We have presented very few books about the brain at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. Yet, the business world remains fascinated with it.
You are familiar with old-fashioned, yet highly understandable conceptions, such as “left-brain logical” and “right-brain creative.” And, you likely remember the book published in 1998, Time Management for the Creative Person: Right-Brain Strategies for Stopping Procrastination, Getting Control of the Clock and Calendar, and Freeing Up Your Time and Your Life by Lee Silber (Three Rivers Press).
So, even though there is no chance that we will present a synopsis of this book at our monthly event, I thought our blog readers would be interested in the newest work on this subject. On February 3, 2015, Michael S. Gazzaniga published Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience (Ecco/Harper Collins).
First, who is Michael S. Gazzaniga? Here is his biography from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB):
Michael Gazzaniga is Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UCSB. He is the president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, the founding director of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project and the Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. He received a Ph.D. in Psychobiology from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked under the guidance of Roger Sperry, with primary responsibility for initiating human split-brain research. He subsequently made remarkable advances in our understanding of functional lateralization in the brain and how the cerebral hemispheres communicate with one another. He has published many books accessible to a lay audience which, along with his participation in the public television series The Brain and The Mind, have been instrumental in making information about brain function generally accessible.
Second, what does this book accomplish? From the Blackstone Library web site, I found this review:
This book tells the impassioned story of his life in science and his decades-long journey to understand how the separate spheres of our brains communicate and miscommunicate with their separate agendas. By turns humorous and moving, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain interweaves Gazzaniga’s scientific achievements with his reflections on the challenges and thrills of working as a scientist. In his engaging and accessible style, he paints a vivid portrait not only of his discovery of split-brain theory, but also of his comrades in arms—the many patients, friends, and family who have accompanied him on this wild ride of intellectual discovery.
On February 24, 2015, Sally Satel reviewed the book in the Wall Street Journal. You can click here to read her commentary. She ends her review with this touching note:
Tales From Both Sides of the Brain will be cataloged as scientific autobiography, and that it surely is. But it is as much a book about gratitude—for the chance to study a subject as endlessly fascinating as the brain, for the author’s brilliant colleagues and, mostly, for the patients who taught him, and the world, so much.
Since it is not a best-seller, it does not qualify for one of our books that we present. But, if you have followed the evolution of this topic over the years, this book appears to be worth your time.
Make no mistake about it. When I am ready for a beer, I choose a Budweiser. Regular. Not Bud Lite, not Michelob, not Michelob Ultra. I like the “King of Beers.” Regular Budweiser.
So, I am enjoying the former best-seller, Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer by William Knoedelseder (New York: Harper Business, 2012). It is rare, but not without precedent, that we will go back and present a former business best-seller at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas that we have passed over previously from the lists. This one was a best-seller on several top lists. Even today, it remains at #13, #38, and #49 on three different Amazon.com best-selling business lists. I will be discussing this with Randy Mayeux, who also presents at the First Friday Book Synopsis, as to whether we should go back and get this one. It is really worth considering.
The inside cover states that the book is “the engrossing, often scandalous saga of one of the wealthiest, longest-lasting, and most colorful family dynasties in the history of American commerce – a cautionary tale about prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the blessings and dark consequences of success.”
