A perceptive look at the cult of personality surrounding Reagan, in light of the collision of the American tendency toward self-mythologization and wi...moreA perceptive look at the cult of personality surrounding Reagan, in light of the collision of the American tendency toward self-mythologization and wish-fullfillment with the emerging mass-media technology that enabled much of it to become a lived reality. Reagan might have been acting a part, whether consciously or unconsciously, but America ate up the act. This book tries to take a balanced look at why and how that happened.(less)
Re-reading this in the new P-V translation. Tolstoy is the master of uniting the Big and the Small; beautifully detailing inner life, and tying it tog...moreRe-reading this in the new P-V translation. Tolstoy is the master of uniting the Big and the Small; beautifully detailing inner life, and tying it together with social life and the larger state of the world. He also seems somehow able to put himself in just about anyone’s shoes, writing men, women, aristocrats, peasants, children, even animals with a deft compassion and empathy.
Anna K. has all of these things, and in a more accessible and personal package than War and Peace(which I also love.) I actually like the Levin/Kitty side story a lot better than the doomed Anna/Vronsky love affair, but the novel wouldn’t be as great without both, and the contrast that they set up. In the end, this is a novel about personal growth and evolution, and the myriad pathways: joyful, tragic, and everything in between, that it can take.(less)
Extremely literate scifi… with very inventive and convincing worlds and characters. The prose prickles me a bit in places, but, all in all, a real pag...moreExtremely literate scifi… with very inventive and convincing worlds and characters. The prose prickles me a bit in places, but, all in all, a real page-turner so far, and much smarter than your average genre novel. The cliffhanger ending is a bit of a bummer, but, it’s a scifi series, so you’re hooked and stuck with it, evidently, for better or worse. I’m betting on better, based on this installment.(less)
I picked this up because I knew almost nothing about the Reformation, and I felt like I should at least have the basic history straight for events whi...moreI picked this up because I knew almost nothing about the Reformation, and I felt like I should at least have the basic history straight for events which were so vital to the shaping of the modern world.
And, it mostly covered me for that. He did an excellent job of putting you inside the very alien worldviews and socio-cultural arrangements of the time, and illustrating just how revolutionary and sudden a change the Reformation really was. He gave engaging and detailed sketches of most of the main actors involved in the religious, political, and cultural arenas. He covered enough of the intricate theological problems which developed and were fought out, but not so much as to make my eyes glaze over. And he did an excellent job of taking you down to the level of everyday people and looking at how and why they embraced such a sudden change in such a vital part of their existence, and what the consequences were for their way of life going forward.
Where he fell down just a bit was in connecting the ground-level with the elite, and the religious with the political and especially the military. He did a good job on the elites insofar as they related to religion, but the political history was pretty thin. He also certainly covered all of the major conflicts of the time, but they always seemed like something that happened in the background and only flashed into full view at a few crisis points. I came in with a vague idea of how and why the French Wars of Religion, the English Civil War, and the 30 Years’ War were fought, and left with a not much clearer one.
Of course, any one of those conflicts can and has merited many an extensive history of its own, but I think he could have done a better job of fully describing them and linking them more thoroughly and organically with the political, social, cultural and religious turmoil that caused and sustained them. The 30 Years’ War especially seemed to be elided over. Constraints of space were probably a big concern, as the book still came in at over 700 pages, but I would have rather read another 100 or so and been left with a more complete picture.
Still, pretty minor quibbles for a book that taught me lot about a subject I came in with little background on, and that had plenty of major strengths to outweigh that one notable weakness. Definitely read if you want a solid social, cultural, religious, and basic political history of the Reformation from a modern point of view. If you’re more interested in the military history or in any of the specific conflicts, pick up a more specialized history of the case in question.(less)
This book looks into the political and intellectual battles that decided what the New Testament canon would turn out to be, and in particular, focuses...moreThis book looks into the political and intellectual battles that decided what the New Testament canon would turn out to be, and in particular, focuses on the might-have-beens had the more egalitarian and individualistic views expressed in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas been used as the foundation of Christian thought instead of the more authoritarian and mystical approach of John.(less)
3. Dawn Treader - Definitely my favorite read of the Narnia books as an adult. It has the bes...more1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. Dawn Treader - Definitely my favorite read of the Narnia books as an adult. It has the best wonder / delight / nobility to preaching / racism / sexism ratio of the lot. An abundance of the good things that made me fall in love with Narnia, and very few of the bad ones that sometimes make me regret that love as a critical reader. Also, adventure on the high seas, and lots of Reepicheep. 'Nuff said.
4. The Silver Chair - Continuing my post-movie Narnia revival with my 2nd-favorite of the series. This one has the most sense of good old=fashioned quest / adventure to me. Also, the best comic relief. Puddleglum is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. Reshpeckobiggle!