Sunday, October 14, 2018

Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction

Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction by Joseph M. Siracusa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At a little over 150 pages, this book covers a lot of ground in a short format. Unfortunately, while I did think it was pretty good, its focus wasn't entirely what I wanted, and it lacked in some areas. There is an initial introduction to the creation of atomic bombs from a very minimal and layman's technical perspective, but then the book launches into the history of nuclear power, the history behind the Manhattan Project and the WW II race for the atomic bomb, America's legacy of being the first and only country to use it, and the bulk of the rest of the book is a history and discussion of the Cold War politics, diplomacy, and military strategic readiness (from a US perspective) between the US and the Soviet Union. The book ends with a minor bit on how, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has had to try to find a place for the Bomb in its arsenal, for some people, how to justify not only maintaining a large stockpile, but improving it, for others, how to decrease a load of weapons large enough to destroy this planet many times over. It ends by acknowledging the fact that now that there's not another nuclear "enemy" to construct a strategy around, and with the advent of non-state sponsored organizations, terrorists and the like, the effort to construct a new ideology and strategy is much more difficult than it used to be.

All of that was good, if not occasionally repetitive. What I had hoped to see was more scientific and technical detail behind, not only the creation of the early bombs, but current technology, and where we are heading. And I didn't get that. I also wanted to see more of a discussion on the ethics behind this, and on the justifications of maintaining the current seven nuclear powers while working to ensure no other country, and especially no other country the US "disapproves" of (Iran...), obtains nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapon industry. I mean, why is it okay for Pakistan to have them, but not Iran? Why is it okay for Israel to be thought of of having them (they won't admit to it), while other countries cannot? I'm not saying I support the idea of more or warmongering countries getting nuclear weapons, but who made America the planet's god, to decide who gets them and who doesn't? That strikes me as incredibly arrogant and hypocritical. And I'm American! Naturally, the world would be better off without nuclear weapons, but that genie is out of the bottle, so this is a complex problem requiring, yes, political and diplomatic discussions and solutions, and not saber rattling. I'm currently reading another book on "limited" nuclear warfare for the 21st century. It's incredibly interesting, and I think it would make a good companion piece to this book, maybe as Volume 2 of a two volume series. Because that's where the world has gone, that's where the world should and will have to go if we intend to not commit global suicide, and nuclear power countries need to dialogue about these issues and more.

This book doesn't have the highest rating out there, and I've read a lot of reviews and it seems mostly due to lack of sufficient discussion on a wide range of topics, such as I've brought up. But I think its lower rating is unfair, because the subtitle for the book is "A Very Short Introduction." What the hell do you expect for 150 pages?!? Of course I would have liked more. For that, I need to buy a 750 page textbook for $200. This was exactly what it advertised itself to be, so I feel it merits four stars at a minimum. If this is a topic that interests you, I certainly recommend it.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk

Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of DunkirkBlitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk by Len Deighton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pretty good book, but it had some information and assertions that surprised me. I've spent my whole life as a war buff, spent much of my youth consumed with WW II, thought I understood how Blitzkrieg theory was actually fought in WW II, but apparently, I'm wrong.

The book gives a pretty good history and summary of German war status, theory, preparation, Hitler's rise, mindset, theories of various military strategists. And then the war finally commences. Obviously, then, if this is well known to others, I'm showing my own ignorance here, but I'd always heard that Germany's Blitzkrieg techniques were unleashed on Poland, before excelling in Belgium and France, and ultimately later Russia, to a degree. If you've believed that too, Len Deighton will argue you're wrong. His thesis is it was not used in Poland, it was somehow not used in Russia, and it wasn't even really used in Belgium. Merely in France, in the Ardennes, to a shocking degree of success. This was news to me, but I'll grant Len authority status and take his word for it.

