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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Author: Michael Nail

ELON MUSK by Ashlee Vance

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There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk’s relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy.

In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation–all while making plenty of enemies along the way.

Until I read Ashlee Vance’s biography Elon Musk, my impression of Musk was that he was one of these hyper-efficient Silicon Valley boy geniuses who figured that being somewhat irreverent in the media would be advantageous to him. I’m cynical. What can I say?

Now, having read the book, I feel that the irreverence we see from Musk (in interviews and elsewhere)  is less manipulation than it is restraint. Vance has painted Musk as a passionate, brilliant man who would rather end up poor than not have a hand in advancing the industries where he thinks he can make a unique difference. He’s not just crazy by the standards of us mortals, who consider it a good month if we pay all of our bills and have enough left over to buy a gadget or something. After cashing out of his first company, PayPal, in a world where buying a single Cold War-era Russian rocket cost his entire net worth, he decided to design his own instead. You, me, and every other sane person would have said, “I suppose I won’t be starting an orbital shipping company today. Time to go find something to do that’s actually possible.” Elon Musk started SpaceX, and today he’s manufacturing reusable rockets.

This bio isn’t just a rundown of Musk’s accomplishments and the obstacles he conquered on the way. Vance’s account fleshes out the characters in Musk’s story with interviews and investigative fact-finding. Broad foreshadowing and perspective throughout kept me engaged. Impressive stylistic choices peppered throughout the prose brought the locales where Musk’s adventures play out to life. A particular description stood out to me – Musk’s team had recently moved their rocket testing operation to an island called Kwaj that the United States military had used to test Star Wars technology in the 70’s and 80’s:

“The military presence resulted in a weird array of buildings including hulking, windowless trapezoidal concrete structures clearly conceived by someone who deals with death for a living.”

This description punctuates the contrast between the status quo of the arena Musk was entering, and the vision he had for its future. It doesn’t just say what the place looked like, but makes me feel like I understand how it must have felt to be there. Vance is equally adept at selecting vignettes that effectively drive home her point. She included Boeing engineer-turned-SpaceX employee Jeremy Hollman’s anecdote about the ennui-inducing directionlessness on offer from SpaceX’s competitors:

“…Boeing completed its merger with McDonnell Douglass. The resultant mammoth government contractor held a picnic to boost morale but ended up failing at even this simple exercise. ‘The head of one of the departments gave a speech about it being one company with one vision and then added that the company was very cost constrained,’ Hollman said. ‘He asked that everyone limit themselves to one piece of chicken.'”

These anecdotes tend to serve their purposes well, and they never feel like they’re there for their own sake. They’re usually fun, engaging, and genuinely add insight to the narrative. After reading so many biographies that feel like a notebook of research shuffled at random with a publisher’s seal on it, I can genuinely appreciate that she has positively nailed this aspect of her work.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0062301233″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″] here[/easyazon_link].

Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? by James Tagg

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Alan Turing invented the computer, helped win World War II and left us with one of the greatest puzzles of our time – the imitation game. Can computers do everything a human mind can do? Many scientists think we have a tenuous hold on the title, “most intelligent being on the planet”. They think it’s just a matter of time before computers become smarter than us, and then what? This book charts a journey through the science of information, from the origins of language and logic, to the frontiers of modern physics. From Lewis Carroll’s logic puzzles, through Alan Turing and his work on Enigma, to John Bell’s inequality, and finally the Conway-Kochen ‘Free Will’ Theorem. How do the laws of physics give us our creativity, our rich experience of communication and, especially, our free will?

James Tagg is an inventor and entrepreneur. A pioneer of touchscreen technology, he has founded several companies, including Truphone, the world’s first global mobile network. He holds numerous patents, filed in over a hundred countries. He studied Physics and Computer Science at Manchester University, Design at Lancaster University and Engineering at Cambridge University. He lives with his family on a farm in Kent, England.

