I am a history buff and particularly fond of micro-histories that concentrate on a particular time or particular event. Some of the better ones I haveI am a history buff and particularly fond of micro-histories that concentrate on a particular time or particular event. Some of the better ones I have read focus on one year and this is such a book, as will be obvious from the title.
1945 was obviously an important year for the World, but perhaps especially for London having endured some frontline bombing during the preceding 5 years and seeing the war coming to an end. However the city was dealing with the Vengeance weapons (V1 and V2) and this forms the early narrative on the book. However these histories are interesting from their human interest point of view and this is woven in the tapestry of the text.
The feelings of the populace are covered from the anxieties and weariness of war to the celebrations at VE day (all too brief) and then the demob and reconstruction phases and the surprise election of a Labour government immediately following the war's end.
Very interesting and well written, really puts you back there and I enjoyed this history of my home city very much....more
Picked this up for vacation reading and there are some interesting stories here but they never really move to a conclusion and, whilst being individuaPicked this up for vacation reading and there are some interesting stories here but they never really move to a conclusion and, whilst being individual stories all have the same basic storyline and there is, of course, never a conclusion.
The pattern of all these sightings is basically thus: Individual eye witness sees strange animal (huge bird, hybrid monster, moth man etc.) that flies away and sometimes leaves tenuous evidence behind. Rarely does anyone have anything concrete. After which there are various theories as to the science behind it, all inconclusive leading to vague assertions that there is "something out there".
Basically if you are going to assume that these are animals unknown to science, and that there have been sightings over many years, sometimes decades or more, it is reasonable to assume there is a breeding population out there. This means more than one gigantic bird or lake monster. Surely they would have been observed by now? Otherwise they are creatures from elsewhere, or supernatural and I can't buy that.
So this is the whole nature of this book and I find it very unsatisfactory after a while. It's my fault, I don't really know that I expected anything more to be honest....more
I picked this up knowing the bare bones of this depraved story but it is so much worse than initially appeared to be the case. It is disturbing and inI picked this up knowing the bare bones of this depraved story but it is so much worse than initially appeared to be the case. It is disturbing and intensely anger producing and frankly, this ongoing scandal makes me wonder why the Church hasn't suffered more sanctions that in undoubtedly had.
Written by investigative journalists, this book presents the facts of the church's sexual abuse scandal. It's far more endemic and systemic than was initially believed as the church tried to pass these despicable acts off as anomalies and the work of isolated priests who were bad apples. Clearly there was shielding and a cover up that moved perverted priests from one parish to another without telling the congregations in each new places allowing them to perpetuate their abuse. Unacceptable and heads did eventually roll.
It's well written, matter of fact that somehow makes it seem even worse as though these were common occurrences. It's horrible to read but like all such horrors, we need to be aware of them so that we are on our guard. I like the approach that doesn't just document what went on, but at least attempts to ask the question "why did it happen?" and also attempts to ask what can be done - for example is this inevitable with an all male, celebrate priesthood? Is there a culture of deference so that the priests, as representatives of God on Earth are beyond question? We need to be asking these things a lot more and continue to do so. A thoroughly sordid tale indeed....more
As always with BB's books, thoroughly enjoyable, amusing, incredibly readable. He really is a great author - perhaps not one that will completely chanAs always with BB's books, thoroughly enjoyable, amusing, incredibly readable. He really is a great author - perhaps not one that will completely change your life when you read one of his works, but in terms of being a joy to read he is one of the best of all time in my opinion.
I always wonder what sort of travel experience he is going to document next and since he has already travelled widely in (and written about) the UK I was intrigued as to how he would tackle a reprise of that country. It was a while ago that "Notes from a Small Country" was published and this isn't a rehash of that although it is mentioned when he revisits a couple of spots. However this is an interesting approach, traveling from north to south along a line (approximately) that describes the longest such distance in the UK.
It is a travelogue and none the worse for that. Sometimes I wish there were more on certain locations and the North is far less detailed in comparison to his adventures in the south. A very good read, laugh out loud funny and well observed as his books always are. I love reading him....more
This book clearly articulates why fights for civil rights always seem to be gains marked by reversals as the backlash sets in from conservatives who fThis book clearly articulates why fights for civil rights always seem to be gains marked by reversals as the backlash sets in from conservatives who fight to preserve some mythical golden age that they see as being under assault by progressive liberals. It's as though denying other people's rights is some laudable aim to those with such views. There have been many in the past, most notably the backlash against civil rights in the 60s and the latest is the advances in LGBT rights encapsulated in the Supreme Court's ruling on same sex marriage.
The backlash has certainly begun and this book effectively argues that we need to be aware of it, ostensibly as it relates to "religious freedom" and those that would turn their desire to deny civil and human rights to others as an attack on same i.e. victim flipping which is covered well here and is all too evident if you only care to look. The central tenet of this book is the importance of avoiding victory blindness - in other words thinking that the battle is won because of the SCOTUS ruling when there is still a vast amount of work to be done to realize true equality.