I wasn't totally stunned at how inept France's leadership, both political and military, was, as I'd read other books on France in other wars of the century where the beaurocracy, logistical and communication nightmares are simply legendary, but it was still a bit of a shock to find out how the previously thought to be best army in Europe/the world was so incredibly fucked up! It took 48-72 hours to relay orders, because the leaders didn't use radios, everything was hand carried (orders), and just because you got orders, you didn't do anything until they had been confirmed one to two more times. By which point the German army was 60 miles behind your lines, destroying your country. Fucking idiots! The British, initially, weren't a lot better, at least not the vaunted RAF, which was disappointing to read, but if the truth hurts, it hurts. Some of the French actually played soldier at Dunkirk, allowing hundreds of thousands of British and French troops to escape to Britain, but again, I continued to be shocked at how willing the French political and military leadership was to surrender to Hitler and essentially conspire in his plot against Jews and others, while the Free French forces in Britain were led by only one real general of note, and we all know who that is. Why France is on the UN Security Council is beyond me. They've insisted they're one of the great world powers, but they got their asses kicked in WW I, went over to Hitler after getting their asses kicked in WW II, lost Indochina (although embarrassingly, America followed France's exact same mistakes with the same results), lost most or all of their colonies, and while they're the centuries biggest losers, they land a permanent spot on the UN Security Council. Don't get it. I've read about how they insisted. THEY HELPED HITLER! They shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the UN Security Council! Of course, while implicitly bragging about the US in the first half of the century, like an ugly American, I could admit to a number of American "irregularities" that many people wouldn't want known about a LOT of countries around the world where uninvited or unwanted westerners stuck their noses into things and propped up or took down "dictators" all over the damn place, so in the end, maybe the US shouldn't be on the Security Council either, eh? LOL!

Okay, I'll stop with the politicizing. Sorry. It's a good book, an easy read, interesting to those who would find the topic interesting, but stops with the capitulation of France, and I guess I knocked a star off because I wish the author had gone on to address Russia and explain just why that was NOT blitzkrieg warfare -- what the differences were -- because without having studied it in detail lately, it seems like similar tactics were used to launch the Eastern Front, but obviously I'm wrong. I just want to know how and why I'm wrong, and I never got that information from this book, so one star off for that. Otherwise, recommended.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Making Business Connections That Count

Making Business Connections That Count: The Gimmick-free Guide to Authentic Online Relationships with Influencers and Followers (Six Simple Steps to Success Book 4)Making Business Connections That Count: The Gimmick-free Guide to Authentic Online Relationships with Influencers and Followers by Michal Stawicki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book isn't bad, and for some people, I'm sure it'll be quite good. Unfortunately, for me, it didn't reveal too much that I either haven't done or haven't figured out on my own, etc., because in retrospect, I've been a pretty successful networker over the years, and have an extremely high-quality LinkedIn network, which I didn't need to read a book to know how to successfully grow and maintain. So I'm really not sure why I even bought this book. I guess I was hoping there'd be a number of tips regarding strategies I'd not yet tried or encountered, but I guess I'm better than I realized, because this was pretty basic for me so I didn't get that much out of the book and didn't even finish it. That said, I do think it's decently written and there are probably a number of people out there that this book will likely help. With those people in mind, this book is recommended. Obviously, if you're a vet, you don't need this book...

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Sparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation

Sparta: Rise of a Warrior NationSparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation by Philip Matyszak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a bitter disappointment for me in a couple of ways, one of which is shared by another book on Sparta that I'm currently reading. I've looked up to and admired Sparta and the Spartans my entire life. The first research paper I ever wrote was on Sparta, and it was in elementary school. My whole life, I've heard about how tough they were as a people, how they were warriors, the infamous story about the youth and the fox, their innovative political and cultural systems, the incredibly famous stand at the Battle of Thermopylae, their leadership and domination of the Greeks, their rivalry with Athens and eventual defeat of Athens, etc.

