I found the topics discussed to be all too simplified. The themes are life, death and friendship as well as how modern life is a threat to the traditiI found the topics discussed to be all too simplified. The themes are life, death and friendship as well as how modern life is a threat to the traditions and culture of the First Nation people in Canada.
Through the author's writing I did not perceive the beauty of the land. Nature writing is a theme I enjoy, but I personally didn't find it here. The language is flat.
A character in the book is to die, and the way this is treated is not direct enough for me. Heap on the problems. Don’t give me the solution; that I will figure out myself.
Religion is presented in a balanced manner.
The audiobook narration is not hard to follow, but I would have preferred less theatrics in the telling. I didn’t particularly enjoy the sing-song tone.
I quite simply was not the right reader for this book. I don’t want life simplified. I prefer being shown life’s complexities. I am not looking for easy answers, and that is how they are drawn in this book. Maybe, for a young adult, the book can be used as a lesson for living. ...more
Shortly before D-Day (June 6, 1944) the author's grandfather, a military journalist writing for widely read German military magazines such as Signal aShortly before D-Day (June 6, 1944) the author's grandfather, a military journalist writing for widely read German military magazines such as Signal and Die Wehrmacht, interviewed soldiers stationed along the Atlantic Wall. A decade later he tracked down some of the troops he had visited and spoke again with those he had interviewed. Then, in the following year 1955, he died. Holger Eckhertz has assembled his grandfather’s material and presents it here in this book. We are given interviews with five men, one from each of the five beach landings (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword), which constituted the Normandy invasion.
These are eyewitness accounts from German soldiers and officers who fought on D-Day and were lucky enough to survive. The author’s grandfather posed questions and the men replied.
Here follow some of the questions posed: 1. Did you feel an invasion was imminent? 2. What do you recall of the events of the day, June 6th? 3. How did the day develop and end for you? 4. Were you involved in the combat? 5. Was this the first time you had been in hand-to-hand combat? 6. What was the experience of being under flame-thrower attacks like? 7. What were your emotions? 8. Were you confident of victory? 9. What were your relations like with the French? 10. What medical help was available? 11. What happened after D-Day? 12. How did you feel having been captured and taken as prisoner? 13. How were you treated as a prisoner?
The replies are frank, clear, concise and very, very explicit. No wishy-washy answers ever!
The five interviews are followed by a short postscript summarizing conclusions that can be drawn. The Germans were highly motivated; clearly German propaganda had succeeded. They felt they were defending a “United Europe” under Reich leadership against invaders. Surprise was what they felt when confronted by Allied troops’ aggression and determination. It was lack of resources that led to their inability to defend the Atlantic Wall. Luck determined if you lived or died.
The audiobook is very well narrated by P.J. Ochlan. He employs a German accent that is crisp and clear, though I could not decipher the names of French towns.
I am not giving this more than three stars because at times I found it difficult to follow. For two reasons. It is not exactly pleasant to read descriptive renditions of battle. Secondly, I have a limited military vocabulary so I had trouble with some of the terms employed. The book does not go into military tactics, and this I did appreciate.
I am glad I read the book. Now I know what has happened in the bunkers I see on the walks I take along the beaches in France. What is told leaves sharp vivid pictures I will not soon forget....more
Not a bad book, but not what I was looking for. I didn't realize to what extent the book would focus upon sexuality, AIDS and abused individuals. EvenNot a bad book, but not what I was looking for. I didn't realize to what extent the book would focus upon sexuality, AIDS and abused individuals. Even ordinary people, people with less serious problems than those studied in this book, are troubled by loneliness, lack of communication and meaningful contact with others.
The author wanted to get a handle on the loneliness she felt when her partner left her. She was in her mid-thirties and she felt utterly alone, alone in NYC. We are told that she was raised in a lesbian family, but we are not told the sex of her partner. While this is a memoir of sorts, it has in fact very little specific information about the author. You may ask what sex has to do with all of this. I mention sex only because in this book it plays a central role. Sex is a key component of the entire book. Another book on loneliness might focus more on age, on one’s ethnic background, on physical or psychological disabilities and less on sex.
