If it weren't for Trollope's delightful writing style, I would have given this novel only two stars. Trite plot, one-dimensional characters, uninteresIf it weren't for Trollope's delightful writing style, I would have given this novel only two stars. Trite plot, one-dimensional characters, uninteresting surroundings do not a great story make. The one aspect of the work that could have been interesting---the political, theological, and ideological rivalry in 1840s England between the evangelical, pietist "new men" of the Church of England and the old-guard, "high Church" establishment ---is employed as a mere factum that doesn't seem to inform the character or motivation of the various antagonists as much as it is a mere plot device used to provide unilluminating illustrations of intrigue and infighting that might arise between any two factions in social competition with each other. In other words, it doesn't provide an insight into the actual reasons why the new men, represented by Obadiah Slope, sought to challenge the old guard, represented by Dr. Grantly.
Brilliant retelling of US political and social history during the period from 1972 to 1976. Those were the height of my teen years (age 14-18). I wasBrilliant retelling of US political and social history during the period from 1972 to 1976. Those were the height of my teen years (age 14-18). I was very aware and active politically during those years, and I think that Perlstein absolutely nails the zeitgeist, particularly the split between the "suspicious" types like myself, and the mythologizers of American innocence and unblemished goodness, who found their apotheosis in Ronald Reagan. The book also works quite well as a guide to the 1976 presidential nominating process, akin to excellent books such as Hodgson's An American Melodrama, which does the same for the 1968 presidential election.
I only have one minor factual dispute with Perlstein. Several times, he speaks of the process by which the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed Congress by the necessary two-thirds majorities in both houses, failed to become part of the Constitution when it fell short of the requisite number of ratifications by state legislatures. At one point, he claims that the amendment needed two thirds of the state legislatures to ratify it before it became law; actually, amendments to the Constitution approved by the necessary supermajorities in the U.S. House and Senate require three fourths of the states for ratification, which is why the ERA needed 38 states for ratification, not 34. Moreover, he alludes several times to the allegedly surprising failure of New York and New Jersey to ratify the amendment. This is simply incorrect; the New Jersey Legislature ratified the amendment on April 17, 1972, and the New York legislature ratified it on May 18, 1972. Perlstein conflates the 1975 defeat at the polls of the proposed equal rights amendment to the New York State Constitution with the requirements for New York's ratification of a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (The New York State Constitution provides that amendments to the State Constitution must be passed by two consecutive legislatures and approved by the voters of the State in a subsequent referendum, while the U.S. Constitution requires ratification, by three fourths of the state legislatures, of an amendment duly approved by Congress. The voters of New York State had the opportunity to cast a ballot in 1975 only because the State legislature approved the proposed equal rights amendment to the State Constitution in two consecutive sessions).
Other than that caveat, this book really brought me back to those mixed-up times....more
This is a good, concise monograph for laypersons interested in the political and legal history of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which aThis is a good, concise monograph for laypersons interested in the political and legal history of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which addresses weapons and arms. It is also a shot across the bow (pun intended) at the theory of "originalism" in constitutional interpretation propounded by US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and other political conservatives. (Leonard Levy probably wrote the best critique of that approach). The book is well written and argued, even if I did wince at malapropisms such as "comprised of" and phrases such as "to parse the costs and benefits of greater regulation."...more
God-awful, too-cute-for-words writing, compounded by confusing text, out-of-context narrative, and plenty of factual errors. I learned at p 105, for iGod-awful, too-cute-for-words writing, compounded by confusing text, out-of-context narrative, and plenty of factual errors. I learned at p 105, for instance, that John Garfield became president of the United States in 1881(which, if true, meant that he was the first Jewish president of the US, and the first actor to become president, besting Ronald Reagan by 100 years!) Methinks the author meant James Garfield, but who's to know? The name "Nationals" or "Nats" is used in the text to refer to, variously, the old Washington Senators, the New York Giants (sometimes referred to as the Stonehams), the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies, or players in the National League generally---and this in a book that was written several years prior to the Montreal Expos' transformation into the current Washington Nationals. It's up to you, dear reader, to figure out which "Nationals" is which. The author has gone deep into his Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, included some clever quotation in almost every section (and sometimes in every paragraph), and tried, with little success, to stretch the meaning of the quote so as to have it seem relevant to some incident in baseball history. Well, at least the pictures were nice....more
This is a book I admired more than I enjoyed. Although I appreciated the experimental nature of the method used by Woolf--the use of interiority, theThis is a book I admired more than I enjoyed. Although I appreciated the experimental nature of the method used by Woolf--the use of interiority, the construction of a collective consciousness--it still left me a bit cold....more
This book is excellently researched and footnoted, and makes a compelling case that several US Secret Service agents assigned to accompany JFK to DallThis book is excellently researched and footnoted, and makes a compelling case that several US Secret Service agents assigned to accompany JFK to Dallas in November 1963 were negligent, or worse, in protecting the President. Crucially, it raises the issue of whether one or more supervisory agents expressly directed their subordinates to leave JFK unguarded and unshielded at Dealey Plaza, thus giving the assassins a clear shot at the President, and strongly suggests an affirmative answer to that question. The writing is fairly strong for an essentially self-published JFK assassination book (I've slogged through many a JFK book in which the writing is cringeworthy). I hestitate to give it a higher rating, however, due to some slack copy-editing (typos, stray quotation marks and paretheses, etc.), and the tendency to repeat the same, long factual recitations several times throughout the book. The one substantive criticism that I have is more literary than forensic---Palamara's theory, which is quite credible, is that someone in the Secret Service (or the US Dept of Treasury) arranged for a bogus "security study" in Dallas to see how closely the President should have been guarded, which may have entailed instructing several agents that a staged, or fake, assassination attempt was part of the exercise, thus causing several agents to be pulled from or told to ignore their regular assignments and/or tasks just as the actual assassination was unfolding. However, unless I missed something, this theory is not expressly stated in the introductory chapters, but suddenly appears in the "conclusion" sections following each entry in the "roll call" of Secret Service participants. It would have been clearer had the author set out this proposition much earlier in the book. Other than that, this is a very useful addition to any JFK assassination library....more
After reading a few of Zola's later novels, specifically Germinal and Ladies' Paradise, this early work seemed a bit formulaic and repetitive. NonetheAfter reading a few of Zola's later novels, specifically Germinal and Ladies' Paradise, this early work seemed a bit formulaic and repetitive. Nonetheless, there were some hints of Zola's developing talents here, particuarly the unsentimental portraits he draws of his main characters....more