Okay, let's be honest. This entire book is a rationale. Well, not just one rationale, but several: For why McClellan didn't do anything despite knowin...moreOkay, let's be honest. This entire book is a rationale. Well, not just one rationale, but several: For why McClellan didn't do anything despite knowing (or at the very least suspecting corruption and dishonesty) as well as why McClellan won't disavow the GOP.
All in all, though, his rationales are plausible, and that's what makes the book work. In the Bush Administration, it's easy to envision Cheney and Rove, for example, viewing McClellan as a nobody, a mouthpiece, and therefore it wouldn't matter if they lied to him about revealing the identity/cover of a covert CIA operative; to them, it was just business, not personal. Only their 'business' made him a liar and Scooter Libby a perjurer.
It's hard for me to read this stuff, looking around at the newspapers at the problems with the economy and the war this Administration has wrought, knowing McClellan for all his belated honesty and analysis is likely doing just fine financially - not only from his cushy job as White House spokesperson, but also from his book deal. But another part of me sees that he was, like many Americans, duped by this Administration. Should he have seen the signs? The answer is: Possibly. Maybe even probably, but many of us didn't either. (Personally, I wasn't ever in support of the Bush Administration, but many fine, upstanding, intelligent and intellectual friends of mine were...)
Still, it makes for compelling reading and the book maintains a decent pace; it slows a bit just past the halfway mark, but I didn't half wonder if that's because we already know the story, we already know how it ends. And by the mid of the book, he's done revealing his 'insider' knowledge and reverts to speculation. I don't know about you, but I'm sick of speculation. Between the punditry, and the news media, and the weekend political shows, I've had my fill of what people "think"; what I want to know is what are they doing to *do* about it. Scott offers few answers here, but it was heartening, if empty, to see he was willing to testify before the Senate - even if he essentially said, well, nothing.
This book isn't Earth-shattering, but it did give me a lot of insight into how the mind of George W. Bush works; there was a time where I thought that might be of little value. But as it seems the man is unlikely to be impeached, and will leave office fairly unscathed except in reputation, I think differently now. I want to know what he thinks and how he thinks, so that in judging future candidates if I see a similar pattern I can avoid it like the plague and spare this country unnecessary grief and suffering.(less)
I thought this book was a decently-written story of man and his hubris. Krakauer is careful to express the idea that, despite Chris' enthusiasm for hi...moreI thought this book was a decently-written story of man and his hubris. Krakauer is careful to express the idea that, despite Chris' enthusiasm for his adventure, he wasn't as prepared to make the journey as he thought.
And I guess I'm too much of a thinker, because as I read about Chris' journey to Alaska, and what he took with him, I agreed with Krakauer's opinions. It's rough going into any woods alone, unaided by maps or compasses. In fact, if he had made it out alive, it would have been fairly miraculous. People were right to try and stop him...
But I digress; there were many marvelous characters in this book; they all seem to come to life.
I must confess that I read this book in tandem to watching the movie, for comparison's sake. I loved the book 'Into Thin Air', but the movie was a joke! (Lifetime TV Movie Quality). So, it was nice to see one of Krakauer's books get the full treatment - and by Sean Penn, who is a director I admire. (See Indian Runner if you haven't). Also, I watched the Iconoclasts episode that has both Penn and Krakauer in it; definitely a 'must see.'
The book is a fast read; there isn't much too it, and it truly is an expansion on the magazine article Krakauer famously wrote about the traged, but I would recommend it. It doesn't have the depth of Into Thin Air, probably because it wasn't something Krakauer personally experience - but its fascinating nonetheless; especially the part where Krakauer retraces Chris' journey. Or when Chris' parents finally visit the bus.
It is a moving portrait of an idealistic young man, and it really will make you think. I can't ask anything more of a book, can I?(less)
What would happen if humans died out? What about all automated processes? What about nuclear reactors? O...moreI found the premise of this book fascinating.
What would happen if humans died out? What about all automated processes? What about nuclear reactors? Or the Statue of Liberty?
The book goes into quite a bit of detail; it talks about how roofs would cave in, it talks about what will last and what won't. It gives you a sense of impermanence about what we, as a species, have created and a clear idea that the world will rather happily (and maybe fairly easily) will go on without us.
