Biography for critical review

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Weerez935, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Weerez935 macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2012
    I have to pick a person/event/ etc for a college paper and critique/ review the book. It has to be about something between 1870-now. Originally I picked a presidents biography but my teachers tend to lean very left and I very right so I'd like to avoid that scenario. I was thinking about Steve jobs biography but am open to suggestions.
  2. BiigBiscuit macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2011
    What about Fredrick Banting? One of the creators (though he's regarded as the most important) of insulin. I have a biography about him by Michael Bliss, known as the medical historian in Canada, that I'll be using for one of my papers on him and the discovery of insulin. If it's a history paper you're writing then it may be a good idea.
  3. Scepticalscribe, Jan 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013

    Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Why do you wish to review the Steve Jobs biography? Seriously? What will you bring to a review of a biography of this man which will say something new? What questions will you ask of the data, or the material available that might lead to any sort of challenging conclusions? Hagiography won't cut it, in a college paper.

    And what does the fact that you believe your teachers have a left wing bias, whereas you lean to the other direction have to do with a possible choice of Steve Jobs as a topic for your paper?

    I'm curious to know what President you might have had in mind as a topic.

    Edit: If you want to look at the world through a filter from the right, and are also seeking a master of creative invention who changed the world, (and also to avoid the hagiography of Steve Jobs which is a trap people are prone to so soon after his demise if this topic is chosen), why not take a look at Thomas Edison?

    His inventions were astonishing and had an enormous influence on culture/entertainment/consumer preferences (i.e. 'soft power') world wide......
  4. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), Allen Dulles, James Angleton, Richard Helms and William Colby are all people I've done similar assignments on.
  5. Weerez935 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2012
    I like this. I am a pharmacy major so this would certainly be a good read. What is the title of the book?

    I wanted to pick someone different from what my peers have. Most of them are picking presidents or people associated with a particular era. For instance out of 35, at least 15 papers will be on FDR or JFK. You would have to go to my school to understand the bias. Doing a paper on Steve Jobs biography would be interesting to read as well as eliminate the political aspect of the paper. Originally I considered doing Reagan or Bush's biography because they have probably never been done in that class. I'm not as narrow minded as you make me out to be. I do my best to be objective but at a school that consistently praises their personal political beliefs while slamming others makes me second guess a paper with an opposing view. To be honest I'm so sick of politics at this point I would rather not toot either parties horn. I was only asking to see if the biography on Jobs was a worthy read. I mainly am concerned about writing something that conflicts with a teachers belief and being punished for it.

    Thanks I will look into these.
  6. 4JNA macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2006
    looking for trash files
    pharma and no love for Marie Curie?

    left or right is lame. focus on the problem, present a solution.

    just my 2 cents as a kid of a drug rep. yay samples!
  7. Weerez935 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2012
  8. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    Umm how about Jonas Salk: polio + vaccines + controversies + Sabin dispute + death + world cure = exciting?
  9. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    The reason I responded to your OP was that I was a university teacher of politics and history for around 20 years and I have graded and supervised thousands of student papers, so I have a pretty good idea of what is required at that level.

    Re 'politics', for this sort of essay there is a distinction between 'high politics' (where you are looking at issues such as Dems v Reps) and 'contextual' politics, where you are looking at the social/economic and yes, political context of a major discovery. Fair enough. Given your circumstances, I can see why you would seek to give a topic on a President past or present a miss.

    However, quite honestly, a look at Jobs that fails to ask questions of the material, (and of the man) and fails to address the question of the sort of world that gave rise to him and why he succeeded in that place at that time, will not obtain a high grade.

    That is why I suggested Thomas Edison - a genuinely inventive American who also was business savvy, and, while writing an essay, one can discuss (at a suitable distance) the society that gave rise to him and why he was able to succeed, not just as an inventor (which he did) but also as a highly successful and ambitious business man. Edison also changed the world - and his inventions enabled US 'soft power' to achieve a greater prominence and popularity than might otherwise have been the case.

    Re writing something that may conflict with a teacher's belief system, the solution is to use (respected) sources from both sides of an argument and discuss their respective merits.
  10. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    And Edison was not without his faults. As a businessman, he was pretty ruthless. And the conflict between him and Tesla is legendary. I might argue he had more impact on the world then some (most?) US Presidents... This would be interesting, at least to me...
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Oh, agreed, he was an absolutely ruthless businessman......

    A great many inventors, or scientists are innocent, or naive, or simply out of their depth when it comes to making their inventions actually pay (as opposed to work). The old cliché of an inventor, or scientist, being too 'otherworldly' and dying in penury (or unrecognised, or swindled out of patents) does have a little truth.

    As it happens, both Edison, and, dare one say it, Jobs, excelled as utterly ruthless businessmen, too.
  12. BiigBiscuit macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2011
    Sorry about the late reply.

    I have two from the same author, Michael Bliss. One is "The Discovery of Insulin" which talks about work done before the discover by other people, the work done by Banting and his crew, and (which I think is THE main reason to read this book) the controversy surrounding who created insulin (one of the things talked about is how Banting was angered that Macleod got the Peace Prize over Best). The other book is titled "Banting: A Biography" which I haven't got to yet but it should just be a plain biography.

    This would probably be a good idea since you're a pharmacy major and that this would probably interest you the most.

    Later today I'll be visiting the plaque at the building where Banting had created insulin. Part of my paper requires that I take a picture of myself with the plaque. You could find the picture online, if it happens to be relevant to your work or interests. Or I can put a pic of the one I take, if you're interested.


    Well that rules out Banting and insulin since he was Canadian. However, I believe there may have been a person (if not more) mentioned in the first book who had worked on possible cures for diabetes before insulin was created.
  13. AhmedFaisal, Jan 25, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2013
  14. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    Emelia Earhart, Frederick Bastiat (if you can find anything).

    Thomas Edison would be great too, I second that opinion

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