Scathing Book Reviews of The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman isn’t exactly Airport Reading, but that’s where I bought my copy.  Unfortunately, while I found the back cover blurb interesting and the introduction well written, I found that I couldn’t dig into the book the way I expected.  I attributed this to the environment of the Airport, but even at home, I find it to be pretty dry reading, and not particularly enlightening.

When I do read it, I tend to skip around within it, sort of like I do with The Discoverers.  I know that there are hundreds of glowing reviews, but even though I’ve read many books and articles discussing the same topic, I just find Friedman’s tough to get through, and less convinced than he is about what his “findings” mean.  Perhaps its becaus I lack his perspective, but he seems to be awfully sure of his positions.  These Scathing Book Reviews of The World is Flat think it lacks fizz:

This book will be a revelation to anyone who has been without access to newspapers or cable TV for the past 10 years.

…and:

…As each longwinded chapter unfolded more and more evidence presented itself as proof that this book is all filler. It reads like the publisher paid by the word alone.

..and:

I’ve always hated Friedman. He writes with a manic quality that dodges left and right around inconvenient details or moral evaluations. He simultaneously believes that history has a purpose AND that those who oppose anything that happens in the world are being head-in-the-sanders and obstructionists. He’s an ‘anti-normativist’–if something in the world happens, then, according to Friedman, it was clearly meant to happen and is surely for the best.
 

…and:

I’m not sure how the author can possibly be so fascinated by technology and yet know absolutely nothing about it at the same time, but his endless diatribes about the miracles of PayPal and Microsoft Word are beyond laughable, and I was pretty much in shock when he started citing howstuffworks-dot-com as a technical reference on fiber optics and SOAP.

…and:

Friedman is a quack. He’s made a cottage industry of describing the obvious. There’s nothing serious about his work, whether it’s professional, academic or other.

…and:

It is a mark of Friedman’s approach and personality that he dates the beginning of “Flat World”  phenomena to a few years ago, when he discovered them.

…and:

Outsource Punditry Now. The average call center worker in Bangalore can write a better book than this.

…and:

Horrible book and a waste of money that could have been better spent on some worth while. Maybe the “National Enquirer.”

Scathing Book Reviews of Stuff White People Like, by Christian Lander

I first heard of Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander on, I admit it, NPR.  (So sue me!  At least I’m not a fan of David Searis).  So I guess I’m in part the target and the target market for this kind of book.  I also have a blog and wear shorts when its just barely warm enough to put them on, I admit. 

These and dozens of other entries are covered in the Stuff White People Like Blog, from which this book sprang.  I admit its clever and good marketing too – a certain kind of person revels in irony, and the idea of embracing something which mocks your taste in Starbucks, Chinese food, and etc. is right up that demographic’s alley. 

HOWEVER, its not just “Stuff White People Like”, as I know from sharing this with friends that “go beyond the pale”, lets say.   A more accurate title of the book would be “Stuff that Middle and Upper Class Metropolitan Area People Like”, as I know for a fact that where I grew up, there’s one Starbucks in the entire county.

Anyway, these Scathing Book Reviews of Stuff White People Like think the book lacks color:

This book is the most offensive piece of dribble that I have ever had the misfortune of purchasing.

…and from the “missing the point” department:

This book is in the humor section, but it did not even make me smile, let alone chuckle. Organic food? Farmer’s Markets? Nonprofit organizations? Adopting children from third world countries? Barack Obama? This is supposed to be satire? Seems to me that supporting these things make for a better world. If he had gone after typical Republican or white trash stuff then maybe he could have squeezed out some humor, but that has all been done before.
 
…and a fairly shocking review (I didn’t write it – you’ll either laugh or cry):

The book was written by a white person and it’s the hallmark of elitist whites to say they’re not elitist and distance themselves from being white. Their “above the fray” attitude indicates that they’re better than all other people who engage in whatever attitudes and behaviors they’ve pointed out to us with their super keen senses. I’ve noted this behavior in English and Jewish people.

…and:

Worthy of sitting next to the toilet so it gets peed on, you know, since it’s not flushable.

…and:

There’s some acute perception and witty writing here. It’s sufficient to carry the reader along in a state of amusement until that inevitable point, otherwise recognizable in a too-prolonged diet of NPR listening, when finally the tone becomes insufferabl

…and, you know, the truth hurts:

I’ve got another thing that white people like: Reviewing books on Amazon and trying to come across as savy and intellectual. (Even on the books that don’t require either of those talents.)

