Jim Lacey's "The First Clash" is a wonderful look at the historic Battle at Marathon, in which the Athenian army held their own against the Persians....moreJim Lacey's "The First Clash" is a wonderful look at the historic Battle at Marathon, in which the Athenian army held their own against the Persians. Lacey goes in-depth into both the history of Persia and the Greek city states just prior to they met in battle, and his tale is fascinating and easy-to-read. It's been quite a while since I've read Greek history, but Lacey's telling is smooth and engaging.
An important part of Lacey's historical review is the revisionist portion of the book, which occurs in the last several chapters. Lacey has a different view on how the Athenians were able to beat the Persians. Historically, the Athenians were said to be much weaker than what Lacey feels they were; Lacey demystifies the reality of what happened, and I feel he does so successfully. It seems to me, however, that he feels self-conscious about challenging common notions about the event, and spends an entire chapter justifying his point-of-view. While it doesn't detract from his work, I do feel it is unnecessary. (less)
"The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Lincoln" is an interesting tome about the smaller historical stories surrounding the much larger stories. That in i...more"The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Lincoln" is an interesting tome about the smaller historical stories surrounding the much larger stories. That in itself makes it an interesting book to read. Unfortunately the author wrote this book like a tabloid newspaper. Much of the writing is quip-based, with insults and jokes lobbed at many of the subjects. Which is a shame, because the lesser tales of history deserve to be told and read and not be subjected to tabloid-style jabs.(less)
Firstly, if I wanted to read about Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim," I'd read the novel myself rather than someone else's book report on the subject. That F...moreFirstly, if I wanted to read about Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim," I'd read the novel myself rather than someone else's book report on the subject. That Frances Wilson decided to pepper her book with detailed descriptions of the Conrad novel is to the book's detriment. I found myself skipping over those sections until I found content relating to Bruce Ismay or the Titanic story because I found the "Lord Jim" content irrelevant. True: Conrad's story is eerily similar to what Ismay did as the Titanic sank, but this coincidence does not warrant such attention.
Secondly, if Wilson disliked her subject as much as she disliked Ismay, why did she spend two hundred and fifty pages writing about him (and "Lord Jim")? Her dislike of him seeps, no, oozes off of every page. Several times she refers to his behavior as cowardly and insults him at every turn. While I don't think every author needs to like their subject, when one writes so negatively about them as Wilson does about Ismay, I tend to find that I trust the author less. Wilson presents nothing but a deeply biased portrait of what is really an interesting man, a victim of his time, and a victim of public opinion.
No matter what you may think about him, J. Bruce Ismay deserves better than this sinking catastrophe.(less)