- J. Dionne is a liberal columnist who writes frequently on political issues. His book, Why the Right Went Wrong, is a history and analysis of the conservative movement in America from the early 1960s to 2015. In a politically neutral, if somewhat dry tome, Dionne points out that the radicalization and polarization of conservative politics is not a new phenomenon, but that it actually started with the failed 1964 campaign of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s appeal to older southern white men, which diverted the Republican Party into a cycle of voting based on anger at government and distrust of cultural change, a cycle that, if not changed, will make it increasingly difficult for the GOP to prevail in national elections where the voter demographic is increasingly young and non-white. Summary of Why the Right Went Wrong by E. J. Dionne by Instaread is a comprehensive look at the book, which helps to dispel many of the myths about conservative politics in a fair and balanced way.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. It is a treasure for anyone who likes to read, but has neither the time nor the money to read every new book that comes out. I give this one five stars.
If, like me, you’re a fan of comedian/radio personality/game show host Steve Harvey, and you heard he’d written a book, you might be tempted to buy it sight unseen. Before you do, though, I strongly advise you to check out Instaread’s Summary of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey. This is a fulsome analysis of Harvey’s book of dating advice for women, in which he explains men and how they think. Unfortunately, according to the analysis, the book is more of a guide to dating Steve Harvey, since he doesn’t include any real scientific research to support his claims, basically using only his personal experience. The book also lacks his usual comedic talent, nor, according to the summary, does it have any depth. I’m still a Steve Harvey fan, but after reading this summary, I think I’ll just continue to watch him on TV.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and as usual was not disappointed. Instaread’s summaries are a boon to busy readers, helping us to effectively and efficiently separate the wheat from the chaff in the field of books that crowd our shelves.
While I’ll pass on buying the full book, I give this summary a resounding five stars.
According to Patrick Lenioni there are five key reasons teams fail to function together successfully in achieving an organization’s goals. The key of the five is lack of trust, which sets the stage for the remaining four: absence of productive conflict, lack of commitment to collective decisions, team members failing to hold each other accountable, and lack of collective goals.
In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lenioni uses a fictional organization to illustrate his points in a way that anyone can see how these dysfunctions cause failure. In addition, he offers commonsense ways to overcome the dysfunctions and make it possible for an organization to achieve its goals.
Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review of Patrick Lenioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Instaread succinctly summarizes Lenioni’s book, and in itself gives an excellent tutorial on effective team building. Makes me want to read the book. I give this summary five stars.
A 15-minute Summary & Analysis of Andy Weir’s The Martian by Instareads is an excellent review of the novel that tells the story of the abandonment and subsequent rescue of astronaut Mark Watney from the planet Mars.
Watney, believed killed in a freak Martian dust storm, was left behind by the rest of his crew. Later, it is discovered that he survived and has found a way to communicate with NASA. The story is both a science fiction thriller and a profound tale of human perseverance in the face of adversity. The author tells the story by way of Watney’s log, which he keeps as a record in case he dies on Mars. It contrasts bureaucrats who assess risks and keep an eye on the bottom line with those who are willing to risk all in order to save a comrade.
If you’ve seen the movie you owe it to yourself to read the book that inspired it. If you’re in doubt about it, read this great summary and I can promise you, you’ll change your mind.
A solid five-star summary.
Review of ‘Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review’
Furiously Happy is a funny book about horrible things. The author, Jenny Lawson suffers from clinical depression and a number of other emotional and physical ills, and after a serious bout of depression decided to combat it by being furiously happy. She tweeted about her experience, which started an immediate trend and won her a worldwide audience.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson/Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review by Instaread dissects Lawson’s book for the reader, summarizing the genesis of the book, and the stream-of-conscious style she uses that creates a book that is funny and poignant at the same time. This summary, which highlights the fact that Lawson’s technique of focusing on the high points in life can help raise the low points, and shows her celebrating her zaniness, will certainly make most readers want to know more.
A comprehensive list of references at the end of the summary is like icing on a tasty cake—it adds greatly to the value of an already valuable resource. I give it five stars.
Review of ‘Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard | Summary & Analysis’
Conservative TV personality Bill O’Reilly and author Martin Dugard collaborated to write Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency, an account of Ronald Reagan’s rise from movie actor to the U.S. presidency. The book chronicles Reagan’s entry into acting, his World War II military service, and his involvement in politics when his movie career began to stagnate, beginning with his election to the post of president of the Screen Actors’ Guild.
According to the authors, Reagan was originally a democrat, but when he married his second wife, actress Nancy Davis, he fell under her sway, became a Republican and an ultra-conservative. Reagan was well known for his anti-communist views, though, even before he became governor of California or entered the White House.
