The best part was the final third, where the legacy of the Kennedy presidency was examined by stepping through all of the administrations since that tThe best part was the final third, where the legacy of the Kennedy presidency was examined by stepping through all of the administrations since that time. Because JFK was a Democrat--but also notably conservative by today's definitions--ALL of the Presidents since Kennedy have invoked his name to score political points. This is also the section where I learned the most, such as the friction between Edward Kennedy and Jimmy Carter, or how close Reagan came to being the next assassinated president.
The four stars may be a little generous for the rest of the book, which didn't cover as much new ground. The first third was the Kennedy campaign & presidency, with the middle third an exhaustive look at the assassination and investigation....more
I've slowly been trying to learn more about economics, and have a couple unfinished books on my shelf. When my buddy Greg raved about this one, a grapI've slowly been trying to learn more about economics, and have a couple unfinished books on my shelf. When my buddy Greg raved about this one, a graphic (comic) book about the subject, I hunted down a copy at the library and raced through it. A great overview from Adam Smith to the present day, one that starts with a twinge of political ideology and ends with a LOT of it. I happen to share the author's eco-political views, but still took one star off for the overtness of it all. A little much, even for me.
That perspective will probably attract some readers and repel others. Nonetheless, I think just about everyone could appreciate the economic history that takes us from agrarian/medieval economies of the 1700s right up to the Industrial Revolution. That manages to include a lot of Smith, Ricardo, and other classical economists. That was probably my favorite part of the book.
P.S. I also wish there managed to be more about the economics of other countries. There's some the old USSR, mostly about the failures of a centrally planned economy. But I would've appreciated more about, say, France, Japan, Mexico, and so on....more
How many of these are real answers, and how many are made up for a funny book? Probably most or all are made up, but it's still funny. I got this forHow many of these are real answers, and how many are made up for a funny book? Probably most or all are made up, but it's still funny. I got this for my son in college who appreciated the chance to laugh at tests just after finals week. Good for the soul! Then I picked it up and laughed out loud at many of the jokes inside....more
An odd book. Obviously the acts of the solider (Felixn Sparks) that it focuses on, as well as the entire 157th Infantry Regiment are incredible storieAn odd book. Obviously the acts of the solider (Felixn Sparks) that it focuses on, as well as the entire 157th Infantry Regiment are incredible stories of courage & challenge. It had kind of a special meaning for me since they fought through & liberated parts of Europe I've visited, such as Southern France, Munich, and the Dachau concentration camp. Coincidentally, I finished the book while on a business trip to Denver, where Sparks made his life after the war. He's buried within 10 miles of my hotel, and I may need to pay my respects to his grave.
As a book, though, I was less impressed. Sometimes the action just droned on and on. Other times I felt the author (or his subject?) had a huge chip on his shoulder about how the actions at Normandy by other units overshadow the fighting done by these troops.
Also, it was awkward how the book tried to be both a biography of a single man, as well as a story about several military campaigns. Those different scales didn't mesh well....more
An entertaining tale, some of which may actually be true. Actually, I imagine that much of it is true, but it's about a type of hotel I don't typicallAn entertaining tale, some of which may actually be true. Actually, I imagine that much of it is true, but it's about a type of hotel I don't typically go to for work. It's also filled with colorful but cynical stories about characters and places I don't care to visit, New Orlean's boozy convention hotels, and Manhattan's sharktank. Slipping the desk agent a "baby brick" ($20) may get you something in those places, but I believe it would be useless and awkward at a business hotel in Denver....more
Salter's book about F-86 fighter pilots in the Korean War was recently recommended (endorsed) on one of my favorite podcasts, the Slate Culture GabfesSalter's book about F-86 fighter pilots in the Korean War was recently recommended (endorsed) on one of my favorite podcasts, the Slate Culture Gabfest. It's a tight piece of writing (~250pp) about a man's honor & values, and for that reason Salter is compared to Hemingway. I've never read Hemingway, but from little I know about his work, I guess the comparison makes sense.
