**I received my copy through Goodreads First Reads.**
Being totally impressed by the first Anno Dracula, I was ecstatic to receive a copy of re-release...more**I received my copy through Goodreads First Reads.**
Being totally impressed by the first Anno Dracula, I was ecstatic to receive a copy of re-released The Bloody Red Baron. My excitement completely springs from my respect for the author, Kim Newman. It goes without saying that the vampire trope is now eye-rollingly played out, even for regular readers in the genre like me. But Kim Newman's Victorian multiverse of vampires from the first book was amazingly well-crafted, and he continues it without faltering. Years have passed since Dracula was driven out of the British Empire, and now he's infiltrated his way into the nationalistic governments of the 20th century.
The expanded multiverse fits perfectly into World War I, and the political intrigue sparks. The returning characters, Charles Beauregard and Genevieve Dieudonne, still kick ass. Newman also still thankfully shows that vampires should be psychopathic monsters without any real reason to respect humans, no matter how many times they've been existentially neutered by Anne Rice's imitators, Twilight, or True Blood. You almost forget that you're reading a steampunk vampire novel. It's alt-history at its best.(less)
**I received my copy from Goodreads First Reads.**
I am not a gun person in the least. I actually hate guns. But they do have a fascinating history, as...more**I received my copy from Goodreads First Reads.**
I am not a gun person in the least. I actually hate guns. But they do have a fascinating history, as proven by Glock. The Glock is a gun that was in the right place in the right time. It's interesting to read how its very image has been coopted by Hollywood as some sort of sexy symbol for gangsters and other unsavory types. I don't give it above 3 stars because this isn't my type of nonfiction, but I nonetheless learned a few things about gun culture from it. (less)
Lots of folks laud "Watchmen" as Moore's great masterpiece, but I honestly think this might be the real one. The scrupulousness and the attention to e...moreLots of folks laud "Watchmen" as Moore's great masterpiece, but I honestly think this might be the real one. The scrupulousness and the attention to every horrific detail shows deliberate care in the research. Of course, Alan Moore's never shied away from the ugly, pornographic, or insane. Brilliantly, that's what this story is: a trip into madness. When William Gull is given the narrative reigns, the reader instinctively recoils, but is forced to listen. He's Satan himself hissing in your ear. You know there's something just effing wrong about him. Eddie Campbell's artwork backs it up too - the dark, slashing panels draw us into the shadows of the ugliest parts of London, August 1888.
The craziest part is when you pull back to take it all in, and piece together some hard truths about humanity. You have to swallow hard when you begin to see Gull for what he is: a sadist with delusions, but an old man nonetheless. If there's one thing Moore accomplishes with that, it's to remind us all that murders are committed not by monsters, but humans - and isn't that the scariest thing of all?
I love nonfiction like this, because it leaves me feeling like I am better prepared as a citizen of my planet. It may be the highest compliment I can...moreI love nonfiction like this, because it leaves me feeling like I am better prepared as a citizen of my planet. It may be the highest compliment I can offer to a nonfiction text. This is not just a historical narrative of an epidemic - it's a treatise on how thorough scientific investigation is key to bettering the lives of urbanites and the world overall. This is like, the gospel of public health. Steven Johnson handles this narrative with stunning elegance and thoughtfulness, and I think this text belongs in every Urban Planning 101 course across the country. Even his writing style is uplifting and passionate:
"With the exception of the earth's atmosphere, the city is life's largest footprint. And microbes are its smallest. As you zoom in past the scale of the bacterium and the virus, you travel from the regime of biology to the regime of chemistry: from organisms with a pattern of growth and development, life and death, to mere molecules. It is a great testimony to the connectedness of life on earth that the fates of the largest and the tiniest life should be so closely dependent on each other." (Johnson, p. 96)
If you love urban planning, a good disease story, or are a city dweller, this one's for you. (less)
I think those who choose this book may be looking for a more lurid history, like The Devil in the White City. Admittedly, I too was hoping for blood....moreI think those who choose this book may be looking for a more lurid history, like The Devil in the White City. Admittedly, I too was hoping for blood. But, I was actually very pleased with Simon Winchester's artful and deft telling of the most monumental project in English literary history.
I'm a librarian, and I know how often reference books are taken for granted. Can you believe something so effing huge was researched by hand? Can you believe that some crazy man had over 10,000 useful entries in the greatest lexicon ever? Can you believe how vast the English language is? Winchester's writing style itself, full of some super fab vocab, is an homage to the Dictionary itself. This book will help all appreciate the complexity of capturing a language, and of the productive connection between two minds of different worlds. (less)