 

ARE THE ANDROIDS DREAMING YET? attempts to introduce the lay reader to the landscape of issues surrounding human intelligence and its congruence, or lack thereof, with human intelligence. The author makes an earnest attempt to achieve his goal, and a layperson’s understanding of topics ranging from probability theory to quantum electrodynamics. The tone is light, and each topic is rounded out in just one short chapter. Each chapter concludes with an explanation of how its contents pertain to the way we perceive the relationship between human and machine intelligence. For those who are uninitiated to these topics, the explanations suffice. Such a reader will come out of these segments feeling that they have come to understand something that had previously been far over their heads.

While it is a great thing to bring understanding of complex topics to a lay readership, the unavoidable problem is that the shallowness of the introductions to these topics does not give the reader the tools necessary to follow the author from premise to conclusion. The worst that this problem brings to bear is that the book does not sufficiently address the fact that the conclusions presented are highly contentious in the eyes of professionals in their respective fields. For each mathematical and scientific alcove the author guides the reader through, he seems always to present the conclusion that points most strongly toward human cognition being non-computable. I get the feeling that the author decided before putting pen to paper that he wanted to show that human minds really are special, and then set out to find examples to support him. Nothing in this book indicates that he did the scientifically honest thing: looking at the literature first, and going from there. It doesn’t matter how fringe or mainstream the theory is. If that theory can be twisted to put human beings back in the center of the universe, then you can learn about it by reading this book!

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll know that I’m a big believer in the importance of recognizing future AIs as having rights and being deserving of respect, just as any flesh-and-bones creature capable of love, fear, pain, and pleasure is. At the end of the last chapter, the author suggests that we shouldn’t worry about such things since, in 100 years, we probably still won’t be able to fashion an AI. I believe that this sentiment betrays an awesome lack of understanding regarding the power of recursive/iterative development patterns. Humans will not create the first AI. The first AI will probably create itself by means understood by some several dozen people, each of which understand some fraction of the process by which it happened, none understanding it in full. Just as I cannot judge you by your neurobiology because the entirety of your neurobiology is beyond my capacity to comprehend, likewise, we cannot judge the fitness of an AI to deserve rights we reserve for humans because the basis of its being “alive” is not within the possibility of comprehension of any person. Therefore, we simply have to hand those rights over. We also need to have a conversation about AI rights very quickly. Such an intelligence is fast approaching, in spite of the author’s assurance that humans minds perform processes that are non-computable (nonsense!), and that we perform various mental functions that cannot be translated into algorithms and logical circuits (also nonsense).

My final assessment of ANDROIDS is that lay readers will enjoy the expositions of niche topics in science, math, physics, computer science, and philosophy very much, and there is plenty of food for thought here. I would, however, advise savvy readers to keep a keen eye out for fishy-smelling claims and overused superlatives. If something seems odd, Google it.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1910464031″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson, PsyD

 

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If you grew up with an emotionally immature, unavailable, or selfish parent, you may have lingering feelings of anger, loneliness, betrayal, or abandonment. You may recall your childhood as a time when your emotional needs were not met, when your feelings were dismissed, or when you took on adult levels of responsibility in an effort to compensate for your parent’s behavior. These wounds can be healed, and youcan move forward in your life.

In this breakthrough book, clinical psychologist Lindsay Gibson exposes the destructive nature of parents who are emotionally immature or unavailable. You will see how these parents create a sense of neglect, and discover ways to heal from the pain and confusion caused by your childhood. By freeing yourself from your parents’ emotional immaturity, you can recover your true nature, control how you react to them, and avoid disappointment. Finally, you’ll learn how to create positive, new relationships so you can build a better life.

Discover the four types of difficult parents:

The emotional parent instills feelings of instability and anxiety. The driven parent stays busy trying to perfect everything and everyone. The passive parent avoids dealing with anything upsetting. The rejecting parent is withdrawn, dismissive, and derogatory.

 

In Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents (Called ACoEIP hereafter), Lindsay Gibson, PsyD, has provided an exceptional resource for people who grew up lonely within the company of their families.

To preface my review of her book, I must mention that the issue coping with immature parents, resonates strongly with me. I was fortunate enough to know in advance of reading this book that I was a part of its target audience. However, Gibson wisely acknowledges that most of her target audience will believe that their childhood experiences are normal, and that whatever problems they might have had seeking attention growing up was, and still is, their own responsibility to bear.

