This book sort of piggy backed off another audio book called Red Notice that I listened to early about the less than savory business practices in RussThis book sort of piggy backed off another audio book called Red Notice that I listened to early about the less than savory business practices in Russia. I was a bit worried that I had already read this book since:
A) The cover style is quite a bit similar to McMafia (which I had already read).
After reviewing the Planet Money Podcast, it turns out that Brian Krebs - the author of this book - was one of the key sources of the episode. A lot of the general ideas that were in the podcast episode were discussed in more detail in this book.
There were a couple of chapters that were really interesting to me, which included the chapter on why people purchase goods from online pharmacies and other questionable websites along with a chapter about how private corporations and academics fought against the spammers while lacking the support of or being down right impeded by pharmaceutical companies and the US Government.
Chapters that discussed the politicking and maneuvering of Russian cyber criminals and their seedy online underworld didn't interest me as much as other sections of the book. I am sure that lack of connection from this aspect of Russian society plays a major role in why I wasn't as interested in this section of the book.
The last thing that stood out to me was the autobiographical presence in this book. At first, I thought this was just a book reporting on cybercrime, but around the second chapter, the author goes into his personal experience at the Washington Post reporting on technology and his subsequent pursuit of freelance journalism. When I started the book The Great War for Civilisation, it was clear that Robert Fisk was writing about his own personal experiences. The shift in this book from being a report on cybercrime to a telling of a personal story threw me off a bit, but didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book once I got over this change....more
Finding books in English for high school students to read here in Korea is extremely tricky. There is a fine balance between interest, familiarity, anFinding books in English for high school students to read here in Korea is extremely tricky. There is a fine balance between interest, familiarity, and appropriateness. There are a lot of novels that I read in high school that wouldn't work here. Books like Lord of the Flies are deep, but the language and symbolism would probably be too complicated for an average ESL student. I enjoyed Slaughterhouse Five, but I think some of the sexual content would probably upset quiet a few parents. Of course, one could always play it safe and find a book for middle school students, but some of the themes and subjects are bit too juvenile for the high school students.
With that being said, Okay for Now lands perfectly in the middle of the requirements for a book for high school ESL students here in Korea. The overall language and writing isn't bogged down with excessive poetic description, though there is some vernacular that would present an appropriate challenge to the students. The subject matter is about a student in a dysfunctional family and the hardships that he must face. Quite a few of the events that happen are mildly disturbing, but nothing so severe as to offend an average Korean parent.
There are quite a few interesting things in the book. Late 1960's America is one of my favorite time periods for a book to take place in and the theme of symbolism throughout the book based on the aviary pictures of John James Audubon is a nice addition that wouldn't be too overly complicated for an ESL reader.
My only major gripe (without giving away spoilers) is that some of the developments of characters near the end of the book are unexpected and a bit of a sharp left turn. It did add a dramatic flare, but it just felt like these developments were added at the last minute....more
I'm not a giant fan of the Hollywood ending where every thing is wrapped up nicely and the hero gets what they were aiming for during the entire storyI'm not a giant fan of the Hollywood ending where every thing is wrapped up nicely and the hero gets what they were aiming for during the entire story. To me, having an entire book aimed at children and young adult readers where only bad things happen to the protagonists is interesting though not especially ground breaking.
Like many books aimed at younger readers, there is a collection of characters with over embellished characteristics so that it is extremely clear to the reader where on the spectrum of good and evil they lie. While the actions and personalities of the characters can be a bit over the top at time in this book, it isn't as disbelieving as what one can find in the book Matilda.
The semi-Gothic setting and art of this book make this book a bit unique, there doesn't really seem to be anything that really makes this book standout. The explanation of high level vocabulary from time to time was an interesting addition to the literary style, but got a bet repetitive half way through the book.
I guess I come away with a bit of a lukewarm feeling about this book series. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up the next book in the series if I was bored and needed something to read, but I really don't know if I am going to put book number two into my reading queue....more
After reading Old Man's War, the first in the this series, I was hooked and wanted to read more of John Scalzi's work.
Instead of just continuing the aAfter reading Old Man's War, the first in the this series, I was hooked and wanted to read more of John Scalzi's work.
Instead of just continuing the adventures of the main character of the first book, John Perry, this book turns its focus onto the Lt. Sagan and the Special Forces. More details of this mysterious military unit is revealed to the reader as the Ghost Brigades have to confront a triple alliance against the Colonial Union and hunt down a human traitor at the same time.
John Scalzi continues the series in a similar fashion to the first book by entertaining the reader with action, humor, a sense of suspense. The story moves along at a pleasant pace that isn't bogged down with superfluous details. While I am not usually a fan of weird alien races in science fiction, Scalzi keeps the description light and brief in order to let the reader fill in the remaining details with their imagination.
