Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Telling Lies by Paul Ekman

book cover

Telling Lies
by Paul Ekman

ISBN-13: 978-0-393-32188-3
Trade Paperback: 386 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Released: 1985, 1992, 2001

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
From breaking the law to breaking a promise, how do people lie and how can they be caught? In this revised edition, Paul Ekman, a renowned expert in emotions research and nonverbal communication, has now updated his groundbreaking inquiry into lying and methods for uncovering lies. From the deception strategies of international public figures, such as Adolf Hitler and Richard Nixon, to the deceitful behavior of private individuals, including adulterers and petty criminals, Ekman shows that a successful liar most often depends on a willfully innocent dupe. His study describes how lies vary in form and can differ from other types of misinformation, as well as how a person's body language, voice, and facial expressions can give away a lie but still escape the detection of professional lie hunters—judges, police officers, drug enforcement agents, Secret Service agents, and others.

Telling Lies is a non-fiction book on how to tell if a person is lying. It also described how to better hide it if you're lying. A lot of the information was intuitively obvious, like someone who's caught off guard will be less able to hide a lie than one who's had time to rehearse a lie or has repeatedly told it. Also, he pointed out that many of the clues he gave to look for could also be done by those who aren't lying. So, unless the person confesses that they're lying, there's no sure way to know if they're lying even if you spot several of the lying clues. The content was easy to understand and not written in a highly technical way. There were some line drawings and black and white photographs to help illustrate his points about body language.

The book defined what lying includes and covered how the author got into studying lying, how lying is concealed, how clues to lying can leak through the liar's efforts to conceal the lie, why lies fail, how to spot lies by word choice, voice pitch, pauses in speech, and body language. He also gave details on the facial actions that point to lying, precautions to keep in mind when using this information to identify lying, information about polygraphs, using lie checking, and lies that have been told in public life (mainly in politics) that demonstrate his points. There were several charts in the appendix that summarized the lying clues.

I wasn't expecting a definitive way to spot lying, but I was disappointed that the information looked more useful to helping lairs lie better than helping people spot lies in everyday situations with any confidence.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter Four
People would lie less if they thought there was any such certain sign of lying, but there isn't. There is no sign of deceit itself--no gesture, facial expression, or muscle twitch that in and of itself means that a person is lying. There are only clues that the person is poorly prepared and clues of emotions that don't fit the person's line. These are what provide leakage or deception clues. The lie catcher must learn how emotion is registered in speech, voice, body, and face, what traces may be left despite a liar's attempts to conceal feelings, and what gives away false emotional portrayals. Spotting deceit also requires understanding how these behaviors may reveal that a liar is making up his line as he goes along.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada

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Once an Arafat Man:
The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life
by Tass Saada
with Dean Merrill

ISBN-13: 9781414323619
Hardback: 250 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Oct. 2008

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
At age 17, Tass Saada was carrying a high-powered Simonov rifle. He had run away from home to become a PLO sniper and chauffeur for Yasser Arafa. His experience growing up as a Palestinian refugee in Saudi Arabia had taught him to hate. Like many Palestinians, his hatred--and his rifle--was aimed squarely at Israel.

Tass Saada's story could have ended tragically, another casualty of the centuries of hatred brewing in the Middle East. But Tass was destined for better things. His story will give you an intimate look at the world of Arafat; the life, struggles, and heart of a Palestinian refugee; a Muslim who converted to Christianity and faced retribution at the hands of his relatives; and the transformation of hatred into love and hope.

This is more than the story of a Palestinian refugee making something good of his life in America. It's a story of the ultimate triumph of love over hatred, reconciliation over persistent divisions. It's a story that can inspire us all to overcome the divisions and conflicts in our own lives.

Once an Arafat Man is a well-written memoir about a man who was born a Muslim in Palestine in 1951, who grew up hating Jews, killed both Jews and Christians, but then later became a Christian and worked to bring reconciliation between Arabs and Jews. It's a fast-paced story that kept my interest from beginning to end.

He described how his family became refugees, why they were moved to Saudi Arabia, what life was like there for Palestinan refugees, how he learned to hate Jews, how he met Yasser Arafa and later came to join the PLO, what he did in the PLO, how his parents tricked him to get him out of the PLO, why he went to America and what he did there, how and why he converted to Christianity, how his family reacted to his conversion, and how he made peace with his family as well as with Jews. Having read quite a bit on the conflict in the Middle East, I thought he did a good job showing both sides of the issue, though he didn't go in-depth.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting and well-written book to those who are interested in the Jew-Arab conflict in the Middle East or to those interested in what it's like for a Muslim to convert to another religion.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 10-11
I was born in a tent in the squalid al-Breij refugee camp of Gaza City in early 1951, the third child of a former orange grove manager and his wife from Jaffa. Three years before, when the state of Israel was declared, their comfortable life had been turned upside down by the order to move. "Step aside," the Arab governments of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt said, in effect. "Get out of the way so our armies can move in and drive these crazy Zionists into the sea."

