Books: NonFiction

book review | Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

permanent record edward snowden book cover biographyAuthor: Edward Snowden
Title: Permanent Record
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Biography
Pages: 352
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Edward Snowden with his biography “Permanent Record” is here to remind us all how deep in “1984” by George Orwell plot we are. It’s am amazing book, and also very scary one too.

About the Book: The Internet as we knew it has long as changed. They bribed us with convenience, taking our anonymity online. And if we want it back, we have to jump loops, like start using Tor browser. But, let’s face it, we’re slaves to habits and comfort, and we’ll use what we’re used to using. This way further becoming a commodity with illusion of invisibility behind a keyboard. From the smartphone in your pocket, to Alexa or Siri awaiting instructions in the corner of your very home. And here’s how it happened…

My Opinion: You could say that such tracking is more likely a thing in US, or other countries that aren’t as nice as yours when it comes to human rights. But this is why you need this book, for such thinking merely means you no longer notice how many things reach us from exactly the places that monitor us. From the device you’re reading this on, to the software used for it, to the browser you’ll open, and likely, to the page you’re going to enter in it. This way we become commodities no matter where we are: from a company that wants to sell you socks, to the company who wants you to buy it with your card, to whoever wants you to enter all of those digits into those slots. Hopefully though this book will scare you as much as it scared me. And, at the very least, you will fight for your rights to not be monitored the next time people with lack of understanding of what a smartphone is will decide what we’re allowed to share on the internet. We’ve lost one battle already, and I do hope you know how to use VPN.

It’s a great book that I highly recommend to everyone. 5 out of 5 from me. Thank You, Edward Snowden.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Talking with Psychopaths and Savages by Christopher Berry-Dee | true crime

talking with psychopaths and savages christopher berry-dee.jpgAuthor: Christopher Berry-Dee
Title: Talking with Psychopaths and Savages
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

Some authors just stick them sticks into their own damn wheels. “Talking with Psychopaths and Savages” by Christopher Berry-Dee is precisely one of those books. Fitting a quote by someone: after all been said and done, more been said than done.

About the Book: Author, hurriedly and in big, pompous sentences promises us to show the mind of a psychopath, their lives, nuances, patterns that might have made them the way they are. He promises to not waste time on murder and case details either, for there are many books on these topics. And then proceeds telling us the tales of serial killers, their lives, medical impairments that might have had impact, their family statuses, upbringing, differences and similarities. And details on murders, cases. With thick inlays of opinions.

My Opinion: Not much to add here. Author’s best trait in these times of serial killer admiration is the fact that he proceeds to often point out: he’s not a fan of theirs. In fact, he drags them time and again, which was the most amusing bit in this book.

Can’t say it’s bad. Can’t say it’s good. Maybe a lazy read. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Categories: 3-5, About Msg2TheMing, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, serial killers, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | A Generation of Sociopaths by Bruce Cannon Gibney

A generation of sociopaths bruce cannon gibneyAuthor: Bruce Cannon Gibney
Title: A Generation of Sociopaths
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Sociology
Pages: 464
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

This book will make you angry. Hopefully. “A Generation of Sociopaths” by Bruce Cannon Gibney speaks of and likely fits better the American economical climate, but as an European, I found some things we could apply to ourselves too.

About the Book: Have your parents ever went “well, in my times” and “when I was your age”? In reference to how little you get and have now? Well, you can likely thank them for that little that you’re getting. This book defines some lines in economy. What makes it grow, what makes it fall. What’s sustainable, and what’s a mere temporary solution, likely made by those who will profit from it, leaving the next generation to find their own way out.

My Opinion: The book is very interesting, but will likely not teach you anything new. I believe my generation, those of us who have witnessed the Great Bubble explode, are likely educated enough by now about the topics and nuances of economy. But it’s still an interesting read. And while in Europe it’s not so easy and simple to define a whole generation of our parents as “baby boomers” due to whole different conditions they had, we can still find similarities.

