When I was young my parents took us to Gettysburg a few times and for some reason, I really fell in love with the landscape and the reverberating sensWhen I was young my parents took us to Gettysburg a few times and for some reason, I really fell in love with the landscape and the reverberating sense of history. Just walking in the fields and woods where these battles took place is a rather striking feeling and whenever I read this book, I am immediately and fully reminded of that feeling.
Obviously, you might enjoy this book more if you are a battlefield/history nerd, but even just the human element is quite gripping, especially when you consider how carefully Shaara researched the people and events of this place and time.
Each day of the battle is brought to full life with detailed accounts of the army's movements and how different soldiers played key roles in each turn of events. It's gripping because it's not just a point-by-point account but rather it is woven into one cohesive tale showing the passions of soldiers on both sides.
A definite must-read for any civil war buff....more
A great writer, whether you like the terrain or not.
I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear,A great writer, whether you like the terrain or not.
I have not read any of her other books, but I am a big fan of this one. It is humourous and dear, ripe with blasphemy and deep spirituality all at once, which is just how i like it.
Anne Lamott writes about life and christianity with very real and human eyes. She is blunt but tender in her thoughts, highly educated and yet unafraid to show sentimentality. She is a bundle of extremes that work together beautifully with all their flaws and jumbled opposites. She embraces the grey shades of complexity that invariably lie between the black and white of popular culture and christianity.
I am not the type to read a lot of self-help or religious material, but this book stands apart from such a sordid lot of those types and offers great insight and great storytelling. I would highly recommend this book....more
My feelings about this book are a bit muddled for several reasons: 1. I eat up memoirs and historical accounts, but the writing here is a bit contrivedMy feelings about this book are a bit muddled for several reasons: 1. I eat up memoirs and historical accounts, but the writing here is a bit contrived at times, thick (i.e. dull), and perhaps a bit biased. I enjoy a challenging read, but it wasn't always challenging for the right reasons. 2. I was really looking forward to reading about this fiercely independent, intelligent, and visionary woman who made her own place in the world. While all of this is true and I respect it, I deeply question her (Britain's) motives for "helping" the Iraqi people and can't exactly relate to her as I thought I would because she sometimes comes off as too rich, spoiled, or severely egotistical. 3. I loved learning more about the tribes that roamed Persia and Mesopotamia and the formation of Iraq. You can tell the author did some really great research (just as Bell did), even though much of the issues and facts are written from a flawed early 19th Century perspective. Of course, this is the world of Gertrude Bell herself..i just thought the reader would benefit from somehow incorporating a fresher contemporary perspective that is less one-sided. 4. The author does cover some of Gertrude Bell's failings/weaknesses. I understand that one might not want to spend the time writing a biography of someone unless they really looked up to them, but I felt that these failings/weaknesses could have been shown with more honesty. 5. Most of my complaints are balanced by the fact that the author really has outdone herself with her program "Seeds of Peace" that promotes understanding and growth among the youth of fueding groups in the middle east. It's some outstanding stuff and shows the author's passions and concerns for what they truely are.
All in all, I'm glad I read this. I learned a lot and would certainly recommend it to others interested in the history of the area, but would urge that the reader take it "with a bit of salt." If ever get the nerve up again, I'd consider reading some of the other biographies that exist on Bell for comparison and definitely some histories on the area from an arab perspective.
One other thing I might note: As I was finishing this book in an airport over Christmas, I was able to discuss it with a very intelligent Iraqi woman sitting in back of me. She had heard me explaining the book to the person with me and even though I normally do not like engaging in airport conversation with strangers, I'm so glad i did because i learned a lot from her about what the war is like on the ground in Iraq and her first-hand understanding of her people and the middle east. I never imagined what it would be like to have to evacuate my own home because there was a ticking bomb in the back yard and I hope she will never have to again...whoever you are, thank you for sharing your life with me. It is a wonderful and hopeful thing to be able to meet the individual faces behind an ugly war and to be able to share a mutual understanding....more
Bernini will always be my favorite sculptor--his works are so incredibly lifelike, I sometimes have a difficult time believing that they are only madeBernini will always be my favorite sculptor--his works are so incredibly lifelike, I sometimes have a difficult time believing that they are only made of stone.