Compared to other mammoth Science Fiction and Fantasy tombs, this series is refreshing, well paced, and highly entertaining. I look forward to reading the next book....more
I first learned about the 1884 Incident when I was on a tour of the Changgyeong Palace in downtown Seoul about five years ago. I remember I was fascinI first learned about the 1884 Incident when I was on a tour of the Changgyeong Palace in downtown Seoul about five years ago. I remember I was fascinated about how a group of Koreans who wanted to modernize Korea disrupted the ceremony for the opening of the first ever Korean Post Office system.
When I was at Seoul Selection, I stumbled upon this book and was excited to learn more about this historic event that stuck with me for so many years.
Despite learning a lot of information about this incident, Kim Ok-gyun (김옥균), and Korea (the Joseon Dynasty) at the end of the 19th century, the book was not what I expected. The key thing about this book is it is a simplified version of Harold F. Cook's doctoral thesis on Kim Ok-gyun made for the public. For the entire book, Cook goes through all of the documentation that he found related to Kim Ok-gyun and the 1884 Incident and analyzed all the events that lead up to the event. Since this research is about a clandestine operation over 130 years ago, the amount of information available is quite limited and resulted in the author stating that we cannot know exactly what happened, but based on other events or information, it is reasonable to hypothesize that this or that happened. While this may be great scholastic writing, it is probably confusing for the average reader.
The actual events of the 1884 Incident were covered briefly in a couple of pages in the conclusion of the book. This section contained the majority of the information that I wanted to learn about when I purchased the book.
If you are already greatly familiar with the 1884 Incident, and want to learn about the people and events that go the wheels in motion, then this book is for you. If you want to learn more about the actual events and aren't that familiar with the topic in the first place, other sources will probably be more helpful than book....more
I recently met someone who was diving into the world of Science Fiction, and he recommended this book to me based on the opening sentences of the bookI recently met someone who was diving into the world of Science Fiction, and he recommended this book to me based on the opening sentences of the book. The main character, 75 years old, was joining the army.
In this story, human kind has been expanding and colonizing the galaxy. On Earth, not too much is known what is going on out there, and travel and communication is severely limited. For some septuagenarians on Earth, the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) offers them a chance to postpone death by enlisting. Despite not knowing how the CDF will prolong their life, many people do jump on this opportunity when they reach the age of 75.
John Scalzi writes in a very humorous and sarcastic style that adds a nice flavor. I've read some other SciFi works that were pretty dry, so this change of style was quite refreshing. Additionally, I am usually a person that enjoys tons of details in a story so I can feel like I am fully immersed in world that the story takes place in (especially fantasy novels). However, for this story, Scalzi had the prefect balance between brevity and detail. I never felt any of the passages or details superfluous, nor did I felt that there were corners cut in the story or explanation. Every flowed at enjoyable pace that made me want to turn to the page and find out what happens next.
When I come to Science Fiction, I've been a fan of how technology will impact our society and space exploration. Scalzi handles both of these aspects of SciFi well in his book. In other SciFi books, I have never really been a fan of strange and unimaginable alien life forms in other books that I have read. Despite my prejudice, Scalzi was able to pull off alien life forms spectacularly. Yes, these creatures were greatly different than humans, but the author didn't bog me down with so many details that would prevent me from suspending my disbelief. Instead, he kept the descriptions of these life forms light so that I could construct these aliens in my mind in fashion that is acceptable to me.
I went through this first book pretty quickly and I am looking forward to starting the second book of the series pretty soon. ...more
This book a mammoth tome that is packed with information ranging from the earliest hunter-gather societies of humans, to the ancient histories of MesoThis book a mammoth tome that is packed with information ranging from the earliest hunter-gather societies of humans, to the ancient histories of Mesopotamia and surrounding regions, to practically a general overview of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese history ranging from ancient to about 1935.
I didn't realize that this book was originally published in 1939 at first until I started to hear the author's use of words like "savage" and "negro" in the beginning of his book. Except for a couple choices of outdated words and the author's discussion of "current events" (relative to the late 1930's), the overall writing style of this book doesn't make it appear that it was written by a man over 75 years ago.
Will Durant breaks the book into different sections based on selected civilization or society of peoples. These sections are roughly organized chronologically. Within each section, each civilization was further divided into smaller sections discussing certain aspects of society. For me, the parts about government, leaders, sociology, cultural, military, and great events were absolutely fascinating. Other parts about art and literature tended to leave me a bit bored. Perhaps pictures to go along with the item being described could have pulled me more into this subject matter. The segments about philosophy and religion could be hit or miss for me, depending on which civilization was being discussed at the time.
I was able to learn about a lot of different things, some of which really stood out and gave me a better understanding of history or human nature. As an ex-pat living in Korea, I really enjoyed the chapter on Confucius since his philosophy still had a prominent influence on modern Korean society. On the other hand, Korea seems to get short end of the stick in this book, especially with the mention of villainous Koreans who created the Turtle Ship which impeded the Japanese conquest of Korea and China at the end of the 16th century.
