It's a good thing I'm writing a review of the book and not an assessment of the subject of the book - Mr FORD was not a very pleasant person at the beIt's a good thing I'm writing a review of the book and not an assessment of the subject of the book - Mr FORD was not a very pleasant person at the best of times, and often he went way past unpleasant behaviour and was guilty of conduct that was downright despicable. Mr McBride has gone to a lot of trouble to attempt to open Ford up so the reader can see what makes him tick. The result is this book, a large volume that I wasn't sure I would be able to finish this year.
Ford was a very strange man indeed...in spite of being born in the USA he affected a strong tie to Ireland. Not that there's anything wrong with Ireland, but it was an affectation that made no sense to me. My ancestors came from Scotland, but I don't run around in a kilt. Maybe if I had better legs and it wasn't so darn cold...! In any event, he liked to use actors of Irish descent and filmed as much as he could in Ireland. It doesn't bother me but just seemed...phony! Like so many other things Ford did, confusing and fraudulent. Like displaying great courage in WWII, but also fraudulently claiming to have served in WWI. His accounts of his actions and whereabouts over the years would vary depending on audience. Mr McBride refers to this as mythmaking (p.142) and I sure wish I had read that passage as a boy. I seem to remember getting my britches tanned for a couple of prevarications I might have passed off as myths.
Another aspect of Ford's personality that amazed me was his ability to inspire loyalty in the actors he directed. This in spite of the fact that he abused and ridiculed and sometimes even assaulted them. Actors cutting his toenails? Woody Strode massaging his back? Really way beyond the call of duty as far as I am concerned.
I have been a big fan of Ford's films since early childhood. Knowing that Ford had a few bats in his belfry hasn't changed that for me. McBride's book has actually given me a lot more interest in Ford's movies, and opened my eyes to a lot of literary work to which I had been oblivious. I couldn't possibly summarize such a vast and complete volume here; suffice it to say that he has done a great job of research and his writing holds your interest, even if your hands can't hold this monster of a book!
It has been a long time since I have read anything on a WWII topic that I enjoyed as much as I did this book. The authors have taken anecdotal experieIt has been a long time since I have read anything on a WWII topic that I enjoyed as much as I did this book. The authors have taken anecdotal experiences from a number of men and women actually involved in the Battle of Britain and have woven these precious threads into the main historical account of Britain's darkest hour.
I fancied myself to be as informed as the average bear when it came to WWII historical events, but this book was a treasury of historical minutiae to which I had been totally oblivious. For instance, I had no idea that the Royal Navy had attacked the French Navy near Algeria in 1940. The Brits killed more of their former allies in this single engagement than they had killed Germans in all the hostilities to that date. And who knew that England had ordered the internment of Italians who were in residence on the island? Or that Oberleutnant Gerhard Schopfel managed the amazing feat of shooting down four Brit fighter aircraft in a single pass?
Of course, this story could not be told without relating the political machinations that send these men and women out to kill or be killed. This is spongy ground: too much political b.s. can bring a reader down and cause the story to drag. In this book, the politics are doled out in small and measured doses, just enough to give you an insight into the political thinking of the time without causing you to lose track of the story. Politicians aren't very interesting except as a study in deceit and mass manipulation, for the most part. I did develop a new respect for William Lyon Mackenzie King, our Canadian Prime Minister at the time. I had always considered him a bit of a religious crackpot and had no idea that he was so instrumental in moving Roosevelt to finally help England out, although it did not escape my notice that Roosevelt didn't come across until he was sure the aid wouldn't hurt him politically. Typical politician: never mind what is good for the country or the world - the priority is to get your own ass re-elected! To Mr King, my posthumous and belated respect and admiration.
I heartily recommend this very nicely written and touching book to anyone. Even those who don't particularly care for military history will not be unmoved by this account; thoroughly researched, thoughtfully laid out, and generously illustrated with photographs.
I have often thought that there should be a reluctance on the part of the estate of a deceased writer to publish any of an author's works posthumouslyI have often thought that there should be a reluctance on the part of the estate of a deceased writer to publish any of an author's works posthumously. Seriously, if the book was finished and the writer hadn't bothered to take it to the publisher, what would you assume his motives to be? An aversion to money, perhaps? This book is one of several that was published after Hemingway's suicide, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he hadn't published it simply because he felt that it wasn't good enough. If that was the case, I agree with him completely.
There are some parts of the book that I found engaging; Hemingway knew fishing and firearms and draws the reader in when he writes on those topics. Regrettably, there is far too little of that in this book. When he is not writing about physical action, he bogs down in unlikely and tedious dialogue and improbable thought processes. His protagonist, Thomas Hudson, seems detached and dispassionate, almost to the point of being uninvolved in the whole story. And that, incidentally, is a name I will never forget...because Hemingway uses the full name each and every time he refers to the protagonist; Thomas Hudson did this and Thomas Hudson did that. I got heartily sick of the name by the time I toiled through the book.
