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Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits
Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits
by Paul Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.93
70 used & new from $10.51

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, authoritative, and encyclopedic, January 24, 2015
If you have an interest in human encounters with extreme environments (primarily on a voluntary basis), this is a fascinating book. The book provides a detailed summary of the findings of extensive research into this subject matter, illustrated with plenty of examples. The thoroughness of the book makes it read more like a scientific literature review than a work of popular science (20 pages of notes, 30 pages of references). That will reduce the readability and enjoyability of the book for some readers, but it also makes the book more authoritative and comprehensive. In that regard, I should note that I first listened to the audiobook, and I found it to be information overload despite the excellent narration, so I wound up getting the print book so that I could take notes and better absorb the information.

The book covers the personality traits and motivations of people who choose to spend time in extreme environments, the mental and physical effects those environments have on them, and the individual and collective attributes they need to have in order to succeed in those environments. Each chapter concludes with a brief summary, and here is a summary of those summaries, to show you the tip of the iceberg:

- Coping with the stresses of extreme environments is as much a mental as physical challenge. Extreme environments involve risks, and therefore require meticulous planning and preparation, but they also offer the prospect of rewards which are unavailable in everyday life, and can also improve our ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life.

- We can manage fear and be brave by using relaxation techniques, cognitively reappraising situations to make them less daunting, and equipping ourselves with a good repertoire of behavioral responses to choose from.

- Hardships such as moderate hunger, thirst, pain, and squalor seem worse than they are, and many of them have evolutionary protective functions. Rather than fearing them and overestimating their harm, we should instead develop techniques for coping with them.

- Inadequate sleep has a range of detrimental mental and physical effects, not unlike alcohol intoxication. Caffeine is helpful, but napping is even better.

- Monotony and tedium have detrimental mental effects. Effective remedies are little pleasures such as eating, socializing, and playing games.

- People vary in their ability to cope with solitude, but to prevent the detrimental effects of feeling lonely, we should use solitude as an opportunity to be reflective and creative.

- Social conflict can be very stressful, and being confined with people for long periods greatly increases the potential for such conflict. To mitigate that, we need to make extra effort to be tolerant and tolerable.

- Teams need to have the right mix of personalities and skills, guided by leaders who are competent, trustworthy, and genuinely concerned with the well-being of team members.

- Extreme environments require good planning, preparation, judgment, and decision-making. Experience, deliberate practice, and training can aid developing expertise in these areas, but even experts must contend with various subconscious biases.

- Coping with extreme environments requires sustained periods of focus while ignoring distractions, which is not easy, because our minds naturally wander and we're easily distracted. Meditation is an effective technique for developing ability to focus. Focus not only may be needed for survival at times, but it also reduces boredom and promotes being in flow.

- Stresses can break us, but they can also foster development of resilience. Other ways to bolster resilience are social support, humor, meditation, and finding meaning in adversity.

- People choose to experience extreme environments for various reasons, including aversion to boredom, curiosity, and/or desire to help others.

- Ultimately, facing extreme environments and their attendant challenges can enhance our lives in many ways and on multiple levels.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in extreme environments, and especially to those who experience such environments or are contemplating doing so.


Divine Fury: A History of Genius
Divine Fury: A History of Genius
by Darrin M. McMahon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.79
65 used & new from $5.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but left me somewhat unsatisfied despite being a long book, January 7, 2015
This is a long book, perhaps longer than what most people will be looking for on this topic. And the topic isn't the concept of genius, or the history of geniuses, but rather the history of the concept of genius, primarily in the Western world.

We learn that the concept of genius emerged at least as far back as the ancient world, and has continued to evolve since then. The impetus for the concept has always been trying to account for why some people stand out so much in their superior abilities in various domains, and what the limits of those abilities might be. Speculations in this regard have elicited a range of thoughts and feelings among the masses: wonder, inspiration, hope, and sometimes also fear when genius was in the domains of politics or warfare (eg, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Lenin, and Hitler).