Scathing Book Reviews of Twilight (Book 1, the Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer is one of those success stories that every publisher dreams of, and that every writer dreams of as well. One indicator of success? Over 1,800 book reviews of Twilight as of July 2008, for crying out loud! That’s 9 times as many as “The Sound and the Fury”.  If nothing else, that speaks to how deep the fangs are on this sucker, and probably something about the decline of civilization.

The Twilight Saga tells the story of starcrossed love between a woman and a bloodsucker, and no, it’s not the story of Anne Hathaway and her Con-Man boyfriend.

Nope, its that same old story, Boy Meets Girl, Girl Loves Boy, Boy’s Vampiric Blood Lust causes relationship troubles. You have to give kudos to Meyer for finding ways to mix the romantic and horror genres in a way that is profitable and fulfilling to many readers, but according to these Book Reviews, Twilight, and by extension the Twilight Saga, sucks:

Oh God. I don’t know where to start on the 2389471829 things wrong with this book.

…and:

I felt that the story itself was very boring. A girl falls in love with a good looking face to the point where she’s willing to give up all her friends, her family, her life, even her soul. Sounds like an alcoholic or a drug addict. Apparently the boy feels the same way too but he’s more in love with her smell.

…and from the same review:

It’s all pretty shallow. If Edward was fugly would she even care? Edward would be like “OMG Bella I love your smell! Plzbe my g/f!!” And Bella would be all ‘”GTFO Creep!” I glared and grimaced!’ You know I’m right!

…and:

I managed to read the first couple hundred pages, but after that it was so dull, trite and clichéd that I just skimmed along, picking up the important plot points along the way. All one of them.

…and:

It is an insult to Harry Potter to even be mentioned in the same sentence with this book.

…and:

200 pages: Nothing has happened.

300 pages: Nothing has happened.

400 pages: NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.

Are you Kidding me?

…and:

I found it difficult to put the book down — except for those moments when I had to stop and shriek at my friends, “SPARKLY VAMPIRES!” or “VAMPIRE BASEBALL!” or “WHY IS BELLA SO STUPID?” These moments came increasingly often as I reached the climactic chapters, until I simply reached the point where I had to stop and flail around laughing.

…and:

This sappy vampire love story manages to validate my distaste for fantasy novels in a way I never thought possible… I would recommend this book for lovesick teenagers, but no one else should ever bother picking it up.

…and:

If you want your teenage daughters to grow up to have no self-esteem and a lifetime of abusive co-dependent relationships, then go ahead, buy this book.

…and this, short, and definitely not sparkly:

WTF? I wasn’t even able to finish this! How do people read this @$!% for entertainment?

Scathing Book Reviews of Audition: A Memoir, by Barbara Walters

Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters is one of those that gets talk-talk-talked about but no one I know has read it, or is likely to. Why the talk? Well Babs has been around for awhile (The Baba-WaWa thing still has legs, though I never quite got it – she must’ve had speech therapy by the time I actually saw her on TV) and she has a talk show, ABC to still polish her star, and wide and deep industry connections. Then there was that revelation of an affair – nice PR spin there, if not so nice to the guy’s family.

Why hasn’t anyone I know read it? Well, while I’m not young, I ain’t old either, and let’s get something straight – she’s elderly. Vibrant? Sure. But old. To Baby Boomers, she was probably a major influence as one of the first prominent female reporters, but to me, she was the co-host of 20/20, where she had Hugh Downs around to make her look younger.

Anyway, for these reviewers, this Audition by Barbara Walters fails:

She believes her life is far more interesting than I find it to be. Not to mention the fact that if you have heard all her never-ending press interviews etc., you already know everything in the book.

…and:

Barbara, you are not fooling anyone with all the facelifts and the skinny jeans on the View. We can tell you are an old lady.

…and:

She should not have written this book but her ego forced her to. How sad she had to end her brilliant career in such a manner. Sad, sad, sad.

…and:

If you like Barbara Walters and want to continue to like her; DO NOT READ this book. If I could have selected zero stars, I would have.

…and:

Wow! Why is the most interesting thing in Barbara’s life her sex life with a black man. Who else did she sleep with to get ahead? Why did she not reveal this? What role did affirmative action play?

