Yes, I'm one of the lead authors on this book, and yes, I am pleased with it. However, I will not use my own words to praise Antigone & Creon, but...moreYes, I'm one of the lead authors on this book, and yes, I am pleased with it. However, I will not use my own words to praise Antigone & Creon, but use this review so that people can see some of the official reviews written by others.
Written by Steve Donoghue for the Historical Novel Society:
The authors’ magnificent Tapestry of Bronze series continues with this latest volume, a richly atmospheric and refreshingly multi-faceted look at the story made famous by Sophocles’ Antigone: the clash of wills and ideologies between King Creon of Thebes and his high-spirited niece Antigone over the burial rites of her dead brother. When Antigone defies Creon’s orders, the king sentences her to entombment without food or water, and the stage is set for a tense, gripping variation on the familiar ancient Greek story.
The novel is told in rapidly rotating sections with different focal characters; readers get all sides of the famous quarrel, all related by three-dimensional characters. At one point Creon muses, “They say that wine poured into the earth wakes the ghosts of the dead so that they can speak to us. I’ve never known that to work.” But something very like that happens in these Tapestry of Bronze novels. Enthusiastically recommended.
Written by Bob Mielke, a professor of English at Truman State University for "New Book Review."
Antigone and Creon: Guardians of Thebes by Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood is their fifth, latest and best installment of the Tapestry of Bronze series.
Antigone is certainly the most iconic and evergreen character in Greek legend, a timeless embodiment of civil disobedience for the right reasons. She gives our authors a lot to work with. Appropriately, they do her full justice. Not only is she fleshed out psychologically far beyond what Sophocles could accomplish in his drama; her life is given surprising (but defensible) plot twists. So -- as was not the case with their earlier Jocasta -- the complacent reader will have the narrative rug pulled out from under them on occasion.
This book works on every level: as a thriller and a mystery, as a deep evocation of ancient Greece right down to the minutiae of its folkways, as thoughtful entertainment. Grossack and Underwood join the likes of Mary Renault, Robert Graves and Norman Mailer as unsurpassed revivifiers of antiquity. Hollywood should option this!
“The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice” is a novel full of surprises, twists and turns, beginning with the title. Despite the novel being set in t...more“The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice” is a novel full of surprises, twists and turns, beginning with the title. Despite the novel being set in the Civil War, the “doctor” in the title is a woman, not a man. The daughter and heroine, Kate, is obsessed with the goal of obtaining justice for her father. The story opens with Kate sitting in a church service plotting how to obtain that justice, and she’s afraid that some of her methods are not terribly Christian. Her goal is to live long enough to repent of any sins she has to commit so that she can avoid hellfire.
Despite the many serious subjects – murder, revenge, love, hate, Civil War, justice, slavery – this book is a lot of fun. First, Belle Blackburn has a real sense of humor when it comes to her choice of language and phrases. There’s also rich detail in how people lived – they best way to kill a hog for example – but told in such a way that you’re laughing. The author gives many methods that people use to rid themselves of warts, none of which I would recommend, but which are fun to read about.
The characters are many and varied and multi-dimensional. Instead of being painted completely good or evil, most of them perform deeds which are good and bad. They all have their own motives, their own arcs, and their own points of view.
Ms. Blackburn also has a wry sense of humor in some of her choices. I’ve seen many writers use their initials or versions of their names for main characters. But who is called Belle in this book? The horse. A bit less authorial vanity than one normally encounters!
Anything I didn’t care for? Well, there were some plot twists that I thought were a little far-fetched. On the other hand, they were so much fun that I did not mind. Ms. Blackburn has an inventive imagination.
I'd give the book 4 and a half stars if I could, but that's not an option. A very enjoyable way to spend some hours! (less)
I know that many will think it is vain of authors to rate their own books 5 stars, and I concede that they have a point. On the other hand, I was very...moreI know that many will think it is vain of authors to rate their own books 5 stars, and I concede that they have a point. On the other hand, I was very pleased with how this turned out. Would I be able to develop each of the characters along the arc that Jane Austen began? I believe I did this. Would I find enough material for a mystery? Again, yes. Finally, with the best books the characters actually learn something - not just about the world in which they live, but about themselves.
