Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal follows the life of Alfred Packer as best it can manage. This man lived at the tail end of the 19th century, fought in the civil war, worked as a tracker, had horrible epilepsy, and ultimately may have murdered and eaten five of his travelling companions in the Colorado mountains.
May have. But the evidence is pretty damning.
So, let's name a grill after him.
The book is extremely accessible. It's easy to read, even with the subject matter at hand, and tells the story with ample reference back to the source material. While it has no pictures, somewhat disappointing considering the number of woodcuts referenced, the author does an admirable job of describing all that he wishes to convey.
The court cases themselves were interesting. I enjoyed the high number of quotations, the rich vocabulary, and the ample history given not simply of the figures themselves, but of the towns they grew up in. The murders that took place happened at a time when the West was still being settled, and Harold Schechter conveys the changing America spirit well. The frontier days are done by the end, and it's amazing how quickly such a change can take place in national character.
While I would be slightly hesitant to recommend this book to just anyone by virtue of its subject matter alone, I would feel slightly better doing so knowing that the main source of reference I had for this historical event was Cannibal: The Musical.
So, if you ever want to know the true story behind that - or are simply interested in cannibalism for some reason, this is a wonderful book containing not only story of Alfred Packer but quite a bit more tales of madness from those frontier days. ...more
I received this book for free from the publisher through the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.
Michelangelo: A Life in SI received this book for free from the publisher through the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.
Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces is at once more than an art history and more than a biography. In this book Miles J. Unger effortlessly weaves together the life of one of history's most compelling and outspoken artist with the political strife of the world he worked in and the dynamic art he created. Unger paints a vibrant portrait of the mercurial man, amply citing the arist's own writings in the process. I went into the text knowing very little about Michelangelo, and I came out of it feeling nearly as if I knew the man personally.
Unger's writing is at times dry, but it never commits the sin of being boring. I feel that my own response to the text at times was borne far more out of me being entirely foreign to the history itself than due to poor writing. Unger cited so heavily actual accounts of the day, poems, and letters that for a moment I found myself curious to read more about Italy during that period. I found myself nostalgic for the world that was destroyed within Michelangelo's own lifetime, broken and violent though it was.
Unger's descriptions of the art itself is where his text truly thrives. He had a fine eye for detail, and singles out several small sections of paintings and sculpture that I would never have noticed on my own. He is adept at explaining why certain choices were made, and bringing to life the turmoil of the art and artist alike with each composition.
All in all, this is a book that I would feel comfortable recommending to anyone with a curiosity about Michelangelo. Should one wish to know more, the bibliography at the back is extensive. Likewise, there is an appendix that covers where one can best see Michelangelo's artwork and where each important piece is housed....more
I received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and haveI received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and have been studiously reading through the canon. My favorite of the books, and films, for some time has been From Russia With Love. How could I resist a peek into the real Cold War, then, and all of the complex espionage techniques utilized? Why even try to resist?
David E. Hoffman has painted a beautiful picture of the difficulties of espionage in Moscow during the Cold War. He meticulously documents different techniques used to elude the KGB, the gadgets that made spywork possible, and the manifold difficulties that come from such a tense environment that relies almost exclusively upon the human element. Equipment malfunctions, and unfortunately, people do too.
The book was extremely interesting, and the history quite dense. While I agree with several of the other reviewers in thinking that the book could have been structured a bit better in terms of Tolkachev's motives being revealed, it was still a very powerful story. I was continually struck by the variety of people the CIA employed, the level of technology they had at their disposal, and just how difficult it was to truly "go black" during that time.
The Billion Dollar Spy does a wonderful job of showing the human element of spying and what motivates a person to defect. It's remarkable how much damage a single driven individual can do....more
Yeah, okay, I love conspiracy theories and I quite like Decoded in general. They don't always get things right, but they do always amuse. I love the dYeah, okay, I love conspiracy theories and I quite like Decoded in general. They don't always get things right, but they do always amuse. I love the discussion it generates, wild speculation, hare-brained schemes and subversive history. It's good fun, and a good study in logic if you want to be cynical about. Would it make more sense of things to go this way, or that? What more could you want from entertainment?