I am a complete bleeding heart so of course I am predisposed to support the arguments hereby espoused but they do reflect what I have seen. It is no longer acceptable in most circles (Trump is a notable, vile exception) to spout racial and homophobic slurs out loud so the right has learned to hide it under the banner of other things, like religious freedoms. We need to call it out when we see it to avoid the bigotry that is clearly not far below the surface.
There is obviously an agenda here but I learned a lot about the struggles of this population, in particular Transgender people and we need to think more about these issues raised. The book is well written and persuasive, to me at least. I am sure if you have more conservative leanings you will be equally appalled at what you read here but such is the situation on topics like this. I find bigotry abhorrent and we need to recognize its more subtle forms and challenge them - I need to get better at that and this book will help I think....more
I picked this up when planning a trip to Machu Picchu and it undoubtedly helped me understand some of the history. It is written in a way that sometimI picked this up when planning a trip to Machu Picchu and it undoubtedly helped me understand some of the history. It is written in a way that sometimes became a little disjointed to me, especially after the author's first trip as he weaves the tale of his own hike of the Inca Trail to the story of Hyrum Bingham the ostensible "discoverer" of the lost city. The narrative therefore switches back and forth between the two and I think it just about works.
After the first and most lengthy trip MA took to Machu Picchu however, it becomes somewhat harder to follow, or at least it did to me. There were other trips to the site but they were covered in a somewhat more cursory way that had me a little confused. However it is a good story and not without amusement and worth reading, especially if you are thinking of a trip to this historic site....more
I am unfamiliar with David Spade's work and, truth be known, the whole SNL phenomenon as I am originally from the UK. I picked this up as I wanted somI am unfamiliar with David Spade's work and, truth be known, the whole SNL phenomenon as I am originally from the UK. I picked this up as I wanted something to listen to (audiobook!) on a long drive and it fits the bill very well for that purpose.
Spade is very self-deprecating (I read recently that should really be self-depreciating but that sounds wrong to me! :-)) in his humor and it is observational, at least in this incarnation. I like his work and since he is reading his own book he gives it more life than another narrator might.
Nothing earth shattering here but amusing and I am glad I read (listened to it). Doesn't bother me in the slightest since I love stand up but the language is colorful! Basically an autobio of Spade from his family upbringing through stand up to Saturday Night Live to movies. ...more
There were certainly some laugh out loud moments in this memoir but overall I found it a little unengaging. Resnick does write well and this is quiteThere were certainly some laugh out loud moments in this memoir but overall I found it a little unengaging. Resnick does write well and this is quite an easy read and as I say, there are some amusing anecdotes here telling the stories that lead to him becoming detached and generally someone who dislikes other people but this link is somehow not that solid in my view. This book also suffers from an issue common to such accounts, namely that they tend to be a series of anecdotes that can become a little disconnected even though they are often amusing in their own right.
I tend to read this type of book when I need some light relief from the more heavyweight, issue laden tomes that I generally read and from that point of view it served its purpose well and that is probably the point. Not horrible at all, glad I read it....more
Recently I have been reading about many serious, sometimes harrowing and socially important issues such as race in society and occasionally it is impoRecently I have been reading about many serious, sometimes harrowing and socially important issues such as race in society and occasionally it is important to read something light and amusing and this book fit the bill perfectly. It sets out to achieve what I am guessing was the goal which is to describe Gaffigan's life with his family of 5 kids.
For those without kids I guess this wouldn't be so funny although JG is very amusing in his phrasing and word play to describe his life as befits a stand up comedian. I have always thought stand up must be one the hardest ways to make a living. As is the case with all the best such comedians, it isn't a case of standing up there telling jokes, but rather observations on life and self-deprecating humor to illustrate life's challenges and amusing asides. JG is brilliant and that and it carries over into his writing.
The book is a series of short chapters and scans as a collection of anecdotes as a result. Often times this leaves the reader wanting to hear more about a particular event but I guess this is the idea! Very amusing, not a life changing book of course but that's not the point. Very few books actually make me laugh out loud but this one did on a number of occasions. Well worth picking up - can be read in a couple hours.
The question of race is obviously divisive and emotional and is an issue about which I am embarrassed to be undereducated. I read books such as this tThe question of race is obviously divisive and emotional and is an issue about which I am embarrassed to be undereducated. I read books such as this to point my thought processes in directions they might otherwise miss. As a result "White like me" isn't exactly light reading, but sprinkled liberally with anecdotes and personal stories, is written in a very approachable way and addresses areas beneath the surface of racism into structural racism and white privilege.
