I listened to this as an audiobook. The narrator was very good except I wish she'd've more sung than read the lyrics. The lyrics often sounded ratherI listened to this as an audiobook. The narrator was very good except I wish she'd've more sung than read the lyrics. The lyrics often sounded rather awkward read.
This is more than a long, well-researched, joint biography of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon; it is a social history of the era in which they grew up and worked and lived. As an audiobook, it’s awfully long, but completely fascinating. When King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon were growing up (they were born within four years of each other), women were either placed in traditional homemaker roles or relegated to a cultural abyss if they dared to pursue artistic professions. The author does an good job surveying the times, explaining what was happening, how it related to other events, it's importance and impact on the women at the core of this book. But the book isn’t dry; she is a marvelous storyteller. Nearly everyone of import in the history of rock appears in this story, and the author dishes on very nearly every one of them. It was amazing to me how many knew each other on the way up, and how often all these people cross paths (& how many of the guys knew all three women, in the biblical sense or otherwise). It’s like the music business was a small town, not individuals spread out across the globe.
But the main focus of the book is the three women. The author exhaustively reviews each song for parallels to the singer/writers life. Their backgrounds could not be more different. King was a middle-class Brooklyn native who grew up listening to classical music and Broadway show tunes, while Mitchell was a dyed-in-the-wool bohemian poet who moved from the Canadian prairies to Greenwich Village and later Laurel Canyon. Born into privilege to a family ensconced in publishing (Simon & Schuster), Simon was a rich girl who went the folk singer route with her older sister Lucy. Each had a breakout album and long up and down careers, influenced a generation (or more), and had complex personal lives. It is all here. Fascinating! ...more
If you read naval history books, or a WWII history buff, this is a must-read book. It's a huge story. The Guadal Canal campaign was a pivotal point inIf you read naval history books, or a WWII history buff, this is a must-read book. It's a huge story. The Guadal Canal campaign was a pivotal point in the U.S. Navy fight against the Japanese in WWII. It lasted six months. It's all here: every battle and every ship. While any history of naval action in the Pacific will address famous names (and this does as well, in fascinating detail, talking about the leadership, their experience, their strategy, their attitudes toward technical innovations, and the morale they inspired - or lack thereof-in their crew), Hornfischer does not overlook the ordinary sailors and airmen in recounting individual moments of heroism and and horror throughout the long campaign. The book is utterly fascinating and totally human. He's used interviews as well as published and unpublished diaries and histories to make those battles as real as possible,and portrays them from both sides of the battle. I've read rather a lot about WWII, but I am learned a lot from this book. I listened to it as an audiobook. ...more
Interesting perspective on the Clinton & Bush White Houses (most of Clinton years & Bush's first term). Plus recipes. Would probably rate hig Interesting perspective on the Clinton & Bush White Houses (most of Clinton years & Bush's first term). Plus recipes. Would probably rate higher if I could eat more of the recipes (gastroparesis => limited diet). Lots of recipes....more
A fast, easy read. I bought an autographed copy for my Dad for Christmas (which is why this review won't go up on Facebook as Dad lurks there on occasA fast, easy read. I bought an autographed copy for my Dad for Christmas (which is why this review won't go up on Facebook as Dad lurks there on occasion), which I expect he will enjoy immensely as he is a long time fan of Jim Lehrer. For me, it was more lightweight than I expected: more anecdote than analysis (until the end section on how to be a good moderator). It was basically an insider's retrospective on about 40 years of the water cooler moments -- the moments people were talking about the next day -- from the four decades of presidential and vice-presidential debates, whether or not Lehrer moderated it. He interviewed most of the Presidents and most of the journalists present for those moments for their take on them as well. There is a fair amount of humor through out the book, and quite a few tributes to his wife. ...more
The Author of The Lost Gospel of Judas, Ehrman is regarded as an expert on early Christianity, in the academic field. The Lost Gospel of Judas is abouThe Author of The Lost Gospel of Judas, Ehrman is regarded as an expert on early Christianity, in the academic field. The Lost Gospel of Judas is about the discovery, authentication, content, and significance of the Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot, a Gnostic gospel. To Ehrman, the Gospel of Judas' importance lies in what it can contribute to our understanding of the early forms of Christianity – or "Christianities", as he refers to them (which were, apparently, very diverse). This book is really about Judas rather than about the Gospel of Judas. If you want a word for word translation of the document, go find a different book. [While this book does not contain a translation of the Gospel, Ehrman does give a clear summary of it in chapter six.]
