A most interesting take on an oft-used dystopic theme. A futuristic society, stratisfied into the counties (where lawlessness prevails), the Charter (A most interesting take on an oft-used dystopic theme. A futuristic society, stratisfied into the counties (where lawlessness prevails), the Charter (think the uber-competitive high-achievers of today's world), and service towns like B-Mor, sets the scene for the travels of a young girl, Fan, from B-Mor, who searches far and wide for her lover, his whereabouts unbeknowst to his family. Some of this reads like a remixed version of The Odyssey, and indeed some of the characters seem more like figures from Greek mythology, though it's hard to tell what type of hero(ine) Fan would be.
The text doesn't read like usual sci-fi; it definitely reads like a literary fiction author writing sci-fi. But with its keen take on social stratification of the contemporary real world, Lee's work definitely shows its flying colors, if at times those colors are muted.
The book would have been better had it omitted some of its more flowerly passages - I was particularly annoyed by how parts of the ruminated on something more philosophical; and then at certain parts of the story, the prose reads like a cheap horror thriller. In fact I presume he did this intentionally; I don't think this worked for me. If not for my policy of completing books from cover to cover (only ever rarely broken), I might have stopped around p. 100; as it stands, I'm glad I made it all the way through, as I did find the story, and some particular characters, quite memorable....more
A good introduction to the pre WW II period as seen through the eyes of the uniquely positioned Dodd family who lived as U.S. ambassadors to Germany.A good introduction to the pre WW II period as seen through the eyes of the uniquely positioned Dodd family who lived as U.S. ambassadors to Germany. The narrative focuses on the years 1933-34, during which Hitler consolidated power, particularly after the "Night of the Long Knives" putsch against Ernst Röhm, leader of the "brownshirts." Chapters alternate between father William's perspective and his diplomatic calculations and measured responses in light of Germany's descent into fascism, and the flirtatious goings-on of daughter Martha and her love affairs with powerful figures including Boris Vinogradov, spy for a predecessor version of the KGB; and Rudolf Diels, first director of the Gestapo.
Larson writes in a hugely accessible manner, engaging for first-time students of the history of the Nazi era, using storytelling devices including a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. Much of the prose reads like a novel, which probably works to enhance Larson's popularity with general readers. With the benefit of hindsight, one can't help pulling for Dodd's success, either in his diplomatic dealings with SS officials, or in his internal squabbles with more privileged members of the diplomatic core.
Considering the text is designed for lay readers, Larson has demonstrated a fair amount of aplomb in processing and analyzing diaries of Williams and Martha, triangulating their biased narrative with original documents documents from them and their associates.
I wish more would have been written about the literary circles of which Martha took part during the family's time in Berlin. There was one episode where we learn of her and Boris' visit to the countryside to visit Hans Fallada, one of the few authors who hadn't fled the country by then. It seemed like Larson was so intent exposing (or pretending to expose) Martha's romantic dalliances she becomes much too one-dimensional a character, at the expense of learning more of her views on the literary scene in Berlin at the time....more
Concerns the various codes inscribed into the Samurai system in feudal japan. Nitobe (by the way, he wrote in English, and had a distinguished careerConcerns the various codes inscribed into the Samurai system in feudal japan. Nitobe (by the way, he wrote in English, and had a distinguished career working in the academy in the U.S.) writes with literary aplomb, situating core concepts often comparatively with philosophers from the West....more