A politics book recommendation: The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2qRJh4c.
Wu cites several early internet refusnik works, including Morozov’s The Net Delusion and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, but The Attention Merchants lacks the moralizing tone that often marred these earlier works, and also avoids the bootstrap-transcendentalism that permeates “digital sabbath” pieces like Sullivan’s.
Book description from Google Books:
From Tim Wu, author of the award-winning The Master Switch ( a New Yorker and Fortune Book of the Year) and who coined the term “net neutrality”–a revelatory, ambitious and urgent account of how the capture and re-sale of human attention became the defining industry of our time.   Feeling attention challenged? Even assaulted? American business depends on it. In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of messaging, advertising enticements, branding, sponsored social media, and other efforts to harvest our attention. Few moments or spaces of our day remain uncultivated by the “attention merchants,” contributing to the distracted, unfocused tenor of our times. Tim Wu argues that this condition is not simply the byproduct of recent technological innovations but the result of more than a century’s growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. From the pre-Madison Avenue birth of advertising to the explosion of the mobile web; from AOL and the invention of email to the attention monopolies of Google and Facebook; from Ed Sullivan to celebrity power brands like Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump, the basic business model of “attention merchants” has never changed: free diversion in exchange for a moment of your consideration, sold in turn to the highest-bidding advertiser. Wu describes the revolts that have risen against the relentless siege of our awareness, from the remote control to the creation of public broadcasting to Apple’s ad-blocking OS. But he makes clear that attention merchants are always growing new heads, even as their means of getting inside our heads are changing our very nature–cognitive, social, political and otherwise–in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.   “A startling and sweeping examination of the increasingly ubiquitous commercial effort to capture and commodify our attention…We’ve become the consumers, the producers, and the content. We are selling ourselves to ourselves.” –Tom Vanderbilt, The New Republic   “An erudite, energizing, outraging, funny and thorough history…A devastating critique of ad tech as it stands today, transforming “don’t be evil” into the surveillance business model in just a few short years. It connects the dots between the sale of advertising inventory in schools to the bizarre ecosystem of trackers, analyzers and machine-learning models that allow the things you look at on the web to look back at you…This stuff is my daily beat, and I learned a lot from Attention Merchants.” –Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing  “Illuminating.” –Jacob Weisberg, The New York Review of Books 
The book is rated 4.10/5 at goodreads.com, from 788 ratings. See 131 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2qRDCel.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2saJSSh.

A politics book recommendation: The Optician of Lampedusa: A Novella Based on a True Story by Emma-Jane Kirby

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2glYjxA.
This is an ambitious and important book that goes far beyond the voyeurism of 24-hour news to identify something timeless and troubling. Shortly after the drownings, Pope Francis spoke of “a day for tears”. Emma Jane Kirby challenges us to do more than cry.
Book description from Google Books:
The only optician on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean is an ordinary man in his fifties, who used to be indifferent to the fate of the thousands of refugees landing on the coast of the Italian island. One day in the fall of 2013, the unimaginable scale of the tragedy became clear to him, and it changed him forever: as he was out boating with some friends, he encountered hundreds of men, women and children drowning in the aftermath of a shipwreck. The Optician and his seven friends managed to save 47 people (his boat was designed to hold ten people). All the others died. This is a poignant and unforgettable account about the awakening of conscience: more than that, it brings home the reality of an ongoing refugee crisis that has resulted in one of the most massive migrations in human history. More than 360 people died in the disaster off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3, 2013. The original interview with Carmine Menna, the basis for this book, can be heard at http://bit.ly/optlamp
The book is rated 4.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 562 ratings. See 93 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2f62pEM.
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A politics book recommendation: The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2p1sMVb.
A terrific writer and storyteller, Tyson compels a closer look at a heinous crime and the consequential decisions, large and small, that made it a national issue.
Book description from Google Books:
This extraordinary New York Times bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till—“and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren’t often enough asked to do with history: learn from it” (The Atlantic).In 1955, white men in the Mississippi Delta lynched a fourteen-year-old from Chicago named Emmett Till. His murder was part of a wave of white terrorism in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Only weeks later, Rosa Parks thought about young Emmett as she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Black students who called themselves “the Emmett Till generation” launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle for civil rights into a mass movement. Till’s lynching became the most notorious hate crime in American history. But what actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice, but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till “unfolds like a movie” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), drawing on a wealth of new evidence, including a shocking admission of Till’s innocence from the woman in whose name he was killed. “Jolting and powerful” (The Washington Post), the book “provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions” (Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Carry Me Home) and “calls us to the cause of justice today” (Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP).
The book is rated 4.13/5 at goodreads.com, from 1188 ratings. See 241 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pJ8ptQ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2pJkYoY.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A politics book recommendation: The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2qRJh4c.
Wu cites several early internet refusnik works, including Morozov’s The Net Delusion and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, but The Attention Merchants lacks the moralizing tone that often marred these earlier works, and also avoids the bootstrap-transcendentalism that permeates “digital sabbath” pieces like Sullivan’s.
Book description from Google Books:
From Tim Wu, author of the award-winning The Master Switch ( a New Yorker and Fortune Book of the Year) and who coined the term “net neutrality”–a revelatory, ambitious and urgent account of how the capture and re-sale of human attention became the defining industry of our time.   Feeling attention challenged? Even assaulted? American business depends on it. In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of messaging, advertising enticements, branding, sponsored social media, and other efforts to harvest our attention. Few moments or spaces of our day remain uncultivated by the “attention merchants,” contributing to the distracted, unfocused tenor of our times. Tim Wu argues that this condition is not simply the byproduct of recent technological innovations but the result of more than a century’s growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. From the pre-Madison Avenue birth of advertising to the explosion of the mobile web; from AOL and the invention of email to the attention monopolies of Google and Facebook; from Ed Sullivan to celebrity power brands like Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump, the basic business model of “attention merchants” has never changed: free diversion in exchange for a moment of your consideration, sold in turn to the highest-bidding advertiser. Wu describes the revolts that have risen against the relentless siege of our awareness, from the remote control to the creation of public broadcasting to Apple’s ad-blocking OS. But he makes clear that attention merchants are always growing new heads, even as their means of getting inside our heads are changing our very nature–cognitive, social, political and otherwise–in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.   “A startling and sweeping examination of the increasingly ubiquitous commercial effort to capture and commodify our attention…We’ve become the consumers, the producers, and the content. We are selling ourselves to ourselves.” –Tom Vanderbilt, The New Republic   “An erudite, energizing, outraging, funny and thorough history…A devastating critique of ad tech as it stands today, transforming “don’t be evil” into the surveillance business model in just a few short years. It connects the dots between the sale of advertising inventory in schools to the bizarre ecosystem of trackers, analyzers and machine-learning models that allow the things you look at on the web to look back at you…This stuff is my daily beat, and I learned a lot from Attention Merchants.” –Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing  “Illuminating.” –Jacob Weisberg, The New York Review of Books 
The book is rated 4.10/5 at goodreads.com, from 782 ratings. See 131 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2qRDCel.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2saJSSh.

