Inspired, but not based upon, a famous court case of the era, this slog through the "city mysteries" genre lacks cohesiveness, alas. As this is an earInspired, but not based upon, a famous court case of the era, this slog through the "city mysteries" genre lacks cohesiveness, alas. As this is an early work of Buntline (Edward Zane Carroll Judson), he struggles with a degree of authorial intrusion that makes most early Victorian-era fiction seem positively disinterested in its audience, sometimes rambling on for paragraphs moralizing about the plight of the downcast of New York and referencing previous chapters (as such), etc.
But all this yakking only thinly veils what is really a story meant to provoke and titillate, it seems. The author kitchen-sinks the scandals: gamblers, child-snatchers, prostitutes, thieves, murderers (even the infamous "Butcher Bill" makes an appearance).
The style is so overwrought in the romantic tradition that more than halfway through I forgot that its purpose was to show the evils of the city--so if you undertake to read this romp through 1840s Gotham, don't expect any happy endings ~ or any "ending" at all, for the author leaves many threads hanging with the threat of a sequel (The B'hoys of New York). Don't know yet if I will go suss it out. The characters who are left standing at the end of this one are a pretty despicable lot and Buntline promises the next book will be even darker.
Not altogether successful as a novel (too pastiche and too gross a caricature), it's nevertheless interesting, particularly for its presumably authentic vernacular and it's frankness of subject matter. And it's amazing how much of our everyday civil idiom was kind of lowbrow slang at this time. Mined many a turn of phrase, too, that will add color to my own research....more
it was very difficult to choose a star rating for this installment of the aubrey/maturin series. on the one hand, i can't stand diana and she was allit was very difficult to choose a star rating for this installment of the aubrey/maturin series. on the one hand, i can't stand diana and she was all over this in every worst way. on the other hand, once we got rid of her, there were some genuinely interesting moments ~ particularly an escape plot from a fortress which provided some solidly hilarious exchanges (reminding me why this series is fun!).
in the end i had to give it only two stars because it's about 150 pages too long and Lt. Pullings isn't in it, alas.
overall this feels very much like a transitional book that ties up threads that have been feeling sorta endless for the last couple of books (particularly with regard to the aforementioned and much-detested diana).
i didn't intend to read this cover to cover as i was targeting some specific subjects, but the longer i had it in my possession, the more of it i kepti didn't intend to read this cover to cover as i was targeting some specific subjects, but the longer i had it in my possession, the more of it i kept wandering into. it's a nice encyclopedic reference of the genre with a lot of excellent cross-references and interesting information about series, characters, their creators, and the publishers. certainly the most comprehensive i have found (though it's admittedly not an area that's had much literary coverage overall).
probably the most frustrating thing about this book was reading about some crazy series that sound like a lot of fun but would be virtually impossible to track down. a must-read for anyone interested in the early origins of popular pulp fiction and comic books. ...more
here's a fun compilation of a variety of "dime novels" (really, these are nickel papers and weeklies for the most part). it's a good survey of the genhere's a fun compilation of a variety of "dime novels" (really, these are nickel papers and weeklies for the most part). it's a good survey of the genre, including the most popular subject: the buffalo bill/jesse james western, the nick carter/detective story, frank reade/adventure story, and the merriwell/sports adventure. the range of these (from the late 1800s through the 1920s) proffers some very radical styles and shows a real shift in popular fiction from adult to juvenile audiences.
are these the best examples of this lost popular art? in an industry that published so so so much it's impossible to tell ~ at best it's representative. i enjoyed a handful of the stories while others were either not to my tastes (the detective stuff), or stylistically almost impenetrable.
fun stuff overall and nice to see something like this was ever printed. wish there was more!...more
this was the last book Verne posted to his publisher before he died. ultimately it was heavily edited/revised by his son Michel, who finished the lastthis was the last book Verne posted to his publisher before he died. ultimately it was heavily edited/revised by his son Michel, who finished the last of his posthumous works, but this is Verne's original.
the editor tries to make a case for its greatness, but i found it only mildly interesting; there's no great sweep of themes, no lyricism in the word choices--it's a serviceable adventure story which found its first American publication in a boys' story paper at the turn of the century (and that's about what you would expect of it). without Michel's editing, it is also rather clunky, repetitious, and unfocused (it was only a draft, after all). for me this is a little bit like looking at Verne in his underwear, which i find (as anyone should) unsettling.
