A welcome and inspiring account of a largely unsung hero—unsung because, the authors suggest, he accomplished something so...

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A MIND AT PLAY

HOW CLAUDE SHANNON INVENTED THE INFORMATION AGE

The life of the man called “the father of information theory.”

Claude Shannon (1916-2001) made a contribution of signal importance to the modern world when he was only 21: he divined that instead of using mechanical switches, a modern computer would better employ electrical switches that, quite apart from simply controlling electrical flow, could also, “in principle, perform a passable imitation of a brain.” That is, a machine could be designed to use logic. This scientific insight, write former Huffington Post managing editor Soni and journalist/speechwriter Goodman, co-authors of Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar (2012), ranks among the most important of the 20th century. Shannon went on to work in wartime cryptography and met fellow mathematician Alan Turing, but each was so constrained by security clearances that they could not compare notes and do something even bigger and better than Enigma and other projects. This account lacks a little of the spark and scientific depth of, say, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, but it covers the bases well. The authors write fluently, for instance, of how Boolean logic influenced Shannon’s discovery: “And because Boole had shown how to resolve logic into a series of binary, true-false decisions, any system capable of representing binaries has access to the entire logical universe he described.” They go on to describe some of Shannon’s later discoveries, including a kind of algebra of genetics that might have been too much ahead of its time, as well as his considerable eccentricities. Shannon spent much of his later life tinkering rather than producing work approaching his youthful contributions. Still, readers will be intrigued by a mad scientist who rode the halls of Bell Labs atop a unicycle while juggling, a feat at which he did not excel.

A welcome and inspiring account of a largely unsung hero—unsung because, the authors suggest, he accomplished something so fundamental that it’s difficult to imagine a world without it.

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6668-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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