List price: $24.95 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $17.34
Collectible price: $22.95
Buy one from zShops for: $15.47
Horgan's biography succeeds magnificently in two ways. First, for those who will be coming to the book from reading Cather, one will find vastly greater depth and detail than was possible in that novel. So, the book is a boon for Cather fans. Second, even if one has not read Cather, the book tells a magnificent story of a truly heroic man and his closest friend. Their story is also the story of the West as a whole, and Santa Fe in particular.
There are biographies that record the rote facts about an individual, and unfortunately most fall into this category. And the there are biographies that almost manage to bring you into contact and introduce you to someone you have never met. Lamy emerges almost as someone you know, instead of someone you merely know things about.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in either history of the American West or in Willa Cather's great novel. Although I am not myself Roman Catholic, it would probably also be enjoyed by those whose main interest is in Church History. It is a tragedy that this book is not currently in print. With so many much weaker and less interesting biographies available, it is unfortunate that many of the truly excellent ones are not.
Author Paul Horgan won a Pulitzer prize for this book and it is not difficult to see why. It was readily apparent that Horgan had done exhaustive research from the numerous details contained in the book.
All in all, a meticulously researched book on a most remarkable individual of the American Southwest written by a diligent author.
Used price: $38.00
Buy one from zShops for: $41.95
Buy one from zShops for: $64.50
The Future of Terrorism contains essays submitted at the conference for Future Developments in Terrorism, Cork, Ireland in March 1999. The central thesis of the essays, which resonates in the individual essays and the editor's introduction is that terrorism has evolved beyond the traditional view of state sponsored organizations, who commit acts of violence as an expression of nationalism. Terrorist organizations are now more complex and their motivations can stem from a more diverse range of ideologies. Two supporting views that the essayists submit, which have significant value to military and civilian strategist, expound on terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction and the emergence of some terrorists as transnational actors. As with many nations and various legitimate organizations, the ending of the cold war caused most terrorist organizations to change their modus operandi to guarantee continued survival. The authors and editors support this argument by discussing the decline of state-sponsored terrorism, facilitated against the back-drop of the post cold war; increases in intrastate terrorist organizations; the blurring of distinctions between terrorism and organized crime; and finally the emergence of organizations with motives based on extremism and religion. In fact, law enforcement agencies have linked terrorist organizations to crimes such as extortion and bank robbery. The commitment of terrorism for monetary gain represents a significant shift from terrorism connected to ideologies. The shift away from strong ideological motivations also affects the potential use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To use a WMD, the terrorist organization's the belief in ideology must surpass their sense of survival. The potential use of a WMD could enrage world opinion and could lead to the destruction of the organization. This runs contrary to the beliefs of many security analysts, who cite the use of a nerve agent (1995) in a Tokyo subway as a sign of future use. However, its important to note that the organization linked to the attack was a religious extremist organization, with an extremely strong ideology and not a terrorist organization. Finally, the emergence of terrorists as a transnational actor is a recent phenomenon. Transnationalism is a term used to describe organizations that operate internationally, but do so without official state sponsorship or direction. As noted earlier, the end of the cold war caused some terrorist organizations to expand their area of operations. This expansion, because of logistics and financial support, made coordination between the various organizations a necessity. A good example of a transnational terrorist is Ossama bin Ladden. Ossama bin Ladden reportedly has links to several states in the Middle East and Africa as well as ties to other terrorist organizations. The ability to move in and out of different circles, similar to guests at a garden party, makes prediction of terrorist strikes extremely difficult. In summary, this book provides valuable insights into the complexity of terrorist organizations and their evolution. It's thought provoking and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject.
Used price: $5.00
Buy one from zShops for: $5.80
3000 people died, but 26,000 were saved, and there was great heroism. More than that, people helped each other through hard times. This book helps us see the perspective of nine months later. It is great.
These two compassionate men do not try to argue each other out of their respective beliefs, but rather try to find the comfort in the values that each holds to offer to those who have suffered in the terrorist attacks on September 11--and in other tragic events. So, readers with a range of faiths can find some words here that will evoke responses of agreement, empathy, and even comfort.
The book reads quickly and merits rereading. The format is that of an erudite conversation, and I found myself wanting to be a part of it. I found this to be a good book that also does good.
List price: $25.00 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $14.90
Collectible price: $18.00
Buy one from zShops for: $16.20
Horgan's skepticism, the result of a scientific education, comes off as a thinking man's argument against his own deep yearning for spiritual meaning. Thus his skepticism seems somewhat forced. The biggest disappointment in this book was the focus on people (famous researchers or not) whose "mystical" experiences have been induced by drugs. Can anyone explain why eating a toxic mushroom should reveal the secrets of the universe? It can't be THAT banal, can it? (Well, maybe it can! Who could have guessed that DNA, with its four little nucleotides, could be the blueprint for all life?) In any case, why go back nostalgically to the 60's and 70's for enlightenment--If psychedelics had been the Answer, wouldn't we all have found nirvana/universal oneness/enlightenment, and moved on by now?
The best question the author raises here is whether meditation produces a similar altered brain state, and reflects only that--an altered state of the neurons, not a true state of perception. In this case, there's no intrinsic difference between the results of meditation and psychedelic drugs; it's all meaningless. The flip side is, it's all revelatory of Truth. Horgan seems to end up with the first conclusion.
