Books to Stimulate Your Thinking

Below are several books spanning topics of importance in education. Most are NOT educator’s books; they are written by authors from many different backgrounds, including journalism, social sciences, natural sciences, as well as  education. While very different in backgrounds, these writers share a passion to bring light to contemporary issues, the kind of issues that infect our schools both directly and indirectly. These are here to challenge you. Read a few or many, but treat them if possible with an unbiased eye. Hopefully, these will awaken your senses to confront these concerns as a teacher, parent, community leader, or citizen.

Inasmuch as this Web site needs interactivity to avoid becoming sterile, please respond in our blog segment and suggest other titles or other topics that we might list.

[ Learning/Education/Lifestyle | Globalization | History | Technology | Immigration ]

1. Learning/Education/Lifestyle

Aldrich, Clark, Learning by Doing

“Learning by Doing is the real thing, written by a man who has built simulations that actually work. Aldrich offers deep and lucid theory always accessibly packaged inside fully practical examples and applications. His new book is the best way available today to come to grips with changes that will eventually transform learning in our schools, workplaces, and society.”
–James Paul Gee, author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy; professor, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Gee, James Paul, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

“[Gee is] a serious scholar who is taking a lead in an emerging field.”–Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education
“Am I a bad parent for letting [my child] play video games at 4? Not at all, according to Gee.”–Jim Louderback, USA Weekend Magazine
“Rather than be reined in, today’s successful game designers should be recognized as modern masters of learning theory…”–Mike Snider, Cincinnati Enquirer

Ibid., Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling

Why do poor and minority students under-perform in school? Do computer games help or hinder learning? What can new research in psychology teach educational policy-makers?
In this major new book, James Gee tackles the ‘big ideas’ about language, literacy and learning, applying his findings to real problems facing educationalists today.
He tackles controversial debates such as the New Literacy Studies, and the idea that the academic language required to study, for example, Mathematics and the Sciences, is exclusionary and places unfair demands on poor and minority students. Gee also explores learning outside the classroom, looking at computer and video games and comparing the way a child interacts with others and technology to learn and play, with school-based learning in science classrooms

Ibid., Why Video Games Are Good for You Soul

Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul is about pleasure and learning. Good video games allow people to create their own “music”, to compose a symphony from their own actions, decisions, movements, and feelings. They allow people to become “pros”, to feel and act like an expert soldier, city planner, world builder, thief, tough guy, wizard and a myriad of other things. They allow people to create order out of complexity, to gain and feel mastery, and to create new autobiographies, careers and histories.

Graham, Patricia Albjerg, Schooling America: How Public Schools Meet the Nation’s Changing Needs

Here is a very comprehensive book on the history of America’s
educational system. The comments below are from Howard Good’s review in
Education Week, May 1, 2006…

“All the familiar figures are here—Charles William Eliot, John Dewey,
Maria Montessori, James Conant, Albert Shanker—and some not-so-familiar
ones, such as Leonard Ayres, author of the 1909 classic Laggards in Our
Schools. Graham, former dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education,
treats their ideas fairly, if briefly, and always within the context of
their times. . . .”

“The reason schools have been not entirely successful at carrying out
these shifting tasks, Graham suggests, may have less to do with the
sincerity or energy of educators’ efforts than with the unrealistic
nature of the assignments. Schools have been asked to accomplish
goals—promote virtue, guarantee justice and equality, stimulate
learning—that any institution in our gonzo culture, even a
better-organized and supported one, would struggle to fulfill.”

Hallowell, Dr. Edward, CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD

Are you too busy? Are you always running behind? Is your calendar loaded with more than you can possibly accomplish? Is it driving you crazy? You’re not alone. CrazyBusy–the modern phenomenon of brain overload–is a national epidemic. Without intending it or understanding how it happened, we’ve plunged ourselves into a mad.

Hord Shirley M. and Tobia Edward F., Reclaiming Our Teaching Profession: The Power of Educators Learning in Community

Drawing from a wealth of research and experience, this book shows educators how to use the transformative power of professional learning in community to raise the professional stature of educators. The authors, experts in their field, provide clear steps and real-school examples with a focus on collaborative adult learning for student gains, community respect, professional satisfaction, and collegial support. They examine pitfalls and distractions, and show clear images of what empowered Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) look like for teachers, administrators, and leaders at the school and district level. The authors also provide practical tools for advancing and measuring progress. This resource will help educators move from a climate of sanctions to one of mutual trust and support informed by a commitment to students and a dedication to working and learning together.

Howe, Neil and Strauss, William, Millennials Rising

Building on the concepts they first developed in Generations and 13th Gen, Neil Howe and William Strauss now take on Generation Y, or, as they call them, the Millennials. Unlike their rather distressing portrait of the more reactive Generation X (the 13th Gen), or the negative stereotypes that abound about today’s kids, this is all good news. According to Howe and Strauss, this group is poised to become the next great generation, one that will provide a more positive, group-oriented, can-do ethos. Huge in size as well as future impact, they’re making a sharp break from Gen-X trends and a direct reversal of boomer youth behavior. Why? Because, as a nation, we’ve devoted more concern and attention their way than to any generation in, well, generations.

