Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, by Alan Alda

Book 15

Hawkeye Pierce's second book takes its title from the many, many public speaking engagements he has taken on.  A lot of them were college commencements.  He intersperses the texts from his "talks" with stories of their origins and other things.

Alda is popular, I think, because he comes off as an optimistic, happy, all-around good guy.  But he is also extremely passionate, curious and committed.  To advances in science, for example.  He talks much more about his work on Scientific American: Frontiers than on M*A*S*H.

The chapter about Richard Feynman is a good example, and perhaps the best in the book.  Alda read some of Feynman's work and loved it.  One thing led to another and he became involved in a one-man show about Feynman's life.  Then he was asked to speak at a Caltech commencement.  Alda is not a scientist - more like a scientist groupie.  And he talked about the need to scientists to be curious, be passionate..and learn how to explain what the heck they are doing to the rest of us.  That was pretty cool.

Note on print vs. audio:  Alda reads the book himself, which rocks.  But the text is italicized to highlight his actual speeches, to differentiate them from his other thoughts.  It was sometimes distracting trying to make that determination while listening.

While this wasn't as interesting to me as his first book, I found it to be a worthy piece.

No comments: