Charlie LeDuff, early in this book, warns us that the fate of Detroit is the fate of American cities; Detroit is just the first to succumb. I don't acCharlie LeDuff, early in this book, warns us that the fate of Detroit is the fate of American cities; Detroit is just the first to succumb. I don't accept that premise at all. I can't see New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, or Philadelphia becoming Detroit. LeDuff vividly describes the woeful state of Detroit. It's a city that can't provide services to its citizens, its police, and its firefighters. Significant parts of the city are being abandoned and literally reverting to wilderness. LeDuff doesn't really tell us too much about how Detroit got this way; it's more of a modern snapshot than a history of the decline of a once-great city. But it's an interesting and compelling read, a memoir of a local newspaper reporter and his interactions with the city's people and institutions. (If you like this book, and want to read something similar about a very different city, try Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.)
I guess I'd have to say I was disappointed in this book. It took me 24 days to read it, and would have taken longer if I hadn't decided to make a lateI guess I'd have to say I was disappointed in this book. It took me 24 days to read it, and would have taken longer if I hadn't decided to make a late push to get it finished. When I'm not motivated to pick up a book when I have a few spare minutes, I know that it's not all that compelling.
Douglas Brinkley tells an interesting story, and there's a lot of good stuff in this biography of Cronkite, but it somehow falls a little flat. It doesn't help that the writing and/or editing is, well, a bit weird:
** The tone of the book is strangely informal. (Brinkley at one point mentions Cronkite's "dissing" of Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign season.)
** Sentences are oddly structured. ("All he could afford was a twenty-two foot Electra sloop to sail on Long Island Sound he named Chipper." )
** We're sometimes only told part of the story. (After a drought in Russia, President Nixon agreed to sell American wheat to the Soviet Union. CBS News then spent three days covering this "corrupt" act. But why was it "corrupt"? How did it provide three days of material for CBS News? Brinkley doesn't say.)
** And there are ludicrous mistakes. (Does Brinkley really think that NBC stands for "National Biscuit Company"? Is he really unable to differentiate between broadcast television and Fig Newtons?)
I could go on and on. I have to think that there's a much better book to be written about Walter Cronkite.
This is the memoir of an American who moved to Japan and became a crime reporter for a major Tokyo newspaper. I always seem to enjoy stories of WesterThis is the memoir of an American who moved to Japan and became a crime reporter for a major Tokyo newspaper. I always seem to enjoy stories of Westerners making their way in Japan, but this book was less about the clash of cultures and more about an exploration of the seamy underside of life in Japan: organized crime, sex trafficking, rape, and murder. Of course, these things are a bit different in Japan than they are in America. Everything in Japan is different than it is in America. (I remember going to a Denny's in Tokyo, hoping for a big stack of pancakes, but everything on the menu was pretty much seaweed. But I digress…)
During his time working in Japan, author Jake Adelstein started out just trying to make a living, but gravitated towards trying to do good by exposing bad people, but there was considerable pain and suffering and guilt along the way. Not a cheery story by any means, but I it was definitely an interesting read. ...more
I've been familiar with Bill Mauldin's name forever due to the annual mention of him in the Peanuts comic strip every Veterans Day. I became aware thaI've been familiar with Bill Mauldin's name forever due to the annual mention of him in the Peanuts comic strip every Veterans Day. I became aware that he was a legendary World War II cartoonist, but until I read this biography, I knew little else about him.
The book, I think, is at its best when it displays Mauldin's cartoons with annotations beneath them; it gives us a chance to see his work and get a feel for its context. Much of Mauldin's WWII work hasn't aged well in that it's hard to "get" (without an explanation) if you weren't actually a grunt on the front lines in Europe. That doesn't apply as much to his later political cartoons.
Mauldin's life was certainly an interesting one, but it wasn't as interesting as his creative output. I suspect this book may have been better if it had focused more on the cartoons and less on Mauldin's personal life. ...more
A solid, well-researched book. I've been familiar with Edward R. Murrow for most of my life, but never really knew the details of his career. (He diedA solid, well-researched book. I've been familiar with Edward R. Murrow for most of my life, but never really knew the details of his career. (He died when I was a toddler.) The book was fairly dense; in a good way during the more interesting parts, which for me was primarily the time in London during WWII, but also the period when Murrow took on Senator McCarthy. But at other points the amount of detail kind of slowed me down....more
Think of this as a love letter to Gerald Ford. The author was a beat writer who covered the President and maintained a friendship with him after he leThink of this as a love letter to Gerald Ford. The author was a beat writer who covered the President and maintained a friendship with him after he left office. I gave this book two stars because it had some interesting factoids, but in many ways I felt like I was reading a schoolgirl's diary about her crush on Justin Bieber. If Gerald Ford makes you swoon, by all means read this book. Otherwise, feel free to skip it. You won't miss much....more