My habit to become a bit of a voracious reader began in 9th grade when my Language Arts and History class started the War and Conflict section. BeforeMy habit to become a bit of a voracious reader began in 9th grade when my Language Arts and History class started the War and Conflict section. Before, Language Arts was a class I struggled with, but when my Language Arts teacher displayed five books for us to choose from to read for that quarter. I was quickly attracted to Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers and at that point I was hooked on books about Vietnam. After discussing my interest in this subject, I was recommended Tim O'Brien by one of my teachers.
Now, it's almost 20 years since I first read this book. As a teenager, I was completely enthralled by his writing. As an older reader, I still enjoy his work, but I think what diminished my opinion of this book comes from his erudite philosophical and literary quotes and examples throughout the pages. Maybe I am not as cultured, maybe I am not as learned in the classics, but these sections of the book seem to take away from flow of his accounts of his time in the military.
Despite this critique, two sections that stand out the most to me. One was Tim O'Brien's inner conflict of a man who didn't fit in with the traditional military culture and whether he should serve or runaway to Sweden to avoid fighting. The other part that stood out to me was his description of the various types of landmines found in Vietnam and the stresses on the soldiers as they patrolled the countryside while trying to remain vigilant for the mines.
One my favorite parts was his comment to the people who trivialized the role of US combatants during the Vietnam War. He recommended that they take a nice beach vacation with their families to Vietnam after the war an experience first hand the affects of the remaining plethora of landmines in the country.
Tim O'Brien's account of the Vietnam was major influence on me during my high school years and I still appreciate his work as I age. I've a couple of his booked queued up and I look forward to rereading them after fifteen years....more
I think a bit of a better title for the book might be, "What Was Happening in Ancient Rome During the Life of Caesar." Context is important to betterI think a bit of a better title for the book might be, "What Was Happening in Ancient Rome During the Life of Caesar." Context is important to better understanding a situation, but sometimes the context of this book seemed to dominate parts of the book. While there is a lot of context in Andrew Robert's book Napoleon: A Life, it felt that Napoleon was the key central topic of the book.
Despite the tangential habits of Adrian Goldsworthy's writing style, I did learn a lot about Caesar, and even more about the culture and major events of 1st Century BCE Rome. Before this book, I had never heard of Sulla. However, after reading about his ascension to power in Rome, it help put into perspective some of the actions of Julius Caesar.
Like other large biographies I have read in my post-college years, I find that I am unable to thoroughly master all the minute details that I read, but am able to getting a much better general understanding of the person I am learning about. Like in Napoleon: A Life, certain sections of this book washed over me, while other sections I much more readily absorbed due to my immense fascination with that certain topic.
While not my favorite biography of all time, it still enlightened me to a major person in Western history, but more so to the environment of his times....more
When I was perusing the sale section of Audible, I was surprised and delighted to see that Moore had a (relatively) new book out. I quickly picked it up and I was happy to start it once it reached the top of my listening queue.
I quickly realized that this was a sequel to Fool with the jester protagonist named Pocket. My memories of Fool are a bit vague seeing that I read it over seven years ago before I became of avid fan of Goodreads. Despite not being able to firmly remember the backstory, The Serpent of Venice was still a delight for me to read listen to.
Just as Christopher Moore took the New Testament and rewrote it into a facetious story with a smart-ass at the center of the narrative, he gives the same treatment to Shakespeare. He creates a plot around the lovable but foulmouthed Pocket by combining some of the themes, settings, and characters of a few of Shakespeare's plays. Moore takes the poetic style of the playwright and re-imagines with modern vernacular, such as "Heinous fuckery most foul is afoot."
