if you like 3rd-grade level "historical" fiction, this about fits that bill. this was appalling: gross oversimplifications, ludicrous characterization...moreif you like 3rd-grade level "historical" fiction, this about fits that bill. this was appalling: gross oversimplifications, ludicrous characterizations, idiotic dialogue, and bizarre speculations. just embarrassingly bad.(less)
i would have liked this book a lot more if its whole argument wasn't predicated on the Lieber Code. it's a little bit cart-before-the-horse to say tha...morei would have liked this book a lot more if its whole argument wasn't predicated on the Lieber Code. it's a little bit cart-before-the-horse to say that the Lincoln Administration had the right to breaks its own Constitutional law based on a code that it wrote itself, after the onset of the "rebellion". the book likewise doesn't convince me that the Lincoln Administration was Constitutionally correct in denying the Confederacy recognition as a sovereign nation while simultaneously trying to adhere to the "rules of war", which only apply to sovereign nations.
clearly the circumstances under which Lincoln found himself were extraordinary and i don't doubt he did the best he could do (and possibly far better than most would have), but to argue that as a result of those circumstances, creating a whole new set of rules and then applying them haphazardly all over the country is fair game. it smacks of being a sore loser, which, apparently is no consequence in war.
the Federal government was determined to win. they played dirty to do so (the Confederacy, not recognizing any rules themselves played dirty too, so it's not like i'm choosing sides here). probably (for the most part) it was done in the best interests of the country. but call a spade a spade for crying out loud. the Lincoln Administration didn't invent "total war", but they certainly set a questionable standard for conducting it against people in its own country.
though the argument is flawed, this is a nice quick overview and definitely a great jumping off point for anyone who wants to learn more about a complex subject.(less)
Hard to say you "liked" a book that is about suffering and horrors. While I think this is an excellent resource that collects a lot of material on thi...moreHard to say you "liked" a book that is about suffering and horrors. While I think this is an excellent resource that collects a lot of material on this grim subject, the format is a bit hard to get through. First of all, the book is enormous (dimension-wise), so you feel assaulted by the images and information. Reading in small bites, it's almost digestible, but the subject matter doesn't make for good eats. Perhaps that's the intention or the effect the publishers were going for, but it's rather unsettling (not exactly a beach read).
I don't know whether this book is "comprehensive", but it does have pictures and statistics that aren't commonly found elsewhere. Worth a gander if you're really interested in the topic. Otherwise, I would first recommend something a tad less overwhelming like Ransom's Andersonville Diary. (less)
not my favorite alan moore. while i love the story (and it's too bad the movie did nothing for it), it feels almost too full of itself (some of the na...morenot my favorite alan moore. while i love the story (and it's too bad the movie did nothing for it), it feels almost too full of itself (some of the narrative parts are actually cloying ~ especially the one about the Tales of the Black Freighter). It doesn't help that most of the characters are just unpleasant. i think i most liked Jon (or perhaps most closely identified with him), but it's not enough to pull the story together.
generally awesome, wouldn't mind owning a copy, but i'm not hot to add it to my collection when there's so many other books i want.(less)
so i have knocked a number of stars off of this after having a chance to begin reading it. the text itself is amazing (you cannot argue the sheer volu...moreso i have knocked a number of stars off of this after having a chance to begin reading it. the text itself is amazing (you cannot argue the sheer volume of pages and the joy of having a transcription of them all). however, in typical steers fashion, the organization is atrocious.
he's removed everything from the LAS folders (so much for the principal and integrity of original order), and placed the materials alphabetically by last name.
except when the last name is unknown.
or when he decides that the addressee is more important.
or when there's something in the subject matter that pertains to an interesting third party.
or when it just seems better to clump stuff together.
in other words: no actual order at all.
for those of us glad to thumb through the physical copy rather than the digital one, huzzah. maybe it's still worth the hefty price tag. but don't hope it's necessarily going to make finding anything any easier.
you can assume this will live on my "currently reading" list indefinitely. (less)
on the one hand, it's nice to have a handy transcript of the letterbooks. on the other, this book provides very little insight t...moreoh the disappointment.
on the one hand, it's nice to have a handy transcript of the letterbooks. on the other, this book provides very little insight to hartranft beyond what Gambone expounded on in his biography ~ and worse ~ it makes assertions which it then completely fails to prove.
likewise, there's very little to mine here; very little context and no theories whatsoever for some of hartranft's more puzzling omissions. the book likewise reproduces none of hancock's responses to hartranft's letters (which tell half the story!).
also, there are typos (ugh!), and several places in which, while condensing information down, completely false impressions are put forth. stanton's role in micromanagaing the prison isn't even touched on, and glaringly, there are moments when the author suggests that certain information is "not known" when it most assuredly is. the "annotations" for the letterbook merely repeat information already given in the chapters preceding (grrrr), and add very little to the understanding. no commentary whatsoever is made on the breakdown of hartranft's "meticulous" style into practically monosyllabic entries, nothing is made of all the things he doesn't bother to report (the author notes that he had the prisoners shaved, but doesn't point out that he never reports it to hancock).
for all the glowing build up in the opening of the book, praising hartranft to the skies, calling him a forgotten hero, and intimating that his role as arsenal provost was historically critical, there's no case made here for any of it. which is really too too bad because i think it's certainly true and deserves to be told. after more than 40 years of this material being handled in a rather off-hand manner (even Gambone miss-cites it!), you would think steers would really have made more of an effort to be exhaustive about its presentation.
apparently someone else will have to come along and do it.
pay the $40 and buy a copy of the microfilm instead. it will at least be complete.(less)
Ronald Smith is apparently of the opinion that Thomas Ewing is a man to be admired. I'm going to try to allow that it's possible Ewing had some good q...moreRonald Smith is apparently of the opinion that Thomas Ewing is a man to be admired. I'm going to try to allow that it's possible Ewing had some good qualities, but admit I am suspicious of the glowing accounts Smith provides here: particularly with regard to Ewing's controversial General Order 11. The Lawrence massacre is played up grimly, but Smith only barely suggests that it was in response to Ewing's depopulation of Kansas in 1863.