The author looks at four artists: Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967), Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987), David Wojnarowicz (1954 – 1992) and Henry Darger (1892 – 1973). She states that the loneliness they felt affected their art. She does not make the claim that art can be seen as a means to remedying one’s feeling of loneliness, isolation or alienation. Why these four artists? Hopper because his paintings reflect a sense of separation between individuals. Take one glance at his painting Nighthawks and you see this. Here is a link: https://www.google.fr/search?q=nighth.... Those he paints are not communicating with one another, there are no crowds and we observe through a window. Asked if his paintings are meant to express loneliness Hopper’s reply was ambiguous. Perhaps subconsciously, is the most we can get for an answer. The other three are LGBT artists, thus sharing common ground with the author’s own background. They all are from urban environments, NYC for three and Chicago for Darger. Their lives and their art forms are reviewed. All share problems relating to sexual, physical and/or mental disabilities and abuse. Yet regardless of the similarities that do exist, each one’s art is completely different from the others’. I don’t see any revolutionary conclusions that can be drawn from the study, except maybe one – that society must take an active role toward abolishing sexual discrimination and it must actively work toward helping the weak, the mentally disabled, the poor and those physically and sexually abused. It doesn’t say all that much about loneliness though, and that is what I thought was to be the central focus of the book! For me the book has a political message rather than a philosophical one.
The author queried how it could be possible to be lonely when living in an urban environment. This was for me self-evident. We all know that one can be alone in the middle of a crowd. Just because one has people around it doesn’t mean there is communication.
I cannot say I necessarily agree with all the ideas the author proposes on art, on loneliness or on social media. I grant that her ideas can be used as a starting point for further discussions.
I suppose the book might have engaged me more if I had loved the art of the artists described. Hopper’s I like but the others do little for me.
A word about the writing, the prose, the lines. If I say the writing is excellent, and it is, I don’t mean that it is lyrical. It is instead lucid, coherent, expressive and utterly clear.
The audiobook is narrated by Zara Ramm. Her reading is fluid. What is said flows into your head and you completely understand. You feel as though you are thinking the thoughts yourself, but the speed is so rapid you get exhausted and it is necessary to take breaks. You are left no time to think on your own. I prefer a slower speed. Let me point out that my view of the narration has not influenced my rating of the book.
Even if there are commonalities between the different artists, the book lacks cohesion. It is neither a memoir about the author, nor does it provide complete biographies on the four artists and I do not see how this book has helped the author resolve her own sense of loneliness. If it has, she has not explained how. It does make a political statement, mentioned above in the third paragraph.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
I would categorize the author as an expert on his home state, Florida. He has written ten booksI received this book in exchange for an honest review.
I would categorize the author as an expert on his home state, Florida. He has written ten books all of which are about Florida. He is currently a news and features writer for the Palm Beach Post in Palm Beach County, of course in Florida.
The central focus of this book is the Hurricane of 1928 that hit Guadeloupe (Sept 12), Puerto Rico (Sept 13/14), the Bahamas (Sept 15) and then Florida (Sept 16). Having struck West Palm Beach, it continued inland flooding the land bordering Okeechobee Lake where it was most destructive killing large numbers of poor, black, migrant farm workers before heading north passing by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Finger Lakes north of Toronto and finally petering out in Ontario, Canada. This cyclone remains one of the three Atlantic hurricanes to strike the southern mainland of Florida with a central pressure below 940 mbar (27.76 inHg), by which the ferocity of the storms are most commonly measured. The other two were the 1926 Miami hurricane and Hurricane Andrew of 1992. The different methods by which these storms are measured and categorized are fully covered.
The 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane claimed most likely 2500-3000 lives and is judged to be the second-deadliest hurricane in United States history. A south-blowing wind caused a lake surge of 6 to 9 feet to overflow the lake's inadequate dikes. The land was flooded for hundreds of square miles, survivors and dead bodies eventually deposited in the Everglades. Many were unidentifiable. Discrimination against the black and the poor being what it was in the South in the 20s and given the numbers killed, authorities simply were not up to the task of providing proper burial. Mass graves where Whites were separated from Blacks were as good as it got.
The book is extensively researched, but I never felt I was drowned in dry facts. I was given information I needed to know to understand what happened.
The flooding around Okeechobee Lake is the setting for the conclusion of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. An entire chapter focuses on the author’s life, the book and how it came to be written. This is just one of the many examples of the author’s extensive research. It is the depth of the research that makes the book so interesting.
This storm affected the lives of many, many people. To make the telling something a reader can emotionally relate to it is helpful to focus on a smaller, limited group. This the author does. The book begins by introducing those that we will meet up with later as we follow the storm’s path. The book ends by telling us what has happened to those that survived and of the descendants of those who perished.
At the book’s end is a chronological summary of the events as they unfolded. Also a listing of statistics, such as deaths, injured and damages.
The audiobook is very well narrated by Lee Ann Howlett. She reads clearly and steadily in an even, stable tone. As she gets into the telling it improves. It feels as though she comes to stride, she gathers strength and knows what she is speaking of. This is simply the feeling I got! She is immersed in the events and tells them to the listener step by step so all will become clear....more
If you haven't read Sebastian Barry you should at least try one. You should read him to experience his prose. You should read him because he capturesIf you haven't read Sebastian Barry you should at least try one. You should read him to experience his prose. You should read him because he captures Ireland and what it is to be Irish.
