A lot of people criticize A Clash of Kings for being dull and boring, but I really enjoyed this second installment in A Song of Ice and Fire. Fantasy...moreA lot of people criticize A Clash of Kings for being dull and boring, but I really enjoyed this second installment in A Song of Ice and Fire. Fantasy is bent on the dependability of its fabricated universe--in other words, is it believable? And nothing is more unrealistic to me than a book full of unending action, battles, physical encounters, and so on. I think the beauty of this book is that Martin is setting us up for a lot of action in the later books. He spends a great deal of A Clash of Kings developing characters, weaving threads of deceit, and building up suspense. The feature of this book is its games of the intellect rather than the games of war, which is a fine way to develop character. And in fact, Martin is playing a great game with his readers. Characters like Tyrion, who seemed to be villainous in the first book, now appear to be in league with the good guys. The beauty of this second book is Martin's manipulation of his characters and his reader.(less)
This book is a rich and enlightening source of information on Malcolm's final years, focusing on his break from the Nation of Islam and his attempts t...moreThis book is a rich and enlightening source of information on Malcolm's final years, focusing on his break from the Nation of Islam and his attempts to create his own independent following. Goldman demystifies Malcolm from being the bogeyman of the civil rights era and elucidates him as a black revolutionary, human rights activist, and religious leader. Goldman's determination in overcoming the difficulties of writing a white book about Malcolm X truly pay off. This biography is a comprehensive assessment of Malcolm's metamorphoses as a person as well as the internal transformations of his philosophy towards the racial problem in America and its possible solutions.
I am glad this book had little to say of Martin Luther King, Jr., aside from the few encounters between MLK and Malcolm X and a few necessary comparisons and dichotomies between their approaches at the end of the book. Malcolm X is far too often overlooked when we talk about civil rights and black leadership in America because of his tenacity and religion. He was far ahead of his time. He believed in raising up the self-esteem of black Americans and empowering them to enrich their communities with a black identity as opposed to simply being slaves to white America. He saw the flaws in MLK's nonviolent appeal to white America that perhaps we are only beginning to realize today. Malcolm saw the futility in trying to integrate with a group of people that were only capable of harboring hate and racism. Instead he wanted to focus on the black communities--the ghettos and the slums--and encouraged black people to raise themselves up out of deplorable conditions and make themselves self-reliant. He saw MLK's efforts as far too dependent on the conscience of white people (and often argued if they had a conscience at all--history offers the opinion that they didn't), and would rather have some of that white power transferred back into the hands of the black communities. It's unfortunate that during his time, people chose to disregard Malcolm's message out of fear and anxiety.
"The dream was ennobling but doomed. It was Malcolm's curse to see this before most of the rest of us; it was the beginning of his sainthood that when black Americans reached that point--when they arrived, that is to say, at their blackness--Malcolm was already there."(less)
This book is an amazing landscape of language and words, human life, friendships, and personal struggles. Woolf writes purely through the internal dia...moreThis book is an amazing landscape of language and words, human life, friendships, and personal struggles. Woolf writes purely through the internal dialogue of six friends as they travel through life, sometimes together and sometimes alone. The characterizations are rich and varied, each soul bared open to the reader with clarity and poetry. One of those books that warrants repeat readings in order to mine out all its gems and also for the pleasure of it.(less)
Hawthorne's reinvention of classical Greek myths is framed around the adventures of a group of children in the village called Tanglewood. The tales ar...moreHawthorne's reinvention of classical Greek myths is framed around the adventures of a group of children in the village called Tanglewood. The tales are wonderfully told with quirks and sleights-of-hand that can keep an older audience as equally entertained as the targeted younger audience. The book offers more than just the re-telling of old tales; it provides insight into the coming-of-age of certain characters (Eustace, a college student; and Primrose, a preteen girl), as well as interesting contrasts between the innocence of childhood and the traditional values of an older generation. Hawthorne succeeds in creating a wonderfully charming universe with a romanticized landscape and population that is both inviting and inspiring (the children are named after flowers). The tales are smart and creative and are humbly improved by Hawthorne's American style.(less)