Although this book is about the last years of Napoleon's empire, it really sets the tone for the next 130 years, as it helps to explain the foundation...moreAlthough this book is about the last years of Napoleon's empire, it really sets the tone for the next 130 years, as it helps to explain the foundation of the French-German rivalry which ended up costing the planet two World Wars. Thus, it's an excellent read to see how one blunder can lead to a future destiny of sorts.
This book is short but packed with quite a bit, so it was an enjoyable read. The battles of 1813-1815 between France and the Allied Coalition are detailed with maps, pictures, anecdotes, and chapters on the specific players. Napoleon's weaknesses are clearly outlined, which was quite welcome from the usual godlike bios we normally get. I couldn't give it a full five stars however, as Wellington received short shrift, as though he wasn't there. But everything else was quite instructive and now I want to read about the rest of the 19th century conflicts and the end of calvary charges and stiff upper lips.
Thank god for Penguin classics, they always make the weighty stuff seem so manageable for mere mortals. Case in point, Byron. If you are a collector o...moreThank god for Penguin classics, they always make the weighty stuff seem so manageable for mere mortals. Case in point, Byron. If you are a collector of real books, you know that his entire collection is rather large, so it's nice to have a mass paperback version that can be held in the hand.
Byron was a truly strange dude, compared to his contemporaries. Today, he would be the Kelly Slater of poets, probably surfing Malibu while writing verses in the sand. His death was tragic, which made his poems even more so. Penguin does a truly terrific job in putting together some of his shorter poems with his Childe Harold and Don Juan opuses.
With this book, and a bottle of Red Ranch cherry cider, I shall go no more a-roving so late into the night.
Book Season = Spring (when the day returns too soon)(less)
This is one of those business books handed out to employees at companies where such books get handed out because each change of leadership requires a...moreThis is one of those business books handed out to employees at companies where such books get handed out because each change of leadership requires a new bible to be read by the Kool Aid drinkers. It seems to serve a purpose for employees who love to talk about themselves, which is about 98% of working Americans. There are Samurai Games and Mineral Rights conversations, but I basically lost interest in the self-absorption.
I wonder if anyone has completed a fully researched comparison of the rise of these books and the corresponding decline in customer satisfaction. As we spend more time at work focusing on the angst of the modern-day worker (your baby is ugly, deal with it), the poor customer is ignored. I'm sure the customer would like to have a lovely 'fierce conversation' with someone, anyone.
Book Season = Year Round (whoosh your hair and drink your Starbucks)(less)
This was a quite lovely read, about forgotten people in barely forgotten times. Only in America would we consider these gentlemen and gentlewomen to b...moreThis was a quite lovely read, about forgotten people in barely forgotten times. Only in America would we consider these gentlemen and gentlewomen to be 'losers', simply because they had an idea that others stole or their achievements have been forgotten by each succeeding generation. Some of them were just plain eccentrics, and I think we can look at the 21st century and see we have the same idealists today.
The title derives from John Banvard, who created grand works of art on rollout canvas, which drew standing-room only crowds in the 19th century. He shone before the age of cinema, which basically made his type of work obsolete. My favorite story was that of Rene Blondlot, a French scientist who 'discovered' the N-Ray, which really was nothing but some changes of light prisms. He believed deeply that he had discovered something extraordinary, and was subsequently laughed out of existence when his theory was disproved.
I still love the power of words. They dispel my loneliness.
Kate Horsley uses the journey of language to create a tale of Druids, the coming of Christi...moreI still love the power of words. They dispel my loneliness.
Kate Horsley uses the journey of language to create a tale of Druids, the coming of Christianity, and the loss of nature/innocence in this historical fiction read (sixth-century Ireland). It is a time of transition, as the Druids give way to the worship of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigit. Towards the end, we see the monastic movement take over, as male abbots use control to eliminate female pagans.
The chieftains who used to know the earth as their wife now use her as a mistress.
Each chapter alternates from past remembrances of the heroine (Gwynneve) and her love of nature to her present circumstances in a female cloister. The descriptions of her pagan life were, to me, rather mesmerizing. The 'barbarians' are closer to nature, more respectful of wildlife, trees, rivers, and themselves. As she discovers the foreigners (Christian missionaries), she learns that they have little love of the land, except to use it to gain power. Always wondering how a new religion could so quickly overwhelm ancient beliefs, Gwynneve describes how the priests teach land clearance and better crop yields to win tribes to their power.
Power does not willingly give up its place to truth.
In the alternate chapters, the story revolves around the sisters in the cloister who combine old Druid ways with a yearning to know more about the one God. But as the Christians infiltrate the Irish clans, abbots take over the sisterhoods and turn them into male-dominated monasteries. Reading rather like a modern tale of corporate life, the men in power manipulate the women below the glass ceiling to achieve their goals. Queen Bee women do not hesitate to sacrifice their fellow females.
