The debate over the authenticity of Buck's portrayal of rural life in China of 100 years ago will never end. I don't believe it is essential to the boThe debate over the authenticity of Buck's portrayal of rural life in China of 100 years ago will never end. I don't believe it is essential to the books story.
This is a story of the rewards of hard work, strong ethics, common sense and conviction. It is the story of what happens when those rewards come. How wealth, even when gained honestly and through hard effort, corrupts and destroys families and values, when it is not placed in the proper context of life. It is the story of oppression of women and its negative effects on society and family. There is only one person who handles wealth and hard work well. That person is O-Lan, she is, in my opinion, the hero of the book.
The culture, time and country that this story plays out is secondary to the message of the book. ...more
"The more things change the more they stay the same":
Stacy Schiff faced a difficult task in authoring this biography on Cleopatra. The subject li
"The more things change the more they stay the same":
Stacy Schiff faced a difficult task in authoring this biography on Cleopatra. The subject lived over 2,000 years ago, no personal writing of Cleopatra remains or never existed. There is no known first-person renderings of her likeness. The insights of those close to her have been lost through the dozens of generations that come and gone. Those that wrote about her in the times she lived did so with political or personal aims. The writings of top historians of the following generation wrote with opinion, prejudice, limited and faulty research and had lenses of nationality, gender bias, politics, rumor and innuendo. According to Schiff, once their historical foundation was set, other historical and literary writings of Cleopatra used this foundation. What is left is a scrambled picture of fact, myth, lore and the iconic literary, artistic and mental images of this woman. The modern day picture of Cleopatra, shaped by Shakespeare and Elizabeth Taylor, includes poisonous snakes, illicit romance, sexual scheming, beauty and perception shaped by our view of women in positions of authority.
In this book, Schiff attempts the near impossible by sorting it out. She performs this huge task while attempting to place bias aside and focus on events in the light of day. This is a daunting if not impossible task. We will never know if she got it right. She has done a fabulous job in sorting through myth, fact, speculation and probability. She gives a new and refreshing look at a well-worn romanticized icon. Schiff does not make assumptions or guesses; she states fact; What is probable; What is unknown. The facts corroborates with data and her research. The probabilities are equally data driven and well referenced. She freely gives her opinions and interpretations, states it and tells us why and how she reached those thoughts.
The book, itself, tells a story about a remarkable woman; The times she lived and shaped. The same times that also shaped her. It is the story of the differences between how men and women lead; Past and present. It is insight to a rare early moment in world history where a woman independently held power, wealth and shaped the world and events around her.
For a story so difficult, the author performed a fabulous job of creating a book of accessibility and moderate ease of reading.
At its heart, this book is about human fragility, ego and imperfection. It is about the corruption of power and wealth. It is about the human desires to attain power and wealth. The message is clear. Times, technology, culture, society and societal maturity change and grow. Human motivation, strengths and faults remain unchanged or the same over a stretch of thousands of years.
Take the story; Remove the names, the events and the details; Fast-forward it to today. Then replace the names, the events and the details with today’s leaders, challenges and events. What you will find are the same outcomes and behaviors, only with more subtlety, sophistication and maturity. The outcomes and actions are the same. The story is the same. Mark Twain said the definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting a different result. This book demonstrates the innate insanity and resilience of humankind. If only we could learn from our past and then apply that learning to current events. How refreshing and less wasteful life would be.
Unbroken is a story that holds your attention, even when you know the story and the conclusion. The subtitle is: "A World
A Great but Flawed Book
Unbroken is a story that holds your attention, even when you know the story and the conclusion. The subtitle is: "A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption".... The book is true to it's title.
Hillenbrand continues her writing style of suspense and drama in the telling of this incredible story of Louis Zamperini. His endurance and incredible survival of torture, battle, plane crash and lost at sea can only be described as miraculous. You can't help but believe he went through his journey and survived for a greater purpose.
He overcame a youth filled with rebellion to achieve world-wide acclaim in fierce Olympic level competition. His biggest survival may have occurred after he returned home from war and had to face his own demons and recurring nightmares. The net result was a person committed to help and be an inspiration for many people he touched. The are so many lessons. Maybe the most important is that a positive view of life and a strong faith can sustain a person through the worst possible situation. The other is that a weak faith and negative view of life can destroy a person in a similar situation. Zamperini survived the war because of optimism and faith. He almost destroyed himself for initially having neither after he returned home.
The book is riveting and well researched. It will be a story you will not forget, even if you want to.
Where the book is lacking is that: (1) There is too much detail on every incident and situation that connects the story. While detail adds color, at some point it takes away from the story and the message. At first I felt every blow and type of torture Louie felt. After a while, the details just kept coming and I became numb to it, it lost its impact and the emotion. There needed to be more balance in the story-telling. I became overwhelmed with detail, emotion and information, the story-telling lost it's impact by the last 1/4 of the book. By the book's end I was ready for it to conclude.
(2) The book centered most of its attention on "survival" and "resilience". The "redemption" was relegated to only a small portion of the book. I would have preferred less detail on survival and resilience in order to get more detail on redemption, forgiveness and his struggles after he came home.
The author of the NY Times Sunday Review of Unbroken, David Margolick, stated: "On a number of small but dubious points she (the author) gives him (Louie) a pass". This seems to be true, as time and memory will embellish. Is it possible to be hit in the head, at full strength, hundreds of times without suffering lasting neurological effects? Can two people in a 6 foot raft (on the planes final pass it was three people)be shot at over 500 times with over 500 bullet holes created in the raft without one person being shot? There are many stories in the book that elicit these type of questions. But this does not take away from the story or the message. Thousands of POWs endured the unthinkable, those that survived endured psychological torture upon returning home. This book is about Survival, Resilience and Endurance. It is about digging deep inside oneself to find strength to go on. It is about faith and optimism. What Louie endured, embellished or not, is incredible. What he did to survive is astonishing....more