A politics book recommendation: The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John le Carré

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eub8B1.
we have this, a delightful collection of charming and occasionally insightful tales, which climaxes in a chapter that could have been, and one hopes someday will be, the focus of a truly profound John le Carré book.
Book description from Google Books:
“Recounted with the storytelling elan of a master raconteur — by turns dramatic and funny, charming, tart and melancholy.” -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times The New York Times bestselling memoir from John le Carre, the legendary author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; and The Night Manager, now an Emmy-nominated television series starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. John le Carre’s new novel, A Legacy of Spies, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017. From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carre has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carre is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he’s writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire or the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth; visiting Rwanda’s museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide; celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 with Yasser Arafat and his high command; interviewing a German woman terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev; listening to the wisdoms of the great physicist, dissident, and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov; meeting with two former heads of the KGB; watching Alec Guinness prepare for his role as George Smiley in the legendary BBC TV adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People; or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in The Constant Gardener, le Carre endows each happening with vividness and humor, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood. Best of all, le Carre gives us a glimpse of a writer’s journey over more than six decades, and his own hunt for the human spark that has given so much life and heart to his fictional characters.
The book is rated 4.08/5 at goodreads.com, from 1630 ratings. See 309 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2euaFij.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2udI9Nb.

A politics book recommendation: Iraq + 100: Stories from Another Iraq by Hassan Blasim

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2mee3mf.
I did not enjoy this collection. Enjoyment is beside the point. One does not enjoy being shown the child in Omelas’ basement. But it’s crucial to see, crucial to negotiate one’s position to that child with clear eyes. I admire the achievement of this collection greatly…
Book description from Google Books:
 Iraq + 100 poses a question to ten Iraqi writers: what might your country look like in the year 2103 – a century after the disastrous American- and British-led invasion, and 87 years down the line from its current, nightmarish battle for survival? How might the effects of that one intervention reach across a century of repercussions, and shape the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens, or influence its economy, culture, or politics? Might Iraq have finally escaped the cycle of invasion and violence triggered by 2003 and, if so, what would a new, free Iraq look like?Covering a range of approaches – from science fiction, to allegory, to magic realism – these stories use the blank canvas of the future to explore the nation’s hopes and fears in equal measure. Along the way a new aesthetic for the ‘Iraqi fantastical’ begins to emerge: thus we meet time-travelling angels, technophobic dictators, talking statues, macabre museum-worlds, even hovering tiger-droids, and all the time buoyed by a dark, inventive humour that, in itself, offers hope.
The book is rated 3.65/5 at goodreads.com, from 79 ratings. See 22 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mzR47H.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2mRhrDX.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A politics book recommendation: Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies, and Other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural Worlds by Leo Braudy

