Lifelong map nerd and Jeopardy uber-champion Ken Jennings takes a lighthearted trip through all things geography in modern America including map colleLifelong map nerd and Jeopardy uber-champion Ken Jennings takes a lighthearted trip through all things geography in modern America including map collectors, geocaching, virtual road rallies, and the National Geography Bee.
Heard of this via geocaching forums and picked it up because I'm a lifelong map nut myself. Fun read....more
Quick, enjoyable read about famous lawman Pat Garrett and famous outlaw Billy The Kid. A dual biography in 300 pages seems short, but Gardner seems toQuick, enjoyable read about famous lawman Pat Garrett and famous outlaw Billy The Kid. A dual biography in 300 pages seems short, but Gardner seems to cover everything fairly well. Billy is one of the Wild West characters who has grown into legend since his death while Garrett is viewed less positively or forgotten entirely. The book is fairly positive toward Garrett, portraying him as a good but flawed person. Billy is cunning and charming, but violent; not a monster but nobody to be admired either.
Much has been made over the years about the way Garrett killed Billy. If someone is a notorious killer and has been sentenced to death then escaped (committing who more murders in the process), I see nothing wrong with shooting such a person by surprise in the dark.
Gardner does address the Bushy Bill Roberts issue....more
Coincidently, this is the second consecutive book I have read where the subtitle is more accurate about the book's contents than the title. Despite thCoincidently, this is the second consecutive book I have read where the subtitle is more accurate about the book's contents than the title. Despite the Confederate soldier on the cover, this book actually has very little to do with the Civil War itself. The essays are the author's thoughts and experiences with Southern history. It argues the South is much more complex than widely believed and typically portrayed, and the Civil War's causes are likewise complicated. But the book is too light to feel like it gets anywhere or strongly argues it's point. That's a problem I've noticed with short books (about 200 pages or less) - they simply aren't long enough to go into any real depth....more
This book had been on my To Read list for years for obvious reasons, but it finally got to the head of the list because it was assigned for my universThis book had been on my To Read list for years for obvious reasons, but it finally got to the head of the list because it was assigned for my university Civil War class.
"Battle Cry" is a Pulitzer winner and generally regarded as the best one-volume treatment of the Civil War. I'd say this praise is well deserved. In addition to an overview of the war itself, McPherson delves into the many problems in the 1850s that lead up to the war and other important events from the 1850-65 period that get overshadowed by the war. The navy, emancipation, Republican policies, and the role of women are all touched upon. There are definitely some minor points that could be nitpicked and some of the summaries border on oversimplification, but there is ALOT to cram into a single volume and McPherson is a very good writer.
Lives up to the hype; highest recommendation....more
The latest book on Shiloh should be a grand slam. Groom is a good writer and I really enjoyed one of his previous Civil War nonfiction books, ShroudsThe latest book on Shiloh should be a grand slam. Groom is a good writer and I really enjoyed one of his previous Civil War nonfiction books, Shrouds of Glory: From Atlanta to Nashville--The Last Great Campaign of the Civil War. Further, Groom is working off an impressive bibliography including all the major works up till now about the battle (Cunningham, Sword, Daniel, McDonough).
The result isn't bad, but it is disappointing. I've heard complaints that there is no definitive book about Shiloh and Groom's is not going to be that book either. Scholars will be frustrated by his lack of citations. I was annoyed by his Beschloss-like use of footnote comments. The book's focus is a little too wide sometimes.
Criticism aside, it is a good read - perhaps more accessible than any of the Big 4 books on Shiloh. And that's what it intends to be: highly recommended for a general audience and new Civil War readers. Civil War buffs should probably just take a pass....more
I would have finished this faster if I wasn't taking notes from it for a presentation and needed a break in the middle.
A very deserving Pulitzer-winniI would have finished this faster if I wasn't taking notes from it for a presentation and needed a break in the middle.
A very deserving Pulitzer-winning book on the period leading up to the Civil War, this book covers the issue and events really well. If I could, I'd give this 4 1/2 stars: the footnotes are a little distracting and the writing is a little long winded at times, including more than a few page-long paragraphs. But the information and analysis is just so good I don't hesitate to lean to a higher rather than lower rating.
Despite being written in the 1970s, it has aged very well and demonstrates clearly the importance of the issue of slavery as THE issue that caused the Civil War yet also makes it clear the complexities of that issue....more
I snickered when I first picked this book up: a man named Swift wrote a book about highways.
For a book that appears to be about the USA's Interstate HI snickered when I first picked this book up: a man named Swift wrote a book about highways.
For a book that appears to be about the USA's Interstate Highway system this book throws a bit of a curveball by spending probably half its length talking about the development of the automobile, the early highway associations, and the US Highway system. Except that curveball is exactly the author's point: today we often look at the superhighways with a skewed idea of how they came about and how they are part of America's love affair with cars. Along the way there is a pretty effective deconstruction of the "Eisenhower built the interstates" myth; a more accurate statement would be that he was a strong advocate for their funding which occurred during his presidency. Swift also devotes plenty of time toward other highway men who he feels are the real fathers of the Interstate system. He also views history through a pretty fair lens: acknowledging intentions and ideas while also recognizing mistakes. This is particularly apparent with the parts dealing with controversial issue of urban superhighways, with Baltimore being the focus of that part of the book. A big conclusion I drew from this book is that interstates are not really the cause of problems; merely a symptom.
I was a little disappointed this book did not cover the Interstates in more detail. For example, here in Florida there were at least two major controversies: I-75 crossing the Everglades and connecting I-95 between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach (locally called "the missing link" it took roughly 2 decades before the section's alignment was approved and built). Neither of these get mentioned. However, I understand that more details on the construction of individual interstates is beyond the scope of this book; the author is looking more toward the big picture.
I'm rating this book a full five stars; the writing isn't amazing, but the content is....more
Extensive but clunky three-way biography of three famous "Age Of Jackson" politicians. I didn't find any particular fault with the information presentExtensive but clunky three-way biography of three famous "Age Of Jackson" politicians. I didn't find any particular fault with the information presented, but I did find plenty of fault with the writing. It was too often dry and suffered from overlong sentences and paragraphs....more