The book fizzles in its quest to answer the ultimate questions, but it was doomed to do so--an ironic conclusion reached by the author himself.
But, ultimately, there is no Answer, as there probably could not be. As humans, it is best to ask good questions and enjoy the debate they spark rather than insist on a dogmatic answer. Horgan's ecumenical book achieves that - a curious man seeking Enlightenment by interviewing people who have dedicated their careers in getting the answers, and doing this "rationally." The highpoint of this book is his interview with Susan Blackmore - she seems like the kind of earthy, real person you'd like to take out for a drink and a wide-ranging conversation.
Horgan enjoyed some psychedelics and speaks of these few experiences honestly. Many monsters, dragons, figures, etc. appear to Horgan as perhaps markers, or perhaps inhabitants, of a 'higher reality.' One line from Horgan's description of these trips sticks in my mind - his constant vomiting that "flopped in my bucket like a jellyfish." No thanks - anything that makes me vomit can't be good for me. ...
Rational Mysticism was especially meaningful to me because I long ago gave up on organized religion and put my faith in science. I occasionally try to return to religion, but quickly leave in exasperation. Now I understand that either path ends in mystery. We need to respect that mystery and appreciate the reality we have more.
You will meet some fascinating people in these pages, titantic egos, brilliant thinkers, crackpots. The introduction "Lena's Feather" was profoundly moving to me. Mr. Horgan's account of the ayahuasca ceremony is not to be missed. Finally the chapter "The Awe-Ful Truth" will leave you with much to think about.
Anyone who thinks on the "big questions" whether religious or rationalist should read this book.
Used price: $3.25
Collectible price: $5.97
Buy one from zShops for: $4.30
The strength of this book is that Horgan was very careful about going to representative sources in each science, to show each in its best light rather than simply debunking them. This results in a very good review of basic neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, psychotherapy, psychopharmaceutical effectiveness, and other research areas of importance that claim to tell us something fundamental about ourselves. We don't get the sense in this book that Horgan is simply arbitrarily skeptical of science, but that he respects what science can accomplish yet finds some aspects of reality simply beyond our ken. Seemingly reasonable, yet easy to forget when we get caught up in the excitement over the stream of promising new findings from research.
The weakness of this book is that he doesn't give any indication at all that any view of the mind is better or more useful than any other, something of profound importance when we try to make decisions on what is known, such as deciding what to do when feeling overwhelmed and unsure of our sanity. The reader might be left at the end of the book in frustration with the conclusion that we don't really know _anything_ at all about the mind and brain, which wouldn't be true, even according to the contents of Horgan's books. It does however deserve a place on the bookshelf of anyone who suspects that we don't know everything yet, and who wants to better understand where the limits of our knowledge of the mind are now. It will probably attract many skeptics of science, but its real value is to remind scientists of our own limitations and the depth of the mysteries of nature.
Used price: $1.65
Collectible price: $8.47
Buy one from zShops for: $3.90
If the above mentioned ten fields of science do not interest you, then the book becomes very boring at times. But overall despite a certain lack of underlying substance (which I believe is due to a certain truth that an End of science if humanly possible at all is nowhere in any near future), it is draped with loads of valuable perspectives and food for thought. In each field a leading scientist(s) is interviewed about the End of their fields. At worst for merely all the scientific philosophies this book has value.
(pp. 237) Evolution could have created other brains representing other solutions.
(pp. 210) When one understands everything, one has gone crazy.
However, the book has 2 significant strengths.
1. It presents many prominent scientists' opinions.
2. It has a good bibliography, so one can read the scientists first-hand if one wants.
One of the main criticisms of the book is that the character portraits Horgan paints of the prominent scientists he interviews are biased and unfair. I suspect that they are indeed both. This is perhaps regrettable. However, any reader who takes Horgan's portraits as the raison d'etre of this book is - in my view - missing the point.
The point is, this book examines a number of different sciences, and also the discipline of the Philosophy of Science, with the view to addressing a particular question: whether Science is "coming to an end". Thus, there is a certain cross-disciplinary methodological focus which I - for one - found very valuable indeed.
Although this book is unlikely to provide all, or even any, of the answers to a scientist or sophisticated layman, it at least poses the questions and goes a little way down a particular path of enquiry. If you want more, as I said, the bibliography is there!
The critical reviews I've read seem to be more on the order of attacks on the person of the author, than the ideas presented here. The book has a strong focus on the basic question of whether pure science has reached an apex and is now going down hill. But while this question interested me, I was more intrigued by the opinions expressed on a variety of subjects in the many interviews with the biggest names in science of the past half century.
I was mildly irritated by the author's attempt to coin a term - ironic science - and although he defined it several times in different ways, I never did feel it added anything to the book.
I love science and have nothing but respect for the disciplined approach to truth embodied in it. I think Horgan asks tough questions here and they should be honestly and dispassionately tested against reality. This doesn't mean Horgan has all the right answers - but he is an excellent interviewer and writer and he's asking the right questions, and that's more than half the battle.
The reaction of some scientists to Horgan sounds more to me like church leaders defending orthoxy - and perhaps their sources of income and power - than like individuals interested in the pursuit of objective truth. Now that's ironic science!
Used price: $190.00
Used price: $35.54
Buy one from zShops for: $35.54