There was a plethora of information in this book and I was able to learn quite a bit. However, the information could be overwhelming at times and tended to wash over me when the topic was less than exciting. I do plan to continue with this series, but I don't think I can do all of the books straight through without mixing it up with other books that aren't as intense....more
This was another book I got on sale from Audible's Daily Deal program. I've become a bit interested in Futurology these days and the description of thThis was another book I got on sale from Audible's Daily Deal program. I've become a bit interested in Futurology these days and the description of this book perked my interests. Throughout the book I was pleasantly surprised and at times a bit shocked about what I learned about automation.
Throughout the book, Nicholas Carr discusses the process of how human societies have started to adopt automation into their lives and some of the impacts on our lives that have occurred. Some of the major aspects of our society that Carr discusses includes Maps and Wayfaring, Architecture, Medical Services, Driver-less Cars, and a few others. Some topics such as Driver-less Cars and Wayfaring were far more relevant to my interests and my life than other items such as Architecture or Medical Services.
Overall, Carr makes some great points about how our unquestioning use of automation for a large range of activities in both our personal and professional life does have a negative on us, including our creativity, problem-solving skills, and just being able to do simple tasks that are necessary for our well being.
I've seen a few of these consequences happening in my own life, but never really deeply contemplated their impact. Nicholas Carr did a great job of clearly spelling out some of these situations that I've come across and explained how they can harm my well being.
I do have to say that I've changed a few minor things in my life after reading this book. The only real complaint that I would have is that this book deals with majorly with negative effects of automation, and doesn't really discuss the positive effects much after the first few chapters. There is a nice middle ground between a paper map and having your in car navigation tell you how to get to your destination....more
Based on the title, it's pretty easy to guess that this book contains a selections myths from Korea. The stories are arranged into different groups baBased on the title, it's pretty easy to guess that this book contains a selections myths from Korea. The stories are arranged into different groups based on different themes or locations such as founder's myths, or myths from Jeju Island.
While there were some interesting stories present in this book, the majority of it just consists of translations of the myths into English for an audience that doesn't speak Korean. Reading by myself, I found the stories a bit obtuse and hard to follow (like any traditional myth story) and I believe that this arises from my lack of deep understand of the history and cultures of the time periods that these stories are from. I believe that more discussion (instead of the one tiny paragraph at the beginning of the story) of themes, allusions, historical context, and cultural references for a non-Korean audience would make this book much more accessible and enjoyable....more
I picked this book up on Audible since it was on sale for one of the website's Daily Deals. I feel that for $2.95, I got a good deal on this book andI picked this book up on Audible since it was on sale for one of the website's Daily Deals. I feel that for $2.95, I got a good deal on this book and I am a bit glad that I didn't pay full price.
Overall, there was some interesting information ranging from the Ford family, to US war production during World War II, to some social and political issues at the time. I was able to learn quite a bit and was surprised to find out that both Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh received the Order of the German Eagle from the Nazi Government in 1938. Furthermore, Rosie the Riveter was one of my older sister's favorite image growing up, and I enjoyed reading in the book how this character was actual based off a real woman that worked in the Willow Run manufacturing complex ran by the Ford company.
While my knowledge was expanded on this time period, I felt that the writing wasn't very strong. The overall book felt unfocused and sort of jumped from place to place. While the information was for the most part organized chronologically, this shifts between different topics didn't feel smooth or natural. Additionally, some of the dialogue/quotations used in the book didn't feel like they were actually cited from documented sources, but instead were dramatizations of real events to add some flare to the book.
If you're interested in history and find this book on sale, I think it is a decent buy, but don't set your expectations too high....more
I first heard about this book at the end of one of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History episodes about World War I. While there are lots of materials and booI first heard about this book at the end of one of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History episodes about World War I. While there are lots of materials and books about World War I from the British and American perspectives, I was interested in on experiences of the people on the other side of the battle line.
What was the most shocking aspect of this book was the fact that it wasn't an anti-war piece. From book like All Quiet on the Western Front to modern films like Joyeux Noël, there seems to always be at least an underlining theme of the horrors of war.
Instead, in this book Ernst Jünger recounts his experiences as a German soldier in World War I in a methodical method that is organized both chronologically and categorically. Most of the gory details about fellow soldiers dying and the discovery of mutilated and decomposing corpses are presented in a disturbingly neutral and unemotional tone. The most striking emotions in the entire book come from his passages talking about the excitements from actual combat experiences.
Jünger is definitely an educated man who has put a lot of thought into his wartime experiences, but the material will probably be surprising to most modern western readers....more
In the past, I was a bit hesitant to read any of the Sherlock Holmes series. I have read a bit of Victorian English stories and found the writing stylIn the past, I was a bit hesitant to read any of the Sherlock Holmes series. I have read a bit of Victorian English stories and found the writing style a bit obtuse and the plot not particularly captivating. However, after watching the TV show Sherlock (which is the most recent adaptation of the stories at the time of the posting), I decided to add the books to my reading list.
