Bourdain a seriously funny writer, and his expose (although that makes it sound more weighty than it really is, like he's uncovering a major injustice...moreBourdain a seriously funny writer, and his expose (although that makes it sound more weighty than it really is, like he's uncovering a major injustice on the front page of the New York Times) on kitchen life is ultra readable and fun.
You can tell he loves being in a hot cramped kitchen with his beloved Hispanic cooks (whose culinary prowess he continually raves about), just cooking. Bourdain isn't a celebrity chef in the traditional sense (famous, yes, but he's not opening up branded, themed restaurants in Vegas and showing up in Page Six on a regular basis), and his writing is more real and nitty-gritty. If this were a cookbook, it'd be an old, falling-apart one whose binding barely is keeping it together and every page is creased, scribbled on and splattered with food, in contrast to a shiny, never-been-used-and-never-will-be-used-but-the-pictures-are-so-pretty! cookbook. These are the sort of stories I think Bourdain would tell you if he were sitting next to you a dingy old bar, smoking a cigarette and drinking a double...
**spoiler alert** Flyboys tells the story of nine airmen shot down and, with the exception of one lone survivor, killed over Chichi Jima, an island ra...more**spoiler alert** Flyboys tells the story of nine airmen shot down and, with the exception of one lone survivor, killed over Chichi Jima, an island ravaged in the oft-overlooked Pacific component of WWII. The facts became declassified over half a century later, and Bradley had the opportunity to weave them into an amazing, never-been-told story.
The circumstances of their deaths are harrowing, and Bradley clearly did his research on the boys, but I still wasn't quite taken with the book. I simply wasn't as engaged as I should have been in a story of this magnitude. I'm never opposed to learning, but it was almost as if Bradley couldn't stop himself from putting every bit of information he knew of on the Pacific war that it became a bit cluttered and unfocused, and ultimately the book wasn't even really the boys' "true story of courage" - it was just an overstuffed take on anything that related to Japanese-American history, Japanese and American values, military policy, naval aviation, Japan's relationship with China, etc. in light of the Pacific war. I would have liked to learn more about the boys and their story, but they got a little lost in the shuffle.
You just kind of get the sense that outside of the "true story of courage" he's telling, Bradley just picked up a few history books and copied the big crucial parts into his book, even though while relevant to the big picture of the Pacific war, they weren't quite essential to this book. (I remember one line at the beginning went something like this: "In order to understand the story of the Flyboys, we must go back 3,000 years in Japanese history." Really now? Must we?) Again, I'm interested in pretty much everything, and reading a book about Japanese history 3,000 years ago and how it affected WWII could be fascinating, but this wasn't the forum. There wasn't enough time to give all the background, so by leaving just a bit in gave the book that chaotic and ambiguous feeling that confuses a book's identity.(less)
Terrible...really, really terrible. One could say this is my fault for reading a crap book like this, but...I had just dropped out of my sorority when...moreTerrible...really, really terrible. One could say this is my fault for reading a crap book like this, but...I had just dropped out of my sorority when I read it, so it was at least timely.
That didn't make up for the fact that the book sucked and had nothing revealing or expository to say. It was a sorority-girl-worshipping ode posing as a critique, but you'd have to be dumb as the sorority sisters are themselves not to see through that.
On the plus side, this book proves that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. Um, okay boobs...clearly this is an academic, enlightening read about the corrupt and inane world of sororities, because you're certainly not just trying to lure me in with some bubbies, right?(less)
I picked this up because it was in the guest room at my aunt's beach house and it seemed like good "summer is here, I just finished finals, don't make...moreI picked this up because it was in the guest room at my aunt's beach house and it seemed like good "summer is here, I just finished finals, don't make me think" reading. I think I read it in about 3 hours, and I couldn't remember a single thing that happened to the main character once I was done.
In fact, if they hadn't come out with the movie (which I'm a big fan of, by the way), the book would have probably disappeared from my radar forever.
Nothing really happened in the book, which I objected to. It wasn't funny enough to be a straight-up comedy of errors, but the only semblance of a plot I could pick out had to do with the crazy, evil shenanigans of Anna Win--I mean, the editor Andie worked for.
