The structure is that of a dictionary, with entries for every single name, name variation, place, character, deity, war, sword, etc. There was never aThe structure is that of a dictionary, with entries for every single name, name variation, place, character, deity, war, sword, etc. There was never a time where I searched for something and I didn't find it here. It was useful while reading the Silmarillion and made it a whole lot more fun. I won't read Tolkien stuff without it.
There are also full genealogy trees for all the main dynasties: Elrond / Elros, Isildur / Aragorn, Hurin / Boromir / Faramir, et al. Very handy to understand who’s who.
The only reason for not getting this book is that there's an illustrated guide, which might be nicer; however it's also bigger and less practical, and I wonder if it is as complete as this book, considering it’s half as many pages....more
Really cool book with maps of Middle-Earth across time. It also facilitates understanding the changes that happened in the various Ages.
(view spoiler)Really cool book with maps of Middle-Earth across time. It also facilitates understanding the changes that happened in the various Ages.
(view spoiler)[ First Age: Beleriand time. Ends with the War of Wrath, Middle-Earth reconfigured, northern realm of Morgoth destroyed, Morgoth cast away into the Void.
Second Age: Númenor time (foundation, rise and fall). Ends with the Last Alliance of Elves and Men defeating Sauron. Isildur cuts Sauron's finger and takes the Ring. Númenor is submerged. Sauron’s body is destroyed but his spirit survives.
Third Age: main events of LOtR take place. Ends with the War of the Ring.
Fourth Age: begins the defeat of Sauron and the departure of the Elves from Middle-Earth. (hide spoiler)]
The depictions of Valinor and its relation to Middle-Earth were awe-inspiring, especially in relation to the myths and events narrated in the Silmarillion.
The main regional maps of the Third Age are big and nice to look at: Shire, Misty Mountains, Mordor and others are all portrayed in detail. Included are also maps of the pathways taken by the various protagonists in LOtR, the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, so you can see which lands and landmarks the Fellowship, Merry + Pippin, Aragorn + Gimli + Legolas, Bilbo, Turin, etc. actually passed by. You can gaze at the interiors of the Prancing Pony, Isengard, Minas Tirith, Mount Doom, et al.
There are also some thematic maps: where each race lived and prospered; where the Great Plague spread; political maps across the ages; climate, vegetation, languages.
Toward the end of the book there’s a passage that explained to me the greater meaning of this book. Paraphrasing, Tolkien, by intermingling the many components of the “real” world (landforms, vegetation, minerals, population and its distribution, body types, languages, politics, transportation routes, architectures, colors, food, sounds) into his own, produced the quality he believed essential in determining the credibility of an imaginary world: “the inner consistency of reality”. It’s this inner consistency — and how successfully Tolkien achieved it in his writings — that makes books like this Atlas at all possible and even meaningful. Secondarily, these thoughts remind me how the relevance of a work of art can be judged by how many other works it inspired, after it is historicized.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I really liked that this quick history of Motown begins by describing the founder, Berry Gordy. He started out as a boxing fighter (!) and most importI really liked that this quick history of Motown begins by describing the founder, Berry Gordy. He started out as a boxing fighter (!) and most importantly as a humble worker at Ford, where he learned how the assembly line works. He then implemented the assembly line idea into Motown. Motown worked with a group of song writers, a core of "backup" musicians, and finally the stars / lead singers. Everyone was interchangeable, allowing Motown to steadily put out a ton of (great) music.
Quality was the most important thing. Songs needed to be so good that people would prefer spending their lunch money on the record rather than on food. (Which reminds me Marc Andreessen's — actually, Steve Martin's — “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”) They had reoccurring Friday meetings to decide if a song was awesome enough.
They weren’t immune of errors though. One of the songs that was initially rejected was What's Going On by Marvin Gaye... a song that Gordy reputed way too political. Only after pressure from other executives and Marvin Gaye himself was the song (and the following album) published — and then it became their best seller of all times.
Another good thing about this book is that it provides some (well, just a little bit of) context of the times. The civil rights movement, the racial tensions, the riots… good photos too. There’s an aerial photo during the 1967 riots where Detroit looks like a war-zone.
I think things started to slowly change when Gordy moved the HQ from the original house on West Grand to downtown Detroit in 1968, and then to LA in 1972. Up until that point Motown was deeply connected to the neighborhood, with kids hanging around for a job or an audition at Hitsville USA. How cool was that! Many stars started like that: Aretha Franklin, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells…
I snubbed R&B for the longest time, I admit it. The sugar coating on top of these songs came off to me as insincere, and just turned me off. I was so wrong. The kids behind the Motown "school” (which btw included manners and choreography, beside the music) were taken from the streets just like the punk bands I grew up with: like them, they put a ton of passion into it and had a close network of other musicians to look up to. Differently from the punk-rockers, these guys also had somebody who looked after them. It’s this close-knit circuit (local roots, peers, talent, education, label) that allowed all the amazing stuff to happen....more