Reviews

Leveling the Playing Field

 An extremely relevant book for our times, Leveling the Playing Field does an amazing job documenting how technology has changed our society. Written in a style reminiscent of the James Burke Connections series, Rod drives home why the encryption debate is so important for the preservation of our rights, and why some governments so desperately want to restrict access to encryption technology. (Jim O'Gorman, Security expert, author, Metasploit: The Penetration Tester's Guide)

Although this book’s plot line traces the history and democratization of technology, its heart is about human nature: how and why we create tools, how tools are used to dominate and suppress others, and how in the end our inventions become accessible to everyone – sometimes for the worse, but far more often for the better. Scher is a witty tour guide as he illuminates more about humankind and our inventions than you might expect. (Calvin Clinchard, editor of CyberTrend magazine)

I read Leveling The Playing Field in two days, thoroughly engaged by the topic and author's writing style. Rod Scher clearly shows how technology is a powerful tool for disseminating information that began as early as prehistoric days. The questions he raises about the possible consequences that technology brings to everyday life are truly alarming, making this an important and fascinating book with a theme that affects all of us. (Meredith Smith, Dolce Bellezza)

Rod's extensive research into the history of technology is both impressive and engrossing. I found myself being drawn into each chapter and having a hard time putting it down. Rod takes an approach that gives you the deep dive history into the tech he is talking about and applies that history to its impact today. Rod is equal parts entertaining and educational. (Christopher Hadnagy, author of Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Side of Security)

A fast-paced and enlightening adventure, Leveling the Playing Field journeys from from fire to Firebee drones to the infinite possibilities of 3D printing. While Gutenberg's "start-up company" in Germany and Agatha Christie's husband's excavations in Mesopotamia will engross you, the author's asides about a potbellied piglet, Betamax, and presidential canines will amuse you. (Jenifer Edens, University of Houston – Language and Culture Center)

Leveling the Playing Field is engaging, entertaining, and often sneakily profound, offering expansive historical overviews and taking seriously the pitfalls of technology – all while remaining appreciative of its past accomplishments and hopeful about our shared future. (Stephen M. Buhler, Professor and Past Project Convener for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation's Leadership for Institutional Change, University of Nebraska)

A fascinating, educational and insightful narrative look at the march of technology from cave fire and the invention of language to the Internet and 3-D printing—and the competition, politics, privacy issues and moral quandaries it has produced in its wake. Leveling the Playing Field is a swift journey through history from simple convenience and self defense to the relevant and sometimes frightening questions surrounding the technology we readily take for granted today. I thoroughly enjoyed Scher’s depth of research as well as his wit. (Tosca Lee, NYT bestselling author)

Two Years Before the Mast

Rod Scher is an ideally informative and amiable companion as he follows Dana on his exciting and exhausting voyage—he places Dana fully in his time and place, offering historical and cultural contexts for the writer's experiences, observations, and expressions. Scher knows how to inspire a sense of historical imagination in his readers, without forgetting who we are now. Scher can be proud of his own achievement in bringing such factual detail and humane judgment to this edition.  (Stephen M. Buhler, Aaron Douglas Professor of English, University of Nebraska–Lincoln)

An enjoyable and fascinating look at a [classic]. The modern reader navigating Dana’s story is given a global view in retrospect, which adds much to Dana’s narrative and offers a glimpse of the views and opinions of that time and place. Scher’s The Annotated Two Years Before the Mast takes a classic tome and repackages it with seafaring terms defined and historical references in place, thereby transforming it into a gripping tale for any avid sailor, history buff, or literary aficionado to enjoy. (Patricia Wood, author of Lottery)

Rod Scher has done it again, this time with his brilliant annotation . . . . Scher’s annotation reopened this classic for me. This is a careful and thoughtful work, never dry and often with a subtle twist of humor, yet always sensitive to Dana’s themes. Reading this annotation brings young Dana’s chronicle into sharp, poignant relief in an almost new and very exciting way. (E. Michael Jackson, USCG Master Mariner and boating instructor)

Sailing Alone Around the World

In this annotated account of the world's first solo circumnavigation, Rod Scher's material helps us understand the world of 1895 so we can better appreciate author Joshua Slocum's accomplishment. If I could read only one boating book this year, I'd choose this one. (The Ensign)

(Slocum) sailed solo around the world in 1895-8 in his 37-foot sloop SPRAY and wrote this classic account of his adventures...After (Slocum's) historic and successful voyage, his book makes him a national hero. Some years later, he sets off again in SPRAY heading for the Amazon River; sadly he was never heard of again....It was interesting to read...Rod Scher's annotations as side notes. Rod's commentary enhances the original script adding greater meaning to each incident. (Royal Naval Sailing Association)

Captain Joshua Slocum's Annotated Sailing Alone Around the World is annotated by Rod Scher, a teacher/journalist who provides explanations, commentary, and history to make Slocum's saga more accessible to modern readers. This clarification of Slocum's voyage in his wooden SPRAY packs in side bars of detail and enhances every page. Nautical libraries need this. (Bookwatch)

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