He is a veteran journalist and best-selling author who honed his investigative and narrative skills during 12 years as a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times, where his ground breaking coverage of the entertainment industry produced a long string of exposes. His two-year investigation of payola and other corrupt practices in the record business sparked five federal grand jury investigations across the country, led to the arrest and conviction of a score of organized figures and formed the basis of his first best-selling book, Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business and the Mafia (Harper Collins 1993). Stiffed was named Best Non-Fiction work of 1993 by Entertainment Weekly, which called it “the scariest book of the year…and the funniest.” The two of the principal mob figures depicted in Stiffed–New Jersey crime boss Gaetano “Corky” Vastola and Roulette Records founder Morris Levy–subsequently served as the models for HBO’s Tony Soprano and his music business mentor Herman “Hesh” Rabkin. Since 2000, Knoedelseder has written three other books. In Eddie’s Name (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) chronicles the brutal murder of a Philadelphia teenager that made national headlines when Knoedelseder, as executive producer of the Knight Ridder news program Inquirer News Tonight, pressed the city to make public the content of 911 tapes recorded the night of the killing, which ultimately revealed a complete breakdown of Philadelphia’s emergency response system; I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy’s Golden Era (Public Affairs/Perseus) recounts Knoedelseder’s time as cub reporter covering the L.A. comedy club scene when David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and Andy Kaufman were young and undiscovered. It has been optioned for film by actor Jim Carrey. His next book for Harper Collins, Fins, is about the life and times of Harley Earl, the visionary car designer who helped engineer the phenomenal rise of General Motors.
I found this summary of the book on Amazon.com:
The creators of Budweiser and Michelob beers, the Anheuser-Busch company is one of the wealthiest, most colorful and enduring family dynasties in the history of American commerce. In Bitter Brew, critically acclaimed journalist William Knoedelseder tells the riveting, often scandalous saga of the rise and fall of the dysfunctional Busch family—an epic tale of prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the dark consequences of success that spans three centuries, from the open salvos of the Civil War to the present day.
You can read an excellent review of this book, published in The Wall Street Journal by Roger Lowenstein by clicking on this link:
Lowenstein is the author of The End of Wall Street and Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.
The selection of this book for the First Friday Book Synopsis is not automatic. There are other considerations as to whether we will go back and get one like this. I will discuss this more fully with Randy Mayeux. His call has been very reliable, and predictive of long-term success. In one of his previous blog posts, he noted that in 2013, he had presented seven best-sellers that are still on the New York Times best-seller list, while I only had one during the same period. There is no guarantee we will decide to work this one in. Regardless of what we decide to do, and no matter what you drink, this is quite a saga, and worth a careful read.
Maybe you could pop one while reading it! Note – that’s not what I did. I prefer to concentrate on what I am reading, and remember what I read.
The term “chreiai” is ignored and grossly underdeveloped in our professional literature.
Chreiai is a term that describes memorable statements or useful sayings that speakers use as topics that they can expand into rhetorical presentations.
I found this definition from Emory University website. You can access the site here.
chreia: A chreia (pl. chreiai) is a brief statement or action aptly attributed to a specific person or something analogous to a person. If a chreia features a brief statement, that statement may be a thesis. There are three types of chreiai: sayings chreiai, action chreiai, and mixed chreiai. A chreia may be expanded, elaborated, or abbreviated.
In his book, The Gnostic Discoveries (Harper Collins, 2005), Marvin Meyer states:
“Chreiai continued to be used in the Middle Ages and beyond by students of rhetoric and grammar, but eventually among Christian rhetoricians chreiai lost much of their Cynic cleverness and wit and became domesticated. They turned into the serious statements of those engaged in the business of Christian theology and ethics, where there may be little room for cleverness and wit” (p. 60).
Not so fast! I think the examples he uses on the same page are pretty witty. I reproduce these here:
“Marcus Porcius Cato, when asked why he was studying Greek literature after his eightieth year, said, ‘Not that I may die learned but that I may not die unlearned.'”
“The Pythagorean philosopher Theano, when asked by someone how long it takes after having sex with a man for a woman to be pure to go to the Thesmophoria (the festival celebrated in honor of Demeter and Kore), said, ‘If it is with her own husband, at once, but if with someone else’s, never.'”
Meyer notes that even the words of wisdom offered by Jesus in Christian texts qualify as chreiai.
I am surprised how buried this term has been. Even our fellow blogger, Randy Mayeux, who went through seminary, then graduate training in rhetoric, and then in the ministry for twenty years, had never come across this term.
Yet, I find it descriptive, and perhaps useful as we look at clever sayings in contemporary books.
What about you? Does this interest you?
Let’s talk about it really soon!