I finally got around to the first in the series and have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. Watching the episode A Study in Pink made the reading of this story quite enjoyable. Since I had background knowledge of the main characters and the basic plot of A Study in Scarlet, I was able quickly slide into the writing styles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle without getting bogged down from trying to understand what exactly is going on and who Holmes and Watson are.
In addition to having already watch the TV show, I was able to further enjoy this story by seeing the similarities and differences between the show and the written source. I was a bit surprised and confused at first when the story switched gears and focused on the Mormon community in Utah.
After reading this book, I can start to see why Sherlock has so much popularity and is still a household name in modern American and British societies. I plan to continue reading the originals and enjoy future episodes of the TV series....more
One key factor to be a good book for young adults is to make it interesting so that they will want to read it. This book could do a better job at thatOne key factor to be a good book for young adults is to make it interesting so that they will want to read it. This book could do a better job at that since much of the first half of the book is quite dry - though not as dry as the The Ox Bow Incident.
Another key factor to a good book for young adults is to present a situation that isn't black and white, and make them rethink their perceptions in life. This book does this factor beautifully. For a young person, the thought of becoming immortal might be a no-brainer for them. However, Tuck Everlasting presents a story in which the possibility of immortality becomes a lot murkier and would probably make the average student think a lot harder about whether or not immortality is all that it is cracked up to be.
With the batch of students, this book could easily lead to some very good class discussions....more
I remember awhile back hearing in the news about the Russian government forbidding American citizens from adopting Russian orphans to protect RussianI remember awhile back hearing in the news about the Russian government forbidding American citizens from adopting Russian orphans to protect Russian orphans from abusive American parents. I was skeptical about their reason, and read other commentary that this was a retaliation against the US government in response to the freezing of assets in the US of certain questionable Russian businessmen and government officials. While these news stories were fascinating at the time, I never really did any further research into these events and didn't think about it anymore.
If you are interested in learning about what the cause behind this, Red Notice is definitely a good book to start understanding this unusual and quite complex situation.
The overall narrative presented in this book was extremely fascinating and quite a bit of a roller coaster ride, starting with the author's first experiences in investing in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Bloc and subsequent problems that he and his employees faced with the Russian government.
It appears that Bill Browder's life had changed dramatically and has gone from an investment banker to a human rights activist. I understand that it is important for Bill Browder to get his message out to as many people to help the people who have suffered. However, I believe that his writing style weakens the strength of his message.
First of all, I feel like this book is a bit of a pseudo-non-fiction book. I don't doubt that Bill Browder has lived through events mentioned. However, unless he has a photographic memory, there is no way that he can accurately remember the dialogue between himself and other people that he presented in his book. Many of these conversations took place over a decade ago and Bill Browder makes no indication that these quoted texts are being cited from audio records or transcripts. I am sure that he has a decent memory of the events that took place, but this quoted dialogue is adding elements of fiction to his book for the purpose of making it more dramatic.
Other sections of the book seem to take away from the story and make the author seem a bit self centered. One chapter of the book included his conversation with his very young son about why the Russian men daddy was fighting were bad men. These entire passage to me felt sappy and unnecessary. The main purpose of this book is the corruption and human rights violations that the author was combating. A bit of information about how this complex and stressful situation lead to break up of his first marriage is relative the story, I feel that way too much time was spent on events that took place in his first failed marriage. Additionally, learning about Bill Browder's second wife who is Russian is important since she does a lot to help him in his battle with Russian authorities. However, the entire courtship process is another section that could have been greatly cut down.
Despite what I feel are large shortcomings in the author's writing style, I feel that there is lots of information about a tragic real life event. Reading this book has spurred me to try to learn more about this situation from other sources (since Bill Browder is only source and a heavily biased source)....more
Fantastic Mr. Fox was a quirky children's book that I was about to finish in about forty minutes. Since this book is dealing with anthropomorphic animFantastic Mr. Fox was a quirky children's book that I was about to finish in about forty minutes. Since this book is dealing with anthropomorphic animals, I was able to suspend my disbelief much more easily compared to the story of Matilda dealing with verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive parents and teachers.
Like Matilda, the three farmers in this book were cast as the epitome of evil and greed. While I understand the need to keep things simple for young readers, the one-sided nature of these characters oversimplifies the situation. While maybe not intended, I like how Mr. Fox isn't a perfect saintly hero in the book and the fact he steals chickens and kills them makes him a slightly more complex character.
Overall, the story is a fun little tale that I am sure little kids would enjoy. My favorite director Wes Anderson did a nice job of retelling the story in a way that both adults and children could enjoy....more
I learned about this book recently as a source material in the book On Killing and decided to add it to my reading list. Karl Marlantes, who served asI learned about this book recently as a source material in the book On Killing and decided to add it to my reading list. Karl Marlantes, who served as an officer in the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, discusses the life of a warrior before, during, and after war based on his own personal experiences, reflections, and studies. Marlantes opens up and shares many details about his actions and emotional feelings from his time during and after the Vietnam war that are usually not shared by combat veterans and are often hard for civilians to comprehend and digest.
