I started this book halfway through watching The Pacific, which portrays Leckie's story among that of other Marines. I read about half the book and re...moreI started this book halfway through watching The Pacific, which portrays Leckie's story among that of other Marines. I read about half the book and realized that I was better off with the miniseries, as Leckie by himself isn't all that interesting.(less)
Gripping, fascinating story of highly disciplined Greek hoplites stranded in hostile territory far from home who must regroup and force their way thro...moreGripping, fascinating story of highly disciplined Greek hoplites stranded in hostile territory far from home who must regroup and force their way through Kurdish territory. After the famous 'The Sea! the Sea!' moment, however, the book was considerably less interesting - the army begins to fracture and strain under lack of supplies and lack of real leadership (author Xenophon notwithstanding). It was a quick read, and a very enlightening one for me.
It also strikes a little bit of a chord with me - I occasionally reflect on the kind of education that educated men (and women, but lets face facts: mostly men) would've been subject to a hundred or so years ago. I wistfully imagine what kind of person I might be with years and years of studying Latin and Greek in the original might have made me into. I probably would have hated it. But read something written by an educated person from the 1800s or early 1900s and every bit of prose reads like a kind of forgotten poetry. The last century brought so very much technological advance, but at the end of it all I wonder whether we understand what it is to be human as well as somebody who had to read volumes upon volumes representing hundreds of years of human thought.
I read recently that many universities are dropping Philosophy and Classics programs because of low enrollment because our generation in particular understands that education is only a means to employment, and Classics is no path to riches unless followed by Law. That makes me a bit sad - it's totally understandable of course, but a little piece of me wants everyone to be exposed to enough (eloquently written) Thought and Culture that they have a decent chance of improving the society we live in with their own Thoughts. Basically I'm just a crotchety old man that hates turning on the TV only to see another reality show pandering to the lowest common denominator and lowering the denominator even further in the process. RRrrgh.
Oh, right. Book review. Yes: good book. Good enough that I'm picking up Herodotus' _The Histories_ next. It will probably only make me more wistful and crotchety.(less)
My friend Ty is a big fan of both the movie and the book. When I happened to mention that I hadn't seen or read either, he was aghast. I enjoyed the f...moreMy friend Ty is a big fan of both the movie and the book. When I happened to mention that I hadn't seen or read either, he was aghast. I enjoyed the film quite a bit, and so he insisted I read the book. The stories themselves and the people involved are quite interesting, and make for compelling reading. Wolfe's style is a bit grating at times - he picks a few themes and then mentions them and points them out OVER and OVER ad nauseum, as if the reader might not be able to connect the dots without his big pointing finger to tell you that here's yet another example of "flying and drinking and drinking and driving." Still, it's worth knowing a bit about the men involved in the beginnings of our manned space program. I've always leaned towards unmanned projects, partly because my grandfather was heavily involved with them at JPL and partly because I never understood what was so important about having people be there. Reading this helped me understand the viewpoint of those who love manned space flight (although it does nothing to change my position on the subject).
If I were in a book club with my former workmates with whom the subject of manned vs. unmanned space exploration was a common subject of discussion, this would be an excellent book for us to read & discuss. I am with the Chuck Yeagers of the world who thought that the Mercury astronauts were little more than payloads, and that truly piloted flight (of planes that reach space flight) is more impressive. But I still question the enterprise at all at this point - now that the cold war is over, what is the point of, say, working towards putting a single person or few people on the surface of Mars? It is inspiring as a human enterprise, but more than anything it is a colossal way to burn money. No doubt you have some thoughts on the matter; feel free to share them.(less)
This book is a new way of coming to terms with the baggage of the Cold War. It is an examination of Cold War fiction, but more importantly, it is a me...moreThis book is a new way of coming to terms with the baggage of the Cold War. It is an examination of Cold War fiction, but more importantly, it is a means for creating more Cold War fiction. If you can find a few honest, brave friends willing to sit down and risk baring their hearts for a few hours, you'll end up with a story of Cold War Berlin as good and near to you as anything Le Carre might have written.(less)
What started out as following a reference in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" ended up with me reading this monstrous 900-page behemoth over a period of...moreWhat started out as following a reference in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" ended up with me reading this monstrous 900-page behemoth over a period of months (mostly... in the bathroom). I feel like I learned a lot about the different British subcultures that settled in America and their effect on modern US culture. There were definitely some boring stretches - lets face it: Quakers are not that interesting. But the backcountry Southern Highlands stuff was a hoot, and I liked the way he compared each subculture in terms of everything from naming habits to sexual mores. For a serious student of American History, its well worth a read. Most of you can probably skip it, however.(less)
Wordless and beautiful - The story of an immigrant man and his arrival in a new land, where everything is foreign. I think I'll be giving this one as...moreWordless and beautiful - The story of an immigrant man and his arrival in a new land, where everything is foreign. I think I'll be giving this one as a gift sometime soon; just need to figure out who needs it.(less)
Wow. Not for dumb kids. This is one of those books that exposed me to a flood of history, ideas, cultures, facts, and theories that I had never before...moreWow. Not for dumb kids. This is one of those books that exposed me to a flood of history, ideas, cultures, facts, and theories that I had never before managed to encounter. It filled in lots of gaps I knew I had along the way, like how New York changed hands from being Dutch to being English, or how Phoenician language became Punic and the language of the Carthiginians. It is a remarkable book in the same way that Guns, Germs and Steel or A Short History of Nearly Everything are remarkable - on nearly every page you will have learned something that will fascinate you.
If you're in the right mood, that is. This book took me nearly a year of stops and starts to get through. It can be, let's say, a little dry. But it's still the kind of book I want to make other people read just so I can have the pleasure of discussing it with them. But it is NOT an undertaking for the faint of heart or short of attention span. Anyone up to the challenge?(less)