I wasn't quite as impressed with this book as with Grann's earlier effort: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, but it was stI wasn't quite as impressed with this book as with Grann's earlier effort: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, but it was still very fascinating. Rather than a straight out book, it is a collection of articles and stories written by the author on various topics, many of them involving a type of detective and obsession. Some of the stories were absolutely fascinating -- the one of the man who passed himself off as a middle-school-aged boy, especially -- were engrossing, and all of them were interesting and informative. Most of them dealt with things I hadn't heard about before, and all of them cast their topics in a new light.
In the end, it was a great read. Not as absorbing as his previous work, but that may be more due to the lack of a single narrative. Grann's writing is top-notch and his subjects are always interesting. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from this author....more
I had a hard time rating this book. My first inclination was to give it 3 stars, because, while it was a fascinating read, it left too many questionsI had a hard time rating this book. My first inclination was to give it 3 stars, because, while it was a fascinating read, it left too many questions unanswered and didn't always do a very good job defending its premises or looking at other contributing factors that may have influenced certain situations. I finally went with 4 stars, because, while the book did have faults, it made me think. It got me to see things from a different perspective. And while I many not believe that the conclusions reached but Levitt are completely accurate, they at least provide ample food for thought and ideas for future exploration. And that, I think, is what this book is all about. More than a book about economics (it really isn't), it's about getting people to question conventional wisdom, step back, and look at things differently. And in that, I think, it succeeds really well....more
Meyer walks a very fine line in this book. She explains how her most evil character became the way she is, made you feel for her, but didn't destroy hMeyer walks a very fine line in this book. She explains how her most evil character became the way she is, made you feel for her, but didn't destroy her evilness. You will still hate Lavana in the end — even more than before, while still understanding how she became so bad. Very well done....more
I knew absolutely zero about Kit Carson besides his name prior to reading this book. And, even though I grew up close to the Navajo reservation, I sadI knew absolutely zero about Kit Carson besides his name prior to reading this book. And, even though I grew up close to the Navajo reservation, I sadly knew very little about them and their history as well. This book changed all that.
This book was fascinating. It covers a lot of ground, history-wise, dealing with the conquering of New Mexico, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War battles of the Southwest, the Navajo War, and the forced relocation of the Navajos, all-the-while giving details and interesting tidbits from the life of the famous mountain man: Kit Carson along with a host of other individuals. The book is very interesting and keeps up a decent pace, making it easy to read. It has a lot of fun facts and anecdotes that keep the reader moving forward.
Kit Carson comes across as a real person. He is neither hero nor villain, but a full-blown human being cross-cut with nobility and brutality, arrogance and humility, ambitions and failings. He came across, not as the character from a "blood and thunder" novel, but as one of the old-timers who grew up close to my hometown--which is interesting, because he kind of did, just a very long time ago.
My one complaint about the book is that it skips around a lot. It will jump from Carson to the Navajos to some general messing things up in New Mexico (it seemed that they pretty much all did that), without any clear transition between them. The jumps are a bit jarring and it takes a bit to adapt to the new locale and characters. Also, this books hints at many more stories about Carson's past, but does not detail very many of them. That is likely for time and because they are documented elsewhere, but it left me wanting more. His story felt a bit incomplete, especially because he would suddenly turn up in a new place with little explanation of how he got there from the last time we'd heard from him.
But in the end, I enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and a bit shaming for me to learn about the people (the Navajos) that lived just over the reservation border from me. They really went through a terrible ordeal, and I knew absolutely nothing of their history. I hope that books like these help us learn to better respect other cultures.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, especially those interested in the history of the southwest, or who wants a realistic picture painted of the man named Kit Carson....more
9/11 changed everything, from the New York City skyline to the way we view our world. Those changes in perception are reflected in our popular culture9/11 changed everything, from the New York City skyline to the way we view our world. Those changes in perception are reflected in our popular culture icons, especially our stories about superheroes. The Superhero Response in an in-depth analysis of some of the ways our superheroes have changed since September 11, 2001 and what those changes say about the hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares of modern American culture.
NEWS FLASH! In addition to being incredibly honest, empathetic, and wise beyond his years, Abraham Lincoln was also a political genius.
This book has bNEWS FLASH! In addition to being incredibly honest, empathetic, and wise beyond his years, Abraham Lincoln was also a political genius.