Regarding the source of genius, earlier thinking was that it came from outside the person, from some kind of spiritual or divine source which guided the genius, or even used the genius as a mere vessel. This itself could elicit fear, since such agencies could be malevolent in some cases (hence the 'evil genius'). As we moved into more modern times through the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Romantic period, with spiritual and religious thinking coming more into question, the source of genius became more mysterious for some, and for others became grounded in pantheistic 'Nature' inspiring or acting through the genius. Then with the rise of biology in the mid 1800s, we saw genius increasingly rooted in the anatomy and then physiology of the brain, with the associated question of nature versus nurture, and eventually a shift towards focusing on a continuum of intelligence levels rather than a distinct category of genius. And most recently, the idea that there may be multiple kinds of intelligence has become somewhat prominent, and some have taken that further by suggesting that everyone (or nearly everyone) has potential to exhibit one or more kinds of intelligence, possibly even to the genius level. That democratic promotion of equality dilutes genius to an extent that it nearly vanishes, and creates checks and balances on any individual acquiring too much power, yet we still yearn to believe that there are people around with special powers, even if the source of those powers is perhaps more mysterious than ever (the usual explanations having been largely discredited).

The author generally covers all of this fairly well, but as I noted at the outset, the book may be longer than what most people are looking for, and I'm disappointed that the level of detail drops off fairly sharply as we approach contemporary times. So I found the book quite lacking regarding the history of the concept of genius (and intelligence) during the past few decades, despite much work having been done during this period. Because the book is quite lopsided in this regard, and therefore left me unsatisfied, I'm deducting two stars, but I still gained much from reading it. The book is a glass half full.


Safety-I and Safety-II: The Past and Future of Safety Management
Safety-I and Safety-II: The Past and Future of Safety Management
by Erik Hollnagel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $33.27
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but be prepared to debate the author as you read it, January 4, 2015
This is the most recent book written by Erik Hollnagel, a prominent safety researcher with decades of experience in the field. That alone is sufficient reason for anyone involved in safety to read the book. I personally found the book to be stimulating and thought-provoking (as expected), but also tantalizingly frustrating.

The author describes two frameworks for thinking about safety. Safety-I aims at preventing failure by reacting to failures via investigating them, identifying their causes, and implementing measures to prevent recurrence of those causes in the future. Safety-II aims at maximizing success by proactively trying to anticipate how the system may evolve and promoting actions believed to foster success. There's some merit in this classification, but at some points in the book, the author argues that nearly all modern systems have become so complex that Safety-I is obsolete and we must move towards Safety-II, at other points he suggests that Safety-I may be fine for many systems, and in the end he seems to argue that we need a combination of Safety-I and Safety-II.

I agree with the last perspective, but would argue that preventing failure and promoting success are largely two sides of the same coin - I'm not convinced that the distinction is as sharp as he suggests. And I would go further and argue that, rather than generalizing, we need to look at the specifics of each particular system we're dealing with, including understanding the *modes* of failure and success for the system, as well as possible *degrees* of failure or success in each mode. For example, with 'passive' systems like bridges and dams, it may be appropriate to focus on preventing failure, whereas in business and investing people clearly have an interest in maximizing success (eg, returns) while still paying some attention to preventing failures for the sake of risk management.

I also question whether Safety-I necessarily must be reactive and Safety-II proactive. I don't see inherent contradictions in proactively trying to prevent failures by doing things like watching for warning signs of failure (one of the traits of 'high-reliability organizations'), or reactively trying to promote success by studying what has lead to both success and failure in the past (which can enable identification of 'best practices'). In general, why not use all the diverse tools at our disposal? How about aiming to both prevent failure and achieve success (as your particular system warrants), and applying this dual approach both reactively (learning from experience, both good and bad) and proactively (anticipating potential future scenarios and adapting as the actual future unfolds)?

In short, I do think this book is worth reading because it will provoke you and get you thinking deeply about what safety is and how to achieve it. But go into the book knowing that the ideas in the book need to be developed further and warrant doing so.


