Ever wondered what it would be like to live in a conquered nation? This exciting, well-written historical novel can answer some of your questions.
In t...moreEver wondered what it would be like to live in a conquered nation? This exciting, well-written historical novel can answer some of your questions.
In the spring of 1942, Japan has overrun most of the Philippines (a few remote areas are still held by guerilla fighters). Armed patrols in the streets can stop anyone anytime and ask for id and/or arrest them. Radio and newspapers are under Japanese control and censorship. American and British civilians are interned. Tourism has ended and business trickles to nearly a standstill as all struggle to survive. And things become worse as the war continues......
Although this is a work of fiction, the author did extensive research---many of the events in this book are based on real events.
I liked two characters. There were very few young American women in Manila at the time, so Judy Ferguson had her pick of young soldiers and her local boyfriends and paid little attention to politics and war. Then, she is interned and spends her first night sleeping on the floor with a group of other refugee women--and realizes the next few years she will be struggling to survive.....
My second favorite character is a young Filipina nightclub singer, whose stage name is "Papaya". When the Japanese re-open a few nightclubs for their own use, Papaya starts singing again and becomes friendly with some officers. She is scorned as a traitor; her family will not speak to her--and she cannot reveal than any careless remark or info dropped by the officers is reported to the Resistance.
What I had not though of before is that Papaya---and other dedicated agents like her in any war---are in danger from BOTH sides. Certainly facing death if the Japanese uncover her deception, she also risks someone on her own side killing her to make an example of a "traitor".
With very good characterization and a well-crafted plot, this is anexcellent historical novel for any interested in World War II; the Philippines; the 1940's or any combination of these three. Highly recommended.(less)
This an an excellent historical fiction tale. the setting is 449 AD, and the crumbling remnants of the Roman Empire are threatened by Attila the Hun.
J...moreThis an an excellent historical fiction tale. the setting is 449 AD, and the crumbling remnants of the Roman Empire are threatened by Attila the Hun.
Jonas Alabanda, a young historian from the Eastern Empire of Constantinople, is selected for an assistant's post in a diplomatic mission sent to pacify Attila. Jonas, a scholar by nature, has leanred the Hunnish language, which few in the empires can speak. The novel is mostly told from his point of view.
Occasionally, the author switches to a third person point of view, then back to first person. Although I found it a bit destracting---parts Joans 'tells' he could not have known. But the pace of the novel was so good, it well overcame this one flaw.
Fast-paced; lots of suspense and adventure--battles; chases, spies; assassains and intrigue are well mixed. The historical details of the Roman empire--both Eastern and Western--are based as much as possible on real historical persons and knowledge. The Huns are portrayed fairly realistically--but as the author notes in his epilogue, we have one problem here. The Huns had no written language and were nomadic with no cities for historians to escavate.
So, our knowledge of the Hun people is based on the writings of their enemies, plus some archaelogical conjectures. Still, the picture in the novel of the Huns' nomadic life and culture rang true to me. And they were incredible warriors and horsemen.
Definitely for over 18 due to the violent descriptions of battles and other adult content. For adults, however, this book is very entertainning. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and/or adventure fiction. Fans of real history would probably find much worth their time as well.(less)
This is an excellent, well-written and enjoyable historical novel. It tells of the years from 1777 to 1779, when George Rogers Clark played a pivotal...moreThis is an excellent, well-written and enjoyable historical novel. It tells of the years from 1777 to 1779, when George Rogers Clark played a pivotal role in defending the norwestern Colonies during the Revolutionary War.
While the battles were going on along the Atlantic Coast, the British were also trying to gain a foothold in the NorthWest Territories. They had forts in Detroit, in Kaskaskia,Illinois and Vincennes, Indiana. Of course, these were not states then--they were all together referred to as the "Northwest Territory". Besides building forts on land claimed by the newly formed United States, they also stirred up trouble, encouraging the Indians to attack American settlers for bounties.
George Rogers Clark, as told in this excellent novel, captured two of the forts--Kaskaskia and Vincennes. The latter was especially diffuclt as it was a winter campaign.
The author has done excellent research. Except for a handful, noted in the author's note at the end, all the letters and proclamations in this novel are genuine.
One scene I particularly liked was describing the Vincennes assault. For over a week, the men marched (only a few packhorse and horses for a scout or two were available) all day. Eating parched corn and strips of dried meat, the would march all day, with cold wind and often drizzle. At night, they could not build a large fire--it might be seen by enemies. Sometimes it was too wet for any kind of fire. They would drop on the ground, wrap themselves in a blanket, fall asleep from exhaustion; get up[ and begin the next day--and the next and the next...
Reminds me of what I had read about Marines in the Pacific---severe weather; scant rations due to supply issues; day to day exhaustion.
This novel really shows the harships our frontiersmen suffered in the Revolutionary times.
