What an amazing book! It covers many genres, historical fiction, memoir, graphic novel and biography. The structure of the book is unusual, but it allWhat an amazing book! It covers many genres, historical fiction, memoir, graphic novel and biography. The structure of the book is unusual, but it allowed me to get more involved with the characters. This was not strictly a novel about the holocaust. It is also a story of human nature. Each character, even the most victimized, have large faults. It's an extremely honest, haunting book.
I woke up two or three nights thinking about the tragedies I'd read about. The characters are drawn as animals, but the graphic novel medium makes it easier to imagine the concentration camps and pre-war Poland. I would recommend this to everyone who is willing to take an emotional journey. ...more
Geoffrey O'Brien wrote a wonderful, intriguing start to his book. It was also well-researched from the first page to the last. It chronicles first a tGeoffrey O'Brien wrote a wonderful, intriguing start to his book. It was also well-researched from the first page to the last. It chronicles first a tragedy and then a family amid tragedies. The book starts with a sensational crime, described in great detail. It parallels the sensational journalism that is portrayed as shocking later in the book.
Although the narration did often seem biased towards the Walworth family and indifferent at other times, what I appreciated about it was how thoughtfully the author examined into his characters, especially the female ones. At times the attention to detail was almost too much, almost as if Chancellor Walworth had written parts himself. O'Brien did a beautiful job drawing a parallel between Chancellor Walworth and Ellen Hardin, even if they were not related by blood.
Some of the tragedies in the book seemed more intriguing and shocking than the initial crime, but they were not looked into in much detail, such as the Hardin brothers fighting on either side of the American Civil War. The overall presence of war through the generations, deciding the fate of the country, seemed to make the characters of Mansfield and Frank more frail and inconsequential. I thoroughly enjoyed parts of the book, but I found that it lagged occasionally. I would recommend this to people who love sensational historical stories, but it did not quite achieve the success of Erik Larson's Devil in the White City or Deborah Blum's The Poisoner's Handbook....more
Perhaps because I used to live in the French West Indies and rum became a part of my life, I thoroughly enjoyed this detailed look at rum's past. AlthPerhaps because I used to live in the French West Indies and rum became a part of my life, I thoroughly enjoyed this detailed look at rum's past. Although it focused more closely on British and American experiences with the drink, especially in the military, it gave light to a number of literary references I hadn't been aware of in years past. Coulombe does not exclude the many islands around the world that planted sugar cane and started distilling rum, and now I have a desire to try them all.
The book is filled with recipes that include rum. It even includes the Tom and Jerry, which I spent this last Christmas discussing with my neighbors. It is a Montana favorite. The batter is made in bars and sold in the Safeway supermarkets. Although Montana wasn't mentioned as one of the last vestiges of the Tom and Jerry, the book was thorough, insightful and fun to read. Perhaps I would only recommend it to people who love the drink as whole-heartedly as I do. ...more
I bought this book after hearing Lael Morgan speak at the Montana Festival of the Book. Her anecdotes made everyone laugh, and once I got into the booI bought this book after hearing Lael Morgan speak at the Montana Festival of the Book. Her anecdotes made everyone laugh, and once I got into the book store section of the Festival, these books were all sold out.
I would recommend this book to people, especially women, who are interested in Montana history and are prepared to be pleasantly surprised and at times disgusted with the nature of the "wild west." Morgan created an interesting structure for her book, focusing on the rise of Butte but ending with women getting the right to vote. She said in her own talk that at that point women had more options to think and do for themselves, and she didn't feel as though she could write after women's suffrage was successful.
The book goes into extreme detail and has a large cast of characters, namely prostitutes, so if you do not enjoy the historic, almost textbook, look into the growth of the women's trade in early Montana, I imagine it could be found lagging at times. I was caught off guard by the chapter entitled "The Celestials," and I think all Montanans should be aware of this part of their history.
Morgan does a good job of writing in the "spirit of the times," being careful not to pass judgement on anyone who had uprooted and was making their way in the Montana territory. Although Montana has moved forward, these are stories that should not be forgotten, because many of them are undertones of how present-day Montanans think and act politically and socially. ...more
Larson's new book is full of dramatic ups and downs. Because it is not the telling of a token murderer, it perhaps takes longer to pick up pace and seLarson's new book is full of dramatic ups and downs. Because it is not the telling of a token murderer, it perhaps takes longer to pick up pace and set the scene. After about 100 pages of detailed setup, Larson sets a beautiful and disturbing picture of pre-WWII Nazi Germany. His painstaking research shows up here even more than his other books, as he describes people's lives in minute detail and chronicles correspondence.
