This was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and his writing hooked me from the very first chapter.
This is the kind of book you savor, relishing eve...moreThis was my first experience with Neil Gaiman, and his writing hooked me from the very first chapter.
This is the kind of book you savor, relishing every vivid sentence. The characters are colorful and complex. The twists and turns in the plot will have you wanting more, and wanting to read the book again to pick up on clues that pay off later.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to further experiences with Neil Gaiman.(less)
A decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subject...moreA 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.(less)
Excellent blend of horror and crime solving that gets you hooked from the very first page.
The main characters are believable, although perhaps defined...moreExcellent blend of horror and crime solving that gets you hooked from the very first page.
The main characters are believable, although perhaps defined too much through their relationship to each other, and the supporting characters are colorful. The story itself is truly terrifying, and you feel the weight of the struggle to come for our protagonists. The writing is suspenseful and keeps you reading even though you don't want to know what awaits.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone wanting a good horror story.(less)
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 hardl...moreThe 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.(less)
I'm a fan of the Sterns and their wonderful website Roadfood.com. I especially enjoy their great writing style (or, more likely, Michael's great writi...moreI'm a fan of the Sterns and their wonderful website Roadfood.com. I especially enjoy their great writing style (or, more likely, Michael's great writing style). The Sterns could make a piece of cardboard sound appetizing, and their descriptions of the textures, tastes, smells and more of each food item make you want whatever it is they're describing. Let's put it this way: They have a way with words.
Two For The Road is their sort-of biography. They tell some of the thousands of weird, wonderful stories about their travel adventures over the years. This book isn't just about the food, although it has plenty of that. They cover cars, bad hotels, animals, and much more. Some of these stories may be new to even their hardcore fans.
One thing I didn't like about the book is the embarrassing details told about Jane. Michael comes across as merely quirky, while Jane is put in a most unflattering light. One can only assume she was OK with how she was portrayed here, but I still cringed for her.
If you're curious about great places to eat in small towns across America, and the people who make them wonderful, this is the book for you. If you're thinking of copying the Sterns' approach to traveling and eating, this is definitely the book for you! They tell you the ins and outs and let you know that it's not all fun, games and pie.(less)
I was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's politi...moreI 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.(less)
Really amazing writing that keeps you wanting more and more. When I thought the book was reaching a climax, I realized I was only halfway through. The...moreReally amazing writing that keeps you wanting more and more. When I thought the book was reaching a climax, I realized I was only halfway through. The author just kept building and building the action, dropping secrets and upping the stakes each and every chapter.
The descriptions are very vivid, so much that you can almost feel the heat and taste the sand. I thought most of the characters were well-written, too.
If you are looking for an intense, gripping, exciting book that will surprise you and occasionally freak you out, this is the book for you.(less)
If you think this is just a book for kids, think again. The writing is very sophisticated and lyrical, and the subject matter can get intense at times...moreIf you think this is just a book for kids, think again. The writing is very sophisticated and lyrical, and the subject matter can get intense at times. Above all, this book is a good portrayal of what it's like to be a young boy, and also what it must have been like to live in s small American town in the mid-19th century.(less)
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 this...moreGets 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.(less)