Most sport-centered books do not grab me as they are either biographical or focused on a single season. The BoysA great book, telling a great story.
Most sport-centered books do not grab me as they are either biographical or focused on a single season. The Boys in the Boat is biographical but also historical. The author puts all the events in the context of the times. For instance, while focused on the 1936 Berlin Olympic competition, Brown also describes what was happening to minorities like the Jews and the Gypsies in Germany and how Goebbels manipulated the event to showcase the Germany, the Nazis wanted the world to see.
The story of the major character in the story, Joe Rantz, is the glue that holds the entire narrative together. While the book's sub-title features the 1936 Olympics, the bulk of the narrative involves Rantz's journey from his situation as an orphaned young boy to being a member of the the University of Washington heroic crew. He is also seen as emblematic of his 8 teammates, most of whom come from poor but hard-working families and spend a great deal of time rowing even though they are struggling to earn the funds to stay in school.
It's hard for us to realize how popular crew was as a spectator sport in the 1930s. 100,000 people turning out for the IRA regatta near Poughkeepsie, NY would be unheard of today. The description of what the crew members endure to compete and win is inspiring. Brown does a great job of describing the important races. He also makes the details of building a scull actually interesting by interweaving it with the life story and epigrams of George Pocock, perhaps the greatest boat-builder of his time.
While the fact that the U.S. crew won the race in Berlin is no surprise, the description of the race is thrilling as are the descriptions of many of the other competitions.
When I first heard about the book, I had little incentive to read it but it was lent to me by my brother-in-law who loved it. I'm glad I took his advice and got into the story. I can recommend it with no reservations as a worthwhile endeavor. Read it. You'll love it.
I am an enthusiastic fan of Bourdain's CNN series, "Parts Unknown". I also liked his Food Channel series, "No Reservations" even though the productionI am an enthusiastic fan of Bourdain's CNN series, "Parts Unknown". I also liked his Food Channel series, "No Reservations" even though the production values weren't as good as they are on CNN.
This book is a narrative of his search for the perfect meal with the Food Channel folks tagging along. I don't think it a spoiler to say the search was both successful and unsuccessful. To understand why this is so, the reader needs to get to the last few pages of the book.
The biggest surprise for me was that his writing imitates his speaking in the programs: same tongue-in-cheek, self deprecating sense of humor with great analogies and complete descriptions of both places and people.
He is unafraid to trash those things he sees as trashy and extravagantly praise those things he sees as worthy of extravagant praise not unlike his TV persona. It helps that I share his admiration for the Vietnamese people, his ambivalence towards Tokyo and San Francisco, his disdain for what's happened to the American palate, and many, many other opinions, he's only to happy to share both in his writing and on his TV shows.
It is unusual for me to describe a non-fiction collection of essays such as this using terms like, "I couldn't put it down". I finished the book in less than 3 days, in spite of my obsession with Football.
The book was published in 2001 and in spite of its age is relevant and real. I plan to read all of Bourdain's books and am happy I started with this one.
An incredible chronicle of the events leading up to, surrounding and following the Bataan Death March, April 1942.
The protagonist in this non-fictionAn incredible chronicle of the events leading up to, surrounding and following the Bataan Death March, April 1942.
The protagonist in this non-fiction chronicle is Ben Steele, a native of Billings Montana and still with us. Ben's story is interwoven with material from diaries and journals as well as other source material from those Americans, Filipinos and Japanese who were there.
Ben, developed the ability to sketch while a captive and his sketches are scattered throughout the narrative. This story is not for the faint-hearted as the descriptions of what, not only the defenders went through, but also the Japanese aggressors is the stuff of nightmares.
The authors intersperse the description of events in 1941-46 with flashbacks of Ben Steele's earlier years. They cover the impending conflict with Japan, the invasion, the Battle of Bataan, The Death March, the prisoners life as captives at Camp O'Donnel, the Bicol peninsula, Bilibid prison and hospital, Camp Cabauantan, the hellships and the mines of Japan, all places Ben Steele survived.
The book ends with Ben as a survivor, art student,family man and eventually an art teacher at Eastern Montana College in Billings.
The authors also added a non-essential chapter on the trial of General Homma who commanded the Japanese forces in the Philippines. They obviously sympathized with the General and try to show that he really had no idea of what was going on but was railroaded in a trial and eventually executed by firing squad. The authors are also less than admiring of General MacArthur and take many opportunities to imply he was less than a great leader.
