This is one of the best spy novels I've ever read, and I will defend to the death my position that the movies are a HORRIBLE bastardization of an othe...moreThis is one of the best spy novels I've ever read, and I will defend to the death my position that the movies are a HORRIBLE bastardization of an otherwise fascinating premise. The Jason Bourne of the books is a deep, complicated, multi-leveled character. In the movie he's a flat robotic killer, thanks Hollywood.
The book is set in the backdrop of the Cold War, which lets face it, is much more interesting for a spy than the current geopolitical climate (god, did I actually write that sentence? shoot me now). Anyway, if you have to pick one spy novel to read I'd HIGHLY recommend this one. John LeCarre (I think that's how he's spelled) is probably better written, but I like the plot/pacing of Ludlum a bit better.
And whatever you do, don't let the silliness of the movies affect your opinion going into this book.(less)
If you even moderately enjoyed Tolkein, and want to see where the genre has grown into pick up this book. It's AMAZING! It's well written, the charact...moreIf you even moderately enjoyed Tolkein, and want to see where the genre has grown into pick up this book. It's AMAZING! It's well written, the characters are multi-layered, real people who you can really get to know and enjoy. The plot is *very* loosely based on the War of the Roses, but that's really just a jumping off point for the best fantasy series I've ever read (and at this point I've read pretty much all the major authors).
One note, the book is pretty graphic, and by 100 pages in you'll have read rather detailed descriptions of incest, murder of small children, etc, and it doesn't ever really let up. That said, it's never gratitous, and his books never suffer from the problem many other fantasy authors have where the plot stops for 200-300 pages while characters contemplate their navel.
Honestly, if you ever wanted to see what modern fantasy is like, pick up this book.(less)
This book/series is a bit more pure fantasy than George RR Martin's work. That said, the ending of Book 2, and two points in book 3 are the most choke...moreThis book/series is a bit more pure fantasy than George RR Martin's work. That said, the ending of Book 2, and two points in book 3 are the most choked up I've been when reading a book in a long time. This first book is a bit hard to get through, and I was frequently checking the glossary of characters in the back for the first 200 or so pages. The reason for this is that instead of slowly introducing you to the world and the characters, Erikson starts smack in the middle of a continent spanning war in a world with a fully fleshed out history that goes back litterally hundreds of thousands of years. And you're expected to pick up on it as you go.
This works by the end of the book, and it becomes completely engrossing. It works particularly well as a reread, because you're able to notice soooo many things on a second (and third, and fourth) reread that you just didn't know before. The other beauty of this series is that the author is amazingly prolific, and you get a new 600-800 page book every year (contrast that to Martin, where we had to wait 5 years between book 3 and 4 and half the characters (and all the good ones) were missing from book 4, grr...)
Anyway, if you like fantasy and havn't picked up this book do, and force yourself to keep reading until you can't stop. Trust me, the payoff is worth it.(less)
This is a book I've actually had the easiest time explaining to people without having to move into self mockery. Essentially the series is a re-imagin...moreThis is a book I've actually had the easiest time explaining to people without having to move into self mockery. Essentially the series is a re-imagining of the First Crusade set in a fantasy world. If you're familiar with the history of the first crusade then the major plot line will be very familiar to you, until the third book that is, where the fantasy side of things REALLY comes out to play.
The series has a lot of really interesting characters, especially the two main protagonists Kellhus and Achamain. Kellhus is essentially a superman whose morality is defined almost completely as the ends justify the means. However, given his training/history he is the Christ figure of the books. It's a really interesting juxtaposition. On the other hand there is Achamain. Akka, as he's affectionately called, is as heartbreakingly human of a character as you'll find in fantasy. It's fun to see how these two characters interact both with each other (although you'll have to wait for books 2 and 3 for their direct interaction) as well as their circumstances.
Not enough people know about these books, and they really are worth reading.(less)
Paul Shirley has the dubious distinction of playing on the Iowa State team that lost to Hampton in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Men's Basketball T...morePaul Shirley has the dubious distinction of playing on the Iowa State team that lost to Hampton in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. He was on the wrong side of the game that resulted in the diminutive Hampton coach being picked up by his (much larger) player and triumphantly kicking his legs in the air. Shirley gained his initial distinction by being semi-famously caught crying on the sidelines as the other side exploded in uncontrollable joy.
He became well known in the sports blogosphere in May 2005 when he wrote a hysterical blog about being the 12th man on the NBA's Phoenix Suns. ESPN.com's Bill Simmons (aka the Sports Guy) developed a pretty serious man-crush on Mr. Shirley, and his writing career was born.
This book covers the time from his college graduation in the spring of 2001 until the time he started writing the blog for the Suns in '05. If you want a very witty (yep, an athlete with a functioning brain) account of some of the gawd-aweful places on the planet that they play professional basketball this the book for you. It's only about 300 or so pages (of bigger print), so it shouldn't take more than a week to finish.(less)
I'd actually really like to give this book a 3.5, and then credit Ms. Clark (my senior year english teacher) with that last .5. This book obviously st...moreI'd actually really like to give this book a 3.5, and then credit Ms. Clark (my senior year english teacher) with that last .5. This book obviously stands out on my list, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable when I read it. Don't get me wrong, it's part of the agenda to make the West look bad for civilizing those ignorant savages outside Europe and North America. That said, for such a blatant attack on most of what I find good in this world, the book has some very interesting characters and the plot is rather compelling (not that I really remember what it is, just that I enjoyed it).
Basically, if this type of book is your cup 'o tea (as the Brits in the book would say) then you can do a lot worse than this one.(less)
DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! EVER! BURN IT! HOWARD ZINN SHOULD BE DRAWN AND QUARTERED IN A PUBLIC FORUM!!!
Seriously though, when I describe my highschool so...moreDO NOT READ THIS BOOK! EVER! BURN IT! HOWARD ZINN SHOULD BE DRAWN AND QUARTERED IN A PUBLIC FORUM!!!
Seriously though, when I describe my highschool sophomore year history class I generally use the following sentence, "The theme of sophomore year history was: White people - bad, the downtrodden - good." Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" was our textbook. I HATE THIS BOOK! His basic thesis is that America was built on the blood and suffering of the poor. And while this is definitely a perspective that should be considered and included in any comprehensive understanding of American history, it SHOULD NOT BE THE PRIMARY MEANS OF INTERPRETING OUR HISTORY!!!!
Zinn is one of those people who will ALWAYS find something to bitch and moan about. There are other histories out there that cover the time, and do so well, probably even delving into many of the situations and events that Zinn does. But Zinn's is book is much closer to propaganda than history. It's necessary to have a bias in your writing, but some level of impartiality is also useful.
Anyway, there's my take, do with it what you will, but when I count up the list of my most reviled books/ideas that I've ever been exposed to, Mr. Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" ranks up near the top of the list.(less)
Tom Wolfe has a very distinctive style, and this book is a fine example of that style. He really inhabits the world he writes about, and provides a gr...moreTom Wolfe has a very distinctive style, and this book is a fine example of that style. He really inhabits the world he writes about, and provides a great view into how that world works. However, he also has a tendency to drag in the third quarter of his books, the endings (in my opinion) are not paced as well as the beginnings, and generally leave me feeling unsatisfied. Also, most of his characters (especially in this book) end up being rather shallow, unsympathetic or downright despicable.
If anything, I'd compare his writing in general, and this book in particular, to a very distinctive ethnic dish that you look forward to, really enjoy as the server brings it out to the table, but at the end of the meal you're moderately unsatisfied, and having more frequent bowel movements than you were beforehand - and still planning to go back to that resturant in a month or two.