The wind whips the world outside as though to strike at a beast who will not carry its burden.
I enjoyed this book, perhaps because I had little intel on Druids and especially Pelagians (the libertarians of their time). Changed my Augustinian views a bit. If the author were more strident this would have been a soapbox slog, but instead it was a fey re-telling of perhaps the most important period in Irish history, as the island embraced its first Christian King. There are also highlighted Gaelic words plus a glossary of the definitions at the end.
The answer is always silence.
Book Season = Winter (in Ireland, the gods still whisper on your shoulders)(less)
This sweeping tale of a post-Civil War American West will either get you addicted or bored. I seem to have landed in the middle spot, seesawing betwee...moreThis sweeping tale of a post-Civil War American West will either get you addicted or bored. I seem to have landed in the middle spot, seesawing between interest one day and apathy the next day. There is no denying that this is a book of epic proportions, I just never thought the American Southwest was all that intriguing.
This is a trade paper edition, and due to the large size, you might wear down your thumb and pages as you read. All in all, a decent read, but not a book I would peruse again.
Plain and simple and that's what Clive Cussler delivers with this book...simplicity. Each wreck or incident is explained...moreThe sea is there to defeat us.
Plain and simple and that's what Clive Cussler delivers with this book...simplicity. Each wreck or incident is explained and then Cussler relates his results when he went looking for the missing ships. As the reader, I kept getting involved with the real-life people, folks who stepped on to a boat and never reached their destination. Fast forward to Cussler and his team diving to find the answers and the relics of humans now in the locker of Davy Jones.
Take the S.S. Waratah, known as Australia's Titanic. This ship was on its way to England from Down Under, when she vanished before reaching Capetown. Was it a humongous rogue wave? The kind that took out the ship in The Poseidon Adventure? Referred to as an "ugly spud", the disappearance of this ship was the greatest mystery of the early 20th Century. Scientists will tell you there are no rogue waves. Right. Tell that to the Indian Ocean.
The Mary Celeste. This was the Ghost Ship that was found near Gibraltar, but with no crew or passengers. What happened to them? Did they freak out and take the rowboat because they thought the ship was in trouble? In Portugal, a raft was found on a beach, with a flag and a human skeleton. Was this the last survivor of this ghostly tale?
Perhaps The Flying Dutchman isn't a fairytale after all.
Book Season = Summer (boat rocking, sun beating, water lapping)(less)
The title of this book definitely made me buy it and, thankfully, the story inside fit the expectations. The author recounts his life after he moves a...moreThe title of this book definitely made me buy it and, thankfully, the story inside fit the expectations. The author recounts his life after he moves away from the bustling city to placid (so he thinks) rural living and the eventual burgeoning family of animal pets galore.
I'm sure some readers will get upset by the seemingly random way that pets are adopted or given back, but the story is well told and for me, anyway, rather humorous.
Certainly I felt some kinship with the author. Hummingbirds dictate my weekend wake-up times when their nectar needs replenishing. Blue jays will not hesitate to sound off when the peanuts are not up to their idea of valued weight, and the raccoons have a tendency to forget their job duties of eating snails and slugs when they fancy a taste of marshmallows.
How we interact with the wildlife we share the land with says much of who we are, I suppose. I refuse to believe I am "enslaved". More like, rented.
Book Season = Spring (before you think of adopting bunnies) (less)
You can find hundreds of versions of Alice's classic tale, but this one is my favorite. Wonderland, Looking Glass, and the Snark are all together, fig...moreYou can find hundreds of versions of Alice's classic tale, but this one is my favorite. Wonderland, Looking Glass, and the Snark are all together, fighting for your attention as soon as you dare to pick up the book. This version was published in 1925, when the world had not yet lost its innocence, unaware of what was around the corner. The pages are uncut, such a joy to hold, really. This is why we buy used books, so we can share the previous owner's secrets.
Frances Clareva White, December 25th 1925. From Daddy & Mummy with heaps of love -
Who was Frances? This was obviously a Christmas gift...does anyone from this family still survive? Did they treasure this book? Was it eventually sold, an orphan of the shelves? Memory's mystic band.
The other bonus of this edition is the introduction from Alexander Woollcott. Again, in the age of innocence, we get details of Lewis Carroll's daily life.
You must picture Lewis Carroll as living precisely in his quarters in the Tom Quad at Christ Church, all his life neatly pigeonholed, all the letters he wrote or received in thirty-seven years elaborately summarized and catalogues, so that by the time he died there were more than 98,000 cross references in the files of his correspondence. He was the kind of man who kept a diagram showing where you sat, lest he serve you with the same dish when you came again.
Years ago, while on a wonderful plum pudding-filled visit to Guernsey, a group of us walked from the hotel to sing the Christmas Mass. When we finished our sherry-indulged singing, we started back when we came upon a lone gentleman standing on the crisp, winter street. He was quoting the Hunting of the Snark, word for word. A wonderful memory.
