Parts of this are really good. Parts of it are not very good. Fortunately, there are many more good parts that not very good parts.
This is my second rParts of this are really good. Parts of it are not very good. Fortunately, there are many more good parts that not very good parts.
This is my second read-through. The Clarissa plot line is still not very good and really felt unnecessary - there only to raise the personal stakes for Holden and company without doing anything for the larger narrative. And the larger narrative does not need any support - that is what you are here for: big ideas with big stakes on the line.
Fortunately, the rest of the story manages to rise above this....more
An utterly fascinating book about something that is so important to the history of the world and yet so little discussed in more mainstream works of hAn utterly fascinating book about something that is so important to the history of the world and yet so little discussed in more mainstream works of history.
As a general survey of the subject, it works surprisingly well. It does deep dives into interesting nooks and crannies, which are very interesting indeed, but usually stays with overall trends and historic forces driving changes in trade. Roughly chronological, it covers trade from paleolithic times up until today, although, given the size of the subject, it does jump back and forth in time in places. These jumps are handled well, however, and I was never at a loss for when things were happening.
One criticism I have of the book is that the lens through which many of the actions depicted is distinctly modern. As such, some parts in the book come off as being editorial, and, in many cases, somewhat condescending.
My other criticism is that the author has a thesis (roughly summed up as "protectionism bad") and will hit you over the head with it, especially in later chapters as the time period nears the modern day. While the author does present some compelling arguments, I would have preferred less editorializing and more history.
These two criticisms do not mean the book is any less interesting to read, I merely note them as being things that were slightly irritating to me (they are also why I gave this book 4 stars instead of the 5 it might otherwise have gotten).
Criticisms aside, I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in world history....more
Uneven but generally good. These are the types of tales I remember when I think of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser: somewhat brooding, but full of fun adveUneven but generally good. These are the types of tales I remember when I think of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser: somewhat brooding, but full of fun adventures with nothing too serious. There's always the next treasure to find and/or steal, the next land to explore, and the next ancient whatsis to discover.
This is much better than most of the first volume. The writing is generally better and the stories, freed from the need to retroactively explain origin stories, are better as well....more
Not as good as I remembered it being. The two prequels stories are not all that good, the first is especially mediocre. As an origin story for Fafhrd,Not as good as I remembered it being. The two prequels stories are not all that good, the first is especially mediocre. As an origin story for Fafhrd, it had too many twists and turns that had accumulated over the years to accommodate inside of a short story. The Mouser's origin story is a little better, but still had to undergo some contortions to fit the "facts" established in later stories (that were written much much earlier). Ill Met In Lankhmar though is still a pretty good story, full of magic, desperate fights, and comradeship. That story really saves the rest of this first anthology.
As in most genre work of its time, these stories can be problematic to read, so if rampant sexism and sexual stereotypes are triggers for you, I would suggest staying away. If you can deal with that and like decent sword and sorcery yarns, these stories, while not great, do set the table for the (hopefully) better Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser tales to come....more
Very fascinating look into five incidents or (in one case) friendships that have to do with the men who were central to the beginnings of the United SVery fascinating look into five incidents or (in one case) friendships that have to do with the men who were central to the beginnings of the United States.
The Duel provides details on the most famous duel in US history. Ellis goes into great detail on Alexander Hamilton's past and how he came to be at the point where he felt he must accept the offer of a duel from Aaron Burr, who's past is not given in as great detail because there are fewer primary sources about him, what he thought and why he acted the way he did.
The Dinner shows how political quid pro quo was handled in the early government. It goes into great detail about the controversy around the federal government's assumption of states' debt incurred during the Revolutionary War. It also gives deep background on the other controversial decision facing Congress at that time: where the permanent national capital was to be located. These stories are centered around a dinner given by Thomas Jefferson and attended by James Madison (against assumption and for "the Potomack solution") and Alexander Hamilton (the main pro-assumption advocate and anti-Potomac). While there are few details about the actual dinner, Ellis paints a narrative that some sort of compromise was reached at that time between those players that ultimately led to assumption being passed and the decision to place the capital where it is today.
