I'm not sure what I was expecting from a biography of Daniel Boone, but I never got too close. The author argued, perhaps correctly, that Boone is a sI'm not sure what I was expecting from a biography of Daniel Boone, but I never got too close. The author argued, perhaps correctly, that Boone is a sort of Rorschach of the American psyche, and will always be mysterious, but it also feels like he didn't even really try.
Honestly, too, I had a hard time not being overly distracted by the narrator. His mouth and the English language are apparently on the outs, and fought a lot during the reading. He attacked sounds and they fought back. Further, he inflected some clauses the wrong way, emphasizing the wrong word or words.
Except for some basic facts about Boone's life (born near Philadelphia a Quaker, in debt a lot of his life, imprisoned by Shawnees for a couple of years, fought in a 1782 battle of the American Revolution), I don't have any better sense of the man than I did before I read it. ...more
I'm now aware that the United States has been as foolhardy, smug, divided and self-destructive as we are now before. And we survived then, so I feel aI'm now aware that the United States has been as foolhardy, smug, divided and self-destructive as we are now before. And we survived then, so I feel a tiny bit better about now.
Not one mention of the USS Constitution, and only a passing few sentences about the British burning Washington and being rebuffed at Baltimore, this is the real story of the war that should stand as an instructive embarrassment to students today. If they taught it, which, you know, they really don't.
Consider that the Republicans (not modern Republicans - Democratic Republicans - the party of Jefferson, Madison, et al.) told the country they could conquer Canada, have a great little war, not raise taxes like those evil Federalists, and then gave out officer commissions to all their friends and attacked Ontario. Teetered on bankruptcy to do it. The British were worried they'd attack, I don't know, Quebec City or Montreal? because then the Americans would control the Saint Lawrence - Britain's only supply line into their Canadian colonies. But a one-percenter who owned land and traded a heck of a lot across that river thought wouldn't it be more convenient if the Americans could have their war somewhere else? Yes, of course they could. No problem. We'll attack at Detroit and Toronto (then called York).
Consider that the declaration of war contained no objective for conquering Canada, but we attacked it just the same, with a wink/wink that we'd make 'em Americans. And, to win the hearts and minds of the people there, many of whom had been Americans once and could probably be persuaded to join the United States, pillaged and stole from everyone there.
What are we taught about the War of 1812? Impressment, and British maintaining forts in US territory. Impressment was bad, and the Brits talked out both sides of their mouths as well as any American - claiming any person they wanted was a British subject who had emigrated to America, whether true or not. But that thing about the forts? What we're never told is the British owed their Indian allies from the Revolution protection from the Yankees. We were bad to the natives, mm-kay? Like, real bad.
Anyway, after a couple of years of this nonsense war and incompetent battle after incompetent battle, Madison and fellow Republicans recast it as a war of honor. And settled at Ghent for...exactly the same situation as before. Boundaries the same, nothing about impressment. And Americans, as always, loved their war and patted themselves on the back, and rewarded the Republicans at the ballot box.
Holy cow - I'm not reviewing the book. Just venting. Sorry. Um, read the book - it's really good.
Oh! - also, Vermont schemed to agree with a piece of Canada to form another new country - new Columbia. And toward the end, Massachusetts - one of the only holdouts of Federalists - considered negotiating a separate peace with England. I want to read more about that. Madison, the father of the constitution, who later wrote that states can't nullify federal law, and the constitution is a compact which binds the states together forever - seemed to be silent on the issue.
So, yeah. It really was a civil war, too, which is the thesis of the subtitle. And the populists won, and Britain finally gave up its pipe dream that Americans were just going through a phase and would want to rejoin her empire.
Excellent book about a horrible episode of the beast without a head....more
I don't know why it took me so long to get through this thing, but I'm glad I did. Don't take this review seriously. Blame me, not the book, for me noI don't know why it took me so long to get through this thing, but I'm glad I did. Don't take this review seriously. Blame me, not the book, for me not being engaged enough.
