Category : Book Reviews

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Book Review : How To Create A Mind

How To Create A Mind - Ray Kurzweil

I’m reading Ray Kurzweil’s “How To Create a Mind“.

Back in medical college, I spent an incredible amount of time reading Snell’s ‘Neuroanatomy’ to understand the structure and function of the human brain.

It’s a myriad of nerve connections, with different bits being hooked up to others, some nearby, others almost halfway across the brain. What’s more, there are redundancies galore. And keeping track of what links to what, through diagrams that showed sweeps of colored arrows pointing both ways, was mind boggling.

I read all of this, not because it’s so fascinating, but because we had an exam to pass at the end of a semester. About the lateral geniculate nucleus, or the caudate nucleus, or the red nucleus. And the insula, colliculi or corpus callosum. Without quite understanding how relevant, useful or practical it would all be.

It wasn’t. At all.

For the next twenty five years, I have never once had to use ANY of that information in my medical practice!

So, was it all a waste?


Book Review: Koh-i-Noor

Koh-i-noor by William Dalrymple

I just finished William Dalrymple‘s “Koh-i-Noor“, a history of the world’s most famous diamond, co-authored with Anita Anand.

I’ve been fascinated by the jewel known as the Mountain of Fire, and so found the book quite a gripping read. The side stories of people who wore, guarded or were involved with the Koh-i-Noor over the years made for interesting entertainment.


Book Review: Cutting For Stone

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

Near the beginning there’s this quote:

“Life is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look to the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.”

I enjoyed “Cutting For Stone” just a little extra – for two unique reasons. One, because I’m a surgeon. Two, because the author is from my medical school.

A very good writer remembers those easy-to-forget feelings, fears and uncomfortable points of view s/he held during carefree youth, and dredges them up to adorn fictional characters with.


Book Review: Why Scams are Here to Stay

Why Scams Are Here To Stay

This is a book that will make you sad.

Look, I’m a die-hard optimist. I can see the good in (almost) everything. And even then, I struggle to find a positive perspective on pervasive corruption of the order and magnitude revealed in N.Ram‘s book, “Why Scams Are Here To Stay: Understanding Political Corruption in India.

Coming from the investigative journalist who spearheaded the (then) biggest expose of political corruption in India, unleashing a media blitz over the mid-80s Bofors Howitzer payoff scandal, this account carries the weight, authority and credibiity of a true expert.

One who has studied corruption in all its dirty facets, seen its reflection in multiple mirrors, been horrified by its many distorted images… and has come to terms with its versatility, ubiquity, and even (reluctantly admirable) creativity.

And so I feel disappointed and discouraged as I plow through one chapter after another, listening to tales of systematized and endemic corruption that cuts across party and regional lines.

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