Stoicism Today: Selected Writings (Volume 1)
Stoicism Today: Selected Writings (Volume 1)
by Patrick Ussher
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
24 used & new from $8.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True to its title, January 1, 2015
The first book I read on stoicism (which I read recently) is A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine. I think that's the place to start for anyone new to stoicism. Irvine systematically presents the practical ideas of stoicism in a way that enables application to our daily lives today, while also linking these ideas to their historical precursors.

This book edited by Patrick Ussher complements Irvine's book by providing further illustrations of how the ideas of stoicism can be interpreted and applied in daily life. The book consists of many short pieces written by people from diverse walks of life facing diverse circumstances. Some of the pieces have a relatively broad scope, others are more focused on topics like parenting, death, sports, etc. Even if some of the pieces don't connect much with you, there are likely to be plenty that will.

While I did feel that I was benefitting from the book as I read it, reflecting back on the book now, I have to admit that not much of its content is sticking in my mind. Perhaps I learn better from more systematic monographs, so that's where I'll be headed next, specifically Stoicism and the Art of Happiness: A Teach Yourself Guide (Teach Yourself: Relationships & Self-Help) by Donald Robertson.


The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error
The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error
by Sidney Dekker
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $27.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Dekker (though somewhat repetitive), December 31, 2014
I agree with some other reviewers that there's a bit too much repetition in this book, and in fact there's considerable repetition across Dekker's numerous books. But they're good books which have substantially shaped my thinking related to safety, and I enjoy reading them because Dekker probes the issues deeply in an engaging and conversational way.

This particular book purports to be a 'field guide', implying that it has a 'how to' orientation. To some extent it does, but it should be clarified that the focus is *understanding* human error, not investigating it or preventing it (and the book challenges the utility of the concept of 'human error'). As such, the main goal of the book appears to be presenting a theoretical framework for thinking about safety which Dekker, as a member of the safety research community, has developed over the past two decades. The core elements of this framework might be summarized as follows:

(1) Many of the systems we deal with are complex, with interactions of both human and physical factors.

(2) Complex systems aren't inherently safe, their natural tendency is to drift towards failure.

(3) We don't see more failures than we do because people, generally being well intentioned, are continually making an effort to cope with the pressures they face to achieve various goals, while simultaneously trying to avoid failures and maintain safety. This usually requires transcending formal rules and procedures in order to adapt to the needs of particular dynamically evolving circumstances. But sometimes these efforts do fall short, cumulatively over time, hence we have some failures.

(4) To understand why people's efforts fall short, both individually and collectively, we need to avoid hindsight bias and instead put ourselves in their shoes, to understand why their decisions and actions made sense to them at the time. This shifts the meaning of 'human error' to being an act which simply contributed to an undesired outcome, rather than an act resulting from carelessness, complacency, overconfidence, etc. But ironically and unfortunately, a long record of success *can* foster complacency or overconfidence which increase the risk of failure.

(5) Putting ourselves in people's shoes will often reveal problems with the way the organization is operating overall, and those problems are where are efforts for reform should be directed, rather than seeking to simply identify and eliminate bad apples. More automation will often not be the answer, since it can insulate us from the operational reality of the system and wind up contributing to failures. By contrast, improving flow of information within the organization will usually be helpful.

(6) Much resistance is likely to be encountered when trying to implement such reform and establish a 'safety culture'. So safety departments should have both independence and sufficient resources, while still having close exposure to the daily operational reality of the organization.

I can certainly recommended this book, but again keep in mind that much of the content can be found in Dekker's other books. Also keep in mind that, while Dekker may be considered essential reading for anyone interested in safety, it's also important to read other authors to hear different perspectives. I suspect that Dekker himself would agree with that advice!


The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal
The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, December 25, 2014
Until this course, I generally shunned studying the topic of negotiation, assuming it was mainly about crass ways to manipulate people in order to get what you want. But we all routinely need to negotiate things big and small, and I generally trust the quality of courses from The Teaching Company, so I figured I'd try to be open minded and give this course a try.

