A wonderfully thorough and vivid account of the lives, motives, and remberances surrounding the now-famous Clutter family murders.I did scan my eyes oA wonderfully thorough and vivid account of the lives, motives, and remberances surrounding the now-famous Clutter family murders.I did scan my eyes over some of the more lengthy depositions and other "evidence" that only served to show how lazy the author was... Other more imaginatively crafted chapters show how narrative storytelling can enhance the factual reportage. Reading this I was reminded of John Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, which I'm sure was influenced by this book. ...more
Finishing this book took much longer than other books I’d been reading recently, which is a testament to the density of material presented here. ThougFinishing this book took much longer than other books I’d been reading recently, which is a testament to the density of material presented here. Though Thomas Hauser is listed as the author of this book, I’d argue that it’s co-written by everyone interviewed for this massive tome.
Hauser presents his narrative Studs Terkel style, often with lengthy monologues on his subject. The story is presented chronologically, with chapter titles such as “Origins” and “The Birth of Ali”. I enjoyed getting to know characters such as Don King, Bundini Brown and Howard Bingham, scurrilous, outrageous, steadfast. The spectrum of people that Ali surrounded himself with was Technicolor. But what this book offers most of and does best for the leisurely reader is a fuller portrait of a man coming of age in his times.
We’re presented with a man who entered the public spectrum as a boxer, a gold medal Olympian, someone who has grown into a myth, an icon, an important historical figure. The narrative is thorough in filling in the details left out of this mythic story, such as the politics behind the stripping of his world championship title after his draft dodging conviction and what he did in the three year interim. Who knew that he traveled the college lecture circuit and that he surrounded himself with mooches that took advantage of him every chance they got? I had no idea how deep and true the rivalry between Joe Frazier and Ali was, nor how in financial strait’s the champ was, despite good-hearted and competent intervention.
To help tell this story, Hauser relies on extensive testimony from a strange variety of sources: Angelo Dundee (Ali’s trainer) to James Michener (who met him once), Arthur Ashe (a fellow African-American sports figure paving the way) to Ted Kennedy. There are personalities that have nothing to do with boxing, and who are not part of Ali’s inner circle (Bryant Gumble, for example) who talk at length about Ali’s influence and persona. When reading these, I often think they got put in the book because they were black.
Which highlights the point that Hauser is a white journalist even more. Though I haven’t read his previous books (which include Black Lights, about boxing), I take it into consideration because a majority of this book is focused on race, the Black Muslim movement and many of its key players are of a different race than the author. How does this play out? The chapter on Ali’s conversion into the Nation of Islam (“The Birth of Ali”) is awfully unedited, going into length about the belief system. Both Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad are quoted for pages on end. Jeremiah Shabazz gets four-plus pages, uninterrupted. If Hauser had been more familiar with the subject matter, he would have been able to edit it into a more readable primer. It was the only part I skimmed over. Why not write it with the same cursory hand that wrote Frazier’s backstory?
The strategy is echoed once more later on in the book, in exploring Ali’s current diagnosis of Parkinsonism. The medical records are very detailed and unnecessary. Again, it feels as if the author erred on the side of TMI. This bit of info the modern reader is more likely to know about anyway.
Often times Hauser over indulges in his adulation, but I suppose one can’t help it. Even though there are the Joe Fraziers in the world, who will always have quarrel with Ali (and who could blame him?), by the final pages, the reader is left to think that Muhammad Ali is one of the best loved personalities on the face of this planet.
So in all, I learned a great deal more than ever possible, had Hauser done a straightforward narrative, especially about the people involved in Ali’s life. It’s a lot to read thought and halfway through, I was ready to put the book down--but I hadn’t even reached the Rumble in the Jungle, much less the Thrilla in Manila.
This was a great follow-up to reading Ahab's Wife (last month's book group selection), since it really rounded out the history, and allowed us to undeThis was a great follow-up to reading Ahab's Wife (last month's book group selection), since it really rounded out the history, and allowed us to understand the depth of research both authors undertook.
A very readable and interesting book, though not something any of us would have been inclined to read otherwise....more
What a very easy book to read, thank goodness. I learned a lot about this small bird, of which I knew very little upon cracking open this book. It's nWhat a very easy book to read, thank goodness. I learned a lot about this small bird, of which I knew very little upon cracking open this book. It's not entirely thorough, as a book could be written about many aspects of the entire history of the bird, as the author lays it out, but this is a pretty good overview.
I especially enjoyed the narrative about the pigeon breeders and the sort of underground circuit of shows throughout the US. There should have been photos to accompany this part of the book, since he describes how many birds are bred for certain aspects. And some of his descriptions are pretty extraordinary. It would have been nice to have had a visual.
