I must say that I was reading this book as a lark – I went in have no expectations, had not read a review nor had I...moreThe Autobiography of Billy The Kid
I must say that I was reading this book as a lark – I went in have no expectations, had not read a review nor had I even heard of the book. After the first page I was hooked. The tone felt realistic – as if this were a true re-telling of history by the legend that lived it.
Throughout the book I was amazed with the progression of the story and the authors ability to inhabit Billy’s world. Gun fights and flight, horse thievery and revenge – this story has it all and I found it a very quick read. (less)
Have you ever read a book that has you laughing out loud so much that you annoy all of the people around you. Reading this book in a library will resu...moreHave you ever read a book that has you laughing out loud so much that you annoy all of the people around you. Reading this book in a library will result in dirty looks because you will not be able to control your laughter, This is the same author that became a national treasure when he started a twitter account to chronicler the Shit My Dad Says – which then went on to become a very successful book. This time Justin is recounting his history with girls from his past as he prepares to propose to his current girlfriend. The book’s funniest parts again stem from the comments of Justin’s dad, every bit as funny as the first book. The dating woes of the young Justin are just too funny to not be shared.(less)
Charlotte Rogan has delivered a wonderfully complex debut novel of intrigue and tragedy. Starting with Grace Winters on trial for a crime that is to b...moreCharlotte Rogan has delivered a wonderfully complex debut novel of intrigue and tragedy. Starting with Grace Winters on trial for a crime that is to be revealed throughout the story the novel displays a talent that I believe will go far in our current literary world. The Lifeboat is deft at keeping you guessing – what is the crime? How exactly did Grace get on the lifeboat? While looking for these answers the reader is given a wonderful ride of tension and allegories that will leave them pondering our current world and the way we make our way through it. I cannot think of a better novel that I have read thus far in 2012. I have raved to my friends about this book and cannot wait for them to read it so that we can discuss the broader implications of the plot and narration. What a wonderful book.(less)
If you have never read Pelecanos than you have surely been missing a wonderful literary time. Pelecanos is a rare tale...moreWhat it Was by George Pelecanos
If you have never read Pelecanos than you have surely been missing a wonderful literary time. Pelecanos is a rare talent when it comes to making crime novels rise above the level of the mighty airport read. I have never been unhappy by the quality of the stories or action and that is doubly true with What it Was – his latest contribution to the crime genre.
Derek Strange returns as a retired cop and becomes a private detective in this noirish new work. The book is a non-stop action in the hard-boiled world that Pelecanos has created. Much like his tv work – there are no compromises in story or content - A very adult book that will please you – make sure not to miss it. (less)
Have you ever noticed that the children today have no concept of freedom nor do they see that it may one day not exist? In my youth we lived under the...moreHave you ever noticed that the children today have no concept of freedom nor do they see that it may one day not exist? In my youth we lived under the spell of the cold war. We could see daily the victims of oppression. Our parents and grandparents fought for the freedom of others and ourselves in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. We saw the crack downs on dissidents in the Soviet Union or by the Soviet Union. We all know Solidarity and the struggles against the commies. Do our rising generations understand that freedom can be gone at any minute without a vigilant eye towards preserving the freedoms we know enjoy?
This is the basic concept in the 30 essays collected in New Threats to Freedom by Adam Bellow. Communism may not be the threat that it once was, but there are still many serious threats to our freedom. Articles deal with Press freedoms, the fairness doctrine and the co-dependence of welfare providers and the recipients of the welfare. All are covered by some of the best minds in todays society.
I must say that I found this book truly intriguing. I myself have taken a vacation from protecting freedom. I have ignored the travesty of many parts of the Patriot act. I was silent when it became clear that the press were all colluding to limit our freedom while gaining more for themselves. This book reminds me that we must continue the eternal fight against oppression, no matter what form it may take.(less)
Herman Wouk has always been one of my favorite writers. I feel in love with the Caine Munity and then felt that I must read his entire ouvre. His book...moreHerman Wouk has always been one of my favorite writers. I feel in love with the Caine Munity and then felt that I must read his entire ouvre. His books always ranged from romantic to serious with a lot of fine story telling and impeccable research to entertain and inform the reader.
I remember being so impressed with his book, This is My God that I had a religious epiphany. I rededicated myself to Judaism and started living a better life. I always am eager for a new book but realizing that Mr. Wouk is now 95 I was worried that I may never get that next book.
Yet, just this month we have such a book, The Language of God. This is only the third non-fiction book that Mr. Wouk has written, all three dealing with religion, but I hesitate to label this book about religion as it is so much more. The book is where science meets religion.
