Triumph of Justice is my third foray into the OJ Simpson trial, following Marcia Clark's Without a Doubt and Jeffrey Toobin's The Run of His Life:Triumph of Justice is my third foray into the OJ Simpson trial, following Marcia Clark's Without a Doubt and Jeffrey Toobin's The Run of His Life: The People versus O.J. Simpson. Unlike those texts, Triumph of Justice focuses on Simpson's civil trial rather than the unsuccessful criminal trial, and was penned by Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney who finally brought Simpson to justice.
It's hard to say how complete this feels, given that my recent devouring of the previous two texts and the accompanying TV adaptation has filled my head with all manner of Simpson trivia. Then again, any reader starting with the civil rather than criminal trial almost certainly already has a decent knowledge of the background leading up to this book's beginning. Petrocelli also introduces us to a number of Simpson and Nicole Brown's friends and acquaintances who had little involvement with the criminal trial, which helps give a fuller sense of their relationship and the events which lead to murder.
A great deal of the book is centered on Petrocelli's preparations for the trial and the depositions he took from key players, and at times the exhaustive detail began to feel exhausting - but by the time the trial rolls around, it really serves to highlight the number of obvious, glaring lies Simpson wove around himself, making the eventual judgement all the more satisfying. Petrocelli abstains from being overly critical of the preceding criminal trial, but it's easy to see why the civil trial reached a different verdict. Having a judge who controlled his courtroom and refused to pander to the defense, a brevity of expert witnesses, new evidence, and above all Simpson's own testimony all came together in a way that made the verdict almost inevitable.
Triumph of Justice may lack the almost novel-like quality of Without a Doubt, but it is a very satisfying read, and serves as a fulfilling conclusion to texts on the criminal trial. It's certainly not a starting point, but as an ending, it's excellent.
Following my recent binge-watch of The People v O.J. Simpson and subsequent devouring of Without a Doubt - prosecutor Marcia Clarke's account of the tFollowing my recent binge-watch of The People v O.J. Simpson and subsequent devouring of Without a Doubt - prosecutor Marcia Clarke's account of the trial - my desire for more background still wasn't satisfied. As a rule I barely read non-fiction, so I'm letting myself follow this newfound interest despite its bizarrely narrow focus. After reading Clarke's memoir, I had a hankering for something from the defense's POV, but with such a wealth of options available I turned instead to Jeffrey Toobin's overarching account, which formed the spine of the TV series.
The Run of His Life both expands on the show, and fills in many of the blanks naturally left in Clarke's book with regards to the machinations of the defense. As a journalist one step removed from the trial - albeit one with an incendiary role in the villainization of bigoted LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman - Toobin's is an impartial account, although he admits early on his belief in Simpson's guilt. Despite this, he generally comes across as being far more favourable to the defensive Dream Team, while lambasting the DA's office in general and Clarke in particular for the outcome of the trial. Toobin also gives Judge Lance Ito an easier ride than Clarke did, attributing his failings to his adherence to the truth school of justice and star-struck nature, rather than general incompetence and spinelessness.
I sometimes felt that Toobin strayed too far beyond the scope of interest, delving deep into LA police history and the family lives of trial participants. In retrospect, this added important context and served to make the book a richer read, but there were certainly times I found myself blinking at the page and wondering why I needed to know about the career trajectories of Christopher Darden's parents. Despite this propensity toward excessive background detail, I emerged from the book having learned little and less about victims Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.
One area in which Toobin's approach surpassed Clarke's was in his book's sense of completeness. While Without a Doubt largely ends with the trial and Clarke's role in it, The Run of His Life devotes a brief but satisfying chapter to wrapping up the aftermath for the principal participants, and summarising Simpson's civil trial. My interest was so piqued by this latter subject that at the time of writing, I've already moved on to civil prosecutor Daniel Petrocelli's account, Triumph of Justice. Furthermore, Toobin's examination of the failings of the jury has all but guaranteed that I'll read at least one jurist's memoir in due course.
