Really, this deserves 3.5 stars. Dinner with Churchill is a fairly delightful look at the banquets and dinners and eating and drinking habits of the K...moreReally, this deserves 3.5 stars. Dinner with Churchill is a fairly delightful look at the banquets and dinners and eating and drinking habits of the King's First Minister, before, after, and mostly during the Second World War.
If there's anything holding the book back, perhaps, it's the rather sweeping claims about Churchill's dining representing so much of his character. I know the normal school of thought when it comes to history requires a thesis, but this one may have been a bit...stretched (skillfull use of ration coupons for group dinners = concern for the common Briton, that sort of thing). On the other hand, the use of - and ability to find - a surprising array of primary sources on Churchill's meal tabs and cigar orders is quite impressive.
Perhaps the best parts of the book are the final three chapters, which examine at some length Churchill's food, alcohol, and cigar preferences. They were certainly inspirational in their own way, and just plain fun. So while the book isn't a masterpiece, it's a relatively quick read, and therefore well worth your time.(less)
A little harsh in its blanket condemnation of everyone with a security clearance, and at times a bit factually inaccurate, but a fairly useful overvie...moreA little harsh in its blanket condemnation of everyone with a security clearance, and at times a bit factually inaccurate, but a fairly useful overview of the leviathan that is the modern military-industrial-intelligence complex. No getting around it; it's too big to handle and far larger than it need be. The threats we face are NOT existential.(less)
Foundational. Phenomenal. This should be the bible of thinking about transit. Walker builds his definitions from the ground up, gradually layering in...moreFoundational. Phenomenal. This should be the bible of thinking about transit. Walker builds his definitions from the ground up, gradually layering in complexity until even the layman can grasp why his local transit is the way it is, and how it can best be improved.
For me, chapter 7 was the encapsulation of what I've long noticed to be the case: "frequency is freedom." No other service quality has the same liberating ability. To be on your way when you want and to be assured of boarding a vehicle in short order is what all transit should be, and is woefully underrecognized by transit agencies across the country.
Richelson makes a good effort here, but part of the problem with both the book and the narrative of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) at large...moreRichelson makes a good effort here, but part of the problem with both the book and the narrative of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) at large is the lack of real use they've had in the four decades since their founding. Aside from the MORNING LIGHT deployment to Canada, NEST has seen no real action other than exercises and hoaxes.
Thus, unfortunately, leads to the need to essentially pad the book with short summaries of nuclear terrorism, 9/11, Al Qaeda in the 1990s, Aum Shirinkiyo, and other semi-relevant incidents and threats. But much of this is a bare chronological retelling. When it comes to NEST itself, all too many paragraphs are straight recounting of one exercise in 1984. Then in 1985, another exercise. 1986 saw yet one more exercise. And so on.
What little can be said about NEST is said well here. And the book proves the notion that much of the information classified by the US government is really just stuff we already know, but with a little more detail.
The scholarship in this book is more or less as good as is possible, but the inclusion of footnotes referencing Wikipedia articles is definitely a questionable sign. And seeing as Defusing Armageddon doesn't reveal much more than can be found in the subject's Wikipedia page, that might be a quicker-reading version of this book.(less)