Ehrman discusses the popular image of Judas Iscariot, discussing popular misconceptions while directing the reader to the scarce evidence actually available to us. Judas Iscariot barely appears in the canonical gospels but the stories about him have grown all out of proportion over the centuries. Ehrman examines each of the New Testament accounts, pointing to their differences as well as to the ways in which the accounts built upon each other from Mark to Matthew and Luke, and to Acts and John, before arriving at the story told in the Gospel of Judas itself. He also includes a brief discussion of Gnosticism (it’s quite odd, especially in light of what has become the Bible familiar to all of us) and the place of Judas' gospel within the framework of Gnostic religion and early Christian thought. He also compares its teaching to that of other Gnostic texts such as the Secret Book of John, the Gospel of the Egyptians, the Acts of John, the (Coptic) Apocalypse of Peter, and the Gospel of Thomas; he compares it to the non-orthodox teachings of Marcion; and shows how it is similar to Jewish Christian apocalyptic thought. The last several chapters of the book, regarding what Judas betrayed and his motive therefor are rather significantly speculative, but it is the speculation of an expert so I suppose that makes it reasoned speculation. I found the last chapters interesting, but wasn't comfortable with them. I finally figured out it's because as an ALJ, I deal with evidence daily, and in my job, speculation, even reasoned speculation, is not evidence and cannot be dispositive.
I have one complaint about how the book is structured. The author is wedded to the academic method: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them”. He uses this method for the overall book and for each chapter, so the book gets somewhat repetitive. And, for me, it bogged down in the description of the discovery and the many years it took to sell it (while the document continued to deteriorate). I had to push myself to continue to listen to the book through those sections, but after that it became quite interesting again. Overall, Ehrman manages to make the subject matter truly fascinating. It is an interesting, eye opening book. ...more
I read quite a bit about WWII. This book is thoroughly researched and extremely well-written, and surprisingly to me, there was a lot in this book thaI read quite a bit about WWII. This book is thoroughly researched and extremely well-written, and surprisingly to me, there was a lot in this book that I had not known before. I listened to it as an audio book and was never bored. This book focuses on the relationship between England and the United States during World II. More specifically, it examines the influence and careers of three Americans: Edward R. Murrow (radio journalist), John Gilbert Winant (U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James), and Averell Harriman (Lend-Lease Adminstrator [& beyond] and later U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union). The individuals are well presented - from the high and powerful to the average Londoner coping with the blitz and rationing. Some of the descriptions of what Londoners endured throughout the war were really heartbreaking. There are also memorable stories of the Americans who served with the RAF, Eisenhower, Montgomery, and many other minor characters from the time that come to life in this book. You end up with good insight into both Churchill and Roosevelt’s approach to the war as well. Coming away from the book after a day or so, I take away an enduring respect for Ambassador Winant (why did we waste him after the war? tragic) & Mr. Murrow, and a feeling of embarrassment about Harriman’s (I understand from history he improved, later) & Roosevelt’s behavior. This is an excellent book!...more
Admission: I lean middle left politically, did not vote for GW Bush, and did not like him during his presidency. After reading this book I found I likAdmission: I lean middle left politically, did not vote for GW Bush, and did not like him during his presidency. After reading this book I found I liked the man (although not all of his decisions) and respected him more (although not all of his decisions), and found that he was more intelligent than had been my previous impression.
This book is a interesting and enlightening reflection by President Bush (43) on his perception of his life, his decisions, and his actions. It is not a great literary work – he writes like he speaks, and that makes the book very accessible. The book covers a critical time period in our history and I learned interesting behind the scenes tidbits I had not known before. Bush explains in detail why he made certain decisions, and surprisingly, owned up to some bad/wrong decisions, and some things that could have been done better. He does not give a blow-by-blow, day-to-day account of his presidency. Some of the topics he covers include his early drinking problems & decision to quit, the 2000 election, 9/11, the decisions to go into Afghanistan and Iraq, the surge in 2007-2008, his crusade to provide aid (health care) to Africa, Hurricane Katrina, and the efforts to avoid another depression in 2008. He does not address all of the decisions in his presidency, nor even all of the major ones. (I would’ve like to have learned what was behind his energy and environment decisions, but they weren’t addressed.)
