A curious read, especially several years on. Several interesting "biowar" attacks generally not well known, and an excellent overview of the recent hiA curious read, especially several years on. Several interesting "biowar" attacks generally not well known, and an excellent overview of the recent history with several valuable sources. It reads especially curious as the NYT authors drop reams of evidence on the Iraqi germ warfare program to the point of casting the few naysayers as naive.
Overall interesting, and fairly tightly woven for such a broad topic (it helps that we currently have so few experts in the field that they pop up in every story...) But there doesn't seem to be much development of thought in the book. The author's views are clear from page 1 to page 270, and it does seem to color their vieig of the facts at times....more
A decent book, with a comprehensive view of the collapse of Germany prior to the Armistice and a view to how close it was from not being signed. OccasA decent book, with a comprehensive view of the collapse of Germany prior to the Armistice and a view to how close it was from not being signed. Occasionally took too broad of a view, and there were too many threads to really follow from beginning to end.
I'm also not a fan of the author's desire to include historical people of interest when they had tangential or no impact on the main crux of the story other than having been alive in Europe at the time. Similarly, his need to categorize so many of the individuals as pro- or anti- armistice seems a little contrived and judgmental given our knowledge of the future history.
The end becomes nigh unreadable and should have been greatly shortened -- despite including contra-examples, there are simply too many repetitions of the same celebration of impromptu parades, strangers kissing, and freed citizens celebrating. True, yes. But excruciatingly repetitive....more
A solidly written book with some good details, but some major flaws.
This is an amazing look at the early war, and the author does a great job explaiA solidly written book with some good details, but some major flaws.
This is an amazing look at the early war, and the author does a great job explaining the tactical situation with a minimum of ink. The encounters are painstakingly detailed from historical info (and the author clearly mentions when there aren't enough facts available to establish certainty. Daily life aboard a sub is carefully detailed, and quite visceral.
First, the author had a unique style of writing about evasion scenes, using font sizes, capitalization, and italics in an attempt to mimic the sounds a sub would be hearing. Once it was cute (and admittedly, effective), but after 5+ scenes, it got distracting. I agree with the over reviews which complain a good chunk of this book on the code breaking was excellent writing, but didn't really fit the theme to deserve so many pages. Finally, I was a bit disappointed in the haphazard way time was dealt with. If you're writing a book about two subs with three different names, you should have a good reason to write things out of their order in time. Why put the tragic tale of the Squalus in the middle of the narrative of the Sailfish -- the same sub after the Squalous was rechristened? There just wasn't enough reason to make such an odd split....more
I enjoyed this book. The author distilled the search for the Northwest Passage into a strong, linear narrative and focused on the many (many) individuI enjoyed this book. The author distilled the search for the Northwest Passage into a strong, linear narrative and focused on the many (many) individuals whose bravery, courage, determination, and dedication to a single goal drove them beyond the limits of human endeavor. Sandler uses several interesting tricks to develop the story in a way to keep it fresh. First, while several maps are in the book, none actually present the entirety of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This keeps the reader in the same frame of reference as the explores themselves, many of whom had little more than scratchings on a scrap of paper and readings to go on. Second, nearly every chapter has one or two significant footnotes -- these are often multiple page digressions into peripheral issues or explorations. They add to the general knowledge of arctic exploration, but are not directly required for the story. It keeps the story trim and on target, but I felt it was occasionally over-used and the main story would have benefitted from the inclusion. You get an awesome understanding of how difficult it was to survive in such conditions, and how most expeditions survived even after running into disaster. At one point, you even sense yourself getting a bit jaded. I once caught myself thinking, "Negative 30 degrees huddled in the hold of your ship? That's nothing! Try being trapped on a floe in negative 70. And you call yourself explorers!"
My only minor quibble with the book in general is the title, Resolute>. The Resolute would play a part in the story, but not nearly as much as this title promises. The subtitle is far more expansive and describes the book much better....more
An excellent overview of the entirety of Carthaginian history with an emphasis on the political, cultural, and mythological interaction of MediterraneAn excellent overview of the entirety of Carthaginian history with an emphasis on the political, cultural, and mythological interaction of Mediterranean basin civilizations. Well researched with newer ideas or views challenging consensus are carefully stated as such.
This book reads a bit like a thesis project on religious syncretism expanded into a history at points, but is generally an excellent read to get a broad picture of the Med in the much of the first 5 centuries BC.
Those looking for a more military history of the Hanniballic campaigns should seek elsewhere -- they are dealt with clearly, but succinctly with only the minimum of tactical analysis. ...more
an interesting idea, if not exactly as earth shattering as Teresi intended. He ably points out several of the technologies and sciences that allowed Ean interesting idea, if not exactly as earth shattering as Teresi intended. He ably points out several of the technologies and sciences that allowed European society to become a dominant force in the 17th-20th Centuries, and traces them back to their origins in Asia and Africa. If the book would have focused on this, and analyzed why the originators lacked to find the potential in many of these technologies, he would have had an excellent book with a strong thread and a cogent point.
Instead, he reaches out for ANY potential breakthrough, and moves from solid, provable facts to generous interpretation of ancient philosophies to claim that ancient civilizations had rudimentary understandings of fields such as atomic structure, the age of the universe, and even quantum theory. Plucking a minute data point out of a philosophy because it happens to share a similarity with current science (i.e., a veda which spoke of spinning energies being equated to the spin of a quark) is not a strong argument. Comparing it to what fallacious concept the Greeks had concurrently gives it no more credence, nor does his habit of pointing out a dozen claims, and arbitrarily saying which he believes are accurate without justification. It merely creates the appearance of scholasticism without the work.
I'm unsure if I'm happy or not about how he wraps things up. Considering he spends a full paragraph to tie together his observations at the end of 300 pages, I prefer to think of the book as an anthology of columns rather than an actual effort to examine the issue in toto. I'm almost afraid of what unsupported conclusion he would have come to -- though mercifully, his musings do not seem to point to the alien visitors so many who have studied ancient technology resort to....more
I really wanted to like this book. Not much fiction focuses on the fall of Constantinople, and it was clear the author really did his work in researchI really wanted to like this book. Not much fiction focuses on the fall of Constantinople, and it was clear the author really did his work in researching the subject. The characters were colorful and memorable for such a large cast, and Humphreys did an excellent job of making Constantinople itself a character in the book.
From there, it begins to fall apart. The siege itself is overlooked for the plot revolving around the major characters which is unwieldy and improbable at best. The story is divided between at least six different points of view, allowing for wider examination of the siege's various aspects, but also forcing the book to be broken into six smaller plots that don't intertwine well. The writing is okay, but liberally sprinkled with foreign words for no effect. Using the proper titles or unique terms is fine, but when words the words for "stockade" and similar are translated into Osmanlica merely break up the flow of the text instead of providing immersion....more