It’s an interesting book, and I can give it a solid 5 out of 5. Yet, as a disclaimer, I want you to go to the link provided above to goodreads, and see to the lowest ratings. The author chose not to reveal how banks and bankers helped add to the ruin of economy due to himself being one of them. And that has to be taken into equation, even if, in my personal opinion, it doesn’t take away much from the value of the book.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books, Science Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

american kingin silk road nick biltonAuthor: Nick Bilton
Title: American Kingpin
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Biography
Pages: 328
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Everyone has likely heard of the Dark Web. Possibly even the Silk Road on it, one of the most notorious sites on the other side of the internet. American Kingpin by Nick Bilton is a book about its creator, biography of a man who made a dark market place so resilient, it still exists, even after his imprisonment for life.

About the Book: Dark Web is a strange and, well, dark place. And yet we’re separated from it by a mere browser and a few clicks. But most of us spend all our lives unaware of this Other Side, let alone venturing into it. In the end, that’s really the point: to remain invisible, unmonitored, anonymous. Ross Ulbricht was merely one of the many people with questionable morals, who found a way and justification to exploit the human need for the forbidden, the dangerous, and the illegal. According to him, a government has no right to tell us what we put in our bodies, we ought to remain autonomous over it. And yet substance fitting excuses evolved to accommodate such things as weapons, organs, and even suicide kits, manuals and all.

And while Ross was eventually found and imprisoned for life, Silk Road remains active and is now known as the most resilient dark market place on the whole Dark Web.

My Opinion: Let me just clarify right now: not only do I not suggest you go see for yourself, I very much suggest you don’t. Your safety depends on more than just a browser, believe you me. Rather, read this book first and see what little, minuscule things have finally brought this Kingpin down and brought FBI to his doorstep. As for the book itself, it’s good. Clever writing will not bore those who are familiar with the tale, and will ease in, and entertain those who had no clue such a place existed or could even be possible.

It’s a good book I could recommend for the mere fact of how well it portrays our fragility of safety online. 4 out of 5, solid.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Borgias: The Hidden History by G.J. Meyer

borgias g.j. meyer cesare rodrigo lucreciaAuthor: G.J. Meyer
Title: The Borgias: The Hidden History
Series: –
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Pages: 478
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I couldn’t pass a chance to read The Borgias by G.J. Meyer when I spotted it. Too great a nostalgia factor in this one, from far away teenage years, the first real and true friends. They brought a lot of beautiful interests into my life, among which was the love for history. Many evenings were spent reading of Borgias, Draculesti, Tudors, and others.

About the Book: During the Renaissance Borgias were a considerable force in Italy, if infamous: poisoners, adulterers, schemers, there’s even rumors of incest. But what’s true, and what’s fiction is often hard to tell. This book here tries to answer whether the Borgias truly were just a cesspool or depravity? Or were they indeed powerful generals, warriors, princes, popes, and naturally – political players.

My Opinion: This is an easy written book that’s entertaining to read. Author, at times, seems to lean towards clearing the poor Borgia name, especially when it comes to Lucrezia and Cesare, something a historical book probably shouldn’t do, but it didn’t come without basis. Besides, it began all the way at the fight against Ottoman Empire, meaning even such figures as Vlad Dracula got mentioned, which then completely bought me over. I feel like you can’t be bored with books like this. Or is it my inner historian talking?

The book is probably a bit too thick to suggest you read it in the evenings for leisure? But then, Autumn is here, more rainy evenings to get cozy during, it might work! I give it a 4 out of 5, solid.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | How to Think by Alan Jacobs

how to think alan jacobsAuthor: Alan Jacobs
Title: How to Think
Series: –
Genre: Philosophy, Self Help
Pages: 160
Rate: 5-5 | Goodreads

Very often I feel utterly stupid when I can’t back a very solid argument I fundamentally believe in or even know to be true. And because of that I envy those friends of mine who are able to navigate any and all topics without stepping on any toes, or getting into actual arguments. How to Think by Alan Jacobs showed me why we’re all like that.

