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Islam: A Short History

I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to read a translation of the Quran and if so, which one to read. This title keeps showing up on the short lists of good histories of Islam. It is also on a list of highly-recommended books from the State Department. Karen Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History […]


The Origins – Big Questions conference

After having attending several of James Randi’s The Amaz!ing Meetings (TAM’s) over the past few years and having listened to some fascinating people (Murray Gell-Mann, Nadine Strossen, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Nick Gillespie, Phil Plait, Richard Wiseman and Neil DeGrasse Tyson off the top of my head), I wanted to see what a Cal Tech-based, […]


The Prince of the Marshes

A few months ago, I asked a friend of mine who was then serving in a PRT in Iraq if he could recommend any books on modern Iraq. He told me that he had not had a lot of time to read since joining the PRT, but that one book which he found very insightful […]


The Killing Fields

Our book club is discussing The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women later this month. This title was chosen based on an unconfirmed recommendation from someone who does not attend the meetings. Oops. The book is terrible. I’m sure the author is a dedicated journalist and a human who is very concerned about the violent, mortal […]


The Border

I met someone at work who is friends with David J. Danelo, the author of The Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide. My new friend told me that Danelo recently traveled the entire US-Mexico border and had recorded his observations along the way. My friend, a counter-insurgency wonk, said that Danelo was interested in the similarities […]