I'm very glad I did! Having taught negotiation for a couple of decades, and gained plenty of firsthand negotiation experience himself, Seth Freeman does a great job. He gives us both academic rigor and practical methods, illustrates points with many examples, and is a very clear and engaging communicator. Most importantly, Freeman shows that negotiation isn't (or shouldn't be) about trying to take advantage of people, it's fundamentally about more effectively collaborating with people so that everyone is better off.

My summary of the main points:

(1) Do sufficient inquiry and research to understand your goals, the other party's goals, the potential influence and roles of parties outside the negotiation, the factual context of the negotiation (economic and market conditions, laws and regulations, technologies, etc.), and cultural factors. Make the first offer only if you have good defensible information on which to base it, otherwise let the other party make the first offer.

(2) Approach negotiations with an attitude of confidence, humility, fairness, and respect. Try to negotiate real time and face to face, ask questions, be a good listener, tell stories, build rapport, foster mutual trust (eg, show some vulnerability), expect give and take, enable the other party to save face, and don't be in a hurry to get to the 'bottom line'. Be 'hard on the problem, easy on the person'. And if faced with an especially high stakes negotiation and/or difficult negotiating partner, do rehearsals to prepare for the negotiation.

(3) Negotiate deals as packages rather than piecemeal issues, and be creative in identifying options which best meet the goals of both parties (these options may be quite different from anything either party initially envisioned). And when appropriate, broaden your perspective to negotiating a set of related deals with various parties, in a sequence such that each deal builds on the previous ones.

(4) Go into negotiations knowing what your fallback options are if an agreement can't be reached. If agreement does appear to be nearly reached, carefully scrutinize the terms to make sure there are no pitfalls before accepting the deal. And if it truly appears that an agreement acceptable to you (better than your fallback options) can't be reached, courteously end the negotiation rather than agreeing to an unacceptable offer (the other party may come back later with a better offer).

I listened to the audio version of the course, which works well. However, in order to share this course with my family and others, I've also ordered the DVD version.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2015 1:21 PM PDT


A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
by William B. Irvine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.11
89 used & new from $8.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, if viewed as a work of self-help, December 11, 2014
The criticisms of this book tend to focus on whether it authentically conveys what the Stoic philosophers were teaching, including their associated metaphysical worldview(s). There may be some merit to those criticisms, but I personally don't care much about those relatively academic debates.

I instead approached this book as a work of sophisticated self-help, and in that regard I think it excels. As the author notes, the various stoic psychological techniques may not be a good fit for everyone, but for many people (including me) they have the potential to be truly life changing in a very positive way. So I took the trouble to summarize the main ideas and techniques in the book, as follows:

* Decide what you really want out of life. For some people, 'tranquility' will be high on the list, and will in turn be a means to eudaimonia (flourishing).

* Tranquility is mainly achieved by decreasing negative emotions (eg, anger, grief, anxiety, and fear) and increasing positive emotions (eg, joy). Various psychological techniques can and should be used for this purpose. In general, emphasize changing how you interpret your circumstances, rather than trying to change your circumstances. This takes discipline, so that your wiser conscious self can override your more 'primitive' subconscious self.

* To the extent that you do try to change your circumstances, focus on what you can change with reasonable effort, and don't expend effort or worry on things you can't change. So, set your goals realistically, and make sure they accord with your real values, rather than values absorbed mindlessly from others (eg, fame and fortune).

* Since outcomes will rarely be entirely under your control, orient your goals internally towards process (eg, doing your best) rather than externally toward specific outcomes. And then accept whatever outcomes are the result. A nice side effect is that such an orientation towards process will often improve outcomes, since it makes you less self-conscious, less self-judging, and better able to deal with setbacks and rejection, thus helping to bring out the best in yourself.

* Learn from the past, but don't dwell on it. Accept that the past can't be changed - "what's done is done."

* Enjoy the good things life has to offer, but never cling to them. Accept that they can go away at any time, and be comfortable with that. And correspondingly, don't go too far out of your way to attain these things.

