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
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
While some of it is quite interesting, I found myself most amused with the specific comparisons to Edwardian and Victorian etiquette, which probably wWhile 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....more