I absolutely hated this book. It's just over 200 pages but it took me more than three weeks to force myself to complete it; I hated the author's style...moreI absolutely hated this book. It's just over 200 pages but it took me more than three weeks to force myself to complete it; I hated the author's style so much that whenever I could bring myself to read a few pages, I started looking for something to distract me.
Beyond stylistic preferences, I had problems with its structure. First off, it was entirely written in the present tense, making it sound like a sports play-by-play commentary. This is a very clumsy approach; the only thing worse is writing from a second person viewpoint, something that almost never works even in short form writing. It's awkward. Ungainly. Annoying.
The author was also fond of extreme hyperbole, and contradicts himself frequently, such as (as a loose paraphrase) "When this type of condition meets that kind of front, then such and such happens. But that never happens." (If that was supposed to be black humor, it failed on both counts.) The worst occurance of this was when he contradicted his actual narrative, as on pp. 180-181 (original 1997 hardcover edition, less than halfway through the "Into the Abyss" chapter). Junger spent two paragraphs explaining that weather condition updates were channeled across three points (ships, Suffolk AFB and McGuire AFB), but only if specifically asked for. McGuire only communicated with Suffolk if Suffolk asked for updates. Likewise, Suffolk only gave craft updates if they asked and Suffolk only asked McGuire if a pilot asked them for updates. Then he repeated it: "Suffolk never calls McGuire for an update, though, because the tanker pilot never asks for one; and McGuire never volunteers the information because they don't know there is an Air Guard helicopter out there in the first place." [Emphasis mine.] Repeating this scenario yet again, the very next line is "...the tanker pilot calls Suffolk for a weather update..." So which was it? The pilot called and Suffolk failed to ask McGuire for an update, or the pilot failed to ask Suffolk?
Finally, by the end of the book Junger turned the whole thing into a ghost story, complete with clairvoyance and spectral visitations by the dead crews. He didn't report that some family members believed they saw ghosts, he gave this mumbo-jumbo credence by reporting the alleged incidents as factual events.
I have all due sympathy for the people who lost friends and family in that storm, and for the dead themselves, but it's pretty irresponsible to take what is ostensibly purported to be a historical account, sticking only to established, documented facts and then inserting woo crap like that.
Fine, Mr. Junger has won awards for his writing. Based on this I don't understand that, but I accept that. In spite of my problems with his prose, I certainly concede the overall importance of telling this story, that's why I persevered to the end. I just wish it had been told better, and I don't think I'll tackle any of his other books or articles.
Well-developed characters and genuinely moving. Perhaps a little too happy an ending for everyone under the circumstances, considering the times, but...moreWell-developed characters and genuinely moving. Perhaps a little too happy an ending for everyone under the circumstances, considering the times, but not so rosy as to ruin the book.(less)
I recently read 1776 and was struck by the references to vaccination procedures of the time. The Panic Virus gives an overview of the methods of vacci...moreI recently read 1776 and was struck by the references to vaccination procedures of the time. The Panic Virus gives an overview of the methods of vaccination over the centuries before getting into the incredible strides made in the 20th century, the triumphs and the errors. Most importantly, of course, Mnookin examines the appalling anti-vax movements that have existed since the beginning, but especially at the end of the 20th century through now. It's such an essential book in understanding the science of vaccination, the need for it, the safety of it and most importantly the repercussions of not utilizing it.
Simply put: vaccines save lives, including those who aren't/can't be vaccinated. And they most certainly do not, not, NOT cause autism.(less)
I love Skal's commentaries and documetaries for Universal's classic monster movies, so I was very happy to get this book. He gives a nice overview of...moreI love Skal's commentaries and documetaries for Universal's classic monster movies, so I was very happy to get this book. He gives a nice overview of the roots of the holiday and its practices, influences (on and from Halloween) through the 20th century. He also touches on the urban myths of poisoned candy (for the record, it bears repeating: There has never been a reported instance of anyone tampering with the candy they gave out, even though tales of razor-blades-in-candied-apples dates back at least to my childhood).
As expected, he gives more than a passing nod to its depictions in film (indeed, the slasher film series Halloween gets its own chapter).
Skal also covers parades, parties, community celebrations I was surprised and disappointed that the Rutland, VT Halloween parade was not mentioned at all. (Information can be found - forgive me - here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutland_... ) The city's annual parade began in 1960, and has a very rich history. Sadly, parade organizer, comic book fan (and character!) Tom Fagan died in 2008, days before the 49th parade, at age 78. An interview with him would have been great.
As with many things, Halloween hasn't recovered from the events of 9/11/1 (I never get any creatures looking for candy), which I find sad. Trick-or-treating was always so much fun to me as a child (and occasionally as an adult), and it seems odd the the second-biggest commercial holiday has lost the community decorations and door-to-door fun.
I remember that among the houses we went to in Maumee, OH when I was little, there was an an apartment complex that had one very scary inhabitant: a big, growly polar bear gave out the candy. Now, I knew that it was just a guy under a bear skin rug, but I also just knew that he was a real bear and he was going to eat me if I went to the door. Every year was going to be the year that I was brave enough to face the bear. I eventually did, but he still scared the (figurative) crap out of me!(less)
The best thing about Goldacre's book is that he does not confine himself to practitioners of "woo-woo" (homeopathy, antivax, etc.) but also tackles pr...moreThe best thing about Goldacre's book is that he does not confine himself to practitioners of "woo-woo" (homeopathy, antivax, etc.) but also tackles problems within the medical pharmaceutical industries. Informative and entertaining.(less)