not a bad book, but as an avid reader and an educator constantly trying to radicalize my teaching for the better, I've already known many of these thinot a bad book, but as an avid reader and an educator constantly trying to radicalize my teaching for the better, I've already known many of these things. I was hoping I'd get more of a technical manual on how to build ladders, especially for high school students. this seems like a good book, but it's not the book for me. I also heartily disagree with her opinion that teachers should have read all the books on their classroom library shelves in order to ensure they can test that their students are reading. all learning must come from a place of trust, so you have to trust that students who are given a choice in their reading will elect to do do. additionally, I have over 1000 books on my shelves, some of which I would call absolute trash for myself, but would new fine with a reluctant reader picking up. there is no way in hell I'd a) be willing to suffer through them all and b) do not have the time to read....more
This book was exactly ok. I realized a third of the way through, after complaining about a few different issues I had with the book, that I was not thThis book was exactly ok. I realized a third of the way through, after complaining about a few different issues I had with the book, that I was not the intended audience. After that, it was easier to deal with the elements I didn't like, but I eventually stopped after gun #6.
My original issues were that Kyle was oddly everywhere, verbally. Much of what he'd written was done well: the kind of informative, precise, formal wording you'd see in a researched academic nonfiction text. The sentences were crafted well. But then, he'd switch to some ridiculous country slang, explaining how Union soldiers were "kickin' some ass" and whatnot. It felt jarring, and left me wondering how I should be hearing this text. Additionally, it irritated me that, though he had captions for all of the pictures, all of his bibliographic information and footnoting was at the end of each chapter, with no numbering system or in-text citation of any kind. It felt way less credible. The final issue I had with the book was a big one for me, and one I think the publishers should have stepped in to remedy. Kyle calls all the Indigenous people he references in the text "Indians," which to me feels borderline unacceptable, and certainly politically incorrect for a mass-market, deeply researched and prettymuch-otherwise-credible text.
After listening to me explain my issues, my boyfriend remarked that perhaps the book was not meant for me. It took me by surprise; I think this was because when I think "microhistory" I think "academia" and then I think "stuffy white people who think a lot and use big words." I say this knowing that I definitely qualify as an academe. However, after thinking about it, I saw that he was right. This book was written for certain groups that aren't me: fans of American Sniper (wasn't interested), veterans and current military individuals, gun enthusiasts (definitely not me), U.S. history buffs, and really serious patriots.
I knew picking it up that, as a proponent of gun control, I would feel resistant to his ideas, and I figured that giving such an educated, thoughtful expert my full attention on a matter of which I am ignorant would be a great exercise in listening and debate. I did learn some very interesting information, and I saw overall how gun enthusiasts see the history of guns, and war, and shooting, and killing, which was new for me. In the end, though, I had to put it down. The aforementioned issues were part of it. Another was that I was unable to visualize all the details and unable to remain interested as someone who doesn't like guns at all. The final reason, the reason why I didn't finish the few remaining guns, was that I did not want to read what he had to say about modern guns, modern warfare, and modern killing. I do not support the U.S.'s meddling with the Middle East, and I was afraid that I would read about guns from the perspective of a man who discusses killing others like he's building a house, bits of which crept in when he referenced his own history and career when discussing the older guns. That is not a perspective I am interested in occupying, even for the sake of an exercise in listening. ...more
This book was much more difficult to read than My Family and Other Animals, and I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, the good stuff: Durrell knowThis book was much more difficult to read than My Family and Other Animals, and I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, the good stuff: Durrell knows how to set up a yarn, especially a funny one. Even though I was expecting them, there were a few moments when I laughed out loud. Once, I was caught totally off guard by a funny line, and, since I unfortunately had just taken a sip of cider, literally choked and spit it everywhere while laughing. The stories in this book are funny, and the love he has for animals is apparent on every page.
What made this hard to read was not the writing or plot or anything literary. It was the blatant sexism and imperialism. I know that Durrell was a product of his time, and that many expeditions looked like this: barging into some African "wilderness," taking whatever you wanted, paying over the African market value but still not fair value for what you wanted, and otherwise promoting your white self and customs above the natives'. Durrell clearly was fond of and respectful of the African friends he had made, and did not seek to actively disadvantage the natives he employed/did business with, but it turned my stomach to read the way they interacted sometimes. The natives calling him "Masa" was especially hard to swallow, as was his condescending descriptions of the natives.
I know that the imperialism in this memoir is a sad fact of Africa's history. I know that Durrell was a product of his time, and did amazing things for the animal conversation movement. I intend to read all his other books, because I love the way he tells his stories. But as someone who cares about equality, I could not help but be ashamed about the underlying imperialist systems that allowed Durrell's plans to be successful. ...more