As I have mentioned in other reviews, I find myself less and less able to create the voice and tone of comedy while reading a book the older that I get. I have to say that Euan Morton did a wonderful job of bringing the tone of the book out through his narration. ...more
Just like Red Notice, I was recommended this book to learn more about Putin's modern day Russia. Both books contain interesting information that I didJust like Red Notice, I was recommended this book to learn more about Putin's modern day Russia. Both books contain interesting information that I didn't know too much about, and I feel that I have a better understanding of what's happening in that part of the world while at the same time I realize that there is still a lot that I need to learn.
Like Red Notice, this book is warning the West of the problems found within the Russian Government lead by Vladimir Putin. Starting with the fall of the USSR back in the early 90's, Kasparov winds through contemporary events, highlighting the poor response of the West after the end of the Cold War. The author feels that America should have continued their stance of morale superiority when it came to international relations, refusing to deal with countries that fail to live up to certain humanitarian rights. Kasparov is critical of many politicians around the world and gives praise where he feels it is deserved.
While presenting his viewpoints and opinions, Kasparov does a decent job of presenting information and events that help support his ideas. Unfortunately, the flow of the book seems a bit hard to follow at times since he would jump around throughout different time periods to help emphasize one of his points. At times the author can become a bit flowery with his speech by adding very emotionally packed descriptions in his text to vilify certain people.
It is true the Garry Kasparov does have personal experience concerning the events discussed in his book. At times, the stories he tells of what he has lived through does help support his claims, while at other points in the book, his personal recollections don't seem to add much to his arguments and feel like tangent for him to talk about himself....more
Growing up, I knew about the famous pictures of the Marines (and as I learned one sailor) raising the US flag during World War II. The name Iwo Jima rGrowing up, I knew about the famous pictures of the Marines (and as I learned one sailor) raising the US flag during World War II. The name Iwo Jima rang a bell, but I could only tell you that it was a small island somewhere off in the Pacific Ocean.
Upon completing this book, I was surprised to how much I did not know about this iconic moment in US history. What was the biggest surprise to me was the fact that this photo was actually taken of the second flag raising on top of Mount Suribachi, to replace the original flag that was raised. I was also fascinated to learn about how the three surviving flag raisers after the Battle of Iwo Jima were toured around the States to help raise money for the 7th War Loan Drive.
What stuck with the most was the plight of Ira Hayes, a Prima Native America, who was suffering greatly from his combat experiences in the Pacific. The lack of understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the end of World War II did not help him in his recovery while he was being chauffeured around the country to promote the War Bonds.
I do respect the author for researching about his father, John Bradley, and his participation in the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima after his father passed away. He was able to bring a lot of information together to tell about the plight of the six men that were apart of history.
However, I feel that at times style of writing became a bit flowery at times in his attempt to add to the emotional impact of certain events. I understand that the Marines that participated in this battle were young, many of them ranging from 17 to 19 years old. Referring to them as 'boys' does drive home this point. However, when the combatants were referred to 'boys' repetitively, even multiple times within one page, I find that this takes away from the literary style of the book.
Having a strong personal and emotional connection to the subject matter can be both a benefit and a hindrance to the author. At times, being the son of one of the flag raisers helped the author tell his story, while at other times, his emotional interjections became a bit detrimental to the flow of the book. I believe the personal testimonies of the survivors and the reports concerning the Battle of Iwo Jima do more than enough to show the horrors of this conflict while the same time showing the uncommon valor of the Marines showed during the 35 days of fighting....more
This was an interesting book that helps explains basic concepts in economics in a manner that many people will be able to comprehend. There aren't anyThis was an interesting book that helps explains basic concepts in economics in a manner that many people will be able to comprehend. There aren't any complicated math formulas or graphs to follow, there a just simple (and at time overly simple) explanations about the way things are, such as the price of a cup of coffee.
I have to say that the biggest strength of this book is giving nice examples of basic economic principles. If I ever need to introduce economics to a high school student or someone just starting college, I would definitely use some of the situations in the book he describe.