I picked this book up for a class in college and it covers the topic brilliantly, complete with several black and white images with good close-ups as well....more
Interesting historical account about the man behind the Smithsonian and the world he lived in. Interesting, that is, without reading like a textbook.
BInteresting historical account about the man behind the Smithsonian and the world he lived in. Interesting, that is, without reading like a textbook.
Based on the reviews on the back, I was really hoping for a more gripping tale though. I would still read it again regardless of this, but I feel that was slightly misleading as some of the writing can really get tedious and meanders as the author skims the bottom of the well for "facts" about a man we know so very little about. It is more an account of assumptions about what his life may have been like and why he chose to donate the money rather than providing any substantial new findings.
The title/cover is also misleading because the book hardly deals with John Adams at all. He makes a brief appearance at the end. While this is fine and dandy and is fine reading, I just wish it was represented accurately in the way the book is being marketed.
The author comes from a backgroud in journalism and I found her choppy sentences and bird-walking-esque reporting style of writing to be distracting at times.
I'm being pretty hard on it though because it was worth the read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the formation of the United States, The Smithsonian Institution, James Smithson, Early American Presidents and the Congress/Senate, as well as British and American relations in those early formative years....more
I love this series of books headed up by the one and only Mary Beard. I started with the one on the Parthenon as part of my senior art history thesisI love this series of books headed up by the one and only Mary Beard. I started with the one on the Parthenon as part of my senior art history thesis in college and found it a valuable resource as well as an entertaining and witty read....an almost impossible combination in the field.
I enjoyed it so much that I decided to read this one after all these years and was not disappointed. Whether it be the Parthenon, Mycenea, the Alhambra, or Westminster Abbey, this series takes 200 pages or so to dish out the entire chronological history site by site and also touching upon its cultural relevance, archeological significance, and socio-political meanings in an intelligent, scholarly, but brilliantly witty way.
I highly recommend this book and the rest in the series as a must-read for historians, archaeologists, and art historians, but also as a wonderful gateway book for those visiting the sites and wanting to explore more than just the top-layer....more
I'm not sure where you would even find this book in print anymore as I read my mom's old paperback copy from the 70s and I have never seen it in storeI'm not sure where you would even find this book in print anymore as I read my mom's old paperback copy from the 70s and I have never seen it in stores.
If you can find it though, it's definitely worth it, especially if you enjoy historical fiction. The book follows the life of Desiree, the woman who was engaged to Napoleon before he "hit the big time." Instead though, she eventually marries one of his rivals and complications ensue.
It's very readable and really interesting because it's all based on the true life events and individuals of the Napoleonic period. Of course it relays much of the information about the wars and political intrigue, but it is much more about the life of the lead female as an aristocratic woman and her personal struggles in relation to the volatile national events of the time. Kind of a love story, but so much more.
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend reading it if that is your cup of tea....more
I decided to read this because I am currently working for a textile conservation firm with offices in one of the old mill buildings in Northern MA. II decided to read this because I am currently working for a textile conservation firm with offices in one of the old mill buildings in Northern MA. I thought the subject and setting of the book sounded perfect for me and intriguing. I also hoped it would shed a bit of light on what shaped the spaces I now inhabit. Coming from a bestselling author, perhaps my expectations were too high. To echo another reviewer of this book, I hate giving poor reviews, "since anyone writing and publishing a book is a huge accomplishment." That being said, I just can't bring myself to rate this higher.
The writing is at a pretty low reading level and the plot is moved along some very base surface lines of emotion without really exploring the depths of the issues presented. The romance is pretty unbelievable though the thing that made reading it most difficult was the complete lack of character development and the cheesy, stereotypical dialogue. Wow, it was painful at times. I finished it because I really wanted it to get better. Given what sounded like a great plot set-up and environmental backdrop, I think the author really missed a chance to dig into the history of the Lowell mills and the character's lives.
