(3.0) Expected a little more meat, less repetition
I dunno, it felt not that 'inside' the secret world of the Communist Party and its rulers. He did ge(3.0) Expected a little more meat, less repetition
I dunno, it felt not that 'inside' the secret world of the Communist Party and its rulers. He did get some frank information and quotes from some (former) leaders within the Party, but this book felt far less revelatory than I had hoped. I did learn from it, but I could've done the same through other channels.
Quick summary (by chapter): * The state IS the Communist Party, at this point pretty much by definition. No surprise here. Leads to corruption. * The Party has direct or indirect control over pretty much every corporation within China. The party hires/fires even in non-government enterprises. In many cases, equity is held directly by the Party, or equity is held by individuals in name only (and are unable to ever exercise options nor sell shares). Interesting examples of CEOs being shifted around in an industry to make sure it's clear top loyalty is to Party, corporation is secondary. Note that this also led to the Sanlu fiasco (melamine in baby formula) because it would have been too much face for CP to lose right before the Olympic Games, so Sanlu decided to skip a product recall. Company was destroyed after coverup revealed, but at least the Games made China look good. This situation as well leads to tremendous corruption. * Shanghai is still very socialist (compared with southern China industrial cities), even though it went through huge economic renaissance. Still very corrupt though, and there's tension between Beijing and Shanghai, Beijing trying to maintain control. * CP (and thus Chinese government) is actually fairly decentralized. Much power is held by provincial and local party leaders. Propaganda: this allows local governments to behave best for that region, avoid centralism that caused USSR failure. Reality: corruption rampant at provincial, local level, Beijing must assert itself from time to time to maintain control. "The emperor is far away. The mountain is high." * Mao was 70% good, 30% bad (that whole famine killing tens of millions of people). Deng then "perfected socialism", identifying that economic success was key to maintaining Party control of the people. Let corporations compete in market, but still keep government control over economy and all enterprises. * The Party maintains control over history. Much like Ministry of Truth, the official history is written to put Party in best light, maintain control. Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward are 'fuzzy' periods in official history, described as natural disaster or just glossed over entirely.
I did like that I had new appreciation for the difference in interpretation of party school depending on whether you're talking about the US or China. ;)...more
(3.0) Impressive in his observations and departure from superstition
Though not entirely enlightening for someone from modern perspective. I can apprec(3.0) Impressive in his observations and departure from superstition
Though not entirely enlightening for someone from modern perspective. I can appreciate his insight and observational skills, but even when he's dead on correct, he's not teaching 21st century humans anything new.
A note on this edition: Stallings chose to translate into English as rhyming heptameter couplets. Certainly an ambitious endeavor, and probably aimed to recreate the experience of the original (along these lines, she also uses literary allusion to literature that comes long after Lucretius, attempting to make references we'd be more familiar with). But I'm not one for forced rhyme, so that detracted a bit, especially when she really reached for eye rhyme and near-eye rhyme....more
(3.5) Like Ondaatje, so enjoyed this, but it doesn't feel like a fully crafted work
Enjoyed his writing, his storytelling, but it doesn't seem like it(3.5) Like Ondaatje, so enjoyed this, but it doesn't feel like a fully crafted work
Enjoyed his writing, his storytelling, but it doesn't seem like it fits together as a novel. Lots of little adventures of 11-year old Michael while on a ship from Sri Lanka to London. We get to know several characters well, there's a whodunnit, lots of little episodic intrigue. It felt more like a novel when we drift (haha) forward and backward in time to see characters' lives before and Michael's interaction with them after the voyage. I do like that the voyage itself is told almost entirely chronologically even though we flit about in time before/after. It was good, but I was still a little disappointed...kind of like how I felt Lahiri's short stories would be better if she bothered to let them blossom into full novels....more
(3.5) Liked it, enjoyed the change in perspective and diction
Written from the point of view of a Ghanaian boy transplanted into poverty in London. Kel(3.5) Liked it, enjoyed the change in perspective and diction
Written from the point of view of a Ghanaian boy transplanted into poverty in London. Kelman adopts well the voice of such a boy, who often directly addresses the reader directly, filling is in on the lingo, occasionally dirty. I appreciated the most the perspectives on 'adult' topics such as AIDS, gangs, crime, sex. Harri appears to have unexpectedly high curiosity and ability to understand many of these concepts--perhaps unrealistically so, particularly for his situation--but still has a childlike perspective. Superstitions abound.
Harri and his buddies are trying to solve a murder and have elaborate plans to play CSI. This was the primary plot, but wasn't as central as it might seem. For me, it was mostly about seeing a tough, tough childhood through the eyes of that child. There was some symbolism and significance to his relationship with the pigeon, but that escaped me....more
Especially those who didn't live through the unfolding of Watergate (as I didn't). I was impressed by bot(4.5) I think every American should read this
Especially those who didn't live through the unfolding of Watergate (as I didn't). I was impressed by both the integrity in their reporting and the general lack of it in their investigating. I guess that's just the way the press is. After reading Tokyo Vice, I got the impression that there was an odd but all but officially condoned practice of cozying up to members of the police by journalists. But I guess it was just a lot more civilized than in other free-press societies.
Anyway, I think this was the best was I can think of of recreating the step-by-step unfolding of the Watergate scandal, from the point of view of the reporters feeding us the information. Yes, they were full of themselves, and wanted to capitalize on the book to make money, increase their own prestige and defend themselves against the attacks they received by an increasingly desperate White House and presidential campaign.
It was the best book writing by journalists that I've read in a very long time. I guess it's because it was about themselves instead of something they spend a few weeks investigating and writing a couple of articles about. ;)
Bugs: * just one non-word typo that I didn't bother writing down. It's a fairly recent edition though, so surprised it still exists in the text....more