Ron U. (usseryron) - Reviews

1 to 11 of 11
Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone
Author: Abraham Verghese
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 498
Review Date: 9/9/2011
Helpful Score: 2


Wonderful! A rare combination of a novel so well researched that it is almost historical fiction--together with an engaging and extremely well written ficticious story with very real characters who tug at your heartstrings. I can't imagine how much time the author spent in preparation. You will learn a great deal about medicine, about medical training, about Ethiopian history and West African history, along with glimpses into India's past and traditions, but all of that is fairly incidental to a great storyline with huge emotional impact.

If I had any criticism it would be that the author was too ambitious. But I loved it anyway. Xenophobes stay away.


Disappointment with God
Disappointment with God
Author: Philip Yancey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 10/20/2008


Published by Christian Living, this book asks and answers hard questions about faith and reality. Contrary to the intonation in the title, the book is actually an affirmation of faith.


Down Town
Down Town
Author: Ferrol Sams
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/17/2012
Helpful Score: 2


I suppose there IS a plot in this book, but it's really more of a series of sequential folksy sayings. Even though I grew up in the South, many of these cutesy sayings were lost on me, and many of the ones that I am familar with seemed barely appropriate to the situation. I got the impression that Sams was clearing out a large folder full of a lifetime of collected southern colloquialisms.


The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Bk 1)
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Bk 1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 392
Review Date: 2/6/2008
Helpful Score: 3


The second and third books in the series, more than this book, are written for people whose spirtual journey is not yet over. If you are absolutely sure you have all the answers, then why bother reading anything? In my interpretation, Pullman is not "killing God." In actuality (in a subsequent book in the series), God dies, or rather dissolves, from old age and irrelevancy. But Pullman's God is part of his constructed fantasy world. Some will find that offensive. I didn't; but then my journey is still ongoing.


Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Author: Jared Diamond
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 253
Review Date: 8/6/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Tremendous scholarly work. Ever wonder why some societies, such as African and South American, for example, have not "progressed" to the levels of others in economic and military terms? Ever suspect that the answer is innate intelligence? Diamond disproves this idea with resounding insight. His surprising answer to this question is basically "geography." That plus the lack of domesticatable animals and grains. The geography answer may be perplexing, until you consider that in Eurasia successful crops could be exported very widely with little latitudinal change. Not so in North-South land masses. (From a developmental standpoint, the US is largely European.)

It all boils down historically to the change in a society from hunter-gatherers (nomads) to agricultural (settled) civilizations. It is the latter that enables specialization of labor. When everyone is struggling to feed themselves and their families on a day to day basis, there is no luxury of allowing the rise of a craftsman class, a warrior class, etc., etc.

The great news from Diamond is that most of the old rules no longer apply in a modern "flat" world, so these natural obstacles to development in Africa, e.g., are in the process of being removed as economics allow.


In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir
Author: Neil White
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 1/17/2012
Helpful Score: 2


Good read. White's autobiographical morality tale offers an educational look at the last 100 years of leprosy in this country through his sentencing for a white collar crime to the prison adjacent to a Leper Colony on the Louisiana-Mississippi border. Well written intertwining of a Southern boy's come uppance after he tried too hard to keep up an impression of success along with the story of our society's treatment of lepers.


Review Date: 9/27/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Very funny. But also enlightening about contemporary Chinese culture from a Western perspective. Warning: Potentially offensive language. I've toured China and find Troost's insights to be right on target for the most part.


Nineteen Minutes
Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 1251
Review Date: 1/8/2009
Helpful Score: 11


Fantastic book incredibly well written. Harking back to "Lord of the Flies," Picoult explores the dynamics of unsupervised group behavior among school children. It deals with all the themes that screech "inappropriate" for a young audience (F word numerous times, teen sex, violence, etc.) but it may be the most appropriate book for students and teachers and parents concerned with bullying and the related social dynamics. The story seems so well researched I had a hard time remembering that it is fictional. An expert witness for the defense of the Columbine-style shooter asks, (paraphrasing) "What is the most vivid memory you have of your school days? If you're like 95 out of 100 people, that memory revolves around your humiliation at the hands of a bully." (I have to paraphrase because my copy stays loaned out to fellow educators.) And what are the consequences of unchecked chronic bullying? At its most extreme: Columbine.


Rules of Civility
Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 78
Review Date: 2/25/2013
Helpful Score: 7


Incredible novel. It captures very well what I imagine to be the social strata of 30s NYC--as effectively as Fitzgerald. Other reviews say that the theme of the book is personal choices and how those choices often have far-reaching implications in our lives. As one born into the lower middle class who later migrated to NYC, for me it is all about access and its price.
The two main female characters, boarding house roommates who dream of breaking into the upper class, get an opportunity to dip their toes in the water of the very rich and privileged. But they find that true access or full immersion sometimes can cost aspirants their souls.

Caution: a side effect of this novel is that you will crave a martini while reading it.


The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2)
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2)
Author: Philip Pullman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 131
Review Date: 2/6/2008
Helpful Score: 1


The second and third books in the series are written for people whose spirtual journey is not yet over. If you are absolutely sure you have all the answers, then why bother reading anything? In my interpretation, Pullman is not "killing God." In actuality (in the third book in the series), God dies, or rather dissolves, from old age and irrelevancy. But keep in mind that Pullman's God is part of his constructed fantasy world. Some will find that offensive. I didn't; but then my journey is still ongoing.


The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Author: Thomas L. Friedman
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 160
Review Date: 8/6/2009
Helpful Score: 1


In the modern world, work flows to whatever spot on the globe where it can be performed most efficiently, and almost instantly. Friedman offers meaningful economic insights and anecdotes that put a new face on NAFTA and the future.


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