This book was given as a Christmas present to my parents, and they both enjoyed it thoroughly. They gave it to me after, and yes, I gobbled it right up, too. The gimmick of the book is fun: each chapter is a different conspiracy theory with a small envelope at the front containing facsimiles of parts of the cases. For instance, D.B. Cooper's plane tickets, JFK's autopsy report, a poster for the Our American Cousin the night Lincoln was killed... It's fun stuff, and decent quality. Not as fun as, say, Griffin Sabine but what is, when it comes to the gimmick?
The book won't give you much more than the show did, with perhaps two exceptions. I felt the book went into more depth in regards to the Rosicrucians (who they are, what they do) and the Confederate Gold. Other than that, it was the same old thing. But that same old is fun, and the book was, too....more
Fire Watch did an excellent job of establishing the Oxford Time Travel series. It did an even better job of bringing home just how terrifying WWII EngFire Watch did an excellent job of establishing the Oxford Time Travel series. It did an even better job of bringing home just how terrifying WWII England was, and how largely damaged and broken London was by the experience. Connie Willis does a beautiful job of bringing morality and feeling back into history, and breathing life into the experiences and statistics so commonly touted about.
It's chilling and heartbreaking, and makes the rest of the series that much more moving to read....more
Right from the mouth of Doug Sandom, what more could you ask for?
I was lucky enough to talk to Doug before the book was released, and I'm forever gratRight from the mouth of Doug Sandom, what more could you ask for?
I was lucky enough to talk to Doug before the book was released, and I'm forever grateful for having had that opportunity. Doug is a brilliant storyteller, a very sweet man, and indeed the sort of person who not only you can imagine sitting in a pub with while he tells he stories... but a great many of people get just that opportunity. The fame that Doug has only served to define what a wonderful person he is. He's remained as humble as ever, though he's quite open about how he regrets leaving the band to this day.
The book holds within it many stories not heard before, and actually does a far better job of showing what The Who was like at that time than any previous Who biography. Doug captures the exhilaration that was felt as they became more famous, how they dealt with that rise in different ways, and the subtleties of the personalities that soon would go on to a massive stardom. He captures the camaraderie in a way that other biographies tend to glance over in favor of emphasizing the spats - which yes, there were - but the violence was never there from the start.
For fans of The Who? This is a indispensable book. It's right up there with Dougal Butler's recent revision of Full Moon, I'd argue, in terms of capturing The Who from those who were here with the band.
Get it, cherish it. If you've a chance to see the man himself, do so. He's a truly wonderful fellow....more
Jerry Langton decides to delve into why rats have been around for so long, how they coexist with us, and why people decide to have tOH NO, NOT RATS!!!
Jerry Langton decides to delve into why rats have been around for so long, how they coexist with us, and why people decide to have them as pets. He does so with a distinct anti-rat perspective on the world, and a disturbing unwillingness to ever waver in his opinion or seek out people who think differently than himself. That, my friend, is why the book failed for me. The inherent prejudice against rats and rat-owners that permeated every page and the outright disgust that just saturated his language. That was why it got the dreaded one-star.
Langton has some interesting history of rats, he follows the basic run down of "this is why rats are interesting" that any writer would. Their ribs can collapse being the main fact that seems to shock him. He discounts their inherent intelligence when just about all scientific papers rate them as among one of the most intelligent animals out there, and he counts them as viscous and ready to attack when even the rat hunters he talks to admit that they only do so when disturbed. It's disturbing, just not in the way he meant it to be.
The true failing of this book, however, was the way that he wrote about rat owners. I've owned rats in my time. I found them to be very clean, very affectionate, curious and entertaining pets. I was only ever bit by a rat once, and that was when I startled him and truly deserved it. Langton puts rat owners into two groups: people owning a rat for the novelty and attention seeking deviant nature of it, and people owning rats as an apology to the species and taking it on as a burden. What the hell? What about people who just genuinely like the animal and what it offers...? Nevermind the fact he characterized the first group as being largely obese women with multiple piercings and or tattoos. Just... why?...more
World of the Wolf by Candace Savage is an interesting exploration of the wolf's history and relationship with humans. It openly admits how little we uWorld of the Wolf by Candace Savage is an interesting exploration of the wolf's history and relationship with humans. It openly admits how little we understand the species, and goes on to explain just why we haven't put more time into examining it. The troubles of wolves and men are explored, and a great many wonderful photographs are scattered throughout it.
