ETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is express...moreETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is expressed through innuendos, irony and sarcasm. So yes there is humor in the lines; we can either laugh or cry.
This book is primarily about Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (1796 – 1817). She was the only child of George, Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV. Her mother was Caroline of Brunswick. Had she not died in childbirth at the age of 21, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom. The book is about her troubled youth, her estranged mother and father and how she came to be married to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the first king of Belgium.
Charlotte's parents were constantly bickering, having affairs and using their daughter as a means of hurting each other. Her parents were hated by the English people. She was loved. One thing this book clearly demonstrates is the extent to which adulterous behavior, scandals and gossip infused royalty and the beginning of the 1800s. Had Charlotte not died, Queen Victoria would never have become Queen. The change in tone that Queen Victoria ushered in can only be understood if one is aware of what came before.
The book gives a good feel of those times and of who Charlotte was. Why she was who she was, and what she had to put up with!
The book zips through all the other members of the family and how Queen Victoria came to power. Zip is the word I want to emphasize. You get rapid summaries of the family tree and events. This is not in-depth and for my taste was way to superficial, but then this book is short and is primarily about Charlotte. I did love learning about her.
The narration by Jilly Bond was NOT to my liking. Charlotte sounds like a baby. All the voices were too exaggerated. Please, just read the text; I don't need all the dramatics! The speed with which the lines are read is rapid. (less)
Before starting this book I didn't want to delve into the details but wanted to understand why some reviewers say this is fiction and others classify...moreBefore starting this book I didn't want to delve into the details but wanted to understand why some reviewers say this is fiction and others classify it as non-fiction. Wiki to the rescue! I am only copying the relevant information that answers this question:
"Some critics consider Capote's work the original non-fiction novel, although other writers had already explored the genre, such as Rodolfo Walsh in Operación Masacre (1957). The book examines the complex psychological relationship between two parolees who together commit a mass murder. Capote's book also explores the lives of the victims and the effect of the crime on the community in which they lived. In Cold Blood is regarded by critics as a pioneering work of the true crime genre, though Capote was disappointed that the book failed to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Parts of the book, including important details, differ from the real events."
That last sentence explains it all. Now, to the book! And then, on completion, check out Wiki.
Crime books are generally not my cup of tea, but I am very glad I read this book. There is no general rule that cannot be broken. Even the court proceedings were clear, and such usually confuse/bore me. This book is interesting because it thoroughly studies the psychological underpinnings of the criminals, the people in the community where the crime took place and the victims. How all of these people felt and thought and interacted is the central theme of the book. This is what fascinated me.
The book is interesting in its analysis of what is insanity. All aspects of insanity are looked at. How does it arise? What forms can it take? When does/should insanity absolve one a crime?
Finally the book looks at capital punishment by describing particular crimes. Here are examples, not theories.
I have read that Capote spend six years studying the case. All the details are here, but what is exceptional is the fluidity of Capote's writing. These details are woven into a prose that is exciting and easy to follow. Every detail is essential. The reader is just begging for more and more and more details, you keep turning the pages to u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d the emotions the feelings and the thoughts of all involved. And nevertheless I never felt empathy for either Dick or Perry. No, I didn't. I do think by the end I understood what had happened and why. The answers are not all delivered on a platter; you have to think and consider where you stand and what YOU think.
Mixed in with the horrid events are sentences of exceptional beauty; when that happened it hit me with a punch.
Scott Brick narrates the audiobook. It is good except that his voice for women is well awfully masculine. This is not worth deterring you from the audio format. There are many more male characters than women.
This true crime story is well composed, lucid, exciting and will keep your head whirring.
This review is not a summary of the events discussed in the book itself. Instead read the book to learn of America’s expansion westward to the Pacific...moreThis review is not a summary of the events discussed in the book itself. Instead read the book to learn of America’s expansion westward to the Pacific in the middle of the 1800sand of fascinating details about Native American customs and beliefs!
The further you get into the story the better and better it gets.
Here is what I liked:
- The atrocities committed by both sides, those by the Indians and those by the conquering Americans, are presented without bias. - These atrocities are factually presented, but also in a moving, manner. - The events are supplemented with interesting details that add depth. - The atrocities committed upset the reader, and they should do just that. - The book both teaches and yet is not dry. - Learning about different Indian tribes and their respective customs was fascinating.
Here is what I had trouble with:
- Unexplained jumps are made between chapters which lead to confusion, maybe more so in an audiobook listening. Yes, you are soon straightened out, if you listen very carefully, but this is annoying. It demands both patience and sometimes rewinds. You can be thrown into a new chapter where you have no idea who the people are! - There is an abundant use of "maybes", "perhaps", "possibly", "it is thought", "it was said to have", "it must have"....and yet if the facts are not known for sure how else should the author express himself! Still, I didn’t enjoy this. - Sorry, but even Hampton Sides captivating prose, doesn't prevent me from falling asleep when listening to military stratagems. There are battles galore; they are NOT my favorite theme. - What exactly IS the central theme of the book? Is it a biography of Kit Carson(1809-1868)? Is it about the opening up of the West? Yes, to both of the above, but its central focus is the history of what happened in New Mexico during the Mexican War and the Civil War in relation to the Indians in this area, the Spanish settlers long residing in this same area and the invading Americans infused by their belief in “Manifest Destiny” - the land was theirs for the taking! The history is woven around Kit Carson’s role in both wars and in the subjugation of the Navajos. You definitely learn a lot of history and you leave the book with an unbiased, realistic understanding of who Kit Carson really was, not just the heroic figure of the "Blood and Thunder" dime novels so popular in the 1800s.