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard/Summary & Analysis by Instaread is an unauthorized, unofficial review of the book. It gives an in-depth summary of the book, chapter by chapter. The book, much to the consternation of many conservatives and Reagan fans, does not shrink from discussing his failures and weaknesses, including Nancy’s degree of control of events and use of an astrologer during his time in the White House. If there’s a weakness in the book—the original book, not the summary—it’s that the authors don’t seem to provide concrete evidence to support every claim they make about Reagan, positive or negative. The original book also seems to get into the minds of characters, stating their motives, but without proving that the authors had sufficient access to know this.
Much of what is in the book is known, or has been suspected, and much of it is probably true. The problem is, we’ll probably never know for sure. That said, the Instaread summary gives a good description of a book that is bound to spark much controversy, so my advice is read this first before you plunk down a significant sum for the original.
I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review’
Creativity is natural in humans, but we often suppress it. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, tries through quotes, anecdotes, and motivational passages to inspire everyone to embrace creativity in whatever form is natural, and to have the courage to lead a creative life. The author’s exploration of creativity through real life experiences, and her common sense approach to the topic, makes this an essential book for anyone even remotely interested in pursuing creative endeavors.
Whether you’re an aspiring full time artist or writer, or just interested in a more serious pursuit of some creative avocation, this is a book that just might help you overcome the feelings of trepidation that often prevent people from plunging ahead.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert/Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review by Instaread is a summary of Gilbert’s book, with discussions of the key points that readers should take away from it, an analysis of the author’s style, and an overall summary of the book’s themes and objectives. An interesting book to read, and a good place to start would be with this summary.
I give this book four stars.
Review of ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review ‘
The modern world’s focus on multi-tasking and a near obsession with getting more done with less has led many people to lead lives of frustration and lack of meaningful achievement. Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, advises a minimalist approach to tasks and obligations by focusing on the things that are truly important. To individuals and leaders of teams and organizations, McKeown offers some sage advice; have a clear focus on the things that really matter so that you can know when goals are reached, have clearly defined roles, and learn when to say NO or to stop pursuing things that do not contribute to your ultimate goal.
Instaread’s Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review of Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less gives an in-depth summary of the book that is useful in itself. Each chapter is analyzed, with brief descriptions of the author’s main points. After reading this summary, a reader will have a good idea of the content and importance of the work being reviewed, and confidence that this is an unbiased opinion; given that Instaread reviews are not commissioned or authorized by the author or publisher of a work. In a busy world, where we’re often required to attempt multitasking, finding ourselves short of an unrenewable resource—time—having a tool like this is fantastic.
This, by the way, is highly recommended, and if you agree with me, read the full book as well. I give it five stars.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor S. Frankl/Key Takeaways & Analysis by Instaread is a summary of Frankl’s book. It covers the main takeaways, from his analysis of what contributed to some peoples’ ability to survive the torment of concentration camps to an overview of logotherapy. It gives brief overviews of the three stages people in dire situations go through, from denial to apathy, and after coming out of the situation, the feeling of displacement and the long road back to normalcy.
This analysis does a particularly good job of describing Frankl’s writing style, from the dispassionate way he deals with the stressful situations of incarceration to the technical language he uses when writing about his school of psychotherapy. It makes it clear that this is a book that will appeal not only to experts in the field but to the average person who might want some guidance on how to search for meaning in life, and the fact that the traditional view of people like Freud and others that pleasure and power are the prime human motivators is not completely true; that it is in reality the search for meaning that motivates people, and not always for good.
After reading the review, I found myself intrigued by Frankl’s theories and look forward now to reading the full book. I give it five stars.
Review of ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: by Oliver Sacks | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review: And Other Clinical Tales’
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: Oliver Sacks/Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review by Instaread is a summary of the 30th anniversary edition of Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book on neurological problems. The strength of Sacks’ work is his use of narrative as opposed to case histories in describing the totality of a patient’s problems. As the analysis points out, case histories focus on technical issues and what’s wrong, whereas Dr. Sacks brought the entire patient into the picture, and showed that, in some instances, the neurological disorders actually had positive effects.
An excellent capsule look at a groundbreaking work that brings a complex medical subject down to earth, enabling nonmedical persons to understand and appreciate the problem.
Once again, Instaread has provided a great way to get the gist of a book before investing in it. Great job! Five stars.
Review of ‘For the Love: by Jen Hatmaker | Summary & Analysis: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards’
In today’s world, most women are bedeviled by a pursuit for unattainable levels of perfection. Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love is a self-help book about this meaningless and counterproductive pursuit for perfection, and how it is impossible. For the Love: by Jen Hatmaker/Summary & Analysis by Instareads very succinctly but fully summarizes Hatmaker’s book, outlining the steps women (and, although the book doesn’t come out directly, this advice also applies to men) can take to have more productive, fulfilled lives, beginning with a healthy dose of self-acceptance.
It’s tempting to say that after reading this Instaread summary you don’t need to read the whole book. You could, I suppose, do that, but what will really happen is you’ll want to go out and get Hatmaker’s book and get the whole ball of yarn.