* Rather than insatiably wanting more and more (we tend to 'hedonically adapt' to what we have), want what you already have. Do that by 'negatively' visualizing that you don't have it or lost it, so that you appreciate it rather than taking it for granted. A bit paradoxically, such an exercise will also break your attachment to what you have. This perspective can be applied to losing loved ones and generalized to your life itself - periodically imagine that this day or this moment could be your last. So appreciate what you have by comparing it with having nothing, and refuse to even think about what you're lacking as compared to some imagined ideal situation. And to give this perspective a metaphysical foundation, note that there's no known principle of the universe entitling or guaranteeing that any of us will have anything in particular; as much as we may want to believe otherwise, there's no real basis for claiming that life will necessarily be 'fair'.

* Periodically, deliberately deprive yourself of things, especially if you currently have a lot of things. This will have several benefits: clarification regarding the things you can readily live without, so that you don't unnecessarily pursue things which have little benefit for you; hardening yourself against loss of things, since such loss can occur in the future; reducing your fear of losing things in the future, since you'll have proven to yourself that you can endure such loss; overcoming hedonic adaption, resulting in renewed appreciation of things; preventing or breaking addictions to things; and developing greater self-control, which is a kind of pleasure in itself. And in general, simplify your life as much as possible.

* Regarding grief, remember that the last thing a loved one would want is for you to go on grieving permanently, so grieve for a reasonable amount of time, but then bring it to end and go on with your life, appreciating the time you did have with that loved one. And when dealing with others who are grieving, sympathize with them, but don't unnecessarily 'catch' their grief, since that would serve no useful purpose.

* Since we're all social beings, be a responsible member of your various social groups, but don't let people upset or disappoint you. Accept that people are what they are (with associated sympathy or even pity), ignore or avoid problematic people when necessary ("out of sight, out of mind"), choose your friends carefully, and laugh rather than getting angry. Perhaps even sometimes "pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes."

* To deal with 'insults': consider if the insult contains merit, consider whether the insulter is uninformed, be glad that someone you don't respect disapproves of you, pity the insulter, be indifferent to the insulter, respond with self-deprecating humor, and/or ignore the insulter (which can disconcert him). And to generally avoid giving people too much power over you, thereby reducing your freedom, have some indifference to their opinion of you (which implies not seeking fame).

* When things are bothering you, view them in a larger perspective - your whole life or even the cosmos - to appreciate their relative insignificance. And never view yourself as a victim.

* Be an observer of your own thoughts and actions, to evaluate how well you're applying the stoic psychological measures, with the primary indicator being your overall level of tranquility and joy. We may never reach the ideal state in this regard, but the closer we can get, the better.

* Apply stoic techniques on a regular basis, not just when circumstances appear to be getting especially challenging. And relish opportunities to put your stoicism to the test, so that you can become better at it. But keep your stoicism 'stealth' unless your intention is to help others by sharing it with them (it will fit some people better than others).

* Remain aware of your mortality and the certainty of dying at some point, so that you make the best use of your days rather than squandering them.

While some of these techniques may seem counterintuitive - and certainly contrary to the norms in affluent societies today - my experience with them indicates that they can be very effective. So if you're skeptical about them, my advice is to give them a try.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 3, 2015 10:02 AM PST


The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World
The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World
by George Friedman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.80
113 used & new from $1.38

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing and lacking a moral foundation, November 27, 2014
This book is fairly polarizing, hence a dip in the number of 3-star reviews. Some people love the book and think Friedman is brilliantly insightful, realistic, and honest. Others think he's remarkably misguided and morally dubious. Though I lean more towards the latter group, I'll grant that he makes some valid points which may not be widely appreciated:

- US power in the world is somewhat dominating, to the extent that the term 'Empire' isn't unreasonable, though we're far from 'ruling' the entire world.

- What our government is willing to do for the sake of US interests is necessarily a lot more ruthless than what the general public realizes, particularly the US public. There are reasons why millions (or billions) of people around the world hate the US. But ceaseless violent conflict throughout world history shows that no group can afford to simply be 'good people' and assume that their neighbors are also 'good people'.