…and:
How this self-aggrandizing ‘legend’ can consider herself a legitimate journalist (sorry–you can’t be both Rona Barrett AND Walter Cronkite) in light of the decades of questionable situational ethics she recounts here is anyone’s guess.

…and:

Barbara Walters should have been a politician. The careful way she says one thing, but infers other things, is a study in political correctness combined with mud slinging.

…and this review of Audition by Barbara Walters gets points because it has none – neither in punctuation or meaning, from what I can tell. Even better, someone replied and said “Learn to use punctuation, and then write a revue.” (sic!):

So about Barbara and her book coming out why write about marriages and just write a little about her background and about her career and not to meson about these three men she was married to just write quick Biography about her and her story and her career and forget all the murmuring and write a little about her sister and Parents and Grand Parent’s and so forth and drop it I think it would been a better book for Barbara and her self and not to put all the joke an it and forget it and the view is so silly that why not turn it an something else then having shooting with Rose O’Donnell and the rest of them and just keep it simple and interview people and just keep it simple for get all the shooting and the joke and silly to talk over each other and nothing is wrong with Elizabeth she has her opine like we all have with the Barbara interview she just ask questions and didn’t intercrop any one or made it bad so I don’t see any thing with Elizabeth why they just have a topic and interview people that has written a book or done a music CD or some Organization or someone that could give a program make it more interesting to view’s and for them Interview someone from a Organization that dose good an the community or some one is interesting then sent around a table and talking it doesn’t make bunch since to sent around the table and talk then not to interview people that have a interest.

Scathing Book Reviews of “Faith of My Fathers” and more books by John McCain

Faith of My Fathers(2000) by John McCainmade a splash when it was originally published, but nothing to compare to The Audacity of Hope. On the other hand, Barack Obama’s book has yet to be turned into a TV Movieso I guess that means that John McCain, by the Kevin Bacon rule, has closer connections to Barbra Streisand than Obama.

What I didn’t know when I set out to find Scathing Book Reviews of John McCain’s book would be that McCain has written at least FIVE books, with the “co-author” Mark Salter, including:

Looking over that list, I can guess what McCain did with all the campaign slogans he didn’t use. Anyway, who would’ve thought McCain would be outpacing Obama in the book writing category? Here are some Scathing Book Reviews of John McCain books that indicate practice doesn’t make perfect:

Faith of My Fathers
Another reason as to why I did not like this book was the fact that he can write an entire chapter about what he did to occupy his time in solitary confinement. That entire chapter was torture; probably worse than what he was going through.

…and:

The real shame in ‘Faith of My Fathers’ is that McCain was involved at all; Salter’s efforts clearly demonstrate the ghostwriter’s skill, whereas J.M. has merely phoned in his oft-championed ‘trials and tribulations.’

…and this from a Howard Zinn fan, no doubt:

Bombing civilians and childern is one way to become a hero in an imperialist nation, and McCain’s name is at the top of the list when we see how these parasites of society use any opportunity to feed at the through of government. The real crime is that McCain is not still in a Vietnamese prison serving the life sentence he so richly deserves.

…and here’s a review that isn’t scathing, but worth reading:

Dag, but McCain was a buck in his youth! I could gaze at this cover for hours.

Hard Call: The Art of Great Decisions

APPARENTLY, THE AUTHOR THINKS HARD DECISIONS ARE ONLY MADE BY MEN. HE HAS 17 ‘MEN’ STORIES, TWO WOMEN STORIES AND YET THE TITLE IMPLIES HIS BOOK IS ABOUT ‘PEOPLE’; WELL, IN MY WORLD, WOMEN MAKE HARD DECISIONS EVERY DAY AND WE’RE PEOPLE TOO.

…and:

Reminded me way too much of Polonius’s advice to his son in Hamlet, that is ‘full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse.’

Why Courage Matters

Between wonderful stories of individual courage, this treatise on courage and what causes people to react without respect to fear is totally unreadable jibberish. It makes no sense at all.

…and:

The message is great, but it could be presented on a 3×5 card instead.

…and the obligatory political comment:

Must’ve been ghostwritten. After all, how can it be that the author of ‘Why Courage Matters : The Way to a Braver Life’ doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Karl Rove. Sad, really.

