September 17, 2008

The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz

Fun novel about a highly dysfunctional family of private investigators.

(That said, I hate the choice of typeface for most of the body text; it's too condensed for my taste.)

Posted by Shmuel at 8:42 AM

September 15, 2008

The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls, by David W. Moore

David W. Moore argues that polls are being misused. He argues that questions are formulated in such a way that the results make for interesting news stories while bearing very little resemblance to what the public actually believes. He argues that even good polls are presented by news organizations in dangerously misleading ways. He argues that polls, as they are practiced today, both misinform the public and elected officials, and actually can create public opinion and misguided policy decisions. Having been a senior editor at Gallup Polls for thirteen years, he has an insider's perspective on how they're run, and where they can go wrong. And by the end of the first chapter, I was sold.

By the end of the second chapter, I wanted him to stop trying to convince me of what he'd already established, and get on with developing his argument further. By the end of the third chapter, I was bored, impatient, and starting to suspect that he really didn't have anything new to add beyond what he'd said at the outset.

Continue reading "The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls, by David W. Moore"
Posted by Shmuel at 11:57 PM

September 5, 2008

Two Lives: A Memoir, by Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth never writes the same book twice. I don't know what's next, but it would not surprise me too terribly much if it were a brilliant 200-page coloring book about a family of flamingos. (It would, of course, have a sonnet in the dedication. It's nice to have at least one constant.)

This one is a memoir of his great-uncle Shanti and great-aunt Henny, and it's an excellent memorial to two people he loved. It's generally interesting, often gripping. With that said, the last section in particular might have profited by a ruthless attack with a large set of pruning shears.

(Four stars out of five.)

Posted by Shmuel at 9:37 PM

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