Johnson, Steven, Everything Bad Is Good For You

From Publishers Weekly
Worried about how much time your children spend playing video games? Don’t be, advises Johnson – not only are they learning valuable problem-solving skills, they’d probably do better on an IQ test than you or your parents could at their age. Go ahead and let them watch more television, too, since even reality shows can function as “elaborately staged group psychology experiments” to stimulate rather than pacify the brain. With the same winning combination of personal revelation and friendly scientific explanation he displayed in last year’s Mind Wide Open, Johnson shatters the conventional wisdom about pop culture as pabulum, showing how video games, television shows and movies have become increasingly complex. Furthermore, he says, consumers are drawn specifically to those products that require the most mental engagement, from small children who can’t get enough of their favorite Disney DVDs to adults who find new layers of meaning with each repeated viewing of Seinfeld. Johnson lays out a strong case that what we do for fun is just as educational in its way as what we study in the classroom (although it’s still worthwhile to encourage good reading habits, too). There’s an important message here for every parent – one they should hear from the source before savvy kids (especially teens) try to take advantage of it. Agent, Lydia Wills at Paradigm. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

Kline, Peter, The Everyday Genius: Restoring Children’s Natural Joy of Learning—and Yours Too

Now in its fifth printing, The Everyday Genius explains the most current thinking about the brain and the optimum conditions for learning. A practical guide for producing confident, eager learners at any age.  – Education Resources

Ibid., Why America’s Children Can’t Think

According to teacher and education researcher Kline, American children cant think because they haven’t been properly taught to read. Too much reading education, as measured by standardized tests, focuses on comprehension rather than interpretation, which Kline considers a better measure of the ability to think. From research, and his own experience as a slow reader, “he read at the fourth-grade level while in junior college”, Kline offers a different approach to reading that encourages engagement and thinking. The first part of his book focuses on reading development issues; the second part focuses on comprehension and interpretation. He reviews research on physiological differences in learning development, varying learning styles, pedagogical approaches to teaching reading, and use of visualization and imagination in reading. Kline’s own obvious love of reading makes this informative book particularly enjoyable as well as helpful to parents, teachers, and others interested in literacy.
– Vanessa Bush
Copyright  American Library Association. All rights reserved

Ibid., and Saunders, Bernard,Ten Steps to a Learning Organization

Reviewer: M. H. Bayliss
ve had to read many learning organizational books for my graduate studies — this was one of my favorites out of maybe 10 I’ve read. One, it’s fun to read! The examples are erudite, taken from other disciplines like science and math, not just business. The 10 steps are easy to follow, logical and well represented. The authors rely on concrete examples that everyone can relate to. If I had to train a group of people or point an organization towards achieving its goals as a learning organization, I would rely on this book as my bible. Great writing style, great examples — overall one of the most enjoyable I’ve read!

Koster, Raph, A Theory of Fun for Game Design

From the Author: In this book, I decided to tackle the questions of what games are, what fun is, and why games matter. A lot of people are exploring these questions now, and digital games have become big business. The time is ripe for us to dig deeper into the many questions that games raise. In the final analysis, I think that work and play aren’t all that different, and A Theory of Fun explains why I came to that conclusion.

About the Author: Raph Koster is the Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment. For many years he has served as a lead designer for teams building online virtual worlds. His first job was as a designer working on persistent worlds at Origin Systems, where he was the creative lead for Ultima Online, opening the online persistent world market to the general gaming public. At Sony Online Entertainment, he was the creative director for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided.
Book Reviews about Game Design

Kozol, Jonathan, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America

From Publishers Weekly
Public school resegregation is a “national horror hidden in plain view,” writes former educator turned public education activist Kozol (Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace). Kozol visited 60 schools in 11 states over a five-year period and finds, despite the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, many schools serving black and Hispanic children are spiraling backward to the pre-Brown era. These schools lack the basics: clean classrooms, hallways and restrooms; up-to-date books in good condition; and appropriate laboratory supplies. Teachers and administrators eschew creative coursework for rote learning to meet testing and accountability mandates, thereby “embracing a pedagogy of direct command and absolute control” usually found in “penal institutions and drug rehabilitation programs.”