About the Book: In well condensed and solid thoughts, accompanied by great examples this book points us to all those Big Moral Truths, from which we are welcome to chip away our smaller ones, and shows us all the flaws, mistakes, truths, and strategies that they’re formed with. This way making them accessible even to those of us who don’t believe in this or that social norm, public opinion, or “right” opinion. In the hyperconnected world we live in, where opinion forming is as fast as a reteweeting of one, the tools this book provides to assess the argument and see it from another point of view, without the commitment to agree with it, are much needed.

My Opinion: Author, in this very friendly way, guides us through the horrible maze of thinking. He never tells the reader what to believe, but all the time stresses the need to know what you believe, know why you believe it, and be open to discussions about the opposite belief. Which is why I now believe people will either love or hate this book. For most of us are creatures of habit. Most of us will rather leave it on “seen” and move on, rather than waste what we believe, and possibly rightly so, to be our time that we could spend better. But by taking those tools this book provides, and seeing those holes in your own thinking, even if you choose to do nothing, you surely walk away richer for it anyway. So, in my humble opinion, it was worth to get the means to improve myself, even if I find it that I am indeed too stupid to do so.

It’s a good book I truly enjoyed. I liked the tone author wrote in, and I’m grateful for the final little list which was concluded with a simple: be brave. It thus gets a full 5 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Philosophy, Self | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Looting Machine by Tom Burgis

tom burgis looting machine cleptocracyAuthor: Tom Burgis
Title: The Looting Machine
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Economics
Pages: 352
Rate: 5-5 | Goodreads

The Looting Machine by Tom Burgis is not the first book on brutal kleptocracy that I’ve read this year. But just like “McMafia” by Misha Glenny, it is very important. We do need to educate ourselves on this. For it’s not just by the plastic bag or straw that we add to horrors, to actual crime. But we do have the power, we literally have it all, as consumers. For diamond industry is already whining of millenials ruining their business…

About the Book: Do you know where crude oil comes from? Do you know how it gets extracted in strong countries, and how it’s extracted in places like Africa? And do you know what billions upon billions of dollars worth of export does to an underdeveloped country that has no manufactured good, and relies solely on it? Are you thinking of Emirates? Well, I have bad news for you then.

Juggernaut companies tear places like Africa apart for precious metals, stones, and oil. They force people out into shacks in unlivable places, and then, leaving them no choice, employ them in their cogs of brutal, bloody gang wars, corrupt kleptocracy governments, and condemn them to die. Be it by another faction butchering everyone to make turf for themselves, or by common colds that they couldn’t cure, or just outright starvation.

After the loot has been taken, it is shipped to a better industrialized, but still pitifully cheap country, where raw materials are turned into things. And it’s from there that we get our straws, our phones, our toys, and our jewelry. Blood, by then, is cleaned off.

My Opinion: Books like this are extremely important. We do need to educate ourselves, especially seeing that we actually can. And it is not to say that we should feel guilty over using the laptops and phones. It is so we’re more aware, wiser, and make better decisions the next time we need to get new ones. We need to be aware. It is from our awareness that the change can be made. As long as we put in that little bit of effort. That is not to say we’ll stop the juggernauts, that’s unlikely until there’s literally nothing more to dig out of places like Africa. But we can support people who are fair to others, we can support companies that don’t import from what we, our countries, deemed too big of a hell to allow happen around us.

It’s a good book. Well written, and while maybe not fully worth the 5 out of 5 I will give it, but I think the thought behind it matters greatly.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, crews, gangs, etc, Historical Books, mafia, murder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard

the republic of pirates colin woodard blackbeardAuthor: Colin Woodard
Title: The Republic of Pirates
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Historical
Pages: 400
Rate: 5-5 | Goodreads

Who doesn’t like a good pirate tale? But how many of us know anything about the men and women behind the infamous names? This bother has led me to pick up The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard, a masterful historical book, full of names we all surely know.

