It takes Larson a bit of time to start finding a rhythm with the book. The first few chapters about Isaac Cline, his life before Galveston, read like...moreIt takes Larson a bit of time to start finding a rhythm with the book. The first few chapters about Isaac Cline, his life before Galveston, read like someone else wrote them. To me, it was as if Larson was trying to make the story more snarky or perhaps more funny than letting it naturally flow. The book really picks up as the hurricane makes its appearance close to Cuba and keeping getting better as it goes on.
I don't know if Larson's to blame or not for one of the selling points on the cover of the book: the feud between Joseph and Isaac Cline. There really isn't much of one in the contents. All we really know is they didn't get along after the hurricane and we aren't given much about that. Did the hurricane cause it? Perhaps, but nothing seems to prove it. The story of the hurricane and Isaac Cline's reactions are enough to make the book. There wasn't much of a need to shoehorn a maybe perhaps feud between the Cline brothers.
Still, the tale of the hurricane itself is quite good and well worth a read.(less)
It's an interesting look at a pretty complex fellow. Ziegler keeps it pretty balanced, neither painting him as the shafted deposed saint whose case wa...moreIt's an interesting look at a pretty complex fellow. Ziegler keeps it pretty balanced, neither painting him as the shafted deposed saint whose case was as simple as being "the woman he loved," nor making him a Nazi-loving total rapscallion. He also doesn't turn this into a tabloid and that could be pretty easy to do, considering those involved. Ziegler makes great use of the sources available to him, too. (less)
While some of it is quite interesting, I found myself most amused with the specific comparisons to Edwardian and Victorian etiquette, which probably w...moreWhile some of it is quite interesting, I found myself most amused with the specific comparisons to Edwardian and Victorian etiquette, which probably wasn't the author's intention. Yes, the lives of Augustus John and his various lovers and children is amusing as are the tales of Dylan and Caitlin Thomas, but I think Nicholson hurt the book with her approach. She has divided Bohemian culture into different sub-topics, such as decorating, dressing, eating, and the fascinatingly bizarre chapter on sex. I'm curious as to what the book would have been like if she had gone more of a chronological order with events. As is, the information just hangs out there, with little except the final chapter about the Jazz Age and beyond to tie it to other events in history. How was Bohemian culture affected by the death of Edward VII? The events of World War I? There are some good things in this book, but I wish they had been presented differently.(less)
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 r...moreI 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.(less)
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 Hit...moreThere 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"]>(less)