Latest Reviews

September 17, 2023

“Knowing What We Know:The Transmission of Knowledge From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic” is a particularly ambitious work both for this professional writer, Simon Winchester, as it would be for any other author.

For me this history of knowledge from creation, through transmission to storage was a particularly compelling read. His background in Asian studies lends a surprising east-west balance in his account. The history, presented in a compelling and readable way, is the basis from which the author approaches his essential concern and question.

July 21, 2023

'Of Boys and Men:Why the Modern Male, is Struggling, why it matters, and what to do about it' is a clarion call, maybe plea, to have concern about men amid the generally applauded 'rise of women'.

I admit before reading this book I was only vaguely aware of these recent trials of men, although aware of the increasing proportion of women in universities. (For every 100 bachelor's degrees awarded to women 74 are gong to men)

June 12, 2023

'The Wisdom of the Bullfrog' is a catchy title. 'Bullfrog' is a military nickname given the author and it means the longest serving 'U.S. navy seal'. For those who have not watched enough U.S. military movies, “seals” are the elite of the navy with the unique feature of operating in the marine situations.

The bullfrog is retired admiral William McCraven and he has written four other books all based on his military experience of more than 30 years.

April 24, 2023

“Physical Intelligence:The Science of How the Body and the Mind Guide Each Other Through Life” by Scott Grafton, a neuroscientist; for me, brings attention to another idea of “intelligence”. One that I hadn't considered.

Most people may view human intelligence as exercised abstract cogitation. This varies from almost none to somewhat more depending on person and circumstances. But the brain is “running things”, most fairly complicated, at an unconscious level 24-7.

March 5, 2023

This book by neuroscientist/psychologist Daniel J. Levitin is encyclopaedic in detail, which may be useful in specific circumstances, but can be hard slow reading if you don't have that motivation.

However, I persevered at five to 10 pages at a sitting and don't regret being exposed to that detail. Not all of the heavy going had been reserved to the voluminous appendices

January 8, 2023


I was drawn to 'The Pattern Seekers:A New Theory of Human Invention' through a CBC 'Quirks and Quarks' radio interview with the author, Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert on autism.

And while not as immersed in the subject of autism as I expected, it is integrated into a more general analysis of brain skills and types, some of which are correlated with autism.

But the author seems to be using the book to suggest his own theory on a way the brain can be parsed to explain certain skills.

August 15, 2022

This is one of the great non-fiction reading experiences I have had. 'Numbers Don't Lie': 71 stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World' is one of the more recent of 40-plus books by Vaclav Smil.

I was blithely unaware of this author until about a decade ago when I read that 'most people think in three dimensions Vaclav Smil thinks in eleven', and it has stuck with me.

June 1, 2022

'Brief Answers to Big Questions' is Stephen Hawking's last book and despite promises made and almost kept, about no equations, I still found myself frequently in deep weeds of lack of understanding. But after re-reading in some areas the weeds became less thick. You may find yourself with your own “uncertainty principle” .

While I have developed no ability to imagine multiple dimensions beyond the standard three, I was persuaded to add 'time' as a fourth. I also learned that a triangle can have more than a total of 180 degrees in its three inside angles.

February 15, 2022

Forgetting, or at least the pathological kind, is one of the great fears of this senior generation. So worrisome that the half serious epithet “if that happens to me, just shoot me” can be heard with respect to dementia. Few are likely to ask for such an out for any other disease.

November 30, 2021


Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled our Way to Civilization, by University of British Columbia professor of philosophy, Edward Slingerland is a history demonstrating the positive contribution of alcoholic beverage to the growth of civilization. I could imagine this subject and the treatment in this book having a broader appeal than most non-fiction.