Books that Hacker News users have gobbled up in the first half of 2016

Hackers and Painters and the amazing books they managed to read in six months
The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists
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The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists

by Gary MarcusJeremy FreemanMay-Britt MoserEdvard I. Moser

About the book:  Including a chapter by 2014 Nobel laureates May-Britt Moser and Edvard MoserAn unprecedented look at the quest to unravel the mysteries of the human brain, The Future of the Brain takes readers to the absolute frontiers of science. Original essays by leading researchers such as Christof Koch, George Church, Olaf Sporns, and May-Britt and Edvard Moser describe the spectacular technological advances that will enable us to map the more than eighty-five billion neurons in the brain, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in understanding the anticipated deluge of data and the prospects for building working simulations of the human brain. A must-read for anyone trying to understand ambitious new research programs such as the Obama administration's BRAIN Initiative and the European Union's Human Brain Project, The Future of the Brain sheds light on the breathtaking implications of brain science for medicine, psychiatry, and even human consciousness itself.Contributors include: Misha Ahrens, Ned Block, Matteo Carandini, George Church, John Donoghue, Chris Eliasmith, Simon Fisher, Mike Hawrylycz, Sean Hill, Christof Koch, Leah Krubitzer, Michel Maharbiz, Kevin Mitchell, Edvard Moser, May-Britt Moser, David Poeppel, Krishna Shenoy, Olaf Sporns, Anthony Zador.


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Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts
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Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts

by Stanislas Dehaene

About the book:  A breathtaking look at the new science that can track consciousness deep in the brainHow does our brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before.In this lively book, Stanislas Dehaene describes the pioneering work his lab and the labs of other cognitive neuroscientists worldwide have accomplished in defining, testing, and explaining the brain events behind a conscious state. We can now pin down the neurons that fire when a person reports becoming aware of a piece of information and understand the crucial role unconscious computations play in how we make decisions. The emerging theory enables a test of consciousness in animals, babies, and those with severe brain injuries.A joyous exploration of the mind and its thrilling complexities, Consciousness and the Brain will excite anyone interestedin cutting-edge science and technology and the vast philosophical, personal, and ethical implications of finally quantifyingconsciousness.


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Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory
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Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory

by Charles Fernyhough

About the book:  Like new, no marks, very good dj, tight binding - Sale supports Library programs, we ship with free insurance and delivery confirmation - 13


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Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
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Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

by Tina Gower

About the book:  "Merchants of Doubt should finally put to rest the question of whether the science of climate change is settled. It is, and we ignore this message at our peril."-Elizabeth Kolbert "Brilliantly reported andwritten with brutal clarity."-Huffington Post Now a powerful documentary from the acclaimed director of Food Inc., Merchants of Doubt was one of the most talked-about climate change books of recent years, for reasons easy to understand: It tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. The same individuals who claim the science of global warming is "not settled" have also denied the truth about studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. "Doubt is our product," wrote one tobacco executive. These "experts" supplied it.


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Alaska: A Novel
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Alaska: A Novel

by James A. Michener

About the book:  In this sweeping epic of the northernmost American frontier, James A. Michener guides us through Alaska’s fierce terrain and history, from the long-forgotten past to the bustling present. As his characters struggle for survival, Michener weaves together the exciting high points of Alaska’s story: its brutal origins; the American acquisition; the gold rush; the tremendous growth and exploitation of the salmon industry; the arduous construction of the Alcan Highway, undertaken to defend the territory during World War II. A spellbinding portrait of a human community fighting to establish its place in the world, Alaska traces a bold and majestic saga of the enduring spirit of a land and its people.   Praise for Alaska   “Few will escape the allure of the land and people [Michener] describes. . . . Alaska takes the reader on a journey through one of the bleakest, richest, most foreboding, and highly inviting territories in our Republic, if not the world. . . . The characters that Michener creates are bigger than life.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review   “Always the master of exhaustive historical research, Michener tracks the settling of Alaska [in] vividly detailed scenes and well-developed characters.”—Boston Herald   “Michener is still, sentence for sentence, writing’s fastest attention grabber.”—The New York Times