I think the author could have given us much juicier inside-info about Anna, by the way. I know more about her from Page Six and industry gossip than I gleaned from this book...so come on, if you're going to write a novel the intellectual equivalent of a gossip rag, at least make it US Weekly and tell us something as opposed to making it In Touch Weekly and regurgitating what everyone already knows. Seriously...
Recommended for: when your brain hurts and you want to read something mindless, yet you won't stoop so low as to read a book written by someone without a basic grasp of the English language. Also, if you live in Wyoming and want to know if the rumors you hear about that Anna Wintour lady are true (they are).(less)
In the best way possible, Push wasn't what I expected. Since I knew the book had been turned into a movie, I suppose I thought I was picking up the wr...moreIn the best way possible, Push wasn't what I expected. Since I knew the book had been turned into a movie, I suppose I thought I was picking up the written version of Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, etc. -- the cliched list goes on -- meaning I was waiting to enter the Disney-fied world of an inner-city high school where all it takes is a passionate, underpaid teacher to reach through the students' tough shells to uncover the talented jewels within.
As family-friendly and white-guilt-appeasing as those tales may be, Push doesn't go anywhere near them. Sapphire -- whose name I can't say helped convince me I was about to read something worthwhile -- penned an urban tragedy that doesn't fall victim to tired "Persevere! Choose your own destiny!" messaging; rather, Push slaps you in the face with the reality of our protagonist's life.
Born into the worst moral and physical destitution imaginable, Precious is almost Job-like in her misfortune. We see her endure and endure and endure again, but how many terrible things can happen to one person? Push is an extreme and fortunately fictive example, but what a way to show that the world is not an equal-opportunity employer.
Bottom line, this never should have been published. It is unquestionably one of the worst books I've ever read in my entire life---worse than books th...moreBottom line, this never should have been published. It is unquestionably one of the worst books I've ever read in my entire life---worse than books that merely have stupid plots or challenged writing, because those are just superficial flaws of superficial books. No, QB VII is the worst kind of book in that it was written by a talented author, yet it insults, manipulates and proselytizes ad nauseum.
If you believe the inside cover, you'll pick up this book thinking you're going to hear the story of two men from opposing sides of a libel suit: Adam Kelno, a surgeon who spend several years practicing in a concentration camp while being held as a political prisoner by the Nazis, sues writer Abraham Cady for including allegedly defamatory remarks about Kelno's actions at the camp in his latest book about the Holocaust. Is Kelno evil, an anti-Semite on the same plane as the Nazis, or is he a decent man who was forced to do terrible things as a Nazi puppet?
Sounds promising, right? Yeah, I thought so too. My mistake.
Uris takes what could have been a great story and instead uses it as a platform to continue his personal vendetta against the Dr. Kelno in his own life: Dr. Wladislaw Dering, a doctor Uris accused of atrocities in his book Exodus, which led to the longest libel proceeding in British history (thanks, New York Times obituary on Uris). Of course, writing about one's own life isn't inherently a mistake, but this particular subject was clearly too close to Uris for him to write about it objectively.
He spends the first half of the book introducing us to the two characters, and because Cady is written as an insufferable misogynist and Kelno is a generous family man, I think we're supposed to assume that Uris doesn't have an agenda and wants to show the ambiguity of ethics. Soon, though, it becomes apparent that Kelno is being written into a corner and for 20+ years has been hiding his hatred of Jews---no better evidenced than in the last few pages of the book, where he entirely uncharacteristically (view spoiler)[starts slapping his Jewish son-like figure and screaming "Jew! Jew! Jew!" in his face. (hide spoiler)] I'm sorry, but...what???
Uris didn't "show" anything; he just "told" me what to believe, and no way did I believe Kelno's transformation from human to evil reincarnated. Rather, Cady's flagrant mistreatment of women made him the most believable asshole in the book. Cady---who for all intents and purposes is Uris---clearly hates us, the feeble, lesser sex, yet doesn't seem aware of how that contradicts his platform for equality.
