Some aspects of this book were wonderful. Other aspects left me stone-cold. I think it is a good book and definitely worth reading, so I gave it threeSome aspects of this book were wonderful. Other aspects left me stone-cold. I think it is a good book and definitely worth reading, so I gave it three stars. I very much appreciate both its factual content and the in-depth portrayal of the author, Carolyn.
This is a book very much aimed at those with a strong religious faith, which I do not have. Throughout the entire book hymns and bible verses and psalms are quoted, as well as speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. Quotes make up a significant portion of the book. Given their historic content, hearing parts of these speeches was always interesting. The concluding theme of the book is that we must seek reconciliation and forgive those who have harmed us. The entire epilogue of about a half hour was a proselytizing sermon. I turned it off; the remaining 20 minutes I didn't listen to. I just could not take it anymore.
What I liked, and that which explains why I can still give this book three stars, is that the reader is given a moving and at the same time very clear eye witness account of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. A seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. In the rest of this paragraph I recount the events, so stop here if you want no spoiler. The four girls killed in the bombing were the author's friends. She spoke with them in the girls’ restroom minutes before the explosion. Leaving them, she mounted stairs that seconds later were disintegrated. After the explosion she frantically looked everywhere for her two younger brothers whom she had accompanied to the church and for whom she was responsible. Carolyn was then fourteen years old. Her account doesn't end there. After the event she was given no psychological guidance, contrary to current practices. Nothing from her parents, nothing from medically trained personnel, nothing from anybody. Silence, not only after the bombing itself but also in the following years. Eventually her psychological trauma became so intense she did seek help. You follow what happens to her two brothers. You follow the community's and the nation's response. You come to understand how her whole world collapsed with that bombing, and there were more bombings, another in the following year across the street from her home. All hope was placed in President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and then Bobby Kennedy. All were assassinated. I comprehend how the church was her entire world. The events are emotional, heartrending but clear and concise. In 2002, almost forty years after the bombing she was forced to relive it all again in trial proceedings; she was subpoenaed to testify on behalf of the accused!
The book follows the course of the author’s life until publishing this book in 2011.
The historical facts are clearly presented. The telling is moving. The statistics presented are relevant, simple to comprehend and they say volumes.
The audiobook is narrated by Felicia Bullock. It is movingly read. She reads very slowly, much of the time extremely slowly, particularly when she wishes to impart the gravity of the events. She sings the hymns. She has a lovely, strong base voice.
So I am very glad I read this. I understand the woman. Even if I don't have religious faith myself, I do understand hers. The history is well documented. ...more
Well, I can say one thing - I was about to dump this because it so pulled me apart. I felt I couldn't stand being so emotionally torHaving just begun:
Well, I can say one thing - I was about to dump this because it so pulled me apart. I felt I couldn't stand being so emotionally torn. Then it flipped and had me smiling and laughing. So of course I continue. This is what I want from a book. I want to feel and I want to think and I want to be happy and sad.
OK, now I have probably jinxed the book by saying I like it a lot....
I continued to enjoy this book to the very end, and I liked the ending. Happy? Sad? I am not going to say.
So what happens in this novel? A black woman just shy of 40 years returns to her homeland to discover that her mother has breast cancer. There is a lot to think about - relationships between daughter and mother and father and between spouses, adultery, race, colonialism and culture or what makes you drawn to a particular place. What makes a place feel safe? What makes home home? And of course illness and mortality. The book provides food for thought.
The reason why I liked the book so much was that the issues delved into were portrayed both realistically and with feeling. How is it that mothers and daughters constantly bicker and taunt and compete and challenge each other? Yet there is love too. Look what husbands and wives do to each other. The dialogs felt genuine. How is the line drawn between modesty, privacy and intimacy? Between independence, self-sufficiency and helping someone. The book is all about how we relate to other human beings, as part of a family, part of a community, as an immigrant in a new country or as an employer to an employee, across race, class and geographical boundaries.
I believe the book is set in Trinidad, although this is not stated. This is where the author is from and as the island is described it just had to be this Caribbean island, oil in the south and mountains in the north. Beautiful lines that capture emotions, behavior and scenery. Plants and colors and night skies and food and clothing. The lines read as prose poetry. And as I mentioned, great dialogs.
