Cather is good, but I daresay Helen Hunt Jackson is better. It has a bit of the "feel" of Ramona for setting, but is very much Cather's style. I like...moreCather is good, but I daresay Helen Hunt Jackson is better. It has a bit of the "feel" of Ramona for setting, but is very much Cather's style. I like My Antonia better, but perhaps it is because I find the story to be more compelling. I will say this though -- reading it is making me miss New Mexico. Our 47th state really does well live up to its nickname "Land of Enchantment." The only thing is, I haven't yet found the right friend to share that enchantment with, for even the very air is intoxicating. Cather gets that right -- the air itself is intoxicating -- it's as if there is a scent of incense in the air always.(less)
As you read the book, if you have also read Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," you really begin to wonder what this woman was on. It is chilling to thin...moreAs you read the book, if you have also read Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," you really begin to wonder what this woman was on. It is chilling to think something so advancecd could have been written in 1915 (Comstock Law was still in full swing). It is interesting to note how Gilman's upbringing shaped her worldview with respect to what the ideal of a woman's role in society should be. I don't think she is entirely wrong in her observations, but she is entirely unique in her interpritation. This is something between Sci-Fi and satire. An interesting read.(less)
I would have to say that this is the best piece of fiction I have read in a long time. this may even usurp Steinbeck -- because Steinbeck discusses th...moreI would have to say that this is the best piece of fiction I have read in a long time. this may even usurp Steinbeck -- because Steinbeck discusses the human condition, but comes to no good answer as to hope.(less)
This is an amazing book, but anti-Socialist rhetoric makes it easy to see why there are very few editions in print, and I'd never heard about it. It's...moreThis is an amazing book, but anti-Socialist rhetoric makes it easy to see why there are very few editions in print, and I'd never heard about it. It's billed as fiction, but what is clear is that it is actually autobiographical. When I was not too far into it I remarked to a friend that Smedley would get along well with Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Margaret Sanger -- then toward the end I found Margaret Sanger (unnamed) mentioned. So, yes, I was right. What I am taking away from this is that I personally believe everyone should read this because it will force a mirror in front of everyone -- now -- to ask ourselves what has changed in our culture, what is the same, what has improved, and what is worse. This is not a book I could ever sell to most of the people I know because they are too historically shallow to "get it." I guess maybe if you liked (and "got") Cider House Rules, you would "get" this book. Otherwise I fear people would just think of it as propaganda or whining. It deserves to be assigned reading, but it is something I would actually be scared to death to assign in such a conservative area for fear of the backlash. That is an interesting conflict to have rattling around in my head. Because so much of who I am to the core lives with "to hell with the Establishment" because they have rejected me and made MY life hell for so long. However, when it is "the Establishment" who decides if you get to work, well, then you think about things a little bit differently.
Reading Smedley's words, one point she raises over and over and over again is her will to be able to work for her own living, even when it is very unacceptable to do so (and there aren't a lot of career options open to her -- at some points she is even railing that she would prefer prostitution to marriage...can you see why this would not play well in a conservative crowd, especially when a lot of me agrees with her position?). There was a place -- my parents' generation -- where women had a choice. Now I sit here, scrapping through life, in the exact opposite position of Smedley -- I have no choice but to work. And while I want my life to have use and meaning, I am just as angry and frustrated for the lack of choice as she was. She wants what I have, but in the interim society's whole perspective on marriage has changed so dramatically. And what the world is telling me is that I can't have both career or family, there must be a choice between the two, and that choice is rapidly being taken away from me.