Throughout the book, the author discusses some mildly esoteric concepts concerning the recent emasculation of males in Western society, how the traditional roles of warriors in the 'realms of Mars' changed, along with more approachable concepts that veterans face such as heroism, self-deception, guilt, and denial.
Part of this book reminds me of the autobiographies from Vietnam veterans recounting this feats and achievements during the war that I used to read during my Vietnam War phase back in high school. Even though some of these accounts may feel like the author sharing his war stories, Marlantes dives deeply into his feelings, thoughts, and reflections of himself when he was a much younger and immature man dealing with one of the most difficult human experiences.
Overall, the book was an interesting read that reinforces thoughts and ideas from other veterans along with ideas that are new to me that I would like to learn more about....more
This book was a short quick read that was quite informative. Even though I've been in Korea for almost seven years, I was able to learn more about theThis book was a short quick read that was quite informative. Even though I've been in Korea for almost seven years, I was able to learn more about the traditional culture that surrounds family lineage. The entire piece was written well and came off as a historical and informative piece instead of persuasive argument about why Korean Tradition is so wonderful. There were a couple of subjective Korean viewpoints slipped in, such as the phrase "the loneliness of individualism", but I just looked at this as a small gateway into the mind of the writer and wasn't distracted by its presence.
I think the biggest thing I took away from this book was some knowledge about Korean traditions that I can mix in with my humor to build a nice connection with Koreans. When I told my family and students that because I started the Anyang Tam clan (안양 탐 씨), I am a jongga (종가), my wife is a (종부), and our oldest cat is the jongson 종손. Read the book and you'll get the joke....more
After roughly fifteen years passing since I first read Fahrenheit 451 in high school, I thought it was about time to revisit some of the prominent booAfter roughly fifteen years passing since I first read Fahrenheit 451 in high school, I thought it was about time to revisit some of the prominent books from my Language Arts class.
I can definitely see why sophomoric me loved this book so much because of the hard hitting message of people becoming mindless drones appeased by the mass media being turned out and unable to create an original thought of their own. Thirty-something me still enjoys the message, but the real world has set in on me. Teaching, lesson planning, commuting, adult responsibilities, and other facts of life have worn away the spunk that I once had. I can't get riled up like the younger version of me and Guy Montag very easily anymore. While I am not as passionate as I once was, I do feel (and hope) that I am still a critical thinker.
To many people, this is a classic piece of American literature. I wonder if it was the writing style or the message in the book that makes it so, or a combination of both. To me, the writing style of was fair, but nothing spectacular. Also, maybe as an older reader who reads for enjoyment, I prefer more straightforward prose. Practically every time fire was present or even thought about, Ray Bradbury became very poetic and flowery in his description of flames, kerosene, lighters, fire trucks, and fire related accessories. Additionally, transitions between different scenes were almost non-existent and the different passages just melted into each other. It took me awhile to get use to this style, but after the first act, it wasn't much of an issue for me.
While the book may not have such an impact on me as it use to, and I've become a more critical in my taste of literary style, I still appreciate this book for what it is. Also, ...more
This book was definitely a giant eye opener for me about human nature in the midst of combat and the various factors that may incline or disincline aThis book was definitely a giant eye opener for me about human nature in the midst of combat and the various factors that may incline or disincline a person to actually attempt to harm another human being. I haven't read a book that made me want to discuss the content with other people in such a long time. With my crude ability to speak Korean, I was even able to talk about this book with my Korean mother-in-law (who is a bit of a history buff), and learn some things about Korean soldiers coming home from Vietnam.
After reading a few academic books, I found the writing style in this book extremely refreshing. The material was explained in a style that is approachable for an average reader with plenty of detail. At the same time, the information was concise and not bogged down with excessive flowery and obtuse speech. While a lot of the author's points were reinforced with personal accounts from veterans, there wasn't much data to support his ideas.
Almost every section in this book had a giant impact on the way I think about combat and veterans. The section that stuck with me the most was about how the way the US conscription system was set up in during the Vietnam War along with the actions of a certain segment of the US population compounded the psychological effects of combat to a extremely severe level for many of the veterans.
For the last segment of the book concerning the impact of violence in media on our children, I think Lt. Colonel Grossman makes some good points that are reinforced by what he has presented in the rest of his book. However, I feel that his arguments are a bit over simplified and that violence in our society is a much bigger issue with a plethora of other factors.
Overall, I feel that this book is a must read for anybody and everybody. While this may not be a perfect book, I believe that it will provide profound insights to anybody who reads this who has never been in a combat situation before....more
This books picks up from the moment that The Girl Who Played with Fire left off. After all of the dramatic events that had happened, Lisbeth SalanderThis books picks up from the moment that The Girl Who Played with Fire left off. After all of the dramatic events that had happened, Lisbeth Salander has to deal with the legal repercussions.
