If someone has to write an anthropomorphic homage to their cat, at the very least it ought to be couched in the interesting difficulties of small town...moreIf someone has to write an anthropomorphic homage to their cat, at the very least it ought to be couched in the interesting difficulties of small town life during the farm crisis of the late eighties.
I didn't expect to like this book much at all, but it actually managed to keep my attention for the most part. (less)
Alan Turing has always been a fun historical figure. The Turing Test and Turing Machines are both tributes to his unending contribution to the world o...moreAlan Turing has always been a fun historical figure. The Turing Test and Turing Machines are both tributes to his unending contribution to the world of science fiction. I mean science and mathematics. The real stuff, not books about robots at all.
But he was, apparently, a great deal more than that. He was instrumental in decoding Enigma messages during WWII. He was a grumpy puppy who didn't socialize well. He was a gay man alienated from society by early twentieth century mores. He helped build one of Britain's first computers. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire. He was prosecuted as a sex criminal and dosed with hormones that made him grow breasts. He killed himself with a poison apple.
Hodges does a brilliant job of exploring Turing for the man that he was as well as his many accomplishments. It was a beautiful book. (less)
I'll admit it. I picked this book up for the cover. If I know anyone who isn't immediately intrigued by a flopped Princess Leia holding a martini glas...moreI'll admit it. I picked this book up for the cover. If I know anyone who isn't immediately intrigued by a flopped Princess Leia holding a martini glass, they haven't mentioned their deviance to me. Normally I avoid celebrity biographies and memoirs like the plague, on account of movie stars generally being boring, vapid people who get paid to recite another person's writing.
Carrie Fisher is not that kind of movie star. Witty, self-deprecating, and hilarious, her well written autobiography is incredibly entertaining. Since I do not, as previously stated, pay any attention at all to celebrity gossip, I was happily shocked by a number of the stories in the book. Most notably, I really thought the stuff about electro-convulsive therapy that she opened with was a joke at first.
I would desperately love to see the one woman show that this book is based around. In lieu of that, I may just need to read some of her novels. She's a brilliant writer.(less)
As a veteran of the American internment camps during WWII and an aspiring actor during a time when the parts for Asian leads in movies were still goin...moreAs a veteran of the American internment camps during WWII and an aspiring actor during a time when the parts for Asian leads in movies were still going to the likes of Sir Alec Guinness, George Takei's perspective on race relations in the US is fascinating. This would be a worthwhile story from any author, but it carries special interest coming from someone who portrayed such a famous, groundbreaking character.
Plus, there are awesome behind the scenes Star Trek stories. (less)
This biography offers a very reasonable account of Ivar Kreuger's financial deals in the nineteen-twenties and early thirties up to--and including the...moreThis biography offers a very reasonable account of Ivar Kreuger's financial deals in the nineteen-twenties and early thirties up to--and including the details of--his death. However, I feel it devalues somewhat, through lack of reference to, his industrial genius. The reason that he needed to make these semi-moral investment transactions was because Kreuger was so good at match making that he practically put himself out of business. He needed to sell matches in a monopoly situation because he developed ways of producing them too cheaply so that competitors could undercut him and lower prices.
Still, it was a very good book about stock investing pre-nineteen twenty-nine. I recommend reading it on that account alone. (less)
Nate is one of my favorite characters in Generation Kill, so when I realized that he had written a book of his very own that treated on some of the sa...moreNate is one of my favorite characters in Generation Kill, so when I realized that he had written a book of his very own that treated on some of the same events, I snapped it up immediately. I like Nate because he is an officer and a gentleman, a Dartmouth classics major who joined the Marine Corps in a fit of idealism, and one of only two competent officers portrayed in Generation Kill. Why I love Nate can be best understood first hand.
The rules of engagement harked back to my college classes on Saint Augustine and "just war" theory. I couldn't control the justice of the declaration of war, but I could control the justice of its conduct within my tiny sphere of influence. Doing right, I thought, wasn't only a moral imperative but also the most expedient way to lead the platoon."
This book is about Nate's journey from making the decision to join the Corps, through Afghanistan, the Basic Recon Course, and Iraq. It is well worth reading as an excellent first person account of life in the modern military, but I think those who have read Generation Kill may find it most rewarding. The discrepancies between the two accounts are fascinating. Some can be explained simply by the way Fick is more gentle with his fellow officers than Wright was inclined to be--he never, for instance, calls out Captain America for his insane cowardice--but in some places the two stories are genuinely different. As Tim O'Brien teaches us, "there is no such thing as a true war story."
Well written, exciting, thoughtful, informative, and interesting, this book is an absolute must read for anyone who liked Generation Kill, is curious about how exactly the military works, or claimed citizenship in the United States of America during 2002-2003. (less)
I really like A. J. Jacobs's style of immersing himself in a project to write about it completely, so a book where he tackles a number of these experi...moreI really like A. J. Jacobs's style of immersing himself in a project to write about it completely, so a book where he tackles a number of these experiments is wonderful. Exploring ideas from Radical Honesty, to overseas outsourcing, to Washingtonian civility, Jacobs gives his unique perspective to aspects of modern, and not-so-modern, life. Clearly, the best chapter in the book is when he experiments with being an ideal husband. His wife deserved this in ways that people who have not read The Year of Living Biblically can never truly understand. Not that he doesn't seem great, but she puts up with a whole lot during these experiments, so it was nice to see her get a little comeuppance. (less)