Outstanding as always from Mitchell. Stylistically among his novels it's probably closest to Cloud Atlas, against which it will inevitably compared. UOutstanding as always from Mitchell. Stylistically among his novels it's probably closest to Cloud Atlas, against which it will inevitably compared. Using that as the benchmark, I'd say it's equally sweeping in scope, clever in content, and engaging with respect to the multiple narratives within the book.
The structure is a little less elegant than CA, and the pace varies from frenzied to meandering-in-the-middle, but those are truly quibbles in the margins - I thoroughly enjoyed the book end to end. Each mini-story is enjoyable as a standalone, and I read each with a twinge of regret as it was ended and incorporated into the larger plot.
The re-appearance of two characters from elsewhere in the Mitchell multiverse makes for a 'bonus' treat for devoted readers, and also continues to commingle his novels focused on the prosaic versus on the mystical in a light-touch but intriguing way.
A major step up from "part 1" (Lionheart). Greatly enjoyed this book, the pace was much better, and SKP improved significantly on trimming down the prA major step up from "part 1" (Lionheart). Greatly enjoyed this book, the pace was much better, and SKP improved significantly on trimming down the profusion of POV-switch-chapters-from-minor-characters that detracted from "Lionheart". Richard finally became a 3-dimensional character, as did several others. Glad I stuck it out to read the second half ......more
Extremely well written and engaging, a historical focus on an interesting and poorly known period, written with the color and depth of fiction. I wasExtremely well written and engaging, a historical focus on an interesting and poorly known period, written with the color and depth of fiction. I was pleasantly surprised....more
I struggled between 3 and 4 stars on this one ... I very much wanted to 4-star it, but on reflection I realized it would have been an "E for Effort" rI struggled between 3 and 4 stars on this one ... I very much wanted to 4-star it, but on reflection I realized it would have been an "E for Effort" relative to the historical research, rather than in enjoying it as much as I wanted to as a work of fiction. The truth is I disciplined myself to pick it up and read a chapter every night, rather than wanting to charge on to the next one. I'm glad I read it but was never enthused about continuing to read it.
The drawbacks have been mentioned in other reviews:
- The book lumbers along for its first half, and seems to spend a lot of time trying to extricate itself from the Henry and Eleanor precursor books (which I haven't read). When it finally does, about halfway through, it's a bit too late. The first half also spends a good bit of time developing Joanna as a character, often second-hand, only to mostly discard her once the Crusade chapters finally begin (probably historically appropriate, but disconcerting). As a result, Richard as a character is almost a non-entity until far too far along.
- The number and proliferation of thinly developed surrounding characters to keep track of is overwhelming, and there's a bit of "George RRR Martin-itis" in allowing them each take a turn at POV chapters. As a result we have key events told from the perspective of people we barely know (or care about), and some of them probably weren't worth caring about.
- I agree with another reviewer that some of the romantic descriptions were cringe-worthy, and took the overall caliber of the work down a notch. Books as painstakingly researched as SKP's shouldn't be cheapened by indulgences like that; there's a place for romance and sexuality, but it has to be done delicately, and that wasn't always the case here.
On the upside:
- The depth of research and thinking about the characters is again remarkable, this is not a casual foray. In fact, I enjoyed the afterword and author's note probably more than most of the book. The author's note probably warrants moving to the front of the book; I think I would have enjoyed reading more knowing the "character interpretation" conflicts SKP had to resolve in deciding how to handle Richard, which are fascinating.
- The descriptive language is wonderful, and there are a handful of passages in the book which are truly brilliant pieces of writing.