The author also covers the vital role the bird has played in wartime, as a passenger pigeon, but only glosses over this to go more into the use of pigeons as homing birds. He also explores the bird as food, sport, and nuisance.
Pretty interesting and enlightening. I do regard them with a little more reverance now....more
This book was part of my initial search for the stories of my past. There weren't many books at my local library that dealt with Laos and its involvemThis book was part of my initial search for the stories of my past. There weren't many books at my local library that dealt with Laos and its involvement with the Veitnam conflict. I'd seen a synopsis of this in a catalogue and requested it. And because I had to return it (and most likely it was late) I never got around to finishing it. I probably had a chapter more to go. But it was mostly read.
And this book at the time gave me such a rich imagining for the land I barely remember. Warner describes the land and the people he'd met with such clarity. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could begin to understand something of what my parents were dealing with, in a political and social sense.
And I wanted to read more about this subject adn come to terms with it and understand where I come from because this book made it clear how important the story is. ...more
It only took me a few days to read the advance copy of this book, which I think didn't had all the photos included in it. This is a very well-writtenIt only took me a few days to read the advance copy of this book, which I think didn't had all the photos included in it. This is a very well-written history of the comics industry,told in context of the rise of printed media in the early to mid 20 century. How comics transformed from adult entertainment into youth culture.
To illustrate the hopes and failings of the new industry, Gerard Jones uses the inspiring, yet ultimately sad story of Jerome Seigel and Joseph Schuster,creators of Superman.
This is not a graphic novel, but a compelling introduction to the birth of comic books that anyone would find interesting....more
I borrowed this book, having heard the story of it, and knowing that other people I knew were/had been reading this book. And I'm returning it so it mI borrowed this book, having heard the story of it, and knowing that other people I knew were/had been reading this book. And I'm returning it so it may be passed along.
The premise is great, an inspiring story, whether real or not, and one I'd love to continue to know about. My main problem with the book is the storytelling, how it abruptly snaps back and forth in place and time so that I am not always sure where the scene is taking place or when until fully into the scene. And some scenes are left completely hanging at the end of a chapter only to be dealt with later, almost as an after thought.
It would have been far better to read and understand if presented in a more linear fashion, although David Oliver Relin did address the time/place conintuum problem in the intro. There are a lot of missing dates, such that by the end of the book, I was still unsure as to how long it took for the first school to get built.
But you keep reading ( or I did, at least) because the story is full of hope and frustration, and you really want the best of everybody, even the conivvers. But Relin's verbose prose keeps tripping you up:
...burned fuselages lay like the decomposing carcasses of whales along the cratered runway...
Besides, how many times can he emphasize just how magnificent the view of K2 is? Or how treacherous a journey every journey was? Puleeze.
In the end, one hopes for the best of all involved and is encourages that the work will continue. I'd rather knwo this story though from watching a TV movie or reading some expanded Sunday story in the New York Times Magazine rather than this book.
Also, the other thing that bugged me in this book is how the author describes the "people" of Pakistan, which I do take some offense at, just lumping them into a sort of stereotypical group like that. Talking about their gentle, simple ways, etc. Even though, admittedly, he does go on to illustrate the extreme kindness of the Pakistanis involved, I still bristle at any sort of generalisations from outsiders. And the OTHER thing that also began to wear by the end of the book was how EVERY woman was beautiful, or at least, as Greg Mortenson saw them--village women, his future wife, Senator Mary Bono. Not beautiful in that spiritual way, but physically, a little too much so....more
I love collections, because I have short attention span, but crime writers really cater to short attention span audiences, which is one of the reasonsI love collections, because I have short attention span, but crime writers really cater to short attention span audiences, which is one of the reasons the Best American Crime Writing is one of my favorite annuals collections.
Not only are the stories themselves intriguing, like the aging bank robbing woman, but the writing is really tight and keeps me reading. These would easily have made it into the Best American Short Stories collections for their great writing--if only the stories weren't true.
This year's edition is already out, so I'll have to read that one, too. ...more
I read this after seeing the Grizzly Man movie, which I enjoyed for its low-key bizzareness, and I enjoyed this book so much more than the movie.
NicI read this after seeing the Grizzly Man movie, which I enjoyed for its low-key bizzareness, and I enjoyed this book so much more than the movie.
Nick Jans does his best to illuminate the Timothy Treadwell story by providing as much context as possible, including interviews with those who knew and loved him, as well as those who knew and despised him. Jans is also an Alaskan nature writer by trade, and it shows in his details and intimacy with the landscape, and especially about the bears he writes about. Because really, any book about Treadwell is going to be half about bears anyway...