..and finally, from the “Amazon is my soapbox” crowd:

Character is Destiny

I hereby publicly condemn John’s snivelling subliminal psywar campaigns. In doing so, I publicly proclaim that he likes to seem smarter than he really is. It therefore always amuses me whenever John cracks open a thesaurus, aims for intellectualism, misses, and lands squarely in a puddle of brutish frippery.

Scathing Book Reviews of The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

“Don’t talk about politics!” is usually good advice, but in the case of Political Books, the book reviews are so juicy that heck, why not? Today I”ll do The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. Tomorrow I’ll do books written by John McCain. Dennis Kucinich? Uh, maybe later. Much later.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama probably has two kinds of readers, which lead to two kinds of book reviews.

First there’s the type who buys the book to get a closer understanding of who exactly Barack Obama is and what he stands for. Some of these are True Believers, others are undecided citizens. It’ll be interesting to see if the Barack Obama in early November bears any resemblance to the one that wrote the book…

The second group of buyers are Republicans who buy it so they can scout the opposition, and I suppose, get some Aerobic benefit. Nothing like a little “I can’t believe this #&@!” to get the blood flowing, I say.

These scathing book reviews of The Audacity of Hope are pretty audacious themselves… Check in tomorrow for John McCain!

Let me first state that I like Barack Obama. I’ve even contributed to his Presidential campaign, not easy for one who lives on Social Insecurity…Nevertheless, I’m saddened to report that “The Audacity of Hope” is so boring as to make one pray for the gift of blindness….I still like Obama and hope this book was ghost-written. If not…mere words fail me.

…and:

I felt better when I put the book in the bottom of my trash barrel to save others from it.

..and:

If you want to learn how to write good political propaganda, take a look at this book to see how it should be done.

…and:

I keep this book handy in my bathroom, just in case we run out of TP

…and:

NObama! This man will set race relations back 30-40 years. Let’s not turn the United States of America into a Marxist Obamanation.

…and:

These reviews have more plants than a Hillary Clinton press conference.

…and from a reviewer who seems to have “texted it in”:

why pay to read of his moral superiority? obama tellsus every day on the nightly news . now, if the book had chapters on, say, how to get slumlords to finance your house… then it would be worth buying .

…and from this reviewer, who finds a tie between ‘Jackass’ and Obama that has nothing to do with the Democratic Mascot:

So, long story short, I walk into my K-Mart and see one pile with Barack Obama’s book about hope and the other pile with Jackass the Movie (nr.1) DVDs. Please, don’t get me wrong; both those are quality gifts for the right person; both bestsellers and in the cheerful and hopeful spirit of the season.

Scathing Book Reviews of Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose

These critical reviews of Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose are pretty heavy artillery, and its worth noting that they’re savaging the book, not the subject. Easy Company 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was certainly a “Company of Heroes”, but then again, so were many other units.

My Great Uncle died at the Battle of St. Lo, and he was in a Tank Destroyer unit of the 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead!). Many other units went on the line on D-Day and never really left it, unlike Easy Company, which had two major “rest” opportunities. Again, this doesn’t diminish the personal heroism of those that served in Easy, but they didn’t necessarily have the hardest war, the highest casualties, or the best leadership among the many units that fought in the European Theater. What they did get was the attention of a “name brand” author, Stephen Ambrose, and these Scathing Reviews of Band of Brothers focus on the critics opinions of HIM, not the men of Easy:

Drivel.
Pure drivel. If one wishes the honest re-telling of history & not self-serving distortion or histrionic hyperbole, stay away from Stephen Ambrose. After reading a few of his books I crown him the Jackie Collins of historical fiction. Why one star? It’s the lowest rating they offer.

…and:

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but skip the book and rent the movie.

…and:

Mr. Ambrose barely gets the reader involved. His recounting of a heroic bayonet charge, or an assault down a fire swept causeway, gives the reader as much feeling for what it was like as me describing my breakfast with the phrase “I ate breakfast.”

…and:

…this poorly-researched book offers little more than the standard episode of the old TV series COMBAT! …Unfortunately from the viewpoint of historical accuracy, the book is hopelessly riddled with errors, exaggerations and vicious slander.

…and:

The writing was high school quality, a poor job by the editors (apparently the atomic bomb was “dripped” on Hiroshima)…

…and a hat tip to my favorite WWII movie, Battleground (1949):

If you would like to read a WW II novel about an airborne regiment written by the Easy Company Public Relations man, this is your book. I suggest saving your time, rent Battleground, and call it a day.