While not as stunning as her "Gulag", this is still an excellent accounting of how the Iron Curtain was created and what it entailed. It is a rebuke tWhile not as stunning as her "Gulag", this is still an excellent accounting of how the Iron Curtain was created and what it entailed. It is a rebuke to the revisionist historians who try to pretend that the Iron Curtain was "not that bad" or that it was created as a response to "Western aggression". Applebaum details, point by point, based on first-hand interviews and documents, how the creation of the Iron Curtain was planned within the Soviet Union; how they put their own people in place throughout Eastern Europe; how they tried to destroy every institution other than the State. She also gets into why so few people resisted, at least until after the death of Stalin.
My main complain with the book is that is sort of trails off after the end of high Stalinism. The revolutions in Budapest and Prague are covered in very scant detail and then almost nothing past 1956 is discussed. I realize that's not the focus of her book, but I would like to have seen a lot more about how the Iron Curtain was maintained for the next 35 years.
Still, an excellent and thorough history and another reminder of just how thoroughly evil Communism was....more
A quick read, but a really good one about the hijacking boom of the late 60's and early 70's. It looks at the problem in general -- how it arose, howA quick read, but a really good one about the hijacking boom of the late 60's and early 70's. It looks at the problem in general -- how it arose, how it was dealt with. But the heart of the book is the story of Willie Holder and Cathy Krekow, who seized a jet and flew to Algeria and mostly got away with it, becoming favorites among the Paris elite and minor celebrities. The book goes deep into the mind of Willie Holder, who pretended to be a radical but was really just a disturbed Vietnam War Vet with delusions of grandeur. The really interesting part of the book is the look into 60's-70's radicalism when such figures as Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver were hailed as heroes....more
I've read Balko's writing for years but this was eye-opening. He tracks how we've gotten to the point where no-knock raids by paramilitary teams are sI've read Balko's writing for years but this was eye-opening. He tracks how we've gotten to the point where no-knock raids by paramilitary teams are standard for drug warrants and increasingly common for arrest warrants; how the feds have poured billions into militarizing police at every level, from 73 federal agencies with police forces down to small towns of 1500 people, and; how a complete lack of accountability has left communities and families in fear. This is anti-cop book; it lays the blame squarely on the lawmakers of both parties....more
Bit of a change of pace from Stephenson. This is more of a Tom Clancy-ish technothriller than his usual baroque efforts. It all fits together a bit toBit of a change of pace from Stephenson. This is more of a Tom Clancy-ish technothriller than his usual baroque efforts. It all fits together a bit too neatly at the end. But the narrative and characterizations are strong and the end result is satisfying. A great read, despite its formidable length....more
The book has been napalmed by critics determined to prove how outraged they are about the scandal that engulfed Paterno's final days. And to be honestThe book has been napalmed by critics determined to prove how outraged they are about the scandal that engulfed Paterno's final days. And to be honest, it feels a bit rushed. If Posnanski had been given the extra half year of work originally allocated, I think this would be a much better book. It's a bit sloppy in parts and needed a lot more interviews with Paterno critics but ran into the problem that very few of the people who knew him well had bad things to say about him and those who did weren't interested in talking. Posnanski clearly didn't have time to pressure figures like Triponey or McQueary or Mike Cooper into talking (assuming they ever would have or legally could have). The first two decades of Paterno's career are very detailed while the last two are only covered in highlights. And it doesn't really contain a lot of information about the Sandusky scandal that isn't also included in the Freeh report.
That having been said, I found the book very enlightening about Paterno himself, about what motivated him, about the legend that built around him in State College and why so many continued to admire him even after the Sandusky scandal came down. It also lays the stage for how so many turned on him in the end. I think most people will react to this book the way they did to the scandal. Those who admired and still admire him will probably love the book. Those who hated or came to hate him will dislike it. I think it's difficult to ask for much more when we're still so close to the events and emotions are still so raw. It will be a decade or two before anyone can write about it objectively....more