My boys thought this was good and recommended to me.
I liked it. It's fun and I learned some interesting facts about Churchill. Of course it's silly, aMy boys thought this was good and recommended to me.
I liked it. It's fun and I learned some interesting facts about Churchill. Of course it's silly, and they made up stuff like a diary for C. I can see why the boys liked it and am glad they are learning some history. It's a series and they actually devoured a bunch of these from the library....more
I have wanted to read this book for a long time but also have kind of avoided it because I worried it would be boring. I enjoyed it a lot when I finalI have wanted to read this book for a long time but also have kind of avoided it because I worried it would be boring. I enjoyed it a lot when I finally got around to it. I thought he succeeded in meeting interesting people and describing them in an engaging way. Although there is worthwhile reflection on what he's experiencing it's kept pretty minimal. He keeps the experiences themselves very much in the foreground. It was also interesting to compare with my own travels which have been much less directed but have also taken in a lot of the US. There was also a neat personal connection in that he visits a town where my uncle and his family actually live. (I don't think they lived there when he took his trip but it's close.)
Strangely, despite the fact that it's a good sized book, I felt a bit as if he raced through his journey. That probably has to do with the fact that all of the driving time couldn't be written about but also to do with the fact that I enjoyed the encounters a lot....more
This was a decent read but not the most exciting book.
The general view Gleeson takes of Law is quite positive. This seems to have been a result of graThis was a decent read but not the most exciting book.
The general view Gleeson takes of Law is quite positive. This seems to have been a result of gradually changing opinion of Law in various studies of his life over the time from when he lived to now. As far as I understand it, not having read any other sources except wikipedia, Law was basically seen as a villian, clever but thoroughly dishonest, for some time after his life. Then gradually the biographies and studies began to take a more positive tone. This book hews close to the idea that Law's tragic flaw was that he was an idealist in the sense that he didn't take other peoples weaknesses seriously enough. Gleeson doesn't provide a whole lot of concrete evidence for her view of the man. I realize that this was a popular and not an academic biography but it still seems that if you are going to present a contentious view of a person you should do a little more work arguing your case. Gleeson often will say things to the effect of "He must have felt awful about this...". I understand the urge of the biographer to get inside their subjects head, and I would rather read a positive biography than a negative one, but I felt fairly skeptical in the end.
Another aspect of the biography that was a little weak was just the feeling that you don't get very close to Law himself. He always seemed pretty distant to me while I was reading. To be fair to Gleeson this may have had to do with a dearth of documentary evidence.
On the other hand, despite her generally warm appraisal of Law, she seemed to me to do a decent job presenting the whole mess of the Mississippi bubble in all it's nastiness. One thing that amazed me was the fact that as opposed to the American stock bubble, this French one was forced on the people by the law itself. Law as minister of finance was able to pass laws requiring people to invest in his bank which was the first part of the whole system. Admittedly the stock frenzy was mostly voluntary, but the whole fact of forcing people into the paper currency which became worthless as a result of the fiasco means that it was basically impossible to be smart about it. That is there was no real escape either due to your own wisdom or to luck. Furthermore, in the name of the stock values people were wholesale deported to Louisiana. They actually also passed laws prohibiting people from buying things like gold and silver or other luxury items in order to force them to keep their wealth in the paper currency. All of this has a certain logic from the point of view of propping up the value of the currency but seems quite ruthless given what happened. There are more examples of this sort.
All in all it was a interesting and worthwhile read. ...more
I'm not sure what to say about this. I thought it was funny at times but on the whole a little boring. For the most part it's also shallow. I guess thI'm not sure what to say about this. I thought it was funny at times but on the whole a little boring. For the most part it's also shallow. I guess that given the popularity and ubiquity of Sedaris' books I was expecting something more interesting. On the whole it just didn't inspire strong feelings one way or another. Pablum....more
Very nicely written though sad account of an idyllic place and its descent to becoming a war zone.
I don't know much about Cyprus other than what I reaVery nicely written though sad account of an idyllic place and its descent to becoming a war zone.
I don't know much about Cyprus other than what I read here. I am sure there are other "angles of vision" as he calls them, meaning both what different groups thought at the time, and what people might think now looking back. Still it was pleasant both to get his impressions of village life, but also his thoughts on the issues as he saw them....more
I found this book on my father's shelf right before taking our trip out to Utah. I picked it up thinking it was a western and just intended to see whaI found this book on my father's shelf right before taking our trip out to Utah. I picked it up thinking it was a western and just intended to see what was interesting enough about it that my dad had a copy. Then I found out that it was about an area of Utah that overlapped with where we were about to go. I started to read a chapter and was hooked so I threw it into the truck to read during the long drive out there.
Basically, Abbey has taken a seasonal job as a ranger at Arches National Park in SE Utah, and writes about his experiences and thoughts. There is a lot of stuff about the role of the wilderness and it's relationship to civilization. He also struggles between the importance of having the parks there for people and the inevitable development of the areas that are heavily visited. Also interesting is his struggle to maintain the "two worlds" philosophy. He contrasts himself with Thoreau at one point by insisting that he is seeking to exist in both civilization and wilderness simultaneously rather than at separate times. I found everything in the book to be thought provoking and double edged. There are no simple minded views on the matters considered. The book is very interesting and despite the fact that there is some ranting in it does not come across as a lecture at all. Instead you get the feeling that Abbey is making sense of his own experience and his own strong opinions.
On the other hand I have to admit that though I liked his style, and found him interesting and fun to read, much of the enjoyment of this particular work came from the fact that it really is very close to where I was going as I read it. He mentioned a number of the places where we went although they are on the periphery of the exact territory where he was centered.
This book has certainly whetted my appetite to read more of his stuff particularly "the Monkey Wrench Gang"....more
Grass did a good job of presenting himself as human. He confronts his own blindness, selfishness, and vanities, as well as delivering a very readableGrass did a good job of presenting himself as human. He confronts his own blindness, selfishness, and vanities, as well as delivering a very readable account of his development as an artist. He treats the events of his life as learning experiences which seems to me to be a perfectly defensible approach, even to something as morally difficult as his participation in the Nazi state and military. I never got the sense that he was attempting to mitigate his own, or German guilt. He discusses the relationships between his life and his works which I also thought was interesting and valuable. I haven't read any of his other pieces though so mileage may vary on that front. The writing was a little uneven, and there is much discussion of German authors that I have no connection with, but overall was nourishing....more
While I can understand that for people soaked in "theory" or who study gender studies at school this book might be unsophisticated or even misleadingWhile I can understand that for people soaked in "theory" or who study gender studies at school this book might be unsophisticated or even misleading in particulars, I thought it was interesting and a good starting point. I liked the connection with the class struggle that the author brought to the forefront. I also learned from the book and felt it helped me slough off preconceived notions although I come from a very tolerant and open background. I guess I give it a 3 rather than a 4 because while it educated me it didn't make a big impact on me. I wouldn't hestitate to recommend it though....more