As always, Kozol presents sharp and poignant portraits of the indignities vulnerable individuals endure. “You have all the things and we do not have all the things,” one eight-year-old Bronx boy wrote the author. In another revealing exchange, a cynical high school student tells his classmate, a young woman with college ambitions who was forced into hair braiding and sewing classes, “You’re ghetto-so you sew.” Kozol discovers widespread acceptance for the notion that “schools in ghettoized communities must settle for a different set of academic and career goals” than schools serving middle-and upper-class children. Kozol tempers this gloom with hopeful interactions between energetic teachers and receptive children in schools where all is not lost. But these “treasured places” don’t hide the fact, Kozol argues, that school segregation is still the rule for poor minorities, or that Kozol, and the like-minded politicians, educators and advocates he seeks out, believe a new civil rights movement will be necessary to eradicate it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Liu, Eric, Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life

“Through inspiring examples and luminous prose, Eric Liu reminds us that we have the capacity to be both teachers and students throughout our lives. The book distills the essence of learning and mentorship, and offers the prospect of self-discovery to all who listen to its Guiding Lights.”   – Carolyn Kennedy

McCourt, Frank, Teacher Man

Anyone teaching, interested in education or the development of children should read Frank McCourt’s story of his 30 years teaching in the New York City public school system. McCourt’s background from poverty in Limerick, Ireland, to his rise as a best selling author (Angela’s Ashes) gave him keen insights into what lies within each of his students and how the traditional big city educational structure and biases can hinder development of each student’s potential. But he persevered by remaining true to himself. To quote from Amazon’s review: ” McCourt was too likable, too interested in the students’ lives, and too willing to reveal himself for their benefit as well as his own.”

Oblinger, Diane G. and James L, Editors, Educating the Net Generation

How do today’s students differ from those of earlier generations? Diane and James Oblinger provide a detailed description of the activities and life styles of college students today, especially regarding their understanding and uses of technology.– Editors’ statement

The book is available in PDF

Pink, Daniel, A Whole New Mind

“This book is a miracle. One the one hand, it provides a completely original and profound analysis of the most pressing personal and economic issue of the days ahead “… how the gargantuan changes wrought by technology and globalization are going to impact the way we live and work and imagine our world. Then Dan Pink provides an equally original and profound and practical guidebook for survival “and joy” in this topsy-turvy environment. I was moved and disturbed and exhilarated all at once. A few years ago, Peter Drucker wondered whether the modern economy would ever find its Copernicus. With this remarkable book, we just may have discovered our Copernicus for the brave new age that’s accelerating into being.”

Brilliantly exploring today’s cutting edge brain research, Mind Wide Open is an unprecedented journey into the essence of human personality, allowing readers to understand themselves and the people in their lives as never before.

Ibid., Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people–at work, at school, at home. It’s wrong. As Daniel H. Pink explains in his new and paradigm-shattering book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does–and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:

* Autonomy- the desire to direct our own lives
* Mastery- the urge to get better and better at something that matters
* Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward.

Drive is bursting with big ideas–the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.

Prensky, Mark, Don’t Bother Me, Mom–I’m Learning: How Computer and Video Games Are Preparing Your Kids for 21st Century Success and How You Can Help

Marc Prensky is one of the most renowned creators of educational games for all age levels. His latest book is due to be released in the spring of 2006. We’d suggest your reading some of his background papers at the following site and then decide whether to order his book in advance of its publication date.

Weill, Sandra, The Real Truth About Teens and Sex

From Publishers Weekly
Hooking up: two teenagers meeting at the mall, or having drunken sex at a party shortly after meeting for the first time- Both, actually. And the central activity at a “chicken party” couldn’t be performed by anything with a beak. Weill, former editor of Seventeen, seeks to demystify these and other steamy topics in her third book on teens and sex. Writing for parents and educators, Weill preaches communication and education as keys to staving off unwanted pregnancies, health problems and other pitfalls of becoming prematurely sexually active. Her advice is practical, but the suggested dialogues she provides can come off as Pollyanna. (“I want you to promise me you won’t fool around with someone when either you or the guy or the girl have been drinking.”) Peppered with survey and sexual health factoids-42 percent of 15-year-olds know someone who’s had sex at home while their parents were in the house, and 29 percent of 12 – 17-year-olds think that someone who does everything but have sex is not a virgin-parents looking for insight into what goes on in their kids’ beds can find plenty of answers here, though some may be hesitant to take a magazine editor’s advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[ Learning/Education/Lifestyle | Globalization | History | Technology | Immigration ]

2. Globalization

Florida, Richard, Who’s Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life

Who’s Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life

From the best-selling author of The Rise of the Creative Class, a brilliant new book on the surprising importance of place, with advice on how to find the right place for you.

It’s a mantra of the age of globalization that where we live doesn’t matter. We can innovate just as easily from a ski chalet in Aspen or a beachhouse in Provence as in the office of a Silicon Valley startup.

According to Richard Florida, this is wrong. Globalization is not flattening the world; in fact, place is increasingly relevant to the global economy and our individual lives. Where we live determines the jobs and careers we have access to, the people we meet, and the “mating markets” in which we participate. And everything we think we know about cities and their economic roles is up for grabs.

Who’s Your City? offers the first available city rankings by life-stage, rating the best places for singles, families, and empty-nesters to reside. Florida’s insights and data provide an essential guide for the more than 40 million Americans who move each year, illuminating everything from what those choices mean for our everyday lives to how we should go about making them.