But this book dashed those fond beliefs and admirations to pieces, and for that, I cannot forgive the author. I'll be the first to admit that he's the expert, he's done the research, written the book. He knows more, and perhaps knows the truth. But the truth hurts, and most of my beliefs and perceptions of Sparta and the Spartans turned out to be bloody well wrong! They were indeed viewed as a warrior people and tough as hell, but I'm not sure why. They were surrounded by rivals and enemies, most of whom I'd never heard of before, and they fought awesome, hard fought, longass wars against some of the nation states, and it took them over a century, I believe, to simply subdue just one of their rivals on their part of the Greek peninsula! Other enemies they tricked, battled hard against, tried to avoid fighting altogether, and because even though they were allegedly "warriors," the men had to get back to the fields for harvest season, they rarely laid seige to cities or peoples, and wanted quick victories so they could get home. They also weren't a sea faring people, while Athens dominated the seas. They played neighbors off one another, getting Athens to fight Thessaly or Thebes or one of the others over a third city state, and while their males trained from a very young age to become warriors, the population of Sparta was so freaking small, they couldn't even field a remotely respectable army (which may account for their decades long struggles against their neighbors, possibly), often putting a mere 7,000 men in the field. Compare that to the universally believed vastly inflated Persian number of at least a million man army, and even up to a three million man army, and it's almost impossible to believe Sparta was capable of dominating ANYONE! In fact, during the first Persian invasion, Sparta didn't even participate because of "religious" rituals they couldn't leave, so Athens had to fight the Persians off. That's a little embarrassing, particularly when you believe Sparta made its reputation off fighting the damn Persians! So when Xerxes decides to go after the Greeks again several decades later, Sparta had taken so much grief for pansying out of fighting them the first time and leaving it up to the rest of the Greeks (which is how it was viewed), that this time, even though they were having the SAME DAMN RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS AND RITUALS, they weren't going to be denied, and gathered the independent Greeks together, and somehow because they were universally viewed as the best and toughest warriors in Greece (which says a lot for the rest of Greece, considering Sparta could barely beat anyone), they were placed in the military leadership position, and one of their two kings (they operated on a two king system), the famous Leonidas, took his famous 300-member honor guard off to hold off the Persians. And even though the battle is famous for the "300" (recall the Hollywoodized movie), they actually had a number of servant-warriors, and even some allies with them, so they had many more warriors than the infamous 300. They had well over 1,000. Nonetheless, they pass they chose to defend was so damn tight, that only about a couple of men could approach at one time, and they built a wall to defend from the top, and also -- this isn't widely known -- the actual battle commander was the Athenian naval commander, because evidently Sparta, Athens, and the rest of the Greeks actually believed the few Spartans and their allies could hold the pass indefinitely, while the Athenian navy actually won the battle against the huge Persian fleet, and when the Spartan religious ceremonies were over a week or so later, they'd send their "huge" army of some 7,000 warriors if they were even needed by that point. Bear in mind the "official" history we rely on, by Herodotus I think (???), so vastly overinflates the size of the Persian army, as to be viewed as almost totally unreliable, stating it was between one and three million men large. Against roughly 1,000 defenders led by the 300 Spartans. It boggles the mind. And when Xerxes sent emissaries to the Spartans requesting they put down their weapons and surrender, Leonidas reportedly made that hugely famous statement (in Greek): "Come and get them!" That, my friends, is the true definition of big, bad balls! And as everyone knows, after just 3-4 days, a Greek traitor who lived in the area went to Xerxes and offered to show him a small trail around the other side of the mountain, thus flanking the Spartans and trapping them from the rear. Becoming one of the most infamous traitors in history. The Spartans did indeed fight very nearly to the last man, while the Athenian navy did indeed rip the Persian navy to shreds, but because Xerxes got his men into Greece because the most famous battle the Spartans ever had, and one of the most famous battles in the history of the world, was LOST by the Spartans (although, yes, treachery played a huge role in that), Athens was sacked entirely, but enough time had been salvaged for the citizens to escape, but you know what? I really don't know how the rest of the Greeks ended up beating and driving back the Persians to ultimately win the war. It wasn't because of Sparta.

So my major complaint resides in the fact that this book (and the other one) totally demolish my lifelong held perceptions of Sparta and the Spartan warriors, because the best I can tell is, the few wars they won were against insignificant adversaries, sometimes through trickery, and sometimes over the course of many decades. So why did they have this reputation of such badasses? They're probably the most overrated bad ass "warriors" in the history of the world! And that saddens me more than you can know, but who did they conquer, what territory did they acquire, how much of Greece did they take, etc.? The answer to all is virtually none. Meanwhile, just a hundred or two hundreds years difference shows Alexander, a semi-Greek, destroying Persia, and becoming probably the greatest king the world has ever know, controlling virtually all of Europe, all of north Africa, the Middle East (Asia Minor), the lower parts of what's now the ex-Soviet Union, all the way through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, leaving virtually only the relatively unknown Chinese as the only moderately civilized people in the world NOT under his control. And he accomplished all of this before he turned 32! Meanwhile, Rome comes along just a few centuries later to form what's often thought to be the greatest empire in history (although not nearly as big as Alexander's) and centuries later, Ghengis Khan conquered China, much of Russia, dominated parts of the Middle East, and spread his territory into eastern and central Europe. And Sparta compares to these truly great leaders and warriors how??? Sparta was "dominant" (if you can even call it that) for maybe 200 years, and even then, only over a very small territory and to a very small degree. So why its huge, gigantic reputation? What the hell did they EVER do to merit it? I'm like a monotheist whose eyes have been opened by science and now the idiocy of my former beliefs are laid out before me, leaving me ashamed and embarrassed.

