I couldn't give this man, his friends, their story and their sacrafice any less than 5 stars.
It wasn't a 5-star book, insofar as the writing and stor...moreI couldn't give this man, his friends, their story and their sacrafice any less than 5 stars.
It wasn't a 5-star book, insofar as the writing and story-telling, but this man isn't an author, for crying out loud. He's a warrior. And what his story means and stands for goes beyond 5 stars.
There is one thing that, in certain brief points in the book, was a bit hard for me. Let me explain. One thing that I have never cared for, or fully understood for that matter, is politics. Left versus right. Liberal. Conservative. Republican. Democrat. The hostility between opposing "sides." The labeling. The finger-pointing. The mentality of it all. And for a person like myself who is turned off by this accusing attitude that picks sides and points fingers, it was a little bit of a turn-off to me to read the parts of the book when Marcus Luttrell condemns a certain group of labeled folk. There is often some truth to stereotypes and biases, and I understand that, but I just can't stand the hatred and blame within our own people. Where does it get us? I have to believe that people, for the most part, truly want the best for them and their fellow man. Whether their views are distorted, uninformed, or irrational, that's a different story. And there are a lot of misinformed, undereducated, and misled folks out there. And they can do a lot of damange. But finger-pointing and blaming gets us nowhere. Communication and education are our salvation.
That ended up turning into a bit of a mini tangent. Sorry about that. Moving on.
This book was an eye-opening view into what it took Marcus Luttrell - and others - to become a SEAL, what being a SEAL required of him and his comrades, and the impact being a SEAL had on his lives and others. I will always remember Sarawa, Gularb and his time with the Pashtun tribespeople, and their selflessness in granting him lokhay. Without them, I doubt Marcus would be here to tell his story. In Marcus' words, at the end of his story, he says: "Operation Red Wing has taught me a lot about myself, the men I work with, and the people of Afghanistan. The people in that Afghanistan village put their lives in jeopardy just to save mine, and I have never seen a more selfless act in my life. No matter what you think or have heard, there are good people out there in this world, and I am living proof of that."
I'd like to close with one last quote from the book: "First of all, I do not want to give in to the pressure of the moment. Whenever you're hurting bad, just hang in there. Finish the day. Then, if you're still feeling bad, think about it long and hard before you decide to quit. Second, take it one day at a time. One evolution at a time. Don't let your thoughts run away with you., don't start planning to bail out because you're worried about the future and how much you can take. Don't look ahead to the pain. Just get through the day, and there's a wonderful career ahead of you." - Captain Maguire, pp 141-2(less)
An absolutely excellent read. I picked this new book up at my library specifically because a decent chunk of the book dealt with the "Sun Corridor" of...moreAn absolutely excellent read. I picked this new book up at my library specifically because a decent chunk of the book dealt with the "Sun Corridor" of Arizona, which includes Tucson, where we lived for seven years. So I was particularly drawn into chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8. They were, in fact, the main reason I read this book.
Many important and familiar issues were addressed in these chapters, from the O'odham people of today, the issues of state land reform in Arizona, water shortage, climate change, and the phenomenon of the "urban heat island" that describes what is happening in Phoenix, water used for crops being diverted to supply mains of subdivisions, the foreclosure rate and the impact of the recession, the border wall a.k.a. "billion-dollar speed bump", and the impact on the natural environment.
"So this used to be a farming community," says Propst, "and now its last harvest is these homes, but the crop, for the time being, has failed." page 202
"Look at it," he said. "It's an ugly damn thing, it makes a lot of noise, it does a lot of damage, it costs way too much, and it doesn't work - that's how you know it's a federal project!" - Odle on the Border Wall page 228(less)
Before I say anything, I'd like to first and foremost admit that my knowledge in history is severely lacking. I was not a good student in school, and...moreBefore I say anything, I'd like to first and foremost admit that my knowledge in history is severely lacking. I was not a good student in school, and of all the subjects I floated through, history was certainly one of the subjects that took the hardest hit. Plus, they didn't have the History Channel when I was in school, which would have been WAY better than the lackluster instructors that turned me off to the past. That said, the only thing I really know about King Henry the Eighth is that he existed at some point in time and there is a children's song about him (and I do not even know the lyrics to said song).
Given that I have no previous knowledge or opinion of King Henry the Eighth, his first wife Queen Katherine, or any of the Boleyns for that matter, I went along with the story just fine, finding things quite believable (even though, as a work of historical fiction, we all know that they are not truth). I was not shocked, upset, or disappointed with Gregory's treatment of the characters like some readers have expressed, simply because I was a blank slate that knew next to nothing about these historical figures or their lives to begin with. So, while I found the work to be pretty entertaining, I accept that it is a deviation from historical fact.
