Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

August 25, 2010

Family Britain, 1951-1957 by David Kynaston

Filed under: History — Randolph @ 4:08 pm

Family Britain: 1951-57 by David KynastonFamily Britain is a compilation of two books previously published as Certainties of Place and A Thicker Cut. These books are parts 3 and 4 of Tales of a New Jerusalem. Family Britain is a thorough sociological analysis of Britain from 1951-1957. There is a strong class division, the book discusses how they relate, how they spend their time and money, and issues they have with each other and with the government. During this period, Britain finally managed to come out of WWII rationing, started to rebuild its housing and began extending its road network. These were controversial, and these issues are represented well, detailing those involved and their positions.

After the stage setting, complications were compounded by a series of Comet (the first commercial jetliner and a landmark of British engineering) crashes which dashed their hopes in their jet construction, a series of strikes, the hanging of Ruth Ellis, and the rather political issue of Princess Margaret’s relationship with Captain Peter Townsend. This period saw several major events in world and British history. King George VI died in 1952 and followed by the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The book describes how the coronation served to bring people together in small communities. The death of Stalin was in this same period. The tories came into power following the liberals, who had little of the vote. This set the stage for a lot of political issues.

I see a lot of similarities to today. We are still dealing with racial issues, and with homosexuality. Many of the arguments for and against are still the same arguments we use today. They express concerns with television, which is just coming available to the common man. The new road network enabled the British to make trips easily and this enabled the appearance of the day-tripper, a one- or two-day traveller that lead to changes in what merchants would carry and pricing.

It seemed that most international issues either did not affect the British culture, or the author chose to gloss over the issues. These include the H-Bomb development and political issues between the Soviets and Britain.

One international issue handled strongly was the war over the Suez Canal. Britain entered as a peace-keeping force following the Israeli war. The citizens were against the war, by a small margin. This was stressed when the Soviets used this issue as a smokescreen to crush the resistance in Hungary. However, when Britain was able to pull out, the support flipped to slightly in favor.

The book is fascinating, and presents enough information to really enable you to understand the issues. It almost presents too much information, I can’t imagine I’ll be able to retain a whole lot of it.

One complaint I have is that the author doesn’t make clear what the subject of a chapter or section is. Sometimes I was a couple of pages into it before I was able to really follow it. The author also has a tendency to change subject suddenly, and is difficult to follow at times. The book could have used a stronger editor.

Family Britain provides a very thorough view of British society in this dynamic period. The reader can see the influences on their society and understand the effects they produce. I did enjoy the book a lot, but cannot recommend it unless a person is particularly interested in either Britain or in sociology.

August 20, 2010

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Filed under: Science — Randolph @ 4:03 pm

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. PinkDrive proposes that motivation can be strongly tied to creativity. Daniel Pink argues that our traditional understanding of motivation is flawed, and provides a more complex view. Whether at work, family, or self-motivation is the issue, allowing your creativity and personal preferences to come into play can increase your success.

Daniel Pink argues that current motivational methods, those used primarily in schools and in business, are ineffective at best and counterproductive more often. These methods come from mostly 19th century understandings of motivation, based on a carrot and stick approach to motivation.

Science has progressed far from this perspective, but society is lagging behind. Mr. Pink makes a case for updating our playbook to improve our ability to do any tasks we put ourselves to.

The first part of the book discusses the carrot and stick analogy and how we typically use it. He shows its shortcomings with plenty of examples that we are well familiar with. He divides tasks into two categories, then shows how traditional motivational techniques affect people in each. Then describes how an updated technique can improve the outcomes.

The book continues to develop the new motivational techniques into different circumstances, discusses how to motivate people in a work environment, motivate children, and self motivation.

The book ends with plenty of suggestions for further reading, websites, suggested schools, exercises, step-by-step improvement suggestions, and more.

Although much of the information was not new to me, I found it stimulating, thought provoking, and encouraging me to study more. I do recommend this book to anyone interested in motivation.

Powered by WordPress