This book is riddled with hypocrisy, legal shakiness and bias, and had it been written about any subject other than the Holocaust, I think people would more readily admit that. I almost couldn't stomach it, and very, very rarely do I give up on a book, but it was all I could do not to skim the pages two at a time to get to the end.
It's too bad: Mila 18 and Trinity have been on my to-read list for ages, and I'm not sure after this I can give old Leon another chance. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fascinating little read about the last days of Hitler's life. The book is smartly divided into four chronologically organized sections, each with a na...moreFascinating little read about the last days of Hitler's life. The book is smartly divided into four chronologically organized sections, each with a narrative detailing the "what" and a reflective summary trying to explain the "why." Fest presents an illuminating look at a man that morally doesn't deserve one's attention, but historically makes for fascinating content.
The book centers on the almost unbelievable turn of events in the last few weeks of the Third Reich: despite an absolutely epic collapse militarily, psychologically and economically, Hitler tried to press on...not because he was a valiant, courageous leader, but because he didn't care what the costs of moving forward were.
What can be said about Hitler that hasn't already been said? That he was evil personified? That he was a maniacal, power-hungry war-monger? Sure he was, and more, but Fest isn't here to expound on Hitler's lack of righteousness---his downward spiral at the end of his life is far more interesting book fodder.
The most remarkable takeaway from the book for me was that once Hitler admitted to himself that success was impossible and his vision for world dominance was doomed, he had no interest in salvaging what was left of the German people or culture. He wanted everything and everyone annihilated: If he must end, then the world as he knew it must end, too. He ordered the destruction of bridges, hospitals, art...he wanted it all gone.
Definitely an interesting topic---who knew that there were/are upwards of 6,000 tunnel dwellers living beneath my feet under the sidewalks of New York...moreDefinitely an interesting topic---who knew that there were/are upwards of 6,000 tunnel dwellers living beneath my feet under the sidewalks of New York?---but a more skilled writer/editor would have done a better job.
The biggest problem is Toth fell short of effectively capturing THE most gripping quality of her subject. Her selected quotations and scene depictions were pretty weak, so I didn't FEEL I was in the tunnel, I didn't smell it or see (or not see, as the case may be) it through her words. (True, there was a scene or two at the beginning that was pretty rich in detail, but really just from a gross-out perspective.)
The book was loaded with repetition, so it read more as a series of sociological case studies rather than as a cohesive work. Details---whether on the characters or on Toth's walks to the tunnel entrances---were long and unwieldy, and a friend of mine put it best when she said the subject would have been more effectively handled as a 30-page newspaper expose rather than a unfocused book.
Also, while it could be an interesting subject in its own right, the entire chapter on humans living underground in the past was completely inappropriate. Egyptian slaves living underground thousands of years ago doesn't have anything to do with why these drug-addicted, mentally unstable homeless people have taken to the tunnels. My guess is Toth heard a professor (she was only 24, after all) say something about how a writer should always provide the back story, but she provided a back story for a totally different subject. I would have preferred to read about homelessness throughout the decades in NYC---that would have allowed her to hypothesize as to what exactly drove these people underground.
The few positive notes:
I do give Toth credit for taking on a project like this at a young age---it's certainly a story that was swept under the bed by the city, and Toth took some serious risks (as in, to her life) by choosing to tell it. I'm not sure if she's written anything else, but I'd be interested to see if she developed a nose for investigative journalism or if she just got lucky with her tip-off about Mole People...
I'm totally fascinated with quantity of THINGS beneath this city: Tunnels, pipes, cables, wires, bomb shelters, abandoned subway stations---some with chandeliers and fountains!!---bathrooms from the Revolutionary War, a SHIP...it's incredible! Would love to read more about that.
Allow me to begin by saying how much I adore Anthony Bourdain: I love his gritty sense of humor, I love his enthusiasm for food that's not "pretty," I...moreAllow me to begin by saying how much I adore Anthony Bourdain: I love his gritty sense of humor, I love his enthusiasm for food that's not "pretty," I love his desire to see, taste and do everything, I love that he slams Food Network over and over again despite the fact that they funded the trips on which this book was based, I love that he drops F-bombs like it's his job.