P.S. Did anyone else notice this is basically a watered-down sugary version of Gaskell's great North and South novel?...more
Wow. This is kind of a terrible book. And by kind of, I mean it really was.
I started reading it for the premise...ancient archaeology, travel, mysteriWow. This is kind of a terrible book. And by kind of, I mean it really was.
I started reading it for the premise...ancient archaeology, travel, mysterious rites, etc. I listen to a lot of "airport reads" on audiobook as an entertaining distraction while I work freelance, so even though I have a background in ancient art and museums, I still enjoy a good page turner every now and then. This book, however, was really poorly done.
From other historical fiction/mystery/thriller type books I've read along similar lines, I know that it is possible to write such a book without completely disrespecting the actual events and stories behind whatever historical thing the author had taken as their backdrop. All fiction takes some license of course, but the most successful books in this genre are the ones that are able to successfully weave together fact and fiction in an intriguing and seamless way. I don't think this book was successful at that at all. Perhaps it would be if you had no familiarity with the ancient world and archaeology (for instance, if you are like the author...), but if you do, prepare to feel like fingers are scratching on a chalkboard every couple paragraphs when characters and events unfold so outside the lines of truth within these fields that you will not want to read anymore and save yourself the pain. I mean, after all, some of the joy of reading books like this is to live a bit vicariously within an at least somewhat plausible world, no?
There are a few key reasons why the plausibility of this book was ruined for me: 1. For starters, if you are a scholar and go on a dig or project overseas, the whole team does not just sit around all day eating and swimming, just waiting for one or two people to translate the findings. Point me in the direction of that funding and the humanities would be a very different place to work in! I mean, think of all the fascinating, challenging things they could be doing instead that would move the plot along! 2. The type of writing contained in these fictional scrolls they are studying is not even remotely the kind of thing one would ever find. If it was just this, I would gladly suspend my disbelief, but it was far from an isolated thing. I understand the appeal of such a fiction and "dumbing things down" as an entrance point for the reader unaquainted with such things, but this is just plain old dumb. The type of alluring mysteries to be found in a more realistic find would be so much more appealing and well, mysterious. 3. The characters start out interesting enough but quickly become vapid and stereotypical. The main female professor just seems like a slightly older version of her star student and, apparently, is a classics scholar without a fluency in Italian...whaaa? Why, given the clear opportunity for a strong and smart female character, would you then make her so bad at her job and so clueless of her own field? Why is she constantly shocked at the supposedly offensive erotic art? I think this may have been the most infuriating aspect of this book for me since it feels dishonest, disrespectful, lazy, and downright false to judge the ancient world by modern standards. Better research on the subject could have made this a lot better and actually heightened the thrill. 4. The plot rests along these all too coincidental and completely unbelievable pivot points that only served to alienate me instead of drawing me in.
I love this genre and I appreciate that such a book does not need to be overly complex or artistic to be worth reading. It can and should be a whole lot better than this one though.
I loved this book so much as a child, long before any of the public story of Princess Diana became a media circus. Something about the unique illustraI loved this book so much as a child, long before any of the public story of Princess Diana became a media circus. Something about the unique illustrations and that it was done by a young person really caught my attention at a young age. I loved it so much that I didn't want to give it back to the library but finally my mom hunted down another copy--the only one left as it was printed wrong so that the positioning of the text block is upside down and backwards to the cover plates. I treasured it all the more, still keep it, and certainly thought back to it in juxtaposition to the night we turned on the news and heard of her tragic death.
This book reads quite well and there are some interesting bits about Ethiopia scattered throughout. It was a fairly entertaining read, enough so thatThis book reads quite well and there are some interesting bits about Ethiopia scattered throughout. It was a fairly entertaining read, enough so that I did not put it down even though I was sorely tempted to because of how arrogant and sad the author seemed to me.
