couldn't find anywhere else. Not only that, but with words alone, Vonnegut could pick you up out of your mental rut, transport you to a fresh vantage point, and show you the world from a whole different angle. Pretty powerful stuff, that.

One modern philosopher said, "I hate people who buy their opinions wholesale." Vonnegut never did. You could never pin him down as Democrat, or Socialist, or Libertarian, or Republican. He never fit into any single category. It made his ideas more powerful, you couldn't label them and easily dismiss them, you had to at least give them the time and respect due to original, individual thought. How rare is that?

How sad then to find a simple caricature in this book? This is Vonnegut as the grumpy, aged, left-winger. How boring. How trite. How non-Vonnegut. I'm truly not bashing that viewpoint, it's just that you can find the opinions expressed in this book anywhere. That's never been true of Vonnegut before. Reading this book is like watching an athlete past their prime attempting one more good performance and just making you sad about what's no longer there.

Better to read Vonnegut at his best and not like this. He's always been more than the man shown in this book.

Shakespeare (Eminent Lives)
Shakespeare (Eminent Lives)
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
141 used & new from $0.01

199 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The whole idea is that we don't know much about Shakespeare... but Bryson turns that into quite a bit., November 26, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A tough assignment; write a book on a topic about which we know almost nothing, the life of William Shakespeare. Better yet, make the book about the fact that we know very little about the life of William Shakespeare. Let that book compete with thousands of others about Shakespeare. Doesn't sound like a recipe for a successful book, but Bryson has truly pulled it off.

Here's how.

First off, Bryson doesn't shy away from the fact that we know very little about Shakespeare, instead, he uses it to his advantage. After laying out the facts we do have about Shakespeare, Bryson turns to a description of the world in which Shakespeare lived to explain why we know so little about the man. He really brings 17th century England to life and paints a picture in which you can imagine Shakespeare operating. It's really well done and ends up being fascinating.

Second, Bryson addresses the speculation that has risen up around Shakespeare's life to fill the void of knowledge that we face. Using the information we do have about Shakespeare and the times in which he lived, he categorizes the various Shakespeare theories into more fanciful and less fanciful piles and explains why they belong there. It makes for really interesting reading.

My familiarity with and interest in Shakespeare are average to below average, and yet I found this book to be fascinating, readable and informative. It's made me more interested in Shakespeare.

Highly recommended even for those who aren't deeply interested in Shakespeare.

American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
by Joseph J. Ellis
Edition: Hardcover
377 used & new from $0.01

64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ellis takes off the rose-colored glasses to look at the American Founding - the result is excellent., November 21, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
While touring to promote his Founding Brothers, Ellis was asked, "Why do we have to choose between John Kerry and George Bush when 200 years ago we could have chosen between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson?" Fascinating question, and his answer, American Creation, is a truly insightful and well-crafted book.

Ellis breaks the founding down into a number of different pieces like the War for Independence, Slavery, the Louisiana Purchase, the Constitution and Native Americans. He treats all of them very even-handedly, framing them in the context of what the realities were around 1800, but also giving penetrating insights into how we might look at things differently today and why.

The theme that runs throughout the book is that the people Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Washington were fallible characters who were meaningfully different from the legends Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Washington we see now. That said, Ellis really shows how an alignment of the right thoughts, the right time and the right opportunity conspired to pull some extraordinary things from people who might have remained unknown to history had the planets lined up differently.

You come away from the book understanding far more about what the politics of the founding were really like. In some ways, they aren't as dissimilar from today's politics as we might think; in other ways, they are, but for very specific reasons that Ellis makes clear.

Highly recommended for any fan of history.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.01
407 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for another reason, too., November 12, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There are countless reviews of this book praising its funny, irreverent humor, the care that was lavished on research and Moore's willingness to wade in and fill in some of the missing pieces of the Bible. I agree with all of the praise, but I found something missing in the reviews.

Christopher Moore has really captured the essence of a friendship in the book. Ignore the fact that the friends are Jesus, his buddy Biff and Mary Magdalen - Moore has created a fictional friendship that celebrates real friendships the world over. The interaction between Biff and Joshua has the combination of depth and shallowness that defines every important friendship I've ever had. It demonstrates the way real friends understand each other on many different levels. There is something really special about the caring between Biff and Joshua and their ability to have fun with each other in all circumstances.

I'll throw my recommendation for this book in with everyone else's for the reasons they give, but I'll add to it the thought that reading this book gives you an insight into friendship that's quite moving.

Sputnik: The Shock of the Century
Sputnik: The Shock of the Century
by Paul Dickson
Edition: Hardcover
75 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars History that's fun, engaging and readable., November 12, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In Sputnik, Paul Dickson takes a single historic event and uses it as a spot from which to take a look around and see what can be learned. When applied cleverly, that writing strategy leads to some great books. This is one of them.

Dickson covers the history of rocketry and missiles, taking a look at the science and the scientists that led up to the launch of Sputnik. He captures the mood of the Cold War and gives you a sense of the rude awakening the United States experienced when the USSR beat it into space. Then the book ranges into the responses of the US and the USSR to Sputnik, covering the space race to its end on the moon.

All of the material is carefully brought together and conveyed in such a way that you keep reading long after you needed to put the book down and do something else.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys history. This one is very well done.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20