My biggest beef with the book will have to be the over simplification of "how to improve or fix" a problems in the world. In his section about healthcare, he gave a good overview of some of the basic problems that private and public healthcare systems have. However, when he presents a solution on how to improve the healthcare, he brings out the Singaporean system as the answer. While there are some things that we can learn from this city-state, things are a lot more complicated than that. I have a hard time believing that the US government could convince or force American citizens to have a mandatory savings.
In addition to that, the section on the environment seems to have been done a bit too quickly. There were a few examples of why businesses prefer to spend money on reducing pollution in their factors and how the pollution in China is going down despite the country's rapid industrialization. This section seemed a bit over simplified and spurious. As data shows, the downward move in the graph showing Chinese pollution in the early 2000's did not maintain that direction. See Chinese pollution 2012-2015.
Overall, Tim Harford does a nice job of giving simple explanations using real world examples of how economics works. I think he should keep his books focused on that aspect instead of trying to tackle complex issues with over simplified notions....more
The history of the shipping container might be dull and boring to the average reader, but I found impact and transformation this box had on the worldThe history of the shipping container might be dull and boring to the average reader, but I found impact and transformation this box had on the world economy quite fascinating.
Marc Levinson starts off describing the inefficient state of international sea bound trade that required a boat to sit idle in a port for hours if not days while a crew of longshoremen unloaded and loaded the boat by pallet or by piece. Starting in the 1950's, a few companies were willing to take the risk and invest the time and resources to change the foundation of shipping by having everything prepacked in containers that could be loaded onto the boat with large cranes more efficiently without the need of so many people.
The author goes on to talk about all the barriers and complications the shipping container had to face in order to become the dominate method of shipping throughout the world, including crowded urban harbors like New York City that just couldn't deal with the flow of traffic from trucks and trains into the harbor, stevedore and longshoremen Luddite unions trying to protect their jobs and way of life, and laws and regulations on interstate commerce that preventing railroads and trucking companies from taking part in this innovation.
Overall, the big picture of this book gave a great view of how this new method of shipping impacted cities, harbors, jobs, and overall industrial cultural. The amount of investment and planning by ports to adapt to this technology greatly changed the way shipping is done across the world. Small, unknown ports became some of the biggest trade centers in a short amount of time while traditional urban ports died off due to the inability to adapt to the way of shipping.
I have to say that the biggest downside to the book was the excessive amount of details that slowed down the flow of the book. I do prefer a book that has too many details, but presenting all of the minute information can be done better with appropriate literary means instead of the more dry academic style used. In addition to this, I was a little bit disappointed that the section about the environmental impact that the new shipping boats have was not gone into depth at all. The author just briefly stated that there were negative consequences on the environment, and that was about it.
This book definitely made me think about logistics a lot during my reading, but I think the author could've had made the book more captivating. ...more
Krakatoa was a vague household word that I don't remember when I first heard. It was reinforced in the modern conscious as a natural wonder in CivilizKrakatoa was a vague household word that I don't remember when I first heard. It was reinforced in the modern conscious as a natural wonder in Civilization 5 (which always seems to be just out of reach of any possible city placement). However, Krakatoa was just a collection of three hazy facts for me: Krakatoa was a giant volcanic eruption, it happened a long time ago, and it was somewhere in the Pacific Ocean / Asian region.
This book has brought the history of Krakatoa into better clarity for me. I can now confidently point out the location of Krakatoa on a map (west of Jakarta and south of Sumatra), and discuss some interesting facts about the eruptions, such as a the plethora of pumice rocks that were floating in the ocean.
There was lots of background information in the book that is directly (and indirectly) related to the eruption of Krakatoa, including the study of evolution by different scientists, plate tectonics, the Dutch East India Company, landscape paintings of amazing sunsets, and the telegraph wire. All of these aspects of the book really helped flesh out the story of Krakatoa without just being a narrow glimpse of facts concerning the eruption.
