The Death of the President is a rich, deep full body emersion into a very specific two week window surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Manchester wasThe Death of the President is a rich, deep full body emersion into a very specific two week window surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Manchester was the authorized biographer and as such he was granted incredible early access to the full cast of family, politico and personal friends. He also had the doggedness to track down, time stamp, cross check and personally attempt to experience every living detail.
The amount of reference material (pre-google) that Manchester must have digested is just staggering. I read that he conducted over 1,000 in depth interviews. I can just imagine his rapid fire and relentless questions... And then what happened?...And immediately after that?... Who was on your far left?... Do you remember the song that was playing?...What shoes were you wearing that day? One famous selection suspends time and space and thin slices the exact moment of the President's Death. We are treated to a snap shot in time across the entire globe answering the bonding question of the decade, "Where were you when the President was shot?"
What makes this book a classic and a national treasure is not the long yarn but the tight weave. When Manchester consumed all he could, he became as close to omniscient as any man might be. With that amazing perception and awareness as background material, he then crafted his story. Manchester is of course famous (or infamous) for his outrageous detail, but he is equally gifted at editing and scripting riveting dialog. Additionally, his emotional insight and analogies are as fresh today as they were when he first wrote them in 1963. He brings his characters into vivid focus, reporting not just their actions, but their emotional intent (or heart felt reservation). An interesting side note - the Kennedy's who first authorized the unvarnished story, recanted Manchester's effort and stone walled the final draft in court. Manchester was clearly a fan of the family, but it did not stop him from reporting the painful and revealing truth. Perhaps he did too good a job?
If you ever wondered what it would be like to live in the early 60’s, running among the Kennedys, this book will take you there. At the time of JFK’s death, I was a chubby little one year old and my Dad was thirty. Somehow I feel like I know my Pop a little better after consuming this 50 year old epic. A gift from Mr. Manchester....more
When I read this as a teen, I thought it was a wild and beautiful book. I was kinda awed at the inner personal ground that Irving invented (frankly atWhen I read this as a teen, I thought it was a wild and beautiful book. I was kinda awed at the inner personal ground that Irving invented (frankly at the time, some of the sex was well over my head). All of these huge social rules were being broken with chaotic passion and heartbreak, and still, there was forgiveness and healing. A great "stretch," "adult" book for me to have had the early good fortune to read. I was just starting to figure out this gray world with only a Midwest, suburban, catholic, black & white rule book. Irving rocks!... and so might my parents for knowingly allowing me to sneak away and read this one under the covers....more
A classic poetic fictional vision of a future society without books and knowledge. A pivotal message, beautifully written. Do yourself a favor and finA classic poetic fictional vision of a future society without books and knowledge. A pivotal message, beautifully written. Do yourself a favor and find the audio edition read by the author. The recording was when Ray was very senior and it shows in the breathy, horse delivery. Still, there is nothing better than hearing Ray Bradbury's perfect tempo, pacing his own master work. This is one of those magical audio books that rise high above the story and become an incredible performance to behold....more
I love a grand Southern story, especially one this well written. A marvelous micro-sized moral twisting and twirling within one small fictional town.I love a grand Southern story, especially one this well written. A marvelous micro-sized moral twisting and twirling within one small fictional town. It will be the best book I read this year and I predict when I pick it up again, it will be the best book I’ll read that year! A timeless classic that can physically take the place of a roaring fireplace and your favorite blanket. Side note: you have to give Harper Lee extra credit just for the inventive character names. Boo Radley, Atikis Finch. ... they’re just fun to say. Check out the audio edition narrated by Sissy Spacek....more
Hessler’s excellent China travel journal was really fun. His clear, warmhearted writing serves as serious social commentary, but it also carries an unHessler’s excellent China travel journal was really fun. His clear, warmhearted writing serves as serious social commentary, but it also carries an understated sense of irony and dry wit. Starting with the title, “Country Driving,” the American past-time takes on an entirely different meaning in Hessler’s China. He captures a string of insightful and respectful conversations with a wide range of rural and Urban Chinese men and women. The informal exchanges help illuminate the very different Eastern and Western cultures and China's rigid class distinctions. I hope Hessler keeps traveling and writing!...more
Boy, I loved this audio-book! The back story, the public aftermath and the personal summation of Nixon’s character were just as fascinating as the on-Boy, I loved this audio-book! The back story, the public aftermath and the personal summation of Nixon’s character were just as fascinating as the on-camera Q&A sword play. An in-depth presidential interview like this one will never happen again, in part, because it first happened here with such devastating results. Nixon’s answers were masterful in places and shockingly unguarded in others. The intensity of world topics and the level of personal debate lifted Frost’s memoir to a new level. Listening to Frost’s account validates his true talent, and to my surprise, I also mustered a new found respect for Tricky Dick. Wow! 3/30/09...more
A intimate and potent profile of Bragg’s Grandfather Charlie. A raucous bigger then life country woodsman trying to raise and protect a large family t A intimate and potent profile of Bragg’s Grandfather Charlie. A raucous bigger then life country woodsman trying to raise and protect a large family through the depression. Excellent storytelling with a authentic southern flair. This is Bragg’s best book to date. (00) ...more
An awesome set of audio books. Beshloss does all the setup and color commentary between the actual taped recordings of President Johnson. Johnson hadAn awesome set of audio books. Beshloss does all the setup and color commentary between the actual taped recordings of President Johnson. Johnson had all his phones taped, the oval office, his private lines, the coffee table, the situation room. Beshloss screens the previously sealed archived collection and hand picks critical and sometimes comical sound-bites from throughout Johnson’s ruckus first presidency. It is just an astounding effort. We’ll never again have taped access to the intimate running of the White House as we do in this collection (thanks to the Nixon Tape snafu). Lady Bird is there in full glory, Martin Luther King and the Southern black movement. Jacq, Jack and Ted Kennedy jockey for position in the wake of John’s death. Mac’s Vietnam is contemplated, launched and promptly mismanaged. The list goes on and on. It will change your vantage of Johnson to the positive. Powerful stuff. ...more
An X-Pat BBC reporter with a taste for adventure, and a keen sympathetic eye for the common Chinese man. Gifford travels Hy-way 312 spanning the contiAn X-Pat BBC reporter with a taste for adventure, and a keen sympathetic eye for the common Chinese man. Gifford travels Hy-way 312 spanning the continent and crossing the enormous red belly of China. His mission: a man on the street interview... well under the wire. He gains incite into the varied lifestyles and vantages of his fellow travelers and the communities that he travels through. Along the way, his reflections display a wry, sarcastic wit. Along the way, he manages to place his subjects comments and actions into historical and modern day context (and this was well appreciated by this Western reader). Gifford has a true love and respect for the Chinese people and is torn by the apposing dynamics of China’s incredible modern growth, their cultural revolution and the current oppressive Communist government. China is an amazing and emerging super power that could take top rank from the US... unless it implodes while under construction. Gifford has written a clever and clear minded book that is well worth our time. You will not forget the simple (and sometimes highly complex) people he will introduce you to....more