Knowing What We Know:The Transmission of Knowledge From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic

Date Reviewed

“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.

Of Boys and Men:Why the Modern Male, is Struggling, why it matters, and what to do about it

Date Reviewed

'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)

The Wisdom of the Bullfrog:leadership made simple (but not easy)

Date Reviewed

'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.

Numbers Don't Lie: 71 stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World

Date Reviewed

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.

Brief Answers to Big Questions

Date Reviewed

'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.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Date Reviewed


Author Frans de Waal answers the question in the title early and in the affirmative. This is the latest offering of the animal behaviouralist, whose book 'The Bonobo and the Atheist' is profiled on this site.

But in this book, the scope of his insights and observations is broader. And maybe more importantly, his political challenge is more pointed. Those who still insist on measuring animals capabilities against those of humans in a human context have to deal with a twist.

The Philosophical Baby:What Children's Minds Tell us about Truth, Love and the Meanings of Life

Date Reviewed

This book is more developmental psychology than philosophy, but it certainly offers thinking points. At the age of 10, author Alison Gopnik was reading Plato and questioning his thought. So it may be no surprise that as an adult, while giving answers, she is asking questions from various perspectives. Through this book I have come to quite like the author and the way she combines thought, ideas, science and personal observations.

Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age

Date Reviewed


This book urges readers to beware, but not despair about the threats, dangers and complexities that accompany the rewards of the expanding opportunities of pervasive data.


Then the author proceeds to go though the history of reasons to despair and then some suggestions for how the dangers may be mitigated.


Although two authors are credited for the book, the entirety is in the voice of Smith, a lawyer by training and the president of Microsoft.