It's not Nixonland, but that would be very hard to do. The 1976 Republican National Convention is delightful, but it feels like an abrupt en3.5 stars.
It's not Nixonland, but that would be very hard to do. The 1976 Republican National Convention is delightful, but it feels like an abrupt end. Gerald Ford survives. End of story, no mention of the Presidential race between he and Jimmy Carter at all.
The biographical bits are easily the best parts, especially on Ronald Reagan. That said, he does not explore Ford much and barely at all on Carter. That's sad because Carter's rise is arguably as fascinating. Of course, that might be because Perlstein seems to detest Carter. Ford doesn't seem to tickle his fancy, either, as he's only portrayed as a total goofball (just how many times can that man hit his head on something?). Betty Ford comes across as genuine.
There isn't nearly as much cultural background weaving, which was arguably the best part of Nixonland. Just countless CIA scandals and eyes on Dick Cheney at all times.
Still, quite readable and I filled in quite a few gaps in my historical knowledge....more
Cartland wrote a ton of fiction, but this is one of her memoirs and is about upper class life in the 1920s.
It's a fascinating history, especially whenCartland wrote a ton of fiction, but this is one of her memoirs and is about upper class life in the 1920s.
It's a fascinating history, especially when she goes into the divide from Edwardian customs and mores and when she writes of the Bright Young Things. Cartland does float from story to story and sometimes just randomly lists things, but the stories are so well written it makes up for it.
Works best if you know a bit about the individuals named....more
A disappointment. It started well. The chapters on Live Aid, Zanzibar, India and even the early band stuff (Sour Milk Sea, Ibex, Smile) were good. TheA disappointment. It started well. The chapters on Live Aid, Zanzibar, India and even the early band stuff (Sour Milk Sea, Ibex, Smile) were good. There were some rehashes, but the Live Aid chapter seemed like the book was ready to tell the tale from what drove Mercury as an individual and how that translated into the band's success.
Then, the book becomes a full-fledged romp into Mercury's bedroom. Band history is almost totally inconsequential except as a slight timeline. Not that Jones could change Mercury's history - it is what it is - but her approach is quite shallow. Mercury might have a tantrum every now and then, but they're not elaborated on and are buried under the rug. Neither he nor Queen can do wrong. There's a lot of glossing over. She does mention that they were looking to get out of the contract with Trident/Norman Sheffield as they were pitifully paid, but it's never mentioned how it happened, or that Mercury got the band sued over Death on Two Legs.
She brings up early that Mercury really had no problem with drugs, though he did them. When he wanted to quit cocaine, he did it cold turkey. Mercury's drug issues, to whatever extent they were, never feature in the story, except in very quick passing. There's no quotes over it, no quotes how serious it was, when he quit, what drove him to quitting. Zilch. Mercury can do no wrong.
Hope you're not curious about band relationships, as you're not going to get anything. There have been several works to explore it and if she wanted to switch the focus to his personal life that would be fine, but there is nothing about how his constant stream of boyfriends and occasional girlfriend affected the dynamic. It's not like there isn't enough suggestion in the band's catalog itself to believe it happened ([i]Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy[/i], the supposed Mary Austin-dedicated [i]Love of My Life, Get Down Make Love, Play the Game, Jealousy[/i], etc.). ...more
I'm a sucker for this era, especially books that focus on class issues.
We start with three schoolboys, Nicholas Jenkins, Charles Stringham and Peter TI'm a sucker for this era, especially books that focus on class issues.
We start with three schoolboys, Nicholas Jenkins, Charles Stringham and Peter Templer with Kenneth Widmerpool as the outcast at school. Jenkins narrates. Gradually, his world opens and his interactions with society become more nuanced. While it seems ridiculous that everyone mentioned (minus individuals he and Widmerpool meet in France, but there are still three volumes to go), even for a second not only shows back up again but is firmly woven into the fabric of society, it works. There are enough different personalities and circumstances that make it feasible.
Powell, in the first movement, essentially equates society with endless bed-hopping and spouse-swapping. It's actually pretty amusing. It's endless guessing as to which person ends up with Jenkins.