As abhorrent as I find anything to do with bigotry in general and racism in particular, Wise invites us to examine our own thought processes for the insidious impact of cultural racism on how we think about and perceive racism. He challenges and explodes the idea white people sometimes expound that they "don't have a racist bone in their body" or that "I don't see color". I have long been uncomfortable with those statements but been unsure where to go from there. This book helps explain why we need to examine those matters more closely and that racism damages us all.
I am tired of hearing white friends espouse that America is all about opportunity and that anyone, of any race, has the same chance to make it in this society, with President Obama held up as the prime example. The problem with this is that it is patently untrue and to suggest that, is a (probably unconscious but not always) racist view. It implies that those people who don't make it, despite overwhelming odds, are at fault. They should have worked harder, been more intelligent and so on. It is a way to close our eyes to a system that keeps others down and not feel that we are overtly racist.
And that's the thing. The rise of Trump has shown us that racism is still prevalent in society and given the opportunity, can and will surface in horrendously overt ways. However, in most spheres it is unacceptable to articulate overly racist opinions (as it should be) but that doesn't mean those opinions have gone a way and perhaps more importantly, we are still living in a society that is structurally and socially engineered for whites to the detriment of others. We need to fight that wherever we see it and this book not only points that out but gives some pointers as to how we can do that.
Racism hasn't gone away. It is offensive and unacceptable for whites to tell African American's that they should somehow "get over slavery" or that "reverse racism is just a bad". I urge people to read this book especially if you think that racism is over....more
As a Royals fan, I am obviously inclined to like this book so the rating here is likely inflated over that which would be allocated by a non-fan (espeAs a Royals fan, I am obviously inclined to like this book so the rating here is likely inflated over that which would be allocated by a non-fan (especially Blue Jays fans perhaps!) I always wonder about books like this: who, outside of the fan base reads them? I am pretty sure that I wouldn't read a book about the Mets from 2014 (maybe I would).
This is clearly aimed at being more than a review of the Royals' run to the World Series in 2014, with background on Moore's philosophy on building a successful organization but it obviously leans heavily on the events of the season with information about the build up to it and the trades etc. that went before.
Interesting for a Royals fan of course, perhaps all the more so since a World Series win followed in 2015 but I am not sure that many outside the relatively limited sphere of Royals followers will find it as interesting as I did....more
I've long been troubled by the issue of racism. As I write this we are dealing with the monstrous utterances of Trump as he flirts with the KKK, threaI've long been troubled by the issue of racism. As I write this we are dealing with the monstrous utterances of Trump as he flirts with the KKK, threatens to deport Mexicans and all the rest of it. However the more insidious side of racism to me has always been the structural side of the equation. Racism that is hidden beneath a veneer of racial neutrality or colorblindness. Far too often I hear people (white people of course) saying that racism is over, that racism from black to white is just as bad and widespread as white to black and disgraceful claims that african american's should somehow "get over" slavery and that it was all a long time ago. Just this week I have seen Facebook acquaintances (now ex-FB acquaintances) link to videos claiming that anyone, regardless of race has an equal opportunity to succeed in the US. I've heard people deny white privilege even exists. It seems we have a long, long way to go.
However I have felt myself uniformed in this area, even as facing these inherently racist views and individuals made me viscerally angry. It is my fault that I am not aware enough in these areas, hence seeking out books such as this.
The arguments here are very persuasive. In essence the theme is that the means of racism has changed through a pathway that leads from slavery, through discrimination and racism of Jim Crow into the war on drugs leading to the mass incarceration we see today, focused as it is on black men. I can hear the arguments already: "I suppose you would have drugs readily available to your kids?" and similar defenses of the war on drugs and this really illustrates the point here. The war on drugs is ostensibly colorblind so it easy to hide behind a hate for criminality rather than race. However it is indisputable that the criminal justice system from politics to policing to incarceration to discrimination upon release is targeted on the black population, particularly low income.
The book gives detailed and lengthy explanations of how this is manifest, and it is depressing to read and ultimately the suggestions as to how to remedy the situation, as vital as they are to strive for, seem to be a long way off. There is certainly a lot of merit in the arguments put forward here. It is hard to say I enjoyed this book because it makes one angry to see it laid out in this way. I am however, far better informed than I was before I read it. We have a lot to do.
It is clearly a good thing that overt displays of racism are a thing of the past, despite the fact that those awful days can easily return and certain politicians seem determined to resurrect it. However the hidden, structural racism that can hide behind a curtain of discrimination against criminality (that is perfectly legal) is arguable more pernicious to the populations targeted. MA makes the point that mass incarceration of white youth would surely not be tolerated in this country.
The style of writing is detailed and matter of fact although the underlying anger is clearly there as it should be. It wasn't the easiest book to read and there are elements of repetition but these are minor quibbles. It's important to read books like this, for me anyway. They lift that curtain and allow us to examine the society we are when it comes to race and the view behind that curtain isn't pretty. We need to do better....more