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Memoir of a memory nerd,
This review is from: Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Hardcover)
This is a moderately entertaining memoir of one journalist's ventures into competitive memory events. For those unfamiliar with the technique of memory palaces, the information on training techniques might be interesting. But it mainly takes the form of a memoir, with far too much college-style reminiscing about friends and partying on 'the circuit' for my interest. Foer might think that he is chronicling this strange subculture, but he clearly became pretty invested in it - a little too much for my tastes as a reader.
Beyond memoir, the book tries to tackle a fair bit, with only moderate success. I found the best parts to be those that concerned the history of memory techniques, while a foray into educational philosophy was pretty uninteresting, and the neuroscience was rather botched. Foer doesn't really lay out a consistent view of what memory is, how it is stored and accessed, and what its purpose is, and thus really misses an opportunity in my opinion. I really came away thinking that Foer's only real knowledge of memory must have come from some limited readings of Larry Squire. On another note, there is an extended section devoted to 'debunking' a famous autistic savant. While Foer may have a point that his abilities are exaggerated, it doesn't really fit into the book and Foer comes across a little like the jealous "mental athletes" that he chronicles - after all, he is one.
I only read this book when I saw that Larry Squire had reviewed it in Nature, and hence thought it would be a little more of a thoughtful exposition on memory. After reading it I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone with a serious interest in "the art and science of memory", but if you are looking for some light reading about memory techniques you could do a lot worse.