It was that aspect of the book that moved me to rate it as a four rather than a five star read. Not that I am an unquestioning admirer of the General but rather see both his talents and his faults. If you are interested in an excellent biography of MacArthur, I suggest reading "American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964" by William Manchester. I review it elsewhere in Goodreads....more
On the same day as the great Chicago fire, Peshtigo, Wisconsin was basically burned to the ground by a devastating conflagration. At the time, 1871, tOn the same day as the great Chicago fire, Peshtigo, Wisconsin was basically burned to the ground by a devastating conflagration. At the time, 1871, the Peshtigo area was a was a major source of lumber for the rapidly expanding U.S.
Gess and Lutz set the table with extensive background about the Peshtigo of the time. It was a good-sized town. It had a good harbor, a river large enough to move freshly felled trees, and a railroad to move the timber to Chicago to say nothing of the numerous lumber mills and the largest wood products factory in the U.S. All this economic activity brought many workers to Peshtigo.
The summer of 1871 was the driest and hottest in memory and the burning of stumps by farmers and the scrap sawdust smouldering at the mills set off the fire bells constantly. No one knows how the fire started but it was already well along when it was spotted. People tried to escape to water or clearings but the thermal effect kept the fire expanding and literally roasted many people to death.
I was glad the authors used the technique of focusing on individuals and not overplaying the horror. While not blaming individuals, they manage to show how greed contributed to the disaster. Part of the tragedy, too, is that Peshtigo had to compete with Chicago for rescue resources. The timing also led to very little about the tragedy making it to the outside world.
It was a very instructive and interesting story. I recommend it....more
I think it's important for anyone who plans a career as anything other than an entrepreneur to read this book.
Her point is well taken that women needI think it's important for anyone who plans a career as anything other than an entrepreneur to read this book.
Her point is well taken that women need to be better at putting themselves out there,so to speak. I just watched an interview on the CBS Morning Show in which the interviewee said one of the biggest reasons women make less than men at the same level is that they are poor negotiators. A point Sandberg illustrates in her recounting of her move to Facebook from Yahoo. Women don't always negotiate well because of real or false humility, something many men lack. But there are many men who are poor negotiators also and the idea that if you put yourself out there or "Lean In" you'll be more successful is a valid idea.
My major criticism of the book is her personal stories which are sometimes not really relevant to the main thrust of the book. Nevertheless this is a worthwhile read for anyone in the organizational world but particularly those beginning their career.
I'm retired and still found valuable information in what she said as I pursue my new career as a volunteer.
A most interesting approach to dieting and maintenance. Like most diet books, though, the whole rationale and instructions could have been done in 20-A most interesting approach to dieting and maintenance. Like most diet books, though, the whole rationale and instructions could have been done in 20-30 pages. Instead we get Chapters on childhood obesity and other peripheral issues.
The least valuable part of the book was the 100 pages of recipes from famous restaurants.
I guess they have to bulk it up to make the cost appear fair.
It is a good diet, though. I've lost 23 pounds in 3 months....more
A good bathroom book, unless, of course, you are politically conservative or very religious. If you fit either of these descriptions, you might have aA good bathroom book, unless, of course, you are politically conservative or very religious. If you fit either of these descriptions, you might have a fit of apoplexy and make a mess.
This book is now slightly out of date but still very funny. ...more
What great fun! I have in the past tried to study philosophy seriously and either don't have the ability to focus or the intelligence to understand. BWhat great fun! I have in the past tried to study philosophy seriously and either don't have the ability to focus or the intelligence to understand. But I sure do have a sense of humor. I may not have gotten all the concepts in this book but I'm pretty sure I got all the jokes.
I came away with at least an introductory understanding of the major philosophical schools. Now when I tell people I'm an existentialist, I can at least explain what it is without getting all tangled up in complicated theory.
The only book that comes close to this one is "Sophie's World", a novel in which Sophie learns Philosophy through a series of anonymous letters. However, for me, this book was more helpful and I do love a corny joke.
This is the second time I've read this book. The first time, I went through it very fast. This time I savored its wisdom.
Anyone who has ever worked inThis is the second time I've read this book. The first time, I went through it very fast. This time I savored its wisdom.
Anyone who has ever worked in a corporation will relate to both the essays and the unforgettable cartoons. I particularly enjoy Dogbert, the heartless H.R. manager. Having worked in H.R. for a number of years, I have stories similar to Adams' comic strips.
The hypocrisy of a great percentage of managers is illuminated in the chapter on "Great Lies of Management". I'm sure most managers want to believe the things he mentions but unfortunately they don't want to act accordingly, especially when the pressure is on.
This book is a a lot of fun to read, except when it hurts, mainly when my own failings as a manager are made the object of Adams' satire. ...more
I suspect if I had tried to read this book in the print edition, I would have abandoned it. While an uplifting story, the details, as presented, are bI suspect if I had tried to read this book in the print edition, I would have abandoned it. While an uplifting story, the details, as presented, are boring and overwrought. I suspect the author could have given us the same appreciation for William Wilberforce's efforts in about half the space or less. Perhaps if Metaxas had spent less time proselytizing for evengelical christianity and also providing information about Wilberforce's colleagues in excruciating detail, he would have had a much better book.