The book sucked me and kept my attention quite well for most of it's duration (600+ pages) however it did lag a bit about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through. It just hit a couple of points when all I could think was "Is Anne ever going to marry the King already?" and "Is Anne ever going to get pregnant and carry a baby to term again?" Of course, given the nature of the book, the drama carried me through. And although many people have said the depiction of Mary's character was historically inaccurate (as well as the King's and Anne's for that matter), it didn't mean I couldn't relate to her wanting to get the hell out of that court and live a more pure and simple life with the man she loved in the country. I'd churn butter any day over having to deal with the stuff that went down in the court.
So, overall, a pretty entertaining read and a page turner. (less)
Good. Particularly agreed with her stance on power struggles (p 146). Especially enjoyed the following chapters: Chapter 8 - Celebrate the Child You'v...moreGood. Particularly agreed with her stance on power struggles (p 146). Especially enjoyed the following chapters: Chapter 8 - Celebrate the Child You've Got, Chapter 11 - Being Present and Mindful, and Unwinding Without Electricity, and Chapter 12 - Empowering Kids to Create Their Very Best Lives. Solid information and advice. (less)
The night magic sounded lovely Someday I would have lovers and write a poem after. I gazed at the white oleanders she had arranged on the coffee tabl...more The night magic sounded lovely Someday I would have lovers and write a poem after. I gazed at the white oleanders she had arranged on the coffee table that morning, three clusters of blossoms representing heaven, man, and earth, and thought about the music of her lovers' voices in the dark. Heaven. Man. I felt on the verge of something, a mystery that surrounded me like gauze, something I was beginning to unwind. page 6
I understood why she did it. At that moment I knew why people tagged graffiti on the walls of neat little houses and scratched paint on new cars and beat up well-intended children. It was only natural to want to destroy something you could never have. page 30
"Isn't it funny. I'm enjoying my hatred so much more than I ever enjoyed love. Love is temperamental. Tiring. It makes demands. Love uses you. Changes its mind." Her eyes were closed. Beads of water decorated her face, and her hair spread out from her head like jellyfish tendrils. "But hatred, now. That's something you can use. Sculpt. Wield. It's hard or soft, however you need it. Love humiliates you, but hatred cradles you. It's so soothing. I feel infinitely better now." page 34
How many children had this happened to? How many children were like me, floating like plankton in the wide ocean? I thought how tenuous the links were between mother and children, between friends, family, things you think are eternal. Everything could be lost, more easily than anyone could imagine. page 47
What was the point in such loneliness among people. At least if you were by yourself, you had a good reason to be lonely. page 116
I hated labels anyway. People didn't fit in slots - prostitute, housewife, saint - like sorting mail. We were so mutable, fluid with fear and desire, ideals and angles, changeable as water. page 123
In a perverse way, I was glad for the stitches, glad it would show, that there would be scars. What was the point in just being hurt on the inside? I thought of the girl with the scar tattoos at the Crenshaw group home. She was right, it should bloody well show. page 155
I wanted to tell her not to entertain despair like this. Despair wasn't a guest, you didn't play its favorite music, find it a comfortable chair. Despair was the enemy. page 233
What was beauty unless you intended to use it, like a hammer, or a key? It was just something for other people to use and admire, or envy, despise. To nail their dreams onto like a picture hanger on a blank wall. And so many girls saying, use me, dream me. page 264
The damned could be saved, he said, anytime. But they refused to give up their sins. Though they suffered endlessly, they would not give them up, even for salvation, perfect divine love. I hadn't understood at the time. If sinners were so unhappy, why would they prefer their suffering? But now I knew why. Without my wounds, who was I? My scars were my face, my past was my life. It wasn't like I didn't know where all this remembering got you, all that hunger for beauty and astonishing cruelty and ever-present loss. But I knew I would never go to Bill with a troubling personal matter, a boy who liked me too much, a teacher who scolded unfairly. I had already seen more of the world, its beauty and misery and sheer surprise, than they could hope or fear to perceive. pp 268-9
How could anybody confuse truth with beauty, I thought as I looked at him. Truth came with sunken eyes, bony or scarred, decayed. Its teeth were bad, its hair gray and unkempt. While beauty was empty as a gourd, vain as a parakeet. But it had power. It smelled of musk and oranges and made you close your eyes in prayer. page 320
How vast was a human being's capacity for suffering. The only thing you could do was stand in awe of it. It wasn't a question of survival at all. It was the fullness of it, how much you could hold, how much you could care. page 332
What was a weed, anyway. A plant nobody planted? A seed escaped from a traveler's coat, something that didn't belong? Was it something that grew better than what should have been there? Wasn't it just a word, weed, trailing its judgements. Useless. Without value. Unwanted. page 347
I had heard of this movie from a friend many years ago. From what I'd heard of it, it was a graphic story laden with violence. I also learned that it...moreI had heard of this movie from a friend many years ago. From what I'd heard of it, it was a graphic story laden with violence. I also learned that it was based on a book. Years later, still have never seeing it, I saw that my local library at the time carried the movie. So I checked it out and prepared myself for a controversial flim. (I was in the midst of watching a lot of other classics at that time that I had never seen: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Pscyho, Gone with the Wind, etc.) This was around 2009 or 2010.