Alas, Clark's sucesses came early in his life. All these events occurred before he was 30.
In later life--I found this particularly sad--he was plagued by poverty. During his campaigns, he himself had often borrowed money for supplies for his troops. Yet, the state of Virginia--and later the US Congress--refused to acknowledge these debts. Clark had kept careful records, but it was claimed they had never been received. Finally, in 1812, Virginia granted George Rogers Clark a pension and acknowledged his services. He died six years later. (Oh--and many of the receipts and vouchers Clark had sent WERE found--in 1913!)
Not nearly as well known as his younger brother, William Clark of the 'Lewis and Clark' expedition, this novel introduced me to a fascinating character. After you read this novel, when some says "George Rogers Clark", you'll think--"yes, quite a unique man"and not "Who?""
Historically accurate, exsciting, a bit long--500 pages--but usually well paced, this kept my interest. Recommened for fans of histrocal fiction; especially recommend if the Colonial-Revolutionary War ear is of interest to you. Fans of regular history would probably enjoy this as well.
Unlike his borther Ray, Martin Mossman was a drifter. Since the end of the Civil War he has traveled here and there, willing to work for a season or t...moreUnlike his borther Ray, Martin Mossman was a drifter. Since the end of the Civil War he has traveled here and there, willing to work for a season or two, but not staying put.
When Martin goes to Colorado to visit his borther Ray and see his family, he is expecting just a nice quiet visit. On his first night, guns are fired through the house windows.
Later, Martin is taking some goods by wagon to a nearby town to help his borther and is ambushed. The scene where Martin is trapped on the trail trying to outgues two raiders is well written. It shows that you don't need a huge battle with dozens of people to build suspense.
All this harassment is due to the fact that Ray Mossman is the leader in a move for an election. That election, if sucessful, will bring more order an safety for the town; authorize a deputy to help the sheriff and genrally rein in the saloons and gamblers from their worst excess, at least.
I liked that. Usually the violence is personal or financial or because Ray has a map of the lost gold mine or whatever.... Here, he is threatened and in danger because he wants an honest election. A nice reminder that political corruption and rigged elections are nothing new.
Martin Mossman, the main character is well drawn. His relationship with his borther Ray and his family--a wife and two young sons--is well handled.
There is not a huge amount of action but the story kept me reading.Okay, I had to admit--some of the dialogue had me thinking "did they really talk like that?"
Not a perfect book but a pleasant, light Western well worth an evening or two of your time. Recommended for fans of Westerns and/or historical fiction.
This was the first book I have read by this author. I was impressed.
Jacob Hunt suffers from Asperger's Syndrome--a form of autism. But Jacob is not re...moreThis was the first book I have read by this author. I was impressed.
Jacob Hunt suffers from Asperger's Syndrome--a form of autism. But Jacob is not retarded--he is very intelligent. And his current area of fascination is forensic science.
Then a local murder brings Jacob into the legal system. His symptoms of Asperger's--notlooking directly at you; inappropiate answers to questions; smiling for no reason followed by angry meltdowns--all spell 'guilty' to the local police and the local townspeople.
The book is narrated in turn by five different narrators--Jacob himself; Emma, his mother; Theo, his younger brother; Oliver, their inexpereinced lawayer; and Rich, the police detective.
The courtroom scenes give a clear example of how someone mentally different would fare in our legal system. The court does provide some accomodations due to Jacob's disability--but the general feeling is that Jacob's unusual mental attitudes must mean he's guilty , right? Ordinary people do not act that that, right?.....
One part I also liked about this book is it shows clearly how Asperger's--or any life -changing handicap--affects not only the boy, but his family as well. I recall specifically Theo musing when he was younger, he did not understand why HE had to obey certain rules--and Jacob, though older, did not.
Fast-paced; interesting ideas and well written--I recommend this very highly. The portraits given of all five narrators are excellent--and all five sound idfferent and true to character. Recommended for mystery fans; fans of legal fiction but also fans of stories with lots of human interaction and good characterization.(less)
This is a gripping and well written book. Originally published in 1957, it has stood the test of time.
It focuses on a small group of people in Austrai...moreThis is a gripping and well written book. Originally published in 1957, it has stood the test of time.
It focuses on a small group of people in Austrailia. They are awaiting their death--the nuclear holocuast has destoryed the entire Norther Hemisphere--but the radioactive contanimation is spreading through the atmosephere. When it reaches Austrailia, all life on the continent will cease the Earth will be barren.
It raises the questin: how would people react with only six months to live for EVERYONE? A person with a terminal illness faces only the end of his or her own life--his family, his nation will continue.
