Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review: Alas, Babylon

Alas, Babylon Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'll start on a positive note. It was an uplifting story because after a nuclear holocaust in which only one small town in Florida is spared, people figure things out, cooperate, and rebuild. Not a spoiler, by the way, since this info can be found on the back cover. I liked the fact that this book demonstrated how people, in the absence of a government, can come together, DIY-style, and get things done.

Now for the not-so-positive notes. The writing is stiff and unimaginative. It was not easy to finish. Part of the problem is that it was written and published in the late 50's. However, the bigger part was simply the way the words came together, sentence after sentence. They made me yawn.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Triple Package

From the author of Tiger Mom, this book on achievement within distinctly different cultural groups in America steps into the abyss more commonly known as political incorrectness, but does it thoughtfully and successfully.  It is a scholarly approach (over 80 pages of end notes and references) to a tender topic – why some cultural groups in America succeed while others do not.

Amy Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, co-author this brave book, which is a bestseller. Its central tenet is that a cultural group succeeds in America when it preserves within its culture these three critically important things:

1.     A sense of superiority – a feeling of being distinct and special from other groups in America.
2.     An air of insecurity – a belief that they have to work harder to prove their worth, that there are many others who are better, that they need to strive more.
3.     Impulse Control – the ability to postpone rewards, a pragmatic and consistent self-regulation in this era which pushes immediate gratification.

The authors cover many different distinct groups:  Mormons, Cubans, Nigerians, Chinese, African American, Evangelical Christians, Jewish, Korean and more.  They discuss how these cultures hold fast to this Triple Package and how some, through complacency, had it but lost it.  They do not make the mistake of oversimplifying or painting with too broad a brush.  Remember, there are 80+ pages of research-referencing notes.

Importantly, they chart the history of America’s exceptionalism and they trace the trajectory of those things which contributed to its decline – all of it fitting snugly into the Triple Package premise.  It totally worked for me.

Two thumbs up ~ highly readable and very motivating!