I would have felt this way not too long ago, and you may feel the same. If a person’s upbringing is likely to seem normal to them even in the absence of a meaningful parent-child emotional connection, how would a potential reader know that a book like this would be for them?

Below is a selection of statements that Gibson includes early on in the book to determine if you are in her target audience. If you find yourself nodding your head while reading these, then ACoEIP may deserve a place on your reading list.

“I was trying harder to understand my parent than my parent was trying to understand me.”

“I always felt that my parent thought I was too emotional or sensitive.”

“My parent rarely apologized or tried to improve the situation when there was a problem between us.”

For most peoples’ childhoods, some of these statements were true some of the time. For some people, these kinds of statements describe the general tenor of life childhood life. That kind of childhood leaves a lot of emotional baggage.

For some, the fallout of such a childhood is that you internalize. Consider this example: You may get yourself into relationships with others where you forego your own wants and needs as the price of admission for respect from the other. You may find yourself filling the requests of others, never asking favors for yourself. Why? Well, if your parents generally reprised you when you expressed desires, then keeping your wants and needs to yourself would be an expected learned behavior. The danger here is that you’ll look at yourself one day, always giving of yourself to others and letting people walk all over you, and decide that you must be a fool, or that you’re just weak, or some other self-diminishing thing. You would be terribly wrong, and a book like this one finds its greatest value in showing its readers why.

The example above is just one of many. The pages of ACoEIP are stuffed to the margins with relatable stories that are never too long, nor too simplified. Gibson speaks with a knowledgeable tone, but without pretense. Her diverse personal background of reading, life experience, and administering therapy shows in her concise writing style. I would not fault her for including more examples that I might have expected from a book like this because none of the examples feel like padding. All of them add unique value to the segments in which they appear.

Even if you’re not sure that this book is for you, I recommend it. If, while reading it, you decide that it isn’t, you will still gain a window into the hearts of those in your life to whom this book does speak.

Want your own copy? Click [easyazon_link identifier=”1626251703″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

We’re having an honest-to-goodness TWO WINNER book giveaway! (hard copy signed by the author, and ePub version)

Alice of the Rocks

What book is it this time? The one we just reviewed, of course! Kyle had an awesome time reading Alice of the Rocks, and we’re hoping that you’ll enjoy it as well. I’m a hardcore advocate of digital books, but that doesn’t mean I’m against paper. Sometimes there’s nothing like holding a dead tree version of a great book while you enjoy the story. Enter below, and you could have your very own dead tree edition of Alice of the Rocks in no time!

This softcover book has been SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.

Even if you don’t win the softcover, you may still win an ebook version. This giveaway will have two winners. Please state your preference in your entry.

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Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts – Review

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The Blurb on the Jacket:

Andrew Roberts’s Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine. Like Churchill, he understood the strategic importance of telling his own story, and his memoirs, dictated from exile on St. Helena, became the single bestselling book of the nineteenth century.

 

Before encountering this book, I had not read any other biography of Napoleon. I had exposed myself to plenty of modern European history, and I felt like I know the “gist” of Napoleon’s life, but I hadn’t ever delved deeply into the man himself. When I approached this massive tome, I worried that my less-that-rigorous foreknowledge might render Napoleon, if not inaccessible, at least a chore.

This was not the case.

Rarely have I ever had the pleasure of reading a portrait of an important man or woman that was simultaneously as immersive and as insightful as Roberts’ Napoleon. Biographers who struggle to find a balance between giving their subjects personality and keeping their writing educationally valuable should take note. It often seems that this balance is a zero-sum game. Any account vastly endowed with one put pay for its endowment with the other. Roberts cheats this system by letting his primary sources stand front-and-center. Napoleon (the man, not the book) had enough moxie and humor of his own to buoy the tone of this book from dust jacket to dust jacket.

That sounds like I’m giving the credit to Monsieur Bonaparte rather than the author, doesn’t it? This is not my intention. All of the credit belongs to Mr. Roberts for pulling off this feat. Napoleon’s original words could not have filled this book. If they could, he wouldn’t have had time to govern. The majority of the mass of this massive pack of pulp owes its existence to Roberts’ careful work of contextualization. The author takes extraordinary care to include the reader in a conversation about the external factors weighing in on the scenarios he describes.

