Goliath takes it right between the eyes in this unique take on the convoluted politics, science, and cultural issues at...

A FIELD PHILOSOPHER'S GUIDE TO FRACKING

HOW ONE TEXAS TOWN STOOD UP TO BIG OIL AND GAS

Out of the university and into the streets, Briggle (Philosophy/Univ. of North Texas) brings the practice of “field philosophy” to the question of whether fracking is feckless or feasible.

The author seeks to demonstrate that philosophical practice can be socially engaged and practical. The rush of technology is a case in point. We usually take the technological wager, “gambling on the success of future innovations to bail us out of problems created by present innovations....The question is whether we can establish conditions to make it a fair and reasonable bet. In the case of fracking…these conditions are largely not in place.” Briggle is an advocate of the “proactionary” school, which in the big picture “says that rather than avoid error we should take risks in the pursuit of profound truths and great rewards.” On the micro level, the author asks if the risks of fracking are too harmful to outweigh its development in his college town of Denton. Briggle calls on Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, and other philosophers for advice, but he distills the complexity of technological innovation into three elements to assure a “fair and reasonable bet”: those most vulnerable to harm must give consent, a system of monitoring must attend the experiment, and the experiment must be modifiable when problems arise. These all come to bear when a group is organized to confront the energy industry and the dangers of fracking. It is a fraught story, but Briggle tells it warmly and cogently, exploring both the interpersonal relationships involved and some of the geological science behind fracking. The rogues are the usual suspects: PAC money, the Data Quality Act, and the merchants of greed who pathetically hide in groups with names like “Taxpayers for a Strong Economy.”

Goliath takes it right between the eyes in this unique take on the convoluted politics, science, and cultural issues at stake regarding fracking.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63149-007-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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