this book could have dialed back on the childlike whimsy and wonder, preferably replacing it with some cold hard technical facts. for someone who knowthis book could have dialed back on the childlike whimsy and wonder, preferably replacing it with some cold hard technical facts. for someone who knows absolutely nothing about internetworking, this is perhaps a good follow-on volume to Where Wizards Stay Up Late, but it's not even as good as that bit of pop computer science. and don't get pissy with us not letting you into the Dalles datacenter, blum! i've been in there. it's a bunch of machines. there are large transformers. dudes scuttle around with hard drives. you didn't miss anything, and it's very doubtful that letting random journalist Brooklyn-by-way-of-University of Toronto asshats roam our data centers like lost toddlers would "really give the public insight into and relief concerning Google's use of their data," unless the public has 20/20 vision into the heart of hard drives and distributed systems, which it decidedly does not.
in stylish notes, the cover was stupid, Andrew Blum found some of his similes so nice he repeated them twice, or thrice, and his picture annoyed me....more
really magnificent; there were indeed some swaths probably best cut, but awfully few of them for 1300 pages spanning five continents. at its best it rreally magnificent; there were indeed some swaths probably best cut, but awfully few of them for 1300 pages spanning five continents. at its best it read like the saner parts of Gravity's Rainbow, but with a Mailer touch. it moves incredibly quickly for the quality of the prose. people complaining about "mailer's psychobabble" as if it's a serious theory he's advancing are really missing the point behind Kittredge and her whole development. definitely recommended for anyone who liked Ellroy's American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand, as it uses some of the same historical figures (the Kennedys, Sam Giancana, Hoover, etc.) and motifs, but is on the whole much more a serious and coherent piece of fiction. i'm surprised it didn't get more Pulitzer flair....more
This is not "a revolutionary look at humanity's most murderous century" so much as a scattershot economic and military history of Eurasia, 1940-1945.This is not "a revolutionary look at humanity's most murderous century" so much as a scattershot economic and military history of Eurasia, 1940-1945. There's several places where Ferguson attacks other authors' claims, but targets rather dubious, second-rate literature--there's no great corrections to Shirer, or Trevor-Roper, or Beevor, or Tuchman, or any of the other accepted canon. These challenges furthermore regard "controversies" like to what depth Stalin had planed a preemptive invasion of Germany--great questions for a targeted history, but by no means a new synthesis of a war, let alone a century of war, let alone the socioeconomic, nationalist, racial and other drivers of those wars.
Whether Stalin and the NKO wargamed for a first strike westward seems anyway moot, unless their plan included the phrase "two thousand kilometers of fascist dogs non-stop whuppin' our asssssssssssssss along the unpaved road to Stalingrad" and was decorated in the margins with little Stukas strafing massed Soviet infantry. Even then, it's the Red Army under the Terror, so every corporal who studies the plan ends up shot within a week anyway.
It's war, and nazis, and strategic bombing, and bizarre ethnologists, and fairly well-written, so it's a pleasant enough read. It's not necessary, however, for even the most amateur historian of the Great Wars, and there's better introductions to the story.
I would have given it three stars, but there was a table somewhere in the 300s with a particularly egregious typo, which I now can't find. Apparently there wasn't room in 746 pages for an index of tables. THANKS NIALL FERGUSON PHD....more
totally unreadable. dialogue on the level of LaHaye and Jenkins's execrable Left Behind. they said this was the new tom clancy; this isn't even the ntotally unreadable. dialogue on the level of LaHaye and Jenkins's execrable Left Behind. they said this was the new tom clancy; this isn't even the new larry bond OOOOH SICK 90s TECHNOTHRILLER BURN. i will be giving this book away....more
Angrod son of Finarfin was the first of the Exiles to come to Menegroth, as messenger of his brother Finrod, and he spoke long with the King, tellingAngrod son of Finarfin was the first of the Exiles to come to Menegroth, as messenger of his brother Finrod, and he spoke long with the King, telling him of the deeds of the Noldor in the north, and of their numbers, and of the ordering of their force; but being true, and wisehearted, and thinking all griefs now forgiven, he spoke no word concerning the kinslaying, nor of the manner of the exile of the Noldor and the oath of Fëanor. King Thingol hearkened to the words of Angrod; and ere he went he said to him: "Thus shall you speak for me to those that sent you. In Hithlum the Noldor have leave to dwell, and in the highlands of Dorthonion, and in the lands east of Doriath that are empty and wild."
WHO CARES WHO CARES WHO CARES. i didn't tortuously reject Christianity at 14 to read this, augh.
immediately after finishing this, i found this picture of a german parachute bomb in someone's backyard:
and was like, "looking at that was better than reading the silmarillion." it's not even a particularly great picture.
i killed a fly in the bathroom with it, so i gave it a second star....more
richie ramirez was a dark, dark guy, and any book about him is going to be at least minimally interesting. that said, this had a lot of minor editingrichie ramirez was a dark, dark guy, and any book about him is going to be at least minimally interesting. that said, this had a lot of minor editing concerns (primarily swapping of names, especially when discussing richard's large hispanic family)--if Richard's father Julian had truly "aged twenty years" every time Carlo uses the phrase, he'd have been a hundred--and the third part (trial coverage) was exceedingly boring. i'm unsure how bugliosi managed to make trial coverage so exciting in Helter Skelter; no one else has done it nearly as well. discussion of richard's "trial groupies" (one of whom eventually married him on death row) was pretty interesting. i would have liked more comparison with Manson, given the similarities (southern California, multiple savage murders, psycho followers), and a brief discussion of the recent legal history of capital punishment in California would have been a nice inclusion, also....more
this is the eighth biography of JRO i've read, and the second best (behind American Prometheus). it's difficult to write anything truly new about Oppthis is the eighth biography of JRO i've read, and the second best (behind American Prometheus). it's difficult to write anything truly new about Oppenheimer; he's been picked pretty well clean. Monk promises to write a "scientific biography", correcting the one true major lacuna of Bird and Sherwin, but all in all there's not much one wouldn't already be aware of after reading Bernstein's Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma plus basic histories of prewar science. for all Monk's talk of mesons in the Prologue's justification, readers won't come out of this knowing even their most basic details (quark+antiquark hadronic matter, etc.) -- indeed, no serious diversion is made into particle physics, nor are the relativistic and quantum effects at work in stellar remnants. i'm not sure how much of a "scientific biography" one can really be claiming to write in such a case. that said, it moves much more quickly than Prometheus, despite covering all the basic ground. chapters on the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos are pretty slim, but the years 1942--1945 have been covered in all the depth one cares to read elsewhere. a fun read, but take the full week and just read American Prometheus if you care to read anything....more
utterly brilliant, though utterly unreadable at times. some of the most interesting writing about the apollo program for sure, and better than tom wolutterly brilliant, though utterly unreadable at times. some of the most interesting writing about the apollo program for sure, and better than tom wolfe's the right stuff. i could have done with less of norman's grandstanding, though....more
wonderful. it wouldn't be much if it weren't for To Kill a Mockingbird, but as a companion volume, it's magnificent. i laughed and cried; i nodded inwonderful. it wouldn't be much if it weren't for To Kill a Mockingbird, but as a companion volume, it's magnificent. i laughed and cried; i nodded in agreement; i smiled wide and identified.
update: a friend asks, "then why all the bad press?"
1) the clumsy and unfortunate way in which it was published, a clear money-grab on the part of her estate upon signing over power of attorney. i don't see this as a knock on the actual novel, which was far better than i'd expected.
2) people might claim it apologizes for racism, in which case they probably didn't actually read the book....more