While I appreciate all that I have learned, I find the writing style made the book feel like it was meandering along. It made the book feel a bit inefficient and straying to the point of telling the reader about the impact Krakatoa had on the world....more
Like the second book in this series (which I happened to read first), this book was fascinating and full information about how different political ordLike the second book in this series (which I happened to read first), this book was fascinating and full information about how different political orders developed all throughout history.
Francis Fukuyama spends much of his time focusing on the history of China and the develop of their governments, the impact of Hinduism and other religions on political orders in India, the unique slavery system that the Ottomans used to run their empire, and various methods of ruling and their successes or failures that different pre-French Revolution European countries used. I was surprised to hear the author present a case of how European rule of law was developed by the Catholic Church by being its own entity instead of being run by a secular government.
I greatly enjoyed this book and learned how modern countries and their governments developed to what they are today. I would have to say Political Order and Political Decay - the next book - was a more interesting to me since it talked about contemporary governments and the challenges they will face to maintain their ability to be effective in running/ruling their people....more
Neil Gaiman and American Gods have shown up quite a bit on different social media websites that I used, so I picked it up and let it sit in my giant pNeil Gaiman and American Gods have shown up quite a bit on different social media websites that I used, so I picked it up and let it sit in my giant pile of books to read. After my random number generator finally selected American Gods, I cracked it opened to see what all the hubbub is about.
I would have to say that overall prose in this book wasn't anything spectacular (at least in my eyes) and that the story just chugged along at an appropriate pace. What would stand out would be the uniqueness and creativity of the story. It was fascinating to read about gods of the old world who were brought over by immigrants and then forgotten as these people assimilated, along with the hardships they faced as they tried struggle to survive and face products of modernization. The way that these ancient deities fit into modern American society while still maintaining their original identity was a treat to read about.
Like many of the books in the Wheel of Time Series, the extra chapters within the book not about the main characters were my favorite parts to read. Neil Gaiman did an amazing job of setting the scene of historical people who brought their gods to American and how these deities impacted their life in the New World.
Overall, it was a pleasant book and not too difficult to read. The writing style left me a bit wanting, but the creativity and novel ideas more than make up for it....more
This was a quick read that I was able to finish well within a day during a desk warming session at the high school I was working at the time. Before IThis was a quick read that I was able to finish well within a day during a desk warming session at the high school I was working at the time. Before I dove into this book, I watched the Thug Note's Summary and Analysis and found that this book was less overwhelming than I expected. I have to say that I did not expect a German author in the early 1920's to write about finding enlightenment in ancient India.
The overall language in the book wasn't that complicated and I was able to progress through the story at a reasonable pace. I think that my Religious Studies class in college paid off in helping me understand this story more easily since I had a basic understanding in Hinduism and Buddhism.
This book doesn't tell the reader the secrets of how to achieve enlightenment. There are no instructions in this story that people can directly follow (if that were so, not a lot of people would be born back into this world). Instead, Hermann Hesse shares a poignant message about finding answers versus being told what the answers are.
The Internal Enemy focuses it's attention on a very narrow segment of the population, geographical area, and time period during American history. TherThe Internal Enemy focuses it's attention on a very narrow segment of the population, geographical area, and time period during American history. There was a lot of information that I learned concerning slavery, the treatment of slaves, the culture of the slaves and the slave owners, the reasons for wanting or not wanting to escape slavery, and the methods of running away.
Most of this book dealt with issue of run away slaves and their assistance to the British military during the War of 1812. It was fascinating to learn that the black Colonial Marines in the British navy were some of the best soldiers since they had intimate knowledge of the Virginian lands and wouldn't shirk in battle since capture or desertion meant returning to a life of slavery.
There was a large amount of data presented discussing the changes in Virginian system of slavery along with more than enough anecdotal stories bring that really painted a picture of the lives of the slaves during this time period.