So, although I am not vain enough to believe that this is the best book ever written, in it I accomplished even more than what I expected or even hoped to do. I also believe it will entertain those who, like I, regret that Jane Austen wrote only six novels - and those who yearn to escape the troubles of today by sinking into a cozy detective story for some pleasant hours.
Grossack’s writing is spot on when it comes to capturing Jane Austen’s tone and writing style. That is not an easy accomplishment, by any means, and this author makes it seem so flawless as if Jane, herself, was actually penning this novel...The murder in this one is not one easily solved and there are a lot of suspects and motives and clues that will have you guessing until the very end. I love how this one stayed true to Emma and yet was unique in its own way.
Nice slapstick caper, with a great description of what it was like to come over on a boat and to spend time in Ellis Island. Also a good representatio...moreNice slapstick caper, with a great description of what it was like to come over on a boat and to spend time in Ellis Island. Also a good representation of NYC in those days, with the groups of Irish, Italians, Jews, rich and poor, corrupt and honest.(less)
Miller’s The Song of Achilles is like a libation: she pours wine into Homer’s grave and brings him and The Iliad back to life, but in a form that is a...moreMiller’s The Song of Achilles is like a libation: she pours wine into Homer’s grave and brings him and The Iliad back to life, but in a form that is accessible and compelling to the readers of today. Prepare yourself a plate of cheese and olives and a glass of wine – be sure to offer the gods a few drops – and settle down and enjoy.(less)
I looked forward to this book because I really enjoyed Jeff Shaara’s The Steel Wave, an exciting novel which made me feel as if I were experiencing D-...moreI looked forward to this book because I really enjoyed Jeff Shaara’s The Steel Wave, an exciting novel which made me feel as if I were experiencing D-Day myself (but without the personal danger). Alas, Rise to Rebellion, a novel covering the events leading up to the revolutionary war, is not nearly as good.
In order to cover the important events, Shaara goes from one leading character to another. Instead of getting us started with the action immediately in each scene, Shaara spends many paragraphs engaged in excruciating exposition. He also sends us to past perfect purgatory, using the word “had” over and over, as in “had been” “had seen” “had thought” – even when it is not necessary. Shaara also has every character philosophize, droning on in speech and in thought. In other words, what should be an exciting war book full of action is written mostly through “telling” instead of “showing.”
The characters are wooden, far more passive than I would expect from men who fought a revolution. I suspect this may be because Shaara felt intimidated because he was writing about the Founding Fathers, whom we have been taught to revere, and treated them with too much respect. However, he has chosen to add the word “Novel” to his title – he should have been ready to take a few liberties with the Sons of Liberty! Benjamin Franklin’s wit, which should have gleamed like gold, was as tarnished as neglected silver.
I appreciate that covering the events leading to a war is a challenging basis for a novel, as it involves many characters, places, points of view, events, and can span several years. Herman Wouk did this well in The Winds of War. Shaara did not.
The only chapters which I truly enjoyed were those with George Washington. Shaara is much better when he writes about military action.
I do respect the research he did and I did learn a fair amount about the events leading to the revolutionary war. (less)
This book was written by a journalist, Dave Cullen, to correct much of the misinformation that was spread around after the school killings – partly by...moreThis book was written by a journalist, Dave Cullen, to correct much of the misinformation that was spread around after the school killings – partly by him!
The lies and mistakes and myths were everywhere. Here are some:
1. Harris and Klebold were not targeting jocks or any particular group. As their intent was to blow up the entire school, they were basically targeting everyone they knew and then some. Fortunately, it does not seem to be that easy to make a bomb.
2. Harris and Klebold were not bullied (not any more than all kids get bullied). Nor did they seem to have bad parents. Harris seems to have been a full-blown psychopath – his brain was different – and would have committed crimes at some point.
3. The Jeffco police were warned, especially about Eric Harris. Afterwards they tried to hide the fact that they were given warnings. Files were destroyed.
4. A young woman who was shot and killed after saying that she believed in God never actually said that – it was a case of mistaken identity (another young woman said yes, but she survived). Nevertheless the mother of the dead girl published a book claiming “She Said Yes” about her daughter – it sold a million copies – even though it was pretty clear before publication that her daughter did not say yes.
In a way these myths – especially 1, 2 and 4 – are simply the result of people trying to make sense of what happened. They are understandable. Number 3 is not forgivable but it is very easy to understand. I do wish that Cullen had covered the police situation better. Did they have the resources to follow up on these sorts of complaints or not?