This book has been on my list for a while and I'm glad I finally got to it. It is a very interesting study into the character and politics of Abraham Lincoln. Going into the book, I knew very little about Lincoln besides what everyone learns in high school and the rumors. I enjoyed getting to know him on a more intimate level, and I must say that the idea of approaching a biographical analysis through the eyes of his Cabinet was very inspired.
The thing that struck me the most is how much politics of today mirror the politics of the 1860s. Partisan news outlets criticized the President on every action and every misspoken word. Rival politicians schemed and plotted his downfall and worked to obstruct every action that didn't suit their radical ideals. Insignificant things were blown way out of proportion and led to crisis after crisis. Military and other government officials who didn't like Lincoln because of bad things said in the press, would refuse to listen to him. And on and on.
I guess that, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." That's pretty sad. It makes me wonder if there is a better way.
My one possible complaint about the book is that Goodwin is very apparently a HUGE fan of President Lincoln. She defended his actions every possible moment, construing things that may have been accidental or just luck to political genius. I'm not saying it wasn't all genius, I'm just saying that the record she presents doesn't always support it either way. In some cases, it seemed a bit of a stretch--he would have had to be extremely prescient to divine some of the things she credits him for. I don't mind that she really likes him, but it would have been nice to get a slightly more balanced look at him. I'm sure he had some failings somewhere, but you wouldn't believe it by solely listening to Goodwin. It made him a little less human, and that made it a little hard to relate to him.
One thing I have to say really impressed me with Lincoln was the fact that he took responsibility for the actions of those in his administration, even when he wasn't personally aware of those actions until afterwards. He didn't hang those under him out to dry and defended them to the utmost. I wish we had that today (by the way, that isn't a slam against Obama, I can't remember ANY recent president doing this). Again, the comparisons to modern day made me sad because, rather than moving forward, we are either standing in the same place or moving backward. So sad.
But in the end, this book is really excellent. As I said, her approach to analyzing President Lincoln through his Cabinet was inspired and the whole thing was fascinating. Definite a must-read for anyone who is interested in history and politics. Just be warned, you may be depressed by how much of our world you see in it and, it will cause you to wonder just how much progress we haven't made in the past century-and-a-half....more
I don't feel qualified to rate this book because I only listened to the abridged audio version, which had obviously undergone some severe cuts (how doI don't feel qualified to rate this book because I only listened to the abridged audio version, which had obviously undergone some severe cuts (how do your reduce a 1000-page book to less-than 8 hours of audio?). So I feel like I missed out on too much of the book to offer a decent rating. What I heard, I thought was well-written and interesting. I probably would give it 4 stars.
Clinton was president when I was going through high school. The town where I grew up is largely conservative, so pretty much anything I heard about the President in those days was negative. Going into this book, I knew next to nothing about the man who is so respected by so many and so reviled by others. I picked up the book so I could form my own opinions.
In the end, I found that Clinton is human, with his good qualities and his bad. I learned that he had a much different past than I'd envisioned and came to see and respect him as a man of passion and principle. Even if I don't always agree with all his ideas, I was impressed by how he presented them and his reasons for doing many of the things he did while in office.
I was also impressed with his life story—one of rising from humble beginnings to the position of most powerful man in the free world. At the beginning of the book, he says it's a good story. He is right and I had heard next to none of it as a teenager. Clinton's story inspires us to believe that anyone, no matter where they began life, can succeed in this place called America. That is a pretty good story.
Clinton himself is also pretty interesting. Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. We're some of them REALLY bad? Without question. But I liked that he didn't hide from them or spend a lot of time justifying his actions. Instead he admitted them, analyzed why he did something so stupid, and talked about the lessons he took from them. I felt that he was doing his best to overcome his own faults and become a better man You know, kinda like all of us.
I was most fascinated by the parallels of Clinton's time in office with today. Like Obama, Clinton was reviled for the get go, sometimes with reason, but more often simply because he was a Democrat. Like Obama, Clinton was often stonewalled by his opposition for no other reason than that they were instructed to oppose him. Sadly, I think that Obama faces more vilification than Clinton did, but the beginnings of that over-the-top vilification really took root during the Clinton years. It was interesting listening to Clinton, who read the audiobook, talk about some of his opponents. You could often feel his disdain and disgust for some of the things they pulled and you could hear his frustration at not being able to accomplish things because of the constant harping of those that opposed him. I think Obama has the same issue.
In the end, I agreed with Clinton's self-assessment. Clinton is not a good as his staunchest supporters like to believe but not as bad as his harshest critics claim. Like so many of us, he is somewhere in between: imperfect and fallible, but trying to do his best.
