You hear a lot in the media about the divisions in American politics. It's easy to find writing to support one side or the other. What you don't see vYou hear a lot in the media about the divisions in American politics. It's easy to find writing to support one side or the other. What you don't see very often are real attempts by one side to understand the other, but in this book Hochschild does exactly that.
Hochschild is a liberal university professor from Berkley, California. In this book, she recounts her experiences getting to know conservatives living in Louisiana. It's hard to imagine a larger gap in political viewpoints, which was exactly the intention. Hochschild wanted to personally talk to people in the opposing political camp to understand their viewpoints.
From those conversations, Hochschild gathered what she calls a "deep story" for the conservative right. This story largely deals with feelings of being left behind while others are given advantages which have not been earned. (Whether that's actually the case or not isn't the point...the feelings are real either way.) When political leaders appeal to the emotions behind that deep story, the people respond, even if the actual actions of those leaders cause them harm.
Harm caused to the population is a pervasive theme in the book, mostly in terms of Louisiana's serious pollution and environmental issues. Most of those interviewed have suffered direct harm from industry causing environmental damage, and yet continue to support leaders who cater to those same industries and oppose environmental regulation. The appeal of the deep story is offered as an explanation for this seeming contradiction.
You might think that a book entirely about a liberal having discussions with conservatives over environmental damage and other political hot topics would be full of arguments and anger. There's very little of that to be found here. Hochschild repeatedly refers to the people she met as her conservative friends, and the tone of the book certainly supports that. I give her plenty of credit for that, since an interviewer with the wrong attitude will almost certainly cause an angry reaction. And just as much credit goes to the interviewees, who clearly were willing to share their experiences and feelings honestly.
I highly recommend reading Strangers in Their Own Land, no matter your political viewpoints. I think it makes some good points about certain specific issues, primarily around environmental regulation, but that's not the main reason. What I found most compelling about this book is that way that people on opposite sides of the American political divide had honest conversations, learned to understand each other, and parted as friends. We should all strive to follow that example....more
If you liked Farthing, the first book in the Small Change series, then you should definitely read this one. They're extremely similar...an England inIf you liked Farthing, the first book in the Small Change series, then you should definitely read this one. They're extremely similar...an England in which peace was made with Hitler's Reich, a high-society woman with family issues telling half the story and a Scotland Yard inspector the other half, an investigation into a prominent death leading to a greater conspiracy. I found it entertaining, but then I liked the first book as well. If you weren't a big fan of Farthing, then there's no point in moving on to this one. But if you did, it's well worth the read....more
Took a break from my usual stack of fiction to read Joe Buck's memoir Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I'm Not Allowed to Say on TV. ThoTook a break from my usual stack of fiction to read Joe Buck's memoir Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I'm Not Allowed to Say on TV. Thought it was very well written, which is not always the case with these things. As a sports fan I enjoyed the various anecdotes from the people and events that he's been involved with over the years, of course. The personal side of his story is just as interesting, though. Wrote a bit more about it here. Short version: Definitely worth reading for sports fans, and even non-fans might find it entertaining....more
I bought Rescue Run largely because I like the Star Realms game and wanted to support it. The book is set in the game's universe, though the linkage pI bought Rescue Run largely because I like the Star Realms game and wanted to support it. The book is set in the game's universe, though the linkage pretty much ends there. The game's fleet-building mechanics aren't really reflected in the book, though players will recognize plenty of names.
Leaving aside the Star Realms tie-ins, Rescue Run is a decent if not particularly imaginative story. Renegade thief is collared by the powers-that-be and forced to join a dangerous mission against an evil oppressive empire - seen it before. The empire in this case is a corporate entity, and the renegade is a somewhat insecure woman rather than the usual cocky ladies man, so it's not entirely a generic formula. There's a love story embedded, of course, with a sheltered-but-empathetic scion of the evil empire falling for the renegade. The characters go through plenty of hard-to-believe close calls and lucky escapes, which is to be expected in this kind of against-all-odds storyline.
As far as game tie-in novels go, Rescue Run is pretty good. The overall story arc and themes were a bit too generic for my taste, but the writing is well executed. Certainly if you're interested in delving into the Star Realms universe, it's worth the read. ...more
Farthing starts as a murder mystery set among England's upper class in the 1940s. It's not long before it's clear that this is an alternate Great BritFarthing starts as a murder mystery set among England's upper class in the 1940s. It's not long before it's clear that this is an alternate Great Britain where peace was made with Hitler's Germany, the USA never entered the war, and Nazi Germany is still fighting against Russia. As the story progresses, a more complex set of intrigues are revealed, reaching into the upper levels of British government. This alternate Britain is moving slowly but surely to restrict the freedoms of Jews and homosexuals, becoming closer to fascist Germany.
I felt that the alternate-history aspect of Farthing started out rather slowly, with only small bits of information revealed outside the immediacy of the murder investigation. By the end of the book, though, the world was fairly well defined. I found myself looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy to see where Walton is going with this alternate world....more
I think Chambers has created an excellent second effort, but there's no denying that it's a very different story from her first book. Much smaller scoI think Chambers has created an excellent second effort, but there's no denying that it's a very different story from her first book. Much smaller scope, with focus on two main characters in what is largely a pair of coming-of-age stories. For me personally, A Closed and Common Orbit was a better read than The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I enjoyed both, but I prefer the second book's focus on fewer characters and concepts. Someone who enjoyed the larger scope of the first book might feel the opposite, though. In any event, I do hope Chambers keeps writing in this universe as it's a fun place to explore in whatever writing style.
The Philosopher Kings doesn't start immediately after the end of The Just City, but rather more than a decade later. There's no longer a single city oThe Philosopher Kings doesn't start immediately after the end of The Just City, but rather more than a decade later. There's no longer a single city on their island, but five different settlements that were established after the events that ended the first book. The reader learns what happened in the intervening time as the characters discuss or remember it. They also discover what happened to the group that left the island entirely.
More thoughts on the book at this post on my blog, but the bottom line is this - anyone who enjoyed The Just City should certainly read The Philosopher Kings....more