One thing comes out clearly: the American public does not care enough about the truth to demand it from our media. (less)
The Steel Wave is so realistic that I have to wonder if it is actually fiction. I suppose that Shaara decided to go for that classification to give hi...moreThe Steel Wave is so realistic that I have to wonder if it is actually fiction. I suppose that Shaara decided to go for that classification to give him more leeway in creating thoughts and conversations of his characters. However, the attitudes and language and all the details appear incredibly well researched.
The book is about D-Day. Nevertheless, it starts before D-Day itself, covering a lot of the planning. I liked very much how the very first section covered a group of men several months before the actual event, going to the beaches to gather rocks and soil samples. A small episode, probably forgotten by most, in which the men were considered expendable – but necessary to make sure that the soil on the beach could actually support the landing craft. The book continues beyond D-Day, ending pretty much with the forced-suicide of Rommel.
Shaara takes care in presenting both sides. He also makes you feel, most of the time, what is so easily looked over by people today – that they really did not know who was going to win. All throughout D-Day, Eisenhower has a statement in his pocket – his prepared announcement if the invasion fails. It is a while before Ike can finally put that announcement aside. (less)
Roman Blood is a very enjoyable book, especially for those who love cozy mysteries. The subject choice is excellent, based on an actual case of Cicero...moreRoman Blood is a very enjoyable book, especially for those who love cozy mysteries. The subject choice is excellent, based on an actual case of Cicero's. It is lovely to meet the orator when he is young. Saylor manages to get his main character in the same room with many other great personages of the day, so readers get to meet - or at least catch glimpses of those who were around. For the most part the historical characters seem realistic and we meet them at moments in the book which are satisfying to the reader.
I have studied Rome quite a bit, and I thought Saylor does an excellent job of portraying that ancient city. I only felt an objection to one word - describing Rome as orderly, compared to Gordianus the Finder's garden - yet given how disorderly Rome generally was, I thought the comparison odd. For the rest, the story is fast-paced and offers as many twists as Rome itself.
As if I could not get enough of the Madoff scandal, I read this book right after the one by Markopolos, No One Would Listen. You can tell immediately...moreAs if I could not get enough of the Madoff scandal, I read this book right after the one by Markopolos, No One Would Listen. You can tell immediately that this writer, actually a reporter, is far more professional. The writing itself is much better. She also presents a much more complete picture of what happened. Of course, Markopolos is narrating a different story: what it is like to be a frustrated whistleblower, and so perhaps the comparison is unfair.
Henrqiues warns that Madoff is obviously an accomplished liar, and so that anything he tells her, and through her, us, may not be true. Some of his statements are likely false. First, he denies that others knew anything. He may be trying to keep them out of prison. Second, he states that the Ponzi scheme did not begin until 1992. Many think it began earlier – he certainly was guilty of borrowing his clients’ money back in the early 60s, although it was paid back - but there’s no proof. Why would he insist on the later date of 1992? To protect what his family owned before then.
Henriques also gives a more nuanced view of some of the people and organizations that were vilified after the scandal. The behavior of Madoff’s wife and sons has been consistent with complete innocence, so it seems likely that they really had no idea. The SEC, which certainly screwed up royally, was an organization whose budget and hence staff had been gutted by Congress. In fact Henriques is rather hard on Markopolos, who certainly has flaws but at least was trying to do the right thing. She mocks him for being afraid for his life. Well, it was a lot of money. People, including those in our government, have killed for far less.
It was also interesting to read about the attempts to get the money back. The fellow in charge of the process, Picard, was not loved by anyone but he has apparently done a terrific job. One thing that must be done is to convince the defrauded that they could not put any faith in the statements provided by Madoff, which of course were completely fictitious. The most they could hope for was to get their money back. In most cases you get ten cents on the dollar but Picard was able to clawback considerably. This is an incredible achievement.
This book ends up being a worthwhile read, giving some interesting perspectives. It does feel rather too much like an apology for the establishment at times. (less)
Worthwhile read, showing how difficult it is to try to be a whistleblower. I want to point out that Markopolos was not particularly successful in his...moreWorthwhile read, showing how difficult it is to try to be a whistleblower. I want to point out that Markopolos was not particularly successful in his whistleblowing – he never got the SEC to take him seriously, and the journalists he interested in the subject either ignored him or wrote pieces that were virtually ignored. Shoot, Markopolos couldn’t even make his bosses take him seriously! Madoff only failed because his scheme finally imploded.