While learning about the plight of southern slaves in American history is interesting and important, I would have to say that learning about the political situation that lead to the cause of the War of 1812 was the part of the book that really pulled me in. This war is often not thoroughly taught (or downright skipped) in many American history classes, so I greatly enjoyed learning more about the causes of this war the most in this book. ...more
I was planning to offer an extracurricular class for some of the students that hope to enter the world of business at the Korean high school that I woI was planning to offer an extracurricular class for some of the students that hope to enter the world of business at the Korean high school that I work at. Game theory seemed to be the most popular among the students, so I decided to find a book that I could use to teach.
I went to the Kyobo Book Store (교보문고) up in Gangnam to find a book that I could use to introduce the concept of Game Theory to my students. After perusing through multiple books, I decided that all of the Game Theory books with ungodly large mathematical equations was A) too advance for introducing Game Theory to high school students and B) way beyond the scope of the Game Theory classes that I took as an undergraduate.
In response to this, I order this book from the local expatriate bookstore in Itaewon. This book, though wordy, is much more approachable to learn the basic tenets of Game Theory. The author goes through many different concepts and gives a few examples for each one. While this was a nice refresher for me, there was a definite lack of practice problems for people to do to help master the concept. For that, I looked to other online sources for exercises related to different ideas in the book and even started to create a few scenarios that the Korean high school students could relate to.
Some of the general logic thought processes and charts were pretty easy to follow in this book. I would have to say that the more math intense examples were a bit harder to follow and not particularity clear in explanation. After studying the explanations a few times over (my brain is not as nimble as it used to be in college), I was able to remember the basics concerning finding the probability of outcomes in a Game Theory chart. As stated above, practice problems would have been a nice edition to make sure that I correctly understood the mathematical process presented in the book.
Unfortunately, in order to open a class, there had to be a minimum of nine students to sign up and only six registered for the class. Since I won't be in Korean during the next school year, I gave this book to the most eager of students to learn Game Theory. I rarely keep books after I finish them. If that book is sitting on my bookshelf, no one is reading it....more
After seeing the movie, I decided to get pick up the book on Audible. Usually I prefer to read the book before seeing the film, but in this case, theAfter seeing the movie, I decided to get pick up the book on Audible. Usually I prefer to read the book before seeing the film, but in this case, the reverse order didn't affect my enjoyment of either medium. The movie did a nice job of bringing the book to the big screen and didn't stray from the book that much. There were quite a few more "How the hell is he going to get out this situation" moments in the book than the film.
Overall, the writing was pretty easy to follow. The language wasn't that obtuse and technical explanations weren't that difficult to understand. The extremely dense sections of mathematical and scientific information were usually summarized with phrases such as, "And after some complicated math, you get..." This helped the pace of the book keep going forward a nice pace without getting bogged down in details that would probably require most readers to have an advanced STEM degree.
I would have to say the protagonist in the book was extremely sarcastic and quite a bit of a smart-aleck, much so more than the film. I think this choice of personality helped with the overall story, especially juxtaposed to extremely dire situations the main character was facing constantly throughout the book. There were quite a few moments that I found myself laughing out loud, such as the "Mark Watney Memorial Crater."
Overall, it was a fascinating book and I give 4.5 stars out of five. It was interesting and extremely enjoyable, but I am not sure that I see myself picking up the book again in the future. Maybe I will, and if I do, I will probably update my score to 5 stars....more
1Q84 was my first exposure to Haruki Murakami, and I enjoyed this book so much that I have some of his other notable works queued up in my to read lis1Q84 was my first exposure to Haruki Murakami, and I enjoyed this book so much that I have some of his other notable works queued up in my to read list.
I have to say that this was one of the most delightfully strange books that I have read in a long time. The metaphysical alterations that Murakami makes to 1984 Japan are so simple and subtle yet absolutely fantastical. The trials and tribulations that the main characters face get become more and more complex, but despite being so novel they're not so completely far fetched that they become incomprehensible to a reader.