I really couldn't say why this particular topic has so grabbed my interest and refused to relinquish it to such an extent, but as true crime accounts go, Toobin's is compellingly written.
As a huge Stephen King fan, Guns was the first Kindle Single I ever bought, way back in May 2013. It's languished at the back of my Kindle since then,As a huge Stephen King fan, Guns was the first Kindle Single I ever bought, way back in May 2013. It's languished at the back of my Kindle since then, waiting for the right moment, which recently presented itself in the form of a gargantuan passport control queue. More strongly than with most of Uncle Steve's writing, I could hear this very much in his voice, which helped with the escapism - something perhaps difficult to achieve with so loaded a subject.
Gun control is obviously far less of an issue here in England than it is in America, and it's easy to slip into a 'if we can do it, why can't they?' naivete. But King makes a good case for the suppression of semi-automatic firearms as a compromise, while explaining for the uninitiated why going further than that is all but guaranteed to fail.
One of the most interesting aspects of Guns is the link drawn between school shootings and King's Bachman novel Rage. I was unaware of this link beforehand, but it clearly weighs on King's conscience (although it has had the unintended effect of making me far more interested in reading the now withdrawn-from-print novel).
Overall, I doubt there's anything there likely to sway anyone with a stake in the debate, but as one man's opinion it's an interesting on, and one I'm glad to finally have read.
Like (I suspect) many recent readers, I just finished watching the marvelous American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson. I was only eight years olLike (I suspect) many recent readers, I just finished watching the marvelous American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson. I was only eight years old when the infamous trial took place, so have no real memory of it, but the TV show sparked an interest that demanded further sustenance. Having discovered that prosecutor Marcia Clark went on to become a writer, this seemed as good a place as any to start. (I'm also a little bit in love with Sarah Paulson, but that's really neither here nor there).
Clark's account of the trial is both competent and highly readable. There's a touch of legal thriller to it - there were times I could easily have believed I was actually reading one of Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller novels. The only real sticking point comes perhaps a third of the way through, when Clark discusses the effect the publicity had on her personal life, and the trial tale is de-railed by a potted autobiography. It's not that I wasn't interested in her personal history, but I felt it could have been better distributed, perhaps interspersed throughout the book rather than stuck in a clump in the middle.
I'm definitely interested in further reading on the Simpson trial - I might try something by one of the defense next time (so many people involved with the case went on to write memoirs, it's hard to know where to turn!), but I'd also like to read some of Clark's fiction and see how it stacks up.
This book is absolutely bonkers. I'd read a lot of hype for it lurking around the endlessly entertaining Mumsnet forums, and figured it had to be wortThis book is absolutely bonkers. I'd read a lot of hype for it lurking around the endlessly entertaining Mumsnet forums, and figured it had to be worth a shot. For the past few years I've been trying to downsize my possessions and adhere to a 'less is more' way of living, and while I've never been entirely successful, I have noticed a definite link between my stress levels and levels of clutter about the house.
On a fundamental level, the advice in this book is both superb and simple. The trouble is, there just isn't enough of it to sustain an entire book. Basically, the idea is to tidy your house thoroughly, all at once, and discard all possessions that don't bring you joy. We spent a weekend blitzing on this basis from top to bottom, and the results and maintenance have been outstanding. But... I didn't need to read the whole book to get there. In fact, once I'd got the gist of it, reading through the rest really dragged, to the point that I considered discarding the book itself on a few occasions.
The trouble is, Kondo comes across as being very hard to relate to. She talks at length about how tidying has been her main hobby since the age of five, and how inanimate objects taught her the meaning of unconditional love. She greets her home out loud upon entry, personifies her belongings and environment, and likens the sensation of tidying to meditating under a waterfall. And of course there's the real gem of advocating leaving ones washing up to dry on the sun in the veranda. Obviously.
So while there is the kernel of an excellent approach between these covers, the book itself makes for a bizarre read. It's certainly helped me, but I'd hesitate before recommending it to a friend.
