An excellent social and political history of the beginnings of the Civil War. Very different from other Civil War histories I've read, which focused mAn excellent social and political history of the beginnings of the Civil War. Very different from other Civil War histories I've read, which focused mostly on the military angle. Goodheart really has a knack for bringing out interesting personalities - I found his discussions of Elmer Ellsworth, Jessie Fremont, and the German-American involvement in the war particularly fascinating. ...more
**spoiler alert** With Blue Forgotten Planet, Big Finish managed to pull of a perfect conclusion to Charley Pollard's travels with the Doctor. This is**spoiler alert** With Blue Forgotten Planet, Big Finish managed to pull of a perfect conclusion to Charley Pollard's travels with the Doctor. This is no mean feat. Charley's exit had to be big - her story has nearly come to an end so many times before, that an ordinary ending just wouldn't do.
When I was at the Clarion West writing workshop in 2002, one of our instructors, John Crowley, used to talk about storytelling as "management of revelation". I thought about that phrase a lot while listening to Blue Forgotten Planet, because there are lots of moments of revelation in this story. The Blue Forgotten Planet project isn't what it initially appears to be, the intentions of the Viyrans aren't what they initially appear to be, the madness affecting the human race isn't what it initially appears to be, and, of course, Charley hasn't really been what she appears to be since the ending of Patient Zero. All of these twists and turns are deftly handled. I've recently come to think that Nick Briggs is a bit underrated as a script writer for Big Finish. This story ought to do a lot to correct that.
Plus, it's a very emotionally affecting script. I was expecting Charley's departure to be heart-wrenching, but there are other moments of poignancy in the script that I wasn't expecting. Particularly the way it's made clear that the Doctor and Mila-as-Charley have travelled together for a long time, and developed a very close relationship - a relationship based on a lie.
India Fisher manages an impressive dual performance as Charley and Mila-Charley, playing two characters who are biologically/vocally identical, and yet distinct in personality. The fact that I was rarely confused about whether Charley or Mila-Charley was speaking is a real testament to her skill, as is her playing of a fairly dramatic final conversation between the two versions of Charley.
I've really come to like the Viyrans as well. They're aliens who aren't evil so much as just possessed of very different values. I like the way Michael Maloney plays them as well. He makes them sound detached, but not flat.
I have a few minor plot niggles. The solution to the virus problem was a bit timey-wimey, and in a script that didn't have as much else going on probably would have seemed weak. In the context of this overall story, it didn't really matter.
Really excellent work from everyone involved....more
One of the clearest and most fun books on moral and political philosophy that I've read in a long time.
The core of this book is a very clear and concOne of the clearest and most fun books on moral and political philosophy that I've read in a long time.
The core of this book is a very clear and concise explanation of the major approaches to the question of justice throughout the history of philosophy, which I suppose could be roughly classified as utilitarian, libertarian, Kantian, Rawlsian, Aristotelian, and communitarian. (Yes, Sandel covers them in roughly that order. It's not chronological, but it effectively highlights the similarities and differences in the way the various philosophies try to define justice.) I think I now understand each of these approaches and their strengths and weaknesses better than I have before. (If there's one that I'm still fuzzy on, it's the communitarian philosophy that Sandel himself espouses. Maybe he was a touch shy about proselytizing, or maybe I'm finding that particular philosophy harder to get to grips with because it's the first time I've encountered it.)
Sandel also has a real gift for using concrete situations to illustrate ethical and philosophical principles. His real-world examples not only help you get to grips with the sometimes rather abstract elements of various philosophies, but they make for great conversational fodder. This is a great book to read along with a friend, or with a book group.
Sandel finishes up the book with some interesting comments on the role of moral arguments in present-day American political discourse. He makes the somewhat familiar argument that liberals have made a mistake in trying to be scrupulously morally neutral in their approach to public policy, thus effectively ceding the moral ground to religious conservatives. I'm never quite sure what to make of this argument - I've never considered my own liberalism to be divorced from questions of morality. But Sandel offers lots of food for thought. ...more
A fantastic adaptation for radio of Toby Hadoke's one-man comedy show "Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf". Both funny and touching. Required listening forA fantastic adaptation for radio of Toby Hadoke's one-man comedy show "Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf". Both funny and touching. Required listening for Doctor Who fans, or anyone who wants to understand why Doctor Who fans are so passionate about the show. ...more
A twisty story that will keep you on your toes. This is one to listen to with your full attention!