I really appreciated the author's willingness to provide many differing opinions about that fatal day and to describe the contents of that audio recording in such gruesome detail. I also very much appreciated the last section of the book, which gave more education (than probably Treadwell gave in his school presentations) about North American bears and what to do (possibly) if attacked by one. Treadwell and his associates would have done well to read this section.
The entire story fascinates me mostly because there is something primal in my subconsious that really connects with bears, the mystique and awesome, gruesome power of these animals. They are so frightening and so magnificent, and I believe Treadwell probably felt these emotions toward them as well.
Yes, Treadwell does come off as a crazy, conflicted person in this book, but less of an enigma than the Grizzly Man movie portrayed him as. We do get a fuller picture of the man. I came away also with a deeper appreciation for the untamable fierceness of bears. I will always remember the descriptions of the maulings and the further discussions of the psychology of such a bear attack. Fearsome. Awesome.
Note: I probably did read the new intro to the paper edition, but I don't think it did much to alter my views....more
I don't normally read these kind of books--but this true story of a young boy who just wanted to earn his Boy Sout merit badge, and who built a small-I don't normally read these kind of books--but this true story of a young boy who just wanted to earn his Boy Sout merit badge, and who built a small-scale nuclear reactor in his shed, was too good to pass up.
Ken Silverstein writes a breezy narrative about a lonely and determined geek who, through sheer will and some wiliness, accumulated the limited materials he needed to conduct his hazardous experiments. He should have known better, yes. But so should have the adults in his life. Eventually, the government discovered his project and the EPA dismantled it. Weird. disturbing....more
This account of the Wen Ho Lee case reads very much like a spy novel featuring a bumbling (perhaps naive) office worker who happens to make an unexplainable mistake at the time the Government was looking for someone to blame. It's sad, really, that the forces of fate can and will do that to a person.
The authors take great pains to dramatize and explicate the circumstances and information involved in the debacle, including a diagram of a warhead(?) Mr. Lee supposedly "stole". They explain the mechanics and political implications of a possible information leak to other powers.
At the same time, the matter of singling out Mr. Lee by the government gives the book heart and by the end, after the court trial and public avowals, despite the fact that Mr. Lee has never said WHY he broke regulation and copied the info, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the man, and especially, his family....more
This is such a wonderful and engaging account of the press that helped me to understand the dynamics of media, policy, and public opinion in a way I hThis is such a wonderful and engaging account of the press that helped me to understand the dynamics of media, policy, and public opinion in a way I hadn't thought of it before. It's a chronological account of press coverage, taking into account the movers and shakers in the media world and Southern politics. Gives a lot of attention to the smaller African-American papers.
I encountered this books while working at the bookstore. A local newspaper editor special ordered a copy and I was reading while it was slow at the store. She picked it up when I was only half-done with it. So I ordered another copy for the store. Funny that the library also didn't have a copy at the time.
I do urge anyone interested in the least to pick up this book. It's very full of characters and drama and is written by two people who have great knowledge. ...more
Ever want to be a know-it-all, but not have to slog through 12 years of college? This engaging, thorough and funny primer is the book for you. Bill BEver want to be a know-it-all, but not have to slog through 12 years of college? This engaging, thorough and funny primer is the book for you. Bill Bryson captures the personalities of researchers who’ve contributed to the advancement of inquiry, both well-known and obscure. We explore the world in which we live from the context of the cosmos to the shift of the tectonic plates, down to the cells we’re all made of. And well, what ARE we made of? WHY do we exist? The big and little questions are explored here in a book that reads like a caper through time and space....more
I first read this book shortly after it was published, and was so moved I reccommeneded it to everyone. Anne Fadiman did a wonderful job investigatinI first read this book shortly after it was published, and was so moved I reccommeneded it to everyone. Anne Fadiman did a wonderful job investigating the Hmong cultural beliefs and lifestyle and finding the places where it intersects with Western expectations. I cried really hard by the end. How tragic it is that this story is merely representational of what is probably happening in many other Hmong-settled, urban areas. Other refugee areas in general.
On the second read, about ten years later, I am still awed by the author's efforts to truly understand everyone involved in the story, and her dedication to exposing as many of the contributing factors as possible. She writes so thoroughly because her compassion is so great.
I was not moved as much this second time around, probably because the ending was already known to me, so there were no spoilers. Also because in the interim, I have ready many books on immigrant experiences and Laotian history and resettlement. I know more.
This is still a very important book, especially for those interested in working in cross-cultural settings, for teachers, medics, social workers, and most importantly, I think , for Laotian, Hmong, and SE Asian resettlement populations. This helped me greatly to understand how much of a gulf exists between the host and guest cultures, and also the strain on families whose power structures are disturbed in the resettlement process. ...more