The author narrates her own book. Her tongue is from the island, and I liked this. She did pronounce the "th" sound, because Anna could do this. She is the main character, the Acquisition Editor at a publishing house in New York, a publishing house promoting people of color. That the word "her" is softened into "hur" simply adds a touch of authenticity to the story. You feel like you are on the island. Yes, very good narration and nice and slow. You can listen and think.
I recommend this book for its writing, for its character portrayal and for how it draws you in letting you think about what Anna is thinking about. Anna, where do you belong? ...more
A clear and concise presentation of Malcolm Little, more widely known as Malcolm X or el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, American Muslim minister and human rigA clear and concise presentation of Malcolm Little, more widely known as Malcolm X or el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, American Muslim minister and human rights activist. Born in 1925. Assassinated in 1965. It records his entire life from the burning of his house at the age of four, his father's early support of Marcus Garvey, his self-destructive youth, his 6.5 years in prison, conversion to Islam, his work with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, his mind-altering experiences in Mecca in 1964 and finally his assassination in 1965. Not only his life but also the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s is outlined step by step. Very well done.
The audiobook narration by Jay Snyder was exceptional. Slow, clear and easy to follow.
Everybody knows about the famous Brown versus Board of Education case (1954) where the Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate publicEverybody knows about the famous Brown versus Board of Education case (1954) where the Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.
This book covers the earlier Sweet Trials of 1925 and 1926. Here the focus is instead housing/residential segregation. Ossian Sweet (1895 – 1960) was a black American physician who bought a home in a white residential area in Detroit, Michigan. Through armed self-defense he attempted to protect his newly purchased home against a mob trying to force him out. (view spoiler)[Ossian Sweet, as well as his wife, brother, cousin and friends who all tried to help him defend his property, were acquitted of murder charges by an all-white jury. (hide spoiler)] There were two trials. James Weldon Johnson, general secretary of the NAACP, was able to interest the famed defense lawyer Clarence Darrow to take charge of the defense. Darrow's closing statement lasted over seven hours. It is seen as a landmark in the Civil Rights movement and was included in the book Speeches That Changed the World. The presiding judge was Justice Frank Murphy. He later became the Governor of Michigan and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
The book covers the trials in detail. Every aspect of them - the picking of the juries, the prosecutor, the witnesses, i.e. the history of all involved. The book is thorough, well researched and unbiased. You are given not half but all details of relevance. Ossian's youth, marriage and struggles to become a doctor are meticulously detailed; to understand his actions you need to understand his personality. I do not think any of the details provided were extraneous; however it is important to know before you pick the book up that the book is detailed and is not for those who want merely a quick summary.
The individuals’ lives after the trial are summarized. What happened later was very interesting.
The audiobook is narrated by Lizan Mitchell. She gives an absolutely perfect presentation. It can be hard to listen to trials details and court proceedings in an audiobook. There are so many individuals to follow. The book gives just enough repetition, allowing the listener to easily keep track of all involved. There are memorable quotes from the proceedings; they are moving told.
This book is excellently executed. I cannot give it anything but four stars, but if you want merely a quick summary, then I would not recommend it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am annoyed - a bad end to a bad book. I wrote a review and somehow lost it before saving it! Here follows a second try.
Wordy, confusing and boring.I am annoyed - a bad end to a bad book. I wrote a review and somehow lost it before saving it! Here follows a second try.
Wordy, confusing and boring. Those are the three adjectives I would use to describe this book. Simplistic too.
My biggest complaint is the wordiness. Was Faulkner taking part in a contest to see who could come up with the most synonyms for each word? Someone should count how many times "or" is found in this book. Faulkner begins with an oblique statement, and then it is repeated umpteen times with other words so that the meaning is hammered into the reader. This bored me and started putting me to sleep.
The plot is straightforward and simple. Faulkner uses none of his complicated literary techniques typical of his other novels. Nevertheless, I think he likes to confuse. Why does he never say something once, simply? There is a plot twist at the end that threw me.