About the Book: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Charles Vane, Mary Read, Stephen Bonnet. Some out of many more who sailed the seas and struck fear in simple man’s heart. Strategic abilities, scare tactics, combat skills, all that and much more has surrounded the infamous pirates with supernatural legends, thus bringing the whole of them under umbrella into the world of fiction that we now know and admire. This book tells the tale of theirs, the true one, what were the men and women behind those names, and what pushed them to this gruesome, rarely easy life. How the Republic of Pirates was formed, and how it eventually fell.

My Opinion: This is a great book if one wants to know more than just the fantasy tales we get via movies, series, and video games, which I also love, and can’t blame anyone else for loving too. Story is very well written, with plenty of background for some, and less for others, as is expected with historical nonfiction works.

Can definitely recommend, for the common kettle of knowledge. A firm 5 out of 5 from me!

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

julie and julia powel book coverAuthor: Julie Powell
Title: Julie and Julia
Series: –
Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction
Pages: 310
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love Julie and Julia movie, it’s my favorite thing to have playing in the background, even if it is an exception to the rule of what mostly fills the air around me. So when my slightly melted brain realized the movie is based on Julie Powell memoir, I hurried to rectify my mistake.

About the Book: Julie Powell was going through a mental crisis in her life when a glimpse in the horizon made her stop a moment. It was Julia Child’s cookbook, full of recipes and memories of cooking with her mother at home. So she set herself a goal: all 524 recipes, tried, tested, completed, and blogged about. All in a year. She made herself a goal, creating herself a purpose, and exiting the stormy sea that sometimes is life. It got me thinking, actually, what if that’s the true meaning of life, eh? To set yourself a goal. For, and I’m sure many would agree, the darkness tends to lift when there’s something to move forwards to. And, in Julie’s case, it was a fantastic tale of a year full of food, mistakes, nightmares, joys, celebration…

My Opinion: You really don’t need to know the author or her blog beforehand. Personally I don’t even like cooking, nor anything about cooking, unless it’s Asian kitchen, that one fascinates me. So why did I like it so much, you’d ask? Well, because it’s a tale, a true tale, no less, of a person who decided to move forwards, even if the dot in the horizon was really nothing, a trick of light. If you’re not sold, I suggest you watch the movie, I think it’s on Netflix too, this way you’ll know for sure whether you’ll like it or not.

A good book with no need of prior knowledge to enjoy. A firm 5 out of 5!

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

book review | Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

tokyo vice jake adelstein japan crime book coverAuthor: Jake Adelstein
Title: Tokyo Vice
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
Pages: 335
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Ah, I wish I knew how good Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein is sooner. For it fell down my TBR list quite a few times. But hey, I got to it at last, and it’s better later than never!

About the Book: Jake learns Japanese and moves there in pursuit for journalist career. The rules are different there, and the book picks up the pace here, setting up an amusing tune of this white jewish man jumping traditions and politeness hoops in a foreign country. All that said, work goes well, including the whole structure of building relationships with co-workers, sources, cops… Which can get quite costly.

One day a yakuza contacts him, letting him know that Jake’s name was mentioned in trustworthiness context. This is where the story starts getting darker, for Jake gets to see beyond Love Hotels, Hostess clubs, where people dress up for you, to be your best friend until you run out of money. Beyond that there’s dark, gritty, nightmarish web of debt, loan sharks, human trafficking, and destroyed lives.

My Opinion: This is a very, very masterfully written book. With facts, memories, experiences  woven into one smooth if nightmarish tale. Don’t know about you, but Japan to me was always that dream country, something exotic and far, far away, so very different from anything we know here. But truth is much more simple. Yes, there’s differences. Yes, there’s plenty of pros, pluses. But there’s just as many cons, minuses. Just as in any country.

A very good book. Reminded me of this one I read long ago called “Yakuza Moon“. This one gets a 5 out of 5. And no, it is not made to slander. Merely a country this journalist lived in, a place where he found this, and was in a position to make a difference, no matter how small.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, mafia, murder, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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