There are some themes reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited. Sebastian Flyte and Stringham have similar personalities. Art features heavily in both. Powell's world, though, is much wider and there is zero focus on religion in the first volume of Dance. Both are set just after the end of the Great War, though....more
It's better than three stars. I might even go 3.75 stars, but I'm not bumping it to 4.
It read very similar to me as an Agatha Christie mystery. One ofIt's better than three stars. I might even go 3.75 stars, but I'm not bumping it to 4.
It read very similar to me as an Agatha Christie mystery. One of the better Agatha Christie mysteries, but not on par with And Then There Were None. Some of Marlowe's adventure just seemed too convenient. I didn't buy his sudden friendship with Mona Mars or his abilities to take punches/blackjack shots with few after effects. That's the iffy for me. The good was the ending. Bravo, Mr. Chandler. I also liked the dialogue. It's really timeless....more
I simultaneously want to applaud and groan at Fitzgerald for his ending. I could see part of it coming a mile off. Not all of it, but the general ideaI simultaneously want to applaud and groan at Fitzgerald for his ending. I could see part of it coming a mile off. Not all of it, but the general idea of it.
The book works best when it mirrors the theme of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. You get the best scenes out of it and while they are quite good in their own right, they didn't strike me as being as good as The House of Mirth. There's an Ethan Frome reference in it, so I don't think it's much of a stretch to think Fitzgerald knew his Wharton.
Anthony Patch is a non-industrious limp-wristed boy of a man with oodles of money who falls for Gloria Gilbert, who on the surface is vapid and immature. She never totally grows out of it and he just gets worse. Like The House of Mirth, everything they do to try to achieve is always a step too late, a step short. Complete with argument scene that tosses everything into chaos and speeds up the fall.
Unlike The House of Mirth,(view spoiler)[ just when you think they're on the brink of being in the poorhouse permanently, ha-ha they win the lawsuit and are filthy rich. But Mad Anthony is in a permanent delirium, but is still stinking rich. Screw you, those who want the rich to be punished! (hide spoiler)]
Ranks below The Great Gatsby and way behind Tender is the Night, but still has its moments. Takes a good bit of time to really get going, though.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
**spoiler alert** I knew the twist coming in. I don't think that really matters as the twist is the icing. What matters is figuring out Merricat.
We're**spoiler alert** I knew the twist coming in. I don't think that really matters as the twist is the icing. What matters is figuring out Merricat.
We're wholly reliant on her to tell us what's happening. Occasionally, Uncle Julian pipes up (and we must remember to be kinder to Uncle Julian) but it's not like he's exactly a beacon of light and truth, either.
So, how much do we believe of Merricat's narrative? She seemingly enjoys keeping Constance, well constant. If Constance ventures out, both of their beliefs might be challenged. So, are the townspeople really that evil? Do they really come by and taunt the Blackwoods after the house fire?
I'm not sure. It's Merricat telling us that and Merricat wants us on her side. The Merricat who tells you that because a notebook fell off a nail on a tree, it meant bad things were going to happen. The Merricat that's rather flippant on the subject of death and refuses to go into Uncle Julian's room - even after his passing - because she's been forbidden....more
There aren't many non-fiction books that haunted me the way the first 100 pages of this did. I guess because I embarrassingly know so little about HitThere aren't many non-fiction books that haunted me the way the first 100 pages of this did. I guess because I embarrassingly know so little about Hitler's beginnings as chancellor. It eased up a bit, until just before the Night of the Long Knives. The book is framed through presence of William Dodd, the misfit American ambassador to Germany. You get a good look at him, but mostly you get a look at his daughter, Martha. Some of the Martha dealings with her lovers is a bit tedious, but never oppressive and never a chore.