My most common frustration when reading a biography is it is not entirely clear why some important action X was taken rather than Y. Usually, a simple explanation would do. No such frustration could find a stable home in my consciousness while I read this book. Simple explanations regularly precede the description of the actions taken here, and these descriptions are regularly followed by exhaustive investigations into the minutia revolving the decisions made. It is not boring at all. It sucks you in. It makes you feel like you can appreciate the situations as acutely as the people involved. If you read biographies because you want to better understand people and the times you choose to read about, then this sense that you might as well have been there should be exactly what you’re searching for. If not, then stop searching for whatever you’re searching for, and pick up this book. If I didn’t make that clear enough, let me make this very clear.

If you think that it is within the realm of possibility that the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte could appeal to you as subject matter, then you need to get a copy of Andrew Robert’s book into your possession, and swallow it like a python swallows an alligator. Unhinge your brain’s jaw and shove this hunk of gold down its distended gullet before you consider taking care of less important matters… like hygiene… and nutrition.

Binary Star by Sarah Gerard

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From the publisher:

The language of the stars is the language of the body. Like a star, the anorexic burns fuel that isn’t replenished; she is held together by her own gravity.
With luminous, lyrical prose, Binary Star is an impassioned account of a young woman struggling with anorexia and her long-distance, alcoholic boyfriend. On a road trip circumnavigating the United States, they stumble into a book on veganarchism, and believe they’ve found a direction.

Not every book needs to be a masterpiece. If it were so, then there wouldn’t be any pleasure in discovering uncommonly good books. For the most part, it is good enough for a book to merely know what it has set out to do, and to accomplish whatever that is in a capable manner.

 

Binary Star traces the codependent relationship of an anorexic astrophysics teacher and her alcoholic boyfriend. I say “traces” rather than “follows” because the reader is never allowed to deduce of him or herself what the subtext is. The outlines of every contour of every personality is writ in bold as characters’ outlines are in cartoons. It’s all tell and no show. This deficit is buried underneath layers of poetic prose and obfuscated by astrophysical metaphors that reveal the author’s imperfect understanding of astrophysics. Strip away all of the nonsense, and you would be left with a compelling 40- or 50-page short story. Instead, we have 40 pages of poetry followed by about 120 pages of prose-poetry soup reminiscent of the drunken meandering of Stephen Daedalus in Ulysses without the benefit of James Joyce’s genius.

 

This book, I presume, had the intention of putting a human face on the struggle of anorexia as it told its tale. However, Binary Star fails to facilitate a bond between the reader and the main character because, telling all and showing little, the book leaves the reader little room to engage her in the way that humans engage each other. We humans come to know each other by startling each other, revealing the mystery of our personalities one or several pieces at a time. There is no way for me to learn about you in a way that will get me emotionally involved if you present your life to me as a series of facts. The layers of poetry and metaphor do not change the fact that Gerard presents her characters to her readers as collections of facts rather than as dynamic, startling individuals.

 

The final wound on this novel is that the plot, being the strongest part of the tale, has so much difficulty finding its way out from under the heavy coats of language that it takes a back seat to the characters themselves, about who I seemed to know everything but feel nothing.

 

Gerard’s potential as an author is extraordinary, but I believe that little more than the fact of that potential is on display in this effort. Although I had few positive remarks to offer about Binary Star, I will await the author’s next effort.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link asin=”1937512258″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link].

Lightning Review! Joubin’s Head by Justin Key

You can win a signed, limited-edition copy of Joubin’s Head through Hidden Clearing Books here!

 

In Joubin’s Head tries to pack a lot of story into a small space by suggesting rather than explaining critical details, and by using’s the character’s inner language rather than a narrator to advance the plot. The title character lies helplessly in a hospital bed as something progressively takes dominion over his mind. The true nature of the force that overcomes him is cleverly left up in the air. Is it an alien virus that spreads through the air and infects the mind? Perhaps it’s less sinister, and the entire story chronicles Joubin’s final hallucinations unto death.

