Eric Marcarelli

Software Developer, Writer, Painter

Review of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

August 13, 2011 by Eric Marcarelli in Books, History 0 comments
Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan was a fun, quick read. I have to agree with other reviewers that the book lacks a certain amount of depth, and anyone interested in the history of video games probably already knows most of the material in the book. It manages not to feel like a rehash, however, and there are a number of interesting trivia gems throughout. The humor is mostly corny, and not always in a good way. It doesn’t add much for me, but isn’t too distracting either. The book kept my interest all the way through, and it certainly makes you want to go play Mario. Overall I’d recommend it for any Nintendo fan.

Review of The Design of Everyday Things

August 04, 2011 by Eric Marcarelli in Books, Culture 0 comments
This book is a classic, but until now I’ve never gotten around to reading more than a chapter of it. The major premise of the book is that things should be designed in ways that make it as easy as possible to use them. While this sounds obvious enough, Norman points out how the every day objects around us, from doors to telephones, consistently violate the principle. He gives concrete guidance for designing just about any sort of project, be it physical or digital. At times the book delves deeply into psychological analysis, yet it provides many entertaining antidotes throughout and avoids coming across as dense. Definitely a must read for anyone who designs (or uses!) any product.

Review of That Noble Dream

August 08, 2010 by Eric Marcarelli in Books, History, Writing 0 comments
Peter Novick’s That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession traces the intellectual and institutional developments of the American historical profession from its inception in the late nineteenth century up to the late twentieth century. The central theme of the book concerns the changing attitudes towards the concept of historical objectivity. Novick describes objectivity as “sprawling collections of assumptions, attitudes, aspirations, and antipathies” (1). The essential idea of objectivity is that there is a true past that can be discovered by historians, and that the facts associated with that history are not dependent on the values of the historian that discovers or interprets them (1-2). The narrative Novick crafts out of the hundred years he covers is, despite his apologetic statement about discussing only the more prominent historians, both comprehensive and cohesive. His research is consistently strong throughout the book. While not the liveliest of authors, Novick’s presentation is always clear and approachable. Altogether it is a remarkable piece of scholarship that should serve equally well as an introduction to the history of the historical profession and as resource for more serious researchers.

Review of The War that Made America

August 08, 2010 by Eric Marcarelli in Books, History, Writing 0 comments
This is an academic book review I originally wrote for my colonial history class. The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War was written by Fred Anderson, a professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Anderson has also written longer book, The Crucible of War, on the same subject. In The War that Made America, Anderson argues that the French and Indian War created the conditions that would ultimately lead to the American Revolution, and so it may be considered “the war that made America” (Anderson viii). The war essentially ended France’s imperial presence in North America. Now left to contend alone with the British colonists, whose hatred of Indians was fueled by the war, Native American ability to play a determining role in the developments of North America came to an end. The conduct and conclusion of the war encouraged the British colonists in North America to view themselves as equal partners in the British Empire, while in stark contrast it emboldened Britain to use its military power to exert control over the colonies. Anderson’s work will be explored through an examination of the evidence leading to his thesis, an analysis […]