The alternating point of view between the main characters each chapter made it captivating book to read. Instead of becoming bored following the plight of one person for a long period of time, switching back and forth kept the story fresh.
I've heard some complaints that the story is long and slow. After reading extremely long fantasy series, I have to say this book wasn't too hard to handle. Also, the rate at which the story unfolds was great. The amount of information and development of the story and the characters came at a nice steady stream. No parts of the book seemed stale from a lack of development nor overwhelming from an onslaught of information.
All in all, this book gets 4.5 stars out of 5. While an amazing book, it doesn't get my perfect score of 5 stars since I don't have plans to pick it up and read it again. It was a great story, and I'm glad that I read it. However, it's time to move on to other works out there in the world of literature....more
It's been a long while since I've read a Hornblower book. The archaic language and technical early 19th century naval terminology adds lots of flavorIt's been a long while since I've read a Hornblower book. The archaic language and technical early 19th century naval terminology adds lots of flavor to the story but can be a bit of a grind to get through. Since it's been over a year since I read book four in the Hornblower series, it was nice to continue the story and the writing style isn't burdensome as I remember from earlier books.
Like before, Horatio Hornblower is an extraordinary man with many talents, but is human and frets over his choices and the great responsibilities of leadership. He seems to have grown in confidence since the beginning of the series but the reader is still able to relate to Hornblower since he isn't a ubermensch.
Hornblower is moving up the chain of command and receives the captaincy of the Atropos, which he obtains after the death of Horatio Nelson. Once again, our protagonist is faced with great challenges that he is able to overcome by using the excellent facilities located between his ears.
It might be awhile before I get to book number six, but it felt good to get back into the series. I am almost to the half way point. w00t!...more
After finishing the book, I was confused on why Madame Bovary would be considered a classic. As a modern American reader, the story of a woman livingAfter finishing the book, I was confused on why Madame Bovary would be considered a classic. As a modern American reader, the story of a woman living a comfortable life in rural 19th century France (relative to mass number of peasants) who day dreams about true romance and pursues a life of materialistic possessions is a topic that just doesn't resonates with me. Juliet Stevenson , the woman who read the audio book that I listened to, did a nice job on creating a whining voice for Madame Bovary that got on my nerves and made me despise the main character even more. Through out the entire book, despite the background information about her childhood, the heroine came off as a very unsympathetic character.
I decided to do a little bit of Google research on why this book is considered a classic and found a couple of points that helps me appreciate this book a bit more. First of all, Gustave Flaubert was one of the first Literary realist. Instead of portraying the perfect life of Madame Bovary, he rejected idealism and showed the more likely outcome of following one's flights of fancy. In addition to the downfall of Madame Bovary, Flaubert also wrote about some of the more everyday occurrences of the average person in rural France. I also read that the text in the original text in French was carefully arranged by Flaubert and some of the feeling is lost in translation. A prime example of this difficulty in translation would be the A une Damoyselle Malade poem discussed on Radiolab.
A final thought to why this book would go down as a classic could be the fact this book portrayed the bourgeois in a negative light. I wonder how many stars Karl Marx would give them book and if he would put this book under his Goodread's shelf of "more-reasons-why-the-bourgeois-must go"....more
What made this book absolutely fascinating to me was that it was the same exact story of the previous book, The Last Colony, but written from the persWhat made this book absolutely fascinating to me was that it was the same exact story of the previous book, The Last Colony, but written from the perspective of John Perry and Jane Sagan's adopted daughter. At first I thought this retelling of the story would have been just repetitive and not add anything new to the series, I was pleasantly surprised and quickly sucked into John Scalzi's universe.
This book filled out the story of the colony of Roanoke with quite a details from the teenager colonists that added more depth to what was happening on that planet during it's first year in colonization. Also, from the previous book there was a bit of a Deus Machina scene that was explained to fill in some of the missing information on how this situation could have come to be. Lastly, I really enjoyed learning more and about Hickory and Dickory, Zoe's two Obin bodyguards. Their species seemed to be really fleshed out in this book.