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2s2CWqx.
My worries about following Braudy’s arguments proved unfounded. If this scholar writes densely, he also has a kangaroo capacity for crossing huge distances at a bound, moving with equal zest and confidence among biblical, classical, medieval, Enlightenment and Hollywood figures and conceits.
Book description from Google Books:
An award-winning scholar and author charts four hundred years of monsters and how they reflect the culture that created them Leo Braudy, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, has won accolades for revealing the complex and constantly shifting history behind seemingly unchanging ideas of fame, war, and masculinity.   Continuing his interest in the history of emotion, this book explores how fear has been shaped into images of monsters and monstrosity. From the Protestant Reformation to contemporary horror films and fiction, he explores four major types: the monster from nature (King Kong), the created monster (Frankenstein), the monster from within (Mr. Hyde), and the monster from the past (Dracula). Drawing upon deep historical and literary research, Braudy discusses the lasting presence of fearful imaginings in an age of scientific progress, viewing the detective genre as a rational riposte to the irrational world of the monstrous. Haunted is a compelling and incisive work by a writer at the height of his powers.
The book is rated 3.53/5 at goodreads.com, from 34 ratings. See 16 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2qIN6Zn.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2qJ4dKw.

A politics book recommendation: The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2s10TOM.
Levy is an incredibly talented writer who has built a solid body of work, but “The Rules Do Not Apply” does not have the same energy that her magazine writing is known for.
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A gorgeous memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention “Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You’ll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend’s over.”–theSkimm Named one of the best books of 2017 so far by Time and Entertainment Weekly When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules–about work, about love, and about womanhood. In this “deeply human and deeply moving” (The New York Times Book Review) memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being, in her own words, “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed–and of what is eternal. Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply “Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”–The Atlantic “[The Rules Do Not Apply] is a short, sharp American memoir in the Mary Karr tradition of life-chronicling. Which is to say that Levy, like Karr, is a natural writer who is also as unsparing and bleakly hilarious as it’s possible to be about oneself. . . . I devoured her story in one sitting.”–Financial Times “It’s an act of courage to hunt for meaning within grief, particularly if the search upends your life and shakes out the contents for all the world to sift through. Ariel Levy embarks on the hunt beautifully in her new memoir.”–Chicago Tribune “I read it in one big messy gulp, because it is beautiful and heartbreaking and unruly and real. You should preorder it immediately so you can fall into her complicated, funny, and finely wrought world as soon as humanly possible.”–Lenny.com “A thoroughly modern memoir, the elements of The Rules Do Not Apply seem plucked not from the script of Girls, which has also been exploring reproductive issues of late, but Transparent–even Portlandia.”–The New York Times “Frank and unflinchingly sincere . . . A gut-wrenching, emotionally charged work of soul-baring writing in the spirit of Joan Didion, Helen Macdonald, and Elizabeth Gilbert, The Rules Do Not Apply is a must-read for women.”–Bustle “Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”–Cheryl Strayed “Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”–David Sedaris “Ariel Levy is a writer of uncompromising honesty, remarkable clarity, and surprising humor gathered from the wreckage of tragedy. Her account of life doing its darnedest to topple her, and her refusal to be knocked down, will leave you shaken and inspired. I am the better for having read this book.”–Lena Dunham
The book is rated 3.84/5 at goodreads.com, from 5731 ratings. See 752 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s0BuFe.
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A politics book recommendation: Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2fmv3pJ.
…like this novel as a whole, marks Juan Gabriel Vásquez as a Colombian writer working fully in the European tradition. Or maybe we can forgo geography altogether and just call him a true international writer.
Book description from Google Books:
A brilliant novel about the power of politics and personal memory from one of South America’s literary stars, the New York Times bestselling author of The Sound of Things Falling. Javier Mallarino is a living legend. He is his country’s most influential political cartoonist, the consciousness of a nation. A man capable of repealing laws, overturning judges’ decisions, destroying politicians’ careers with his art. His weapons are pen and ink. Those in power fear him and pay him homage. After four decades of a brilliant career, he’s at the height of his powers. But this all changes when he’s paid an unexpected visit from a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to re-evaluate his life and work, questioning his position in the world. In Reputations, Juan Gabriel V�squez examines the weight of the past, how a public persona intersects with private histories, and the burdens and surprises of memory. In this intimate novel that recalls authors like Coetzee and Ian McEwan, V�squez plumbs universal experiences to create a masterful story, one that reverberates long after you turn the final page. Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Newsweek, the Guardian, and Kirkus
The book is rated 3.71/5 at goodreads.com, from 1090 ratings. See 188 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dSJYCV.
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A politics book recommendation: The Whistler by John Grisham

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2s7oHRc.
Grisham fans looking for courtroom drama might be disappointed by “The Whistler,” since McDover’s questionable cases are glossed over. The book feels more like the first half of an episode of “Law & Order,”…As ever, Grisham sprinkles “The Whistler” with sharp observations about lawyers.
Book description from Google Books:
From John Grisham, America’s #1 bestselling author, comes the most electrifying novel of the year, a high-stakes thrill ride through the darkest corners of the Sunshine State. We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice. But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens. Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history. What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money. But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous. Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.
The book is rated 3.87/5 at goodreads.com, from 36365 ratings. See 3263 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2qO92SX.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s7NJzz.