Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite books came to be written? Les Standiford gives us a fascinating glimpse into the mind of Charles Dick...moreHave you ever wondered how some of your favorite books came to be written? Les Standiford gives us a fascinating glimpse into the mind of Charles Dickens, and details the circumstances that led him to produce the world's most beloved and well-known Christmas story A Christmas Carol, while at the same time helping change the way the holiday is celebrated. This book is filled with enough fun facts to delight Dickens fans, trivia buffs, or folks who are just plain crazy about Christmas, there is something here for everyone.
The book is not without it's flaws however, at 256 pages, it still feels padded, the author uses long block quotes from Dickens works, the writing is repetitive at times, and at one point he actually spends 3 or 4 pages summarizing the Carol for the reader, when he says at several points throughout the book that the story is so well known that if all the copies were destroyed, everyone would still know it by heart. Well, which is it? One gets the feeling that when all the padding is stripped away that this material was probably better suited for a magazine article than a full-length book.
Still, Christmas is the season of forgiveness and good cheer, in that spirit, I urge readers to embrace this book as they have the original Carol.
Nathaniel Philbrick's book "Mayflower" appears at first glance to be merely a recounting of the Pilgrims journey to the New World and their miraculous...moreNathaniel Philbrick's book "Mayflower" appears at first glance to be merely a recounting of the Pilgrims journey to the New World and their miraculous survival that first winter culminating in the first Thanksgiving, that's all here, but takes up only about 80 pages of the 450+ page book. In reality, Philbrick offers the reader a complete history of Plymouth Colony from 1620-1691 (when it was merged into Massachusets Bay colony) The bulk of the narrative focuses on King Phillip's War (1675-76) for my money one of the most fascinating and under-reported armed conflicts in American History. Philbrick chronicles the main engagements of the war, in a very evenhanded way, praising the colonists bravery when warranted, while at the same time not being afraid to call them the savage butchers that they clearly were. He also does a great job of guiding the reader through understand the complex maze of ever-changing alliances between the colonists and the various native tribes of the region, and analysing how the conflict's long-term consequences helped shape America today.
An appropriate book to read this time of year.(less)
Ronnie Lott's Autobiography Total Impact offers a candid and revealing look back at the career of the man whom many consider to be the best Defensive...moreRonnie Lott's Autobiography Total Impact offers a candid and revealing look back at the career of the man whom many consider to be the best Defensive Back, and hardest hitter ever to play the game. The book is mainly focused on his 9 year career with the San Francisco 49ers with whom he won 4 Super Bowl rings. Lott offers many insights into the character of these various teams and the great players he played with. He also gives the reader a glimpse into what it's like to play day-to-day in the NFL,and the sacrifice and dedication that goes into being a champion. He talks about the stoic mindset that it takes to hurl your body at others full speed, seemingly not caring whether you are injured, and then playing through the pain if need be.
The highlight of the book was Lott's game-by-game diary of the 1990 season, his last as a 49er. This section of the book lifted it above most autobiographies of former players that I've read.
The one thing that I learned about him that I didn't know before was he doesn't like horror movies.(less)
Part political thriller, part Biography, part Saturday-afternoon adventure serial, part ecology lesson, Candice Millard's "The River of Doubt" has a l...morePart political thriller, part Biography, part Saturday-afternoon adventure serial, part ecology lesson, Candice Millard's "The River of Doubt" has a little something for everyone. Chronicling Theodore Roosevelt's 1913 journey down the previously unexplored Brazilian River of Doubt. Millard recounts the myriad obstacles faced by the hearty band of explorers including poor planning, disease, hostile Indians, and a multitude of predators from within the rainforest itself. At the same time, she offers a fascinating ecological history of the rainforest, explaining why it was as important a character in the story as any of the human actors. The author weaves these seemingly incongruous threads together into a seamless narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you ride down the river with the former President and the rest of his party.
