Like many others, I've come to realize my teaching in history was lacking, particularly when it came to Russia's role in the Second World War, or as tLike many others, I've come to realize my teaching in history was lacking, particularly when it came to Russia's role in the Second World War, or as they know it, the Great Patriotic War. American schools show pictures of Normandy on D-Day, but give the barest mention to the millions of lives lost by the Soviet Union in fending off the Nazi menace. Stalingrad, Leningrad, Kursk, Orel, Operation Bagration...none of these places meant anything to me until I really began to study on my own, to see what I missed.
Anyway - while this doesn't go as in-depth into the individual battles that made up the horrible, distant Eastern Front, it's an excellent, excellent look into the Red Army of the war years. There is much written from the words of actual Red Army frontoviki, front-line soldiers, and their experiences. Or at least, as much of what we can get from that - the specter of Soviet censorship always loomed overhead for these men, so they had to be careful with how they worded things. Merridale paints an excellent picture of the culture of the time, of the mindset of fear that the average Soviet citizen lived under at the time. (This was, after all, the height of Stalin's power). Just overall, an excellent read that gives a human perspective to a part of the war often overlooked by Americans....more
Like many others, I think this is probably my favorite book in the excellent Chronicles of Prydain series. Taran, no longer quite the impetous, headstLike many others, I think this is probably my favorite book in the excellent Chronicles of Prydain series. Taran, no longer quite the impetous, headstrong youth of "The Book of Three" and "The Black Cauldron" sets out on a journey to find the truth of his parentage. Along the way with his ever-faithful companion, the lovable half-human half-wild creature Gurgi, he finds more and more about who he is as a person and what being a man is truly about.
It's less an epic journey than the others in the series, and more a coming of age novel, but a truly excellently written one. The characters themselves feel truly alive, and while there's less action and battle than previous entries in the series, it's still there. But Taran learns what things are to be truly valued along his wanderings across the Free Commots of Prydain....more
I enjoyed the hell out of this. Think Harry Potter meets Narnia, but darker, and you begin to have the world Lev Grossman creates with "The Magicians"I enjoyed the hell out of this. Think Harry Potter meets Narnia, but darker, and you begin to have the world Lev Grossman creates with "The Magicians". Quentin Clearwater, a high school senior, stumbles onto the realization that magic is real and ends up a student at a sort of college for mages, Brakebills. Yeah, it has echoes of Harry Potter, but Hogwarts this ain't.
I won't go too indepth into the story, but I enjoyed the fact that the characters were pretty deeply flawed. They weren't perfect, but dammit, they feel real enough. And I think that's the mark of great writing, that you do feel for Quentin, because he's young and stupid and really has no idea what he wants out of the world.
Anyway, in short, this is a friggin' great read, and I devoured the book pretty eagerly. If you like fantasy and don't mind a darker tone to it, pick this up. You won't be disappointed....more