Friedman, Thomas L., The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim, in his new book, The orld Is Flat, as in his earlier, influential Lexus and the Olive Tree, is not to give you a speculative preview of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world isn’t going to be flat, it is flat, which gives Friedman’s breathless narrative much of its urgency, and which also saves it from the Epcot-style polyester sheen that futurists–the optimistic ones at least–are inevitably prey to.

What Friedman means by “flat” is “connected”: the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments–when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East–is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete–and win–not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn’t forget the “mutant supply chains” like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.) Friedman tells his eye-opening story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns will know well, and also with a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you’re going to be trampled if you don’t keep up with it. His book is an excellent place to begin. –Tom Nissley

Where Were You When the World Went Flat?

Ibid. and Michael Mandelbaum , That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

America is in trouble. We face four major challenges on which our future depends, and we are failing to meet them—and if we delay any longer, soon it will be too late for us to pass along the American dream to future generations.

In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman, one of our most influential columnists, and Michael Mandelbaum, one of our leading foreign policy thinkers, offer both a wake-up call and a call to collective action. They analyze the four challenges we face—globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits, and our pattern of excessive energy consumption—and spell out what we need to do now to sustain the American dream and preserve American power in the world. They explain how the end of the Cold War blinded the nation to the need to address these issues seriously, and how China’s educational successes, industrial might, and technological prowess remind us of the ways in which “that used to be us.” They explain how the paralysis of our political system and the erosion of key American values have made it impossible for us to carry out the policies the country urgently needs.

And yet Friedman and Mandelbaum believe that the recovery of American greatness is within reach. They show how America’s history, when properly understood, offers a five-part formula for prosperity that will enable us to cope successfully with the challenges we face. They offer vivid profiles of individuals who have not lost sight of the American habits of bold thought and dramatic action. They propose a clear way out of the trap into which the country has fallen, a way that includes the rediscovery of some of our most vital traditions and the creation of a new thirdparty movement to galvanize the country.

That Used to Be Us is both a searching exploration of the American condition today and a rousing manifesto for American renewal.

Ibid., Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America, Release 2.0

In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America’s urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America.

Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet–one that is “hot, flat, and crowded.”  In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession.  The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy.  And it could inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time–nation-building in America–by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge–and the promise–of the future.

[ Learning/Education/Lifestyle | Globalization | History | Technology | Immigration ]

3. History

Bryson, Bill, A Brief History of Nearly Everything
Editorial Reviews

  From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly  Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish  this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular  science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields. His aim is to  help people like him, who rejected stale school textbooks and dry explanations,  to appreciate how we have used science to understand the smallest particles and  the unimaginably vast expanses of space. With his distinctive prose style and  wit, Bryson succeeds admirably. Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting  500-plus pages and covers the same material as every science book before it, it  reads something like a particularly detailed novel (albeit without a plot).  Each longish chapter is devoted to a topic like the age of our planet or how  cells work, and these chapters are grouped into larger sections such as “The  Size of the Earth” and “Life Itself.” Bryson chats with experts like Richard  Fortey (author of Life and Trilobite) and these interviews are charming. But it’s  when Bryson dives into some of science’s best and most embarrassing fights–Cope vs. MarshConway Morris vs. Gould–that he finds literary gold. –Therese Littleton–This  text refers to theHardcover edition.

Burns, James Macgregor, et al, Government by the People

James Macgregor Burns and his  associated tem of scholars have written mofre thn 30 books in this series, Government by the People, starting more than  fifty years ago! It is hailed as the  consistently most thorough, most scholarly, and yet most readable American  government text series available. While written primarily for college students,  the style and details discussed in any of the texts in this series could be  worthwhile for high school students and adults as well.

  Diamond,  Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel

A book review by Danny Yee –   1997

Why is it that Europeans ended up conquering  so much of the world? Or, as one of Diamond’s New Guinean friends asks him, why  do they have all the “cargo”? Despite all the contrary evidence from  anthropology and human biology, many persist in attributing the differing  political and economic successes of the world’s peoples to biological, “racial”  differences. Others appeal to cultural differences or to historical  contingency. But Diamond sees the fundamental causes as environmental, resting  ultimately on ecological differences between the continents. An extended  argument for this, Guns, Germs and Steel is nothing less than a history of Homo  sapiens on a scale of continents and millennia.

Ibid., Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fall or Succeed

An extraordinary synthesis of  natural and social science brought to life by Jared Diamonds astonishing  knowledge of history and he nuances and natures of civilizations. – James  Robinson, Harvard university

Friedman,  Benjamin, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth

Ever feel like you just can’t get  ahead with the bills? You’re not alone. More than half of Americans believe the  American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve. And two-thirds  think this goal will be even harder for the next generation. (One reason for  the gloominess–average full-time income has fallen 15 percent since 1975.) All  this has Benjamin Friedman worried. In his hefty, 549-page tome, The Moral  Consequences of Economic Growth, the acclaimed Harvard economist and advisor to  the Federal Reserve Board says economic stagnation is bad for the moral health  of a nation. Friedman, a former chair of Harvard’s economics department, argues  that economic growth is vital to social and political progress. Witness  Hitler’s Germany. Without growth, people look for answers in intolerance and  fear. And that, Friedman warns, is where the U.S. is headed if the economic  stagnation of the past three decades doesn’t soon reverse. It’s not enough for  gross domestic product to rise, he says. Growth also has to be more evenly  distributed. The rich shouldn’t be the only ones getting richer.