Don Leslie narrates the audiobook. His narration is clear and his tone attempts to enliven the battles with excitement. This works sometimes.
This is a heart-rending episode of American history, one that deserves to be read by all. In this book history is easily swallowed, yeah, maybe even the battles. The book is very, very good. I highly recommend it. What I loved most was learning about Native American beliefs and the gritty truth of the injustices/atrocities committed against them. (less)
There are books that are worth sticking with even if one's first impression isn't that favorable. This book is very, very good and I didn't think that...moreThere are books that are worth sticking with even if one's first impression isn't that favorable. This book is very, very good and I didn't think that way when I had read only 1/3.
The woman and her life, what she did, are amazing. I admire this woman, and I am no feminist. She was America's first feminist. She lived from 1810-1840. Where do I start to clearly explain why I liked this book so much? First, start by reading the book description above. It is accurate. Everything mentioned is well described, and in such a way that you truly get to know who that woman was and what life was like back then. Everybody reads about the first presidents, well here is delivered American life through women's eyes. She is a very well educated woman. Her thoughts are intellectual, philosophical and critical, all at once. Although she was well educated she too was restricted simply due to her gender. This book looks at literary thought (Goethe, Shelley, Wordsworth, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau and Greek myths too). How these writers thought and what they wrote is quoted and referred to in detail. Transcendentalism is a central them. Passion versus intellect is too. And history, the Siege of Rome in 1849 is excitingly depicted because Margaret was there then. She was both a governess and the New York Tribune's correspondent and pregnant all at the same time. Look at that year. 1849! What is also so very interesting is why she fell for an Italian who did not in any way fill all the requirements that she spoke of wanting in her "ideal man". And what would have happened if she had not died, but had lived to continue her work and raise her family back in New York. What would have happened then?
So, her life is fascinating. The history depicted is fascinating. The unanswered questions are extremely interesting to consider and discuss.
What bothered me to no end, mostly in the beginning, is how the author throws in quotes in practically every darn sentence. The language used isn't modern and at times it was troublesome to read and difficult to listen to. Think - lyrical, rhapsodic, too sentimental, exaggerated. Maybe it will appeal more to those who enjoy poetry, which I do not. But THEN, when Margaret is a foreign correspondent in Rome, her language becomes much clearer, because the lines are written for a different audience. It is clear; it is journalistic. Now all the quotes that the author throws in are darn interesting, and so well expressed! I listened to this book, and that did make it more difficult to exactly distinguish between those lines that were direct quotes and those that were the author's views, though only occasionally was this a problem. Although I wouldn't say the narrator is one of my favorites, she (Cynthia Barrett) did a pretty good job with a difficult manuscript.......given all those quotes.
Yes, I do highly recommend this book. Fascinating woman. The author makes her life and the events and the years she lived darn interesting. Go read the book description again. All is described in this book in an interesting manner.
ETA: I must be very clear so you understand exactly what bothered me in the beginning - the theoretical, lyrical and a bit sophomoric lines of this woman in her youth probably annoyed me. They hit you strongly because of all the quotes. I believe people who like poetic, lyrical lines may even like these early quotes.
2/3 of the way through: I am VERY glad I didn't give up on the book. It is exciting, it is interesting, and definitely worth reading. Now I cannot part from it.
I have listened to about 1/3 and here are my thoughts:
The woman and her life is very interesting, BUT so much is quoted the story feels like a conglomeration of facts rather than a thorough analysis of the person. I don't like how the book is written. I want the author to tell us how she interprets the facts, the lines drawn from letters and documents, the behavior, Margaret's choices. Sure, I like quotes because they show the source material, BUT this is excessive, disrupts the flow and the language used is hard to digest. And then I ask myself, cannot even quotes be misconstrued if you take them out of context......
The author doesn't even explain Transcendentalism. I went to Wiki for that.
I find the reading so frustrating, I have decided to read this AND another book at the same time, which is very unusual for me. I mean, she IS an interesting person so I don't want to quit the book, but I don't appreciate how it is written.
Typical that this won a prize (Pulitzer Biography 2014)....and I am not enthralled!
Remember, my rating is in no way a judgment of the suffering of those who lived through or died as a result of the events that occurred in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.Although it does feel wrong to give this book anything but five stars, my reaction to it was not one of pure love. Yes, I liked the book. It is an important book that needed to be written and should be read by all. It is a very clear description of exactly what happened that day to six Japanese people who lived through those events. The description is clear and concise and not emotional. It reads a as a research work. What happened? What would you have seen had you been there? That is what you get. It is very difficult reading, despite the absence of emotional involvement. None of the stories are presented in the first person. It reads as - he did that and he saw this.
The book then follows what happened in the days, weeks, months and years after that day. Living through that day changed all those who survived. It is important to lo look beyond the event itself and look at how it changed forever the lives of those who survived. It is important to look at how the Japanese government reacted, how they helped/didn't help the survivors.
All the facts of the people's lives are here, but some of the facts are not presented in a manner that can be comprehended. Some are pure statistics. One example being a salary is stated in yen or USD. I wanted to know what that salary bought then and there, not the monetary value. Some of the details were simply facts that I could not relate to.
This is a short book and only covers a few individuals, albeit individuals that represent what many other individuals experienced. It is important, but limited in scope. It is clear that the author wants to say that human beings do not learn from the past. One country after another developed its own atomic weapons and then huge arsenals. Clearly the author wants us to realize by this we have learned nothing, and unfortunately I must agree. Still a more in-depth discussion of the arms race wouldn't have been out of place, but that was not the aim of this book. Its scope is to follow just a few individual. It is important that the details revealed in this book are known. (less)