One of the most entertaining and informative books I've read in some time, can't say enough about how much I enjoyed reading it. Names from grade-scho...moreOne of the most entertaining and informative books I've read in some time, can't say enough about how much I enjoyed reading it. Names from grade-school days like Vespucci, Marco Polo, Copernicus, Genghis Khan, da Gama and Columbus collide and come alive here, their adventures, exploits and discoveries richly recounted and complemented by plenty of ancient maps and illustrations (The graphics are perhaps the best part of this book.)
Our world is mapped and digitized to the extent one can know his/her location almost anywhere on the globe within a few feet. We've looked at finely-detailed maps and globes since we could walk. Space and the invisible microworlds are what come to (my) mind as the unknown frontiers. As noted recently in Outside magazine, GPS, the internet and other technologies have rendered the days of epic travel yarns and embellishments pretty much over.
The Fourth Part of the World will let you imagine again, and discover the world beyond Europe one voyage, one map, many fables and tall tales at a time. Lester has written this book in such a way as to allow the reader to feel he/she is a part of the many adventures contained herein. Piece together the known world bit by bit, starting with maps speculating at the location of the "monstrous races" up through the first to use the term "America," the Waldseemuller map eventually purchased by the Library of Congress for ten million dollars.
Started this Bible-sized book in early June, in Berlin, taken me until yesterday to get through it. Very well-written and readable history. Particular...moreStarted this Bible-sized book in early June, in Berlin, taken me until yesterday to get through it. Very well-written and readable history. Particularly noteworthy sections on Hitler's early life, historical and philosophical influences on Hitler (and company), the maneuvering to usurp power. Tragic to read about one weaker neighbor after the next underestimating, miscalculating or being bullied by Hitler to the loss of their sovereignty. One moves into a sense of near hopelessness, until the totally outmatched Poles nonetheless make a stand, and invasions of Britain and Russia (the latter is a particularly fascinating read) come up just short, the first checks on the German war machine that quickly become a turning tide. The long glimpse into Hitler's New Order left me with the same nauseated feeling I had after visiting the Holocaust Museum. New insight into the almost hapless Mussolini, in his mind leader of a great power, while in the field and in relations with Hitler, proven to be something else entirely. Countless illustrations of propaganda's effectiveness, and the importance of a free and well-functioning press. Several case studies in civ-mil relations, the failures of politicians to heed their generals' counsel. Valkyrie detailed like a thriller. Lastly, you're there with Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and the others as the wheels quickly start to come off, men who had enriched themselves and victimized millions, reduced to cowering Saddam-like in their spider holes as the Russians and Americans close in.
Frequent comparisons in our day, from all sides, to Hitler and the Nazis. The cold, cruel, calculated, unapologetic and merciless evil I encountered in this book leave me that much more skeptical of those comparisons than I was before.
It's a commitment to get through, but a great read...just a great, historical read. (less)
Probably the best book I've read this year, and definitey the most fun. Wind your way through the history of the New World through the prism of variou...moreProbably the best book I've read this year, and definitey the most fun. Wind your way through the history of the New World through the prism of various confections. Well-written, witty, one of those books that every few pages reveals the origins of commonplace phrases and cliches. Follow rum from the dregs, to on top of the world, driven underground by puritans, and finally enjoying a modern-day renaissance.
Awesome, totally and completely awesome. Could not put this book down, and there is a trip to Gettysburg in my future before I leave the area. Thrilli...moreAwesome, totally and completely awesome. Could not put this book down, and there is a trip to Gettysburg in my future before I leave the area. Thrilling, insightful combination of history, military science, drama, disparate personalities. The buildup to the climax of Pickett's charge, complete with several pages of dialogue of Lee and Longstreet debating the wisdom and potential success of it, when graphically complemented by the outcome, is a scene my mind will never forget. You get Lee as accessible, stoic, and yet entirely fallible. Longstreet the professional, dutiful, inspiring, yet deeply reluctant and tragic figure. Chamberlain the academic, the unlikely hero, repels the Confederate charge with only bayonets and courage. Kudos to Chamberlain for his unexpected and controversial salute of surrending Rebel forces at Appomatox. Pickett, Armistead, Stuart, many other names and places one sometimes hears, all come vividly alive in these pages. I was either unaware or had forgotten that the leading officers on both sides had long served together and maintained deep affection and respect for one another, inspiring and touching.
