Whoa this book is good! If you need to know how to write a biography, this should be your template. It's not just about Henry Ward Beecher and his imm...moreWhoa this book is good! If you need to know how to write a biography, this should be your template. It's not just about Henry Ward Beecher and his immediate surroundings, but rather a wonderfully researched and informative historical timepiece on America during the 19th century (mostly pre-civil war). I don't think I have ever learned more from a book and immediately after returning it to the library I went out and bought a copy.
I really could not recommend this more; it feels more akin to a wonderful & engaging history class, than to book about a clergyman in the 1800s.
I'm assuming this project was exhausting for the author, but I hope she writes more... about anything!(less)
An extremely well written and researched book that really hits the ground running. Parsi assumes that the reader has some historical knowledge of the...moreAn extremely well written and researched book that really hits the ground running. Parsi assumes that the reader has some historical knowledge of the issues and relationships he discusses. If you don't have it, you'll be fine, but having some type of background painted prior to this would be beneficial and will probably allow you to enjoy his research more.
The book does not take a stance on who is right or wrong, rather it is just a cataloging of events on the relationship between Iran and the United States; specifically focusing on those that have taken place since Obama took office. The only time the author takes a stance is at the very end where he hopes for more diplomacy.
That being said, after a few chapters I did feel a tinge of bias towards Iran and opted to read about the author in the jacket cover. Upon seeing his background, I realized that my observation was probably accurate. His bias is not bad, nor obvious, nor did I feel it impacted the book in a negative manner. Another assumption that I had, based on the writing style, was that the author was male. Just as gender is irrelevant, I don't believe the bias I detected mattered to the research, or even much to the presentation of it.
It was mostly out of omission of historical information about Iran that would be extremely relevant to the relationships today. Multilaterally, he does not provide much historical information, but by not doing this with Iran it ends up framing them at times like a kid on the playground getting bullied by the much bigger (and wealthier) kids.
If nothing else, this book is a great illustration of the amount of complex and continuously moving parts in international relationships and how they become politically intertwined domestically and abroad. The author does a great job of keeping what could be a very dry issue, a page turner of a book. I would recommend it for just about anyone wanting to learn more about politics, international relations, or more specifically, present-day relations with Iran.
As a side note, I noticed a few 1 star reviews on Amazon, but after reading them I noticed that they were mostly from people who never read the book; they either do not like the author or the country of Iran.(less)
Sort of interesting, but not really my kind of book since it was more anecdotal than anything else. That being said, he did a good job of not grossly...moreSort of interesting, but not really my kind of book since it was more anecdotal than anything else. That being said, he did a good job of not grossly simplifying a complex problem. Lewis just makes a few innocent and somewhat humorous observations on the roller coaster ride that the western world got itself on. Sometimes authors/producers will take an extremely technical and multi-layered issue and break it down to a simple 1+1=2 type of equation, so that the average American can feel like they "get it." This drives me nuts and it's insulting, but I didn't feel that from this book and there were definitely a few parts I enjoyed. Specifically near the end when he addresses the fundamental problem is that people want services that they don't want to pay for; he then blends that into a nice (and brave) bash of public job compensation and pensions.
Overall though, I found this book a bit slow and boring for my tastes. It might be because nothing presented was new or page turning for me. Quite frankly, if it is for you, you should probably be reading more-no offense. There is nothing discovered in this novel or ground breaking or anything of that nature that hasn't been covered in depth already on a consistent basis in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, or even Time for that matter.
At times he also reminded me of that guy at a bar who will say a joke and no one laughs, but rather than abandoning it he just keeps saying it again in different forms. It is painfully obvious to the reader that Lewis is just a writer and not a comedian during the Germany section.(less)
This should be more appropriately titled "Why you Should Hate Vladimir Putin."
It is not really a biography on Putin, but rather feels more like a few...moreThis should be more appropriately titled "Why you Should Hate Vladimir Putin."