As for Ewing's part in the conspiracy trial, Smith gets some basic facts bungled (arghhh! Arnold didn't work for Ford for crying out loud!), and sheds no light on Ewing's opportunistic proclivities. Earning about $4,000 for his defense, Smith argues that Ewing didn't get much for his extraordinary efforts, but also tries to exonerate him of a variety of ills (like Mudd's lies).
All in all an interesting biography, but somewhat unevenly written (and could he make following the "characters" more confusing? Between Tom Sr., Tom Jr., and nephew Tom Sherman, this was a bit of brain-bender for late night perusing. Nevertheless, it deserves a second study and has a few interesting tidbits worth the trouble.(less)
what a disappointing end to a promising effort. it feels as though azzarello just gave up on it (and maybe he did?). what started out as a wonderfully...morewhat a disappointing end to a promising effort. it feels as though azzarello just gave up on it (and maybe he did?). what started out as a wonderfully rendered (though not terribly original) premise, spirals into a confusing series of small, wretched climaxes, none of which satisfy or offer any meaning beyond a nihilistic assertion of the pointlessness of struggle. the characters are so vile, you're glad when they're finally dead. there are no heroes, no one to even root for and any sympathy garthered in the early installments is lost in mindless revenge.
also, the final installments in this series are pure filler, dispensing with the original plot, and wandering into equally fatalistic one-shots that have very little appeal. (less)
Azzarello's writing style is sometimes effective, but maybe too cinematic for my tastes ~ and coupled with a variety of artists who are only successfu...moreAzzarello's writing style is sometimes effective, but maybe too cinematic for my tastes ~ and coupled with a variety of artists who are only successful by degrees in capturing what he's trying to do with the voiceovers and smash cuts, the result is sometimes jarring and sometimes downright confusing. Progress is further hindered by too many characters who look alike (honestly, doesn't anyone in Missouri cut their hair? I'm all for long-haired ragtags, but it's a little ridiculous). Likewise, there's too much heavy ink and the women are rendered poorly.
Still and all, it's an interestingly violent world that's presented here. I'm actually hoping the next volume will have a bit more levity. And most of the sex stuff is sorta over the top, so it better either have a point or go away. Oh well, it's interesting to pass the time with. The main character Wes Cutter is a stereotype, but Ruth is interesting and Atticus Mann is interesting and I'm curious to see where their lives intersect.(less)
This book is a very (very) broad overview of the Dakota War in 1862. It's too broad to be especially useful for someone who wants a critical examinati...moreThis book is a very (very) broad overview of the Dakota War in 1862. It's too broad to be especially useful for someone who wants a critical examination of the causes and results, but a nice introduction for anyone without any foundation whatsoever.
For lots of pictures and a general time-line of events, this is great, but the writing is unfortunately dry for such a charged topic, and if you're already familiar with the basics, you'd spend your time more wisely reading something with more substance.(less)
there's not enough on this subject (says me), so i will take what i can get. while not nearly as exhaustive as the history of the new york fire depart...morethere's not enough on this subject (says me), so i will take what i can get. while not nearly as exhaustive as the history of the new york fire department (Our Firemen), Greenberg's book is ripe with all manner of details about antebellum attitudes toward the departments, within the departments (their politics, their morals, etc.), and regarding the threat of fire.
this is a heavy heavy heavy social history. not for the faint of heart, though not so dense you want to scream. maybe not a casual read, but if you have any interest at all in the subject (and i do!), then it's quite the gem.
The problem with this book isn't that for its 130 pages it's quite the dense, lumbering behemoth (reads more like a academic dissertation than anythin...moreThe problem with this book isn't that for its 130 pages it's quite the dense, lumbering behemoth (reads more like a academic dissertation than anything else). The problem is that it sets out with a thesis that it then cannot prove.
The narrative starts off really strong with a very good overview of the community of Shelton Laurel, but by the time it arrives at the killings, the ambiguities of guerrilla warfare have been presented in such a way as to render me undecided on what actually went down. People were killed. Probably without cause. But while I couldn't possibly condone summary executions on any level, one has to wonder at the fear and frustration (and utter incompetence) of those who ordered and carried out the killings. We see it time and time again: some small thing that sets off a chain of events more extreme than warranted. The maze of offenses and retaliations in this arena in particular are incredibly hard to untangle.
So there's a lot of new information here and that's fabulous, but the way in which it's presented left me feeling like the author meant to take a strong stance against the killings, but actually failed to make the point that this was a bona fide war crime.
A good springboard for further investigation, but between the heavy-handed and too-often discursive writing style, and the failure to effectively make its case, I was disappointed. (less)