I was disappointed by this book -- not entirely by John Baxter but by the editor, publisher and marketing department which sold this book as something...moreI was disappointed by this book -- not entirely by John Baxter but by the editor, publisher and marketing department which sold this book as something it wasn't. This book is a lot of things but the story of Paris during WWI is not one of them. Rather it is a series of anecdotes about Paris (yes, part of the book is set there), Australia, England, the rest of Europe -- and only partly set in the period of 1914-18.
In fact a significant part revolves around the author's search for the truth around his unremarkable and largely unremarked grandfather (dead by the time John Baxter is seven). More than anything this is a story about John Baxter himself -- his concerns and the things that draw his eye. Few of the anecdotes will be new to anyone with a basic familiarity with Paris of the period. The commentary is thin at best and does little to illuminate the city of light.
The saving grace: Baxter is a good writer and a fine storyteller and some of the pictures have seldom been seen.
If you really want to know about Paris or the Great War, there are plenty of books that will do it better.(less)
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
2.5 out of 5
What Laukkanen does well (taut writing, action, police procedural) he does very well....moreI received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
2.5 out of 5
What Laukkanen does well (taut writing, action, police procedural) he does very well. Using short crisp chapters and shifting points of view, he builds tension and keeps the book skipping along. The book is structured using the 'Columbo' technique. Right from the beginning we know who the villains are and, gradually, how they operate. Meanwhile, we get to follow the established team (this is the third book of the series) of Windemere and Stevens chase after the bad guys, always behind but getting ever closer. The ending was dramatic and satisfying (to an extent -- a little too wrapped up for reality for me).
What Laukkanen does poorly, he does very poorly. I found the characters shallow. There are so many POVs you never really get to know any of them. Many feel like characters of convenience. And, as for the personal relationships between the officers and those around them, most high school students are more self-aware and adult. The unlikely romance elements could be dumped with no great lost to the book.
An okay beach read but I doubt I'll read another one. (less)
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
This may be the most important book I've read in the last couple of years. Taylor strips back the...moreI received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
This may be the most important book I've read in the last couple of years. Taylor strips back the rhetoric that has been slathered over numerous fights about 'net neutrality,' 'copyright protection,' the 'creative commons' and the misused and much-abused concept of 'free' to demonstrate how we have been collectively duped by the barons of the traditional media and the new media moguls (who have much more in common then we might think). The impoverishment of creators goes hand in hand with the flattening of consumer choice and none of it is an accident.
The sad irony is that even by reviewing this book in this forum I am contributing to my own impoverishment and enrichment of the lucky (and they are mostly just lucky) few. Welcome to the future -- guaranteed to be a sad and sorry copy of the past unless we, collectively do something about it.
Read this book. And invest in pitchforks -- they are the coming thing. (That's not Ms Taylor talking but it's not bad advice.)(less)
I'm a big fan of Laurie King's Mary Russell books so I was really looking forward to The Bones of Paris -- good writing about a city and time period I...moreI'm a big fan of Laurie King's Mary Russell books so I was really looking forward to The Bones of Paris -- good writing about a city and time period I love -- but I was a little disappointed.
The story seemed a bit bloated, not substantial enough for over 400 pages and I have to say I find the main character, Harris Stuyvesant, a bit of a jerk. At least he is sufficiently self-aware to know he's a jerk but that doesn't make me less impatient with him.
I won't give away the mystery element except to say that it was a bit weak; there is a cost to employing historical characters in a mystery.
Speaking of which, it bugged me that King had Hemingway living in Paris in September 1929 when he actually left for good (other than a brief return in 1944) nearly 18 months before. As well, King's portrayal of police methods fails to mention the the hallmark of Parisian policing -- the Bertillion system of identification -- or their obsession with keeping track of non-citizens.
Probably won't bother anyone who isn't an aficionado of the period, but it bothered me. (less)
I received this book free as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
Fire and Light is an ambitious book and, for the most part, it achieves its lofty goals. Bur...moreI received this book free as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
Fire and Light is an ambitious book and, for the most part, it achieves its lofty goals. Burns sets out to show the linkages between Enlightenment thinkers in three countries -- England, France and the United States -- and how their ideas fueled the specific political 'revolutions' in each country. The risk in a relatively short book (270 pages not counting the extensive footnotes) is that it becomes a 'Plato to NATO' survey that barely touches on the complex themes. Burns avoids this trap -- he has a felicitous writing style that lets him dig deeply into a topic with a minimum of words -- though there were times I wished he had spent a little more time with a few ideas, thinkers and events and a little less time with the intricacies of party politics. It is clear that Burns is a strong proponent of the two party system -- which marks him as an American more than anything else in the book -- which I think limits his ability to project the true measure of the impacts of the Enlightenment on, particularly, European thought. I also felt his emphasis on the importance of leadership and the (false) dichotomy between transactional vs transformational leadership diminished the book's analysis of the effect cultural and economic factors on political and revolutionary outcomes.
Still, the book is both an excellent introduction to Enlightenment ideas (and a great refresher for those of us whose academic years are well behind them). I think Burns could have spent more time analyzing the potential for a new American Enlightenment -- but that could well be the topic of his next volume. (less)