METAMAN

THE MERGING OF HUMANS AND MACHINES INTO A NEW GLOBAL SUPERORGANISM

A surprise from bestselling novelty-book author Stock (The Book of Questions, 1987, etc.): a jolting but seductively hopeful perspective on the future of human beings when the species is viewed—along with its culture, fellow species, and technology—as a superorganism. Though by no means original—the idea of society as an organism has its precedents in Lovelock, Teilhard de Chardin, Spencer, and innumerable science fiction novels, all the way back to medieval and ancient Greek thought—Stock's presentation of the superorganism ``Metaman,'' supported by scads of data, a winning style, and a sharp and powerful logic, has the potential to attract readers and believers. Though occupying the same intellectual ground as the Gaia hypothesis, Metaman has differences from Gaia that will strike some as dangerous and some as a welcome corrective to Green ideology. Where Gaia places humanity as one of many components, to be eliminated if its depredations grow too great for the superorganism's good, Stock places humanity at the core and soul of the Metaman superorganism, its purposes of paramount importance. Thus the author makes politically incorrect assertions like ``there are scores of matters more important to humanity than the loss of the snail darter,'' as well as arguments like his contention that individual privacy must yield to the data- collection needs of Metaman. Stock says that Metaman, the collective organism, is the next logical step in evolution, following three major transformations in levels of complexity: from biochemicals to primitive bacteria; from bacteria to animal cells; from those cells to multicellular organisms. With commerce and transport its circulatory system, telecommunications its nervous system, and potential space colonization its reproductive system, Metaman offers a coherent format for our future. Engaging and informative—but whether Stock turns out to be starry-eyed dreamer or hard-headed prophet remains to be seen. (Photographs and line drawings—not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-70723-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1993

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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