It was enlightening to read of his decision making processes in each case. They were more intelligent and practical than I expected – although I still believe he started from false premises & assumptions and did not make sufficient inquiry into some, such as the invasion of Iraq and I believe that he did not sufficiently plan for the aftermath of the war in that country (…and I think this book supports my opinions in this area. I really don’t like his use of speculative thinking to support/justify his decision to invade.) I also was not fond of the extent to which he blamed the Gov of LA for problems in responding to Katrina. But I do understand better why he made the decisions he did, and found it refreshing that he admitted mistakes and bad decisions. I admire his decision to press for greater aid to Africa, and the reason behind those decisions. I knew about it at the time but seeing it all together in one chapter heightened the impact and my respect.
Bush’s faith also permeates the book. I like how he spoke of it and acknowledged that it is central in his life, without becoming maudlin or overly effusive about it. I was surprised by the lack of rancor or bitterness towards those of us who derided him.
Whether or not you liked President GW Bush, it is definitely a good read if you like history!...more
“Vanished Smile” is a history of the theft and recovery of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, but it reads more like a good detective novel. I'd not known“Vanished Smile” is a history of the theft and recovery of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, but it reads more like a good detective novel. I'd not known about this before & was really quite surprised to learn that Picasso was a suspect at one time. Nice interweaving of speculation in to the subject & history of the painting and of the theft & recovery itself. ...more
I listened to the audiobook. It was a fascinating, exciting & inspiring book, until the last chapter when it discussed what we (& the world) iI listened to the audiobook. It was a fascinating, exciting & inspiring book, until the last chapter when it discussed what we (& the world) is currently doing & aspiring to in space, then it became interesting, depressing & kinda scary. I understand from reading reviews elsewhere that the author got a lot of the scientific & technical explanations wrong, but I didn't understand that part anyway (& wouldn't have understood it if it were correct either). I liked how the author put the U.S. space program in context with the geopolitical factors operating during the 1960's. I also liked the author's extensive interviews with the astronaunts of the American and Russian space programs & their families, engineers, mission control types, PR people,etc, giving a complete picture of the space race and the personalities that contributed to the drive. ...more
Disturbing and heart-wrenching, yet so very important.
Father Patrick Desbois tells the story of his self-given mission to find & examine all of thDisturbing and heart-wrenching, yet so very important.
Father Patrick Desbois tells the story of his self-given mission to find & examine all of the mass gravesites of Jews exterminated by Nazi Mobile Units in the Ukraine during WWII and in so doing gives a new picture of the complex manipulation of the local population by the Nazis, who forcibly requisitioned Ukrainian citizens of all ages to assist in the killings. In village after village, more than 60 years after the horrific events, the inhabitants, many of whom had been peasant children at the time, came forward to bear witness to the mass killings. Using a team consisting of a researcher, photographer, interpreter, and ballistics expert, Desbois went village to village, and sometimes door to door, talking to people no one had ever talked to before about what they had seen during the war. Much of Holocaust history is written from the perspective of the victims (or families of victims) or of the aggressors/exterminators. This is the first I've seen that tells the stories from the perspective of witnesses. From the many interviews in the book, it is clear that the personal trauma of forced involvement in the mass executions has never diminished. The stories are wrenching. Many of them end with the comment that "the ground moved for three days" and many were buried alive.
Father Desbois met with Jewish leaders to set up a religious and judicial cooperative in the course of his search to learn what rites to perform in the light of Jewish Tradition when he came acrtoss graves that had been disturbed so that he would respect Jewish law and the dignity of the dead
It was a amazing undertaking on the part of the author, a "simple" French priest with no relevant academic background, but with a strong conscience and boundless compassion. Father Desbois cobines archival sources with ballistic evidence with the voices of the Ukrainian eye witnesses to provide a complete account of atrocities. His contribution to history and human conscience is immense.
I read this book about ten years ago and I still remember how much I enjoyed it. It is a captivating oral history by two sisters who lived to be overI read this book about ten years ago and I still remember how much I enjoyed it. It is a captivating oral history by two sisters who lived to be over 100 years old. Their father was born a slave, and their mother's parents - a mulatto woman and a white man - couldn't marry because state law forbade it. That freed slave eventually became an Episcopal bishop, and all ten of his children became college-educated professionals. Bessie became the second black woman to practice dentistry in New York. Sadie became the first black home economics teacher in a New York high school. They saw tremendous change and evolution in the world, over the course of their lives. They were born in South Carolina during the mid 1890s, experiencing racism firsthand (as two educated African-American women), met many individuals who were instrumental in adding art, culture and brilliance to the Harlem Renaissance, and lived through the civil rights era to the early 1990's. It is a fascinating look at history through the eyes of those who lived it. Loved it.