Anyway, some stuff happened, and it was all really exciting.
Oh - can I complain about *one* thing? He does that thing where he switches scenes and it's challenging to catch up. I know lots of writers do it, but anyone can just not give you enough information so you're confused for a bit until you fill in the missing parts yourself. It's annoying....more
I loved it - lots of fun, lots of laughs. Our protagonist, Sam Marlowe, is well-developed, likable, funny and a perfect screwball comedy star. The supI loved it - lots of fun, lots of laughs. Our protagonist, Sam Marlowe, is well-developed, likable, funny and a perfect screwball comedy star. The supporting characters - his milquetoast cousin, his imperious aunt, his stony father, his cousin's paramour, the adventurous Jane - all sing in their roles.
The only false note - and only a bit - is our hero's love interest. I'm not sure why Sam is so crazy for Billie.
Oh - and one other thing. If you read the book, be ready for one scene of blackface, and one sentence where one gentleman compliments another by calling him a true 'white man.'
If you can overlook that, though, it's a delight....more
I guess Tom's adventures are pleasant enough. I have a hard time pinning Tom's age precisely. Some of Tom's trouble filteriThanks for Huck Finn, Mark!
I guess Tom's adventures are pleasant enough. I have a hard time pinning Tom's age precisely. Some of Tom's trouble filtering fantasy from reality seems more like a first-grader than someone as independent and resourceful as he actually is. I know Twain had his issues with "book l'arnin'," but really....more
I get that books that are part of series have to set up the next book, and think about the larger story arc. But this book really suffered from a lackI get that books that are part of series have to set up the next book, and think about the larger story arc. But this book really suffered from a lack of resolution, IMO. That's a cardinal sin in the first book of a series.
First CJ Box I've read. I understand his usual book is a good whodunit, solved by a likable game warden named Joe Pickett. And that it doesn't read liFirst CJ Box I've read. I understand his usual book is a good whodunit, solved by a likable game warden named Joe Pickett. And that it doesn't read like an Ayn Rand meets Clive Bundy.
The anti-federal paranoia is palpable, with mustache-twirling agents working for the EPA who are just out to screw the good people of Wyoming. I put that aside to enjoy a well-written book, reasoning that it's just a fictional book, and it's about some bad people that happen to be federal agents or state bureaucrats who don't like to get their hands dirty. But then after the last page, there was a chart of how much land is owned by the feds in the twelve states with the most federal ownership. I can only conclude that the anti-federal writing is intentional.
Well, it's easy to do when you make your characters up, isn't it? You can make stuff you don't like espoused by strawmen. You can then introduce Howard Roark Joe Pickett as the reasonable, brilliant stalwart we should all wish to be, and ignore the fact that none of us are him.
The book's a page-turner and entertaining, but that 'EPA people are stuuuuupid' vibe is really distracting....more
Another seminal sci-fi entry and your faithful Bup responded on the wrong level.
I see that he didn't approach Mars colonization as cowboys and IndiansAnother seminal sci-fi entry and your faithful Bup responded on the wrong level.
I see that he didn't approach Mars colonization as cowboys and Indians. Meeting a civilized alien species will be more complicated than that, if it ever happens.
Nevertheless, his choice to make everything unfold like a Twilight Zone left me nonplussed. It's a novel, Ray. You can make things disastrous without making it like an encapsulated 22 minute teleplay, where (and this is not a spoiler) our usual cast finds exactly one survivor who has to die in the final minute.
Further, I'm just embarrassed for him with all the stuff he missed. Women are still just housewives, and media is just like it was in 1950 - record players, landline phones, no way to see who's calling or automated way to catch a missed call, etc. Sending a rocket with a few men, without them being in fairly constant contact with Earth, is laughable. Going out and exploring a planet without radioing home "we landed safely?"
I guess I can't forgive giant plot holes and sloppy story-telling just because the book was in one or two ways prescie--no, wait. It wasn't even prescient. Just because it was cynical. That doesn't make it great literature.