It is not really a biography on Putin, but rather feels more like a few long essays about random parts of Putin's life that have been laid out in chronological order with a bunch of horror stories sprinkled in. Often times large chunks of chapters aren't even about his life, but rather give background information on random people and their causes, which are then followed by how they were most certainly poisoned/shot/bombed by people acting on behalf of Putin's orders/interests. The stories are interesting (don't expect happy endings), but do little to tell the reader about how this man came into power. Instead the stories illustrate how he manages his power: like a mob boss.
So although this book is good, in a way I feel duped by it. It's not just the title, I saw the author on an interview where she gave the impression that this was about Putin and how he came to rule Russia. I was expecting a lot more information on ... well, him; but there is no meat to it, no real storyline of how of his life progressed. Once you're finished with the book his rise still feels mysterious. Instead the book is more about how corrupt Russia is under Putin's hand and how he is not an innocent bystander to it all, but rather the captain of it all. I don't doubt that he is, but it was just surprising to feel like you're going to read about one thing, and then the book ends up being about another.
As for the stories, since the whole truth is rarely known, the author is forced to extrapolate assumptions about what probably happened with various scenarios and the events preceding it several times throughout the book. Even though many details may be wrong, I'm sure she has the gist of this man and his character pretty accurate.
The only thing that really had me questioning the author was that she never provided a real reason for how he actually became president. She hints that certain people in power thought he would be one type of person so they seemed to arbitrarily chose him (huh?); then when he came into power he turned out to be someone else. That reason just doesn't make any sense to me. If they were just looking for a puppet they could have surely found someone more qualified, better educated, and who would have actually ended up functioning like a puppet. Feeling that this explanation was composed of more fiction than fact makes me question the validity of the many other assumptions throughout the book.
It's still a good book though that's easy to breeze through. I would recommend it to someone who wants to learn more about how Putin rules his country or to someone who is looking for a reason to cancel their trip to St. Petersburg.(less)
Dry at times, but still a nice account of how intelligence, power, and law are intertwined in politics, public perception, and war, and how all of the...moreDry at times, but still a nice account of how intelligence, power, and law are intertwined in politics, public perception, and war, and how all of these have evolved-sometimes backwards-over time in America. The book specifically focuses on the era from 2001-2011, but occasionally does provide historical references and context that I personally appreciated.
I did not detect a bias of the information presented and thought that it was a very fair and objective view of just how the accountability of law in war works, and just as important, how it has gotten there. The author points out hypocrisies and tricks of both politicians and journalists. Illustrates how the courts will change their stance on what is an acceptable code of conduct for its servants, just as quickly as the public will change their view on the appropriate amount of power their government should wield. At the end he surmises that all of these divisions in government are presently working in harmonious frustration. I concur.
So although I liked the book, I would really only recommend this to someone who is going to be specifically interested in this niche topic. His writing style is not bad, but I needed to take breaks after each chapter to make sure I stayed focused. The book as a whole did not read like a textbook, but at times it certainly leaned in that direction. I would say if you're on the fence about this one read Part 1 (not dry and informative), and then continue on if you find his information and style engaging. (less)
Almost half of the book is Thomas Paine's Common Sense (which is free), so really it's a 100 page novella disguised as a regular book with a regular p...moreAlmost half of the book is Thomas Paine's Common Sense (which is free), so really it's a 100 page novella disguised as a regular book with a regular price: lame.
I didn't know anything about Glenn Beck, and after reading this, I still don't know much about his positions or ideas. The book is mostly just standard filler about government: politicians are crooks, politicians don't care about you, government is wasteful, blah blah. I was surprised by how unoriginal his rhetoric was.
On the rare occasion that he does make a point, he only skims the surface of the topic and provides very little (if any) empirical data to support his position. I can handle anecdotal arguments though, even if I did feel that a fair amount of time he was off-base, but certainly not always (e.g. gerrymandering).