Some reviewers have complained that Markopolos was too paranoid for his own safety. I think Markopolos’ precautions were very reasonable; people have been killed for far less.
I have to ratchet down my evaluation of the writing because of the metaphors, which become tiring. Nevertheless, I can understand where they come from. While working years to uncover Madoff, Markopolos and his team must have vented with many choice phrases.
Markopolos also has many good suggestions for reforming the SEC. I wish we could reform many other areas of our society, such as the corporate journalism.
It should make everyone realize that it is very difficult to make a lot of money – at least to make it honestly. It is much easier to steal it, or profit from a bubble (which may unfortunately burst) or simply to inherit it. If someone is offering you a deal that is too good to be true, it most likely isn’t true.
Note that this is the story of an outsider, not an insider. The closest we get to an insider to the Madoff scandal is Thierry, who killed himself when he realized what he had helped to do. (less)
I have so many reactions to this book, many of which are based in personal experiences.
First, let me state that I vote in Tucson. Giffords is my repre...moreI have so many reactions to this book, many of which are based in personal experiences.
First, let me state that I vote in Tucson. Giffords is my representative. I rarely get involved in politics, as I’m so often out of the US, but I happened to be in Tucson for the 2010 election and did some GOTV work on her behalf.
The tension in Tucson before the election was extremely high, and I felt nervous around some of those supporting the tea party candidate opposing her. They were loud and threatening. The local signs put up by the opposition were extremely vicious – as well as misleading. One sign, designed to terrify the seniors, advertised that she voted to cut the budget of Medicare. It’s true, she did make that vote – but the tea party candidate (Jesse Kelly, who rather awkwardly has the same last name as Giffords’ husband) wanted to abolish it altogether.
So the shooting was not a surprise, really. Yes, the shooter is mentally deranged (why on earth was he allowed to have a gun? would we allow a baby to drive?) but I sensed that we were on the brink of violence.
After the election I returned to Europe (where I live most of the time) for the winter holidays. Between Christmas and New Year I had a serious ski accident. Nothing heroic; I wasn’t serving my country, but my injuries required surgery, 9 days in the hospital and months of pain and therapy and dependence on others. Giffords was shot the day after I came out of the hospital. As I lay in bed I watched the news on TV. I cried when I thought she had died; I barely dared to hope when the news took back the original report, and afterwards, while I was struggling to recover I watched every scrap of news. So I related to her story personally on several levels.
But now to the book itself. It is more Kelly’s book than Giffords’, because while she approved all of it, she was not capable of writing it herself. Nevertheless, it’s still worth reading. It’s important to understand what a caregiver goes through. I think some of the techniques he describes about decision making for a partner in this situation is important.
Some have complained that there isn’t enough about Giffords’ recovery, but I think Kelly and Zaslow cover it adequately. We have the milestones, and a sample of the frustrations. We learn about some of the icky details, such as bathroom accidents. I think there’s enough to give a good picture of the progress of her recovery. Perhaps someday we will be able to see some of the stuff that Kelly filmed. However, as someone who has gone through a minor version of some of this, I can appreciate why Giffords is not yet ready to show this. I was greatly relieved when I no longer needed help for the toilet – and much later – could dispense with it when taking a shower.
There are some things I disagree with: At one point Kelly talks about how if you have excellent treatment, have caring friends, a positive attitude and do all that they tell you to do in rehabilitation/physical therapy, that you will recover. This isn’t true. It may be true that these things are necessary for recovery, and there is no question that they help, but they aren’t sufficient. Some injuries are too severe, and some bodies can’t heal. There is a great portion of luck involved. At least Kelly/Zaslow show this when Giffords goes to group therapy with a number of other people who have suffered traumatic brain injury. The rest of them can barely speak. Of course, Giffords received superior care because of who she is – but these people should not be faulted for not having tried hard enough. Some injuries simply leave permanent damage.