The writing is very compact and the characters are well-written. I can't say too much as I do not want to spoil anything more. But if you have not read this book, I highly recommended it. It is NOT an optimistic book and is not meant to be. It is a warning, a cautionary tale that is even more revelant today than when originally written.(less)
It would be hard to say anything about this classic which was not said before. Altough Miller writes in the notes that he changed a few details--mergi...moreIt would be hard to say anything about this classic which was not said before. Altough Miller writes in the notes that he changed a few details--merging several judges into one composite to make the play move faster, for example--the SPIRIT of the play is very accurate.
It clearly cpatures the hysteria, legal misconduct and antagonisms of the time. The accusations of witchcraft lead to massive jailings; and 19 executions before the fever died down. It is well written and deserves its classic status. It is also making me interested in the actual events--will be looking for a history on this event.
The really sobering thing about the play to me is: human nature has not changed. Something like this could happen again when people become angry and frightened.
Recommended for all readers high school age or aabove.(less)
This is an interesting historically novel, detailing three generations of the Chain family.
In 1910, the building containing the sweatshop where Jake C...moreThis is an interesting historically novel, detailing three generations of the Chain family.
In 1910, the building containing the sweatshop where Jake Chain's wife works collapses. Several people are killed; Jake's wife Sarah is crippled. Jake, who was just a hired workman, suddenly becomes involved in the union movement. When the bosses hire roughnecks to intimidate the union, Jake fights force with force. He soon becomes a well known enforcer for the union. He soon finds he can make a lot of money in the enforcement business.
The second part of the book deals with Jake's only son, Morty. He becomes a bootlegger, and makes an immense forturne doing so. The amount of money that could be made in bootlegging astounded me. Prohibition was very unsuccessful; as many officals saw nothing wrong with illegal liquor and were easily bribed to look the other way when illegal booze was trucked in.
The third section of the book deals with Morty's son, Martin. When it became fairly obvious that Prohibition was to be repealed, Morty went into legitimate business--real esate; trucking; pharmaceuticals and so on. Marin has an excellent head for business, and become a powerful business typcoon.
There is a lot of action and suspense in the novel. Also, lots of interesting characters surrounding the Chain family and the historical details are well done.
Recommended for fans of historical fiction or multi-generation family sagas. It would be of special interest to those interested in the years between 1910 and 1960. There is enough historical detail to make it of interest to fans of regular history as well.(less)
Amos Burch owns the bank, several business and ranches, and is the most admired man in Paradise, Colorado.
So his young, naive teller Daniel Knott is s...moreAmos Burch owns the bank, several business and ranches, and is the most admired man in Paradise, Colorado.
So his young, naive teller Daniel Knott is stunned when he blunders into an office he though was empty and find Amos "caught in the act" with a woman definitely not his wife. Daniel flees the bank.
The next day, expecting reprisal, he is advised by Amos that he is being promoted to bank manager with a fat raise. Hesitating, he is told "Take the position or leave my employ. I don't like indicisive men." Daniel has a wife and three kids to support; he shuts up.
But then Amos' wife, Myrtle, files a divorce action. Dan cannot bring himself to perjure hiself under oath; he tells what he saw. A few days later, a sperate case comes up--Dan is accused of embezzling almost $10K from the bank. Now Dan has a choice--commit perjury in the divorce case and the embezzling charge will be dropped. Or stick to his true testimony--and go to jail for embezzlement. Amos has the judge in his pcket; he owns the newspaper; he has power and money and means to have his way.
This is billed as a Western--Colorado, 1880's--but could be set in any small town. No shoot-outs or blazing guns; this is a character driven story. Wheeler does a good job of showing the points of view of the major characters, and I found it an interesting read. The ending was interesting--I won't say more. It is well worth a read.
I wonder when I read things like this--if I were facing jail, and all I had to do to save myself years in prison was to commit perjury, would I have the guts to tell the truth?
This is the sequel to "Homeland", Book 2 in the Crown family saga. Although it could be read seperately, certain passages will make more sense if you...moreThis is the sequel to "Homeland", Book 2 in the Crown family saga. Although it could be read seperately, certain passages will make more sense if you read "Homeland" first.
This book focusses on the second generation of the Crown family. The story of Fritzi's struggle to become an actress is well done and she is a very, very interesting character. Jakes mixes in historical characters in his usual way, such as Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin.
The book switches back and forth, and we again meet Paul Crown, who dominated the first book. He is still filming real events---newsreels instead of fiction stories--and is caught up in filming events in WWI. He is still an interesting character, more mature, and his sections are well writtens. We do get some small glimpses of characters from Book I---Fritzi'sparents and her brother Joe--but the third main character is Fritzi's younger brother Carl. Thrown out of Princeton--by the current university president, Woodrow Wilson--he is a ne'er do well. He wants to play sports, then he acquires a taste for speedy cars, then ends up as a mercenary pilot---getting involved with Pancho Villa and so on.
The scenes with Carl are as well written as the rest of the book--as Ususal, John Jakes' historical detail and characterization was up to his usual standards. I simply did not care for Carl as a person, so I enjoyed his sections a little less.