My father's business partner, a Jew, had offered his protection and counseled him not to act hastily. He assured my father that leaving wasn't necessary, that they could keep the business going together. But the safer choice, my parents believed, was to move to the sidelines of the battlefield and hope for an early return once the fighting ended.

The 1948 war, however, did not go as predicted by the politicians in Cairo, Ammam, and Damascus. In fact, the day in mid-May that Israelis now celebrate as Independence Day turned into what my people still call al-Nakba ("the catastrophe" in Arabic). Some seven hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced; more than four hundred Arab-majority villages were destroyed or abandoned. The words of Great Britian's famous Balfour Declaration of 1917, favoring a national home for the Jewish people so long as "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine," had turned to smoke and ashes.

By 1951 the Saada family had endured three winters in the tent, with overnight temperatures sometimes dipping as low as forty degrees Fahrenheit. One day my father stared across the muddy landscape and realized that the ultimate Arab indignity had fallen upon him: no land. In the Arab culture, no land equals no honor. All his dreams had crumbled.

I was only two months old, my mother having just recovered from giving birth, when the United Nations authorities squeezed our family of five onto an overcrowded freighter to head for a new and unfamiliar place where we might start over. .... At least we had a modest house here instead of a tent. .... Although the money for our family was an improvement in this new land, the welcome from the native Saudis was not. They bluntly called us "refugess" and "immigrants" to our faces. I realized quickly, even before starting school, that we were not wanted here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

And the BBAW winner is...

It's time to pick the winner of Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby & Greg Campbell. Including all of the Twitter entries, we had 32 people enter. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always join in the fun by buying the book at your favorite bookstore!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW Forgotten Treasure


For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, today's theme is "Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction. This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!"

book coverThe book I wish was getting more attention from book bloggers is Discovery of Design by Donald DeYoung & Derrik Hobbs. Why? Because it's really neat to see how "researchers are now taking design elements from the natural world and creating extraordinary breakthroughs" that we often use every day without even thinking about how amazing it is. I grant this book won't interest everyone, but surely there are other bloggers out there that think this is an interesting subject. :) How about you?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW Wednesday Treasure


For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, today's theme is "...share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger. What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?"

book coverA book I tried because another blogger liked it so well is Life of Washington by Anna Reed.

I like biographies, but I figured I already knew a lot about George Washington, so I'd rather read a book about something new to me. But then I read a review saying how the blogger had learned a lot of new things about Washington from this book and how wonderful the book was. So I took a closer look and realized how this biography had been written by a person who would have known Washington or talked with people who had know him. Plus it used his own writings (letters, journals, etc.) which I love to have in biographies. So I decided to give the book a chance.

I'm glad I did! It was definitely worth reading, and I'd certainly recommend it to others.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of California by Remi Nadeau

Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of California
by Remi Nadeau

Hardback: 278 pages
Publisher: The Ward Ritchie Press
Released: 1965

Source: Library used book sale.

Book Description, my take:
Using letters, journals, newspapers, reminiscences, and other original papers from various libraries and museums, author Remi Nadeau gives a view of the Gold Rush and the mining towns the way the miners saw them. He includes many rare photos from private collections and maps and directions for finding even the remotest ghost towns.

Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of California is an entertaining history of the Gold Rush towns and mining camps in California based on letters, journals, newspapers, and more. The stories were mainly from 1848 to 1856, though he'd briefly tell the rest of the town's history if it lasted beyond that. The author gave a brief history of the gold rush and then shared amusing tales about what life was like in each of the main camps and towns. The stories included Christmas balls, racial clashes, and tales of local robbers. He also described what the towns looked like, how & why that changed, and what's left of them (even the smallest ones) now. He included black and white photographs of the towns, digs, and miners as well as maps and information on what's left of each camp or town today and how to find them.

