Not the best of the Travis McGee tales by John D. MacDonald, but reasonably satisfying nevertheless. Someone has blown up the boat owned by McGee's eNot the best of the Travis McGee tales by John D. MacDonald, but reasonably satisfying nevertheless. Someone has blown up the boat owned by McGee's economist friend, Meyer. Meyer was not aboard, but his niece was -- on her honeymoon -- and Meyer is determined to find out who is responsible, in part to recover the sense of self he lost in Free Fall in Crimson.
MacDonald was one of the best of the post-World War II pulp fictioneers. He introduced Travis McGee in 1964, nearly two decades after establishing himself as a writer, and carried McGee through 21 novels before his death in 1986. MacDonald used McGee to voice some pungent social commentary, much of which remains strikingly relevant today. Few pulp writers have stood the test of time so well....more
Groucho Marx was a very funny man who wrote amusing letters to his friends and others. Some of these were collected in this book, published in 1965. AGroucho Marx was a very funny man who wrote amusing letters to his friends and others. Some of these were collected in this book, published in 1965. At times, reading this book was like reading the script from a Marx Brothers movie. Included in this book is a touching exchange of letters between Groucho and T.S. Eliot, who finally met in England shortly before Eliot passed away. One very interesting letter was a note from Groucho congratulating his friend Arthur Murray (of dancing fame) on the marriage of his daughter to a young doctor named Heimlich. Yes, that Dr. Heimlich....more
When the European Union made its first attempt at creating a constitution a few years ago, the drafters of the document rejected a proposal to make reWhen the European Union made its first attempt at creating a constitution a few years ago, the drafters of the document rejected a proposal to make reference to Europe's Christian heritage. Earthly Powers is an exploration of the conflict between religion and secular politics as it played out in Europe from the French Revolution to the First World War, and shows how secular politics came to assume many of the societal roles previously played by the church, particularly in such fields as education.
I found the book challenging: Michael Burleigh presents a wide-ranging survey of European political and social history, and while I am broadly familiar with the period that Burleigh covers, he discusses many individuals and movements with which I am thoroughly unfamiliar. This unfamiliarity probably explains why I struggled with the book initially: I have read Burleigh's previous writings on the Third Reich, and had no trouble with his prose style as he addressed a more familiar set of characters and events. Ultimately, though, I found Earthly Powers to be a satisfying exploration of the subject, and I look forward to his follow-up, in which he takes the story up to the present day and offers speculations on the future of "post-Christian" Europe, including what role religion may have to play....more
Erik Larson, the acclaimed author of The Devil in the White City, wrote this intriguing account of the hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas, i Erik Larson, the acclaimed author of The Devil in the White City, wrote this intriguing account of the hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas, in September 1900. The focus is on Isaac Cline, the head of the local branch of the government Weather Bureau, which was trying to establish itself as the most reliable source of weather forecasts. Cline and his superiors thought they understood violent weather phenomena, but it turns out they didn't know what they didn't know. As a result, Galveston was wholly unprepared for the ensuing disaster.
As usual, Larson does a great job of evoking the atmosphere of another era. He relies on documents from survivors to describe, in chilling fashion, what happened when the storm struck. He also engages in a fair amount of speculation as to what individuals did and thought at the time. I am distrustful of such speculation, but Larson does explain his reasons, and they seem reasonable enough. At any rate, this is a fascinating look at a memorable disaster....more