Those who watch Wallender may have discovered all this, but this is my first experience. Wonderful, sad, thoughtful book, a mystery in which all but tThose who watch Wallender may have discovered all this, but this is my first experience. Wonderful, sad, thoughtful book, a mystery in which all but the culprit's name is clear early on; solving the mystery means Wallender delves deeper and deeper into human motivation and bitterness. We watch him patiently sift through facts, weigh remembered conversations, think about centuries of human history, ponder the nature of evil and hurt, till he comes to a solution that leaves one more numb than satisfied. I have never been to Sweden, but the western society reflected here bears little resemblance to America, making it possible to draw conclusions about civilization in both great nations. Mystery writing at its best....more
Interesting to read the history of the telephone as it was seen 40 years ago - before the internet, before cell phones, before the ATT breakup. All thInteresting to read the history of the telephone as it was seen 40 years ago - before the internet, before cell phones, before the ATT breakup. All those things were unthinkable (after all, the transistor was only about 20 years old), and ATT represented the most solid business enterprise in the world. Reading Brooks's history today reminds us that small changes, mounting up, can revolutionize the world - and that more has changed than we can explain easily to our children and grandchildren. A warning, though: to enjoy this book you have to be interested in the growth of technology and willing to slog through some pedestrian corporate history....more
Well researched and thorough, this brief book chronicles the trip taken by Walt, Lillian, Roy, and Edna Disney in 1935 - a trip to allow Walt to revivWell researched and thorough, this brief book chronicles the trip taken by Walt, Lillian, Roy, and Edna Disney in 1935 - a trip to allow Walt to revive spirits trodden down by overwork and both men to make and improve important business connections in Europe. We learn where Walt found some of the inspiration for scenes in Snow White and later movies, how much the world already admired him (remember, Mickey was only seven years old at this time), and how complicated his business world had already become. While we all know that Walt was the genius and the inspiration behind his kingdom, this book reveals some of the important machinations behind the brothers' business success. It also denies some of the rumors that followed Walt - that he had an audience with the Pope, that he met Mussolini - and suggests the elegance that now surrounded the boy who grew up poor in the Midwest....more
Carefully researched and well presented, Rasmussen's book uses laboriously-exhumed data to depict the discovery, growth, change, and decay of a beautiCarefully researched and well presented, Rasmussen's book uses laboriously-exhumed data to depict the discovery, growth, change, and decay of a beautiful part of Western New York, Allegany County. A number of my ancestors lived here, and it was the search for Calvin Wheeler's farm that led to Alfred NY, to discussions with the Alfred University archivist Laurie McFadden, and to this book. Ox Cart to Automobile tied everything together, showing how the Wheelers settled into dairy farming and becoming prosperous before the great decline occurred. Of course, Rasmussen isn't writing about the Wheelers directly, but he gives the facts of their world without knowing them. Allegany County grew fairly rapidly early in the 19th century, reaching a population of about 50,000 by roughly 1850 and staying that size for a century, as the rest of the state (and the nation) burgeoned. Never rich, the county improved its economy when farmers discovered they could sell cheese throughout the state, even in Europe, because cheese was slow to degrade. But when the Midwest (and later, California) built huge dairy operations, Allegany County suffered, and its economy has never recovered.
One must dig through many facts and lots of detail to discern this story, though, and if you haven't discovered Allegany County through genealogical research, you may find the book hard slogging. If you have a cliometric curiosity, though, you will find much of interest in this book, and I recommend it to those who want to see how social change occurs. What happened in Allegany County sheds light on social change in every town in which I've lived or worked....more
This is Chicago up to mid-century, from the early twentieth till about 1960, through three lenses: the music of Bronzeville and black music from otherThis is Chicago up to mid-century, from the early twentieth till about 1960, through three lenses: the music of Bronzeville and black music from other parts of town; politics through to the end of Richard J. Daley's last term; and population shifts through mid-century. Dyja doesn't tell you his intent or his limits, but the lively and carefully documented history he presents gradually becomes clear, as these three streams blend to show a Chicago that most natives never experienced. (My mother's cousin's husband wrote the popular Chicago the Pagan about 1950, and his city and Dyja's are completely different.) Dyja shows how ragtime, soul, gospel, and drug-fueled jazz blended and moved toward mainstream (though not quite reaching that point by the end of this story). At the same time, Chicago's crooked politics focused on downtown growth and the city's reputation brightened, even as the city's productive and vigorous black population was forced into segregated barracks and ever-more-limited contact with the white population. Dyja's breezy style and fast pace obscure the careful research and deep knowledge that informs the book. Worth a second read....more
The plot leads to plausible offenders, and the characters stand out for their individuality and unique motivations. The resolution, though, does not sThe plot leads to plausible offenders, and the characters stand out for their individuality and unique motivations. The resolution, though, does not seem to flow easily from what comes before, even if it's not exactly a deus ex machina. But whereas the Pitts (to mention Perry's other great protagonists) reveal society up and down with their unique keen insights, Monk and Latterly look inward more than outward as they work toward solution, and they indulge in interior monologs or revelations that are unnecessary to the plot, however much they tell us about their internal characteristics. This is a good book but not as satisfying as some of Perry's others....more
The Next Big Thing because it revives Hercule Poirot, The Monogram Murders reminds us of the intricacy of the Poirot mind and of the mechanical compleThe Next Big Thing because it revives Hercule Poirot, The Monogram Murders reminds us of the intricacy of the Poirot mind and of the mechanical complexity of the plots he unravels. It has been many years since I read Christie, and I don't recall my reactions as clearly as I probably should, but it seems to me that the new Hercule is on the one hand a bit stiffer and on the other a bit less comical than the original. The plot is an impossible but interesting tangle, and the characters are engaging and plausible. I look forward to Sophie Hanna's next Christiean endeavor....more