I was expecting that someone who really wanted to discover such a historical site(s) would do plenty of scholarly research beforehand and that the whole thing would read a bit more legitimate than it did. He admits to not doing much research beforehand and the whole trip kind of feels like he's just winging it which amounts to a sugary travel account and not a devoted quest rooted in scholarship. In fact, the books he does quote from and seems most inspired by are the fictional ones and he seems to be so overtaken with seeing the sites from those books in person that he is convinced they must be where the mines are. Seriously? That is his evidence? The guy seemed a savvy traveler but otherwise just a sad little rich spoiled rich kid and try as I might, I could not shake the outline of him as a pampered brat who just happens to have enough cash to thrown around so that he can play in the world as if it is his own private sandbox and style himself as an Indiana Jones wannabe on his own book jacket.
The whole thing seems a lot more about him convincing everyone in the book and us that he is indeed a certain kind of Adventurer than him searching for that which strikes his passion. Far from being an adventurer that one would look up to though, he is rude and selfish to his traveling companions time and time again throughout the narrative to the point where he pretty much flat out ignores the medical needs of his faithful friend and spends loads of money on his own equipment without even bothering about his companion who cannot fend for himself. He insists on paying for a bigger than necessary mule "entourage," lies about his horsemanship abilities, and goes out of his way to try and impress them and gain their respect by pretending not to eat while he is shoving his face with food he has hidden all the while…honestly though, who cares this much about appearances on a quest such as this? For a cause that seemed so important to him and a cause for which he went through so much for, it strikes me as quite shallow and silly that so much of the book is devoted to him showing off and playing the petulant child who makes so many absurd demands of his fellow travelers while insulting what they hold dearest at the same time.
I'm not sure how it happened, but i read this book in just two days...working weekdays i might add. It's been awhile since I had something I could easI'm not sure how it happened, but i read this book in just two days...working weekdays i might add. It's been awhile since I had something I could easily just flip thru without straining to decipher the several layers bound into each sentence and so I found myself enjoying her easy but intelligent and unpretentious writing, loving her (sometimes curiously brief?) descriptions of food and cooking, and slowly but surely finding myself understanding her story as a bit more than just another paperback of the independant female finding her path thru food and travel and men.
I liked it when Francis Mayes included recipies in her books on Tuscany, and find that Reichl used this practice to even greater advantage because the recipies don't just match up with part of the story, they tell part of the story themselves--some are delicate and sophisticated, showing her knowledge and appreciation of "culinary sensuality."; others allow the reader to see that even a gourmet afficianado such as Reichl can appreciate the simplicity and heartiness of sturdy american cooking--coming from the Michigan myself, i really appreciated her nod to this area; and then some, such as her Mother's, I don't really want to believe were included for actual use, but rather as very creative/thematical (is that a word?) evidence of this woman's 50's inspired kitchen nightmares.
All said and done, this book was warm, smart, entertaining, and relatable...perhaps not classic material, but certainly worth picking up if you find yourself interested in the subject area. ...more
We first came across this book a few years ago in a cottage we stayed at mid-Cape. It was the best guide in the stack and we found it came in really hWe first came across this book a few years ago in a cottage we stayed at mid-Cape. It was the best guide in the stack and we found it came in really handy for finding obscure beaches, all types of restaurants, trails, campgrounds, and sites of historic interest. Later, when we moved to MA, we purchased a copy of the 8th edition and have since used it on many day and weekend trips to the cape and have found some of our favorites spots with this book.
It is an incredibly comprehensive guide and is organized quite clearly with listings for just about any and every place on the cape and islands...not a small feat. This is it's main strength and you can find a wealth of information on places to eat, things to do, places to explore, as well as suggested itineraries for each area of the cape that highlight the best things in each town/village/etc. I'm not one for following guidebook itineraries but the info has come in handy when we only have a small amount of time and want to find the most interesting thing in a specific area.
It is a slightly outdated edition and I have not reviewed more recent ones, but we have occasionally run into instances where posted hours differed from that which was listed in the book. I mainly chalk that up to the Cape being the Cape with odd summer hours for smaller family run venues. The main weakness of the book however really lies with it's maps: they're terrible. Depend on them only to situate yourself mentally and buy a good road map to actually get around as the maps in this book are very poorly drawn and inaccurate, some just leaving out entire main roads and intersections, much to our chagrin when we are attempting to navigate new areas....more