This is more of a coffee table book than it is one to pick up and read. The photographs in it are huge, detailed, and absolutely stunning. The writing is short, but well researched and well-done. The topics are never delved into too deeply, but what is said is meaningful and memorable.
This is a good book, and very enjoyable collection of pictures. For better information, the bibliography is extensive and includes Of Wolves and Man which is one of my favorite books on the topic....more
I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous readSuch a beautiful book.
I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous read then, and is a gorgeous one now. The story is a beautiful myth, an exploration of Buddhism and Hinduism that was written before either one was thoroughly understood by the West.
The introduction and the analysis offered at the beginning of the book both enhance the reading of the actual story, and reading Joseph Campbell I can even further understand the text itself. I think this is the sort of book that the more one reads it, the later in life one reads it, the more thoroughly it can be understood and appreciated.
I can't recommend this book enough, but I do know why everyone might not enjoy it....more
This was a very, very good retelling of the mysterious full family murder of the Robinson's.
Mardi Jo Link meticulously goes through all of the evidencThis was a very, very good retelling of the mysterious full family murder of the Robinson's.
Mardi Jo Link meticulously goes through all of the evidence in the case, considering each of the theories that came up regarding who might have done it. She relies greatly on primary evidence, turning to secondary only when it's not available. She keeps her notes clear, and keeps herself largely outside of the story. By the end of the book I had drawn my own conclusions, and was genuinely curious whether or not anything new would ever come forth.
My only complaint about the book is the very ending, when she goes back to describing Good Hart and it's current demeanor rather than ending it with the final evidence of the murder. It did serve to lighten the mood, yes, and to show how thoroughly Good Hart was affected by what happened. Still, it would have served better during the initial description of the town rather than being part of the epilogue itself....more
Can't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter everCan't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter everyone's update feeds with my occasional forays into these topics.
Zealot by Reza Aslan got ridiculously popular in a short period of time. I was reading arguments on the internet about its history and sources, hearing occasionally it being touted on popular television shows. It changed lives, or people claimed it did. They used it as an argument for the oft-repeated centurion hypothesis of paternity and other such poorly researched finds. It was inevitable I eventually read it, and lo and behold, the library just happened to have a copy sitting right there.
All in all, I actually enjoyed Zealot. I didn't find it as well researched as much of Bart D. Ehrman's works, nor as in depth. I nearly stopped reading when he argued that authorship wasn't necessarily worth questioning as people often wrote under other's names to imply they were further espousing their ideas (false) and that there was no definitive concept of history at the time (also false.) The idea that a lot of what was written would be known to be historically inaccurate and was meant as metaphor - that could gain better ground. The other two points though... we really need to excise them from our minds. They are patently untrue, and history just doesn't work that way.
Zealot shines not in its early bits, but far far later when his arguments come in about Jesus, his relation to Rome and Paul and James and their arguments for what early Christendom should mean. The book truly shone in the Pauline arguments and James refutation of them. The book would be good reading for anyone interested in Christianity, or simply Christian's themselves. It offers at once a more literal and metaphorical view of what was done, and a more concise view of what Jesus said and meant at the time in which he lived. Bart D. Ehrman's works are a better source of textual criticism, but Zealot was a better way to get a true feel for the history of the times and just how much the Jews went through during the Roman occupation.
The two authors, and their respective works, complement one another wonderfully and together offer a more comprehensive understanding of a vast and heated topic....more
You know, I really enjoy Roald Dahl. In fact, I'm slowly going through just about everything he's written. Unfortunately, when you decide to read everYou know, I really enjoy Roald Dahl. In fact, I'm slowly going through just about everything he's written. Unfortunately, when you decide to read everything someone has written you come up against a few unfortunate reads. For me, this was one of them. During the World Wars a great number of books were written for children about aspects of military life. This was how The Gremlins was born.
