I have to say this was a let-down and a downer for me.
The book highlights the life of Ambassador William Dodd during this assignment in Germany at the...moreI have to say this was a let-down and a downer for me.
The book highlights the life of Ambassador William Dodd during this assignment in Germany at the beginning of Hitler's uprising. It provides some background on his early life prior to the assignment.
While I found the subject interesting, I was hoping to learn more about the life in Germany at the time. I felt like it was light, but yet it went pretty heavy-handed with the Ambassador's daughter, Martha, and her love life. It felt too Jerry Springer to me.
...in the end I did feel bad for Ambassador Dodd. I felt, while he wanted to do so much more, his hands were tied. I don't know who could be blamed or if the situation could have turned out differently if our government weren't so concern that JP Morgan and other millionaires got paid. (less)
What possess a person to go into the Amazon knowing that it's crawling with diseases and creatures that could kill you? That I don't know. But I can't...moreWhat possess a person to go into the Amazon knowing that it's crawling with diseases and creatures that could kill you? That I don't know. But I can't say I blame anyone who wants to be "the first" to do anything. "Every quest, we are led to believe, has a romantic origin."
I've never heard of Z nor of Percy Fawcett, but after reading this book I want to know what happened to him, too! He sounds like a fascinating man. Born in 1867 and a military man, "he was the last of the great Victorian explorers who ventured into an unchartered realms with a little more than a machete, a compass, and almost a divine sense of purpose." He became obsessed with the Amazon after his expeditions to redraw Bolivia-Brazil border. He was convinced "that an ancient, highly cultured people still existed in the Brazilian Amazon and that their civilization was so old and so sophisticated it would forever alter the Western view of the Americas" (since then, and even now, we didn't know much about the various Indian tribes, but we simply just classified them as "salvages.") So he named this lost world the City of Z.
At time of his fateful expedition in 1925, he was said that "although his hair was thinning and his mustache was flecked with white, he was so fit that he could walk for days with little, if any, rest or nourishment." People talked about how he'd battle anaconda, piranhas, and other jungle creatures and survived to tell it. So if anyone was able to find this Lost City of Z, it would be Fawcett, the Royal Geographic Society believed. Just look at his picture, he seems like nothing could shake him up! He reminded me of Curly from City Slickers: "Did you see how leathery he was? He was like a saddlebag with eyes!"
Everything about the Amazon just doesn't sound appealing to me. There was vampire fish that made piranha sounded like kitten. There was a pit viper, one of the most venomous snakes in the Americas: one bite will cause a person to bleed from the eyes and become a corpse piece-by-piece. And you could get maggots growing under your skin and die. Oh, goody. Sounds delightful - sign me up!
Obviously it takes a certain kind of person and certain kind of personality to desire for an Amazon adventure, knowing what lies ahead. But this is not like camping in your local state forest preserve, this is sleeping in a hammock with all sort of things that want to eat you alive watching you. And we're talking about the early 1920s when the expedition took place. There was zero modern amenity and gadget! You had to have skills - real skills, like how to make a pillow out of mud, as Fawcett had. Or how to make friend with cannibal Indian tribe without breaking down and crying like a little girl. But yet the Amazon attracted, and continuing to attract, all sort of explorers and expeditions. There are oil and rubber, those are money to be made. Plus the dream of finding El Dorado.
I know I wouldn't last a day, but I get the obsession especially when there wasn't a lot of places left unexplored when Fawcett made his fateful expedition. To emerge from the Amazon victorious for the second time, when hundreds had perished, would certainly make him a bigger hero than he was already. Your name is forever etched into history. But anthropologists have different opinions on whether the Amazon could support massive population, let alone a "sophisticated civilization." Some say no way, while others are more optimistic. And if you're a scientist, wouldn't you want to risk it to prove it once and for all?! I could see it. I get it.
They typically have one common thread: obsession. They are about ordinary people driven to do extraordinary things — things that most of us would never dare — who get some germ of an idea in their heads that metastasizes until it consumes them.
A lovely story of the life up in the Caribou Country. Having visited British Columbia recently and hiked some trails, I can appreciate a lot of Hoagla...moreA lovely story of the life up in the Caribou Country. Having visited British Columbia recently and hiked some trails, I can appreciate a lot of Hoagland's observations and experiences. The area of the province he visited is even further north than I was at. You have to be tough to endure such living conditions. Hoagland described life there as lonely, but it didn't seem like anyone wanted to leave. As the matter of fact, people kept showing up to stay. May be to test your strength in the wild? There's definitely some romance to that, I suppose.
I would have enjoyed the book a bit more if it was written in a different format, other than diary. I didn't feel like I could get immerse into the story and the characters as solidly as I'd like to. Still, I can picture the landscape he'd seen and imagine the conversations with the locals. (less)
One of the best history books I've read recently! Not only that it's well researched, it's quite gripping. Ok, so may be the fact that I didn't know m...moreOne of the best history books I've read recently! Not only that it's well researched, it's quite gripping. Ok, so may be the fact that I didn't know much about President Garfield had a lot to do with the suspense, but I think I would still be hooked to the book even if I know of his history. I was rooting for Garfield to survive, while trying to hold myself back from looking up the outcome on the Internet. But would Bell been able to save Garfield, even if his invention had worked? Millard does a superb job, IMHO, at describing all the characters and the experience that Garfield must have gone through after he'd been shot. I could feel the pain and agony he was suffering from the infection in which he'd succumbed and the sadness and sorrow that the whole nation felt. He seems like a remarkable man, and his ending is just tragic and senseless...
Drama, drama, drama. Before this book, I didn't know much about Cleopatra. She was quite a fascinating woman. I think she was a survivor and tough. I...moreDrama, drama, drama. Before this book, I didn't know much about Cleopatra. She was quite a fascinating woman. I think she was a survivor and tough. I get the feeling that she would have done better if Caesar was alive and that Marc Antony, in a way, was responsible for her ending. He was weak and may be even incompetent.
While the story was gripping, I found the writing to be less than enjoyable. I can't pin-point it exactly why, but it felt rushed. It felt nothing like other non-fiction I'd read, but more like a soap opera script. Sometimes important things would just jump out from nowhere in the middle of a paragraph. It just didn't flow right. I was only able to get through the entire book because I put the book down for a few weeks and waited it out. And for that I was quite disappointed in such a highly regarded book. (less)
I think that Capote did such a tremendous job with this book. The amount of research that went into it seemed extensive. Capote not only wrote in deta...moreI think that Capote did such a tremendous job with this book. The amount of research that went into it seemed extensive. Capote not only wrote in detail on the victims (the Clutters: Herb, Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon), but he wrote about the psyche of the killers (Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.) Throughout out most of the book, I felt so sad for the Clutters, to have lost their lives to senseless crime like that (but Capote mentioned another more heinous crime committed by Lowell Lee Andrews who shot his parents and sister just because.)
I watched the movie Capote again after I'd finished reading the book. He must have been so infatuated with the story to spin a murder tale into an epic story. The book, however, dragged on at points for me. Otherwise it was a solid book, and it gave me chills while reading it!(less)