I also don’t care for Mark Kelly’s attitude towards optics and some of the rules. He resented being chewed out for driving 75 mph near the space shuttle. I agree with the official at NASA; it was a stupid thing to do. I personally feel that some rules and laws are bad/wrong – even evil – and these should be broken, resisted or changed. However, many rules and laws are made to protect society, and should be obeyed, even if they are mildly inconvenient. I think following them shows some respect for society, and although Kelly doesn’t feel this way, I have to assume that Giffords does – however, she’s not in a position to articulate everything yet.
The book also covers Kelly’s background and career, which as he was an astronaut, is inherently interesting. However, it’s necessary because there is only so much to write about with respect to Gabby Giffords. There’s also some repetition which pads it a little more. The language a little too plain and sometimes too upbeat (I feel as if I’m reading something written for Reader’s Digest). Yet the style has to be plain, because this is someone else speaking on Gabby’s behalf, and it would be wrong to create a voice for her which isn’t hers. And of course she is a politician, so a lot is framed very, very carefully. Nevertheless Kelly/Zaslow/Giffords cover all the important points: her background, her history, her positions on the issues (politics) and the hope that she will make a complete recovery. It also addresses more sensitive issues: her awkward relationship with her stepdaughters (and although that chapter was very carefully written, it could cause embarrassment and strain over the next few years) and more importantly, the political climate in Tucson prior to the shooting.
And here I want to mention something not in the book: the Stanley Milgram experiments. They showed – much to the horror of the world – how easy it is to get most people to do harm to others. And so Palin and the others who have been encouraging violence have been acting incredibly irresponsibly, because many people are extremely easy to manipulate.
But back to Gabby Giffords. She has come an incredible distance since the shooting, and from other reports, is still making progress. I hope and hope again that she will be able to return to work this year.
As for myself, chances are that I, like her, will never play the piano again – which is a little more unfortunate, as, unlike her, I actually did play the piano. However, the severity of her injuries make me realize how lucky I was.
PS If you have read the book, you may remember a passage in which Giffords kept repeating "block of time" - and where Kelly finally realized that she wanted him to take blocks of time for himself, such as going to the gym. He was very touched by her consideration. However, I think he misunderstood. She needed the blocks of time for herself. As someone who has been an invalid, I know how important it is to be alone occasionally (after reaching a certain level of functionality). However, when you're injured, you can't leave on your own - you have to get other people to go away, which can seem pretty ungrateful. So I expect Gabby didn't correct Mark when he assumed she was talking about him.
Well written and very readable - and I know women who remind me of the mother so I find the book completely believable. I will go further and diagnose...moreWell written and very readable - and I know women who remind me of the mother so I find the book completely believable. I will go further and diagnose her with attention deficit disorder. The father's problems stem, obviously, from alcoholism and sexual molestation.
I also feel as if I have learned what to do in case I ever face extreme poverty and homelessness!
The reason I did not give it five stars is because it did not take me to a place I have never been before - too similar to Angela's Ashes (why do women marry drunks?). Nor was it a journey that I truly enjoyed. On the other hand, I salute Jeanette Walls for her writing and her courage. Kudos to Brian and Lori as well.(less)
Really enjoyable, one of his best. Love what he does with words, with capital letters, even with apostrophes. However, you have to be in the mood for...moreReally enjoyable, one of his best. Love what he does with words, with capital letters, even with apostrophes. However, you have to be in the mood for flippancy - like eating a pickle, very tart, and a little goes a long way.(less)
I had to read this for my book club meeting later this week. I have just finished it and wish to share a few observations. Yes, I also noticed the I-I...moreI had to read this for my book club meeting later this week. I have just finished it and wish to share a few observations. Yes, I also noticed the I-I-I. The writer is incredibly neurotic, and I kept thinking, please, Liz, take some medication - your brain obviously is suffering from a chemical imbalance. But I also want to point out to people that studies have shown that the other way to reset your brain chemistry is through intense meditation. It's much harder to do it this way than it is through taking medication, but it's probably much better for you. Also, I really enjoyed her use of language - or rather, languages - as we get so much Italian and Sanskrit, too. (less)
Enjoyable and well written. The author had an annoying overuse of the word "did" in the first part of the book, but fortunately stopped in the latter...moreEnjoyable and well written. The author had an annoying overuse of the word "did" in the first part of the book, but fortunately stopped in the latter portion.(less)