Gremlins are tiny creatures that go through planes (and most mechanical objects) and totally mess them up. You probably have a few messing with your WiFi on occasion. Why do they do this? Their forests were destroyed during the Industrial Revolution and they want revenge. Why else? Maybe for fun, or maybe not. In this story Roald Dahl decides to create a little school for them so they can repair planes rather than destroy them. Which... I guess makes sense? Now the pilots won't have anyone to blame but themselves when things go wrong though. Didn't think that one through, did you?
This book just... bored me. The illustrations weren't enough to keep me engaged, I was constantly confused by who didn't believe in them and who did. I don't understand why they decided to work with creatures that nearly murdered them for fun. It was just a bit of a mess for me. Oh well. I think Disney even got a film out of this nonsense.
No nostalgia here, and no Snoopy to keep me engaged. Alas....more
I think I got more out of this book by reading the extensive notes and introductions than by reading the book itself. The book was so full of allusionI think I got more out of this book by reading the extensive notes and introductions than by reading the book itself. The book was so full of allusions to political situations, changes in speech and text depending upon what was being mentioned, legitimate philosophical meanderings and religious commentary. Well, it was a piece of work.
I think it would be an easier read a second time around, bearing in mind all I learned from the first poke through it. It's one of those books you know you should read and contemplate, but doing so alone is a bit difficult. A bit like listening to a lecture and having your mind blown away - listen again, and you can begin to pick at the subtleties.
I do agree that the most fascinating bit about Utopia is the fact that there would be no way to enforce it had the structure not already been in place. Yes, it sounds great from the outset, but knowing freedom and having experienced this level of it (impinged upon as it may be these days) we'd not take too kindly to having it all stripped away. It truly is No Place as much as it may be a Good One (which can be thoroughly argued, seeing how flawed the system in place is.)
The commentary is great, the concepts novel at the time and still rather fresh now. Not to mention the dystopia genre does hinge upon this singular text, written and published so many years ago....more
I first read this book in high school, having been looking for a good biography of Syd Barrett and seeing this as being the most accurate out there atI first read this book in high school, having been looking for a good biography of Syd Barrett and seeing this as being the most accurate out there at the time. I'd be interested in finding a revised copy, if one was ever released after the poor man's death. It would be interesting to hear what others, in particular Breen, had to say about him then and whether or not his life in the end was a contended one.
This biography is short, easy to read, and fascinating. It dispels some of the more harmful myths about Syd, and unfortunately confirms some of the worse aspects of his character. It's a humbling read for those who idolize Syd, and a sad reminder of just how damaging drugs can be to an already troubled personality.
I'll always wonder what Syd could have achieved had he not been destroyed as he was, but shall take some solace in the fact that at least for even a little while he was happy in his solitude.
I was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on justI was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on just about all of the Shakespeare arguments as well as our tendency as a culture to try to overanalyze things. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the book didn't quite come off like that to me.
Is Shakespeare Dead didn't just come off as a misinformed argument in favor of Baconian authorship, but it also came off as just... a rushed and jumbled essay that never found its footing. By the time Mark Twain began to employ his comedic touch the exhaustive arguments and analyses had already soured me to the piece itself. It was just confusing and strange from beginning to end. I feel like I missed something somewhere along the line, but if I did, then a great many readers did over the years as well.
I'm open to arguments, though I am a Stratford supporter overall. This just wasn't even an argument as much as it was a flailing Mark Twain who couldn't make up his mind as to what narrative voice would best support the piece going forward....more
I previously reviewed Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy and found both books interesting and informative. I thought the style was somewhat simplistic, but overall they were interesting and decent starting grounds for people who want to look deeper into history. This book, however? It didn't even really serve that purpose. It was just... very, very strange.
Being George Washington wanted to be a biography while also wanting to be a legitimate history book, political history, and a self-help book. It wanted to prove that Washington was religious while also wanting to show how Washington bettered himself by simply being civil and persistent. Essentially? It wanted to be way too many things.
I think an editor needs to go at this book with a machete, restructure it, and find out where the book wants to live. I think the purpose of the book would overall be better served if it simply rested comfortably in the arms of a dramatic narrative such as Killing Lincoln did. I think the book would be better served by relying on primary documents without editorial asides trying to emphasize Christianity over Deism or any other religious point of view.