Salter himself flew these planes in Korea, and you can't help but wonder if the lead characters inner thoughts mimic what the author himself experienced. I don't think it's autobiographical, but merely informed by what it's really like to be in that unique situation. The uncomfortable relationship with another character, a weasel-y one that nonetheless has some real skill as a fighter pilot, is the strongest part of the story.
I was a little let down by the ending, although I expect others will think it was perfect, perhaps the only way it COULD end....more
Even in audiobook form, this was too much material for me to process at once. I listened two about half of the 50 hours in the spring, took a break wiEven in audiobook form, this was too much material for me to process at once. I listened two about half of the 50 hours in the spring, took a break with other material, then returned to finish it late this summer. It was fantastic. I'm a Europhile, but am mostly familiar with the broad sweep of history, as well as the contemporary experience of an American tourist. This book filled in all of the details about how the Europe I know & love was the product of a complicated history since devastation in two world wars and political upheaval. The description of them as Europe's thirty year civil war makes a lot of sense. It's fascinating how a place so appealing for its centuries of tradition & history was rebuilt & changed in the decades of my own lifetime.
The author had the good timing to finish this work in 2005, sufficiently after the end of the cold war to include the dramatic changes to central & eastern Europe, and to view them in the broader context. Also, peripheral places like Spain and Greece received sufficient attention--this isn't just about France, Germany, Britain, and the formation of the EU. Far from it.
What doesn't make much of an appearance is America, except as a context during the Cold War (well, and the Marshall Plan). The rest of the world (Asia, Africa) is even more absent aside from post-colonialism's effects on the parent countries of Europe. I think that's ok, though in the 21st century we're used to thinking that EVERYWHERE has some economic connection, and sometimes political and cultural ones, too....more
Since I'm working on the next version of this same spacecraft (InSight is a reflight of Phoenix, but with a new science payload to a new part of the pSince I'm working on the next version of this same spacecraft (InSight is a reflight of Phoenix, but with a new science payload to a new part of the planet), I'm particularly interested in these stories. I've read the other books about Mars Pathfinder, the Spirit/Opportunity rovers, and will gladly read the Curiosity book whenever it comes out.
This one was different, though. The other books were written about the development and execution of those challenging spacecraft. This one starts the story after Phoenix had already landed on the surface of Mars--it covers the science operations and the scientists that argue about what to do. There's some engineering in there, but not as much as I'd hoped. (The engineer-scientist distinction is one that may seem slight to most folks, but it's a big deal to me. One is design-and-build-the-machine, the other is conduct-the-experiments.)
Also, the author is really in love with his hipster style, and his self-awareness got in the way of the techie story I wanted to read. In the beginning. Later, though, when things really got rolling on the Phoenix mission, that aspect faded away (or maybe I just got numb to it), and I enjoyed it more. Once the acronyms start flying, I know I'm in my element. :-)...more
For a student of military history, I keep finding out things I didn't know. For WW2, I've had an American's typical understanding that focuses on theFor a student of military history, I keep finding out things I didn't know. For WW2, I've had an American's typical understanding that focuses on the Western Front (and Pacific Theater), knowing only vaguely about the cataclysm occurring on the Eastern Front. This book focuses on the central part of that conflict, Nazi Germany's push towards the heart of the Soviet Union. It covers the battle, but spends more time on the broader political and social history of that time. Hitler's boldness...and mistakes, Stalin's ineptness...but ultimate victory through ruthlessness and enormous resources. The panic & anarchy during the very near collapse of Moscow (and perhaps the Soviet Union, and then the war?) is a story that isn't well known.
That the Soviet people endured such paranoid & self-destructive government that placed no value on their well-being or LIFE...then fought for that government against an even greater(?) evil is mind-boggling. Nothing like it in the west compares.
The book is mostly about an amazing incident where an Me-109 pilot escorted a badly damaged B-17 and her crew out of Germany over the North Sea, whereThe book is mostly about an amazing incident where an Me-109 pilot escorted a badly damaged B-17 and her crew out of Germany over the North Sea, whereafter each went their own way. The fliers from both aircraft survived the war, and as old men they miraculously found each other.
In telling this story, the author goes into considerable detail about the flying history of both pilots, especially the German pilot who did this amazing act of chivalry....more