**spoiler alert** Wow, just wow. Allegorical, metaphorical, a stunning book. It's been a while since I've been moved by a book like this, and I think...more**spoiler alert** Wow, just wow. Allegorical, metaphorical, a stunning book. It's been a while since I've been moved by a book like this, and I think it's because the story hews closely to how I see the present day world. It offers sharp criticism of the present day, and offers a glimpse of a future I would tend to predict should a zombie invasion ever crop up. More militarism, more cynicism, and a quick return to a bad trajectory leading toward what led to the crisis in the first place. Thus the Zombie War becomes a metaphor for politics, world finance, capitalism.
This was the most potent polemic of our modern society that I've read. It reads not so much like Zombieland as much as Guns of August. Descriptions of zombies are certainly terrifying and gripping, but that is only a minor part of the story in my opinion. The true quality of the storytelling is in the structure, the oral history aspect which moves from person to person circling the globe. Through this unique medium, the author is able to tell a future history in it's full Aristotelian tragical glory. The way the different people move through the horror of the zombie invasion and war in their different ways, reflecting cultural and political predispositions shows that the author is both well-travelled and well-read.(less)
This was an excellent book in every way, finishing it just a couple months ago. Engrossing, well reported and thought-provoking. Excellently tells the...moreThis was an excellent book in every way, finishing it just a couple months ago. Engrossing, well reported and thought-provoking. Excellently tells the tales of ex-patriots of various ages living (and not living) through the lean years of the 90's during the horrendous starvation and deprivations following the collapse of the USSR. Now I wish the Arab Spring upon the people of North Korea, throwing down the totalitarians, cronies, "military-first" crooks to the dustbin of history. 2011 could end on a frantic note on the international front. Burn in h**l, Kim Jung Il.(less)
This was a pretty amazing book. I remember reading a book growing up about what life might be like if it developed on other planets, and reading throu...moreThis was a pretty amazing book. I remember reading a book growing up about what life might be like if it developed on other planets, and reading through this book, I found many species which are just as odd and spectacular as those, but that actually did live on Earth 550M years ago. I'd really recommend this to people who are interested in learning about how the first hard-bodied multi-cellular life on Earth looked. Didn't end with as big a bang as I'd hoped, but then, the book is 20 years old, and perhaps, I'll look for some further reading regarding the Burgess Shale. Another cool thing, the site is actually pretty close to Seattle in relative terms, just outside of Banff, BC. I'll have to take a pilgrimage there in the future. Word of warning, I wouldn't check it out on Audible; the pictures of the crazy animals are the best part.(less)
This was a rather good book, though in retrospect, and having read 3 books on World War I, I read them in the wrong order. Guns of August was phenomen...moreThis was a rather good book, though in retrospect, and having read 3 books on World War I, I read them in the wrong order. Guns of August was phenomenal, and dealt with the beginning of the war and a bit of its background in an entertaining, narrative manner. The Pity of War gave an impressively detailed account of how the war was waged and what factors determined who would claim victory. But as much painstaking detail as it contained, it was not a narrative of the course of the war. So I understood why the war happened the way it did, but nothing about how the war was waged. That is what this book does and I do wish I'd read it second. This did an excellent job in constructing a narrative, though naturally, with 700 pages covering 4 years, it lacks the depth of detail that Guns of August had, with 500 pages covering 1+ months. Nevertheless, this was very enjoyable, and I'd recommend it.(less)
This was my second time reading this book, having read it maybe 15 years ago. Even the first time, it struck me as a great endictment of totalitariani...moreThis was my second time reading this book, having read it maybe 15 years ago. Even the first time, it struck me as a great endictment of totalitarianism, but then I was just out of high school and did not understand the historical context it was written in. I decided to re-read it because North Korea was in the news, and if the dystopic horror show depicted in the book has ever been brought into being, it's in North Korea. I have to say, wow. It's been a long time since I've read something that moved me like this book did. It is for books like this that my ratings usually top out at 4.5. I can leave room for the books that are masterpieces. Of course that's not the only reason this book is relevant to today's world. This book represents a possible end-game to modern society. How can we ever get to a sustainable world? Well, this is one way: keeping population down, keeping production down, and stagnating the society in an inescapable rut. I recommend this book to all who have not read it, and especially to those who might ot have read it for some time. A little more knowledge and experience make this an even more eye-opening read.(less)
Yet another excellent book by Jon Krakauer, chronicling the life of Pat Tillman, his life and the circumstances surrounding his death on tour in Afgha...moreYet another excellent book by Jon Krakauer, chronicling the life of Pat Tillman, his life and the circumstances surrounding his death on tour in Afghanistan. I'm admittedly a big fan of Krakauer, as I think his narrative talent is unparalleled, and I imagine he is a pretty personable guy, as I find each of his interviews quite candid with the people involved in the events he writes about, offering interesting insights and touching upon deeper philisophical questions.
This was also yet another book that left me furious with the Bush Administration; just one more example of the politicization of every event, their inablilty to accurately portray reality, and the punting of bad news until it hurts them less. Postponing a robust investigation into Tillman's death and covering it up until a week after the 2004 election was roughly equivalent to reducing Fallujah to dust 2 days after the 2004 election. Disgusting.
Along a more strange line, I found this was the second book I've read in a row where the brain of the biographical subject was stolen and is disputed over post-mortem. Maybe I'll read a biography of Ted Williams next...(less)
Wow. Just Wow. Who knew that a history nook could be such a page turner. And I was a history major in college! Absolutely relevant to today's world. F...moreWow. Just Wow. Who knew that a history nook could be such a page turner. And I was a history major in college! Absolutely relevant to today's world. Flawed men in positions of power making bad decisions that they are not held responisble for. Inflexible in ideology, intracable in their demeanor. Force of personality rasied them to their positions and can't save them from their inability to see the world for what it is. A confusing jumble of independent people that has consistently defied every attempt to broadly explain it and make it all fit into clean explanation. Eventually, the cream rises to the top, capable people rise to decision making positions, but not before the world is laid waste.(less)