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markm's books

2024 Reading Goal

30% complete! markm has read 11 of 36 books.

Kerry Howley: Bottoms up and the Devil Laughs (2023, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Knopf) 2 stars

Flakey

2 stars

I’m not sure what this book is about. It has been written in a haphazard way, both structurally and at the sentence level. The author seems to have a cabinet full of axes to grind. No arguments are made, there is just reportage with the author’s opinion made either explicitly by simple statement, or much more often implicitly by the images created from what is sometimes unrelated material. The core of the book is the story of the Reality Winner espionage case. Introductory portions of the book are sporadically about Julian Assange, John Lindh, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and the dark activities of our intelligence services. I suppose that these serve to set the stage for Reality Winner, or to show us the environment that she was living in. The author thinks (or perhaps feels is better) that torture is bad, that prison is bad, apparently that people come as …

Jonathan Eig: King : a Life (2023, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 5 stars

A biography of Martin Luther King Jr.

A fine detailed biography of one of the greatest men in my lifetime

5 stars

As the Brits say, No man is a hero to his valet, and one might suppose that no great man will emerge from a non-hagiographic biography with his reputation unscathed. But I found that Dr. King may be the exception. His extraordinary bravery and single-minded devotion to his moral goals are only amplified by his human failings. As Dick Gregory comments at the end of the book, What makes King different from Jesus? Jesus is hearsay. Don’t mean it didn’t happen, but there’s film of King….

David Quammen: Breathless (2022, Random House Children's Books) 5 stars

The story of the worldwide scientific quest to decipher the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, trace its source, …

Breathless

4 stars

Quammen interviewed many researchers involved in the Covid-19 pandemic during and just after the lockdown using Zoom. He has digested and presented this information for us in his usual straightforward and evenhanded way. The nature of RNA viruses, the known history of the progression of the pandemic, and various opinions on the origin of the virus are discussed. DQ occasionally goes off on a tangent, e.g. the details of Pangolin smuggling, but I found it all interesting. My edition from last year has an addendum that brings things up to date, although there hasn't been a lot of new data on the origin of the virus - the author explains why.

There is a summary of the whole book at the end of the text that was largely made by abstracting what you've just finished reading. I found it unnecessary unless you aren't going to read the book.

Chapter 37, …

David Quammen: Breathless (2022, Random House Children's Books) 5 stars

The story of the worldwide scientific quest to decipher the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, trace its source, …

Quammen interviewed many researchers involved in the Covid-19 pandemic during and just after the lockdown using Zoom. He has digested and presented this information for us in his usual straightforward and evenhanded way. The nature of RNA viruses, the known history of the progression of the pandemic, and various opinions on the origin of the virus are discussed. DQ occasionally goes off on a tangent, e.g. the details of Pangolin smuggling, but I found it all interesting. My edition from last year has an addendum that brings things up to date, although there hasn't been a lot of new data on the origin of the virus - the author explains why.

There is a summary of the whole book at the end of the text that was largely made by abstracting what you've just finished reading. I found it unnecessary unless you aren't going to read the book.

Chapter 37, …

Noa Tishby: Israel (AudiobookFormat, 2021, Simon & Schuster Audio and Blackstone Publishing) 5 stars

Review of 'Israel' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

A sometimes breezy history/memoir of Israel by an Israeli TV producer. Our ethnicity and politics are the same so I agree with much of her commentary. I would only suggest that her legalistic or pseudo-legalistic explanations of why the occupation of the West Bank is not a true occupation and why the creation of the country was not taken from any other sovereign entity either approach sophistry or are irrelevant.
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Goodreads blocked me from reviewing this book, then it somehow came in as an audiobook listing.
"¯_(ツ)_/¯"

Abraham Verghese: Covenant of Water (2023, Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated) 5 stars

Review of 'Covenant of Water' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

An epic novel about a family in southern India by a well-known physician-author. The author is of Indian ancestry, went to medical school in Madras, has another degree in fine arts, and has written other best-selling books – so he has both the ability and access to the stories that make this novel so attractive. I liked the water imagery, the analogy of the river as fate, and the theme of family secrets. I appreciated all of the Medicine in it and I was reminded of several Indian physicians I have known who were more knowledgeable about classical physical examination than my American colleagues.
I have no especially important criticisms, but …
•The ending of this story is a nice example of bathos (in the sense of too much pathos).
•Although Dapsone is mentioned briefly near the end of the book, the pharmacological treatment of leprosy is otherwise ignored in …