He goes into great detail about the search for a living specimen of the ivory-billed woodpecker and how the professional ornithologists were just as prone to embrace flimsy evidence as amateurs often are. His usual mode is to convince you that you're reading a rollicking yarn, while with his left hand building a serious and unexpectedly persuasive argument. Then, when we're each called in from our unique version of mud pie-making, wash the big pieces off, and sit down at the table together, we'll each have our own yarn to spin at the table, each as fascinating as the next. And I stand in awe of all of them. If the book is meant to 'enlighten' or introduce the public to unpopular, counterintuitive, or cutting edge approaches to knowledge subjects, there needs to be at least some clear citations to guide us rather than journalistic anacdotal experience and made up names. That I have been unsuccessful in these attempts is no fault of Jack Hitt's, or my students, for that matter.
Throughout all of this, I found myself learning new things. One of my favorite chapters is about the rediscovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a bird that was thought to be extinct. The difference is that I have lower expectations for an hour long radio show; I expect it to entertain me and inform me, but not necessarily exhaustively so. No one but Jack Hitt, that's who. His usual mode is to convince you that you're reading a rollicking yarn, while with his left hand building a serious and unexpectedly persuasive argument. In other areas, for example birding and archaeology, we get only scant mention of the amateurs and instead get extended lessons in the This had such potential to be a really good book.
Hitt takes the time to start the book by defining Amateurism in the most American sense - that of a passionate hobbyist experimenting with a little bit of elbow grease, trial and error, and self-taught expertise. Hitt was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, where he attended the Porter-Gaud School. This is a like many non-fiction books that have a mix of stories around a theme. It is an interesting addition to the important genre of understanding the American character. The first few chapters I found quite engaging, but I really just started to get annoyed with his general tone-- there was pretty much no one, professional or amateur, that he wouldn't poke fun at. For example, Hitt meanders into the history of the search for the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, sidetracking into another random topic, then back to the woodpecker.
The book picks up at the end again so long as you forgive Hitt and his constant use of garage tinkering imagery that runs unceasingly throughout the book apparently, going to one's garage is both necessary for one to qualify as an amateur, and also a uniquely American diversion too. But Hitt does not stop with the historical. Everybody came here either being driven out by somebody else or being dragged here against their will. Weirdly enough, the section on the search for the ivory billed cuckoo was my favorite, and I flew through that pretty quickly. I'd get more by buying a lottery ticket. In other areas, for example birding and archaeology, we get only scant mention of the amateurs and instead get extended lessons in the subject and the author's own opinions about the controversies in the field. Advertisement Depicting the daily grind of experimentation can prove a challenge.
Amateur pursuits are typically lamented as a world that just passed until a Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg steps out of his garage or dorm room with the rare but crucial success story. The belief that job creation happens from the top down rather than from the ground up is just toxic. Hitt is more interested in a discussion of the American national character than he is in analyzing the Wall Street value of new killer apps--which suited me just fine. This is not that book. Hitt has made it possible for people like me to understand a lot of things that I considered beyond my understanding, thanks to his devotion to the amateur spirit. Not the most amazing non-fiction I've read, but very sociological and worth your time.
America's self-invented tinkerers are back at it in their metaphorical garages--fiddling with everything from solar-powered cars to space elevators. And his bragging about what a big atheist he is, whic Started out ok-- his premise was interesting enough, but I don't know if the anecdotes got worse or I just got tired of his schtick. I've been following and stealing from his work my whole career. You never know what will stick, right? Or maybe Homo Sapiens developed in Europe and spread from there rather than Africa. Jack Hitt is an expert and witty storyteller, and his tales here have an enjoyable way of rolling back upon themselves. And then the cycle starts over. I can't bear to give it just two stars because the writing is just so good.
Bunch of Amateurs is a quality addition to this important conversation about the American character and, by extension, its emerging future. The lesson I have always appreciated in Hitt's writing and radio work, and in person we knew each other in college , is his fearless insistence that the essential humanity of the speaker and the listener in any conversation cannot be removed from the equation no matter how strong their compulsion to create the illusion of intellectual purity. The chapter was boring, long and repetitive. He opens with a discussion of Ben Franklin the amateur and John Adams the pro and their differing approaches towards diplomatic relations with the French. And in one sense, it was. For those who enjoy this kind of societal analysis, Bunch of Amateurs is an enjoyable read.
The essential idea of the amateur is that you begin with nothing and you go off into your metaphorical garage to find something new. Why don't we see if those people know how to solve this problem? A couple of his amateurs are professionals who got there by unusual routes. It starts with amateur archeology and who were the first Americans. Like I said, it shames me to endorse him, so unfit to the task am I, but endorse him I must. For the record, she thought it was funny too. And in one sense, it was. Maybe this is just exhibit 8000 in making the case that magazine writers don't necessarily pull off full-length books.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through. These are perfect examples of amateur innovators who didn't fit into the mold of conventional thinking, original thinkers who are able to see things that those rooted in established thought cannot. Researched facts, avoided unsubstiated generalizations. He opens with a discussion of Ben Franklin the amateur and John Adams the pro and their differing approaches towards diplomatic relations with the French. Anyway, lots of great accounts on a variety of topics. He was an amateur anthropologist and even an amateur theologian who famously cut all the miracles out of the New Testament because he thought Jesus made a whole lot more sense without the supernatural material mucking up the good moral philosophy. Went to a movie instead of writing this book.