 

The alien half of Joubin’s internal dialogue asks us to doubt what we mean when we say “I.” It makes him a spectator in his own mind, showing him his own memories and taking command of his body. If an alien force usurped access to all of your memories and knowledge, leaving you to be a mere spectator of your own life, are you sure that you would be able to tell? An alien virus designed to “live inside your life” could possibly live your life for you as you watched, without your guessing that you had lost control until the critical moment.

 

It must not be easy to open and close a narrative with a natural buildup and a satisfying ending in under 1500 words. Justin Key got that job done, though. I’m impressed enough to go check out some of his other work. Here’s a link to another short (but not as short) tale of his on Amazon: [easyazon_link asin=”B00OARG5UI” locale=”US” new_window=”yes” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]Death’s Cafe: The Storm[/easyazon_link].

Biography Review: Russell Long by Michael Martin.

The Short Version

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Russell Long: A Life in Politics starts off even before he was born to one of the most powerful American politicians outside the Capital, Huey Long. We come to know Russell as a man who seems to have ideals: whichever ones suit his purpose. We meet a chameleon who grows more conspicuous and powerful . He skillfully harnessed his father’s controversial legacy to shape his own. Many biographies are stories of rags-to-riches. This one shows us political royalty begetting political royalty. Like father like son.

Cinderella stories and train wrecks are interesting, sure. But at the heights of national politics, all things ordinary are extraordinary. You just need to be close enough to see what’s actually going on. Michael Martin points his microscope at characters who can raise up or ruin thousands of lives with a phone call. More than just a biography, Russell Long is a life-size portrait of some of the invisible forces that shaped American civil rights and economic intervention policy from the 1920s through the 1980s. I had mixed feelings about how Mr. Martin treated some topics, but overall this book was a joy to read, and particularly transformative for my personal understanding of Congressional politics in the middle of the last century.

You in a hurry? Take your coat off, why don’tcha? Keep reading!

 

My Full Review:

Excellence in the Biographical Craft

I read a lot of really dry books. I like’em that way. I’m all about the information density. Crank it up to 11! Don’t get me wrong. I love good narration and storytelling, but I’ve left mountains of biographies more relatable than Russell Long unfinished. Why did I finish Russell Long, but not the others?

As long as a biography helps me understand the place and importance of the person in the title, I’m happy. There are plenty of ways to do this. Some authors use personal accounts of people who knew the title character to construct a story. These biographies usually have a very personal touch. Their success or failure depends on how easy it is for the reader to get to know the person they’re reading about. Russell Long doesn’t even try to do this, so I won’t judge it on this basis.

This book wants to teach you about Russell, not introduce you to him. Enjoyment doesn’t issue from its style or wit, but from its combination of clarity and insight. Every page is pressurized to the bursting point with information. Russell Long is such a dense piece of pulp that the absence of any one sentence would immediately stand out to most mildly-attentive readers. Even being as dense as it is, however, it’s still easily accessible. Usually, accessibility correlates well with the complexity or depth of the content. I believe Mr. Martin created this outlier by focusing on a narrative structure before thinking in terms of timelines, events, and explanations.

Russell Long’s overall structure is evidence that Mr. Martin took spectacular care to produce an account that covers a wide canvas without becoming obtuse. The lesson other biographers can learn here is that contextual information is not a commodity. What does that mean?

In the Land of the Confusing, Context is King

Some contextual information pairs best with its related content when nestled in with a tangentially related account. We learn of Earl Long’s ultimate fate early, to lose his marbles while in the Senate in 1960. Seemingly a non-sequitur at first, this knowledge casts its foreshadow over Earl’s actions leading up to that year. At no time does Mr. Martin suggest any relationship between Earl’s escalating political aggressiveness and his meltdown. Even so, I would expect any reader to make his or her own judgment about the cause for his behavior, and whether his actions or his meltdown were the chicken or the egg. Regardless of the determination you make, the very fact that I was involved so deeply for so long leading up to the reveal is thanks to a masterful measuring of just the right amount of suggestion early on and an otherwise-innocuous lead-up to the event in question. You could argue that leaving the cause for his meltdown for the reader to intuit is unsatisfying, but remember, this book is interested in the facts. Guessing and wondering is the reader’s half of the contract here. Besides, have you ever called a book that left your brain chewing on its contents long afterward a “bad book”?

