Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health by Ivan Illich (1976)

Ivan Illich, a social critic ahead of its own time, spells out the major issues with the health care system. Treatment offered (except when using a limited list of some basic medicines) might not even prolong life, and if it does, the quality of life is mostly absent. In addition, with the institutionalization of medicine, the fabric of society is also being destroyed. Words ring even more true today with all discussion on the problems of health case in the US in particular. The author stick to his principles, treating a cancerous growth on his face only with traditional methods.

A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya by Anna Politkovskaya (2004)

This first book of the late author is a list of interviews with all sides in the Chechen conflict, including mothers, who are not allowed to claim their sons' remains, some terrorist, who were interviewed near a military post where they were allowed to freely pass, showing the absurdity of the situation, struggling young soldiers and civil populations. Mostly absent from the list of interviewees are the local "businessman", the owners of the oil-wells, whom in addition to high placed Russian politicians and military leaders, Politkovskaya blames for creating or at least not resolving this situation. This is indeed a small corner of hell.


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Make Yourself Unforgettable: The Dale Carnegie Class-Act System by The Dale Carnegie Organization (2006)

This excellent audio recording offer pointers in (simple, but not too simple) Dale Carnegie style on self and organizational improvements. Becoming a class act involves both simple and more difficult changes to your perspective and behaviour, but the results will speak for themselves.


Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America by Dan Savage (2002)

Don Savage, a known sex columnist, cruises America to engage in an of the seven sins, or to observe large groups of citizens (many of them upstanding middle class taxpayers) engaging in them (as consenting adults). And doing so, poking at the nose of social conservatives and pointing out, that "pursuit of Happiness" (with capital "H") is a right afforded in the Declaration of Independence. Based on this, everybody has the right to judge (or not to judge if so chosen), and this is about all the rights you get unless it is proven how those actions cause harms to others.

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The Clustered World : How We Live, What We Buy, and What It All Means About Who We Are by Michael J. Weiss (2000)

This is an excellent introduction to clusters used in marketing (and political marketing) and example based description of the 62 clusters used to classify US households, and some details on how similar clusters used in various other countries like Canada, England, and others (and even "world" clustering classifications). Instead of mass marketing, using clusters provide much better marketing results, and really this is "just" a giant step towards individual marketing (although it is debatable if you want some unregulated data gathering company to know that much about you ...). Your address is really considered to speak a lot about you (even if you consider yourself being nothing like any of your neighbors). The almost missing references to race in these classifications are a noteworthy detail, it seems that marketing people consider race having little relevance to how people are to be grouped (as compared to the various governments still clinging to their various race based classifications). Want to learn more about a neighborhood (or at least how it is seen by marketers), do a lookup at Claritas' MyBestSegments.


Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knight's Cross by Geoffrey Brooks (2006)

Josef "Sepp" Allerberger, Austrian who volunteered to serve in Wehrmacht, decided to change "careers" after quickly recognizing that machine gunner do not have a long life on the front, they are the first one killed by the enemy during attacks. After an injury, practicing with a captured Soviet sniper rifle, he becomes a killing machine with 250+ recognized deaths (and based on the discussions with multiple hundred(?) others). While the book's backbone is the story of "personal growth" (if you can call it such, learning the trade, how dig oneself in, where to shoot a person depending on if you want them dead, screaming or screaming even louder) of a sniper, the gruesome and harrowing details of this bloody confrontation are on every page. A forgotten unit turning to cannibalism under the gun of their commissars, people blown to pieces and receiving grievous injuries, dead bodies piling up higher than a person during attacks, routine killing and in many cases torture of captured German soldiers (including extra suffering for captured snipers, if identified), the rampage of the Soviet army through "enemy" countries, killing, raping, robbing civilian population (although in many cases their own country (wo)men didn't fare any better), life in the trench were the enemy snipers can pick you out any time a part of your body shows, such cold weather that hostilities ceased as all weapons froze and the soldiers could only think about how to survive. The German unit was pushed and chased by the Red Army for more than 2 years from Voroshilovsk almost back into Austria, where Josef was lucky enough to avoid both the Soviets and the Americans (who were transferring captured soldiers into Soviet custody), so he avoided the forced labor camps. Excellent lesson in history.

The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)

In a simple language, the author emphatically describes the emotional and cultural confusion of first and second generation of Indian immigrants into the US. On one hand, trying to comply with the demands of their foreign life, they also keep in touch with many Bengali speaking friends, and the homeland is dutifully and frequently visited together with the children (and the great number of relatives are kept in close contact with). There is influence even on the second generation, the children do learn to speak Bengali, but no longer can write. Gogol Ganguli, the son (who later applied for the name of Nikhil, still keeping up with the Russian "theme"), after always being different, ends up in something resembling of an arranged marriage (as his parents did, who had never met each other before their wedding), which does fail quickly. As the book ends, Ashima, the mother, whose husband Ashoke the university professor died earlier, has sold the house, and becoming a "citizen of the world", planning to split time equally between the US and India.

Make Yourself Unforgettable: The Dale Carnegie Class-Act System (2006)

Keeping with the style of How to Win Friends & Influence People, this audio recording gives practical advice on improving work relationships and productivity, as becoming a "class act" is the new differentiator in the ever competitive marketplace. Even following one or two suggestions could help you along in the workplace (or maybe also in your personal affairs).