It's rare to find a book as good as Team of Rivals. It's a fairly long tome, but warrants the length with such an inspiring and important tale. Althou...moreIt's rare to find a book as good as Team of Rivals. It's a fairly long tome, but warrants the length with such an inspiring and important tale. Although the story ends in tragedy, I can't help but be inspired by the actions of the humble log splitter. Doris Kearns Goodwin masterfully details how Lincoln helped ride and shape public opinion in the United States to ultimately abolish the horrendous weight on American's collective backs–slavery. It really makes one wonder if Lincoln was not there to shape events, how this tumultuous time would have turned out. Beyond the story of Lincoln, Goodwin weaves in the stories of Lincoln's cabinet, his team of rivals. Their stories enrich the narrative and illuminate the differing opinions, rivalry, and motives of the various anti-slavery Republicans.
Overall the book does a great job of telling an engaging story of Lincoln's life, provides a rich tapestry of stories about the men that worked with Lincoln, and the book paints a vibrant multi-dimensional picture of the Civil War. I have a much better picture of this era of American History, especially when I consider the meager understanding of the Civil War imparted to me by my gym/history teacher way back in middle school.(less)
An interesting look into the physicality of the internet, but at the end a little bit unsatisfying because of the lack of technical specifics. The boo...moreAn interesting look into the physicality of the internet, but at the end a little bit unsatisfying because of the lack of technical specifics. The book was really easy and quick to get through. I'd recommend it to people with an interest in how the internet is put together. No technical knowledge is really needed.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The wife was out of town and I listened to it while working on the house. There was a sufficient level of creepy ambia...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this read. The wife was out of town and I listened to it while working on the house. There was a sufficient level of creepy ambiance in my environment to enhance my enjoyment of the book. I have really loved the Castlevania series of video games, so it was really nice to read THE book. No sparkly vampires here. I couldn't help but feel like at times I was exploring a castle and killing undead like in the game.
I loved the epistle nature of the story, and the full cast recording on the audiobook really enhanced the inherit nature of the format. I was a little disappointed about Tim Curry's addition, because I really had no idea which narrator he was. I was intrigued by the character of Mina Harker. Unfortunately towards the end of the book I felt like she fell more into the dutiful helpless wife role, but earlier on she struck me as quite a strong character. I think she represented the ideal wife of a Victorian intellectual. She was smart, yet dutiful. She actually reminded me somewhat of the "female intuition" of detective stories from the twenties.(less)
One part physics, one part biography, and one part scientific history--this book consisted of a wide variety of topics that encompassed the life of a...moreOne part physics, one part biography, and one part scientific history--this book consisted of a wide variety of topics that encompassed the life of a very peculiar and interesting man, Albert Einstein. Isaacson did a great job of blending together the science and biography of Einstein's life. I didn't have a good background in the theories of relativity, but Isaacson did a great job explaining the concepts (using Einstein's own thought experiments.) It was a really transcendent moment when time dilation really started making an intuitive sense.
Aside from the excellent relativity intro, the biography and politics of Einstein's life was interestingly portrayed. Most historic icons have their own trials, tribulations, and contradictions in life, and Einstein's were shown in a thorough manner. I especially enjoyed seeing his outlook on politics change over time, and Isaacson ability to show how Einstein's evolving views followed a central theme. On top of the politics, the examination of Einstein's religious views was also quite illuminating.(less)
This book at times has a brilliant narrative thread, and at others a meandering and tedious knot. It must be hard to write a biography of a person ove...moreThis book at times has a brilliant narrative thread, and at others a meandering and tedious knot. It must be hard to write a biography of a person over 2000 years dead, as there is a lot of misinformation to sort through. It really makes you wonder how much of it is actually true. I really enjoyed hearing about a strong ancient female ruler, and how she got to be in the position that she was in. The Ptolemaic culture and dynasty were fascinating to hear about as well as the beautiful portrait provided of Alexandria and Egypt.
The part where I really lost interest and set the book down for awhile was about two thirds of the way through. Once she's with Mark Anthony the story plods and meanders along through her political machinations with Herod and Rome. I was pretty bored at that point but then the ending was dynamic and well written. It really painted an interesting scene.
Stacy Schiff really did an excellent job of presenting different interpretations of the accounts of Cleopatra's life and really provided critical analysis as to the truth of the statements. She presented quite well the different aspects of the writers' lives that would make them write a certain way.
At the end of it, this is good history, with a very modern spin to the interpretation of the historical events and colorful characters that lived and died during that ancient time.(less)
It's quite interesting how different contemporary historical figures have lives that are very similar in their arcs, and provide a unique way to compa...moreIt's quite interesting how different contemporary historical figures have lives that are very similar in their arcs, and provide a unique way to compare and contrast two different cultures; the way the thematic elements in their lives came together, and the way that they diverged apart. Churchill and Gandhi were very different people, and yet they were at the forefront of two nations that had a very tightly integrated and yet disparate relationship.
Arthur Herman writes a largely engaging account of their two lives. Herman doesn't descend into the hero worship that tends to surround these characters, but really dives into what makes these figure both national heroes and men with faults, vices and errors of judgment. I couldn't help going away from the novel feeling like it was more about the life of Gandhi with Churchill thrown in as the counter-argument and British perspective. This book's major theme was the way the nation of India broke apart from its colonial status with these two figures as the narrative thread. It left me with a good picture of events, but also left me craving to know more. It's hard to write a book about Churchill and not include some of his influential role in WWII, but a lot of the drama of the war didn't directly contribute to the story of India, and that part of Churchill's life was abbreviated (and rightly so.) I'm definitely going to have to pick up a good Churchill biography after this read, perhaps after a year or so when the details of this book have started to fade.(less)
March Upcountry could have some potential as a fun pulp sci-fi book. However, I think its major flaw is that this firs...moreGrab your popcorn for this read.
March Upcountry could have some potential as a fun pulp sci-fi book. However, I think its major flaw is that this first in a series did not have enough of a substantial plot arc or character development to justify ending where it did. I understand it's a serial, but really I have no desire to continue reading it. The only way I would continue would be if I was really bored with everything I was reading and it was sitting there very convenient to grab.
As it is, March Upcountry is a mediocre read that can be fun at times.(less)
It took awhile for me to really get into this book after reading The Count of Monte Cristo. It really felt like it was written by a different author....moreIt took awhile for me to really get into this book after reading The Count of Monte Cristo. It really felt like it was written by a different author. Once I realized that it was more of a swashbuckling comedy it was a lot more enjoyable. I was really taking it too seriously at the beginning and I hated D'Artagnan. He matures throughout the story which made me start to enjoy his character more. It took about a third of the book to get to the point where I didn't want to set the book aside any more. Overall a fun read after getting over my initial disinterest.(less)