Another great Instaread help for busy readers. Five stars!
Review of ‘In the Garden of Beasts: by Erik Larson | Summary & Analysis: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin’
In the Garden of Beasts: by Erik Larson/Summary & Analysis by Instaread is a review of Larson’s account of the experiences of Ambassador William Dodd and his family in Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s just before the outbreak of World War II.
A fairly good overview of a book about an interesting episode in US diplomatic history, with a good analysis of the author’s style, but it does not live up to the standards that I’ve come to expect in Instaread books. For one thing, in the opening, it mentions that the book is about life in Berlin through the eyes of the American ambassador and his family, without naming them, and then in the next paragraph brings up George Messersmith, who was the US consul general in Berlin. Later in the review this is explained, but it confuses the reader to have to wait for this explanation. Would have been better to make it clear up front.
Later in the book there’s a bit of confusion that is never explained. It mentions the death of Mattie (the name of the ambassador’s daughter) in 1939, and then a couple of paragraphs later, after detailing her marriages, says that she died in 1990. While I’m sure the first death mentioned was actually Dodd’s wife (whose name, by the way, was not Mattie), meaning this is just an inadvertent typo, it is nonetheless very confusing.
Beyond these two problems, it is a good review that I feel captures the full book’s essence effectively. I’m afraid I can only give this one three stars.
When I was a kid, my grandmother always told me, ‘it’s not important how many times you fall down, only how many times you get back up again.’ Rising Strong: the Reckoning, the Rumble, the Revolution by Brene Brown makes that same point. Brown’s main thesis that it’s important to get back up after falling (another good word would be ‘failing’), and she gives great advice on how to bounce back even stronger than before the fall.
Rising Strong: by Brene Brown/Key Takeways, Analysis & Review by Instareads is an excellent summary of this important book. It summarizes it so well, in fact, that it almost makes it unnecessary to read the full work – although, it will make you want to read it. A very good review and analysis of the main takeaways of Brown’s work and a discussion of the author’s writing style, it very effectively gives a capsule description of the main points.
Another home run by Instaread. I give this one five stars.
Conservative TV personality Glenn Beck’s polemic on Islam, It IS About Islam, while not as slanted and ranting as his broadcasts, is nonetheless a biased take on Islam, according to Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review of Glenn Beck’s It IS About Islam by Instaread.
The review begins with a fairly comprehensive overview of Beck’s book, which claims that Islam began as a faith aspiring to conquer other regions and non-believers. He equates jihad with converting others and compares it with Christianity’s violent conversion of Native Americans and the European Crusades. The review, while it states that Beck quotes from the Kuran, does not say if he mentions those passages in the Muslim holy book that prescribe treatment of Children of the Book, i.e., Christians and Jews. It does not mention, however, what translation of the Kuran Beck used in doing his book.
In analyzing Beck’s style, the review states that in effect that he does not employ his normal ‘over the top’ style and that his views are somewhat ‘muted.’ It remains clear, though, that he has written a slanted book that supports the American right wing’s view of Islam as the ‘enemy,’ rather than those who distort it to their own purposes, much as Christians once distorted the Bible to justify things such as slavery or subjugation of women.
The Instaread reviews are unauthorized, unofficial analyses, and thus tend to be objective. This one was a good review, but I sense that the editors, in an effort to appear fair and balanced, give Beck more credit for journalistic integrity than he deserves. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.
The Instaread books are an excellent way to be introduced to full works, but I don’t feel that this one lived up to the reputation I’ve come to expect. It was still a useful analysis, but could have been better.
I give it three stars.
Key Takeaway, Analysis & Review of Mark R. Levin’s Plunder and Deceit by Instaread is about what Levin calls a threat to American democracy by an executive branch run amok.
While the book makes a really simple grammatical error when it uses the term ‘the United State’s, it is nonetheless a comprehensive review of the book. It goes into some detail on the author’s views that the problems in the country are almost solely the fault of an executive branch that has usurped too much power, spent too much on social programs, which has caused an $18 billion national debt, and rendered the congress ineffective. While the author heaps praise on Ronald Reagan, he puts most of the blame on the Obama Administration, betraying his obvious bias.
Without being judgmental, this review clearly shows the one-sided nature of Levin’s arguments. It would, though, have been an even better analysis if it has pointed out the weakness and bias of his arguments. For instance, the review fails to point out the role that congress plays in expenditures, congressional reluctance to touch social programs, the percentage of the national debt that should be attributed to often out-of-control defense spending, etc.
This is an analysis that would have definitely benefitted from more references or resources, not just the two that were included. And, more should have been said about the clearly partisan slant of Levin’s book. In fairness, his association with previous Republican administrations were pointed out.
On the whole, it wasn’t a bad review, it just didn’t go far enough. It did, however, warn me off Levin’s book, so I’m thankful for that. I give this book three stars.