There are a few questions that Larson didn't answer that I immediately thought of when I finished: (view spoiler)[It's mentioned in the afterward that von Papen survived, but how? What was the deal with Fritz the butler? Was he a spy? What happened to the Jewish family living at the top of Dodd's home? (hide spoiler)]
Not quite as thorough as The Devil in the White City, but that's probably to the book's benefit. It's also not as good as Devil in the White City, but better than both Thunderstruck and Isaac's Storm. Above average, but not an absolute must read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I don't know, really, if it was the book or if it was my expectations going in. Several individuals spoke and wrote highly of it. Perhaps I began to rI don't know, really, if it was the book or if it was my expectations going in. Several individuals spoke and wrote highly of it. Perhaps I began to resent the shoehorning of Papua New Guinea into nearly every conversation. It did feel like everything ran together, that Diamond worked didn't stray far from his argument that it all goes back to geography. Perhaps, well probably, it does, but to me it felt like he was hammering the same nail in every chapter, with the only differences being the specific names of peoples, plants and animals.
In the chapter near the end about Africa, he briefly mentions that the Sahara was much more green and supported some farming. There is nothing about the how and what specifically happened, just that the Sahara was now much more uninhabitable and people moved. There wasn't enough exploration of each area's specifics, what made it unique to its further development. Unless it was Papua New Guinea....more
I think I'm going backwards with Wharton. This was my third book of hers. I started with The House of Mirth, which I thought was brilliantly written aI think I'm going backwards with Wharton. This was my third book of hers. I started with The House of Mirth, which I thought was brilliantly written and a wonderful commentary on society with a clever ending. The Age of Innocence was just short, very good but a little something was missing to put it on par with Mirth.
This? Straightforward and devoid of personality. Several of the plot developments you could see coming from a half-mile, if not a mile off. The broken pickle dish, for example. Show of hands for anyone thinking that Ethan was going to get away with hiding it.
The characters feel cardboard thin. Zenobia is a shrew. Ethan won't stick his neck out for more than two seconds before being bullied again. Mattie is an angel.
Any time the plot could have taken a more interesting direction, it doesn't. Denis Eady, for all of the early posing that he could play a part, does nothing. The exploration of the early relationship of Ethan and Zenobia just dies....more
Reading this, I was reminded of three books. The beginning is somewhat Main Street, with bits and pieces of The Grapes of Wrath thrown in, though So BReading this, I was reminded of three books. The beginning is somewhat Main Street, with bits and pieces of The Grapes of Wrath thrown in, though So Big came 10 years earlier. The middle and end have a An American Tragedy vibe, though the plots aren't similar. The first half is fine, but when Pervus dies, it starts going downhill. Selina's fortunes change that quickly and that much? The coincidence that gives you that is equally unbelievable. Characters at this point lose all of whatever little nuances Ferber had been giving them. They're either good, fulfilled self-made men or women, or they're boring upper class twits with no imagination. No shades of gray, not even the title character, Dirk, is immune from this. I think she tried to cut some middle ground with Paula, but nothing feels true about it....more
Some chapters carry over, some don't. Something about this reminds me of Lewis Grizzard, perhaps it's that both just knew how to write about people, tSome chapters carry over, some don't. Something about this reminds me of Lewis Grizzard, perhaps it's that both just knew how to write about people, though with totally different attitudes at times. That's probably a strange comparison to make, though rural Yorkshire probably has more in common with the rural American south than either would like to admit. This is a light read, nothing deep (unless you find a certain spirituality in cow pregnancy), but enjoyable all the same....more
This was a case I where I admired what Woolf was trying to do rather than the end result. There are no chapters in this book, rather it's one very lo This was a case I where I admired what Woolf was trying to do rather than the end result. There are no chapters in this book, rather it's one very long interconnected tale between multiple people about a single day in London. That's what I admired, how everything was connected by just a few names, locations and circumstances, though there were some vastly different people. There is little dialogue, rather you spent a lot of time in people's heads and that's what either makes it or breaks it. You have be able to get into each person's head to make the story flow (especially as there is a lot of repetition and contradiction, as you do when you're holding a silent conversation with yourself). It's easy with Clarissa and Septimus, but there weren't many other characters I cared enough about to identify with them....more