So my thoughts to Smedley are that the inverse is not better, and poverty is still a prison. "All animals are created equal. Pigs are more equal." -- that's exactly right. I know that the nasty 19th c. idea of Social Darwinism that people who are poor deserve to be poor still remains (though this is something the exploiting European colonial powers held forever).(less)
I have never read anything as succinct as America and Americans (I own another out-of-print edition, but snapped this edition up when it came out seve...moreI have never read anything as succinct as America and Americans (I own another out-of-print edition, but snapped this edition up when it came out several years ago). This reads like "Travels with Charlie" and the intercessory chapters of Steinbeck's novels.(less)
I love this book -- Cahill has such a tongue-in-cheek style that makes history accessable to everyone. I had been heavily into Celtic studies even bef...moreI love this book -- Cahill has such a tongue-in-cheek style that makes history accessable to everyone. I had been heavily into Celtic studies even before I finally first read this book about ten years ago. The premise is huge. Damn the British for wiping the Irish legacy of internationally-reknowned scholarship from common knowledge.(less)
This is good, though not my favorite of Cahill's works. His thesis is very provocative. I'm not sure I wholly agree with him in all things -- he can g...moreThis is good, though not my favorite of Cahill's works. His thesis is very provocative. I'm not sure I wholly agree with him in all things -- he can get cheeky and loose with his theology apart from what is widely accepted as traditionally "true" in the modern Judeo-Christian tradition. Be that as it may, as an historian I know well that -- God-breathed though scripture may be, it is also biased. I don't take everything Cahill says for absolute truth always -- i can think for myself -- but I do think, on balance, this book is worth the read.(less)
I love this book. As an historian, it is always refreshing to look at the Bible from a historical perspective, and this can bring greater insight to t...moreI love this book. As an historian, it is always refreshing to look at the Bible from a historical perspective, and this can bring greater insight to theological discussions.(less)
I have read a lot of *war epic* books. This book does not follow the "traditional" format of a *war epic*. This book is about World War II -- specifically about the battle of Iwo Jima and the famous "flag-raising" photograph -- but it definitely has the "feel" of a book written about war in a post-Vietnam era. The author ( James Bradley)is the son of one of the men featured in the infamous WWII photograph of the Iwo Jima flag-raising, Navy corpsman John Bradley (Bradley is the one who is clearly in the front and center of the photograph, the only one whose face and profile are visible).
The perspective of the book provides an interesting tension against the mythology and popular sentiment about the photograph. The truth about the photograph is very different than what people made of it then, and would even surprise some now (as history books use the iconic image to represent valor, where the truth about the photograph is something very different: an insignificant act that happened to become an iconic image). James Bradley takes the perspective of his father John Bradley: that "heros" are a made-up idea. The undercurrent of the book seeks to prove that the flag-raisers were not the fictionalized epic "heros" the media made them out to be -- the men who gave their lives in the most brutal battle of WWII were the real heros (and the truth is that everyone was just doing what they needed to do to stay alive and support their buddies...even awards of "heroism" are subject to question, because everyone is a hero). These were "normal" guys -- "the boy next door" -- who came from many different places, from many different backgrounds, and who had different dreams and aspirations for their lives. It chronicles each of their lives -- from boyhood until death -- and reflects on how the photograph impacted their lives and the lives of their families. In two cases, there were families whose lives were impacted due to misidentification of the crouching figure at the base of the pole in the lower right-had corner of the photograph.
If you are the kind of person who enjoys extremely detailed, extremely technical accounts of battles from as many diverse technical perspectives as possible, this is not the book for you. This is not a book that seeks to tell all details about all things. The purpose of this book is to uncover and expose the truth and perspective about the history of the photograph. This book is a woven odyssey of lives, it is not the diagram of a WWII chess game. Enough information is given to give you a feel for what the battle and conditions were like, but it is what historians would call a "secondary source" -- written by one who was not there, but by one who carefully studied the technical information and interviewed participants. The "distance" from the events is actually a strength for the book -- there is less prejudice and nationalism than a more contemporary account might give due to the historical perspective gleaned from fifty-four years.
This book is a thoughtful account, and an enlightening look at a history that most people do not know. This book is an important book to read -- the interviews and the chronicles of the lives of the participants (and of the families and friends the fallen left behind) provides an interesting commentary as to the effect war can have on the life of a young person. I was actually chilled to the bone when I saw the film (prior to reading the book), because there is a scene in the film and in the book that exactly replicates a story told to me by a decorated disabled Vietnam Veteran I once knew -- about seeing his best friend's head blown clean off as he is right beside you. Knowing the personal stories of the shattered lives of many in various American wars (people I have known personally) gave me pause to think on our modern service men and women who are presently being impacted by global conflicts, especially in the Middle East. Though there will be many "John Bradleys" in our day -- men impacted who can ultimately face (and live) their lives in some peace, I fear there will also be many "Ira Hayes" as well (men shattered and destroyed by the experience from the inside out).
A thoughtful book, a compelling book that "reads well," Flags of Our Fathers is well worth the time to read (and the film is also good, but do read the book first -- there is a lot of things you will "miss" in the movie if you don't read the book first).
I own a First Printing of the Paperback Signet Classic edition published by The New American Library in 1961 (Edited and with an Introduction by Milto...moreI own a First Printing of the Paperback Signet Classic edition published by The New American Library in 1961 (Edited and with an Introduction by Milton Rugoff)(less)