It's written rather entertainingly, and it kept me engaged. (less)
This is an interesting extended essay (it's about 85 pages total text) on Google's attempt to digitalize quite a few of the world's most famous litera...moreThis is an interesting extended essay (it's about 85 pages total text) on Google's attempt to digitalize quite a few of the world's most famous literary works for the Internet.
It's an amazing enterprise to undertake, and there was much hew and cry about how it should be done. Many people, of all different backgrounds, took issue with Google's attempt and the manner in which it was going about achieving this goal. One of those people was Jean-Noel Jeanneney.
As President of France's Bibliotheque Nationale (National Library), his concern is that Google may (whether knowingly or unknowingly is unclear) damage the world's cultural heritage by dint of the fact that they were anticipating using primarily English translations for digitalization. M. Jeanneney argues that without the original language, history, and context, future generations may not be able to conceive, nor understand, or recall the importance and relevance of certain literary works and additionally what that may mean in terms of world-culture longevity.
Furthermore, he argues that this is yet another example of an English-language cultural dominance.
His main assertion, that an archive that doesn't include extensive 'other-than-English-language' editions of books could never be the proper foundations for a universal library, is supported through is actual use of Google as a search function. I, too, used the search function while reading this book, and can understand his concern.*
Jeanneney claims that he is supportive of the web archival process, but that it is the process for archiving items that requires the input of all librarians, record custodians, archivists and literary activists - and is not just a matter of corporate policy at Google. That is certainly understandable - the goals of each group are hardly the same.
I found the writing direct and well-reasoned, for the most part, though I felt some of his premise was wrong. I agree that the percentages are distorted, heavily in favor of English-language translations of major works, but I found 'Histoire D'Un Crime de Victor Marie Hugo' in its original French, so I believe that opinions such as that of M. Jeanneney have been heard loud and clear and that custodians of this project will work to ensure as fair a balance as humanly possible.
However, the issue of language is one of supreme importance to the French and I am unsure that they would be happy with any percentage achieved. I may be incorrect about this assertion of mine, but what is not in dispute is that his complaint is also an oft-repeated one (specifically by the French who object to Americanization of French culture - 't-shirt, snack-bar, hamburger'), from a historical and cultural perspective.
Additionally, the world is undergoing a huge globalization process, finding itself one globe rather than just 1000s of countries. Each country will want its language to be primary, will want its culture to be retained, will want its great literary works remembered. It is unclear how this process will shake down, as we are literally making up history as we go along.
I would, very tongue-in-cheek, state that the French have less to fear regarding American cultural dominance over the long haul, than say - authors from African, or perhaps even Middle Eastern, countries. The concern is valid to a degree, but Americans (by and large) share and appreciate French culture, even when they aren't too keen on the French themselves.
Hopefully, Google will bear all this in mind while undertaking the 21st century equivalent of mass literacy. There are a million ways to do it, 999,999 of which are wrong by most peoples' standards. With valued input, maybe - just maybe - Google has a shot at getting it right.
*I had slightly better results for foreign language editions than did M. Jeanneney, but this is 2007 and this book is from 2005. (less)
The subject was fascinating, but the writing was dull.
I have been trying to read this book for two weeks and only got to page 89 before realizing it...moreThe subject was fascinating, but the writing was dull.
I have been trying to read this book for two weeks and only got to page 89 before realizing it would be months before I finished. In fact, I finished two other (good) books in the space of time I've been mulling over trying to wrap up this one. That's a bad sign.
Still, when I could find a few quiet moments this book did have a compelling story behind it. Jack Hornby was a dashing, romantic figure of sorts - aristocratic, wealthy, eccentric. On this trip, which he undertakes with his nephew (an inexperienced outdoorsman fresh out of school) and an old friend (whose time in the armed forces made him a bit slightly more experienced candidate), it becomes clear early on that the expedition was ill-planned and foolhardy.
After many mistakes in judgment, a three men die. (This is no plot spoiler - much the same is said on the front flap and the back cover). Their frozen bodies were discovered two years later when a Mountie came across their cabin. Inside the cabin was a diary kept by Edgar, the nephew, that chronicled their decline. Passages from it represent the most interesting parts of this slow-paced book. In fact, I'd have much preferred they just publish the diary in toto.