Mr. Wouk is a famous member of the Modern-Orthodox movement of Judaism. Yet, his books depict scenes in life that many Orthodox Jews would not openly confront. This book is in that vane, he seeks to show just how science and religion are balanced in his own conscience and he does so quite well.
The book is Mr. Wouk’s remembrances of the late great scientist, Richard Feynman (a personal favorite of mine as well). Feynman was famously atheist and not really into fiction writing. He believed that the world offered so many mysteries that there was not time to waste on frivolous pursuits such as fiction.
I must say that this is a book that is quite timely. There seems to be a resurgence in the Darwin debates. More and more atheists are being published and there has not really been any rational counter argument that does not seem to be faith alone. Mr. Wouk is the first of the rational faithful to write a book on the need for co-existence between the two worlds. (less)
I remember when I first learned of the Honor Bound series by W.E.B. Griffin. My family was on a road trip to Ohio and we stopped at a Cracker Barrel r...moreI remember when I first learned of the Honor Bound series by W.E.B. Griffin. My family was on a road trip to Ohio and we stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for dinner. I found the rental kiosk and discovered what seemed to be an interesting WWII book on tape that deal with the OSS in South America. We rented the tape and put it in the deck when we started back on the road. The reader of the book about put us all to sleep, my dad ejected the tape and turned the radio back on to some dreadful country music and I could not wait to return the tapes at the next stop. A year or so later, I found a used hardback copy of the book on sale. I was still interested, and decided that it was worth the 25 cents. I read the book from cover to cover in a day, never being so excited by a book in the genre as I was with the adventures of Clete Frade and the OSS in Argentina. I was very excited to find that a sequel was due out and put my name on a reserved list at the local bookstore. That book was just as exciting as the first, but then the problems appeared. Griffin writes so many series of action books, he neglects this series for years at a time. There was a three year gap between each of the first three books. The last book, Death and Honor did not appear for nine years, a lifetime in the book world. I had almost given up on the Honor Bound series, as I believed the author had done the same. I was at the local library last week and saw the book on the shelf, with a name like Death and Honor, I suspected that it was a new entry in the coveted series. I was not to be disappointed. It was the magical fourth entry that we have waited all these many years to read. I found myself falling right back into the vivid world of Griffin’s Argentina, so called neutral but axis leaning. The main characters were easily remembered, but I must admit that many of the minor ones were long forgotten. Yet, it mattered little as the action and adventure filled in the memory gap brought about by a near decade neglect of the series. I do hope that there will not be such a long gap from now on. As far as the plot, it remains the same as the previous entries in the series. Clete, as the son and heir to an Argentine Colonel, is on assignment for the OSS. Yet, as heir he starts to blend his need of family ties and responsibilities with those of the United States. The action of this book is mainly in the setting up of an airline requested by Roosevelt as well as the Nazis search for the traitor in their embassy. Another fine and well written adventure, let us hope the next installment is on the way.(less)
Potter is the author of the newest attempt to boil the workings of science down to a readable and digestible small book. There seems to have been a cr...morePotter is the author of the newest attempt to boil the workings of science down to a readable and digestible small book. There seems to have been a craze of popular-science tomes about the creation and other meanings of life as of late. Potter is not the first, nor will he be the last writer to try and explain the world as science believes it to be in a book aimed at lay people. My favorite was Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman (I still listen to the lectures on CD from time to time, they must be a lot easier to him than me, sadly). Potter does a fine job of explaining most things, putting the words in a sequence that I read if not always fully understand. Yet, it is his goal to whiddle the complex into the understandable, he does not always succeed, yet that might be a gap in my own scientific understanding. Still, he looks at science through the prism of materialism, meaning as best I can tell that all material things can be scientifically explained. He is not as opposed to religious thoughts as others in the science realm, but he is not the all embracer than many would like him to be either.(less)
Why is most of the world now mono-theistic? Was the advent truly something from the Jews, or was it simply a natural out growth of prevailing current...moreWhy is most of the world now mono-theistic? Was the advent truly something from the Jews, or was it simply a natural out growth of prevailing current ideals during the birth time of the philosophy? These are the questions that are asked in the book, The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.
Before reading the book, I thought this was going to be another attack on religion in the vain of Hitchens or Dawkins. After reading the book, I think that might be a tad much but it is still in the ball park. The book looks at the differences of religion from the founding documents or ideas, questions such as why Jesus is different in the gospels or why there are contradictory creation stories in the Jewish bible.
