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Book Review Journal and Software Designs

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The Gene: An Intimate History – Book Review

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Publisher: SCRIBNER, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Copyright: 2016, ISBN: 1476733500
Cover: Jaya Micelli
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, April 3, 2017

 

 

 

Summary: Incredible reading adventure into the emergence of genetics as a science. The history, the methods, the people.

Author Siddhartha Mukherjee starts THE GENE with a description of his 2012 trip to Calcutta to visit his cousin Moni. He describes the circumstances surrounding the eventual diagnosis of his uncle, Rajesh, with bipolar disorder. Throughout the book, Mukherjee continues the saga of his extended family and his uncle. By the end of the book we understand why he started where he started and why he ended the book the way he did. Between the beginning and, there is a lucid, informative and clear discussion of the history of genetics. When you really ponder that history, when you work through all the twists and turns of how biology and physics converged surrounding the subject of genes, the book is more a history of humankind’s attitude toward itself.

For a discussion thread regarding genetics in your everyday life, an excellent starting place is an equally riveting though short saga of the website 23andMe. 23andMe once provided an individual’s complete genome along with probability or chance estimates of gene expression. This was a mistake.

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Dark Money – Book Review

Author: Jane Mayer
Publisher: Doubleday, Penguin Random House LLC, New York
Copyright: 2016, ISBN: 0385535595
Cover: George Nazlis/ Alamy
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, March 3, 2017

 

 

Summary: Is it really money in politics or politics in money? From the Koch bothers to George Soros, the first impression you get of these people is that you would not want them to marry your sister.

What can be more boring than the subject of money in politics? Well, a partisan Democratic or Republican Party discussion about money in politics would be boring. Republican Party money in politics and Democratic Party money in politics should be the same subject. Excessively boring if the party is yours. A completely fair discussion of the subject would concede the guilt of both parties. The discussion would go on to examine exactly why the subject should be discussed in the first place. DARK MONEY comes close to achieving this. Close but not perfect.

The chronicles how David and Charles Koch infused themselves into the American political system. They were by no means the first. As Mayer points out, John D. Rockefeller became a concerned citizen philanthropist in the early 1900s in order to hold onto his wealth. Rockefeller and the other multi-millionaires setting up philanthropic trusts did not immerse themselves in the political process. The Koch brothers, Frank more so than David, pioneered the way for others of their wealth to steer the political system. The book ends up being coincidentally an indictment of the Republican party through no real fault of the party. The party was susceptible to the influence of Libertarian ideas. More importantly, like its counterpart the Democratic Party, the Republican Party was and is in constant need of money. The entire exploration could be boring just based on this mundaneness alone. Then however you run across tidbits of biographical information on the millionaires and billionaires. This nuance makes things get interesting real fast and there is more to the story than just money.

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Lord Of The World – Book Review with Nostradamus Connection

Author: Robert Hugh Benson, Introduction by Mark Bosco, S.J.
Publisher: Ave Mari Press, Inc, P.O. Box 428, Notre Dame, IN
Copyright: 2016, ISBN: 0870612985
Cover: Katherine Ross, Andy Wagoner
Review: Lynard Barnes, February 3, 2017

 

 

Summary: In 1917, the world gives up on capitalism and essentially gives up on Christianity in the 1920s. Seventy years later, the world is ready for a humanist leader and he appears when East and West are on the verge of war. In this 1907 apocalyptic novel, the emphasis is not on events but on spirit. It soars in a way even the author probably did not realize. You might want to read the book before reading this extended review about current conditions in America.

Reputedly the first dystopian novel published in the twentieth century, LORD OF THE WORLD comes with a few caveats. First, it is a novel by a Roman Catholic of England written with Roman Catholics in mind. This undoubtedly is why, in 2015, Pope Francis advised reading it. Second, it was written when panoramic scenes were conveyed in words, not images. Hence, the writing flows along with scenic descriptions reducing the pace of the story to a crawl.

Despite the caveats the book is a work of uncanny insight. It is also a work of uncanny failure. Any book about the end of the world, or at least the end of a historical era, is bound to miss something. Usually it is something big. LORD OF THE WORLD misses something big.

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Death on Mars – Book Review

Author: John E. Brandenburg, Ph.D.
Publisher: Adventures Unlimited Press
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 1939149381
Review by: Lynard Barnes, 24 December 2016

Summary: And you thought the face on Mars was a case of pareidolia. According to Dr. Brandenburg the face on Mars is indication of life on Mars that arose during the same time as life on Earth. He makes a very strong though fanciful circumstantial case.