So what is the theme of the book? It is a coming of age story, set in 1905 in Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. An adventure story spread over four days. Lucius Priest, a pampered white eleven-year-old, the story’s main character, learns the difference between the real world and the ideal world taught to him by his elders. What we are told and the way it really is. That is it in a nutshell. The four days start with the stealing of a car, followed by the crossing of a muddy creek, betting, horse races, a bordello and of course prostitutes. (Reivers means the stealers!). Yet the story is so innocent, the message so cute. Too cute. Honestly, I think the book is more appropriate for kids. It says nothing to an adult.
It draws for me a rather tame picture of the South in 1905.
The audiobook narration by John H. Mayer was easy to follow, yet I detested his intonation of Ned McCaslin's "hee-hee-hee". Ned is black. He plays a central role. The intonation made him sound stupid, and he wasn't stupid at all!
The truth? I don't know what to say about this book. It speaks of people and events I don't know of. It is written in a language I have difficulty conThe truth? I don't know what to say about this book. It speaks of people and events I don't know of. It is written in a language I have difficulty connecting to.
Much is unclear.
Parts are repetitive.
It is unstructured.
Such anguish and fear!
A personal letter from the author to his fifteen year old son. (Really????!)
ETA: The author is a poet. For me the topics covered are better explained through bare facts. The poetic lines do not clarify. Of course, poetry is all about emotions, and that is important too. ...more
I sat glued to the audiobook narrated by the author himself. He is easy to understand, even if he does read it a bit quickly. HE knows who is who butI sat glued to the audiobook narrated by the author himself. He is easy to understand, even if he does read it a bit quickly. HE knows who is who but I have to be given time to learn that. The speed, but only in the beginning, was difficult. He reads with feeling, and THAT is good. Here is an unselfish man with empathy.
I emigrated from the US in the 70s, so this book filled me in on what has happened to the justice system since then....... Shocking! Justice? Is there any justice left? Justice only for wealthy, educated and employed Whites. I didn't realize the situation was this bad.
While reading, still at the beginning: I am enjoying this a lot. At the same time I am upset. Why? Because the audibook includes a PDF file with moreWhile reading, still at the beginning: I am enjoying this a lot. At the same time I am upset. Why? Because the audibook includes a PDF file with more than 400 photos. What is VERY annoying is that the PDF file does not work correctly. I can only see 12 photos, and these photos I know now were not part of this book. Audible says they will fix it, but when? I was told that others have run into the same problem. This is a warning to other readers. As you listen the author tells you to look at particular photos and I cannot do that. :0( Make sure you have access to all the photos/pictures before you start listening to the audiobook.
Even without the photos I very much appreciate the book, but knowing that I should be able to see them annoys me to no end.
On completion: Well, finally I have seen all the photos. They are half of the book; the lines are woven around them. You cannot judge the book without access to them! Unfortunately I was able to see them only after hearing the entire audiobook. You should look at the pictures as you listen, not afterwards. I was going to give the book three stars before I saw the photos, but now having seen them I feel that "the whole" is worth at least four stars. One's whole perception is altered. What are the photos of? Of course Sally Mann's photography, but not just that. You see photos of her ancestors, her parents and her g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s kids. Her beloved black nanny Gee-Gee, her father's black nanny (Look, this is a Southern family!), letters, children's drawings, dogs, report cards, disciplinary notes, art work and more. You see real life. Art and "photography as art" is best when its subject matter is real life. Sally Mann thinks that, and so do I. The photos and the lines of text explaining them hold the book together.
There is one very simple reason why I REALLY liked this book, and again I see this best having now viewed the pictures, Sally and I are born in the same year (1951). Same clothes, same "country life", same hairstyles, same mannerisms. I remember those times, and the photos bring it all back in spades. There is one photo there of her that when my husband saw it, exclaimed, but that looks just like YOU, meaning me! Remember, I mentioned the hairstyles. My brother was into black and white photography and there is one pose that is amazingly similar. You see that time in sharp focus. There is more that I recognize. Her honest portrayal of her own life, the wonder of it along with the vomit and heartbreak, feels like my own life. ….even if I never lived in the South! Her mother comes from Boston. Her father from Texas. She grew up in Virginia but went to boarding school on the East Coast. Her parents valued a good education. This is a given in the world she came from. At the same time she is a free spirit. Or let's be blunt - she is naughty, she is mischievous. She rode horses; she was a "tom girl" at heart. She is a person who adores the country, rural life over an urban milieu. She sees its beauty. There is even more. I feel a kindred spirit in what she was trying to express through her photography, with her honesty, with all her questions. She, like I, do not always have to get answers, but love the whole process of looking for answers, not to get them but to look for them. Does that make sense? This book does not provided finished answers to the questions posed. This doesn’t bother me.