Finally, my other complaint about this book is it deals almost exclusively with the rise of Sparta through the second Persian war, and then the book just kind of ends, even though Sparta was to play a role in Greek politics, wars, and life for another century or so. It just ends. So it's really just a half book, and that added to my disappointment.

I wanted to give this book one star, but I can't because that wouldn't be fair to the author. It'd just be displaying my biases, and wouldn't realistically have anything to do with the actual writing, research, or disappointing truths I've been forced to endure learning. Nonetheless, I can't give the book more than three stars, because for one thing, the book went through some very long, dry, boring spells, and ultimately because the book is incomplete, even though the title should indicate that it's not about the entire history of Sparta, but merely the rise. It SHOULD be about the entire history of Sparta, and I think the author does the reader a disservice by just leaving the story half told. So, interesting, enlightening book, but not recommended for fans of the "traditional" Spartans, but objective ancient history fans might find it moderately interesting....

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Understanding SSL: Securing Your Website Traffic

Understanding SSL: Securing Your Website TrafficUnderstanding SSL: Securing Your Website Traffic by Nathan James Neil
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not a bad book on SSL. Some good basic foundational material. Not as technical as I would have preferred. Poor proofreading, copy editing. So many of these mostly self published authors could stand to hire a professional proofreader. It would make reading their books easier and more enjoyable. In any event, while there are better SSL books out there, there are some worse too, so if you're looking for a short, basic starter, this is cautiously recommended. My one real complaint, though, is it's far, far too short, and thus can't even begin to get into the meat of the topic. So while cautiously recommended, don't be willing to pay too much for this, because it's not worth it.

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How to Make Money Selling Vintage Items on Etsy: Open a Store, Find Inventory, Take Photos, Create Listings and Make Money Selling Vintage Items in This Billion Dollar Marketplace

How to Make Money Selling Vintage Items on Etsy: Open a Store, Find Inventory, Take Photos, Create Listings and Make Money Selling Vintage Items in This Billion Dollar MarketplaceHow to Make Money Selling Vintage Items on Etsy: Open a Store, Find Inventory, Take Photos, Create Listings and Make Money Selling Vintage Items in This Billion Dollar Marketplace by Alissa Grosso
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not too bad. Fairly simplistic and common sensical. Some decent preliminary advice. My primary complaint is it seemed slanted towards crafts, and while I know that's essentially what Etsy was founded on, many thousands of Etsy stores now have nothing to do with crafts. Mine was vintage music and books. I therefore found some of the advice totally inapplicable to me, so I wish it would have had a broader overview of things. I ended up not finishing the book as a result. Recommended for people wanting to build craft-based Etsy shops. If you want to sell other items, there are better books on the market.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?

Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits? by D.E. Wittkower
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I have to make a public admission and state that I love Philip K. Dick and have every book he ever published, at least every book publicly available, meaning over 40 or thereabouts. Some aren't the best, while others are completely brilliant and mind blowing. Others are wildly above average, but virtually all make you think about a lot of things, like reality and what is it exactly, and what is our reality, and is it indeed reality. I love David Weber's military sci fi novels and think he's the best military sci fi writer of all time, but I think Dick is the best overall sci fi writer of all time and perhaps one of the best 20th century writers completely, sadly overlooked by most, but also one of the best American philosophers of the 20th century as well, also sadly overlooked, especially when compared to the French and other European philosophers of the same century.

I have another (sad) admission to make. I was going to write a small review, but in reading over the book's official marketing blurb on Goodreads and other sites, I've come to believe I can't really do better than what the author's publishing/marketing team did for this book, so I'm going to quote a few short paragraphs, as I doubt I can improve on them. Forgive me. Credit to the book's author and publisher:

"Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick is the giant imagination behind so much recent popular culture—, both movies directly based on his writings, such as Blade Runner (based on the novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"), Total Recall, Minority Report, and The Adjustment Bureau, plus cult favorites such as A Scanner Darkly, Imposter, Next, Screamers, and Paycheck, and works revealing his powerful influence, such as The Matrix and Inception. [Additionally, The Man In The High Castle, Amazon's highest watched series of all time, from what I understand, is based on Dick's award winning novel by the same name.] With the ... publication in 2011 of volume 1 of Exegesis, his journal of spiritual visions and paranoic investigations, Dick [has] fast become a major influence in the world of popular spirituality and occult thinking.

In Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Who Adjusts the Adjustment Bureau?, twenty Dick fans and professional thinkers confront the fascinating and frightening ideas raised by Dick’s mind-blowing fantasies. Is there an alien world behind the everyday reality we experience? If androids can pass as human, should they be given the same consideration as humans? Do psychotics have insights into a mystical reality? Would knowledge of the future free us or enslave us? This volume ... also includes Dick's short story "Adjustment Team," on which The Adjustment Bureau is based.

Philip K. Dick and Philosophy explores the ideas of Philip K. Dick in the same way that he did: with an earnest desire to understand the truth of the world, but without falsely equating earnestness with a dry seriousness. Dick’s work was replete with whimsical and absurdist presentations of the greatest challenges to reason and to humanity—, paradox, futility, paranoia, and failure, —and even at his darkest times he was able to keep some perspective and humor, as for example in choosing to name himself ‘Horselover Fat in VALIS at the same time as he relates his personal religious epiphanies, crises, and delusions. With the same earnest whimsy, we approach Philip K. Dick as a philosopher, like ourselves—, one who wrote almost entirely in thought-experiments and semi-fictional world-building, but who engaged with many of the greatest questions of philosophy throughout the Euro-American tradition."

So, there you have it. The first few paragraphs of the book's description and a good description of what the book is about. It's truly an excellent book with mostly very good chapters/essays that, like Dick's work, leave one thinking about what is and what could be. Unfortunately, not every essay is consistently strong. Thus, the four star review rather than five. Still, a must have book for any Dick fan, and strongly, strongly recommended for any fan of pop culture, sci fi, 20th century philosophy, existentialism (to a degree), and other interested parties. I don't believe and certainly hope you won't be disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found the book quite stimulating.

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The Synchronicity War Part 1

The Synchronicity War Part 1The Synchronicity War Part 1 by Dietmar Wehr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ATTN: I somehow bought this series as one single book and read it all the way through in one reading, so I am just going to copy and paste this review for each of the four separate parts making up the whole of the book I read.

It was pretty funny to read the reviews of this first part of the four part saga of Wehr's The Synchronicity War. Everybody's bitching and moaning and giving one star reviews for how much it sucked, how the plot is so terrible, the writing so shoddy, the characters so indefinable, how it's terrible military sci fi, can't compare to David Weber (no one can, when it comes to military sci fi, although I thought Chris Bunch came close), but I somehow bought this series as one single book and read it all the way through, so I saw things differently, so when I went on to read reviews for the next three books, it was rather amusing at just how many people had changed their tunes. Where were all of the hugely influential book critics? Those obviously so much better writers that they've churned out many more commercially successful books than Wehr? The ones giving him one and two stars for the first "book"-part? Um, yeah, they weren't trolling around anymore. Instead, for the next three books, I saw very little but four and five star reviews, with people seriously impressed not only with the military sci fi action, but the hard sci fi, the detailed scientific explanations of what makes THIS go THAT way, etc, and while people still thought characterization was weak, and I guess that's not the strongest part of the series, I still don't fully buy that, as I became wholly invested in the characters, human and mechanical, and their personalities and relationships, and yes, he could have given us some detailed descriptions of what so and so looked like, but the man was working on a four book Military Sci Fi series, not a damn romance, so cut him some slack! Maybe he's not as good as Weber? No one is! But I'll wager he's as good as Jack Campbell and most of the others, certainly as ambitious. And I think, a fine writer, with nothing to be ashamed of and plenty to be proud of. This is an IDEA man! He thinks of things that constantly blow me away. His tactics are borderline brilliant, sometimes just plain brilliant. So, why the first book hatred, and then the irony of the Loooove over the next three books from you, dear readers? Geez, I don't know how many of you are writers out there, but I've published 15 books of my own, pre-self publishing, have ghost written two others, and have had fiction, poetry, nonfiction, journalism, academic writing, technical tutorials, technical white papers, and everything in between, published over the past 28 years, and sometimes it just takes the author awhile to set the tone, to set the pace, to get where he or she wants to be, which may have been the case with Wehr, I don't know, but if everyone hated the first book, but loved the final three, it seems to me it just took awhile for him to set his universe up enough so that readers were adjusted to it, and grew invested in it. That's it, that's all. Sometimes some authors do that. Not everyone can jump right into you're being invested in the plot from the second page. That's a special kind of writer and usually, a certain kind of book.

