Books I Recommend

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

“What should we have for dinner?” is the dilemma faced by all living creatures. For some, like the koala, the answer is simple: If it looks like eucalyptus, eat it. For omnivores like us, the question is far more complex. Will it taste good? Will it kill me? Is it right to eat this? The way we answer the question is explored in this well-written and entertaining book. Pollan uses four meals to describe the three fundamental “food chains” available to us: the modern industrial food supply, the alternative organic food business (both “big organic” and local) and the oldest method of all, hunting and gathering. He travels to farms and factories, interviews farmers and ranchers, buys a steer to be fattened in a feedlot, shoots a wild pig and generally immerses himself in the complex business of acquiring and eating food. He is not a dispassionate observer; he agonizes over the morality of eating meat, temporarily becoming a vegetarian to see what it is like, then wrestles with his feelings about becoming a hunter, and finally serving his pig with pride to those who have helped him in his quest. This is a wonderful book for anyone who likes food and wants to find out more about how it arrives on our tables.

Atomic Awakening – A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power by James Mahaffey

One of my favorite types of books are those that cover a scientific subject in an entertaining and clearly written style, and this is one of the best I’ve read in quite a while. Mahaffey starts with the earliest discoveries about the atomic nature of matter and carries the reader through entire history of nuclear power. From the earliest awareness of the power available in the nucleus of an atom, to the development of the atomic bomb, to aborted attempts at nuclear powered spacecraft and airplanes, to the current state and future of nuclear power plants, this book will surprise you with the things you didn’t know about this interesting and important subject. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn the truth, rather than just the political hype, about nuclear power.

Fly by Wire – The Geese, The Glide, The Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche

While this book gives a second-by-second account of US Airways Flight 1549’s landing in the Hudson River, the best part for me was the description of the amazing “roboplane,” the Airbus 320 and its computerized flight controls, which prevent the pilot from stalling, rolling, or otherwise abusing the airplane. This has let to resentment from some of the beleaguered professional airline pilots, who have seen their jobs reduced from highly-paid steel-jawed masters of the sky to airborne bus drivers just barely making a living (both Captain Sullenberger and Copilot Stiles have second jobs to make ends meet.) This was a fascinating book.

Speech*less by Matthew Latimer

This book was an entertaining and informative look at the life of a speechwriter for George W. Bush during the last two years of his presidency. I enjoyed it for its humorous and gossipy looks at various staff members and Congressmammals. Latimer pulls no punches with his opinions about John McCain, Kay Bailey Hutchison and other politicians whose demeanor in private differs widely from their public personnas. The author clearly paints himself in the best possible light, but that’s his right, and it doesn’t detract from an enjoyable book.

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