- We don't have the option of living in an isolationist bubble and disentangling ourselves from foreign affairs. Our economy would take a big hit if we tried to do that, at least in the short and intermediate term.

But there are deep problems with Friedman's perspective and book:

- For the sake of preserving the US 'Republic', he says that our government should be willing to be scheming, duplicitous, and ruthless towards the rest of the world, as though those people have no greater inherent value than insects which can be exterminated if it serves our interest. Well, if Friedman has no regard for humanity in general, why then care about the US Republic, itself of an abstract entity? Why not care about only your own family? Our just yourself? Friedman also says very little about what he means by the Republic and why it's worth preserving.

- He writes with a clarity and confidence which is apparently convincing to many readers who are less versed in world history and current affairs than he is. But I would say that he's *overconfident* and lacking appropriate humility. It's unrealistic for him (or us) to think that he can make reliable detailed predictions about how world history will unfold for the next decade, given that his models evidently leave out so much of the world's nonlinear complexity and associated uncertainty. And read the book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? by Philip Tetlock to see the generally poor predictive track record of 'experts' like Friedman (which isn't to say that his predictions may not be more accurate in his narrower specialty area of shorter-term intelligence analysis).

- Let's assume for a moment that Friedman is on target with all of his predictions and strategic advice. Then who is he writing this book for? The audience should be limited to senior members of the US government, especially the President, and kept secret from everyone else, especially our potential rivals on the world scene who we hope to prevent from becoming too strong. Why would you tell a rival how you intend to harm their interest? Makes no sense. So I have the impression that self-promotion or hubris may be the primary motives in writing this book.

Overall, I did find this book stimulating because it offered some different perspectives for me to respond to, but ultimately I think the book is both unreliable and lacking a moral foundation, so I hope too many people won't be duped by Friedman's skillful rhetoric. He assumes, without offering any justification, that we can't adequately serve US interests while also being fair and reasonable towards the rest of the world, based on a sense of shared humanity. I think he's wrong.


The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity
The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity
by Steven H. Strogatz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.83
98 used & new from $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy indeed!, November 26, 2014
Looking at the power law distribution of the ratings of this book, there are apparently some people who don't resonate with the book, but most of us love it. Don't know what a power law is? Read the book!

But seriously, this is surely among the best math books ever written for the general reader, including those who fear math enough to be predisposed to not like it. Using a variety of entry points into the world of mathematics, Strogatz is a superb tour guide who has a passion for the subject and patiently explains things to us in a friendly step by step manner, so that we can all follow along if we're willing to pay attention and think a little. He covers well-known basics, but he also takes us to many of the grander and holier destinations of mathematics and describes them in a way which reveals their remarkable and intriguing multi-faceted beauty (and mystery), so that we can get a sense of why professional mathematicians are attracted to the subject and love their work.

No, reading this book won't enable you to 'do' mathematics with any modicum of expertise, just as exploring great works of art won't enable you to become a capable artist. But becoming familiar with mathematics and developing the ability to appreciate it is still a wonderful thing, just like with art appreciation. And for those who already have decent mathematical background, take the tour anyway, I assure you that Strogatz has a depth of insight and eloquence of communication which makes it worthwhile!


1984
1984
DVD
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch it, but read the novel first, November 23, 2014
This review is from: 1984 (Amazon Instant Video)
I consider the novel to be utterly brilliant, though deeply disturbing. I won't comment further on the novel, since countless others have already done so, and the Wikipedia article in particular is quite good.

As an adaptation of the novel, the movie is decent, but of course it also leaves a lot out, in this case feeling more like a 'sketch' of the novel. The primary aim seems to be to create visual images to accompany and amplify the novel. In that regard, I think the movie succeeds, and the acting is also top notch.

But because the movie isn't really self-contained, I do strongly recommend reading the novel first. The movie will then serve as a chilling reminder of what can happen if too few people acquire too much power (for its own sake), beyond what the masses can counteract. And lest we think that the masses can't be manipulated to that extent, let's not forget what happened with the Germans during Nazism.


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