He also focuses on developing symbolism of the Tiergarten, the Garden of Beasts, the Nazi party and the appeasers. In the Garden of Beasts is at times terrifying, drawing parallels to other wars. I would recommend this to anyone who is a lover of literary non-fiction and has patience to allow Larson to take his time characterizing the Dodds, dozens of correspondents and Nazi officials. ...more
The stories contained in "Vigilantes of Montana" sound as if they were written in Hollywood. The author published it in serial fashion in the MontanaThe stories contained in "Vigilantes of Montana" sound as if they were written in Hollywood. The author published it in serial fashion in the Montana Post while the Vigilantes were still alive, and you can see that in his writing. The writer is biased and perhaps a little scared of the men who hung so many people, but it is a good account of the Vigilantes from their side and the ways he tries to set aside the moral ambiguity of vigilante justice. While journaling the events, he also provides a good look at western life, mob mentality, racism, and political leanings of early Montana settlers. This book accurately defines 'wild west."...more
This book is about the murder which inspired the midsummer murder genre. It was well-researched and deftly intertwined the rise of detectives, VictoriThis book is about the murder which inspired the midsummer murder genre. It was well-researched and deftly intertwined the rise of detectives, Victorian society and the origin of so many common words such as "clue" or "sleuth." Anyone who's ever enjoyed a good murder mystery would love it. Also, it didn't hurt that it took place in England and I'm there now so the comparisons are a bit more intriguing....more
Imagine how surprised I was to open up this book and read in the first paragraph that the author had left his family's home in Montana! Although I amImagine how surprised I was to open up this book and read in the first paragraph that the author had left his family's home in Montana! Although I am from Montana and am obsessed with traveling, I am still amazed that a state currently with less than a million people has so many connections to literature and history.
Unfortunately as Lost Cities and Ancient Mysteries of South America was written in the mid-80s, much of it's travelogue style is out-dated and a hostel in Peru no-longer costs $2 per night. However, the author has done his research and explains himself as no-expert, quoting well-established history papers, expeditions and fanciful sci-fi writers (admittedly skeptical of the latter).
There are many typos which hint at poor editing and fast publishing, and the book encourages me to see what has changed in South American Anthropology and Archaeology since the mid-80s.
What struck me in the end was how much of South America has yet to be explored and how no theories are even offered for many remote ruins as there are almost no written records. Also, surprising are the number of people who set out to look for ancient cities never to be heard from again....even in the 1950's and 60's. Then, modern archaeologists looking at modern space images and saying, "Oh you really should have waited, it's right there on my satellite picture."...more
It is hard to rate this on the same scale as fiction. As far as history books go, it is extremely accurate (in 2009) and describes in detail each aspeIt is hard to rate this on the same scale as fiction. As far as history books go, it is extremely accurate (in 2009) and describes in detail each aspect of Incan society. It could easily be used as a textbook and when I went to Peru, the local guides repeated exactly the same information about the Incan culture that McEwan has gathered.
He focuses very little on Machu Picchu and the other lost civilizations that are usually written about (with excessive sensationalism). But he does examine some fascinating discoveries, such as that archeologists and anthropologists believe the Incans had no written language and the empire only lasted between 80 and 100 years.
An extremely helpful book for anyone going to Peru or more specifically to Cuzco and the ruins of the Incan dynasty....more
What an odd pick for a Christmas read, yet this will be one of my favorite non-fiction stories for quite some time. The Monster of Florence is an intrWhat an odd pick for a Christmas read, yet this will be one of my favorite non-fiction stories for quite some time. The Monster of Florence is an intriguing case of a serial killer and one that isn't overly gruesome. Preston adds a perfect amount of information about Florence, past and present, which makes it seem like a character that influenced the entire case, leading it to where it is today. It is told in a straight-forward manner and this adds a feeling of credibility, but also has some cute passages about his kids and his introduction into Italy. I would definitley recommend it as long as you aren't too squeamish. ...more
Extremely interesting book. Many anecdotes about English around the world. Some things are a bit doubtful, but it makes you look at where everyday graExtremely interesting book. Many anecdotes about English around the world. Some things are a bit doubtful, but it makes you look at where everyday grammar came from and the number of words and names that have changed over time. ...more