I found myself enjoying this book more and more as the story progressed, eager to find out how Salander would fare in the Swedish court system. As per usual in the first book, expect lots of computer hacking and great investigative journalism to play a major role. I am not sure about US or Swedish law, but the phrase "I cannot reveal my source," seemed to come up a lot in this book.
It's ashamed that Stieg Larsson was only able to complete three of of his books for the Millennium series before his untimely death. A succinct trilogy might have been better than a drawn out ten book series. However, I am going to miss reading more about the further trails and tribulations of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander....more
I have extremely mixed views about this book and it took me a long time to collect my thoughts to express my feelings. There's no doubt that Bruce CumI have extremely mixed views about this book and it took me a long time to collect my thoughts to express my feelings. There's no doubt that Bruce Cumings is a knowledgeable professor on the subject of modern Korean history and has much to share. I definitely learn some new things even though I've been in Korea for over six years and have read twenty some-odd books about Korea at the time of the posting. I could easily see why he is sometimes called a revisionist or an apologist from his writing. To me, there is nothing wrong with sharing an unpopular view that differs greatly with what is accept as the standard knowledge. The thing that really turns me off about this book is Cuming's presentation of the material.
What stood out to me right away was that it seems that Cumings was trying to write a book for the average reader to better understand Korea, but ended up relying too much of his academic writing styles in the creation of this book. I was able to follow along with almost all of the information in this book due to my somewhat extensive background in Korean history and Korea itself. It appears that most of the information in this book was written with the assumption that the reader already has a decent amount of knowledge of Korea. One thing that irked me was the way he offhandedly mentioned the "Chollas" in the book. For anybody not greatly familiar with Korean geography, I would suspect that they would not grasp that it is a reference to theNorthern Jeolla and Southern Jeolla provinces.
In addition to this, Cumings also seems to drop the ball when using his personal experience in the book. With his years of experience living in Korea, it could have supplemented the book extremely well and had a nice personal touch. Instead, he seems to use this information as anecdotal proof at times. The most shocking part was when he was talking about the less and honorable lifestyles of Korean politicians many years ago. He listed off a long list of inappropriate actions that he saw politicians do and then made the argument that if he had seen this, then Koreans must have seen it a lot. I feel that it would've been much more appropriate to list documented examples or statistics about the short-comings of the politicians and then add his own experiences to reinforce the point. The same problem arose when he was comparing the tear gas used by American and Korean police officers. Sure, he had experienced both of them when in or around protests, but this isn't the "proof" that Koreans used stronger tear gas. What I believe would've been better was to document the chemical make up of both tear gases, showing that more of the harsher chemicals are used by Korean police, and then add his personal experience to attest to this fact.
Last of all, I felt that a better title of this book could have been, "My Personal Axe to Grind with Korea's Current Place in the Sun." As I stated earlier, I think that presenting an unpopular or commonly overlooked side of a story. However, in this book, Cumings presents an extremely biased opinion when it comes to Park Chung-hee and North Korea. Park Chung-hee is an extremely controversial in modern Korean history and I was able to learn a lot about his government in this book. However, virtually all of the information that was presented in this book about him pretty much demonized him as a leader who abused the entire labor force in Korea. Even though this book was published well before the 2012 presidential elections, a balanced view point would've been much more appropriate to help understand while some people remember this leader fondly. The elderly population in 2012 played a big part in getting his daughter elected as the 11th President of South Korea. Many of these voters who lived under Park Chung-hee felt that they standard of living improved under his rule. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Cumings had almost nothing negative to say about North Korea. With no other previous knowledge of North Korea, someone might develop impression that North Korea is actually a lovely place that is just greatly misunderstood. There was quite a few pages that consisted of a philosophical thought experiment and excerpts from esoteric neo-Confucian writings in order show the reader the true nature of Kim Il-sung and his ruling styles. In addition to this, Cumings puts a lot of effort into pointing out all the faults in the West's and South Korea's diplomatic dealings with North Korea, and all the things that North has done in order to develop a peaceful relationship with the rest of the world. It's great that he is presented a side of the story that is often overlooked or ignored, but balance is needed.
Despite all of this negativity that I have wrote, there was quite a bit of information that I learned. I think the biggest thing that I learned (other than negative aspects of Park Chung-hee's rule - which did a nice job of balancing the positive things I had already learned about him), was the belligerent nature of the two armies parked along the 38th Parallel in the months proceeding the outbreak of the Korean War. Cumings doesn't declare that it was the North or the South that attacked first, but he provides a lot of great information showing that this situation was a lot more complicated that what a lot of people learn about the Korean War. I feel that if Cumings would've written the rest of the book in detailed and balance manner that he showed in the discussion of the 38th Parallel before the outbreak of the war, Korea's Place in the Sun would've been a completely outstanding book....more
This is a short little book about a part of Korea that I have never been to before and definitely makes me want to visit the island. I got this as a fThis is a short little book about a part of Korea that I have never been to before and definitely makes me want to visit the island. I got this as a free gift at the Seoul Selection Bookstore in downtown Seoul after buying probably over 100,000 Won worth of books. This books gives a nice overview on some general information that travelers would be interested in knowing and was approachable for the average reader. I definitely learned some information that would make my future trip to island much more enjoyable.