Unfortunately, he didn't do that and as I semi-listened to the CDs while miles of Montana and Oregon highways passed beneath my wheels, I would periodically tune in when something of note was being mentioned. I should have guessed what was coming from the Introduction by the President of Wilberforce College, a christian sectarian institution somewhere in the great U.S. Midwest and the preface by the author but, since the alternative was C&W music, I continued with the recording. I won't call it wasted time except for the fact that I could and should have borrowed a different title from the library. Mea culpa.
To give Wilberforce credit, he was the driving force in eliminating the slave trade by England and eventually by the other European states. It was instructive, however, to learn that the U.S. outlawed the slave trade a year before England did. Too bad the U.S. didn't act in the same manner with slavery itself, outlawed in England in 1833, but one of the causes of the U.S. Civil war.
I can summarize the book thus: young, sickly, rich male grows up in a basically a-religious environment, attends Cambridge, befriends William Pitt, The Younger, drinks and eats to excess, runs for parliament in his early twenties, wins, ambitiously moves up the hierarchy, is born again and spends the rest of his life doing good things for their own sake and the greater glory of God. As I said - boring!
I am sure there are far better biographies of Wilberforce, who as well as I can figure, was truly a good person who meant well. I am also sure that his efforts created some unintended consequences which are not mentioned in this book. If you are really interested in Wilberforce as a realistic political figure, look elsewhere for your information. ...more
This book does not lend itself to being read word for word. I did read most of it. It works best if the reader browses rather than reading cover to coThis book does not lend itself to being read word for word. I did read most of it. It works best if the reader browses rather than reading cover to cover.
The Editor, Andrew Carroll, founded the Legacy Project with the goal of preserving the letters of service people for posterity. This volume covers the Civil War, WW I, WW II, Korea, The Cold War, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia. For reasons that are as much personal as anything, I spent most of my time in the WW II section. It is also the longest chapter.
Many of the letters would be boring were it not for Carroll's insightful commentary, putting each letter and section into an understandable context. It is obvious that culling over 50,000 missives down to the almost 200 contained here, was a daunting job. Carroll, though, managed to highlight the history of each period with appropriate choices.
It's clear that some of the letters would be incredibly heartrending. Some of them brought tears to my eyes. Some of them made me chuckle. Some of them made me angry. Some of them were almost illiterate. All were worthwhile additions to this collection.
I can't say I enjoyed this book but I am very glad I spent as much time with it as I did....more
What an incredible memoir, covering three generations: the Grandmother, mother and the author herself. Beginning in 1924 and continuing to 1978, it inWhat an incredible memoir, covering three generations: the Grandmother, mother and the author herself. Beginning in 1924 and continuing to 1978, it included the Japanese invasion, the Communist victory in 1949 and the Cultural Revolution and its immediate aftermath.
It is almost impossible to comprehend what these people went through and still managed to survive. What is even more astounding is that in many ways they were better off than their compatriots. In U.S. terms they were almost upper middle-class with professionals and Communist Party Officials in the family.
I have lived in Hong Kong the last 18 years and traveled to Asia for 12 years prior to relocating out here. In the process I have spent a great deal of time in China and had the enviable task of interviewing a number of survivors of the Cultural Revolution. I also have read extensively about modern China (post the 1911 revolution) and this book is perhaps better than any in allowing the reader to experience second-hand what living in China was like during the tumultuous times the story spans.
I think the author does an excellent job of allowing the reader to get a glimpse of the big picture while never losing her personal perspective on events.
While I have never been an admirer of Mao Tse Tung, I always made allowances in my mind for some of his excesses. After reading this book, I am convinced that in many ways he was perhaps the worst dictator in Modern History including Hitler and Stalin.
One of Jung's insights which sort of blew my mind was her comment that China did not need a secret police apparatus because many, if not most, of the people provided all the control that a deified Mao needed. If anyone stepped out of line, they were immediately denounced, punished and often killed either quickly or slowly through starvation and disease.
Not that the Kuomintang of Chiang Kai Shek was any better, just less efficient and more corrupt. The Japanese occupation of Manchuria is also described so that the reader can appreciate the horror of Japanese domination.
This is not an easy book to work your way through. At times it is unremittingly depressing but it also contains tales of generosity and goodness illustrating that even under the most trying circumstances people can behave in wonderful ways.
The book certainly helped put the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life in perspective. I will find it harder to complain about the petty annoyances I endure after reading what these people went through.
If you have any curiosity about Modern China, reading this book would be an excellent place to start....more