As much as I love Battlestar Galactica (and I do, I really do), The Official Companion isn't necessarily something I would have purchased for myself.As much as I love Battlestar Galactica (and I do, I really do), The Official Companion isn't necessarily something I would have purchased for myself. I'm currently working my way through the podcasts which accompany each episode, and those things are so rich and packed with detail that I didn't really expect there to be much in here that I didn't know. And yet David Bassom unearthed plenty of extra details that made this a very enjoyable read. The level of access he had to the cast and crew really shows (as much as I enjoyed the Inside HBO's Game of Thrones books, it was obvious that the author had only had fleeting access to the cast and had to rely a lot more on costume designers etc for padding). The only section I found a little dry was the production/visual effects chapter towards the end, but the rest of the book more than made up for that. Apart from a few pages of pictures, the whole thing is black and white, but I understand that a new, glossier version has been printed which encompasses the first and second seasons, and I'll definitely be trying to get my hands on that (and the other season companions) in future. This is definitely a must-read for fans....more
As with the companion book for seasons one and two, Inside HBO's Game of Thrones is absolutely gorgeous. It's a big, thick, heavy book that would lookAs with the companion book for seasons one and two, Inside HBO's Game of Thrones is absolutely gorgeous. It's a big, thick, heavy book that would look fantastic on any coffee table. The content felt a little more lacking than its predecessor, but I'm not sure if that's actually the case, or if I just wasn't quite as satisfied with it. Don't get me wrong, it made for marvellous company while I was tucked up ill in bed - disappearing to Westeros was a lovely escape. I just came away with the sense that we heard a lot more from the actors and about the creative process in the first book, whereas this one gives heavier focus to set-building, location scouting and costume designing. Those are all interesting things, and the amount and work and love that went into this series is staggering to behold - but there were a lot of times where I'd rather have been reading about creative decisions, for instance why Pyp and Grenn had to die, than how the top of the Wall set was assembled. Obviously there's more here for fans of the TV show alone than those who have read A Song of Ice and Fire, but that's only to be expected. It only took a few hours to read, and the quality alone makes it superb present material. It's not a must-have, but it's still an excellent companion....more
I'm a bit sad to only give this three stars. I'd been looking forward to it for ages, and the anticipation was high when it finally fell through my leI'm a bit sad to only give this three stars. I'd been looking forward to it for ages, and the anticipation was high when it finally fell through my letterbox. It just wasn't really what I was expecting - it wasn't very funny. There are plenty of humorous asides, and it definitely raised a few chuckles, but I'm not sure Yes Please really knew what it wanted it be. It certainly wasn't an in-depth autobiography. Poehler starts out by writing an entire introduction about how hard writing is. She reminds us at multiple points during the book that writing is super-hard-no-fun-boo. We get a little bit of background on her family life growing up (one thing I found particularly odd is that Poehler draws attention to how lucky she was to have such a stable and loving family, but also seems determined to draw attention to the fact that her father hit her once as a teenager. Is that laundry that really needs airing all these years later?) She talks a lot about the various improv groups she worked with and the venues they moved between, but we never really get more than surface details on anything. She point-blank refrains from discussing her marriage, which is entirely her prerogative, but then gives a lot of what feels like undue weight to an incident where she once made an offensive joke on SNL. Oddly, there are a lot of sections that feel more like a self-help guide than anything. Poehler's tone is warm throughout, and radiates positivity and kindness. Those are things I love about her public persona. But the book ends up a strange sort of mish-mash, and is ultimately, sadly, disappointing....more
Inside HBO'S Game of Thrones is a gorgeous coffee table book. The quality is just lovely, and the pages are so thick and glossy I often had to check IInside HBO'S Game of Thrones is a gorgeous coffee table book. The quality is just lovely, and the pages are so thick and glossy I often had to check I wasn't turning over two at once. I think this would make an excellent gift for any fan of the series. Content-wise, there's less here for fans of A Song and Ice and Fire - I absolutely enjoyed it, but there was very little information I didn't already know. Some of the production details are a bit dry, but no one topic ever lasts for more than a couple of pages at a time. The best sections are the character profiles - it's very interesting to read little insights from the relevent actors and crew, even if some of them are a bit off the mark (Jack Gleeson tries, bless his soul, but trying to pin all of Joffers' abuse of Sansa on the example set by Cersei and Robert... nope.) It's certainly not essential reading, but it's a lovely, high-quality companion to the show, and I'll definitely be reading the season 3-4 tie in book too....more
The Aquariums of Pyongyang is an autobiographical account of a decade spent in a North Korean concentration camp by author Kang Chol-hwan, who was impThe Aquariums of Pyongyang is an autobiographical account of a decade spent in a North Korean concentration camp by author Kang Chol-hwan, who was imprisoned alongside his family at the age of nine. My first real introduction to the North Korean situation came via Barbara Demick's excellent account Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea in 2011. By habit I don't read a great deal of non-fiction, but I was so shocked and moved by Demick's book that I also purchased Escape from Camp 14 and The Aquariums of Pyongyang as further reading. This was the first I've turned to.