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Liar's Poker (Norton Paperback)
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Liar's Poker (Norton Paperback)

by Michael Lewis

About the book:  The time was the 1980s. The place was Wall Street. The game was called Liar’s Poker. Michael Lewis was fresh out of Princeton and the London School of Economics when he landed a job at Salomon Brothers, one of Wall Street’s premier investment firms. During the next three years, Lewis rose from callow trainee to bond salesman, raking in millions for the firm and cashing in on a modern-day gold rush. Liar’s Poker is the culmination of those heady, frenzied years—a behind-the-scenes look at a unique and turbulent time in American business. From the frat-boy camaraderie of the forty-first-floor trading room to the killer instinct that made ambitious young men gamble everything on a high-stakes game of bluffing and deception, here is Michael Lewis’s knowing and hilarious insider’s account of an unprecedented era of greed, gluttony, and outrageous fortune.


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The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule
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The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule

by Thomas Frank

About the book:  From the author of the landmark bestseller What’s the Matter with Kansas?, a jaw-dropping investigation of the decades of deliberate—and lucrative—conservative misruleIn his previous book, Thomas Frank explained why working America votes for politicians who reserve their favors for the rich. Now, in The Wrecking Crew, Frank examines the blundering and corrupt Washington those politicians have given us. Casting back to the early days of the conservative revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters—the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff.It is no coincidence, Frank argues, that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule. Nor will the country easily shake off the consequences of deliberate misgovernment through the usual election remedies. Obsessed with achieving a lasting victory, conservatives have taken pains to enshrine the free market as the permanent creed of state.Stamped with Thomas Frank’s audacity, analytic brilliance, and wit, The Wrecking Crew is his most revelatory work yet—and his most important.


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The Strategy of Desire
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The Strategy of Desire

by Ernest Dichter

About the book:  2012 Reprint of 1960 Edition. Exact facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Ernest Dichter was an Austrian-American psychologist and marketing expert known as the "father of motivational research." Dichter pioneered the application of Freudian psychoanalytic concepts and techniques to business - in particular to the study of consumer behavior in the marketplace. Ideas he established were a significant influence on the practices of the advertising industry in the twentieth century. According to a New York Times article in 1998, he "was the first to coin the term focus group and to stress the importance of image and persuasion in advertising". Pt. 1. Persuasion started with Eve. The mask of behavior -- The discovery of motivations -- Command or persuasion -- Measuring human emotions -- The soul of things -- We think as we please -- The wholistic approach -- Pt. 2. Strategy in a conflict era. The psycho-economic age -- The visions before us -- The fear of change -- The search for identity -- Misery of choice -- The "burden" of the good life -- Search for a goal.


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Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking
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Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking

by Daniel C. Dennett

About the book:  “The best new book I’ve read.”―Richard Dawkins, New York Times Book Review Over a storied career, Daniel C. Dennett has engaged questions about science and the workings of the mind. His answers have combined rigorous argument with strong empirical grounding. And a lot of fun. Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking offers seventy-seven of Dennett’s most successful "imagination-extenders and focus-holders" meant to guide you through some of life’s most treacherous subject matter: evolution, meaning, mind, and free will. With patience and wit, Dennett deftly deploys his thinking tools to gain traction on these thorny issues while offering readers insight into how and why each tool was built.Alongside well-known favorites like Occam’s Razor and reductio ad absurdum lie thrilling descriptions of Dennett’s own creations: Trapped in the Robot Control Room, Beware of the Prime Mammal, and The Wandering Two-Bitser. Ranging across disciplines as diverse as psychology, biology, computer science, and physics, Dennett’s tools embrace in equal measure light-heartedness and accessibility as they welcome uninitiated and seasoned readers alike. As always, his goal remains to teach you how to "think reliably and even gracefully about really hard questions."A sweeping work of intellectual seriousness that’s also studded with impish delights, Intuition Pumps offers intrepid thinkers―in all walks of life―delicious opportunities to explore their pet ideas with new powers. 25 illustrations