What really ended up surprising me was that I really liked the idea behind the movie. I didn't care for the violence or any of that, obviously, but the central idea behind it all really won me over and really stuck with me well after I had turned it off and moved on. And what was this idea? It was the classic issue of morality. Free will. Good and bad. Moral choice.
The gist of the story is, if a society had the ability to "rehabilitate" sadistic and violent individuals, at what cost would that be justified? Because, ultimately, after Alex receives his treatment, he may no longer have been able to inflict harm on others, but he was also rendered incapable of choice. In addition, he was incapable defending himself against the evils of the world, since he was conditioned to be intolerant of any kind of violence.
So this leads one to wonder, if this type of treatment existed, would it be a fair course of action? Might some justify it as payback for truly sadistic persons who have inflicted so much harm upon others? If given the choice of this "treatment" versus a life incarcerated, or even the death penalty, what would someone in Alex's shoes choose if they were truly informed of the implications of such conditioning? We certainly become aware that Alex comes to regret his choice and loathes the "rehabilitation" he recieved, but he was never truly informed of the specifics of his treatment. Ultimately, he finds his quality of life so intolerable after the treatment that he sees the only possible way to resolve his situation is to off himself.
In 2011 I got my hands on a used copy of this book. Ever since viewing the movie, which, as I mentioned earlier, stuck with me, I was eager to read the literary work that was responsible for inspiring the film. The edition I picked up was the one most recently published in the US, the one that included the original 21st chapter that was published in Britain but excluded from previous copies here in the states. Therefor, Kubrick's film, though filmed in England, sticks to the American version - the version that ended with the 20th chapter - instead of the 21st. (More on the 21st chapter later.)
The first thing that caught me off guard when I first began reading the book, that I had no knowledge or expectation of, was the language. The language! Surely I've read books with some unusual use of language, old english, slang, etc., but the language in this book was a different breed altogether. The language Alex speaks in, while essentially English, is so obscure and filled with such odd words that it hardly resembles English at times. It's called Nadsat, and it is the teen slang of the future. This in itself was intimidating. Just a few pages into the book, I was quite nervous about what I'd gotten myself into.
Sure enough, I got the hang of it eventually. A lot of it can be figured out in context. A few chapters into the book I ended up looking for a glossary type resource online, and found one. This helped a lot with determining the meaning of some of the tougher words. The truth is, though, if you go into the book and treat it like submersion in to a foreign language, you'll understand enough, do just fine, and ultimately figure it out. Of course, if you want to pause and look up every word, too, this will eventually work out fine as well, since by the time you're half way through the book you have an excellent grip on Nadsat. (P.S. Any one want to govoreet in Nadsat with me? I'm real horrorshow at it now.)
It's been a few years now since I've seen the movie. From what I can remember, the movie seems to be quite true to the book. Though I am curious, had Kubrick incorporated the 21st chapter into his film, how that would have been done. I would love to see yet another director take on this work of fiction and put it on the big screen yet again in a fresh new interpretation.
So, that 21st chapter. I said I'd get back to it, didn't I? Well, though I appreciate that Alex eventually comes around and wants to change (a nice fairytale ending), I have a few problems with it. The thing is this: yes, kids can be irresponsible, reckless, explosive, impulsive, and violent. But I don't believe that all kids are this way, and the ones that are all exhibit these traits to varying degrees, and most not to the extent that Alex was. The level of violence exhibited by Alex was in no way a mandatory or common component of youth. Alex was above and beyond the troubled teenager. And, in my opinion, Alex demonstrated psychopathic characteristics. (I'm no phsycologist - this is all just my opinion.) He got his kicks from other people's suffering and demonstrated little to no remorse for his actions. In addition, he was incredibly egocentric and narcissistic. So, for Burgess to suddenly have Alex overcome this youthful lust for destruction, and crave the more productive route of creation, seems a little too "out of the blue," if you know what I mean. Especiallly given his propensity towards violence throughout the entire book. It bothers my that Burgess implies that youth=an inclination towards detruction, and maturity=an inclination towards creation. It just doesn't work that way, to me. Maybe in this strange, distopian, nadsat-speaking world Burgess fashioned, but not in this world. In spite of my criticism, I realize why Burgess wrote the 21st chapter this way, as he said himself, "the twenty-first chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction, an art founded on the principle that human beings change." The problem is, I would have liked the change to have been more authentic and convincing.
