Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two Books

I'm reading two big books presently, which I will review properly at my Amazon page later. But I'll go ahead and recommend them to you now, if you haven't already heard of them.

One is Jung Chang's Mao: The Unknown Story. How stomach-sinking it is, to read how this malcontent, half-educated nobody chanced and then schemed into a position of power, dragging China's oft-mulcted peasantry into previously unthinkable nightmares of mass horror. The revelations are compiled from surviving acquaintances of Mao, or their descendants.

The other is Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale. I expected it to be merely a popular work of comparative zoology, but it is much more. Loosely modeled on The Canturbury Tales, he surveys current thinking in paleontology, genetics, and so on. It does get tedious, having to wait out him snarking on about creationists and American politics, but the meat of the book is fascinating.

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