The events documented here are brutal, bleak, and make for distressing reading. Kang Chol-hwan had a fairly privileged childhood by North Korean standards. As the son of migrants from Japan, he grew up in relative austerity - prizing above all else his aquarium of exotic fish. But his life changed instantly beyond all recognition when his grandfather was arrested and sent to a hard labour camp. Per North Korean custom, much of the family - Chol-hwan's grandmother, father, uncle and sister - were also arrested, and as potentially redeemable relatives of a criminal, were sent to Yodok, a remote concentration camp.
That children as young as Kang Chol-hwan and his sister Mi-ho - then just nine and seven - could be imprisoned like this, with no information about the length of their sentence or whether they might ever see their mother again, was just the first instance in a frank account of appalling brutality. Events inside the camp aren't necessarily described in a linear fashion, so come across more as whatever subject was on Chol-hwan's mind at the time, but they certainly come together well enough to paint an image of a camp where prisoners were desperately malnourished and mistreated beyond endurance. They were given clothes that turned to rags within weeks and lived in two-room huts with no amenities, but all had a special pair of clean shoes to wear in the room dedicated to the Great Leader, whose portraits were kept lit and heated at all times. The whole thing is so absurd and shocking that at times I had to remind myself that this was an autobiographical account, and not dystopian fiction.
The section of the book set after the family's release is thinner on details - the siblings do eventually reunite with their mother, but Chol-hwan touches only briefly on his mixed emotions - and indeed the life he begins to build for himself before fleeing the border to escape potentially being returned to Yodok. While his courage and endurance are admirable, and this is absolutely a reality that needs wider acknowledgement, it's hard going knowing that telling his tale almost certainly resulted in surviving family members being returned to Yodok. The Aquariums of Pyongyang is truly eye-opening, and what it lacks in Demick's flair with words, it makes up for in first-hand experience....more
How to Be a Woman is part conversation on modern feminism, part autobiography of columnist Caitlin Moran. It peaked early for me with her childhood anHow to Be a Woman is part conversation on modern feminism, part autobiography of columnist Caitlin Moran. It peaked early for me with her childhood anecdotes of growing up in Wolverhampton - poor, badly dressed and the oldest of seven children. Her reminiscences on having to wear her mother's hand-me-down underwear and beginning her sexual awakening after borrowing a Jilly Cooper from the library because it had horses on the cover were right on the mark. Once she hit her teenage years and beyond my interest waned a bit, although for the most part it remained amusing throughout. Moran has a commanding, chatty tone that's enjoyable to read, but a bit much for a sustained period - probably more suited to columns than hundreds of pages at a time. It's matey, but veers a bit towards preachy once she gets the feminist bit between her teeth.
Nothing she has to say is particularly ground-breaking. Workplace sexism isn't cool. Everyday sexism isn't cool. Porn shouldn't be the exclusive domain of men. Women shouldn't feel pressured into having cosmetic surgery, wearing uncomfortable heels or spending £600 on handbags. Most of it can be filed under plain common sense. There's a heavy-hitting chapter towards the end on her personal experience of abortion, but most of the preceding events are lightweight fare - palling about with Lady Gaga, clothes shopping, dating etc.