This story does some of the strangest things ever doA twisty story that will keep you on your toes. This is one to listen to with your full attention!
This story does some of the strangest things ever done with the Daleks - and if you know the history of the Daleks in Doctor Who, that's saying something. It's got surprises, it's got laugh-out-loud funny moments, and it has one of those emotional sucker-punch scenes that I'm beginning to think are a trademark of Alan Barnes's best drama. ...more
I'm jumping the gun a little bit here - I haven't even managed to buy a house yet, and already I'm researching how to remodel one. Still, it's lookingI'm jumping the gun a little bit here - I haven't even managed to buy a house yet, and already I'm researching how to remodel one. Still, it's looking increasingly likely that any house we do buy is going to have something "wrong" with it that we might like to fix if it's within our budget, so it seems like a good idea to be prepared.
I pulled this book almost at random off the library shelves, and it turned out to be almost exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. It covers everything from what to look for when reading a bid to how not to drive your spouse crazy during the remodeling project. (That last chapter mostly just made me feel smug about my marriage. But who knows - perhaps my spouse and I will uncover a previously unknown tendency to fight bitterly over kitchen cabinets.) It packs a lot of information into a small space, and is easy and fun to read. ...more
This is one of the best books on Shakespeare that I've read yet. With a title like "The Shakespeare Wars", I expected it to be much concerned with bioThis is one of the best books on Shakespeare that I've read yet. With a title like "The Shakespeare Wars", I expected it to be much concerned with biographical/historical controversies about Shakespeare, but it's actually a much more interesting look at the clashes and controversies of people responding to Shakespeare's text. This book asks the questions: how do we read and interpret Shakespeare, both academically and dramatically? And what do these readings and interpretations tell us about why we respond to Shakespeare the way we do? In other words, what makes Shakespeare Shakespeare?
Rosenbaum is probably the ideal person to write this book. His background in English literature allows him to understand some pretty arcane academic controversies, while his training as a journalist helps him make these accessible to the general reader. And he is passionate about Shakespeare. Before I read this book, I would not necessarily have expected a detailed discussion of Shakespeare's spelling or a close reading of a particular sonnet to be so compelling. This book makes them so.
Rosenbaum does make it pretty clear that, in his mind, there are right ways of studying Shakespeare and wrong ways of studying Shakespeare. The wrong ways include excessive obsession with Shakespeare's biography, excessive reliance on Literary Theory, and virtually everything ever written by Harold Bloom. The right ways mostly include various kinds of close textual analysis. I'm new enough to Shakespeare studies that I don't have a Shakespearean ideology, so I mostly find Rosenbaum's occasional dogmatism amusing. If I had more fixed opinions of my own, I imagine it might grate occasionally.
Still, I have yet to read any other work on Shakespeare whose sheer enthusiasm was so infectious. Do be warned, this is a book that will leave you with a long list of other works you need to read or reread, starting, of course, with the works of Shakespeare himself. ...more
A huge and remarkably readable history of post-war Europe. I think the best parts of the book are the early chapters, for their vivid account of the pA huge and remarkably readable history of post-war Europe. I think the best parts of the book are the early chapters, for their vivid account of the positively surreal level of devastation caused by World War II, and the later chapters, which cover events of the late eighties and onwards that I can remember watching on TV and reading about in newspapers back when they were current events and not history. (What's particularly remarkable about reading Judt's account of the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe are the things that we (or at least I) didn't know at the time - like that Romania's revolution was to some extent stage-managed by communist leaders around Caecescu, who wanted an excuse to boot him out.)
This book would have been fascinating even if it were just a chronicle of the lives of the English aristocracy, and how they changed over the course oThis book would have been fascinating even if it were just a chronicle of the lives of the English aristocracy, and how they changed over the course of the 20th century. When you add to that the Mitford sisters' impressive talents in their own right and the way they interacted with such a cross-section of world events, it becomes a really engrossing read.
One thing about this book that I suspect differentiates this from other Mitford books is that Lovell is fairly politically even-handed (and in some ways just not very interested in politics). This lets her write with equal sympathy about all of the sisters across the political spectrum, which is a very admirable trait for a biographer, but will probably make most readers uncomfortable at one point or another. ...more