I bought this book without checking what year it was written. It's all pre-911 and quite outdated I thought. The book was written before the JapaneseI bought this book without checking what year it was written. It's all pre-911 and quite outdated I thought. The book was written before the Japanese economy imploded in the 1990s and when it was thought the Japanese would overcome America.
I did like the perspectives on civilizations and some interesting points are made about China and the "Orthodox culture."
I was excited to pick up this book because it was on a subject right up my alley - encryption. Throw in the fact that it has a lot of WWII action in tI was excited to pick up this book because it was on a subject right up my alley - encryption. Throw in the fact that it has a lot of WWII action in there and I was sure it was a winner.
The book is a winner in many respects but I found myself wanting to read more about the WWII characters than the modern ones. The story jumps around a lot, back to WWII and to the modern age with the common thread of encryption saving the world (in WWII) and conquering the world, at least fiscally, in the modern day.
I thought the actions and theory behind the modern part of the story were a bit of a stretch. Yes, this is a work of fiction, but I like my fiction to be believable! Stephenson goes into a bit of economic theory to support how his modern concept could work (don't want to spoil anything), but I just didn't buy it.
Maybe that's where Stephenson went wrong for me. This is a huge book - well over 1000 pages, but the story winds and wanders all over the place going in detail into encryption theory, economic theory, theoretical math - great stuff for a geek like me but it was tough to stick to a story line when all this subjects had to be explained. Perhaps the author should have assumed his reader was a bit more intelligent and then he wouldn't have had to delve into all these explanations.
Still, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a pretty good book, pretty overwhelming too - but that can be a good thing. ...more
I wanted to give this book five stars but I will get into why I had to give four. I really reserve the 5 star rating for the best books I have ever reI wanted to give this book five stars but I will get into why I had to give four. I really reserve the 5 star rating for the best books I have ever read. The last half of this book fits this description but the first half falls short.
What I mean by this is the level of detail and the number of people described in the first half of the book, before the battle scenes. I found myself struggling to remember all the names because I knew I would want to remember them when the battles were described. I really wish the author would have developed the people when they were in action. I found it to be very difficult to remember the characters' previous development when the real action of this unbelievable story was described.
One more gripe...I feel I have to describe these gripes because the story is really incredible and I want whoever reads this to understand why I didn't give the book 5 stars. There are many awesome pictures in the book. Some of them are of people who don't figure in the story, or at least I couldn't remember where they were. I mention this because Bud Walton's picture is featured. I thought 'whoa I've missed something about him' but I couldn't find the detail. You see, Bud Walton is a huge figure where I'm from. The basketball arena here (for the Arkansaa Razorbacks) is named Bud Walton Arena and he was also the brother of Sam Walton (founder of Walmart).
Anyway, let me get into what is so incredible about this book. The sailors who put their lives on the line against seemingly insurmountable odds were all heroes. I wonder if men comparable to them exist today. Would men charge into battle knowing they would probably die? We live in different times now but we should not ever forget the great sacrifices that the greatest generation gave in defense of our nation.
For many years the battle described in this book (the Battle off Samar) was not mentioned by the Navy. The author gets into these details and sheds a different light on some of the admirals who were perceived to be great, but may not deserve the accolades they received.
The book is incredible. I really liked it. I recommend it to any WWII buff like me or to anybody who wants to read about inspirational sacrifice and men who realized a sense of duty for their country. ...more
The story is not untold, just not heard as often as the stories of the American prisoners held by the Japanese during WWII. The Germans treated prisonThe story is not untold, just not heard as often as the stories of the American prisoners held by the Japanese during WWII. The Germans treated prisoners awfully, as illustrated by the true stories in this book.
The death marches were unbelievable. Some marched over 400 miles with very little clothing, no food, and the worst winter Germany saw in over 50 years. I found the resolve for these men to survive to be remarkable. The most incredible fact is that more POWs didn't die considering what they went through. I was particularly moved by the description of a POW afraid to go to sleep one night because he was sure he would freeze to death. Truly inspirational and fascinating stories. The sacrifices these men made are hard to fathom.
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because of the writing style. I'm nit-picky, I know, but the writing didn't flow enough to grip me. The stories were gripping, but the writing could have been more creative.