Overall, the book has a dark and brooding tone, more in keeping with Conrad than Hemingway although Hemingway is never exactly a ray of sunshine in any of his works. I don't think Hemingway ever intended it to be printed. In any event, I feel that I have been robbed of some of my reading time....more
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 detaThis 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....more
Blunt and brief, this book is riveting; I couldn't put it down. It's maddening that humans can treat each other in such a beastly fashion, but I suppoBlunt and brief, this book is riveting; I couldn't put it down. It's maddening that humans can treat each other in such a beastly fashion, but I suppose we should be inured to it by now. After all, countries that claim to be civilized still maintain combatant civilians in camps without trial and torture them while thus incarcerated. Few people speak out against it. Nothing has changed....more
The subtitle of this publication is The Story of the World's Greatest Conflict Told Through the Objects That Shaped It. I don't know what criteria weThe subtitle of this publication is The Story of the World's Greatest Conflict Told Through the Objects That Shaped It. I don't know what criteria were used in order to select the 100 objects to include in the book, but some were questionable in my opinion. For instance: how did the Owen SMG get included while the Stg 44 was left out? In any event, it's an easy, interesting read and even knowledgeable WWII buffs will find some trivia of interest in here. The book would have benefitted from some diligent proofreading but I think my biggest moan is that they used a small font on glossy paper, thereby making it a little difficult to read....more
I have to say I feel somewhat guilty at not rating this book a little higher out of respect for the brave women whose wartime experiences are chroniclI have to say I feel somewhat guilty at not rating this book a little higher out of respect for the brave women whose wartime experiences are chronicled within. Let's face it: Aleksievich poured her heart and soul into the research, travelling to over 100 cities and villages to personally interview hundreds of female WWII veterans. She was eager to get their story recorded for posterity and was careful to keep a diary to make notes on her travels and interviews.
The problem is that Russia had more than 800,000 women in arms during the war. Aleksievich interviewed a few hundred of these and then condensed her material into a book of less than 300 pages. Obviously, no one woman is going to get much of her story told in the space she would have allotted. Furthermore, the information received is practically all anecdotal and therefore vulnerable to embellishment or memory lapse. One thing is clear: the women under arms in Russia had a very, very hard go of it in WWII.
As I read the book, I couldn't help drawing comparisons between the female warrior of the 1940s and her modern counterpart. Compare the Russian woman crawling through snow to drag a wounded enemy from the field to the the female staff at Abu Ghraib posing their naked "enemies" for shameful and demeaning photographs. These women volunteered for their service, often in the face of opposition from parents and military officials. Usually they were issued a single uniform and rations were in unbelievably short supply. They were shot, tortured, starved, and had limbs removed without the benefit of anaesthetic, yet they had the strength to see the war through and go on to have post-war careers and raise families.
In fact, this book is a seemingly never-ending litany of woe with inhumanity piled upon inhumanity until it really just becomes numbing; families wiped out, friends vanished, limbs hacked off, children burned...and on and on until you feel you can't take it any more. I know that's the intent of the book...to show the ordeal endured by these heroines...but the task is too much for the writer. I would have preferred that she leaven the anecdotes with some statistics..they would almost be comic relief! Although the author's heart is in the right place, the project is too ambitious. Probably every one of those 800,000 women has enough credibility to warrant a book of her own; trying to give an overview of all that experience in under 300 pages is over-condensing it in my opinion.
This book is definitely worth reading; it suffers a bit in the translation, I think, but you will meet many solid and dedicated women in these pages....more
The modern military member will probably be doing a lot of head-shaking while reading this autobiography. This is definitely not your typical war storThe modern military member will probably be doing a lot of head-shaking while reading this autobiography. This is definitely not your typical war story as it is written by the only woman to enlist in the Foreign Legion. In this capacity, Ms Travers was not actually involved in combat except dodging the odd shell and, through blind luck, she managed to drive her General/lover through the encircling German armour at Bir Hakeim. For much of her time in Africa Travers lived in relative luxury as the General's paramour, a situation that would call for courts-martial all round in this day and age. Stiil, full points to Travers for honesty as she didn't try to gloss over her involvement in this and several other affairs of the heart. Full points to her for answering the Legion's call for troops (you cannot say her country's call as France was ruled by the Vichy regime at this time), and for turning out a war story that manages to be interesting in spite of the mushy stuff....more
I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book, but I'm glad I read it. It is unlike other holocaust accounts because the fascI don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book, but I'm glad I read it. It is unlike other holocaust accounts because the fascists are not a present and immediate threat, and in fact Nazis have no direct contact with the occupants of the secret annex during the time that Anne kept the diary. Instead, they are a vague threat lingering beyond the perimeter of the hideout, so the reader at least is spared accounts of death and torture. I was impressed with the quality of Anne's writing, especially for one so young. The world was robbed of a great talent here. ...more