Just... it was a bit like reading through someone's scribbled notes in a textbook this way....more
Rather than being a collection of strips pertaining to the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron gag this a full length story. Yes, it is a picture book, but it stRather than being a collection of strips pertaining to the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron gag this a full length story. Yes, it is a picture book, but it still includes such wonderful words as "meander" and some minor French. Heck, it even goes on to describe the different fighter planes that are being flown and the tracer bullets being used. What's not fun about some minor WWI history?
The story is amusing, as Snoopy goes about his day imagining he's making his way through the fields of France. It's a charming little story, and one that I can't rightly imagine a little kid disliking. I loved the artwork, the vocabulary that didn't patronize the children, and the traditional Peanuts humor. It's a fine little book. :)...more
Got to give this book a ton of stars. Oh, my childhood.
I grew up near the Potomac and spent a ton of time in the places described by these stories. IGot to give this book a ton of stars. Oh, my childhood.
I grew up near the Potomac and spent a ton of time in the places described by these stories. I bought the book itself in one of the houses described in the stories... They're fun, they're short, and there are a lot of them. It's irrelevant to me whether the stories are true or not, they fascinated me as a child either way.
Can't wait to give this book to my nephew and continue the cycle of late nights spent poring over ghost stories and wondering what's out there. :)...more
The Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness wheThe Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness when it comes to what the Essenes believed and preached. It sheds new lights about just how different the religious communities were then.
This book goes into the history of the scrolls discovery, and what was known at the time of publication about the community that wrote them. It was a fascinating read, though of course now a bit out of date. I still would recommend it to anyone interested in the scrolls, as any information is still good information in my estimation. It was by no means a dry read....more
The content of this book was marvelous. It collected a series of Australian aboriginal folktales, transcribed from oral accounts. The low rating largeThe content of this book was marvelous. It collected a series of Australian aboriginal folktales, transcribed from oral accounts. The low rating largely comes from my lack of background in that field and the difficulty I had with the language therein. A lot of native language was used, and although the words were defined in the glossary in the back, it was a trying experience constantly flipping through to attempt to garner a better understanding of the content.
Definitely worth reading for "The Green Automobile" and "Dream Record". A general knowledge of the beats will explain why. "Siesta in Xbalba" and "OnDefinitely worth reading for "The Green Automobile" and "Dream Record". A general knowledge of the beats will explain why. "Siesta in Xbalba" and "On Burroughs' Work" were also good.
"Aether" killed the collection for me, sadly, and brought the rating down. All in all not Ginsberg's best, but still worth looking at for the above mentioned poems....more
Phil Rose had a fascinating analysis of the various concept albums of Pink Floyd, with an obvious bias towardI wish I could give this book more stars.
Phil Rose had a fascinating analysis of the various concept albums of Pink Floyd, with an obvious bias towards Roger Waters' work. He did take note of a good number of details that I missed, but some of the details I did pick up... well, he missed. For instance, the "Who was born in a house full of pain" and the way it hearkened back to The Island of Dr. Moreau. But.. yeah.
The analysis focused in a greater part on the musical themes than it did on the lyrics, which was refreshing, but also terribly dry. I can't help but think that if the book was published in a better format (bigger type on better quality pages) the book would have been an easier and more fascinating read. The format it currently is in hurts the eyes, though it does allow for easy portability.
All in all, a decent book, but one that could have been done a bit better. The interview with Roger Waters at the end, however, showed the fellow's wit off rather nicely and was much enjoyable. I hope he does publish his poetry one of these days....more
Other reviewers complained about the lack of information given concerning the conspiracy theories that surround KenI actually quite enjoyed this book.
Other reviewers complained about the lack of information given concerning the conspiracy theories that surround Kennedy's death, and while I agree that that is a fault with this book, from the outset the authors say that they aren't going to head down that path.
This book is told in the same popular style as Killing Lincoln, comprised primarily of short anecdotes surrounding Kennedy's life to give a sketch of it. The information was rather basic, but as a newcomer to this history, that suited me fine.
I would recommend this book as an introduction to Kennedy's life and legacy. It isn't for people who know a great deal about him, it would too simplistic for that, but as a quick read that will give you historical information... it's perfectly fine. For conspiracy theorists, or people interested in such, this gives a broad stroke of why so many exist. The guy sure had a lot of enemies....more