This is an amazing book. A great cast of characters: Korolev, Kruschev, Werner Von Braun, Eisenhower, Nixon, and many more. Not as much rocket scienceThis is an amazing book. A great cast of characters: Korolev, Kruschev, Werner Von Braun, Eisenhower, Nixon, and many more. Not as much rocket science as I would have liked, but so much great Russian and American cold war history that it more than makes up for it. I also found that the author tended to rely on a small number of sources, particularly Sergei Kruschev's memoirs...but ultimately the end result was so fascinating, and so far from what I already know anything about, that I never stopped being totally fascinated...I TORE through this book. A great story of twisting and turning Russian-American political intrigue, and a depressing view of just how much "human progress" in the '50s was actually driven by the arms race....more
Wow, this is a truly amazing book. One of the best books about the mob I've ever read. It concerns the career, and more specifically the death, of AbeWow, this is a truly amazing book. One of the best books about the mob I've ever read. It concerns the career, and more specifically the death, of Abe Reles, a government witness against Murder, Incorporated. The whole second half is essentially a deconstruction of the investigative process, in which it is painfully obvious to everyone (including to members of Congress) that there was a major cover-up -- but no one can figure out quite what happened. It's a bit of a police procedural at times, which tends to leave me cold, but here for some reason it works. I loved it.
Unfortunately, the author, who studied Murder, Incorporated for 10 years, passed away as the book was being prepared for publication. So there won't be any more awesome books coming from him. Oh, well. This one is serious essential reading for organized crime scholars....more
Exhaustive account of the 1953 coup that deposed nationalist Iranian Mohammad Mosaddeq, who was anti-British but mildly pro-American, in order to instExhaustive account of the 1953 coup that deposed nationalist Iranian Mohammad Mosaddeq, who was anti-British but mildly pro-American, in order to install the oppressive regime more directly controlled by Shah Reza Mohammed Pahlavi, whom this book portrays as about the most gutless dictator ever born. A direct path is drawn between the pro-American attitude of the Iranian people, and Mosaddeq in particular, before the British were expelled for what Mosaddeq called "meddling" in Iranian politics by trying to reverse the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and, when that failed, planning a coup. One the British were expelled, we Yanks became British stooges -- or, if you want to take the Kermit Roosevelt-Allan Dulles view, we planned a coup to depose the secular Nationalist Mossadeq so that our planning a coup wouldn't make him ask the Soviets for protection. Kind of mind-bending logic, there. The result? Twenty-five years later, we got Ayatollah Khomeni, the Hostage Crisis, and the most rabidly anti-American government on the planet. Thanks, Kermit.
The book should be read by anyone who wants to understand the roots of anti-American Islamic fundamentalism, oil politics, British decolonization, Iran, or why setting up pro-American puppet governments directly in opposition to the will of 98% of the population is a shit-stupid idea -- and tends to lead to the codification of far more extreme ideologies that are far more anti-American....more
This one seems to have gotten crappy reviews from other readers, but I thought it was brilliant. This is the first Cornell Woolrich I've read unless yThis one seems to have gotten crappy reviews from other readers, but I thought it was brilliant. This is the first Cornell Woolrich I've read unless you count the Rear Window screenplay, and I thought it was really disturbing, sort of the written equivalent of Hitchcock. I felt very tense throughout and actually gave myself a cramp in my back because I was sitting so awkwardly in the chair, freaking out as I read it. That absolutely never happens; most books I read at emotional arms-length. This I was totally engaged by and it actually scared me.
I can only assume the bad reviews come from the weirdly gothic esthetic of the language, which makes it very different than the typical Hard Case Crime books and a mite difficult to identify with the narrator, in maybe the same way Lovecraft's narrators can be alienating to the reader. I found that brilliant, though, the ending completely caught me off guard.
I love this classic collection of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. It has many negatives, but I still have an affection for it because I read it durI love this classic collection of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. It has many negatives, but I still have an affection for it because I read it during a formative period in my life. I find it relatively readable -- not true of most mythology guides written for adults.
Hamilton does a certain amount of commenting on the major sources from which she draws the myths. Therefore it's a great way to follow threads back through the actual sources; many other mythological guides don't reference their sources well. At some points, though, the reasons that stories conflict with stories I've read elsewhere simply aren't that clear. Another minor gripe is that the section on Norse Mythology feels less alive and exciting to me than the section on Greek; I believe that some of this simply comes from the fact that the sources for Norse mythology are thinner, so I have this problem with almost all Norse and Germanic mythology guides that don't just flat-out make stuff up. Hamilton does a good job with the material available in 1942, when this book was published.
Despite my minor gripes, it's one of my favorite books. It's a great place to start and a fantastically enjoyable source for both the most popular myths and some more obscure ones.
Interestingly, Edith Hamilton was 62 years old when her first book, The Greek Way, was published, in 1930. Mythology was published 12 years later, in 1942....more