I reserve my few five-star rating for books that challenge the way I look at the world, my interpretation thereof, and/or that provide insight and per...moreI reserve my few five-star rating for books that challenge the way I look at the world, my interpretation thereof, and/or that provide insight and perspective I know will stay with me long term, and to which I can refer back to. This little book doesn't check one of those boxes - it checks all of them. Not institute fare, neither general authority material, rather, a young philosopher's views on a range of topics of interest to LDS young and old - the language is different than what one usually finds, at once both…philosophical, requiring frequent pauses to reflect on what's been read, and accessible. The chapters on history, science and sex provide a more liberal, real-world perspective I found refreshing, while also entirely managing to be consistent with the faith that I hold. Portions of the text serve as good reminders to be more kind to ourselves, realistic and forgiving about our and others' human frailties, and to be inquisitive, optimistic and studious regarding the world around us. The chapters on work and sin were also excellent.
This little book can be read in an hour or two, however, I found I enjoyed reading one chapter per day, and spending additional time pondering what was read, versus reading further.
One of the better date books I've found. The wavy arm is now a fun, permanent part of my relationship. Though this book was my enemy no. 1 as a tike,...moreOne of the better date books I've found. The wavy arm is now a fun, permanent part of my relationship. Though this book was my enemy no. 1 as a tike, I probably flip through it once a month now for laughs.(less)
Phenomenal writing combined with concise analysis. Better than The Savage Wars of Peace, itself a great read. You're right in the middle of some of hi...morePhenomenal writing combined with concise analysis. Better than The Savage Wars of Peace, itself a great read. You're right in the middle of some of history's grandest battles -- the Spanish Armada v. England's pirates, ascendent Prussia v. Austria, Russian/Japanese navies duking it out. Entertaining chapters also on Gulf War I and the invasion of Afghanistan.
What Guns, Germs and Steel did for environmental determinism and The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers did for economic determinism, Boot's War Made New makes the case for military prowess and creativity -- or lack thereof -- as a country's destiny. (less)
The best book I've read in some time. Rare to find a book with a combination of near-five star average rating, by a large number of reviews. Had to se...moreThe best book I've read in some time. Rare to find a book with a combination of near-five star average rating, by a large number of reviews. Had to see what the apparent hype was about, and once started, simply couldn't put this one down. Superb, descriptive, vivid writing, on par with another recently-read adventure classic, Born to Run. Combines several of my favorite interests in one place - man going big vs. nature, the intermountain west, camaraderie, and U.S. history. Also very enlightening on the origins and history of the Sierra Club, and everything a layperson could want to know about dams (you know you're onto a quality author when even this topic is interesting).
Like with the best TV dramas (while this book is better because the story is true and hits close to home), the EM's chapters consistently end with the reader immediately wanting more. Highly recommended.(less)
Fantastic book, providing analogies and frameworks that have stayed with me (among the best of them, 19th and 20th century Euros fighting it out like...moreFantastic book, providing analogies and frameworks that have stayed with me (among the best of them, 19th and 20th century Euros fighting it out like scorpions in a bottle while the Brits, later Yanks, looked on). Presidential legacies and American foreign policy schools of thought that follow them: Hamiltonians (mercantilists), Wilsonians (crusaders), Jeffersonians (skeptics), and Jacksonians (god bless 'em!).
A highly entertaining concept, this book offers a way to peer into the depths of others' souls. Every page offers laughter, contemplation, sadness, re...moreA highly entertaining concept, this book offers a way to peer into the depths of others' souls. Every page offers laughter, contemplation, sadness, revulsion, hope, and a host of other thoughts and emotions. If you have once or continue to carry something around inside, chances are, you're not alone. Thoroughly enjoyed it. (less)