We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"This is a book about how it happened," the author writes. "In particular how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since." What follows is a brick of a volume summarizing moments both great and curious in the history of science, covering already well-trod territory in the fields of cosmology, astronomy, paleontology, geology, chemistry, physics and so on. Bryson relies on some of the best material in the history of science to have come out in recent years. This is great for Bryson fans, who can encounter this material in its barest essence with the bonus of having it served up in Bryson's distinctive voice. But readers in the field will already have studied this information more in-depth in the originals and may find themselves questioning the point of a breakneck tour of the sciences that contributes nothing novel. Nevertheless, to read Bryson is to travel with a memoirist gifted with wry observation and keen insight that shed new light on things we mistake for commonplace. To accompany the author as he travels with the likes of Charles Darwin on the Beagle, Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton is a trip worth taking for most readers.
It’s hard to know where to begin with my praise for this book, so let me start by telling you what it’s about. Howard Root was the CEO of a company he founded in Minnesota called Vascular Solutions, Inc. (VSI). It was a medical device company that, among other things, created and sold devices to address problems like varicose veins. In 2011, the Department of Justice began investigating VSI misbranding and other charges related to a VSI product that comprised — I kid you not — 0.1 percent of the company’s total sales.
In 2014, both the company and Mr. Root were ultimately indicted in — of all places — the Western District of Texas. (How it got there is a depressing story in its own right, well-recounted in the book). Rather than do what 99 percent of people or companies would do in that situation — plead — VSI and Howard Root decided to fight.
This book tells the story of that fight.
What makes it so compelling for anyone interested in white-collar work is the close-up view of what it is like to take on the federal government and see as the government abuses its power time and time again. The bullying that went on during the grand jury investigation, for example, will make your jaw drop.
I'll give it a try but Bryson to me seems generally like a literary version of David Letterman ..... pretty much habitually irritated, pissed off, cranky or complaining about things in general ... never seems to be very joyful.