Book Review: The Library Book, by Susan Orlean

There is a lot to like about The Library Book. Author Susan Orlean chronicles the 1986 fire that devastated the Los Angeles Central Library, at the same time using it as a vehicle to explore the history of the library, the mission and future of libraries in general, and share her own poignant history and relationship with libraries. Continue reading

Book Review: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling

The title of this book says it all. This is a fact based look at the world, and the facts show that, on the whole, the world is improving in most key areas, including education, income and life expectancy. Written by a gifted storyteller and accomplished scientist, Factfulness is a powerful antidote to people’s tendency to think that the sky is perpetually falling. Continue reading

“American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land”, by Monica Hesse

Sad, strange events are brought to life in Monica Hesse’s “American Fire”. Hesse takes what would probably be just an average true crime story and elevates it to something more by providing social, economic and historic context. The result is a very interesting and sometimes sympathetic look at a crime wave that shook a small Virginia community. Continue reading

“The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story” by Douglas Preston

“The Lost City of the Monkey God” is a fascinating mash-up of archaeology, cutting edge technology, treasure hunting, history, Central American politics and epidemiology. Author Douglas Preston, who also writes about archaeology for National Geographic, covers some complex topics in a manner that’s easy to understand and also very interesting. Continue reading

“Hillbilly Elegy”, by J.D. Vance

“Hillbilly Elegy” is an insightful social commentary about the struggles currently being faced by members of the white, Appalachian working class. Its author, J.D. Vance, is uniquely qualified to provide this commentary because he was raised in this socioeconomic group and overcame serious obstacles to attend Yale law school as well as build a strong, healthy marriage. Continue reading

“Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror”, by Michael V. Hayden

“Playing to the Edge” is a memoir of General Mike Hayden’s stint as Director of the NSA and then CIA from 1999 until 2009. These were challenging times for intelligence agencies as they fought elusive terrorists in a post-9/11 world and sailed the uncharted waters of new and rapidly growing technologies and all the legal and moral issues associated with accessing and using it in an effort to protect our nation. Continue reading