The problem with this book is that it has nothing on Nicholas Shakespeare's Bruce Chatwin: A Biography. Clapp uses the memoir format to create a disjo...moreThe problem with this book is that it has nothing on Nicholas Shakespeare's Bruce Chatwin: A Biography. Clapp uses the memoir format to create a disjointed thematic picture of Chatwin rather than a chronological one. Many of the stories are the same as in Shakespeare's book.
This is a good book if you know little of Chatwin and want a short read, but it only gives a shade of his self, rather than a complete picture. At times it feels as though Clapp is ripping off Chatwin's prose to describe him. The usual anecdotes stand in for actual investigation. The stories of Chatwin are one-sided, always ending with the punchline.
The unfortunate end effect is that this "memoir" characterizes Chatwin rather than explain his writing process, his thoughts, his normal interactions. You'd expect this from an editor. It's as if she succumbs to the mythology surrounding Chatwin, even though she would have been one of the chief insiders.
It's a bit of a shame. It is well written and sometimes the thematics work. Perhaps its unfair to compare it to the comprehensive biography. But as a Chatwin fan, I was left wanting, and only wanted to finish it and move on to wider horizons. (less)
As a field organizer on the ground for Obama, I was excited to pick up a book about the stories I missed (sometimes you're just more concerned with ev...moreAs a field organizer on the ground for Obama, I was excited to pick up a book about the stories I missed (sometimes you're just more concerned with everything right in front of you). I did not learn anything new from Wolffe's book, except a few anecdotes that I enjoyed. The "Barack X" chapter was particularly well handled and really contextualized Obama's thought and practice concerning race and African-American identity in the US. This book was a bit simplistic, a little too glowing, some of the language is chunky, and is a bit long-winded. The pace of each chapter is a bit tiresome: starts a moment, falls back into the past, discusses the issues, then brings you up to date. However, it was a good quick read and I enjoyed it as a way to look back at the campaign with a little distance. A kind of "best of" reel. (less)
Way to write about Einstein, Einstein! Before reading Isaacson's "Einstein" I had no idea of the full scope of Einstein's discoveries. Using only thou...moreWay to write about Einstein, Einstein! Before reading Isaacson's "Einstein" I had no idea of the full scope of Einstein's discoveries. Using only thought experiments, Einstein tore down 250 years of Newtonian logic. I also learned that he was a fanatical pacifist, though helped in the first stages of urging the US to seek the Atom bomb. He was offered the presidency of Israel and spent the last two decades of his life in Princeton (112 Mercer St). Interestingly, Einstein helped ignite the study of Quantum Physics and yet tried to pull it apart for the rest of his life. Einstein's quest for a unified field theory was seen as tragic and impossible, but Einstein, never one to conform, pursued his wanted theory to his death bed.
A great book for anyone who wants to learn about how revolutionary Einstein was and receive a wonderful education on the events, politics, and science of his lifetime. (less)
What is so amazing about this book is that it is almost exclusively narratives of the Ethiopians alive during Haile Sallasie's reign. The reporter har...moreWhat is so amazing about this book is that it is almost exclusively narratives of the Ethiopians alive during Haile Sallasie's reign. The reporter hardly inserts himself and his views, which is impressive, considering he was from Communist Poland. He never tries to skew the narrative of his book, that is, of a complex African Emperor manipulating the people around him to help themselves--the denial on part of all involved in the Ethiopian regime is staggering.
Each Ethiopian, denoted by initials only, shares moments of what they observed in a corrupt and strangely anachronistic regime. A good read for anyone interesting in journalism and African history. Word has t that the author learned his prose from Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (less)
Amazing collection of profiles including Benjamin Netanyahu, Mike Tyson, Tony Blair, and more. The book has five sections: one on Washington politics...moreAmazing collection of profiles including Benjamin Netanyahu, Mike Tyson, Tony Blair, and more. The book has five sections: one on Washington politics (included a horrifying article on Katrina), one on authors (Philip Roth included), one with Russian politics, language(learn why Vladimir Putin tries to be boring), Israeli section, including Palestinian and Israeli profiles, and the last on sports figures. (less)