Unfortunately, all of these don't come together to create a book I love-love-loved.
Kitchen Confidential in particular is far superior, in my humble/esteemed (depends on whom you ask) opinion, and Cook's Tour was a little disappointing comparatively. It's still a good read, but it feels like Tony has been pared down, and I miss the insider's peek that KC permitted. Memorable bits do stand out thanks to Tony's willingness to try anything, but overall the book has settled into the part of my brain where the title registers on the "Oh yeah, that book, that was pretty good" scale but my neurons can't fire off anymore information than that. Spilling from Bourdain's mind, this book is just not quite as memorable as it could have been, but Bourdain fans, global adventurers, and crazy foodies still ought to read it. (less)
Since I'm not a mom, my opinion of this book can't be wholly trusted, but nonetheless, here it is:
Fessler compiled personal accounts from women who go...moreSince I'm not a mom, my opinion of this book can't be wholly trusted, but nonetheless, here it is:
Fessler compiled personal accounts from women who got pregnant out of wedlock in the 50s and 60s and had their children taken from them under the guise of "voluntary adoption." Every single one of these accounts was unjust and upsetting: Girls were ostracized by their own families, they were made to feel unworthy of motherhood, they weren't informed of their legal rights and - in many cases - were blatantly lied to, and of course, worst of all, they had their children taken from them against their will. Then, given that this was a time of repressed emotions, the women were expected to simply forget about it and move on.
The cultural reaction was abominable enough, but legally, it's hard to believe that this even happened in America. What an incredible thing, to live in a time when you, on a personal level, could be lied to, misled and forced into doing something you didn't want to (and technically didn't have to) do by your state. It's difficult to fathom.
Hopefully this establishes that I find not informing citizens of their rights, particularly so you can then go and steal their babies, reprehensible. That said (you knew it was coming!), would keeping the baby have been the best decision for any of these women? In the typical case, the parents refused to offer any kind of financial or moral support, the boyfriend was MIA, the girl had no savings and hadn't yet graduated high school and therefore had slim, if any, job prospects...would they really have been able to take their babies home and raise them the way they deserved to be raised?
One girl made the point that several years after her first pregnancy, she had her second child. She still didn't have any money, she still didn't have a degree, she still didn't have a career, but this time, she was married, so all was well and she was "capable" therefore of being a mother. This of course just emphasizes the inanity of the culture's prejudice: Having a ring on your finger doesn't automatically mean you're in a good situation to have a child. Many single women are much better equipped to raise a life than married couples, unquestionably. However, my mind is in 2011 when I say that, though - not 1962. In 1962, an unwed mother didn't stand much of a chance without the support of her family and society's acceptance - neither of which she would have received.
Another girl - a 14-year-old - had talked it over with her boyfriend, and they were determined to get married. They had been saving up their dollars and had even bought a TV - clearly, one of the first things you need when having a baby and saving up to live independently. Who says this girl wasn't equipped to parent on her own!?
Yet another girl says she would have been able to do it with "just a little help." Since when is it anyone else's job to help you raise your child?? If you can't do it on your own and don't have anywhere to turn for support, can you really do it?
I'm not remotely suggesting that we create a financial or intellectual litmus test for motherhood and if the woman doesn't pass, she loses her child. That's ridiculous. But ultimately, the vast majority of these women - girls, really - couldn't have provided for their babies the way the adopted parents (in most cases) could - and the way the babies deserved. That doesn't excuse the near kidnappings that took place, but while the mothers may have suffered greatly, were the children better off?
I'm also a little confused about what the subtitle has to do with the book, other than to market to pro-choicers. Is Fessler suggesting that abortion would have been a better solution than adoption? Had abortion been available at the time, I'm sure many of these women would have at least seriously considered it and some would have gone through with it, but as the majority are now happily reunited with their children, I have a hard time believing that any would choose to go back in time and abort the kid away.
This book raises a lot of really interesting questions. Four stars for the thought-provoking content. Minus one for being too one-sided and a little repetitive. Net net, this "hidden history" is a worthwhile read, but readers should take care to consider the not-hidden history of adoption's benefits, as well. (less)