This is a book that must be experienced as well as read, easily one of the top 5 books of the decade. My only negative comment on the book was that it was too short, and the author seemed in a hurry to fit everything in.(less)
If you're most interested in information on the 1956-58 Giants, you'd be better off reading "The Glory Game" by Frank Gifford. This book's real streng...moreIf you're most interested in information on the 1956-58 Giants, you'd be better off reading "The Glory Game" by Frank Gifford. This book's real strength is the post 58-early 1960's era. (less)
Written in an engaging and conversational style, The Glory Game by Frank Gifford and Peter Richmond chronicles the epic 1958 NFL Championship Game bet...moreWritten in an engaging and conversational style, The Glory Game by Frank Gifford and Peter Richmond chronicles the epic 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. Eventually won by the Colts in the first sudden-death overtime in the history of the sport, "The greatest game ever played" or "Best Game Ever" cemented the NFL's place at the forefront of American popular culture. There has been lots written about the game over the years, but Gifford, the Giants star Running Back from 1952-64 offers a unique field-level perspective. Relying on his own memories supplemented by interviews with his teammates as well as former Colts players, Gifford gives the reader a down-by- down play by play account of the Colts thrilling march to victory. Along the way he offers anecdotes and insights that I haven't seen in any other books. He also uses the game as a jumping off point to discuss the NFL culture of the 1950's, considered by many to be pro-football's golden era.
Gifford began the book as a tribute to his friend David Halberstam who was working on a similar book at the time of his death.
I've read 6 books on football this year (including two others on this game) and this is by far the best.(less)
Like most small town's in America in the late 1960's-early 70's Pottstown, PA. had it's fair share of big city problems, drugs, high-spirited teenager...moreLike most small town's in America in the late 1960's-early 70's Pottstown, PA. had it's fair share of big city problems, drugs, high-spirited teenagers, racial tension etc. but the residents of Pottstown had something that most other small towns did not, which gave them an identity, and served as a rallying point during difficult times, a minor league football team. Jay Acton takes the reader inside the locker room of the Atlantic Coast Football League's Pottstown Firebirds as they try to go undefeated and repeat as league champions. Along the way you'll meet such colorful characters as:
Edward Gruber: The millionaire underwear maganate who bankrolled the team.
Coach Dave Defilippo: a football lifer with two goals, to go undefeated, and to have one last shot at an NFL head coaching job.
Jim "King" Corcoran: The egocentric Quarterback, who despite being the most gifted player in the league has been cut by 5 NFL teams, and still can't understand why.
Bill Stetz: DT, The team's resident hippie and successful small business owner.
Joe Blake: DE, and the Firebirds introspective poet laureate.
you'll meet these players and many more as you progress with the Firebirds through their 1970 campaign.
This book has held up surprisingly well despite the 35 years since it's publication, and along with two movies by NFL films, has helped the Firebirds achieve legendary cult status among football fans. (less)
Kill Bin Laden offers a thrilling "boots on the ground" narrative of the hunt for UBL in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan in December 2001....moreKill Bin Laden offers a thrilling "boots on the ground" narrative of the hunt for UBL in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan in December 2001. Written by Dalton Fury (not his real name)a former Delta Force operator who had tactical command of the team assigned to go into Tora Bora and eliminate Usama.
Refreshingly, Fury keeps his political opinions to himself while still managing to deftly demonstrate how political wrangling in the upper echelons of the U.S. command structure, as well as the Muj, had hampered his team's ability to complete their mission, and allowed UBL to escape into Pakistan.
The book is a great primer on small unit tactics and doctrine. The author writes in a rather dry, clipped "just the facts" type of style, but it's still a fascinating read because he was there. (less)
Until very recently this was THE book to read on The War of 1812, given the publication of several new works on the subject, this may no longer be the...moreUntil very recently this was THE book to read on The War of 1812, given the publication of several new works on the subject, this may no longer be the case, but for my money, there's no better storyteller than Walter Lord. That said, this is not one of his best works, but it's still a worthwhile read, especially for dedicated fans. His prose is most effective when he's describing the actual battles, his minute-by minute account of the burning of Washington is the highlight of the book. The non-combat portions just seem to drag in comparison.
This book is becoming scarce, consider yourself lucky if you find a copy.(less)