Howe, Neil, and Strauss,  William, Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069

Reviewer: Andrew Wankum (Jefferson City, MO United  States) See all my reviews

Strauss and Howe’s theory of a generational cycle is amazing. However, even if  you do not buy into the theory, Generations has other merits.

In trying to  prove their theory, the authors have written a generational history of the  American people. While most history books focus on great events, Generations  examines the relationship between events and people. Much of their theory  relies on an older generation shaping an event while the event shapes a younger  generation.

I was very  impressed how they showed how generations move through time and reacted  differently to various historical events.

As for their theory, if  they are right then the cycle will continue and we will be able to judge for  ourselves if events have followed the path that Straus and Howe predict.

Huntington, Samuel  P., The Clash of Civilizations and the  Remaking of World Order

Based on the  author’s seminal article in “Foreign Affairs”, Samuel P. Huntington’s  “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” is a  provocative and prescient analysis of the state of world politics after the  fall of communism. In this incisive work, the renowned political scientist  explains how “civilizations” have replaced nations and ideologies as  the driving force in global politics today and offers a brilliant analysis of  the current climate and future possibilities of our world’s volatile political  culture.

Levitt,  Steven, and Dunbner, Stephen, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the  Hidden Side of Everything

Economics can be so much more than trying to understand  the implications of statistical data that emits from Washington inner circles  on a regular basis. Economics is really about developing a way of thinking.  Levitt and Dubner help that process along with this most fascinating book.

They  look at common issues, some large and some small, and often debunk what many  think are obvious answers. Remember the old cliché, “There’s a simple answer  for any complex question, and it’s usually all wrong!” Or how about that phrase  we may have learned in Latin class, “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”, “After this,  therefore on account of this”. Tain’t necessarily so! Levitt and Dubner do a  great job cracking several of these notions apart.

McCain, John,  Character Is Destiny

Editorial  Reviews      From Publishers Weekly:  Starred  Review.

As in last year’s Why Courage Matters,  McCain’s latest volume uses biography as an illustration of virtue, but this  time the senator broadens his palette significantly, telling 34 stories of  heroes whose lives embody qualities ranging from honesty and loyalty to  curiosity and enthusiasm. At the root of them all, he says, is a willingness to  stay true to one’s conscience against all challenges. Thus martyrs appear  prominently, from Thomas More and Joan of Arc to Edith Cavell and Father Maximilian  Kolbe, as do military heroes, including Pat Tillman, the pro football player  whose love of country led him to enlist in the army shortly after 9/11.

But the pantheon is inclusive enough to hold  Aung San Suu Kyi and Gandhi alongside Churchill and Eisenhower. Although he is  reaching out to a younger readership, McCain’s plain but sincere language does  not condescend to his audience. He makes occasional oblique references to his  experiences as a prisoner of war—describing, for example, how they reinforce his  understanding of Victor Frankl’s concept of dignity—but the only chapter  centered on his ordeal highlights a furtive moment of kindness from a  Vietnamese soldier. Amid much speculation concerning his plans for 2008, McCain  has made a declaration of values that liberals can embrace as readily as  conservatives.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All  rights reserved.

Pink, Daniel, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What  Motivates Us

Forget everything you thought you  knew about how to motivate people–at work, at school, at home. It’s wrong. As  Daniel H. Pink explains in his new and paradigm-shattering book Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the secret to high  performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to  direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by  ourselves and our world.

  Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink  exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does–and how  that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the  old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th  century, it’s precisely the wrong way to motivate people for  today’s challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true  motivation:

  * Autonomy- the desire to direct our own lives

* Mastery- the urge to get better and better at something that matters

* Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than  ourselves

  Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to  motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are  pointing a bold way forward.

  Drive is bursting with big ideas–the rare book that will change  how you think and transform how you live.


[ Learning/Education/Lifestyle | Globalization | History | Technology | Immigration ]

4. Technology

Branwyn, Gareth, Absdolute Beginner’s Guide to  Building Robots

Review from
Finally, a robots book for people who don’t  know the first thing about robotics! Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Robots is  well-written, inviting, and action-packed, with engaging ideas and fascinating  factoids about robots and robot-related arts and sciences. You are led gently  into the intimidating world of robotics, but nearly 400 pages later, you emerge  with a respectable knowledge of robot history, the major fields and “schools”  of robotics today, and the basic skills and resources needed to create hobby  robots. By the end of the book, you will be the proud owner of three bots, the  first two of which demonstrate key robotic principles. The third is a  programmable/expandable robot, which serves as a platform for future  experimentation. And best of all, these robots are built with simple to get and  inexpensive parts – many of which you already have around the house!