 

 
The last book I read about the rock formation on Mars which some saw as a humanoid face was Stanley V. McDaniel and Monica Rix’s CASE FOR THE FACE: SCIENTISTS EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE FOR THE ALIEN ARTIFACTS ON MARS. Written in 1998, the book was based on the 1976 VIKING 1 orbiter imaging of the Mars Cydonia region. DEATH ON MARS takes the story forward with photo examinations from more high-resolution cameras like the MARS GLOBAL OBSERVER. These later images convinced most that the face was an optical illusion, simply a play of light upon rocks. Most were convinced, but not all.

Brandenburg rips into the Jet Propulsion Laboratory–JPL, the robotic exploration people–and the National Space Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contractor, Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS). After the original VIKING 1 photos, the subsequent high-resolution images of the Cydonia region were taken at oblique angles, grossly distorting the overhead images derived from the originals taken by VIKING 1. The results were pictures of featureless rocks setting in a desolate landscape. Dr. Brandenburg however cites the work of Mark Carlotto’s enhancement of the images to confirm the original conclusion based on the VIKING images. Thus, he successfully resurrects the case for a face on Mars. Proving the case for the face on Mars is only on aspect of this book however.

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Fiction Trilogies and other Good Deeds – Comments

Authors:

Stephen King

mrmercedes finderskeepers endofwatch

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Mercedes, Gallery Book, Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 1476754475*
Finders Keepers, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 1501100123*
End of Watch, SCRIBNER, ISBN: 501129742

 

Ransom Riggs

missperegrineshomeforpeculiarchildre hollowcitymissperegrines libraryofsouls

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Quirk Books, ISBN: 1594746031
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children – Hollow City, Quirk Books, ISBN: 1594747359
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children – Library of Souls

Justin Cronin

passageanovelpassageanove twelvebooktwoofthepassagetrilogyan thecityofmirror

 

 

 

 

 

The Passage, Ballatine Books, Random House, Penguin Books, ISBN: 0345528174
The Twelve, Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, ISBN: 0345504984
The City of Mirrors, Ballantine Books, Random House, ISBN: 0345505002

A. G. Riddle

atlantisgene atlantisplague atlantisworld

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atlantis Gene, AGRiddel.com, ISBN: 1940026016
The Atlantis Plague, AGRiddel.com, ISBN: 1940026032
The Atlantis World, AGRiddel.com, ISBN: 1940026067

Summary: Story telling is always about the human condition. Fiction bundled into a trilogy should be just an extension of an examination of the human condition. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is merely mediocrity padded into boredom. Sometimes however, it is really great stuff.

A series in fictional literature is when an author has found the goose laying the golden egg and continues to twirl it around until it becomes powder blowing in the wind. (Yeah, you have to think about that one). A sequel in literature is when an author has uncovered an errant thought deemed worthy of fitting into the straight jacket of a previous story. A trilogy is born when an author has an idea so expansive that it cannot fit into any reasonably legible typesetting requiring less than five hundred pages. In short, this is the attitude that most forms of extended fiction is simply a waste of time. There are exceptions. Which brings us to King, Riggs, Cronin and Riddle. We could add to this the rather exceptional Dennis Koontz who is in a class by himself.

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Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates – Book Review

thomasjefferrsontripolipiratesAuthor: Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
Publisher: SENTINEL, Penguin Random House LLC
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 1591848066
Cover: Jim Tierney
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, September 16, 2016

Summary: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli . .”: stanza in the Marine Corp hymn. This book explains the part about Tripoli. In the infancy of its existence, America faced the prospect of going along with the rest of the world and paying tribute to extortionists on the northern coast of Africa, or taking a stand. President Jefferson opted to take a stand. This book is an overview of how it happened.

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I had a professor in college who warned me to be careful of history books published in South America. Just that. A warning to be careful.

Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock, you are aware that the news media is not always impartial and objective. Sometimes, the news media is not even about news. This may have something to do with attempting to be “balanced”. For the news media, presenting a balanced perspective may mean comparing the effects of a cavity to a frontal lobotomy. It is called the false-equivalency syndrome. With any information coming out of the media, I take my professors advice. Be careful.

