This started out as a promising human portrait of Officer Tippit—something which doesn't seem to exist in many (if ANY) other books on the subject ofThis started out as a promising human portrait of Officer Tippit—something which doesn't seem to exist in many (if ANY) other books on the subject of Oswald's flight. Clearly well-researched and written, it also comes with the benefit of the Tippit family's input and support. But less than midway through, the tone changes and becomes increasingly repetitive and monotonous, as Myers continues to deliver the same scenarios through the eyes of multiple witnesses, when he could've relayed these once, much more concisely.
The author also comes across as being a bit too contentious with others who've written about the JFK assassination. No surprise, given the the epic controversy of the subject, but he seems to go out of his way to take certain writers to task; and at some point it just starts to grate away at what could've been a much more interesting story about Tippit's life, career, and final moments.
Another important detail: while I applaud the meticulous research and documentation that went into this, I was disappointed to find that literally half the book turned out to be appendix material and notes....more
A well-written, well-documented account of the rise and ultimate fall of Danny Greene (as well as most of his adversaries). But surprisingly brief—espA well-written, well-documented account of the rise and ultimate fall of Danny Greene (as well as most of his adversaries). But surprisingly brief—especially when read as an eBook.
Just past the 60% point, the main story ends; then comes several pages of source material, followed by a series of very brief vignettes about other related individuals. Overall, rather disappointing, for this reason only.
TJ English's Paddy Whacked includes a fantastic chapter on Danny Greene and the Cleveland mob wars, and that prompted me to read more. Unfortunately, Porrello's book—which I had high expectations for—ended up reading more like an extended pamphlet than a definitive biography....more
This is definitely one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" tales, and it made for a fascinating read. A haunting story overall, and well-writtenThis is definitely one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" tales, and it made for a fascinating read. A haunting story overall, and well-written. Perhaps TOO well-written, ironically, as Jentz goes to great lengths to display her impressively wide vocabulary—to the point that it actually becomes a bit distracting. With a slightly less lofty and repetitive tone, this would've rated 4+ stars. ...more
A tactile account of the events of March 30, 1981—a day that was permanently etched into my 8-year-old mind while growing up in the Washington, DC subA tactile account of the events of March 30, 1981—a day that was permanently etched into my 8-year-old mind while growing up in the Washington, DC suburbs.
Del Wilber gives an excellent portrayal of the entire scene from multiple fronts, including a detailed medical narrative as well as the growing drama at the White House throughout the critical hours. While it's a surprisingly fast read, (very little is given to backstory, as Wilber sticks to the immediate moment here) one almost gets the distinct effect of reliving that day in real time. ...more
An engaging read covering well over a century of shenanigans. My only beef is with the excessively poor proofreading—at least one annoying typo everyAn engaging read covering well over a century of shenanigans. My only beef is with the excessively poor proofreading—at least one annoying typo every few pages. Aside from that, the chronology is handled well and English provides a great overview of each profile. ...more
A decent account of both the earthquake and subsequent fires, with interesting insight to key personalities—firemen, politicians, military officers, aA decent account of both the earthquake and subsequent fires, with interesting insight to key personalities—firemen, politicians, military officers, and citizens alike. Smith utilizes a bit too much artistic license, however, in conveying the thoughts of these people at times. Unless such thoughts were truly documented, (which these do not seem to be) they tend to undermine the legitimacy of the book....more
Vivid sensory detail throughout the book really takes you straight into 1960s Memphis. It's primarily a detailed account of the bizarre movements of JVivid sensory detail throughout the book really takes you straight into 1960s Memphis. It's primarily a detailed account of the bizarre movements of James Earl Ray leading up to and immediately following the assassination of Dr. King, but it also touches on the political wheels being turned simultaneously by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover.
One point that takes some getting used to is the author's decision to refer to Ray by his alias, "Eric Galt" throughout most of the book. It's a device that makes sense, as it enhances the assassin's false identity, creating the impression that he is someone else entirely. But again, it takes some getting used to.