Some parts grated quite a lot. At one point, Moran tells girls to stop "letting the side down" by working as strippers, only to note a few pages later that "between 60 to 80 per cent of strippers come from a background of sexual abuse." So telling them to "get the fuck off the podium" is charming, really. Then there are the chapters on motherhood. She devotes an entire chapter to how it's totally okay to not want to have children, which is great, except it follows a chapter on how the lives of those without children are totally unfulfilled, their achievements and hobbies mere consolation prizes for not being enriched by tiny humans. Then there are her frequent assertions that historically, women have done absolutely nothing of note up until a hundred years ago.
It's a tough one to sum up, because for every place I wound up rolling my eyes, there'd be another that would have me giggling. Overall, I don't think it's substantial enough to recommend either as feminist discourse or an autobiography, but it's an easy enough read, and there are worse ways to kill a few hours. High praise indeed....more
What Not to Do is a sequel of sorts to Danny Wallace's Awkward Situations for Men (it was in fact originally titled, and remains entirely the same aWhat Not to Do is a sequel of sorts to Danny Wallace's Awkward Situations for Men (it was in fact originally titled, and remains entirely the same as More Awkward Situations for Men, which has understandably led to some negative reviews from readers who purchased both, believing them to be different entities.) The contents comprises a series of Wallace's columns from ShortList magazine, which are all essentially anecdotes on the sublime social awkwardness that arises in everyday life. If you've ever found yourself in a Mexican stand-off over pressing the button for a lift, or trying to find a polite way to check a cash machine after being told it's out of order - without, of course, implying that the previous user is too dense to understand the operation of said machine, there'll be something for you to relate to here.
I remember being fairly underwhelmed by Awkward Situations for Men, especially after really enjoying Wallace's other books (particularly Yes Man, Friends Like These, and his joint ventures with Dave Gorman). I think at the time it was the structure that put me off - bite-size stories that begin, end and are largely forgotten within a couple of pages made it hard to really get stuck in and engaged. This time around, however, I was after something fairly light to read while on the go, so being able to leaf through a couple of chapters on the bus, over lunch etc. really suited me, and as a result I definitely enjoyed it more.
Most of the stories here raised at least a smile, many a chuckle, and a few outright laughter at 1am which is always a good sign. Wallace has a friendly, conversational tone that it's easy to amble along with. The framing is perhaps a little odd - it begins and ends with Wallace reflecting on life as a new father, and I was briefly worried that the whole book would be an attempt at illuminating insights on parenthood, but save for a few anecdotes on the sublime unfairness of his baby dining on the finest salmon while he and his exhausted wife subsist on Super Noodles, it's not a topic that comes up with any more regularity than his wife, friends or work. If you want a quick, easy read and also happen to be a socially awkward soul, you can't go far wrong here....more
This was a pleasant enough read, but a bit too technical to sustain my interest throughout. The sections that focussed on Kirkman, Darabont, the charaThis was a pleasant enough read, but a bit too technical to sustain my interest throughout. The sections that focussed on Kirkman, Darabont, the characters and cast were enormously interesting, but I think the book was hampered by Ruditis' selection of principal interviewees. Of the cast members, only DeMunn, Yeun and Riggs have a voice here. The crew are by far the most predominant, and while, yes, it is interesting to read about Nicotero creating zombies, I'm just not sure I was ever this interested in the scoring, visual effects, post-production process etc. It's the insights into the characters' psyches, the development of the comic and the transition into the TV series that really interested me, and compared to the bulk of the book - which focusses on the technical process - they're a bit lacking. Still, it was enjoyable enough to dip into here and there before bed each night, if not a compelling can't-put-down read. I'm sure there's something to relish here for most avid fans, if not the casual viewer. I'd like to read something similar on season two, but given the veil of secrecy that descended over Darabont's departure, it's sadly hard to imagine that working....more