All in all, Carl notwithstanding, this is an excellent historical fiction novel covering the years from 1906 to 1917. Lots of great characters--major and minor--and lots of info about the early history of films; car racing, and early airplanes. Recommended for all fans of historical fiction.(less)
The cover says " a novel" but it is really a segement that Michener origianlly wrote for his book ,Texas, which was cut before that book was printed.
L...moreThe cover says " a novel" but it is really a segement that Michener origianlly wrote for his book ,Texas, which was cut before that book was printed.
Like most of Michener's work, it is wellw ritten and historically accurate. As noted in the description above it contrasts the careers of Sam Houston and his adversary, Mexican President Santa Ana.
It is a little less detailed that most of Michener's work and much shorter, so it only gets three stars--most Michener books I give four.
It would,however, be an excellent novel to give to someone who has never been fortunate enough to have read Michener's works. Such a person could be exposed to Michener's writing style, and not have to start with a huge nover of 800 pages plus.
Short, but well written--and interesting--I personally almost always find Michener interesting.
Recommnded for fans of history or hostorical fiction; a must for any student of Texas history.(less)
At 1200 pages, this book is long--but there is really a lot of good writing in here. A great blend of history and fiction; the type John Jakes does so...moreAt 1200 pages, this book is long--but there is really a lot of good writing in here. A great blend of history and fiction; the type John Jakes does so well.
There are two events showcased. The Pullman Strike in Chicago is the first. Joe Crown, Paul's uncle is a brewery owner,quite rich and opposed to the untions. Joe, Jr. his son, is rebelling against his father, who likes to control people. When the strike erupts in violence and one of Joe Crown's trusted employees is killed, he is furious with his son. Paul helps Joe , Jr. escape so Paul flees to the Chicago slums and Joe, Jr. heads west.
We follower three seperate lives--Paul learning photography and the early days of motion pictures. Joe, Jr flees to California but still cannot escape his sympathy with the underdog and agains is caught between owners and workers in a strike. And Joe Crown , Sr. is tryingep his marriage together, for his wife blames him for the loss of their son and their nephew, Paul.
The climatic event of the book is the Spanish American War. Joe Crown,Sr.; a Union veteran is called back to service as an officer.Paul is sent to get the first real photgraphs of an historic event--taking his camera into the war zone in Cuba. The story of Paul and his uncle's meeting in the war zone is very well done. I especially like his portrayal of Joe, Sr.--he is not an ogre or a fool--he is just resistant to change. But he does change,slowly, and endss up a more sympathetic character.
All the main characters are well done--true to life, rather than stereotypes. Mixed in are historical characters such as Teddy Roosevlet, Jane Addams, Stephen Crane, and dozens of others.
The descirptions of Paul's trip in steerage (horrid); the early days of photography and films; a good picture of Chicago in the 1890's and much, much more is waiting for you in this book.
I almost gave five stars but there were just a little too many coincidences. Also, most everything ended fairly happily for our protagonists, and I found happily ever after a bit unrealistic. I mean, everybody comes out okay?
Still one of Jakes' better books---lots of drama, good historical research, good character development and a fast and interesting story. The story kept me reading for 1200 pages--about all, it is a strong STORY. The strength of the storytelling overrides the few rough spots.(less)
A rarity, my friends--five stars. I seldom give that but a few books deserve it and this is one. Marge Piercy has taken ten major characters--six women...moreA rarity, my friends--five stars. I seldom give that but a few books deserve it and this is one. Marge Piercy has taken ten major characters--six women and four men--and written a superb novel of the homefornt during World War II. She gives a very excellent portrayal of the hardships faced at home. Waiting to get a letter from the loved one overseas. The stringent rationing of gas, sugar and many other items. The rumors. The good times and the bad. The seperation of families. The political tensions and infighting among ourselves in the homefront.
Especially interesting to me are the changes in society. When Ruthie goes to work in a war plant, many men harass her as they feel it is "unnatural" for a woman to want to do a man's job. Another character, a woman air pilot, is grounded because it is felt they--the women pilots--are taking jobs away from men who have families to feed. And, yes, you young teens reading this, in the 1940's lots of people--men AND some women--beleived this!
When she starts the story, the switching from one character to another takes a bit of getting used to. But as the lives of the characters begin to intertwine, the book gains momentum. I do feel the characterizations are quite good, though I did enjoy some characters much more than others. Bernice, Ruthie, Jackie and Naomi are the best told characters I felt. Louise and Abra could have stayed home; the other characters fall somewhat in between. Each reader will probably find one or two favorites of his or her own.
A well written novel this is a must for any fan of historical fiction; especialy if your interested is the 1940's. Fans of regular history would find much goodinformation as well. Very Highly Recommended.(less)