The pictures used in the book were absolutely gorgeous and did a great job of displaying the beauty of Jeju. However, due to the compact size of this book, the pictures that were aligned to the center of the book could be difficult to view since they would be hidden in the central crease, especially the pictures that spanned both pages.
Writing the transliteration of Korean words into English is definitely helpful to the average reader that has no education in the Korean language. However, I think for any book about a foreign country, especially travel books, the native script should be included anytime local names or non-translatable words appear. As a person who can communicate in Korean, reading dozens of Korean words in English transliteration slows me down and can be quite bothersome. To me, reading 오름 is much easier than seeing the transliteration oreum. As for people with no knowledge of Korean, having Korean characters there could make discussion with a native Korean speaker much easier since they could easily point to the Korean word of the item that they want to talk about instead of trying to pronounce the transliteration (Americans are going to pronounce hoe as 호, not 회.), or having their Korean friend trying to put the transliteration back into Korean.
This book had a lot of positive things to say about the island and its inhabitants. However, this book appears to be both a travel book and informative book. If the goal of this book is to be a travel book, then mentioning only positive things about Jeju is permissible since the book's goal is to attract people to the island. However, if it is a travel book, then it is lacking addresses, telephone numbers, hours of business, directions, and other information that is key for tourists. On the other hand, if this is to be a purely informative book, then a more balance view is needed. Only mentioning the positive without any of negative aspects of culture on Jeju gives this book the feel of soft propaganda.
Even though I have mention some negative things about this book, it was a wealth of knowledge. If I do stumble across another book in this series about Korea, I would be happy to pay a fair price for it. The information gained from a book like this greatly outweighs any of my nitpicking....more
주인공은 여자 초등학생 레나다. 레나 축구팀에 여자 한 명밖에 없고 레나는 남자 팀 멤버보다 축구를 더 잘 한다. 그러나 구구단을 잘 못해서 수학 시험을 떨어졌다. 그래서 레나의 어머니가 레나는 축구하면 안 된다고 하셨다. 레나는 축구를 너무 많이 사랑해서 부모님을 속주인공은 여자 초등학생 레나다. 레나 축구팀에 여자 한 명밖에 없고 레나는 남자 팀 멤버보다 축구를 더 잘 한다. 그러나 구구단을 잘 못해서 수학 시험을 떨어졌다. 그래서 레나의 어머니가 레나는 축구하면 안 된다고 하셨다. 레나는 축구를 너무 많이 사랑해서 부모님을 속였다.
이 책은 재미있고 난 주요 개념을 이해할 수 있었다. 책 안에 있는 어떤 문법을 잘 못 이해했는데 어휘를 많이 배웠다....more
The Girl Who Played with Fire continues the story and the characters Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander right where it left off in the Girl with thThe Girl Who Played with Fire continues the story and the characters Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander right where it left off in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The writing style and major themes are pretty much the same and will probably provide a reader the about the same amount of satisfaction they got from the first book.
Stieg Larsson does a nice job of keeping the reader trying to figure out 'who-dunnit' through out most of the book though the pacing of the story may not be the smoothest. While the overall mystery that the author set up was entertaining, there were a few things at the end of the story that made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief.
The two most common phrases that I remember from this book is "Kalle fucking Blomkvist" and "dyke". After hearing so much about what seems like the Scandinavian Socialist Utopia, it was a bit surprising to learn about some of the less flattering aspects of Swedish societies. I know that this is a work of fiction and certain aspects are definitely embellished, but it appears that Larsson is writing about a darker part of his nation that tends to be overlooked in American media. With Scandinavia's reputation of being a extremely progressive, it was a bit of a shock to read about so many male misogynistic characters....more
When I first started reading this book, I was extremely hesitant about finishing it. The first two chapters were written in a style full of academic jargon and obtuseness. In the second chapter, the author kept using the word 'discursive'. Even after looking up the meaning in a few different sources, I still couldn't figure out what the author meant when they used this word. From the third chapter on, the rest of the authors started using a more approachable language in their writings.
I did learn quite a bit of information about the history and development of feminism in Korea, especially from the 1970's until the early 2000's. In addition to that, there were lots sections about the conflict of patriarchal Confucianism in Korean society and its conflict with modern feminism. Also, there was plenty of information about Korean laws that were passed in the 90's that protect women's rights in Korea along with some of their shortcomings. One of the most fascinating things I read was how Korean laws concerning "rape and sexual violence" used to be considers laws "regarding chastity."