Just like the other main books in the Old Man's War series (except for The Sagan Diary), this book is a page turner filled with adventure and thick layers of sarcasm and humor....more
It was able to power through this book before the release of the final installment of the Hunger Games on the big screen. With Suzanne Collins' relatiIt was able to power through this book before the release of the final installment of the Hunger Games on the big screen. With Suzanne Collins' relatively simple writing style and ability create exciting tense scenes that make me want to turn the page and find out what happens next, it wasn't that hard to finish in a timely manner.
I have to say that the story didn't end the way that I thought it would which was a pleasant surprise. In addition to that, there was an unanswered question that my wife and I were able to debate after she finished the movie.
There were some interesting politicking in the book, and it was nice to see this book focused more on the events of Panem instead of an actual Hunger Game. Overall, I felt the level of complexity and depth for this book was quite adequate for a young adult reader....more
Suzanne Collins does a nice job of continuing the story of Katniss after she and Peeta survive the Hunger Games. While many death match distopian bookSuzanne Collins does a nice job of continuing the story of Katniss after she and Peeta survive the Hunger Games. While many death match distopian books usually end when the survivor triumph in the ring. However, this book starts to look at how the Capitol starts to slowly lose its grasp on all of the other Districts.
The first half of the book was more interesting to me since it was looking at political upheaval in all of the Districts, but the second half of the book - while logical - was not the direction that I was hoping the story would take.
I do have to say that Katniss is a very interesting female protagonist. Collins has balanced the strengths and weakness of her main character very well. Katniss isn't an overly masculine character that rejects any forms of femininity, and at the same time she isn't a utterly helpless 'princess' that needs a man to take care of her. It's interesting to see her independent warrior self excel in martial situations while emotionally she struggles when dealing with extremely overwhelming situation.
The story ended with a cliffhanger and I look forward to seeing how the series ends....more
This was an absolutely fascinating book for me and I felt that I learned so much. Even though I didn't realize that there was a first book to this smaThis was an absolutely fascinating book for me and I felt that I learned so much. Even though I didn't realize that there was a first book to this small series, the author did a wonderful job of summarizing his main points before he continued on to modern political orders.
Francis Fukuyama did a wonderful job of going into details (a few times a bit too far into detail) about how different political orders were established through the historical and cultural background of various countries and peoples. Some of these sections could be overwhelming due to the prodigious amount of information that the author presents, but luckily I have been reading quite a few history books over the last few years and keeping up with some of the current events, so this task wasn't as arduous as I expected after reading some online reviews.
One thing that was a bit of an eye opener for me was the idea that the three branch system (legislative, executive, and judicial) of check and balances that the United States prides itself on could actually be a hindrance to getting things done and achieving progress. Also, learning about how 19th century American politics shared many of the same properties to modern day Greek and Southern Italian politics came as a bit of shock.
Fukuyama is obviously a learned man and has many wonderful ideas to share. However, there was one concept that he brought up that I think he didn't think through all the way. During one section of the book he talked about how small time organizations are being destroyed from advances in media technology. Why would one want to see a local production of Swan Lake from an amateur group when they could rent the DVD or find a YouTube video of a professional group doing the same performance. While it is true that certain groups are going to suffer from technological advancement, one thing he hadn't looked at was the creation of new forms of media and culture of people creating a career by producing online videos on YouTube and other sites. Before the appearance of YouTube, this type of job/hobby would have been impossible.
Overall, a great book that I wouldn't object to reading/listening to again down the road. There was so much information that I learned and I got some new perspectives on how to look at the world. I greatly look forward to reading the book he wrote before this one. ...more
Treasure Island and Long John Silver are household names, yet I never really knew what this book was about except for the general concept of pirates.Treasure Island and Long John Silver are household names, yet I never really knew what this book was about except for the general concept of pirates.