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The Hidden Persuaders
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The Hidden Persuaders

by Vance Packard

About the book:  "One of the best books around for demystifying the deliberately mysterious arts of advertising."--Salon"Fascinating, entertaining and thought-stimulating."--The New York Times Book Review"A brisk, authoritative and frightening report on how manufacturers, fundraisers and politicians are attempting to turn the American mind into a kind of catatonic dough that will buy, give or vote at their command--The New YorkerOriginally published in 1957 and now back in print to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, The Hidden Persuaders is Vance Packard’s pioneering and prescient work revealing how advertisers use psychological methods to tap into our unconscious desires in order to "persuade" us to buy the products they are selling.A classic examination of how our thoughts and feelings are manipulated by business, media and politicians, The Hidden Persuaders was the first book to expose the hidden world of “motivation research,” the psychological technique that advertisers use to probe our minds in order to control our actions as consumers. Through analysis of products, political campaigns and television programs of the 1950s, Packard shows how the insidious manipulation practices that have come to dominate today’s corporate-driven world began. Featuring an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller, The Hidden Persuaders has sold over one million copies, and forever changed the way we look at the world of advertising.Vance Packard (1914-1996) was an American journalist, social critic, and best-selling author. Among his other books were The Status Seekers, which described American social stratification and behavior, The Waste Makers, which criticizes planned obsolescence, and The Naked Society, about the threats to privacy posed by new technologies.


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On War
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On War

by Carl von Clausewitz

About the book:  Fascinated by the leading military figures of his day, Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz spent over ten years writing a book - “On War” – that he would never finish. The book examines the tactics of Napoleon, Frederick II of Prussia, and others. In this insightful, well-informed work of military analysis, Von Clausewitz theorizes that war is an instrument of political commerce.


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The Gulag Archipelago Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (P.S.)
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The Gulag Archipelago Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (P.S.)

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

About the book:  Solzhenitsyn's gripping epic masterpiece, the searing record of four decades of Soviet terror and oppression, in one abridged volume, authorized by the author


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The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives
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The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives

by Zbigniew Brzezinski

About the book:  As the twentieth century draws to a close, the United States has emerged as the world’s only superpower: no other nation possesses comparable military and economic power or has interests that bestride the globe. Yet the critical question facing America remains unanswered: What should be the nation’s global strategy for maintaining its exceptional position in the world? Zbigniew Brzezinski tackles this question head-on in this incisive and pathbreaking book.The Grand Chessboard presents Brzezinski’s bold and provocative geostrategic vision for American preeminence in the twenty-first century. Central to his analysis is the exercise of power on the Eurasian landmass, which is home to the greatest part of the globe’s population, natural resources, and economic activity. Stretching from Portugal to the Bering Strait, from Lapland to Malaysia, Eurasia is the ”grand chessboard” on which America’s supremacy will be ratified and challenged in the years to come. The task facing the United States, he argues, is to manage the conflicts and relationships in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East so that no rival superpower arises to threaten our interests or our well-being.The heart of The Grand Chessboard is Brzezinski’s analysis of the four critical regions of Eurasia and of the stakes for America in each arena—Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and East Asia. The crucial fault lines may seem familiar, but the implosion of the Soviet Union has created new rivalries and new relationships, and Brzezinski maps out the strategic ramifications of the new geopolitical realities. He explains, for example: Why France and Germany will play pivotal geostrategic roles, whereas Britain and Japan will not. Why NATO expansion offers Russia the chance to undo the mistakes of the past, and why Russia cannot afford to toss this opportunity aside. Why the fate of Ukraine and Azerbaijan are so important to America. Why viewing China as a menace is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why America is not only the first truly global superpower but also the last—and what the implications are for America’s legacy. Brzezinski’s surprising and original conclusions often turn conventional wisdom on its head as he lays the groundwork for a new and compelling vision of America’s vital interests. Once, again, Zbigniew Brzezinski provides our nation with a philosophical and practical guide for maintaining and managing our hard-won global power.


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by Bruce Springsteen

About the book:  Written between 1857 and 1858, the Grundrisse is the first draft of Marx’s critique of political economy and, thus, also the initial preparatory work on Capital. Despite its editorial vicissitudes and late publication, Grundrisse contains numerous reflections on matters that Marx did not develop elsewhere in his oeuvre and is therefore extremely important for an overall interpretation of his thought.In this collection, various international experts in the field, analysing the Grundrisse on the 150th anniversary of its composition, present a Marx in many ways radically different from the one who figures in the dominant currents of twentieth-century Marxism. The book demonstrates the relevance of the Grundrisse to an understanding of Capital and of Marx’s theoretical project as a whole, which, as is well known, remained uncompleted.  It also highlights the continuing explanatory power of Marxian categories for contemporary society and its present contradictions. With contributions from such scholars as Eric Hobsbawm and Terrell Carver, and covering subject areas such as political economy, philosophy and Marxism, this book is likely to become required reading for serious scholars of Marx across the world.