Also, his writing style was a little odd since he would sometimes craft an ideology and then juxtapose contradicting statements within that same page or paragraph. He never stayed on a specific topic for long and always seemed pressed to go back to more vapid ranting about the government (not sure why, is this what brings in viewers?). This style made it difficult to understand exactly where he stood since depending on the context of an argument, his views seemed to shift-this made his positions feel akin to the task of nailing down Jello.
Overall, the book suffers from an extreme lack of depth and research. Near the end he starts to lean more towards a conspiracy of what progressives are secretly doing, but the writing comes off more as noise (and kooky), than as something with substance. After finishing it I felt this book was more of a marketing tool to get people interested in him and his shows, rather than a book making a profound political statement or position.(less)
The book starts off strong, but after 60 or so pages the author has made his point and provided the strongest evidence for his position. What follows...moreThe book starts off strong, but after 60 or so pages the author has made his point and provided the strongest evidence for his position. What follows for the rest of a book is a scrambled mess of sorts, filled with opinions about America's culture and how it can be fixed; some of the content is mildly interesting, most is dull.
Ironically, his book turned into exactly what he despises from regular news outlets: an attention grabbing headline, a few random statistics, followed by lots of filler and opinions from the equivalent of a talking head.(less)
History seems to be a difficult genre to write in, but the authors would have greatly benefited from taking a few more writing classes on how to artic...moreHistory seems to be a difficult genre to write in, but the authors would have greatly benefited from taking a few more writing classes on how to articulate a set of ideas before sending this to print. They try to do far too much in their writing, in far too little of a space, which makes most chapters feel like a series of random flashes in the subject's life. (The latter 1/3 chapters have a different feel, a better flow-I'm assuming the other author wrote those.) The writing isn't dry, which is normally the problem with history books, it's just poor: their ideas are not formulated in a constructive polished manner.
As for the word conservative, it isn't at all what people think of today. These conservatives opposed everything from the building of roads & basic infrastructure, the Civil War & World War II, public education & libraries, and the list goes on to include monetary policy, pensions for veterans, tariffs, seemingly all regulation, etc. etc. Unfortunately, because the word conservative (in this book) is so monolithic, every person presented has hypocrisies with this creed, and when the authors occasionally acknowledge it, opt to frame it with words like "ironically," or a short phrase to provide justification for the contradiction, such as, "to appear patriotic." The real problem is that if you are going to fit this definition of conservatism (although Jeffersonism is often referenced, the definition presented in this book seems much more intense), then you must be against governing; and if you are against governing, then it's quite difficult to have a government. Since most of them are politicians, none of them can meet this strict mold.
Someone could criticize the book for framing some information out of context (e.g. germ theory wasn't even an idea yet, so how could you understand the importance of clean water and proper sanitation that would come from a communal infrastructure), but given that they only allocated a few pages per conservative, I don't see how anyone could produce something very thorough.
The authors do bash other historians quite a bit (specifically Yale ones)-which implies their superiority-but that's something that doesn't bother me, but I've noticed other reviewers (on other historical or biographical books) take issue with that. They also reach to make too many connections for how their research relates directly to events today; this ends up changing the theme of the book to an editorial viewpoint on today's political environment, rather than a historical book highlighting forgotten conservatives.
Overall I feel this book was a missed opportunity. I was really excited when I first read the synopsis and went to three different libraries before I found a copy; I opened the book with a big smile, but as I turned the pages, my smile flipped. Still, it does provide some interesting view points and opinions, and I really appreciated the profiles of the lesser known individuals, but in the end I did not enjoy this book (even though part of me wants to rate it higher).
I would recommend trying to find a sample chapter online first (if they offer that) before purchasing it.(less)
This book is so freaking good, I can't believe I barely remember it from high school-shocking that my mind was not as appreciative of fine literature...moreThis book is so freaking good, I can't believe I barely remember it from high school-shocking that my mind was not as appreciative of fine literature then.
Favourite line (of course): All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Following closely: It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.
