I received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Paul Trynka's analysis of David Bowie's life and career reads much the same as his s...moreI received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Paul Trynka's analysis of David Bowie's life and career reads much the same as his subject. It's a little murky to begin with, bursts into brilliance as Bowie's star rises, bloats as Bowie begins capitalizing on his success, and then fades with disinterest as Bowie wanders off into his own semi-retirement.
It's not fair of me to write that. It's actually a very good book, well researched and complete with a full analytical discography worthy in its own right. But Trynka is primarily inerested in how Bowie's life shaped his music and vice-versa. Bowie's other pursuits, like painting, are largely left unexplored.
Still, if you're a fan of, or even just curious about, David Bowie, it's well worth reading.(less)
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Jonathan Miles sets himself a difficult task in chronicling the life of master Soviet spy, Otto Ka...moreI won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Jonathan Miles sets himself a difficult task in chronicling the life of master Soviet spy, Otto Katz. As with any spy, one of his goals is to obscure those relevant facts. Combine that with a career that verges on the success of the fictional Sidney Reilly's accomplishments and you have a real challenge.
Unwisely, in my opinion, Miles starts at the end of Katz's career as he faces the fate of many of Stalin's servants. At first I thought it was an attempt to develop sympathy for the character, but I've come to realize it's more a continuation of the dust jacket. Katz's life, assuming Miles is correct (and I have no reason to disbelieve), is so absurd as to have Miles attempt to further sell the reader on reading the story. This preface is not needed and it, along with the murky early years of Katz's life, delay the reader from getting to the enjoyable substance of the book, which really begins after the Reichstag fire.
From there, it's headlong into the rise of Nazi Germany as Katz attempts to rally anti-facist spirit in Europe and the U.S. while his master secretly negotiates with the Third Reich. Involved in the development of such notorious events as the Cambridge Spy Ring and potentially the assassination of Leon Trotsky, while inspiring such characters as Victor Lazlo in Casablanca, Katz went all over the world in multiple identities, all in service to the Soviet Union, only to find himself yet another one of Papa Stalin's victims.
If you can make your way through the weaker early chapters, then you'll find this an interesting insight into the influence one man with many faces had on the 20th Century.
Frankly the best word to describe this volume is adequate. It does not set out to be much, focusing primarily on the years that Jackson is in the Whit...moreFrankly the best word to describe this volume is adequate. It does not set out to be much, focusing primarily on the years that Jackson is in the White House, and only on events the author finds significant. In aiming for that modest goal, it does an adequate job.
But it fails in that it's not more than it aspires to be. There's so much elided, so much omitted, for the sake for story, it's hard not to wonder what Jon Meacham, editor at [i:]Newsweek[/i:], does to current events for the sake of story.
I will admit it's the first Jackson biography I have read. Had I read others I may have found additional significance to this work, but instead I merely find it... well... adequate.(less)
Richard Brody believes in Jean-Luc Godard, if not necessarily in Godard's beliefs. That belief in Godard's aesthetic quality and talent is strong, but...moreRichard Brody believes in Jean-Luc Godard, if not necessarily in Godard's beliefs. That belief in Godard's aesthetic quality and talent is strong, but it undermines an otherwise insightful, well researched, and well constructed book.
"Everything is cinema," is Godard's expression that everything, or at least everything important, must be seen to be understood. It must be captured and held onto. Memory lasts only as long as those who remember. Words do not do justice or give us the greater understanding that images do. For instance, his obsession over the holocaust, and (in his expression) its absence of documentary visual evidence, is a failure of film and society itself. Godard does not doubt that the event happened, but he believes that if film had captured and shown what was developing, it would not have.
Brody turns the expression around, "Cinema is everything," focusing wholeheartedly on Godard's filmography. While the subtitle is appropriate, "The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard," it seems that Brody fails to understand Godard's underlying meaning. Cinema, in the eyes of Godard, has failed. Does Brody not understand that it could have failed documenting the master himself?
In total, Brody does an excellent job exploring Godard's works, but one wonders if it is his entire "working life" (less)
I received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway
Jamal Joseph's life has been a struggle, from beginning in broken home to joining the...moreI received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway
Jamal Joseph's life has been a struggle, from beginning in broken home to joining the Black Panthers at an astoundingly young age, to multiple stints in prison, to becoming a leader in the New York arts community. His memoir at an efficient, but effective, 287 pages begins a bit slowly but rises throughout to a rousing conclusion.
Through this autobiography, readers unfamiliarwith or misinformed about the history of the Black Panthers will gain a broader perspective of the movement's motivations and goals. Furthermore the reader is exposed to the story of a young boy who grew up in truly remarkable circumstances.
Well worth reading for students of the civil rights movement or of progressive causes and youth advocacy in general.(less)
Brian Donovan's (mostly) excellent biography of Wendell Scott suffers from two understandable issues: a lack of original documentary information (NASC...moreBrian Donovan's (mostly) excellent biography of Wendell Scott suffers from two understandable issues: a lack of original documentary information (NASCAR was not really covered during Scott's era), and covering a sport that many do not find interesting. I, unfortunately, am among that category.
Nonetheless, Donovan did the leg work both through interviews and through what documents could be found to bring (the much overlooked) Wendell Scott's story to life.
If you're a NASCAR fan, or a passionate follower of the civil rights struggle, then I highly recommend it. Otherwise, you will find the middle of the book drags. It certainly won't bring many new racing fans.(less)
A solid, insightful book that humanizes the subject while opening up his decisions to serious questioning. In light of recent events, it is interestin...moreA solid, insightful book that humanizes the subject while opening up his decisions to serious questioning. In light of recent events, it is interesting to see both the decisions Lincoln made, and the reactions by his opposition.
The book is not for those unfamiliar with the relevant history. As the author himself notes, it is narrowly focused upon Lincoln and Lincoln alone. If you do not understand the ebb and flow of the Civil War, or know the history of some of the other people in this book, you will find yourself lost.
But, if you're looking to find out about Lincoln the man, I hightly recommend it.(less)