The story of Pat Tillman's death as a result of friendly fire in Afghanistan is a pretty tragic one. But if anyone could do it justice and go to the h...moreThe story of Pat Tillman's death as a result of friendly fire in Afghanistan is a pretty tragic one. But if anyone could do it justice and go to the heart of the matter, Jon Krakauer is the man. I love Krakauer's work, and this was no disappointment. He is thorough in his examination of the situation, the life of Pat Tillman prior to that, the character of the man, and the ridiculous scene that was the aftermath of his death. Great read, important piece of current history.(less)
I saw this author interviewed on PBS and quickly decided I had to read his book. So glad that I did. This man, a former British soldier who now works...moreI saw this author interviewed on PBS and quickly decided I had to read his book. So glad that I did. This man, a former British soldier who now works at Harvard, walked across Afghanistan entirely on foot in 2002-03. His story is a deep look into the culture of Afghanistan outside the cities. Basically what we hear about on the news takes place inside the cities. But most of the country is comprised of villages. When we talk about "winning" in Afghanistan we need to realize what that means. This book gives a very important insight into that reality.
Rory Stewart is advising President Obama about a better way to approach the idea of "success" in Afghanistan. I think he would be wise to listen and incorporate his insights into our plans there.
Great book... great read... I recommend this book for every American who wants to really know what is going on in another part of the world completely different from ours.(less)
Getting through this book was difficult as it's one, long litany of the horrible things people are doing to one another all across the globe right thi...moreGetting through this book was difficult as it's one, long litany of the horrible things people are doing to one another all across the globe right this very minute. But I figured if Kevin Sites was tough enough to witness it all first hand while enduring jet lag and worse, well, I'd damn well be tough enough to at least read about it from the comfort of my own home.
It's not amazing writing, but it's good enough, and I was impressed with the scope of his project and how he struggled with his own ethics at times. I hope he takes a very long vacation.
Africa was the worst of it, of course. Followed closely by Iraq.
Which brings me to today's news: Our illustrious President today announced rather ominously that Iran is a global threat. He only has less than a year to get his invasion of Iran underway. What possible excuse is he going to trump up to get the support of the American people behind him this time? How is he going to convince us that it's imperative we slog into that quagmire with our flags waving? And how soon afterward will the draft be called?
I swear to the gods I will leave this country. Recipe for my exodus: Huckabee + invasion of Iran + Draft. It's either than or molotov cocktails hurled at the white house. I don't think that would be uncalled for, do you?(less)
My mom got me a second hand copy of this immense tome. I skimmed through it in college, but have forgotten most of what I read. Figured I'd give it a...moreMy mom got me a second hand copy of this immense tome. I skimmed through it in college, but have forgotten most of what I read. Figured I'd give it a real read this time. Maybe I'll notice some similarities between Vietnam and Iraq. You think? So far my main impression is that the book smells like cigar smoke, and the cover has been ripped from it's spine. No matter... the pages still have all the words.(less)
This was the first non-fiction history book that read so much like a good novel that I screamed through it almost without pausing for breath. I knew b...moreThis was the first non-fiction history book that read so much like a good novel that I screamed through it almost without pausing for breath. I knew bits and pieces about World War I before this... but the persistent idiocy of so many involved simply held me riveted to the pages. One of my favorite bits is how the French kept insisting on wearing their red uniforms as they charged through field and forest toward machine gun fire. They just couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that "elan" just wasn't going to make up for the fact that they were bright, shiny targets waddling towards their quick death. That small piece of trivia about this war pretty much sums it up. A foreshadowed beginning to the 20th Century... carnage all around, stupidity, technology rolling over the past like so many broken eggs... I am always reminded of that Loony Toons Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd scene where one starts out with a pistol, the other gets a shotgun, the other gets a cannon, the other brings in a nuclear weapon... or something like that. This book is a perfect window into the character of various European nations... things have changed somewhat since then... but not a lot (if you know what I mean).
Best history lesson ever. Tuchman's finest writing. Highly recommended. Should be required reading.(less)
I finally returned to this book and decided to stop approaching it by doggedly slogging through the first 4/5ths of it in order to "earn" reading what...moreI finally returned to this book and decided to stop approaching it by doggedly slogging through the first 4/5ths of it in order to "earn" reading what I bought it for: what Rushie had to say after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Boy am I glad I did. Here is a link to what he wrote in just the month following the attacks:
One month later and he's already sorting through the heart of the matter, unflinchingly beginning even then to turn over stones... what's under here? Salman Rushdie, although at times you painfully reserved (must be that British education) in the end your Indian upbringing bursts through and you touch the red hot burning core of humanity. What an incandescent combination of form and freedom.
Everything that follows his October 2001 column just continues to delve deeper and deeper into the intricacies of living in the Post-9/11 world. Which made going back and reading the earlier portions of the book that much richer to me. For some reason the context of now, makes then open up. There really is no rhyme or reason to my brain sometimes.
In the following days I want to post excerpts from the essays and my ruminations on them. For now, it being the wee hours, I will say: read it. His even and relentless gaze into the core of our current affairs is a beacon of sanity in our troubled time.(less)
I give up... I can't actually finish the final chapters of this book. I speed read it and that's as good as it's gonna get. Too bad, because I was rea...moreI give up... I can't actually finish the final chapters of this book. I speed read it and that's as good as it's gonna get. Too bad, because I was really riveted by this book for the first 90% of it. I just don't think the author managed to carry that through to the end. Somewhere after the blind Japanese character's chapter I started to get antsy for the book to either ramp it up a notch or to just be over now.
I think the style of writing worked well throughout most of the book but finally was the undoing of the overall story. It climaxed in odd places, and then the tension was lost. There are plenty of punches... plenty of places in the story where I cringed and felt like a truck had hit me... that feeling ought to have been brought to a fever pitch near the end. Although, it occurs to me that maybe he was trying to get the feel of the Z War... how it kind of went on forever and maybe was never going to be over.
Ultimately it's a great read, even though I lost interest at the end. I think he did a great job of researching different cultures around the world and portraying how each of them might fare in a zombie apocalypse. So much was chilling and realistic. I literally could not sleep at night for the three days I was reading the bulk of the story. It had been a long time since a book creeped me out that bad. Maybe when I read HotZone... but that was non-fiction.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, or I Am Legend.