Still, I strongly recommend this book. It relates facts that we should all be aware of. ...more
If you are like me and you've always wondered just how an insane madman like Adolf Hitler came to power in a modern country like Germany then read DefIf you are like me and you've always wondered just how an insane madman like Adolf Hitler came to power in a modern country like Germany then read Defying Hitler. The author, who describes his personal experiences of the time, pulls no punches and makes no excuses for the shift to radical nationalism in Germany in the 1930s.
The book is presented much like a diary recounting the author's life at specific times in Germany between WWI when he was a small child and 1933 when the Nazi regime began to reveal it's true face to the German people.
Sebastian Haffner presents his own theory about where this radical nationalism first developed and supports his theory with what he experienced.
Alexander Hamilton must easily be the most misunderstood of the founding fathers. Before reading this book, I had a minimal understanding of the man -Alexander Hamilton must easily be the most misunderstood of the founding fathers. Before reading this book, I had a minimal understanding of the man - recalling merely that he was responsible for the first national bank and that he was a "monarchist." After reading this book, I have come to understand that Hamilton was a prodigiously gifted man whose image has been tainted by his political enemies who were able to rewrite history due to their longevity and his untimely death in a duel at the age of 49.
This book is an extremely informative read that transported me first to the squalid conditions of Hamilton's upbringing on the island of St. Nevis, then to the revolutionary times in America, and then to the formative years of America's government. Reading history is one of my favorite topics because of this feeling of being transported to a different time and place and this book did an excellent job at that.
All who met Hamilton were impressed by his brilliance. He showed such ability as a sort of shipping accountant as a young teen that locals on St. Nevis decided he must be educated in America. If not for these people, America would have lacked it's most brilliant and visionary leader.
Hamilton served as Washington's aide de camp during the Revolution, but his true genius was shown after the Revolution with his writing of most of the Federalist Papers outlining the need for the Constitution. Hamilton can also be thanked for the establishment of America as a capitalist society unlike the world had ever seen. Capitalism was an enemy of his political rivals Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. After reading the book I came to understand that these political rivals just couldn't understand what Hamilton was accomplishing with his finance department under President Washington. Hamilton's concepts were just too novel and visionary for the time period.
Hamilton kept an impeccable reputation while serving in the government but with the development of the two-party system during Washington's first term, mudslinging developed and Hamilton caved in to this. Much of the mudslinging was untrue (such as Hamilton favoring a monarch), however oftentimes Hamilton just didn't know when to keep his mouth shut and became his own worst enemy.
This book is excellent and well worth the effort needed to read the whole thing. It's quite lengthy with the small type but Hamilton was a very complicated man who left a whole lot to study. Ron Chernow painstakingly researched this book and I thank him for is. The book is even indexed. This is the ultimate reference on the most misunderstood of the founding fathers.
This is the best biography I have ever read. I love extreme detail and this work, at over 800 pages, gave me all the detail I ever wanted. Even though I don't agree with Hamilton's politics or some of his motivations, the importance of his life and his stamp on what is America today cannot be ignored....more
What a great history of the Civil War and the politics that surrounded the era. My understanding of the time period has increased immensely now that IWhat a great history of the Civil War and the politics that surrounded the era. My understanding of the time period has increased immensely now that I have finished this book.
Typically we’re taught in school that the North won the war over a belligerent South and not much more. After all, the winners write the history books so this makes sense. What we aren’t taught is how close the South came to possibly winning this war had some events gone another way. The South’s loss of Stonewall Jackson at the height of the conflict and a failure to send competent generals to the Confederacy’s west largely sealed the rebels’ fate.
Lee certainly was a military genius and “Battle Cry for Freedom” tells us why. At the beginning of the war the North was plagued with incompetent generals content with assuming a defensive position and Lee was able to exploit that in the east until the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
The war did abolish slavery upon its conclusion but much more came out of this darkest time in American history: federal power consolidated and touched the average citizen for the first time ever. No longer are we a group of “United States” as we were before the war but a “United States” nation where the federal government trumps the fifty states. I can’t recommend this book highly enough as an excellent account of the events that led up to the Civil War, the war itself, and the implications of the war....more
Excellent personal account of a heartbreaking experience in several Nazi concentration camps towards the end of WWII. As these survivors continue to aExcellent personal account of a heartbreaking experience in several Nazi concentration camps towards the end of WWII. As these survivors continue to age their stories must never be forgotten....more