**NOW PLAYING: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire…**

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

by Kurt Andersen, pub. 2017, pp. 440

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What I learned from this book

I learned that no matter what your political affiliation, your viewpoint on whether we, as Americans in 2018, are in a good place or a bad one, safe or dangerous – there is in fact a 500-year documented history that we can break down that may assist in explaining it all.  Once we can divide it into smaller, more digestible pieces – perhaps we can then figure out the best way forward.  Only time will tell.

What I liked about this book

I thought the author, Kurt Andersen, was exceptionally honest about his views.  These are volatile topics that Americans have passion about.  They can’t be taken casually “playing it” from both sides.  The good news is Andersen doesn’t try that trick.  He delivers in a forthright, self-deprecating, thorough style while wading through historical explanations of many of America’s “powder keg” topics: religion, race, and, of course, politics.

What I disliked about this book

I pretty much liked everything about this book.  I even found it amazing that the author could discuss 500-year old topics in less than five hundred pages!  This could easily have become a convoluted, wordy “1,000-plusser!”  Fortunately, it did not!

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to any American citizen who feels befuddled by the current environment in which we are living.  I talk to a lot of people in my daily interactions and I’m amazed at how confused many seem as to “How in the hell did we arrive here?”  I suppose one of the brilliant angles of this book is how the author takes us back to the very beginning of the European-American settlement in the U.S.A. Then, he methodically lays out how and why it took that long to get us to where we are today.  It took a variety of religious beliefs, plenty of economic and political maneuvering, and, yes, of course, heaping amounts of…well, fantasy.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

 

 

**NOW: Playing Hurt – by John Saunders

Quick click: The late ESPN announcer provides in-depth revelation on his lifelong battle with depression.

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Playing Hurt – by John Saunders, published 2017, ~295 pages

What I learned from this book

I learned the same message we’ve heard from childhood that still rings true – “You never judge a book by its cover.”  Or, “Not all things (or people in this case) are as they appear.”  Who would have ever thought that the sportscaster we watched and enjoyed for so long was having such a difficult time even as we watched him?!  

John Saunders really drove home the point that we must all take a step backwards to understand the depths of depression and its effects on an individual.  It is not our place to judge or attempt to “lighten the person’s load.”  This only exacerbates the person’s condition and circumstances. Mr. Saunders explained it as the equivalent of “encouraging someone without use of their legs to get up and run around to improve your outlook on life.”  Hopefully, this is something we all should agree on NOT to do.

What I liked about this book

I liked Saunders’ transparency in detailing his entire experience.  I thought that the book would not have impacted me as much had he held back in any way.  He divulged painful details from dealings with his physically and emotionally abusive father – and an insecure, enabling mother.  The dysfunctional family is no stranger to those of us who grew up in the same era (the 1970s).

However, he managed to do his best to survive as long as he could and made a pretty decent situation out of a disastrous start.  He put to use the same courage that it takes for all of us to rise above a wall of adversity. It’s just a shame that he still ended up passing away in 2016 – still very productive at the age of 61.

What I disliked about this book

This book contains very little for the reader to dislike.  About the only thing I can think of is it was a bit repetitive in the middle section.  However, I’ll give Saunders the benefit of the doubt because he was very committed to divulging “the entirety of everything.”  We all can get a bit wordy when attempting to drive home a point to our reader, right?

Whom would I recommend to read this book

Of course the main demographic I would recommend to read this book would be those who either are suffering from depression or have loved ones who are.  Though disturbing to deal with, I agree wholeheartedly with Saunders in that mental illness is unfortunately considered a “taboo subject matter” in this world that only drives the problem underground and causes more damage than it should in the end.

Any thoughts?

A.N.

Rise of the Robots – by Martin Ford

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Rise of the Robots

by –  Martin Ford, 286 pgs.

What I found most amazing about this book

The most amazing thing about this book is the stark realization that many forms of human labor as we know it is on the tail end of its very existence.  It’s no accident that corporations have seized on both the efficiency and profitability that robots – when built and operated properly – can offer them.  Unlike humans, there are no sick days, vacations, health insurance, etc. that otherwise “inconvenience” the 24/7/365 profit machine mindset

That may seem fine in a money-making sense, but it far from solves every potential problem.  In fact, it may prove to create some brand new ones.  Unless new methods are derived to figure out how all of the millions (up to even tens of millions) of displaced workers are going to miraculously afford to buy those state-of –the-art, robotically-built products and services, then we may come to regret outsmarting ourselves in our technological prowess. 

It is something to keep in mind in our quest for perfection.  In fact, the author proposes a few interesting options with respect to how we could compensate those of us who may pay the ultimate price in this process – that of losing our careers to robots.  As one pretty insightful scientist (Isaac Newton) once put it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Let’s hope that we’re mindful of our actions as we move to the next generation.

What I DIDN’T like about this book

I thought this book was the most eye-opening I’ve read in several years.  As advanced as the concepts are, the author did a fantastic job in wording it in a way that even a very young person could relate to.  It is a game changer, a disrupter, and it will most certainly be cited often in the coming years.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

This book is (like it or not) a “must-read” for all working adults who may not even realize how close they are to being replaced in their occupation.  Yes, yours!  I would also strongly recommend it to all college students who are at the point of declaring majors and career-planning for the next stage of their lives.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.