This is my second novel by the author, having given A Long Long Way five stars. A Long Long Way focuses on WW1 and the failed Easter Uprising of 1916, set before the Republic of Ireland came into being. Much was promised to the Irish soldiers and so little delivered. Independence came not until 1922.
The Temporary Gentleman is set in 1957, after both world wars and after Irish independence. The central character, Jack McNulty, is in Accra, Ghana, a former British colony, and it was in this year the Gold Coast gained independence and became Ghana. In his mid-fifties, he is looking back on his life. This is his story. He’s an engineer, an expert on bridge construction, explosives and defusing bombs then later a UN observer. A husband and a father. Some of his dealings are shady. Was he involved in gun-running when stationed in Togo? His travels and his jobs and drink, they are for him escape. Escape from what? He is writing a memoir. Maybe by writing he will come to understand who he is and why and what he would like to change. How do we change in our own eyes and in others? He writes of his past, of his wife and of his children. How is it that we hurt those we love most? The book is both a personal story of one individual’s struggle with life and marriage as well as an observation of how we are a product of our culture. Who is Jack foremost? Gentleman or bastard? British or Irish? Or a bit of each. Land, culture, language, religion and history separate and bind the English and the Irish. What has this done to the Irish people?
The prose is stellar. Simply beautiful lines, often melancholic in tone. Lines of subtle meaning that make you think. Lines for contemplation rather than definitive answers.
The telling switches between the past and the present, but one is never confused. The past and the present are intertwined; the past has shaped who Jack is now. What will the future hold? We are abruptly told at the very end. I like the ending.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Frank Grimes. Easy to follow and told in an Irish dialect. It is very well read....more
I am going to start by advising against choosing the audiobook narrated by Maggie Ollerenshaw. Her narration got between me and the author’s words. II am going to start by advising against choosing the audiobook narrated by Maggie Ollerenshaw. Her narration got between me and the author’s words. I found myself listening to the intonation rather than the specific words. I became confused about who was talking. There is a lot of dialog, and colloquialisms abound. On one hand this is good because such augments the atmosphere, but at times I failed to understand what was inferred. The intonation enhances this problem; in dialogs words are too often slurred, indistinct, mumbled or exclaimed. Probably this was done to make the dialect accurate, to show how people really would say the words, but I needed to hear those words so I could comprehend the text! Anyhow, I did end up understanding what happened, but the struggle annoyed me. The author also does not move forward chronologically. The two together added to my confusion.
I like the author's manner of writing. I am speaking of the dialog and the intermediary prose. The sentences are short and abrupt; they often leave you with the sense that more is being said than the words themselves. I like this because it is up to you to fill in the meaning. The dialogs feel genuine. This is how people talk! Innuendos lie under the surface and the reader must determine what is implied. How one talks is not how one writes! Both must be mastered to achieve success in a novel. The characters in this book are from different social groups and you hear this in how they express themselves. I like this too.
Jane Gardam wonderfully depicts different social groups and the atmosphere of a time and place. Here it is British provincial life between the two wars. This she does to a tee. I have filed this under historical fiction, not because it tells history but rather because it so well mirrors the life style of a group of people set in time and place. The effects of World War I lie as a blanket over all that follows. Later the book shifts forward in time and we see how all that happened in the story has shaped the future too. I like the continuity of this.
The book, through its plot and what the character say, leaves a message. Every book has to have something to say, right? Well, I like what it says, not that I can necessarily live as it says one should. (view spoiler)[A person need not fully understand all that has happened; sometimes it is better to let the past lie. Move on in life; don’t dwell in the past. (hide spoiler)] It leaves a message you can remind yourself of. It is something to think about. It is not hammered in.
Religion can be pushed to an extreme. A religious person might focus more on this theme, but I would widen the idea to say that most anything can be pushed to an extreme.
I am unsure to what extent the narration of the audiobook has distracted me and thus has influenced my rating of the book. I try to separate the two but am unsure if I have succeeded here. I have given the book three stars, but the narration only two. Two because I understood most of that which was said, but it detracted from my appreciation of the author’s lines.
The books I have read by Jane Gardam in order of appreciation:
I enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacI enjoyed the first half quite a bit, the latter half much less. I am rating the book, not the man, and my rating only expresses how I personally reacted to the book! I am of the 21st century.
This is an autobiography and it is published long ago - in 1900! Booker T. Washington lived from 1856-1915. He was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. The exact year of his birth is not known. Some say 1856; he guesses maybe 1858 or 1859. Neither can we identify his father; the guess is he was white. During the Reconstruction Booker was still a youth. He worked at a corn mill and later in a coal mine, got himself educated at Hampton Institute, became a teacher, an author, an orator particularly famed for his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech and even met with President McKinley. He founded the Tuskegee Institute, a black college in Alabama. He received a Master of Arts Honorary Degree from Harvard in 1896. Clearly this is a man worth acclaim and a man of which it is interesting to learn a bit about.
