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Book Review of: Out Of Place In Time And Space
Inventions, beliefs, and artistic anomalies there were
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Out Of Place In Time And Space, by Lamont Wood (Softcover, 2011)|
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The subject matter is "off the beaten path," giving the reader something different from the normal fare. I also like Mr. Wood's writing style, which is conversational yet credible. His subtle use of humor also adds to the reading experience.
Prior to reading the book, I had steeled myself to possibly reading something that tries to build false "facts" out of minor coincidences. I'm happy to report that is not at all how Mr. Wood went about things.
Mr. Wood's approach was to look at the facts surrounding various artifacts or beliefs from the past and address the dominant theories and conjectures about them. In most cases, he debunked theories and conjectures using logic and/or related facts.
Many ideas about past artifacts don't stand up to such scrutiny (much like common beliefs today!). In some cases, Mr. Wood presented the truth. In other cases, he didn't have the facts to arrive at a soundly-reasoned conclusion so he presented no conclusion.
His sound research and solid analyses showed respect for the subjects covered and for the reader. While the facts he discloses may not be of practical value to the reader, they are interesting facts nonetheless. Learning from his example and methodology is of practical value to the reader. Too many people are gullible because they aren't familiar with the analysis process.
The blurb on the back jacket of the book is an accurate reflection of how the author approaches journalistic investigation. That's a rare approach today, but it's good to see it's not altogether gone.
By odd coincidence, while I was reading this book I also happened to read an article in the July 2011 issue of IEEE Computer Magazine. Chapter 2 of this book is "The Ancient Computer," and an 8-page article beginning on page 32 of the magazine discussed the process of decoding the mechanical programming of that very artifact. Nothing in the article contradicts anything in the book.
The book also has a fair number of photos and illustrations that help with understanding many of these topics. In some cases, the topics were not inherently straightforward, and Mr. Wood provided the clear explanations to get past that problem.
In the bibliography, I noticed a mix of sources of varying degrees of credibility. Given how everything in the book seems coherent, I'm not sure this is a problem from an authoritativeness standpoint. And the book doesn't have footnotes or backnotes to specific sources for specific facts.
I have a keen eye for factual errors and spotted only one in this book. So however he did it, Mr. Wood did his homework.
The error is a common one, and it's done in response to propaganda, revisionist history, and custom. It's an error that people need to stop making because the nature of that error perpetuates fraud. The war between the states (begun in 1861) was not a civil war. It was a war of secession. A civil war is one in which the insurgents try to seize the existing means of government. A war of secession is when they try to leave the existing government and start their own. To even "debate" this is absurd, as all of the evidence from the time points to a war of secession and not an iota of it points to a civil war.
This book covers 40 historical anomalies in 204 pages. It has a short biography and an index.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.