Another thing I found interesting was the thinly-veiled contempt the author has for Jesse Jackson; essentially calling him out on a number of fronts—not only as someone who capitalized on the tragedy, but was never as close to King as he would like the public to perceive. Case in point, it's revealed that Jackson blatantly lied on TV about having been "the last person" to speak to Dr. King as he lay dying, when in fact, he had not. It's also claimed that Jackson was only seen on the fateful balcony after King had been rushed to the hospital—pressing his hands into the puddle of blood, presumably for visual effect. (Jackson continued to wear a bloodstained shirt throughout all media interviews the following day.)
Oddly, I found this companion piece to James L. Swanson's Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer to be superior to the original work itself.
SOddly, I found this companion piece to James L. Swanson's Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer to be superior to the original work itself.
Swanson has an curator's affinity for Lincoln assassination "memorabilia," and presents here a tremendous collection of rare and fascinating items—all of which paint a unique visual record of the assassins' final days.
I have yet to find a better showcase of this subject matter; the closest I can recall is the 1987 Time-Life Books Civil War Series volume, The Assassination: Death of the President.
While I enjoyed the narrative of Manhunt, I did not appreciate Swanson's frequent use of a rather broad brush in detailing the events of April, 1865. A perfect example is in his decision to quote Edwin M. Stanton at the moment of Lincoln's death as "Now he belongs to the angels." It has long been debated whether Stanton said "angels" or "ages"—and most historians believe it to be the latter. In fact, the phrase "Now he belongs to the ages" is literally carved above President Lincoln's very tomb. For Swanson to so casually propagate the "angels" quote without even mentioning the confusion over Stanton's words is disappointing.
He is a vivid writer with a gift of capturing the essence of a specific time and place, and transporting the reader. And for the most part, Manhunt is a worthy addition to any Lincoln library. But I feel that Swanson's notes also leave much to be desired, and perhaps he is better suited to documenting Lincolniana in books of this nature, rather than attempting to compete with Edward Steers' Blood on the Moon as the authority on the subject....more
I happened upon it by chance way back in 1990, when it jumped out at me at a B. Dalton Bookseller. MoI recently rediscovered this fascinating book...
I happened upon it by chance way back in 1990, when it jumped out at me at a B. Dalton Bookseller. Morbid, I know, but the idea of frozen corpses from 1845 looking as if they'd died yesterday—or stranger still, as if they hadn't died at all—is incredibly intriguing. To me, at least. And apparently to the girl I was dating at the time, as she totally kept my copy.
I recently came across something about the Franklin expedition and began to recall how fascinating this account was, so I started looking for it. I couldn't quite remember the name, but it didn't take long to track it down.
This new (2004) expanded edition includes an introduction by Margaret Atwood, which sets the gripping tone perfectly.
The only complaint I have (and again, it's a bit morbid, I know) is that this version doesn't include the stunning color photos I vividly recall from the first edition. Here, they're incorporated into the text pages; paced throughout the book in black and white. The startling detail is still readily apparent in black and white, and I believe there may in fact be more images in this volume. But if you've ever seen the faces of John Torrington, John Hartnell, and William Braine in full color, it's quite a sight. ...more
Finally got around to reading this, and am glad I did. I should probably credit HBO's "John Adams" miniseries for inspiring me to go back to the revolFinally got around to reading this, and am glad I did. I should probably credit HBO's "John Adams" miniseries for inspiring me to go back to the revolutionary period. And now, of course, I'll have to actually READ "John Adams" by David McCullough....more
I read this immediately after Devil in the White City, which I loved; and it confirmed for me that Erik Larson is a master storyteller of historical iI read this immediately after Devil in the White City, which I loved; and it confirmed for me that Erik Larson is a master storyteller of historical intrigue.
His research is monumental, and his ability to interweave two distinct events with a common thread is amazing--and this story does not disappoint.
I will say, however, that a couple of things stood out to me. One, Guglielmo Marconi comes across as a rather unlikeable person; which makes for a fascinating contrast with Hawley Harvey Crippen—the alleged murderer in the parallel story—who ironically cuts a sympathetic figure.
I also have to admit that the Marconi segments of the book didn't hold my interest nearly as much as those about Crippen; and as such, I'd have to rank Thunderstruck a notch below Devil in the White City, which I felt maintained a marvelous balance between the task of building the Chicago World's Fair and the saga of H.H. Holmes....more