Thursday, January 1, 2015

December Books

*A History of the Future: A World Made by Hand Novel  by James Howard Kunstler depicts a simpler post-apocalyptic United States after oil, after pandemics, after environmental disaster.  Yet, in little Union Grove, the townspeople are preparing for Christmas without the consumerist shopping frenzy of an earlier era when they are shocked by a double murder and news of a new civil war in the South. Adaptable folks or those with practical skills face numerous challenges but seem doing well  in isolated pockets. Kunstler has an engaging way of presenting  potential unanticipated consequences and challenge.

 *The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution bt Walter Isaacson tells the story of the people who created  computer hardware, software   and the Internet. “It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens.” The litany of names is sometimes mind numbing, but the slog is well worthwhile. 

The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life by Ira Byock is built around the thesis that it is now much harder to die than ever and palliative care should be given a higher priority. Because of tremendous  advances in keeping people alive,   many Americans suffer needlessly and die badly.  Byock provides good illustrations of  best practices in “end of life” medicine but is weak on policy or personal recommendations.

*Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami and Philip Gabriel  a  meditation by  a young man haunted by a great loss and about his dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around him. Tsukuru makes  journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. “It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak “ that is uniquely Japanese and also universal.

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