Regardless of the 21st chapter, this is a fascinating story of a thuggish protagonist with some serious issues, and the curious path he follows which brings into question the matter of moral choice, free will, and a human's inclination towards good and evil. A classic tale, for certain, with some crazy language mixed in. Now I have to go find the movie again and see what I think of it now. (less)
"He could not take his eyes away from the backs of her knees. As she stretched, her dress of a soft cottony flowered fabric rose up, exposing that sel...more"He could not take his eyes away from the backs of her knees. As she stretched, her dress of a soft cottony flowered fabric rose up, exposing that seldom notice, ooo-so-vulnerable flesh. And for a reason he still did not understand, he began to cry. Love plain, simple, and so fast it shattered him." p22
"Don't paint me as some enthusiastic hero. I had to go but I dreaded it." p84(less)
"What is this place?" He looked amused. "Have you not figured it out already?" I felt my cheeks color. At least there was some blood left in my head,...more "What is this place?" He looked amused. "Have you not figured it out already?" I felt my cheeks color. At least there was some blood left in my head, which meant I had a chance at standing without passing out. "I've been a little busy thinking about other stuff." Getting to his feet, Henry offered me his hand. I didn't take it, but it didn't seem to bother him. "It goes by many names. Elysium, Annwn, Paradise - some even call it the Garden of Eden." He smiled as if he'd told a clever little joke. I didn't get it, and my confusion must have shown, because he continued without me asking. "This is the gate between the living and the dead," he said. "You are still living. The others on the grounds died a very long time ago." A chill ran through me. "And you?" "Me?" The corner of his mouth twitched. "I rule the dead. I am not one of them." page 84
I couldn't have him, but with each evening that passed, I felt myself falling deeper and deeper for him, spiraling downward into a place where the word love was synonymous with pain. Every look, every touch, every brush of his lips, as innocent as they may have been - how could he say he only wanted friendship when he was treating me like his partner? When he wanted me to be his wife? I didn't understand it, and as time passed, I grew more confused. I didn't know what this sort of love felt like, but by the time winter started to come to an end, with the exception of my mother, I felt closer to him than I had to anyone in my life. It hurt to be away from him, but sometimes, when he told me stories of his life before me, his life with Persephone, it was agony to be with him. Still, our friendship was so strong that it felt like the most natural thing in the world. There was no one I'd have rather spent my time with, no matter how much it hurt. pp 217-8
"And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when they are happy together. And they laughed so hard that in the end they were making a...more"And they both began to laugh over nothings as children will when they are happy together. And they laughed so hard that in the end they were making as much noise as if they had been two ordinary healthy natural ten-year-old creatures - instead of a hard, little, unloving girl and a sickly boy who believed that he was going to die." p154
"[Mary] knew nothing about the pitifulness of people who had been ill and nervous and who did not know that they could control their tempers and need not make other people ill and nervous, too. When she had a headache in India she had done her best to see that everybody else also had a headache or something quite as bad. And she felt she was quite right; but of course now she felt that Colin was quite wrong." p 175
"Lot o' fools," said Ben. "Th' word's full o' jackasses brayin' an' they never bray nowt but lies." p 238(less)
"I'm not Persephone. I'm not going to cheat on Henry no matter what season it is, and I don't care how much time passes. That isn't going to change."...more "I'm not Persephone. I'm not going to cheat on Henry no matter what season it is, and I don't care how much time passes. That isn't going to change." "What if things never get better?" said James. "What if Henry never loves you the way you deserve? What happened to Persephone... I don't want to see you repeat her mistakes. You shouldn't have to go through that kind of pain - you or Henry both. He's set in his ways, and he's never going to change. There's no shame in admitting your marriage isn't working - " "Just because we have some problems doesn't mean it isn't working." He sighed. "All I'm saying is that you have a choice, Kate. Understand that, please, and don't go running in the direction of Henry because you think you can fix him." "I'm not," I snarled. "I'm with him because I love him." "Then it shouldn't be too hard for you to make me a promise," said James. He was crazy if he thought I was going to promise him anything though. "Think about the possibility of living your own life instead of the life Henry and the rest of the council want you to live - and I don't mean consider it for half a second. I mean imagine what it'll be like if Henry never loves you like you love him. Imagine how it'll feel coming home to a cold bed and a husband who would rather do anything else than spend time with you. Because like it or not, if you stay, that's a possibility. And in return, I'll stop badgering you."