Like most academic works that I have read, there is lots of information, but reading the material can be a chore....more
After some contemplation, I'm going to be a bit generous and give this book three stars instead of two.
There was a lot of good information in this booAfter some contemplation, I'm going to be a bit generous and give this book three stars instead of two.
There was a lot of good information in this book and it helped me see the bigger picture of the Great Depression. By looking back at the actions of the four major economic and financial powers of the world starting at the end of World WarI, Liaquat Ahamed shows how the actions of the heads of the central banks in America, England, France, and Germany, along with the belief that the gold standard is the key to national economic success and stability, played a major role in the manifestation of the Great Depression. Most of what I have learned about the Great Depression in the past focused on America and often ignored what happened in the rest of the world. This book does a nice job of showing the big picture and the interconnections of the world market at the time.
While I did learn quite a lot reading this book, I have to say that the organization of the information made comprehension of the material more complicated than need be. The overall story presented was first divided up chronologically, and then further subdivided regionally. The early sections of the book focuses on the actions taken by different governments in the aftermath of WWI, but usually one country at a time. What this leads to is reading about four or five years of the actions the French government and banks took, and then going back to the same starting point and hearing about what the English did in this time period.
Another writing style that Ahamed chose was to interrupt the flow of the story with tangential background information about the different people he was talking about. Many of the things mention were quite interesting, but more times than not, the information was mostly about odd quirks or notable events in that persons life that aren't really related to the financial crisis that took place in the beginning of the 20th century.
I'm glad I read this book and was able to learn more about the Great Depression, but I feel that the author got distracted from his main objective and could have done a better job organizing and presenting the information....more
I really enjoyed I, Robot and wanted to continue reading Asimov. After a bit of research on the internet, I found that this book was recommended to reI really enjoyed I, Robot and wanted to continue reading Asimov. After a bit of research on the internet, I found that this book was recommended to read next.
Asimov's imagination of what the earth would be like long into the future was interesting, but the themes and predictions were definitely of an early generation of science fiction writers. It's interesting to look back and see how people saw the world in bygone times, and the ideas, hopes, and dreads seem quite similar to other science fiction from the 50s to 70s.
There were quite a few interesting and creative ideas in this book. I like the label Asimov used for a world of humans and robots coexisting together which was C/FE (pronounced 'See-Fee') and stands for Carbon-Iron. The conflict between Technophobes (known as Medievalists) and Technophiles was a major theme of the entire book and was done pretty well. I really enjoy reading about how societies would react to events or technologies that would have a giant impact.
Writing this book as a mystery novel was a nice idea. The deduction and logical steps the main characters were interesting. However, the details of the plot and the interaction between different human characters felt a bit awkward and artificial. Human-Robot interactions seem better thought out and appealed to me much more.
I've heard rave reviews about the Foundation series and look forward to reading it down the road. While this book might not be my exact cup of tea when it comes to Sci-Fi, I do plan to finish all the major works of Asimov....more
I have noticed that I've been quite fond of authors who have worked in journalism for most of their life. Writing everyday definitely helps people devI have noticed that I've been quite fond of authors who have worked in journalism for most of their life. Writing everyday definitely helps people develop as a writer, but for me I think what attracts me to these types of authors is the fact that they seem to be able to write a story that catches and keeps my attention and is not bogged down in flowery prose.
Even though I read this book awhile back and was able to remember a decent amount of the plot, it still was an exciting adventure the second time around. The Swedish names and locations can be a bit hard to follow (though a hell of a lot easier than keep tract of all the characters in Three Kingdoms), but I was able to learn a bit about the socialist system in Sweden when it comes to people who are supported by the state.
What really stood out to me was the fact there were quite a few events in this book that were extremely dark and disturbing. This isn't a book where there is one gruesome murder and then everything else is hunky dory for the main characters. Some seriously messed up events take place.
Too much of the troublesome scenes would be overwhelming, but Larsson was able to bring this dark subject matter to the American best sellers list which seems to be populated by authors who prefer to stay away from any controversial unpleasantness....more
This book was a plethora of information and I was able to learn a lot. Luckily, I had been playing quite a bit of Europa Universalis IV, so I was someThis book was a plethora of information and I was able to learn a lot. Luckily, I had been playing quite a bit of Europa Universalis IV, so I was somewhat familiar with some of the locations and historical concepts.
I found the earlier parts of the Ottoman Empire more interesting, learning about how the first few Sultans were able to form their new dynasty. After Sultan #10, the quality and competency of the Sultans were all down hill from there. The book was still chock full of information, but it was a slow decent to the inevitable collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
After the conquest of Constantinople, the majority of the book centered around the European holdings of the Ottomans, especially the Balkans and the Black Sea. Except for a couple of armies to confront the Persians once in a while or European army running around in Egypt, there was much focus on the Middle Eastern section of the Ottoman Empire....more