So here's the story. A bunch of people decided that it would be a good idea if they could sell some stuff to some girls, of which group Peggy Orenstei...moreSo here's the story. A bunch of people decided that it would be a good idea if they could sell some stuff to some girls, of which group Peggy Orenstein's daughter is a member. These people wanted to sell some really slutty toys and clothes and television programs and beauty pageants. Rather than take the hardline parent approach and say :"No slutty stuff for you", Peggy decided to write a book about it. That way she could warn the world about the slutification of womankind while filling her bank account with the proceeds from book sales.
I wasn't particularly comfortable reading this. Aside from the livid pink cover and the fact that certain females of my acquaintance were asking why I was reading a women's book, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was a spy in the enemy camp. Not that Orenstein actually comes out and blames men for anything, but certain observations cause one to wonder...like when she makes the pointed observation on page 39 that the voice of Miss Piggy is provided by a man. Like it's a bad thing. Like maybe only a woman should be Miss Piggy. Seriously, I have never heard any man complain that Bart Simpson's voice is provided by a woman.
Another disturbing passage was one in which Orenstein was shopping with her daughter for a doll and she hoped that her daughter would select a doll that was not white or blonde. I thought about that one for a while; I know that her daughter is of mixed race, but really, put the incident in perspective. Imagine what people would think of me if I took my son shopping for an action figure and hoped that he wouldn't select the black one because we happened to be white. A minor point, perhaps, but one to consider. I don't think it is intentional racism, but it's a point to watch when writing for the masses.
I think that Ms Orenstein has written a good book here. It certainly engaged my interest and she is clearly a talented writer but I do believe that the book is targeted at women. If anything I am more mystified by women than ever before. I don't understand why they see a problem with the psychological and physical differences between the sexes. Ms Orenstein has conducted extensive research, identified a few problems, raised a few questions but provided no answers.
When I was a lad I used to love being in the presence of men like Libby. There were a lot of them around in the fifties, veterans of both global confl...moreWhen I was a lad I used to love being in the presence of men like Libby. There were a lot of them around in the fifties, veterans of both global conflicts and Korea; lumberjacks, cowboys and farmers who signed up to face whatever seemed to be threatening the empire. I even knew a couple of Boer war veterans. Without exception, these chaps signed up voluntarily to go over and do their bit. They were real men with the bark on, tough in a way that comes only from deprivation and toil. Their strength came from hard work, and most would be disdainful of the perfumed poofery and posturing of a modern gym. I loved their stories and I'm afraid I could be a bit of a nuisance in trying to coax more tales out of them.
Libby was one of these hard men. He started life as a cowboy in Colorado, and broke tough broncs for top pay, often working alone many miles from the closest neighbor. When he had companions, they would often be fellows who had it in their best interest to avoid towns or any other place that employed a lawman. He cared little for cash and was easily separated from it by folly or friendship. These were the days when friendship was a tangible thing and a fellow could spend from his friends' wallets as freely as he could from his own.
Libby ultimately decided to cast his loop further afield. He found himself in Canada and was promptly swindled out of his stake (by an American, I hasten to state), which was one of the contributing factors to joining a transport battalion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in spite of the fact that he had never driven anything that didn't have a horse hitched to it. Libby, in effect, declared war on Germany several years before the rest of his homeland.
Once overseas, our hero found himself manning a machine-gun as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps. He would eventually become a pilot and rise to the rank of Captain. He was one of the first Americans in action, preceding the exploits of the Lafayette Squadron. Without ruining the book by going into too much detail, I can tell you that this amazing man actually served in the military forces of three sovereign states during the same conflict. His exploits could fill several volumes with no requirement for fluff or filler.
This book might not be a great work technically; Libby has a homey style and uses an awkward sentence structure that can be mildly annoying after a while, but he gets full marks for telling a whopping good tale. My biggest beef is that the book could easily have been a little thicker: I would have loved to have coaxed a couple more tales from the good Captain. We owe it to these men to read their memoirs...they are all gone now and it seems like we're not making any more like them.
This marks a first for me. I overcame my aversion to the very idea of e-readers and downloaded an application for my IPad and IPhone in order to read...moreThis marks a first for me. I overcame my aversion to the very idea of e-readers and downloaded an application for my IPad and IPhone in order to read Lisa's historical essay. I can't say I was impressed with the e-reader (if that's what they're called)but I did enjoy the essay. I was apprehensive at first that the Hungarian names and my total lack of familiarity with the Hungarian Revolution and subsequent events would prove to be obstacles to my enjoyment of this short work, but my concerns were groundless. Lisa writes with clarity and precision and with the confidence that comes with having a complete and total familiarity with the topic covered in her work.