The book follows the plight of Jim Hawkins, a young boy who lives on the coast of England, and how his life gets entangled with pirates and the search for hidden treasure. While going off and having an adventure probably appeals to almost every young boy, some of the actions taken by young Hawkins are somewhat plausible while a few others are just too over the top for me to suspend my disbelief.
This book does have a similar literary style to other British books written in the 19th century even though this book was written in the 18th century. C. S. Forester seems to have done a good job of capturing the tone of the times in his 20th century Hornblower Saga.
Having the audio book made the story more enjoyable since I was able to hear the rough and gruff voices of the less reputable characters and melody to the old timey sea chanties. Other fantasy books that have musical interludes in the middle of a passage like Lord of the Rings or the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, the melodies just fall flat for me.
It was nice to finally gotten through this classics just so I feel less ignorant of the piece in case of the rare chance that I will need to talk about it with someone one day....more
Will Durant continuous he epic march through western history by tackling Ancient Greece. Like in his first book, the author goes into great details abWill Durant continuous he epic march through western history by tackling Ancient Greece. Like in his first book, the author goes into great details about people, events, social structures, literature, arts, science, philosophy, and other topics for different regions and time periods from the foundations of Greece to the deterioration of the Hellenistic Period.
There is a plethora of information and it can be extremely overwhelming. Many times, especially in the parts of literature or the arts, I got a general idea of what was happening in that time period in Ancient Greece, but I really could grasp or truly absorb all the details that Durant presented.
I know every reader has their biased, but I felt that too much time was spent on the literature, arts, plays, and poetry of Ancient Greece and major events, people, and aspects of society could've been fleshed out more. I feel learning about the culture of Ancient Greece could've been better achieved - at least for me - with plenty of visual aids to reinforce what the author was explaining. Since I was listening to the audio book version of this book, I am not sure if these were present in the corporeal form of the book.
One final thing that I enjoyed about the author was his quirky little comments throughout the book. When talking about non-religious people, he referred to them at one point as "people to industrious to be pious". Overall Will Durant remains very objective in his work, but these little tidbits add a nice flare to his work....more
The White Mountains is probably a good book for a reader more on the younger side who is ready to start reading about Dystopian futures. If you are coThe White Mountains is probably a good book for a reader more on the younger side who is ready to start reading about Dystopian futures. If you are concerned that your young reader might not be exactly ready for The Giver or The Hunger Games, this is most likely a safe bet for them.
The overall story wasn't overly complicated nor did it contain anything like violence or sexuality that a younger reader might not be ready to handle. The story line is very linear and not too hard to follow. In addition of this, there are a few deeper philosophical questions such as personal freedoms versus sacrificing your identity to help create a "harmonious" society.
It was fairly interesting, and I would buy the next books in the series if they are on sale on Audible or in a used bookstore....more
Like other biographies I have read about famous people in history, including Mao Zedong and Che Guevara, this book contain a plethora of information.Like other biographies I have read about famous people in history, including Mao Zedong and Che Guevara, this book contain a plethora of information. Starting from his childhood in Corsica, Andrew Roberts covers many major and few minor aspects of Napoleon's life up until his final exile on Saint Helena.
Since my ability to remember minor details has greatly waned since my days in high school, a lot of the facts and information washed over me while listening to this book. Despite not being able to retain some of the finer points of Napoleon's life, I was able to get a great overview to his life and better understanding of this man who still influences western culture to this day.
One thing that I enjoyed about this book was Roberts' organization of the information. While I am a bit of a military buff, the minutiae of tactics used in military battles didn't really enthrall all that much. While these parts are important to the story of Napoleon, I liked how the author kept the chapters of military conquest separated by other chapters about Napoleon's governmental policies, personal life, and interest in the arts and culture.
Even though this book can be a bit overwhelming, I felt it was a great book help fill in a lot of the gaps that I had about this large figure in European history. ...more