While I must confess to being interested in the theories, I can easily tell that this will not be a book on the Christian reading list. There is just too much that runs counter to their beliefs in this book. The idea that the idea of G-d has evolved will come something new to many believers and this book will be lumped in with those anti-Religious books that have recently become so popular with publishers (it remains to be seen just how popular they are with the book buying public).
This book will do well in a Religious studies course in Universities across the land. The idea of the evolving changes towards belief is nothing new; it is just provocative to many. Yet, there is truth …(less)
Subtitled Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor, the book was released with the public announcement of the so-called missing link discovery. It seems that...moreSubtitled Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor, the book was released with the public announcement of the so-called missing link discovery. It seems that a fossil poacher had discovered a find of such unique historical value that the world must now be given proof of the newest Darwinian twist. As most educated people know, Darwin developed his theory of Evolution. It has been suggested that man and apes share a common ancestor and IDA, the fossil discussed in the book may very well be that link. Written with clear and precise language, I found the book easily the most readable science book written in the last few years. The ideas are clear and profound; Tudge does a wonderful service to the find. I do not propose to debate evolution, you either believe or you do not. I, myself, am convinced that evolution is sound theory and without contradiction, I do not see that it is something that can be ignored. Unless the creator himself dispels the notion, it is the best explanation that we currently have. Yet, that is a digression for another day and another post. The Link is a very important book in that it can serve as a historical biography of the Messel Pit into which so many fossils have been found and to those that continue the search for the extinct life forms of the past. The knowledge of current ecology can only be helped with a look at the past. As with many books, this was one that I found myself talking with co-workers and friends. I felt the need to pass the book around so that they may also enjoy it for themselves. I see it becoming a book for selection for our book club.(less)
Rocco Mediate became the story of the 2008 US Open, seemingly coming out of no where to force an 18 hole play-off against Tiger Woods. The story is to...moreRocco Mediate became the story of the 2008 US Open, seemingly coming out of no where to force an 18 hole play-off against Tiger Woods. The story is told by Rocco and the great John Feinstein in, Are You Kidding Me? Rocco is known on the tour as a talkative and fun guy, and this book is of the same. Rocco tells of his life with a light touch that cements his place with the best on the PGA Tour. This is not a swing by swing account of the Torrey Pines match, but rather a biography of Rocco as a player on the tour. His story is interesting because he is interesting, but the obvious hand of Feinstein makes this another great golf book to read. The struggles of the journeyman golfer that finds age and injuries starting to do him in just as the greatest golfer in a generation (and one of all-times) is beginning to devour the tour is compelling reading for all fans of the sport. I was spell bound in the early chapters and found that I read the book in far less time than I could have played a round. As this is the weekend for the US Open, this book was a great reminder about the true drama that can be a golf match, even if Tiger still prevails.(less)
I know that there are some out there that shy away from revisionist histories. The entire genre has gotten a bad reputation due to the power of the t...more I know that there are some out there that shy away from revisionist histories. The entire genre has gotten a bad reputation due to the power of the truly crank cases, whether it be Holocaust denial, Howard Zinn’s indictments on American History (or western civilization in general) or Pat Buchanan’s ode to Nazi Germany. Yet, there are plenty of other works that fall into the genre that are not meant to do anything more than to increase our understanding of the events of yesteryear. Tears in the Darkness is of this second order. Written by Michael and Elizabeth Norman, Tears in the Darkness is a fine example of how new histories should written. The authors have achieved a wonderfully rich narrative that manages to give the reader insight into the minds of all three sides of the battle for Bataan and the well-known aftermath. This look at the largest defeat in American History is needed to further explain just why it happened, something that many times has been lost with the depictions of the minutiae of individual histories and stories. The history is laid out into a dual track, as the chapters that are numbered tell the overall story and the named sections at the end of each chapter introduce and follow Ben Steele, the one survivor that had dealings with most aspects of Bataan, from being one of the garrison soldiers, battlers and prisoners. He was one of the defeated forced to march and then suffered the barbaric prison system that the Japanese put in place. One of the great aspects of this book is the inclusion of the Japanese point of view. What does get glossed over in many histories of Bataan is the fact that it was a defeat for America that could have been prevented, but the egoism of MacArthur as well as the inherent racism on all sides of the conflict did much to ensure that it would not be easy for wither side in the war. There is much benefit for researchers to see exactly how closed the Japanese system was, the devaluation of their own lives for the idea of Emperor and chain of command needed to be stressed, as we know that not all of the officers agreed with the policies of their governments. The inside look at the letters of the common soldier also was a nice plus. As we enter the 4th of July weekend, books like Tears in the Darkness should be added to reading lists for all interested in the continuing battle for freedom and history. I could not have asked for a more meaningful book at this point of year. (less)
Rosenberg, acclaimed thriller writer has now written an in depth non-fiction look at the current and past issue of Iranian-US relations at a time when...moreRosenberg, acclaimed thriller writer has now written an in depth non-fiction look at the current and past issue of Iranian-US relations at a time when the rhetoric is once again reaching a boiling point. ITR is filled with fact checked insights that will inform those that have thus far managed to avoid the subject. From the coup of the Shah, to the current nuclear weapons quest, Rosenberg depicts a regime that is bent on creating the conditions for their own apocalyptic visions.