Since then, Lewis Carroll's classics have been a part of my holiday celebration.
The wonder of this book is that it pulls you into its orbit of extraordinary illustrations and visualization of astronomy, astrology, and mythology......moreThe wonder of this book is that it pulls you into its orbit of extraordinary illustrations and visualization of astronomy, astrology, and mythology...all at once. If you're like me, and you've never quite figured out how some stars could represent Orion The Hunter or Cancer The Crab, this book makes it electrifyingly clear.
Unlike some books which focus on astronomy, the author doesn't go on ad nauseum about the different types of telescopes needed. Instead, he takes on the role of storyteller, describing the origins of the Titans and Saturn and how the gods of myths decided upon the patterns of our jeweled skies.
The layout is very clean, with each chapter devoted to a specific subject, which in turn, leads to the next logical chapter. I, for one, couldn't wait for night to push day aside, so I could view the stars and piece together the stories I had just learnt.
You cannot be anything you want to be - but you can be a whole lot more of who you already are.
People love to find out who they are and what they're b...moreYou cannot be anything you want to be - but you can be a whole lot more of who you already are.
People love to find out who they are and what they're best at doing. For the world of business, it can be very helpful to have a fix on your strengths, rather than your weakness. The basic theory that has been taught in corporations since the mid 1990s has been a fixation on strengthening an employee's weakness...which simply makes no sense. After all, we are who we are. It's like marrying someone and then demanding they become someone else. Well, that's what organizations do.
The benefit of knowing your own strengths is to know how you can handle stress, workload, and getting up in the morning. This book is also instrumental in discovering your team's strengths, which leads to putting together a diverse team. There is a sealed code at the end of the book which allows you to take the test online to determine your category.
Now, the reason I give the rating of three stars is because it starts to be a bit too much. After you take the test, you get five strengths to review. Let's be honest, I'm lucky if I have two, let alone five, strengths in me. It would have been more productive to focus on one main strength. But then I am who I am. Or something like that.
Book Season = Year Round (your strength might change with the season)(less)
Way back in human history, one brave soul decided to take the first upright step and such was the beginning of "our kind". Marvin Harris takes us thro...moreWay back in human history, one brave soul decided to take the first upright step and such was the beginning of "our kind". Marvin Harris takes us through the evolution of humankind very thoroughly in this book with chapters geared toward specific areas that all lead back to the tree of hominids.
For instance, Harris looks at redistribution among tribes and how this allowed some men to become leaders. The theory is that by giving more away than keeping, a man can become a chief because he is essentially buying his constituency, something which worked with the very ancient kingdoms. It's these types of a-ha moments that make this book somewhat entertaining to read.
Jeoparty-trot. I finally have the name for the half-run my poor legs undertake when I'm dreaming. For that knowledge alone, I truly enjoyed this book....moreJeoparty-trot. I finally have the name for the half-run my poor legs undertake when I'm dreaming. For that knowledge alone, I truly enjoyed this book. It's full of English words that seemed to have been prevalent in various British villages since medieval times, until the rapid progress of 20th century Americanisms wiped out such eccentric language.
Ramfeezled...'I am absolutely ramfeezled at work. They're giving me too many accounts to handle.'
Knevel...'His knevel is so manly. I wonder if he brushes and waxes it each day?'
Wrine...'She must be using Botox. That wrine is suddenly gone.'
I had great fun with all of the words, though a great lot of them seem to have originated in Gloucester. And that's my summation of Gloucester.
Book Season = Year Round (dazzle the professor in your life) (less)
I'll immediately state my comic book knowledge as being basically zilch, so I have no idea why this ended up in my collection. Must have been walking...moreI'll immediately state my comic book knowledge as being basically zilch, so I have no idea why this ended up in my collection. Must have been walking down the aisles at the old Stacey's bookstore in San Francisco when the cover caught my eye. I think. Anyway, I am grateful to this book for having the decency to nab me when it did, as I thoroughly enjoyed it and have actually read it a few more times, just for the illustrations.
Captain Marvel looks like a weightlifter I used to see at Gold's Gym in Venice while Wonder Woman comes across as a female George Bush. Rad.
This is a nifty collection of the paintings and illustrations of the great N.C. Wyeth. The master illustrator and father of Andrew Wyeth was a wizard...moreThis is a nifty collection of the paintings and illustrations of the great N.C. Wyeth. The master illustrator and father of Andrew Wyeth was a wizard with the brushes and pencils. The numerous plates include his commercial output for labels such as Cream of Wheat plus his illustrations for children's versions of TREASURE ISLAND and RIP VAN WINKLE.
All well and good, but I particularly love his later tempera paintings, showing the Maine coast and the Brandywine countryside of Pennsylvania. I've never been to either place, but via Mr. Wyeth I can certainly imagine myself there. Throw him in there with the Rockwells and Hoppers, an artist who used his work to tell a story. Intrinsically American.