Pretty dense and academic, but not TOTALLY out of reach for the layman. If you want to get an understanding of how much depth the works of Tolkien conPretty dense and academic, but not TOTALLY out of reach for the layman. If you want to get an understanding of how much depth the works of Tolkien contain, this book will enlighten you. It's almost as if you're taking a course from Dr. Shippey himself. ...more
**spoiler alert** Knowing that Elvis Costello is an amazing songwriter, I was not surprised that his memoirs are just as enjoyable and creative. He's**spoiler alert** Knowing that Elvis Costello is an amazing songwriter, I was not surprised that his memoirs are just as enjoyable and creative. He's an expert storyteller, making every encounter and mishap sound like the most fascinating and funny thing in the world. Admittedly, a lot of his anecdotes involve famous people, which can sound a little like bragging at times. But then, Elvis is just talking about his peers and heroes.
One thing I really valued about this book is that it's as much a story of Elvis' family as it is about him. His father, Ross MacManus, is a very important figure in the book and in Elvis' life. The glimpses we get of Ross are touching and valuable. A bit less is said about his mother, Lillian, but I got the idea that she is an incredible woman.
What's left out is as important as what's left in. Elvis doesn't give us specific details of his marriage and divorce with his first wife, Mary. He doesn't give us any insight into why he and Bruce Thomas do not get along, either. It's just simply not that kind of book. He has every right to keep things private, but the hints he does offer are insightful.
The best part of the book, and the hardest to read, is the section detailing the last years of his father. It's a heartbreaking story that Elvis tells in great, painful detail. Bring some tissues for that chapter.
If this book has a flaw, it's that the juicy parts are put in the first two-thirds of the book. The last part is reserved for Elvis' post-Attractions life and career. Things get a lot more tame, and Elvis seems to think 'Ok, I haven't talked about that album, I better get through that.' At some point, the inclusion of song lyrics gets to be tedious, no matter how good those lyrics may be. That said, he does offer very interesting thoughts on where his life and career are today.
This is essential reading if you're a Costello fan. You'll get to know him beyond the 'angry young man' persona, and learn about some very important people in his life too. ...more
A decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subjectA decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subject matter would seem quite interesting, I thought the author approached it in a bit of a dry manner at times. For example, making a list of names of famous gangster in the Lower East Side without telling us anything about these people is useless for the reader. Perhaps it serves as documentation, but the reader of the book will likely not need nor remember such a list of names.
In my opinion, when writing a book for the general public, as this book seems to be aimed at, even the academic author must keep in mind that a reader is best served by compelling stories and storytelling. Some parts of this book accomplished that goal, while others did not. Also, I felt some chapters were a bit short compared to the wealth of possibilities each subject could offer. I suppose that is the downside of a general overview.
To be honest, I found the afterword much more compelling than the preceding chapters. The author discusses what it was like to live in the squalor of 1970s and 80s Lower East Side Manhattan. I'd love to hear more about that....more
The Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardlThe Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardly imagine how it manages to stay upright.
Although this book is the story of the Flatiron, even more is it the story of the people who envisioned it, built it, and managed it. It's really the story of one Harry Black, the President of the Fuller Company, which constructed the Flatiron.
Many people probably know that the Flatiron was once officially known as the Fuller building, but I, for one, didn't know a thing about the Fuller Company until now. Fuller, which later came under Harry Black's U.S. Realty trust, built not only the Flatiron, but many other iconic New York buildings. The Times building in Times Square, which kind of looks like an inverse Flatiron? Built by Fuller. Macy's in Herald Square? Also built by Fuller. As well as the Plaza Hotel near Central Park.
This book had so many stories about New York City and its turn of the century Real Estate industry, most of which I've never heard. This is a great book for learning about how the New York of most people's dreams was built by a few powerful companies. It's full of colorful characters, infidelity, union troubles, and much more. And, of course, you learn about the genesis of the Flatiron and what it means to New Yorkers....more
I was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's politiI was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's political life, but you also get a sense of who he was as a person. A son, a friend, a father, a husband, a community member. Looking back, we think of Lincoln as a strong, intelligent man of leadership. And he was, but it took him a while to get there. He has his problems and weaknesses just like any other human being.
A reader of this book will see how Lincoln had to fight for everything he earned. He worked his way to the top of American political life, and once he reached the top, he found his work had only just begun. This imperfect, somewhat inexperienced man faced managing a war, dealing with splits between Democrats and Republicans and splits within the Republican party, figuring out how to free slaves and integrate them into a white society that did not want them, and above all trying to save the Union. Why was Lincoln a great man? Because he actually managed to do all of the above, or at least set things on the right path. No other President in American history faced such a great burden.
Although this book isn't exactly a page-turner, it is very easy to follow and provides a very good overview of Lincoln's life, both personal and professional. If you want to have a good foundation for learning about the great Abraham Lincoln, this is an ideal place to begin....more
Gets a bit slow at times, but overall it's a really incredible story. It's amazing what trials these men went through. I can't believe I'm saying thisGets a bit slow at times, but overall it's a really incredible story. It's amazing what trials these men went through. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd recommend watching a documentary or movie about this or reading a summary of the expedition online, and then digging into the details here....more
A very in-depth look at a year (and more) of the Indiana University basketball program coached by the unpredictable Bob Knight. I was impressed with tA very in-depth look at a year (and more) of the Indiana University basketball program coached by the unpredictable Bob Knight. I was impressed with the amount of detail with which Feinstein wrote this book. All the traditions and routines were very fascinating and bring the reader closer to what is going on.
After reading this book, one gets the impression that Bob Knight is a man who, although he has issues with controlling his temper and actions, cares very much about his players and program and simply wants to get the very best out of the young men who play for him.
Although you do not necessarily need to know much about basketball to enjoy this book, it probably helps a bit during the passages about the finer points of the game....more