So I got to the end of the book and my main reaction is "meh." I thought it was OK, but not great. It was interesting to see an update of Starship TroSo I got to the end of the book and my main reaction is "meh." I thought it was OK, but not great. It was interesting to see an update of Starship Troopers considering the Vietnam era (which was pretty evident, in the book), but it still left me feeling very overwhelmed.
First, the main character isn't interesting. He is actually kind of a jerk and extremely lazy. I sure wouldn't want him as a commander or leader of any kind. He doesn't seem to have any talent for it and will, in fact, just make things worse in the long run. I understand that this is recounting some of the leadership problems around Vietnam, but it just made for a very irritating character.
Also, a whole lot of nothing happens. I think this was because Haldeman was trying to mimic the Heinlein's political musings that permeate Starship Troopers. But here it just got long-winded. Why, for example, do we need a whole chapter on how the enlisted men managed to create an economy based on alchohol? I'm not sure what it was supposed to add, except to illustrate how the main character was an idiot and willing to practically rape a girl.
There are some battle scenes throughout the book (though not as many as you'd expect). The strange thing about them is their clinical descriptions. They were neither rousing nor provoking nor interesting for the reader. They just were. At least, that's how it was to me.
So, in the end, I didn't really care for it. I understood what it was trying to be and what it was trying to do, it just didn't interest me and left me more irritated than interested. So again, "meh."...more
I read this book as part of my research into 9/11 and its impact on American culture. The book is a personal narrative from the point of view of LisaI read this book as part of my research into 9/11 and its impact on American culture. The book is a personal narrative from the point of view of Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer who died on the United 93 flight that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania that terrible day after the passengers fought back against the terrorists.
The book was interesting, though I admit I mostly skimmed through the first half which dealt with the Beamer's pre-9/11 lives, a part that wasn't that interesting. Once the book reached 9/11 itself, it became riveting, and Beamer's talk of all the things that occurred after the tragedy that took her husband was both interesting and emotional.
One thing I found interesting in the book was its openly religious tone. Much of the book talked of God and the Beamer's devotion to Him. It reminded me of the religious fervor that swept the country in the aftermath of 9/11 and the resultant backlash and what that means to modern America. In some ways it made me sad and in others it made me hopeful....more
This book presented a very interesting view of 9/11 in a very interesting way. Simply, it argues that 9/11 led to an unexpected backlash against feminThis book presented a very interesting view of 9/11 in a very interesting way. Simply, it argues that 9/11 led to an unexpected backlash against feminism. I didn't always agree with Faludi's conclusions and felt that she took things much further than they deserved, but I did find her ideas compelling and they got me thinking about my own convictions and ideas about the post-9/11 world and the impact that event had on society.
The second half of the book is interesting but seems a little drawn out and, at times, irrelevant to the discussion, but the book is still a fascinating analysis of a horrible event and its impact on modern America....more
Rather than rate each of the Civil War books individually, I'm just going to rate this one.
Marvel's Civil War was a fascinating look at how social comRather than rate each of the Civil War books individually, I'm just going to rate this one.
Marvel's Civil War was a fascinating look at how social commentary and debate can be carried out through comics. It was an intriguing look at modern (post-9/11) America through the lens of superheroes and shows that those heroes are just as relevant today as ever. The artwork is stunning and the stories are well written and executed. They are also fun and interesting, especially for comic fans....more
Former President George W. Bush is a very polarizing figure, hated by many for so many different reasons, many imagined (or exaggerated) and many legiFormer President George W. Bush is a very polarizing figure, hated by many for so many different reasons, many imagined (or exaggerated) and many legitimate. However, despite your opinion of the man and his legacy, Decision Points is a well-written, and engaging book that helps cast Bush's time in office in an entirely new light.
The book's effectiveness has a lot to do with Bush's decision to focus entirely on the major events and decisions of his life and presidency, rather than attempting to capture every detail in an immense volume that many will buy but few will read. In Bush's book, each chapter is devoted to a different decision or event. He covers 9/11, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Hurricane Katrina, and many other aspects of his time in the White House with great focus and clarity. He reflects on what he thinks he and his staff did well and what he thinks they could have done better. Occasionally he admits to mistakes and more often he defends his decisions.
The book is not likely to win anyone over and at times it feels like he is defending himself q bit too much, but it does effectively illustrate the difficulties of being in the Oval Office and makes the reader wonder if anyone else really could have faired much better. ...more