The book didn't really describe how the mining was done but focused on the towns and social interactions. It's an entertaining read for anyone remotely interested in the subject, but it'd also be a great research resource for authors who want to set their novel during the Gold Rush. This is also a good book for anyone who'd like to track down the old mining camps and towns, though the information given in my 1965 version is probably a bit dated.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 156-157
In the earliest days, Shasta was a town of frame buildings, made of yellow pine lumber lined with cotton cloth. Fire struck this veritable tinder box on June 14, 1853, and in thirty-three minutes the whole business section went up in cinders.

But Shasta in her prime was too tough to burn out. In the next four years a fireproof Shasta rose from the ashes. With twenty-eight new structures, she was claiming the longest row of brick buildings in California. Prosperity returned in full force, and it was Shasta that provided the first shipment of gold received at the San Francisco Mint.

The golden treasure flowing through this thriving camp was not overlooked by California's knights of the road. Among the first of such gentry to arrive were five members of Rattlesnake Dick's gang who were fascinated by a shipment of $80,000 worth of gold being packed over Trinity Mountain in the summer of '56. Since pack mules over the route were plainly branded and easily identified if stolen, Dick himself was to meet the gang with fresh animals for carrying off the loot.

At an abrupt bend in the trail, the robbers descended on the pack train and quickly overpowered the muleteers, whom they tied to trees. Then they unloaded the gold and hurried off to a secret hiding place.

But Rattlesnake Dick failed to show up with the new mules, and was, in fact, resting in the Auburn jail on a charge of mule stealing. After seven days' wait, one of the outlaws grew restless and was killed in a fracas with the leader. The remaining four buried half the gold and lugged the rest across Sacramento Valley to the Mother Lode country. But on the road near Auburn a Wells Fargo posse was waiting for them. In the fight that followed, the leader was killed and the other three captured. Half the loot was recovered, but the other $40,000 hidden on Trinity Mountain stands high in the lore of California's buried treasure.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

BBAW Giveaway: Flawless

BBAW 2010

book cover
For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I've decided to hold a giveaway for a copy of Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby & Greg Campbell.

You can learn more about this true crime book by reading my review.

This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for the true crime book, FLAWLESS: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History."


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in this book.

The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner at noon (Central Time) on Sept. 18, 2010 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lifesavers of the South Shore by John Galluzzo

book cover

Lifesavers of the South Shore:
A History of Rescue and Loss
by John Galluzzo

Trade Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: The History Press
Released: Sept. 2008

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
However cruelly the rocks of Massachusetts's South Shore have treated storm-driven sailors, there can be no questioning the selflessness and courage of the keepers and surfmen who played host to the no man's land between frozen beach and gale-tossed sea. Read John Galluzzo's enthralling account of the Life-Saving Service and meet legends like Joshua James, whose surfboat, Nantasket, once saved twenty-nine men from six boats in a grueling thirty-six hours. Chart a course through the service s history, from its humble beginning in the refuge huts built after the American Revolution until its absorption into the U.S. Coast Guard in the twentieth century.

Lifesavers of the South Shore gives the history of the lifesaving services (the Massachusetts Humane Society and United States Life-Saving Service) from the 1780's until the 1920's (shortly after the Life-Saving Service became the US Coast Guards). The author described where the idea to create a lifesaving service came from, their equipment, how it was used, and how the services were run. He explained how the service developed over time (stations, lighthouses, improved equipment, etc.). He then talked about each station that was on the south shore of Massachusetts. He gave a brief biography of the various keepers (leaders) of each station over the years and the details of one or more of their major rescues. I was expecting more tales of rescue than were included, but the author included all of the information I was most interested in. The book ended by talking about the changes in technology and in how the service was run when the US Coast Guard took over.

There were black and white pictures of the lifesavers, their equipment, their stations, and various wrecks. Overall, the book was written in an easy-to-understand and interesting way. I'd recommend it to people unfamiliar with but interested in the origins of the lifesaving organizations and the US Coast Guard.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Introduction
They were called storm fighters and storm warriors. When wind and wave conspired to kill those who dared to tread upon the sea, the men of the United States Lifesaving Service left the comfort of their sturdy stations and entered the battle. With nothing more than wooden boats, cork life jackets and the oilskin foul weather gear on their backs, they let their muscle, determination and bravery lead the way. Time and again they smirked in the face of danger and stole back the lives of men who were supposed to be dead, victims intended to be claimed by shipwrecks caused by storms.

While the birth of the Life-Saving Service took place elsewhere, the South Shore of Boston is where the first lifeboat ever intended for launching from the shore to a wreck on the American coast was placed. For before there was the United States Life-Saving Service, there was the Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Volunteers who worked their boats during times of disaster lived by the motto, "I'd like to think that if I was the one out there, someone would come for me."