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World Order
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World Order

by Henry Kissinger

About the book:  “Dazzling and instructive . . . [a] magisterial new book.” —Walter Isaacson, Time Henry Kissinger offers in World Order a deep meditation on the roots of international harmony and global disorder. Drawing on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era—advising presidents, traveling the world, observing and shaping the central foreign policy events of recent decades—Kissinger now reveals his analysis of the ultimate challenge for the twenty-first century: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historical perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.There has never been a true “world order,” Kissinger observes. For most of history, civilizations defined their own concepts of order. Each considered itself the center of the world and envisioned its distinct principles as universally relevant. China conceived of a global cultural hierarchy with the emperor at its pinnacle. In Europe, Rome imagined itself surrounded by barbarians; when Rome fragmented, European peoples refined a concept of an equilibrium of sovereign states and sought to export it across the world. Islam, in its early centuries, considered itself the world’s sole legitimate political unit, destined to expand indefinitely until the world was brought into harmony by religious principles. The United States was born of a conviction about the universal applicability of democracy—a conviction that has guided its policies ever since.Now international affairs take place on a global basis, and these historical concepts of world order are meeting. Every region participates in questions of high policy in every other, often instantaneously. Yet there is no consensus among the major actors about the rules and limits guiding this process or its ultimate destination. The result is mounting tension.Grounded in Kissinger’s deep study of history and his experience as national security advisor and secretary of state, World Order guides readers through crucial episodes in recent world history. Kissinger offers a unique glimpse into the inner deliberations of the Nixon administration’s negotiations with Hanoi over the end of the Vietnam War, as well as Ronald Reagan’s tense debates with Soviet Premier Gorbachev in Reykjavík. He offers compelling insights into the future of U.S.–China relations and the evolution of the European Union, and he examines lessons of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking readers from his analysis of nuclear negotiations with Iran through the West’s response to the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia over Ukraine, World Order anchors Kissinger’s historical analysis in the decisive events of our time.Provocative and articulate, blending historical insight with geopolitical prognostication, World Order is a unique work that could come only from a lifelong policy maker and diplomat.


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How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book)
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How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book)

by Mortimer J. Adler,Charles Van Doren

About the book:  With half a million copies in print, How to Read a Book is the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader, completely rewritten and updated with new material.Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text.Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works.Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.


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Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle
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Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle

by Douglas J. EmlenDavid J. Tuss

About the book:  WINNER OF THE PHI BETA KAPPA AWARD IN SCIENCEThe story behind the stunning, extreme weapons we see in the animal world--teeth and horns and claws--and what they can tell us about the way humans develop and use arms and other weaponsIn Animal Weapons, Doug Emlen takes us outside the lab and deep into the forests and jungles where he's been studying animal weapons in nature for years, to explain the processes behind the most intriguing and curious examples of extreme animal weapons―fish with mouths larger than their bodies and bugs whose heads are so packed with muscle they don't have room for eyes. As singular and strange as some of the weapons we encounter on these pages are, we learn that similar factors set their evolution in motion. Emlen uses these patterns to draw parallels to the way we humans develop and employ our own weapons, and have since battle began. He looks at everything from our armor and camouflage to the evolution of the rifle and the structures human populations have built across different regions and eras to protect their homes and communities. With stunning black and white drawings and gorgeous color illustrations of these concepts at work, Animal Weapons brings us the complete story of how weapons reach their most outsized, dramatic potential, and what the results we witness in the animal world can tell us about our own relationship with weapons of all kinds.


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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O'Brien

About the book:  Some extraordinary rats come to the aid of a mouse family in this Newbery Medal Award-winning classic by notable children's author Robert C. O'Brien.Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.


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Alas, Babylon
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Alas, Babylon

by Pat Frank

About the book:  "Alas, Babylon." Those fateful words heralded the end. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.


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