This was a very boring and difficult book to read. It is not at all what I expected. I was hoping to get a good dose of Hawaiian history and culture a...moreThis was a very boring and difficult book to read. It is not at all what I expected. I was hoping to get a good dose of Hawaiian history and culture and map out how it changed when the haoles came in and took over. Instead, this book focuses on the perspective of the white people and rarely discusses what is happening with the natives except when the white people are doing something to them.
For example, the book discusses how Captain Cook landed on the big island as the first contact between Hawaii and the western world. Then it goes on to talk about events in other parts of the world, and the next time they visit Hawaii it suddenly has become a monarchy with King Kamehameha at the throne. How did they get there? What was going on with the islands after Captain Cook first landed? What was the culture and socio-political structure like before his contact? How did it change with the missionaries? Instead, she spends roughly half of the book discussing the missionaries and what they were doing back in New England. I really don't care about that. Get back to Hawaii already!
One other thing that bothered me about the author was the amount of snark she used. I really don't care what the author's opinions were about the beliefs of the missionaries; what did the Hawaiians think?
This is one of those books I really thought about putting down and abandoning. I rarely do that. I probably should have saved myself a few hours of my life, but I actually did learn a bit. The last 30 pages or so were crammed with an interesting chronology of how Hawaii was politically overtaken by the US and eventually annexed. That alone is what gave this review its second star. Otherwise, it is 230 pages of boring drivel.(less)
I really enjoyed reading this book. This was a great academic presentation and analysis of Russian military doctrine up to and including World War I....moreI really enjoyed reading this book. This was a great academic presentation and analysis of Russian military doctrine up to and including World War I. It has very interesting narratives of several of the major wars that it fought from the 17th through early 20 centuries. It also has great intro and conclusion chapters to put everything into perspective and add some analysis to the information. I knew absolutely nothing of Russian history before I read this, and this book really taught me alot.
The one area I felt was somewhat lacking about this book was sufficient historical context to understand the events. The history of Russian military doctrine is interwoven both with the domestic social and political factors, and with the events of neighboring Europe. I am knowledgeable enough to understand the major European events, such as the French Revolution, Napoleon's wars, and the assassination that sparked World War I. However, my knowledge of Russian internal politics and social movements was somewhat lacking. I ended up doing some side research to better understand the contents of the book. I just felt that the authors could have included some more context.
Overall, this was a great book. I can't wait to read the sequel, Military History of the Soviet Union.(less)
I'm not quite sure where to begin with this review. There were some things I liked and agreed with him on, but there were many that I felt I was only...moreI'm not quite sure where to begin with this review. There were some things I liked and agreed with him on, but there were many that I felt I was only getting half the story. I guess let me begin with his writing style. When I read books on such a deep and multi-faceted topic such as immigration policy, I expect it to be somewhat academic. By that I mean that there should be a clear thesis for the overall book, and each chapter should add a piece to support that thesis. Each chapter, in turn, should have some sort of structure to it as well. This was more of a journalistic writing filled with human interest pieces, attention grabbers, and the occasional editorial jab towards the other side of the aisle. Also, it didn't really flow very well. There was no defined structure, just a meandering of thoughts that seemed ADD at times. I also expected the opposite viewpoint to be adequately explained and presented, then thoroughly refuted. That didn't happen either. Geraldo picked at the weakest anti-immigration arguments and just called everyone who didn't see it his way as being racist or just stupid. He also went to great lengths to take unfriendly and distasteful swings at pundits that disagree with him, namely Bill O'reilly, Sean Hannity, and Lou Dobbs.
That brings me to the section of things that I actually agree with Geraldo on. The bulk of the anti-immigration shock jocks that you constantly hear flapping their gums really doesn't know what he or she is talking about. When you hear people get mad about a Texas pizza joint accepting pesos as well as dollars, you don't hear anyone mention how for decades Canadian and Mexican businesses have been more than happy to take US dollars instead of their local currency just to make it easier for the American to blow his money. When you hear outrage over an illegal immigrant getting into a drunk driving accident, you don't hear about how many legal US-born citizens do that on a regular basis. And, as Geraldo pointed out, there are just some arguments that these pundits present as truth that the facts and data just do not support, like the alleged increase in crime or the drain on our social services (except schools and hospitals). Most of the public opponents to immigration are monolingual curmudgeons who are just resistant to change. As Geraldo adequately points out, nobody was this upset about Polish, Italian, or other European immigrants setting up communities. It's just the Latinos that are getting flamed.
Now for the things I really disagree with. Geraldo fails to present the legitimate anti-immigration arguments. The most prevalent one that comes to mind is illicit trafficking. Illegal drugs cross the border every day and, as the Mexicans allege, illegal weapons flow in the opposite direction which exasperate the organized crime problems south of the border. Whether you agree or disagree that drugs should be legal/illegal or if it should be something the government focuses on, the fact is that for the past 20+ years since Reagan declared his "war on drugs", this has been one of the top priorities for law enforcement entities at all levels. This essentially has been a three-pronged attack: catch and stop the use of drugs within the US, stop the flow of drugs as it tries to enter the country, and try to eliminate the drug flow at its origin before it begins transit. Being able to effectively control what enters and exits our country is an important aspect of this war on drugs. Will we ever be able to entirely stop the flow of drugs? No, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
Geraldo boasts about the many contributions that Hispanic-Americans provide to our society. That is true, but there are some negatives that he really fails to touch on. First, it is true that illegal immigrants from the south are taking American jobs, but only the low skilled and low wage jobs. Basically, only high school dropouts are seriously at risk of losing their jobs to immigrants. That being said, there are only so many jobs that can be offered at out minimum wage rate. While there are many hard working Hispanic immigrants that work 14 hour days every day doing manual labor jobs, there are only so many openings. If we open the border and let everyone flow in, there will come a point where the immigrant communities will be just as poor and unemployed as they were back in their home countries.