As for me, while not necessarily as good as *some* of Weber's finer works, this series blew me away and I loved it! I loved the risks the author took, with his characters and with his readers. It strikes me as brave. The books had my attention the whole way, and while people pointed out that, yes, big bad aliens who were stronger technologically than humans and out to destroy us was nothing new, the author's treatment of this plot device was, IMO, so I thought he handled it quite well. Indeed, the only disappointment I felt was in reading the final page and knowing I had come to the end. After spending so much of my time in this universe. It was a tough blow! I would love to see Mr. Wehr come out with some more books, although he does have another series, which I've also read and enjoyed. His name is not that well known, I don't believe, but I think it deserves to be. In any event, I loved this series, and I strongly recommend it for all who love military sci fi, hard sci fi, or good sci fi in general.

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Independent Contractor, Sole Proprietor, and LLC Taxes Explained in 100 Pages or Less

Independent Contractor, Sole Proprietor, and LLC Taxes Explained in 100 Pages or LessIndependent Contractor, Sole Proprietor, and LLC Taxes Explained in 100 Pages or Less by Mike Piper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This wasn't a bad book. It was a fast read, and terms, ideas, and facts were represented in clear, understandable writing. I learned some good things from it. But I didn't learn everything I wanted or needed to. As part of a two person LLC, I needed some explicit tax advice, particularly as to how such LLCs are taxed as partnerships and the trickle down effects on personal taxes that has, as well as how to record startup expenses, what sort of liabilities such entities face, etc. I had to turn to an alternate book that had much more information specifically for LLCs. And perhaps that's my own fault, because the book does specify that LLC taxes (there are none for LLCs, to be precise, as I discovered come tax season) comprise only a third of the book via the title, but sometimes it felt like LLCs were the stepchild of the book, while the first two types of jobs/business owners were concentrated on a bit more. Or maybe I'm just being sensitive, I don't know. Whatever the case, as I said, it's not a bad book, but I suspect if you're an independent contractor or a sole proprietor, you'll get more out of it than if you're involved in an LLC. Recommended for certain audiences.

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Letter to a Christian Nation

Letter to a Christian NationLetter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"What is interesting about this book, as in most atheist thought, is that in lambasting fundamentalist institutional religious dogma, the author ends up doing exactly what he accuses his opponents of: polarizing, claiming to know what truth and reality are better than anyone else, and pushing moderates into extremism. He claims, as all atheists do, to be speaking solidly from the standpoint of reason. As a reasonable man, then, he should have recognized..."

Lovely. This critic of the book is critical of the author for accusing his opponents of "claiming to know what truth and reality are better than anyone else" and claiming to be "speaking solidly from the standpoint of reason" and therefore as "a reasonable man, then, he should have recognized" ... THE TRUTH! Which in the eye of this Goodreads critic, typical of so many self righteous reviewers of this book, is the teachings of CHRISTIANITY and while criticizing Harris of "claiming to know ... truth and reality," and of polarizing people by pushing his agenda, this reviewers seems completely guilty of the accusations thrown at the author!!! If I may borrow and rebrand, so to speak, from this reviewer, so "typical" of Christian thought! I do not claim to know the truth, but theists do, and, to paraphrase Hitchens, exceptional claims require exceptional evidence. Just because Harris points out some of the seemingly inherent flaws within Christianity, the people who claim HE polarizes then polarize some more in attacking him for pointing out the obvious to most non-Christians, theists of other faiths, and freethinkers around the country. This reviewer epitomizes what he accuses Harris of doing and in so doing, justifies Harris's contentions. If it weren't so tragic, the irony would be too funny.

Not the absolute best book I've read, but pretty solid, in my opinion. And in the opinion or many others, though you can't tell from all of the attacks from so many of the Christians reviewing this book. I guess it's hard to face accusations that don't jibe with your belief system when the accusations hurt or insult, even if there may very well be legitimacy to them... Recommended to all.

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