In reading about the struggle of poorly armed citizens against Soviet Bloc might I was reminded of how things haven't changed at all in the almost sixty years since the events portrayed in the essay: the big guy still pushes the little guy around and invades other countries on the flimsiest of pretexts. We have seen the evidence of this in Iraq, Georgia and, most recently, Crimea. Invasion, suppression and torture are practiced by practically every major power in the world today; evidence, I suppose, that might is right after all. We have learned absolutely nothing.
This offering was a vast improvement over Mr Kyle's first book. Even so, it's hard to tell what niche he was trying to fill here; the book is not deta...moreThis offering was a vast improvement over Mr Kyle's first book. Even so, it's hard to tell what niche he was trying to fill here; the book is not detailed enough to be a technical manual, and the subject matter far too broad to be covered in such a thin volume. One gets the impression he was writing about a subject he knew and understood in order to cash in on the laurels he garnered as a sniper in Iraq. There is no question that he loves the spotlight: whether he is discussing the kentucky long rifle or the M16 he somehow manages to mention that he, Chris Kyle, was a sniper in Iraq. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but he already covered that in his first book.
This volume isn't a bad read - Mr Kyle has a homey style that most readers will be comfortable with - and I can't quibble much about his choice of the 10 firearms that most affected the course of history in the USA. The only change I might have considered would be the inclusion of the Winchester 1897 shotgun, which was produced in vast quantities and used by US forces in several conflicts. It would have been nice to see one scattergun in the lineup, but hey, this is Kyle's show and not mine.
People who are really interested in guns will probably not find anything new here, but this book is recommended for those with only a basic exposure to firearms and wanting to expand their knowledge.(less)
This was one of those books that starts out as a mystery and finishes...well, pretty much the same - still a mystery. Part police story and part 007 s...moreThis was one of those books that starts out as a mystery and finishes...well, pretty much the same - still a mystery. Part police story and part 007 spy drama, you never quite know what exactly is going on. The protagonist, Inspector O, (at least I can spell his name)is ordered about from pillar to post on a series of investigative odd jobs. He seems as mystified as the reader regarding the deaths and corruption encountered during the course of his investigative meanderings.
I'll be the first to admit that I know sweet diddly about North Korea, but I doubt that police and security agencies there gun each other down in the streets and office buildings on a regular basis. Maybe that's what the author was counting on...that the reading public would be so ignorant of the country that he could make any old thing believable. It seemed odd to me; I understand inter-departmental rivalries, but this seemed to go too far.
Mr Church didn't make Inspector O work for me; he is portrayed as a thoughtful and sensitive man trying to function in a brutal and oppressive regime, but seems oddly detached when people close to him are bumped off along the way. Maybe that's what Church was going for, but it didn't work for me. I didn't believe the character and found the convoluted story line hard to follow. In fact, having read the book, I'm still not sure what the heck happened there.
This book has some redeeming qualities. Church is a capable writer and has created some good descriptive passages and entertaining verbal exchanges, of which I will include a small sampling:
(p.72) - Listening is the anvil that forms the sword, the fire that melts the lead for the bullet. Listening is the time to recoup, to gather your wits, to plan your attack. If you listen to anyone carefully enough, you'll hear the slip that points to their vitals. It's the compass on the killing map. People talk, but no one wants to say anything because someone might listen."
Or this exchange between O and an Irish operative named Richie:
(Ppg 107-108) "Kang is an interesting character"
"I thought so. Very complicated man. The sun bounced off him in a thousand directions. Like a diamond. Built up quite a list of enemies, as far as I could tell."
"Nice image, Kang as a diamond. How many karats would you say?"
"A diamond in a garbage pile, who cares what it might have fetched on the world market."
The Irishman clicked his pen.
Finally, a brief excerpt of a passage in which O is describing the Alps (he has a thing for mountains):
The peaks I saw clawed the sky, so that the dawn was wounded and the sunlight bled into the day.
In fact, the writing was just good enough to overcome a confusing story line and a protagonist who doesn't seem to be fully developed. I liked it just enough to give the next Inspector O book a try sometime just to see if a different setting changes my opinion. (less)
Put on your helmet and web gear if you're going to read this epic. This is a real page-turner that pulls no punches. Nicely researched and written in...morePut on your helmet and web gear if you're going to read this epic. This is a real page-turner that pulls no punches. Nicely researched and written in the clear, no-nonsense language you would expect from a professional military man. Be alert, however: one can be confused by some of the anecdotal input - it's sometimes hard to tell where one soldier's comment ends and the next fellow's begins. All in all, a great read which blows the movie out of the water, and that's coming from someone who loved the movie.(less)