Hawkins, Jeff, On Intelligence

From  Publishers Weekly

Hawkins designed the technical innovations that make handheld computers like  the Palm Pilot ubiquitous. But he also has a lifelong passion for the mysteries  of the brain, and he’s convinced that artificial intelligence theorists are  misguided in focusing on the limits of computational power rather than on the  nature of human thought. He “pops the hood” of the neocortex and carefully  articulates a theory of consciousness and intelligence that offers radical  options for future researchers. “[The ability to make predictions about the  future… is the crux of intelligence,” he argues. The predictions are based on  accumulated memories, and Hawkins suggests that humanoid robotics, the attempt  to build robots with humanlike bodies, will create machines that are more  expensive and impractical than machines reproducing genuinely human-level  processes such as complex-pattern analysis, which can be applied to speech  recognition, weather analysis and smart cars. Hawkins presents his ideas, with  help from New York Times science writer Blakeslee, in chatty, easy-to-grasp  language that still respects the brain’s technical complexity. He fully  anticipates-even welcomes-the controversy he may provoke within the scientific community  and admits that he might be wrong, even as he offers a checklist of potential  discoveries that could prove him right. His engaging speculations are sure to  win fans of authors like Steven Johnson and Daniel Dennett.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All  rights reserved

Kurzweil, Ray, The Singularity Is Near: When  Humans Transcend Biology

From Booklist

Continuing the themes of The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), Kurzweil further  expounds his conviction that the human being will be succeeded by a  superintelligent entity that is partly biological, partly computerized.  Welcoming this prospect, and regarding it as inevitable, Kurzweil plunges into  contemporary technological arenas, particularly genetics, nanotechnology, and  robotics. Citing examples from medical devices to military weapons in which  human control is increasingly detached from the autonomy of machines, Kurzweil  stresses that trends are accelerating in terms of miniaturization and  computational power. Eventually, smallness and speed reach a point of  development, a “singularity,” with implications Kurzweil says even he cannot  imagine. Disinclined to categorize his views as dystopian or utopian, the  author recognizes that his vision is profoundly threatening to concepts of  human nature and individuality. A closing section on philosophy and ethics  accordingly addresses objections to his optimistic predictions. An involved  presentation, this is best for readers of the wide-angle, journalistic  treatment Radical Evolution (2005), by Joel  Garreau.           Gilbert  Taylor

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

“Excellent . . .Pink  Astutely summarizes what this shift in employment means to millions of  Americans . . . Highly recommended.”  — Library Journal

Johnson, Steven, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains,  Cities, and Software

. . . If you’ve searched for information of the Web,  played a video game, or accepted a collect call using voice recognition  software, you’ve already encountered the new world of artificial emergence.  Provocative, engaging, and sophisticated, Emergence puts you on the front lines  of a sweeping revolution in science and thought.

National Research Council, National  Academies of Science, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board,

Dick Thornburgh and Herbert Lin, editors, Youth, Pornography, and the Internet

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights  reserved.

The Internet is  both a source of promise for our children and a source of concern. The promise  is that the Internet offers such an enormous range of positive and educational  experiences and materials for our children. Yet children online may be  vulnerable to harm through exposure to sexually explicit materials, adult  predators, and peddlers of hate. If the full educational potential of the  Internet is to be realized for children, these concerns must be addressed.

Pink,  Daniel, Free Agent Nation

Reviews for Free Agent Nation
“Helps open the way for a national dialogue  about the future meaning of career and community.” — Orange County Register
“The most important business book you will  read this year.”
— Washington Business Journal

“Excellent . . .Pink Astutely summarizes what  this shift in employment means to millions of Americans . . . Highly  recommended.”  — Library Journal

Reynolds,  Glenn, An Army of Davids

There was a time in the  not-too-distant past when large companies and powerful governments reigned  supreme over the little guy. But new technologies are empowering individuals  like never before, and the Davids of the world-the amateur journalists, musicians, and small businessmen and women-are  suddenly making a huge economic and social impact.

In Army of Davids, author Glenn Reynolds, the  man behind the immensely popular, provides an in-depth,  big-picture point-of-view for a world where the small guys matter more and  more. Reynolds explores the birth and growth of the individual’s surprisingly  strong influence in: arts and entertainment,  anti-terrorism, nanotech and space research, and

Turkle, Sherry, The Second Shelf: Computers  and the Human Spirit – Twentieth Century Edition

In The Second Self, Sherry Turkle  looks at the computer not as a “tool,” but as part of our social and  psychological lives; she looks beyond how we use computer games and  spreadsheets to explore how the computer affects our awareness of ourselves, of  one another, and of our relationship with the world. “Technology,” she writes,  “catalyzes changes not only in what we do but in how we think.” First published  in 1984, The Second Self is still essential reading as a primer in the  psychology of computation. This twentieth anniversary edition allows us to  reconsider two decades of computer culture–to (re)experience what was and is most  novel in our new media culture and to view our own contemporary relationship  with technology with fresh eyes. Turkle frames this classic work with a new  introduction, a new epilogue, and extensive notes added to the original text.

