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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art & Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer - My Review

Unimpressive - This is a great example of how misleading a book title can be.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art & Science of Remembering Everything
reads like a long magazine article - which is kind of where I found out about the book - The NY Times - last week. Having read the article, I was sufficiently impressed to get online and order the book. It arrived four days later and I couldn't wait to get started.

At the onset of Foer's book - which does have a snappy title - he was very clear this is not a 'how to' book but rather, it is an account of his one-year journey from being a journalist-spectator to becoming winner of the US Memory Championship. Maybe that's where I got off track. The NY Times article, detailed as it was, failed to mention that part. Its a critical detail - more than an oversight - in my estimation.

Foer has a decent writing style - again, like a magazine article. This book is written in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell's books and it does have information but not quite as polished or as jam packed. So far, hardly anything that wasn't already mentioned on the NY Times synopsis has been written and little has been added to what I already read so I am feeling just a little bit ripped off - the subtitle seems to imply that the book will talk about, "the art and science of remembering everything..."

For the sake of accuracy, it should read; "My year-long journey toward becoming the US Memory champion with a few interesting tidbits about memory thrown in for good measure."

I am going to be recommending the NY Times synopsis - penned by the author and - which turns out to be $14.00 + shipping cheaper - not to mention, the article is (ironically) more directed at hard examples of just how memory techniques can be applied. I suppose if there is anything redeeming about Foer's book is its extensive bibliography. Other than that, save your money and check this book out at your local library where you can also photocopy the bibliography because it will offer more detail germane to the topic.

I'd give this book a grade of "B+" for style and an overall grade of "D" because it was not at all what it was hyped to be.

The discontinuity between Foer's book title and its content are such that if I ever come across this writer's books again, I am going to be hard-pressed to trust him enough to plop down my hard-earned money because I will be less likely to fall for that trick twice.

Foer's synopsis on the NY Times deserves an "A" - moreover, since he failed to expand the book that's where the material should have stayed.


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