The question I kept coming back to while reading was "will I want to read A King's Ransom", knowing that I'd be unsatisfied in not reading the rest of the Richard story, but also not looking forward to slogging through in the same way I did with Lionheart. Fortunately the Goodreads ratings for AKR seem to be a full notch "up", so I think I'll take the plunge....more
Meh. The pros: the book is well-designed, with good layout, selection of illustrations and typography (although caption fonts are very small and requiMeh. The pros: the book is well-designed, with good layout, selection of illustrations and typography (although caption fonts are very small and require bright light to read). The approach is very "Richard Scarry's Big Book of Architectural Elements". The cons: true to its title, the book is literally a lexicon. The text descriptions are trivial and trite, simply defining what each element is. There was no attempt to describe the underlying meaning or impression of each element. At the end I did walk away with a keener eye for architectural detail but little more ...more
Outstanding, I'm putting this up there with "the lords of strategy" as one of the more useful surveys of the field (not that there are many), it bringOutstanding, I'm putting this up there with "the lords of strategy" as one of the more useful surveys of the field (not that there are many), it brings order to chaos, but as the authors note, is appropriately cautious about the allure of false simplicity.
The writing style is fresh and clear, even for a subject which is both dense and ethereal at the same time.
The authors definitely have their preferences among the ten "schools" of strategic management, as evidenced by disproportionate attention in the critiques section of each school's chapter. That said, they are fairly transparent about the preferences and a careful reader can weight accordingly and still benefit greatly from the treatment.
There are no easy roads to how to actually create strategies - these schools describe approaches, styles and philosophies for the process of strategic management, but are very often silent on strategic "construction". The authors readily note and comment sagely on this. If strategy is art, these are styles of painting and different media with which to play....more
Very good book, not entirely what I was expecting, but in a good way. The commentary and examples are very much provided through a professional designVery good book, not entirely what I was expecting, but in a good way. The commentary and examples are very much provided through a professional designer's eye ... bordering on erudite but ultimately still accessible to non-professionals. The selection of "ideas" is very eclectic and tends to clump in a couple of preferred 20th century movements, but I was happy to surrender to the author's selections and be guided through the journey. The graphic examples were both beautiful and thought-provoking about the accompanying text. A minor quibble is that the captions are in extremely small font, bordering on illegible for my only-middle-aged eyes, and challenging if reading in evening low light.
Other than that, well worth the time and expenditure....more
This is a beautiful and (nearly) comprehensive collection of photographs spanning the history of Apple design. I enjoyed it, and very much wanted to "This is a beautiful and (nearly) comprehensive collection of photographs spanning the history of Apple design. I enjoyed it, and very much wanted to "5-star" it, but there were a couple of areas that could have been improved.
- The photography is interesting and revealing, but I'm not sure I'd say it was compelling or exciting. There is a mix of very well thought out and inspired close-ups of key industrial design elements, mixed with a number of rote "place and shoot" captures.
- Such a comprehensive collection begged more narrative commentary on the design itself. Instead the captioning is descriptive more than thoughtful.
- There are a couple of unusual minor gaps, after all the attention to other product lines, the evolution of the iPhone is hurried over
A pleasant surprise was a chapter devoted to the history of Apple packaging (and thus implicitly branding/marketing). I would have loved to have seen this more developed.
I'd say ICONIC is well worth the purchase for the faithful....more
Hmmm, challenging review. I'm up against the difference between rating an idea, and rating a book. The conceptual underpinning of Owens' work (a surveHmmm, challenging review. I'm up against the difference between rating an idea, and rating a book. The conceptual underpinning of Owens' work (a survey of many years' innovation management literature, and using that to build a model of six fundamental constraints to be overcome in innovative projects) is extremely valuable, useful, and thoughtful. As a framework and model I'd rate it as a "no brainer 5" and include it in my "must-understand" short list of management tools.
As a book around this basic idea, "Creative People..." is a little less remarkable and rewarding. The fundamental concept can be communicated fairly quickly. The deep dives into each class of constraint are a little too chewed-and-digested for my liking, leaving some of them to be trite and the overall collection of thoughts to be somewhat loosely organized and difficult to retain or translate to use. My personal taste would have been more of an actual "survey review" of the management literature in each of these categories (especially since Owens has done this in formulating his core model), leaving it up to the reader to connect the themes; the simplification for mass consumption takes a lot of the "oomph" out and makes for tepid reading.
If I could do half stars, I'd say 3.5, while still recommending that interested folks buy the book if only for the first couple of chapters....more