i'm glad i read it, though i doubt it will make much of an impression on me in the years to come. still, it has whetted my appetite for more substantial (more polished) Verne and that can't be a bad thing....more
this was the weakest in the series so far, i think. started out well enough with some taut naval action that leaves our heroes in an open boat and atthis was the weakest in the series so far, i think. started out well enough with some taut naval action that leaves our heroes in an open boat and at the mercy of the fates, but once they are rescued and subsequently captured and end up in America things get dull for more than 100 pages; just a lot of endless nattering about Stephen's dull spy intrigues and a stupid love intrigue between Diana, Louisa, Herapath, and Johnson.
it probably says more about me than the books that i can't stand Diana and Stephen's obsession with her annoys and exasperates me. eventually the book got everyone back to sea, but really too late to salvage this mess. also, i think Stephen's behavior in this one either stretches credulity or makes him kind of a monster; i definitely think less of him in this book than any other.
a bit disappointing return to aimlessness for O'Brian. this started off strong, had some really interesting things building, and then just sort of lisa bit disappointing return to aimlessness for O'Brian. this started off strong, had some really interesting things building, and then just sort of listed off the map once goal-fever set in on board. halfway through, Pullings got put ashore and somehow i knew it was going nowhere from there.
didn't really care for the Wogan/Herapath subplot (predictable), and got a little tired of Stephen's wallowing and Jack's ironic misogyny. the caper with the Dutch man o'war was actually one of the more thrilling pieces of naval warfare in the series so far, but the rest was a bit hum-drummy. maybe it's just all set up for the next book (will they ever get to Botany Bay?). or maybe it just doesn't stand up to the previous book.
too bad since they finally got somewhere snowy for a change!...more
the opening of this book in the series is brilliant: Jack at home, domesticated, as it were, but pining for the sea; his poverty and family obligationthe opening of this book in the series is brilliant: Jack at home, domesticated, as it were, but pining for the sea; his poverty and family obligations bending--but not breaking him.
once we get on board and out to Mauritius, the story felt a bit more labored (lot of politics and boats and whatnot ~ one gets the impression of o'brian just writing a strange sort of naval fan faction about this historical action). nevertheless, a fun character study of Jack's nemesis Clonfert, the happy return of Pullings (albeit briefly) toward the end of the action, and Stephen doing a lot of introspection on why he's such a misanthrope.
overall i enjoyed this, though it was the most predictable so far of the bunch and Jack, as commodore, was trapped in that boring place of sending and receiving dispatches rather than being in the thick of it.
still a satisfying read, though a wee pale next to HMS Surprise....more
anti-Catholicism was quite the national pastime in antebellum America and here's a great book that demonstrates how and why that prevalent attitude slanti-Catholicism was quite the national pastime in antebellum America and here's a great book that demonstrates how and why that prevalent attitude slowly began turning around in the 19th century.
here is a book full of real heroes; nurses, student soldiers, and clergy who rendered aid to a country that didn't want them; helping to alleviate prejudices through their dedication and service. there are some great portraits throughout and excellent details not only of those who left Notre Dame to assist in the fields, but also those who remained at the college. it was especially interesting to read about the aftermath of the war.
a great overview of an underwritten subject, with numerous interesting anecdotes and quotes from primary source documents. one description of a general absolution before battle at Gettysburg was especially affecting.
also a nice starting place for those interested in reading more about general w. t. sherman, whose Catholic wife insisted on raising their many children in the faith (and whose son Tom eventually entered the priesthood despite his father's objections).
excellent photos and notes round this book out very well. as with schmidt's other book (Lincoln's Labels), i only wish it could have been longer!...more
This is an interesting book, but not what I expected (nor hoped for). Whereas other Civil War books have too many lists of minutiae with not enough coThis is an interesting book, but not what I expected (nor hoped for). Whereas other Civil War books have too many lists of minutiae with not enough context, background, or notes, here's a book that I actually wish had included more lists and minutiae. The focus here is on a few American brands that have been around forever (Du Pont, Tiffany, Brooks Brothers, Squibb, Borden, Scientific American, American Express). A single chapter is dedicated to each "brand" and a brief history of the product is provided with some context on its impact during the war and subsequent evolution over the next 150 years. While they are all interesting, it felt like a mixed bag to me and I longed to know more about other brands in vogue that didn't weather the century. But that was not Schmidt's intent, so I can't fault the book for my expectations. Nonetheless, I feel I can quibble with the fact that this feels more like an introduction to a subject on which a great deal more could be written. Great footnotes, a nice collection of essays overall, but I could have used a little more meat with my potatoes. ...more