I adore Sally Mann's photography. In this book she looks with us at some of her photos, her successes and some of the "failures". She explains what she thinks has gone wrong, and every darn time I nodded. Exactly! She, like I, don't think art should be analyzed. Either you see it or you don't. People don't necessarily react in the same way. Oh, and about the uproar that the naked photos of her children caused - utterly ridiculous! I was in Sweden then. My kids ran around naked at, yes, public beaches. Women were topless at public beaches then, at least in Sweden. For God's sake she and her kids were all alone on their own property, in the woods, in a river with not a soul for miles and miles! What a hullabaloo about nothing. Didn't people see the spirit of the children, their natural beauty and their dignity? Look at the head, the jut of the chin, the eyes. Capturing that is art in its purest form. She thanks her children for creating these masterpieces with her. She understood and they understood too that they were creating art. Together. In this book, she thanks her children, but I also think what a gift she has given her children by working with them.
The book isn't perfect.....but almost. ;0) The topics covered are, beside art, the biography of her family, the South, race and death/mortality. She doesn't attempt to give you a biographic summary of every one in her family, only those closest to her, her father and his grandfather b/c those two were so similar. These three are peas in a pod. That is why in the book description the topic of genetic predetermination comes up! I find nature versus nurture question a fascinating topic! Race is covered best as she critically questions her own behavior and her parents' treatment of her nanny, Gee-Gee. Did she love Gee-Gee and did Gee-Gee love her? Definitely. What about the love between her and her father and her mother too? This is so honestly portrayed. How often is it that you can pick up an autobiography and get the truth! Ooops, that is more praise, but what doesn't quite work is the spread of the topics covered. There is a bit too much. Her theme of looking at "the South" could have been cut. She also has an "exciting episode" that even if it did happen it feels as though it is there to attract readers. Look at the second paragraph of the book description. That whole paragraph could have been eliminated, but it is there to attract readers. This episode could be seen as a thread twined into the topic of death and mortality, but it's weak. Its real purpose is for excitement.
The writing - it's oblique, more often allusive than blunt. She refers to artists and authors and books and singers and the trends of her time. You must be able to snap them up immediately in order to understand the point made, to understand the innuendos. Particularly when listening to the audiobook. The author narrates the book herself. Sometimes, to catch the significance of what she is implying, a little slower speed would have been good, but this is not a serious complaint. She does a good narration.
One more thing. This is a new kind of audiobook. Sure, I have run into audiobooks with a PDF file, but never have so many pictures been provided. A wonderful new trend!!!!
IF I had had access to the photos as I read the book, I might very well have given this five stars.
Audible gave me a credit as compensation. I think that was kind of them! ...more
BEFORE READING: I am very curious how I will react..... I gave To Kill a Mockingbird(TKAM) five stars, but I am NOT afraid of Atticus loosing his paradBEFORE READING: I am very curious how I will react..... I gave To Kill a Mockingbird(TKAM) five stars, but I am NOT afraid of Atticus loosing his paradigm status.
Different thoughts are circling in my head before I even pick the book up. This is about Atticus and Scout in the years after TKAM. However, since GSAW was written first and the two were not originally intended as a "series", is it fair for the reader to judge the books together, as a unit, as more information about the same characters? I think I have to see the books as separate. Will this be possible? I must not look for answers in one book to questions that arise in another. I am trying to go into this book with fresh eyes.
The book as a whole feels unfinished, not worked through enough, in relation to its - characters - ending - title - nor its message, that is to say its central theme.