Russell Long is loaded with foreshadowing that seems like fact-stating at first blush, but produces satisfying “Aha!” moments throughout the proceeding text. Much of this foreshadowing occurs in the meaty first chapter entirely devoted to the life and career of Huey Long, Russell’s father. Mr. Martin depicts him as a powerful and ruthless Louisiana governor and political boss. Huey was a New Deal-era populist, and early on we come to know Russell as a Truman/Kennedy/LBJ Fair-Deal-era/Great Society-era populist. The account of Russell’s time striving toward and later working within the U.S. Senate during this period stands tall on its own, but it benefits tremendously from the foreshadowing earlier on.

As for sections of the book that trace the cause of a significant even to its effect, Mr. Martin provides context in step with the content. He seldom leaves the reader wondering what motives the actors might have had. Often, when an author does not give particular consideration to the distribution of contextual knowledge, the reader is burdened with wondering if he or she missed something until the author gets around to providing helpful context. The combination of foreshadowing and unconstructive inline explanation makes Russell Long a relatively effortless read.

Small Book, Big Ambition: The Compromise Shows.

In spite of all of the great things that I have to say about this biography, I do have complaints. Mr. Martin’s application of foreshadowing sometimes seems to guide the book’s focus away from very important details in favor of events that mesh well with the scaffold of foreshadowing upon which the biography seems to be built. Mr. Martin glosses over, and sometimes neglects even to account for, very important transitions in Russell Long’s political career. I found the explanation of the machinations by which Russell became Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, for example, to be unsatisfying. In sections describing the use of connections by either Long to usurp the function of government agencies, some more detail regarding how these connections were formed and maintained would have been beneficial.

Am I nitpicking? You may not even think twice about the informational gaps if you give this mainly solid book a read. I’m probably asking too much from a book in the range of 300 pages. If an editor demanded that I tamp down the word count, I might have nixed these details, too. Regardless, fleshing out these details in a longer book would have been well worth the longer read. In the end, every book must stand on it’s own two… covers. Russell Long certainly suffers from several unsatisfactory, unsatisfying, and sometimes missing explanations of what I though should have been key elements of a complete narrative.

The Last Word

To get hung up on any of these qualms would be to miss out on appreciating this book’s most important feature. Before Michael Martin’s Russell Long became available, there had been no quality account of Russell Long’s place in American history accessible to the layperson. The alternative for the average person seeking to learn about the younger Long would be a greatly fruitless Google search. Even Wikipedia, with it hordes of fanatical volunteer editors, hosts relatively little quality, cross-referenced information about this troubled, controversial, and interesting man. The publication of this book fills a conspicuous void, and there’s nothing but good in that.

The information density of Russell Long is actually dumbfounding. That Mr. Martin was able to make such a dense work so easy to read is a testament to his mastery of the biographical form. I swallowed about 300 pages of pure knowledge in hardly more than four hours. (If I’m being honest, the speed was just as much thanks to the “Spritz” reading software I use as to Mr. Martin, but I digress.) If all non-fiction books were like Russell Long, we would all be far more knowledgeable. People would read more books. People would patronize their libraries and coffee shops with equal frequency. Heck. The coffee shops would probably just be in the libraries.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 12.27.15 PMHello everyone. My name is Michael Nail (on the right). I’m the webmaster here at Gimmethatbook. I make sure the website looks nice, runs quickly, and doesn’t blow up. I also run the giveaways, which means that I have the honor and exquisite pleasure of announcing the winner of the Judy Melinek book giveaway:

Congratulations @enterprise314! Your copy of [easyazon_link asin=”1476727252″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”yes”]Working Stiff[/easyazon_link] by Judy Melinek will arrive as quickly as our beloved United States Postal Office’s fastest rickshaw can reach you. Be kind, and give the poor fellow a drink of water when he gets to you.

As for all you unfortunate souls who didn’t win, don’t fret. At Gimmethatbook, there will always be another giveaway, another book, and another chance. As for those who didn’t enter, tsk-tsk. For shame. Enter next time!

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