He then depicts the differences between the Radicals and reformers in Islam and just what they mean for a Judeo-Christian society. The book is a little out of the mainstream because it does rely so much on religion and theology, something that most middle-East commentators go to great pains to ignore or downplay. Rosenberg is an evangelical Christian himself, thereby explaining the themes on a level that matters to himself and his co-religionists.
ITR is not something to be shunned so easily, as I may not agree with all of his points, Rosenberg has put in so much research that this is a book that compels thought and merits discussion. I find it difficult to explain the near absence of coverage, especially during our current entanglements.(less)
A muckraking reporter with a terrible scar from childhood and more enemies than she knows checks into a private clinic...moreThe Private Patient by PD James
A muckraking reporter with a terrible scar from childhood and more enemies than she knows checks into a private clinic for plastic surgery is murdered after the completion of the tricky procedure, leaving it up to Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his murder squad to find the culprit. The squad is called into what should be an ordinary case in the country by a politically well connected patient, much to their unhappiness, as each member of the squad had pressing personal business in London. Not the least of which is Adam Dalgliesh, poet-policeman who is finally ready to wed his beloved Emma. Yet, he must take to Dorsett to find the killer once again. James has once again created a stellar crime novel that will rival any in the genre. Her characters are always rich and complex, unlike the cutouts found in a lot of the muck that passes for crime novels. I personally adore the way she presents the mysteries and the characters inside their world, making the Dalgliesh books one of my favorite fiction escapes, sitting side by side with the Rebus books by Rankin and anything by Michael Connelly. Dalgliesh should be well suited for many more cases, as long as the good lady continues to write.
Children don't need drugs, they have sweets; So says Russell Brand in his surprisingly deep book, My Booky Wook. When I was in the UK during a week in...moreChildren don't need drugs, they have sweets; So says Russell Brand in his surprisingly deep book, My Booky Wook. When I was in the UK during a week in December 2007, Russell Brand was an ever present force. He was about to launch his auto-biography, he had a part in a huge British film, St. Trinian’s that was getting a grand release in Leicester Square and he was the hip and rogue host of a popular Radio 2 program. He was on top of the British world, I was aware of him because of my love for British entertainment, but really, how could he be so big?
First off, if you know anything about the British, you are aware that they love reality TV and make stars out of the contestants. Russell Brand found some fame as a VJ on MTV UK, an off shoot of the cultural American iconic music channel. He was able to parlay that into Big Brother and various off-shoots that hyped his fame with the tabloids. Those very same papers that build you up, really only relish the take-down and work to do just that. Russell Brand provided them with every thing they would need to destroy him.
My Booky Wook will have to go down as one of the worst titles ever given to a book that should be taken seriously. Brand is a damn fine writer, surprising my wife who picked the book up and read through a few pages. From the title and cover, I was certainly expecting the tired cliché of celebrity comic’s books that are really just their retired stand-up routines jotted down to make that final dollar (think Seinlanguage or Couplehood). In reality, Brand has written a disturbing tale of woe that could occur to any child born to the British underclass. His depraved upbringing of neglect, poverty and divorce is not knew, but also not really looked at with such talented and ultimately happy eyes as Brands. This is no screed against humanity nor is it a self-pitying tome, but rather what seems to be a honest account of a life once gone wrong, righted by ambition and with the help of people that cared and could spot talent.
This is quite a book, one that the author and publisher should be proud to put to the public. The life of descending into heroin addiction and the ultimate trip to poverty row was eye-opening and when told in Brand’s words, very humorous. The ability gain empathy with the reader while actually recounting the vilest of stories is a mark of an artist of high talent. Brand was very wonderful in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, so much so that he has been awarded a spin-off movie for his character. His songs on the sound track are actually very well done, meaning that Brand is simple an extra-ordinary talent, one that we are lucky to see survived and able to tell his story.(less)