The Silence gives an in-depth look at how the question of slavery in the US was essentially banned as a topic of discussion in Congress, why and how this came to be and some of the repercussions (like how this ban lasted until close to the onset of the Civil War, almost 75 years later).
The Farewell tells the story of Washington's farewell address, its political underpinnings, how it was written, how major players at the time reacted to it, and how it became enshrined as a sacred document in American politics for the next century plus.
The Collaborators shows various combinations of men worked together to mold the infant United States in their image: John Adams and Jefferson, Jefferson and Madison, Adams and his wife Abigail. The scene is played out across Adams' term as president and gives a glimpse at how politics worked at the time (hint: not so different as now, really).
The Friendship discusses at length the long friendship and correspondence between Adams and Jefferson, how they were close during the Revolutionary era, how they became divided during the race for who would be president after Washington, and how they were finally reconciled and corresponded with each other over the last decade of their lives.
Despite a noted anti-Jefferson bias that shows up now and again, overall, this is a pretty even-handed and utterly fascinating treatment of tumultuous times and personalities. ...more
Long slog to get to the "good parts" which last far too briefly and then are gone. Which sounds harsh (and kind of is) however the slog part is stillLong slog to get to the "good parts" which last far too briefly and then are gone. Which sounds harsh (and kind of is) however the slog part is still filled with many good bits which I guess means the slog is more sloggish.
Still a good space opera read, though. The characters continue to be mostly 1D with the exception of Avasarala who is pretty great, as is Bobbie. Prax though, is not one of the good parts. He is very unevenly written, full of sadness and pathos one minute and seemingly calm and full of science the next. Then the seesaw tilts and he goes back the other way. At the seeming drop of a hat. Given that he is the propulsive force through the book, his mood swings induced a whipsaw-like effect in my enjoyment of the book to the point where I found old Prax to be quite tiresome.
Despite this, a lot of the rest of the book is enjoyable enough that this is my second time reading it....more
OK, great ideas here. Well, let's see: Atlantis, aliens (maybe), evolution, conspiracies, genetics, suspended animation, Nazis, lost cities, pandemicsOK, great ideas here. Well, let's see: Atlantis, aliens (maybe), evolution, conspiracies, genetics, suspended animation, Nazis, lost cities, pandemics, secret societies that have existed for thousands of years, Himalayan mountaintop monasteries. Toss'em in a bowl and you should have a fun thing.
Except not here. Every time the book started to get interesting, something would happen that got in the way, killing any momentum that was generated. Like when any character spoke. Or did anything.
I wanted to like this very badly. But the characters are so stereotypically written and one dimensional that it was really hard to see the awesome beyond the boring words coming out of these people's mouths. Add in how small the cast ended up being, and this global conspiracy that has existed since man evolved into his current form turns out to be basically a backyard argument. Truly eye-rolling. Trying not to spoil too much here, so no examples, but man, was there some dumb stuff.
And the pity is there did not need to be, unless maybe it all makes more sense in the next book in the series (which I will not be reading, thanks for asking!). I could have put up with one dimensional characters or weak, nonsensical motivations: I read a lot of genre fiction after all and do it all the time. But some of the stuff here, just, why?
I don't like harshing on authors, writing a book is hard work. So I will stop ranting....more
A short general biography of Augustus. Tries really hard to get to the man behind the myth and feels like it mostly succeeds, although there are a fewA short general biography of Augustus. Tries really hard to get to the man behind the myth and feels like it mostly succeeds, although there are a few times where Everitt's hypothesizing feels a little off. Kind of glosses over much of Augustus' rule and concentrates on his rise to power, which is fine as far as it goes but I would have liked to have had more details on how Augustus ruled as princeps. A minor quibble, however. Overall, Everitt's writing style does a great job of keeping the reader engaged with his subject and his side-lights on details of life in the era are quite good....more