Brian Kilmeade, one of the authors of THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE TRIPOLI PIRATES, is a co-host on the Fox News network show, Fox & Friends. Along with Don Yaeger, the duo have managed to write an informative snippet of history that has striking parallels to current events. This obviously is no accident. That they have managed to present a superficial treatment of an incident in American history as a taut, action-filled and exciting adventure is amazing.

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Pacific – Book Review

Pacific, Simon Winchester

Author: Simon Winchester
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway, NY, NY
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 0062315410
Cover: Gregg Kulick, Getty Images
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, July 24, 2016

Summary: Extraordinary little book (492 pages) that is not what is expected. An innovative approach to exploring the history of East and Southeast Asia. Focus on the sixty four million square miles of water, forty-six percent of water covering the earth.

We read books to learn something new. Knowing what we don’t already know is an attitude, not a condition.

The enjoyment of reading and weaving through the labyrinth of old and new vistas of thought is when a novel idea pops up unexpectedly. PACIFIC is one of those reads. You discover the Pacific Ocean. You discover the people who ushered the Pacific Ocean into the commercial and political considerations of Europe and America. Since Magellan the Pacific region has been on a steady upward spiral in its importance to the 18th century industrial revolution. The region is reaching a zenith in the era of the electronic digital revolution. Comparative to the twelfth century monasteries of Ireland, the populations of Asia are a potential culture changing force in the world. To boot, it is also an enormous market place. This is the backdrop for the history Winchester presents in PACIFIC.

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Future Crimes – Book Review

FutureCrimeAuthor: Marc Goodman
Publisher: Doubleday, Random House LLC, NY, NY
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 0385539012
Cover: Pet Garceau, PixelEmbargo (copyright)
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, January 15, 2016

Summary: Security on the internet is doomed, all internet transactions are doomed, we are all doomed. In the immortal words of CEO Parker Posey in the 2001 movie, Josie and the Pussycats, when all is doomed, “let’s have ice cream”.

Imagine you are living in single story house. Your front door is facing New York’s Times Square. On New Year’s eve you leave the house, leaving the front door open, to shop, visit family and friends, to work. You leave your front door open because you do not have a front door. The folks who built the house did not build the house with doors. This, essentially, is author Marc Goodman’s take on the internet. Expectations of privacy and security are a delightful delusion promulgated by profound ignorance.

Goodman’s approach in FUTURE CRIMES to address the sea of blissful, wide-eye acceptance of our growing technological dependence is to go over the current bad players and the opportunities for bad players in the future.
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Saturn Run – Book Comment

SaturnRun_BOOKCOMMENT_6Jan2016Author: John Sandford and Ctein
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Random House LLC
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 0399176951
Cover: Tal Goretsky, (Planet) Da-Kuk
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, January 6, 2016

Summary: Space race between a futuristic United States and China to find out what a mysterious object was doing among the moons of Saturn. Modern day Shakespearian tragedy at its best.

Someone once said that science fiction is the improbably made possible. Or something like that. In any event, vampires and zombies are not in the least related to science fiction. Shoot-em up galactic adventures are more wild-west fantasy than science fiction. Science fiction requires the thoughtfulness of a Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov or Andy Weir or a host of other deep thinkers, including the authors of SATURN RUN. It is an incredible work of old, cemented-in-logic science fiction.

The story of this novel flows so smoothly that you overlook the improbabilities and simply follow the logic. The first hurdle is getting past the second chapter. It has a taste of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams. The character we meet in chapter two, Fletcher, only becomes interesting after he receives a visit from Mr. Crow, another interesting character. The story then unfolds into a plethora of complex characters who would simply be mundane characters doing their jobs if the circumstances were mundane. Of course the circumstances are not mundane. There is a mysterious craft seen leaving the orbit of Saturn.

Once upon a time it may have required only a Jules Verne imagination and Mark Twain writing skill to put together a good science fiction tale. Those days are over. Science fiction like SATURN RUN and Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN are science fiction at its best–informative and entertaining.

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Dark Rivers of the Heart – Book Comment

DarkRiversoftheHeartAuthor: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam Books Mass Market, Random House, Inc
Copyright: 1994, ISBN: 0345533036
Type: Fiction, paperback
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, January 6, 2016

Summary: A mystery with multiple layers ending in an expected place. The journey to get there however is one of the best of Koontz’s narratives.

Being an armchair historian, one of the reasons I read fiction is to see how much “real life” intrudes into fictional narratives. Sometimes, vice-versus–but rarely. Koontz’s DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART, published in 2004, is amazing in how much it captures the social and political sentiments of our current times.

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