I'm using that line next time I order, and eat all of, the dessert.
This book is not long, and definitely worth the re-read if the last time you opened it was when you had a locker combination.(less)
A supreme court justice wrote this? There's no way. There is no voice, and very little, if any, flow in the writing.
I think this book is a collage of...moreA supreme court justice wrote this? There's no way. There is no voice, and very little, if any, flow in the writing.
I think this book is a collage of several middle school students book reports about the Supreme Court and a few of the justices; and for that, they certainly deserve an A for this picture filled, lightly researched, generously lined spaced book that offers a font size that requires no reading glasses-how thoughtful they were.
As an introduction to the supreme court, are there better pieces of writing out there? Absolutely, but come on, they're in 8th grade, so what if it only makes light touches on a few aspects of the supreme court and sprinkles in the most commonly known history about it. So bravo 8th graders, keep up the good work, but beware, because this bullet point style of writing just won't fly in high school.(less)
Some interesting history and a few parts definitely stick out as great, but overall it's written in too much of a numbingly dry fashion to be enjoyabl...moreSome interesting history and a few parts definitely stick out as great, but overall it's written in too much of a numbingly dry fashion to be enjoyable on any level. This is (sadly) the kind of book that people are forced to read in school, which then turns them away from reading in general after school is finished.
Would be best to use as a source for a paper, but certainly not great for a cover-to-cover read.
Still, the history of marriage in America is humorous and sad, and this book will help you formulate an educated opinion on what the institution means to you today.(less)
Although there is bias, and the research is on the shallow and (somewhat) poor side, Ms. Badgett still does a pretty good job, albeit in an extremely...moreAlthough there is bias, and the research is on the shallow and (somewhat) poor side, Ms. Badgett still does a pretty good job, albeit in an extremely dry textbook-like fashion, of summarizing what couple and cohabitation arrangements are possible throughout the world, and what effects they have on the culture of a country and its legal framework.
So if you don't have time to read this book, I'll just answer the question for you that is posed on cover: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage?
Turns out, pollution rises, the hole in the ozone layer expands, priests start molesting children, multiple wars happen, church-goers start drinking fake blood, cancer, autism, and obesity rates all skyrocket, .... wait a second, that's just the list of crap already happening.
Ah yes, the list for the legalization of same-sex marriage is far less climactic. Turns out pretty much nothing changes; well, except that the discrimination and disenfranchisement of a class of people is lowered.
BORRRRINNGGG, and here I was expecting for at least a city or two to combust, or for the sanctity of marriage (whatever that is) to be burned in a sacrificial ceremony or something. No plague, no civil war, no rioting, no children lost, no civilization ends, nothing. The answer, much like the prose of this book, is dull from beginning to end :/.(less)
If you know some history about Mr. Beecher you'll probably be able to enjoy some of the sections and proverbs more than if you don't know anything abo...moreIf you know some history about Mr. Beecher you'll probably be able to enjoy some of the sections and proverbs more than if you don't know anything about him, but it's certainly not required.
Having read a biography about him, I would smirk anytime I noticed his big ego weighing down the page, or when he would take the occasional dig at Calvinism (which is probably more about rebelling against his father than anything else).
Some proverbs are little quips, but mostly they're quote worthy lines that will get you thinking.
The sections that seemed to be most distant from his own experience-where it was mostly his ego, the all-knowing Beecher-were the sections that I found least interesting. The parts that are more related to his own life experience, for instance with Religion, that's where this book's honesty and insight shines, and is where I subsequently noticed myself highlighting a lot more.
I also stumbled upon the line from Good Will Hunting (first proverb in the Liberty section), which oddly is a tiny bit different than what was used in the movie. It might just be the version of the book I was using though, as I snagged this one from Google's eBook public domain project: Google scans in the physical pages of books and their software converts them to text, so of course there are a few errors; nothing major though, it seems that only a few proverbs were slightly damaged.(less)