Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The United States in is trouble, Susan Jacoby argues with great force and clarity in her new nonfiction book, "The Age of American Unreason." We spend too much time being passive: watching junk "infotainment" on TV, staring at videos on our computer screens, listening to our iPods in solitude. We spend too little time actively engaging our brains, whether through reading or conversing with one another about serious, challenging topics. More than the citizens of most other industrialized nations, we give equal credence to pseudoscience and legitimate science. We distrust intellectuals, and don't spend enough time verifying most of the information we take in. We are increasingly culturally illiterate, and know frighteningly little about geography or history. (To repeat just one of the many unsettling statistics she reports, eight out of ten young Americans with a high school education can't find Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Israel on a map.) All of this, Jacoby argues, flies in the face of the founding fathers' intentions. Intellectual products of the Enlightenment, our founders valued reason and education above much else, and expected that for our democracy to work, the voting public must remain educated and think rationally about the important issues of the day. Both a work of history and an analysis of contemporary life, Jacoby's brave and important book traces the origins of this "crisis of memory and knowledge," and outlines its far-reaching implications. Though I didn't agree with the author's every claim or inference, the major argument of "The Age of American Unreason," however ego-bruising, is eye-opening and difficult to deny. Recommended for adults.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I would not consider myself a mystery buff, but I really enjoyed "A Cold Day in Paradise," a private eye novel taking place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The reluctant hero, Alex McKnight, is a former minor league baseball player and a former Detroit police officer who was shot in the line of duty. Retired, and with the bullet still lodged near his heart, Alex has moved up to the Upper Peninsula to tend to his late father's cabin rental business. There he encounters a ghost from his past - threatening notes from the man who shot him and who is supposed to be in prison for life....
Steve Hamilton's first novel "A Cold Day in Paradise" won the Private Eye Writers of America award for Best First Private Eye Novel. It is also the One Book, One Community selection for Macomb County this fall. Steve Hamilton will be giving a presentation at the Lorenzo Cultural Center (formerly the Macomb Cultural Center) on October 23rd, 2008 at 7:00pm.
This book is appropriate for adult readers.