[ Learning/Education/Lifestyle | Globalization | History | Technology | Immigration ]

5. Immigration

Juntington, Samuel P., The Clash of  Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

Based on the  author’s seminal article in “Foreign Affairs”, Samuel P. Huntington’s  “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” is a  provocative and prescient analysis of the state of world politics after the  fall of communism. In this incisive work, the renowned political scientist  explains how “civilizations” have replaced nations and ideologies as  the driving force in global politics today and offers a brilliant analysis of  the current climate and future possibilities of our world’s volatile political  culture.

Massey, Douglas S., New Faces in New Places:  The Changing Geography of American Immigration

Beginning in the 1990s, immigrants to the United States increasingly  bypassed traditional gateway cites such as Los Angeles and New York to settle  in smaller towns and cities throughout the nation. With immigrant communities  popping up in so many new places, questions about ethnic diversity and  immigrant assimilation confront more and more Americans. New Faces in  New Places, edited by distinguished sociologist Douglas Massey, explores  today’s geography of immigration and examines the ways in which native-born  Americans are dealing with their new neighbors.

Using the latest census data and other  population surveys, New Faces in New Places examines the  causes and consequences of the shift toward new immigrant destinations.  Contributors Mark Leach and Frank Bean examine the growing demand for low-wage  labor and lower housing costs that have attracted many immigrants to move  beyond the larger cities. Katharine Donato, Charles Tolbert, Alfred Nucci, and  Yukio Kawano report that the majority of Mexican immigrants are no longer  single male workers but entire families, who are settling in small towns and  creating a surge among some rural populations long in decline. Katherine  Fennelly shows how opinions about the growing immigrant population in a small  Minnesota town are divided along socioeconomic lines among the local inhabitants.  The town’s leadership and professional elites focus on immigrant contributions  to the economic development and the diversification of the community, while  working class residents fear new immigrants will bring crime and an increased  tax burden to their communities. Helen Marrow reports that many African  Americans in the rural south object to Hispanic immigrants benefiting from  affirmative action even though they have just arrived in the United States and  never experienced historical discrimination. As Douglas Massey argues in his  conclusion, many of the towns profiled in this volume are not equipped with the  social and economic institutions to help assimilate new immigrants that are  available in the traditional immigrant gateways of New York, Los Angeles, and  Chicago. And the continual replenishment of the flow of immigrants may  adversely affect the nation’s perception of how today’s newcomers are  assimilating relative to previous waves of immigrants.

New Faces in New Places illustrates  the many ways that communities across the nation are reacting to the arrival of  immigrant newcomers, and suggests that patterns and processes of assimilation  in the twenty-first century may be quite different from those of the past.  Enriched by perspectives from sociology, anthropology, and geography New  Faces in New Places is essential reading for scholars of immigration  and all those interested in learning the facts about new faces in new places in  America.

Massey, Douglas S., Durand, Jorge, and Malone, Nolan J., Beyond Smoke  and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration

Migration between Mexico and the United States is  part of a historical process of increasing North American integration. This  process acquired new momentum with the passage of the North American Free Trade  Agreement in 1994, which lowered barriers  to the movement of goods, capital, services, and information. But rather than include labor in this new regime, the United States continues to resist the  integration of the labor markets of the two countries. Instead of easing  restrictions on Mexican labor, the United States has militarized its border and  adopted restrictive new policies of immigrant disenfrachisement. Beyond Smoke  and Mirrors examines the devastating impact of these immigration policies on  the social and economic fabric of the Mexico and the United States, and calls  for a sweeping reform of the current system.

The costs of the U.S. policy have been high. The book  documents how the massive expansion of border enforcement has wasted billions  of dollars and hundreds of lives, yet has not deterred increasing numbers of  undocumented immigrants from heading north. The authors also show how the new  policies unleashed a host of unintended consequences: a shift away from  seasonal, circular migration toward permanent settlement; the creation of a  black market for Mexican labor; the transformation of Mexican immigration from  a regional phenomenon into a broad social movement touching every region of the  country; and even the lowering of wages for legal U.S. residents. What had been  a relatively open and benign labor process before 1986 was transformed into an  exploitative underground system of labor coercion, one that lowered wages and  working conditions of undocumented migrants, legal immigrants, and American  citizens alike.

Rather than denying the reality of labor  migration, the authors recommend regularizing it and working to manage it so as  to promote economic development in Mexico and minimize costs and disruptions  for the United States. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors provides an essential  “user’s manual” for readers seeking a historical, theoretical, and  substantive understanding of how U.S. policy on Mexican immigration evolved to  its current dysfunctional state, as well as how it might be fixed.

