Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kate M. Is Recommending:

Drawing on their unusual access to intelligence sources, law enforcement, and groundbreaking research, two of America's leading experts on violent extremism and terrorism explain the genesis, evolution, and implications of today's most barbaric jihadist army, Islamic State--and how we can fight it.

Though terrorist groups are a fixture of contemporary politics and warfare, the world has never witnessed the degree of sheer brutality demonstrated by the group know as ISIS--the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Its sadistic disregard for human life, sophisticated use of social media, acquisition of territory, and ability to attract foreign fighters--many from modern Western democracies--is unprecedented.

Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger analyze the tools ISIS uses both to frighten innocent citizens and lure new soldiers--including the "ghoulish pornography" of their pro-jihadi videos, the seductive appeal of "jihadic chic," and its startling effective social media expertise. While this jihadi army poses a significant threat, our response must be carefully calibrated the authors warn; sending troops onto the battlefield could become the ideal recruiting tool, increasing ISIS's ranks.

ISIS: The State of Terror offers practical ideas on potential government responses--most importantly, emphasizing that we must alter our present conceptions of terrorism and terrorists and react to the rapidly changing jihadi landscape, both online and off, as quickly as the terrorists do. As it lays out what our next move--as a country, as a government, as the world--should be, it offers a vital assessment of the future of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism.

Social networking has grown into a staple of modern society, but its continued evolution is becoming increasingly detrimental to our lives. Shifts in communication and privacy are affecting us more than we realize or understand. Terms of Service crystalizes this current moment in technology and contemplates its implications: the identity-validating pleasures and perils of online visibility; our newly adopted view of daily life through the lens of what is shareworthy; and the surveillance state operated by social media platforms--Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others--to mine our personal data for advertising revenue, an invasion of our lives that is as pervasive as government spying.

Jacob Silverman calls for social media users to take back ownership of their digital selves from the Silicon Valley corporations who claim to know what's best for them. Integrating politics, sociology, national security, pop culture, and technology, he reveals the surprising conformity at the heart of Internet culture--explaining how social media companies engineer their products to encourage shallow engagement and discourage dissent. Reflecting on the collapsed barriers between our private and public lives, Silverman brings into focus the inner conflict we feel when deciding what to share and what to "like," and explains how we can take the steps we need to free ourselves from its grip.

A father's exhilarating and funny love letter to his daughter with Down syndrome whose vibrant and infectious approach to life has something to teach all of us about how we can better live our own.

Jillian Daugherty was born with Down syndrome. The day they brought her home from the hospital, her parents, Paul and Kerry, were flooded with worry and uncertainty, but also overwhelming love, which they channeled to "the job of building the better Jillian." While their daughter had special needs, they refused to allow her to grow up needy--"Expect, Don't Accept" became their mantra. Little did they know how ready Jillian was to meet their challenge.

Paul tells stories from Jillian's mischievous childhood and moves to her early adulthood, tracing her journey to find happiness and purpose in her adult life, sharing endearing anecdotes as well as stories about her inspiring triumphs. Having graduated from high school and college, Jillian now works to support herself, and has met the love of her life and her husband-to-be, Ryan.

In An Uncomplicated Life, the parent learns as much about life from the child as the child does from the parent. Through her unmitigated love for others, her sparkling charisma, and her boundless capacity for joy, Jillian has inspired those around her to live better and more fully. The day Jillian was born, Paul says, was the last bad day. As he lovingly writes, "Jillian is a soul map of our best intentions"--a model of grace, boundless joy, and love for all of us.

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