It was the description of his life as a slave and the first years following the Declaration of Emancipation that captivated me. The small details, like not knowing where to sleep when given two sheets, like picking a surname, like never sitting down to a meal or how it feels to wear a flax shirt. Getting an education at Hampton Institute was quite an ordeal, but he was determined. I was rooting for him.
Much of this book is devoted to Booker’s philosophizing. I admire the man and his moral fortitude. I admire the importance he lays on self-reliance. I agree with his belief in the dignity of physical labor. I agree that education must be accomplished through use of one's hands, head and heart. I agree that those who are happiest do the most for others. I agree that more can be achieved through praise than through criticism. I do think he had a knack for saying things elegantly.
However, as Booker works toward establishing the Tuskegee Institute he has to convince others to donate, to contribute funds. He did in fact get money from Andrew Carnegie. He had the strong belief that given the facts, benefactors would contribute to the cause. The book begins to sound like a promotional sales pitch, and he repeats the same moral dicta over and over and over again. I do agree with much of what he says, but it became a preachy, repetitive rant and so exaggeratedly optimistic. (He states the KKK had disappeared!) Maybe in 1900 people could still be optimistic? I don’t know. Anyhow, at book’s end I was totally fed up! Was the latter half of the book written for the purpose of impressing others of his accomplishments and so more donations?!
The audiobook is narrated by Noah Waterman. The recording sound sometimes echoes and changes volume, but I could understand the spoken words. Neither bad, nor spectacular....more
I listened to this during a long car trip and repeatedly I was amazed at the knowledge of the author, the interesting details, the comprehensiveness aI listened to this during a long car trip and repeatedly I was amazed at the knowledge of the author, the interesting details, the comprehensiveness and depth of the writing. What flashed through my head on several occasions was: I dare you to read this and not be amazed, not be impressed with the author’s knowledge on absolutely everything related to Istanbul. So yes, I judge the book to be amazing.
This book is about Istanbul from prehistoric times through to current times, that is to say when it was published in 2016. That is a wide expanse of time. It cannot give total detailed information upon all the topics touched upon, but the author makes every topic touched upon interesting. It is not a tourist guide…..except after reading the book you do want to hop into an airplane and go there! It is a history book. The author is an historian and the book is thoroughly researched. What she has learned is now on her fingertips and it feels like she is telling it to you.
What strikes the reader is the easy flow of the book. Each chapter has a title that tells the reader what will be discussed and the date of the events that are covered. When under Islamic rule both the Western calendar and the Islamic calendar dates are given. The end of the preceding chapter concludes with a sentence that leads you directly on to the next chapter. After the chapter’s heading are fascinating quotes from literature and famed people pertaining to that which now follows. The ending of one chapter leads you to ask for more. The next begins with enticing quotes that further piques one’s interest. Only then follows the text which answers what you are now asking for.
The material covered is expertly presented in a balanced, unbiased tone. For a city under both Islamic and Christian rule this is essential. She presents different mindsets equally well. Then Mustafa Kemal Attatürk came into power, the metropolis’ name changed to Istanbul and the state was secularized. A third mindset. Different points of view are presented. The unbiased presentation is achieved by offering opposing / alternate views, in sentences’ wording and in small details such as quotes from both Western and Eastern sources and the use of both calendars mentioned above.
I appreciated that both historical and modern day names of places are given. Do you know where Illyria was? I didn’t. Do you know that ancient Nineveh is present day Mosul, Iraq? I loved the references made to archeological finds. I loved watching both the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, learning about low-born Emperor Justinian and former street dancer Empress Theodora and the Janissaries and the double headed eagle of the Byzantine flag and the etymology of words and……..
The prose is succinct. The author can sum up in a few lines what others will say in pages.
The author reads her own book. Most authors cannot do this properly, but Bettany Hughes does this magnificently. Perfect speed. Perfect emphasis of chosen words. She knows what she wants said and she says it so you comprehend. You hear her questions. You hear her curiosity and interest and enthusiasm. All of this is contagious. I adore the way she says ”but”! You hear the abrupt challenge and must be told the counter argument.
I have one minor complaint. The book ends with a coda that is too long. That is what I think, but it does leave a sentimental, heartfelt, kind of smaltzy ending that many may enjoy. Clearly the author has fallen in love with this city that she first visited at the age of eighteen. Istanbul is the essence of cosmopolitan living, of a lifestyle eternally looking both east and west and of a place where stories are synthesized into what the city is today.
If you are curious about Istanbul, well then you have to read this book, and I highly recommend the audiobook format. ...more