Millard, Ann V., and Chapa, Jorge, Apple Pie and Enchiladas: Latino  Newcomers in the Midwest

The sudden influx of significant numbers of Latinos to the  rural Midwest stems from the recruitment of workers by food processing plants  and small factories springing up in rural areas. Mostly they work at  back-breaking jobs that local residents are not willing to take because of the  low wages and few benefits. The region has become the scene of dramatic change  involving major issues facing our country–the intertwining of ethnic  differences, prejudice, and poverty; the social impact of a low-wage workforce  resulting from corporate transformations; and public policy questions dealing  with economic development, taxation, and welfare payments. In this thorough multidisciplinary  study, the authors explore both sides of this ethnic divide and provide the  first volume to focus comprehensively on Latinos in the region by linking  demographic and qualitative analysis to describe what brings Latinos to the  area and how they are being accommodated in their new communities. The fact is  that many Midwestern communities would be losing population and facing a dearth  of workers if not for Latino newcomers. This finding adds another layer of  social and economic complexity to the region’ s changing place in the global  economy. The authors look at how Latinos fit into an already fractured social  landscape with tensions among townspeople, farmers, and others. The authors  also reveal the optimism that lies in the opposition of many Anglos to ethnic  prejudice and racism.

Portes, Alejandro,and Rumbaut, Ruben G., Immigrant America

This third edition of the widely acclaimed classic has been  thoroughly expanded and updated to reflect current demographic, economic, and  political realities. Drawing on recent census data and other primary sources,  Portes and Rumbaut have infused the entire text with new information and added  a vivid array of new vignettes and illustrations.

Recognized for its superb portrayal of  immigration and immigrant lives in the United States, this book probes the  dynamics of immigrant politics, examining questions of identity and loyalty  among newcomers, and explores the psychological consequences of varying modes  of migration and acculturation. The authors look at patterns of settlement in  urban America, discuss the problems of English-language acquisition and  bilingual education, explain how immigrants incorporate themselves into the  American economy, and examine the trajectories of their children from  adolescence to early adulthood. With a vital new chapter on religion–and fresh  analyses of topics ranging from patterns of incarceration to the mobility of  the second generation and the unintended consequences of public policies–this  updated edition is indispensable for framing and informing issues that promise  to be even more hotly and urgently contested as the subject moves to the center  of national debate..

Zúñiga, Víctor and HernándezLeón, Rubén, New  Destinations: Mexican Immigration in the United States

Mexican immigration to the United States—the  oldest and largest immigration movement to this country—is in the midst of a  fundamental transformation. For decades, Mexican immigration was primarily a  border phenomenon, confined to Southwestern states. But legal changes in the  mid-1980s paved the way for Mexican migrants to settle in parts of America that  had no previous exposure to people of Mexican heritage. In “New  Destinations,” editors Víctor Zúñiga and Rubén Hernández-León bring  together an inter-disciplinary team of scholars to examine demographic, social,  cultural, and political changes in areas where the incorporation of Mexican  migrants has deeply changed the preexisting ethnic landscape.

“New Destinations” looks at several  of the communities where Mexican migrants are beginning to settle, and  documents how the latest arrivals are reshaping—and being reshaped by—these new  areas of settlement. Contributors Jorge Durand, Douglas Massey, and Chiara  Capoferro use census data to diagram the historical evolution of Mexican  immigration to the United States, noting the demographic, economic, and legal  factors that led recent immigrants to move to areas where few of their  predecessors had settled. Looking at two towns in Southern Louisiana,  contributors Katharine Donato, Melissa Stainback, and Carl Bankston III reach a  surprising conclusion: that documented immigrant workers did a poorer job of  integrating into the local culture than their undocumented peers. They  attribute this counterintuitive finding to documentation policies, which helped  intensify employer control over migrants and undercut the formation of a stable  migrant community among documented workers. Brian Rich and Marta Miranda detail  an ambivalent mixture of paternalism and xenophobia by local residents toward  migrants in Lexington, Kentucky. The new arrivals were welcomed for their  strong work ethic so long as they stayed in “invisible” spheres such  as fieldwork, but were resented once they began to take part in more public  activities like schools or town meetings. “New Destinations” also  provides some hopeful examples of progress in community relations. Several  chapters, including Mark Grey and Anne Woodrick’s examination of a small Iowa  town, point to the importance of dialogue and mediation in establishing  amicable relations between ethnic groups in newly multi-cultural settings.

“New Destinations” is the first  scholarly assessment of Mexican migrants’ experience in the Midwest, Northeast,  and deep South—the latest settlement points for America’s largest immigrant  group. Enriched by perspectives from demographers, anthropologists,  sociologists, folklorists, and political scientists, this volume is an  essential starting point for scholarship on the new Mexican migration.

–This  text refers to the Hardcover edition.


[ Learning/Education/Lifestyle | Globalization | History | Technology | Immigration ]