On the positive side, it shines in its depiction of a time and place. Provincial Alabama in the 50s. Three stars is a book worth reading, and I am very glad to have read this simply to have slipped again into Harper Lee's fictional Maycomb Junction, which we all know from her famed To Kill a Mockingbird. The lines are best when Lee is describing the earlier years in flashbacks. It isn't at all surprising that Lee was originally told by the publisher to go back and rework these years. The words of Scout and Jem and dear, dear Calpurnia sparkle.
In this book the main story is set at a later date, when Scout, now more appropriately called Jean Louise, is twenty-six and living in New York. She has returned home for a visit to Maycomb and family. Atticus, her father, is now seventy-two and seriously handicapped by arthritis. His sister, Alexandra, takes care of him. There is a conflict between Jean Louise and her father. Jean Louise is, as she has always been, outspoken and opinionated about.... well everything and everyone! Not just her father. She NEVER got along with Alexandra! Her words now become in places a bit of a rant. I happen to agree with her views, but she is only twenty-six and has not yet become emotionally independent. That is the central theme of this book. Isn't it a shock when you realize your parents are not Gods?
You can see how one book grew from the other, but there are numerous loose ends in Go Set a Watchman(GSAW). There isn't enough in this book. You need the depth that was there in the earlier book to understand the characters. The themes are different, or let's say more focused in To Kill a Mockingbird on one issue - racial inequality and doing the right thing.
One word about the ending. It is bad. It is too quick. Again, more is needed to make it plausible. It could happen, but not as it is described here.
The narration by Reese Witherspoon was exemplary! Fantastic. The southern dialect superb. The young voices and the older characters sounded pitch perfect. The characters' personalities were wonderfully reflected in the tempo and the voice intonations. ...more
I have no doubt that extensive research lies behind this book. I do not doubt its accuracy. It is filled with details about the growth of antislaveryI have no doubt that extensive research lies behind this book. I do not doubt its accuracy. It is filled with details about the growth of antislavery organizations, but as the book clearly states the Underground Railroad was in reality an "umbrella association" of independent, sometimes competing groups which very much relied on the efforts of single individuals. It was not controlled from the top. The book focuses upon the antislavery proponents that lived in New York. This is partially explained by the fact that New York was home to the North's largest free black community, but New York plays such a prominent role that this should be indicated in the title. In addition the Underground Railroad was not hidden; everyone knew of it. The title is misleading, and it implies that you will be given a more exciting story than what is delivered.
The book description goes on to say that "...the city s underground-railroad agents helped more than 3,000 fugitive slaves reach freedom between 1830 and 1860. Until now, their stories have remained largely unknown..." The central focus of this book is not the plight of these fugitives. Their stories are primarily collected in one chapter, chapter seven, near the book's end. No, the main focus is instead a plethora of historical details of the growth of the movement, its weak organization, its factional divisions, its agents, funding and slavery’s ties with business. Relevant laws and to what extent they were actually enforced, court proceedings and supportive publications are covered in detail. The book is rather dry.
The book lacks structure. It would be easier to remember all the laws, fugitive cases, leaders and controversies if the text had been better organized into a more cohesive structure. The details become a jumble in my head. There are quotes that are of little importance and other superfluous information too. Better editing please.
So the Underground Railroad saved about 3 to 4000 fugitives, the numbers being extremely hard to verify, but the slave population was 4 million* in the South. 0.1 % benefited. Of course it was still important, but it was weakly organized and depended to a very large extent on the efforts of private individuals. All of this is good to know.
The narration of the audiobook, by J. D. Jackson, was clear and easy to follow, as long as I didn't fall asleep.
Now I am going to read Twelve Years a Slave. It will be good to understand the laws and conditions of life in the antebellum era as a background to the more personal tale of the second book.
*ETA: Thought I should mention that the 40 million figure is not found in the book by Foner! My source is instead the book Capital in the Twenty-First Century byThomas Piketty. On page 159 one can read the following: "By 1860 the proportion of slaves in the overall population of the United States had fallen to around 15 percent (about 4 million slaves in a total population of 30 million), owing to rapid population growth in the North and West. In the South, however, the proportion remained at 40%: 4 million slaves and 6 million whites for a total population of 10 million." ...more