Now, there are many types of skilled jobs that Americans just can't fill. A few years ago Bill Gates announced that he had to outsource so many technical computer jobs overseas because there simply weren't enough Americans with the skillsets to do the job, regardless of wage. The truth is that there are millions of non-hispanics eagerly waiting to legally enter this country and make just as much of a positive contribution to society, but are denied because there are too many immigrants already here. Geraldo stresses the human interest side of separating families or deporting innocent factory workers. He completely ignores the fact that they completely bypassed our legal system to get into this country, but he thinks it's OK because they pick our grapes for us. I have no problem with legal immigrants who go through the process and obtain work visas just like people from overseas. But it's not fair to the non-hispanics who are separated from their families just as much but don't have the luxury of a desert to cross.
I would also like to see Geraldo do a human interest story on the Guatemalan immigrants into Mexico. The way Mexican authorities treat Guatemalans would make Abu Ghraib look like a chuck-e-cheese party. All his railing on the Minutemen and the ICE and the horrible atrocities they commit for enforcing our laws really pale in comparison to the stories of rape and murder that are commonplace for illegal immigrants in Mexico. That fact seemed to elude Geraldo's book.
Finally, while I agree with his premise that many immigrants just want to come here to make a living, I disagree with his ultimate amnesty decision. Other US presidents have tried that, as well as other countries with immigration problems, and it never works. all it does is increase the amount of illegal immigrants hoping to cash in on that amnesty. Think about it, if George W said "OK Congress, in 90 days I will give amnesty if you don't come up with a solution", which is exactly what Geraldo spells out in his final chapter, how many thousands of immigrants will flood the border hoping they get caught in that wave?
My solution is to relax the legal immigration policy to let more workers in, but still cap the amount of total immigrants. That way people who are legitimate and honest would not have to resort to crossing the Arizona desert and will wait their turn to legally enter. At the same time, we need to increase security at the border to better regulate what (and who) crosses. However, the American public needs to understand that a border fence won't solve our problem 100%. If 2 concrete walls, barbed wire, and snipers failed to keep Germans from crossing from one side of Berlin to the other, A little chain link fence and some video cameras will only go so far. While no security measure will ever make our borders 100% secure, filtering out the number of illegal crossers who just want to find legitimate work will increase the probability of catching those who are up to no good, like drugs and arms traffickers.
Overall, this was a decent book. Just keep in mind that, like most politically charged books out there, this only gives one side of the story. Nevertheless, it still points out a very troubling trend in the uninformed rhetoric of our political pundits.(less)
This was an incredible book written from the other side of the iron curtain. Cherkashin provides a novelistic narrative of his entire career at the KG...moreThis was an incredible book written from the other side of the iron curtain. Cherkashin provides a novelistic narrative of his entire career at the KGB, and provides great details of how Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen volunteered to betray the US intelligence community. He also speculates that there is another spy that has yet to be brought out into the open, although he provides very little detail of that.
What also is interesting is the difference of procedures between the KGB and CIA. I just finished reading Olson's Moral Dilemmas of Spying, and he gives a good account of the CIA activities. Some of the things that Olson said either don't work or are not practiced by the CIA for moral reasons were part of the everyday toolkit for the KGB, such as Romeo operations and blackmail.
This is very easy to read is highly entertaining.(less)
This book is as much about sociology as it was political science. Shenkman proposes and defends the argument that part of our problem as a nation is t...moreThis book is as much about sociology as it was political science. Shenkman proposes and defends the argument that part of our problem as a nation is that we are dumb. We're smart enough to put a man on the moon, but most Americans can't name the three branches of government. I particularly liked his chapter on TV and the media. While not to place all the blame on them, it is ridiculous that the 24 hour news networks show 2 weeks straight of Anna Nicole Smith coverage, and very little attention about important news events. There's also something to be said for the manner in which news is presented. Despite network slogans, there is no "fair and balanced" news outlet in the US. Each of them has their slant and angle. They've all got their politically skewed talking heads and their one-sided rants. Again, that's only part of our problem, but that's just my personal soap box.
I found this book to be enlightening. While not much here is new, it's presented in a different and interesting perspective. Definitely worth the read.(less)
This was a very interesting book. It is a true story from the perspective of the wife of a miner in a shanty town of rural Bolivia. It talks about the...moreThis was a very interesting book. It is a true story from the perspective of the wife of a miner in a shanty town of rural Bolivia. It talks about the poor working conditions and the even worse living conditions. It also outlines the author's rise as an activist to fight for the poor working families like her own.
She has some pretty jaded views of the elite in Bolivia, and of the US in general. This is still a very good book and important for anyone studying Latin America.(less)
I really did not like this book. I was assigned to read it for my Latin American culture class. I just didn't understand the logical flow of the book....moreI really did not like this book. I was assigned to read it for my Latin American culture class. I just didn't understand the logical flow of the book. One minute it talked about the Sinatra-Farney fan club then it began talking about a local radio station without any real transition. One other person in my class said it makes sense if you follow the music rather than the storyline. That didn't work for me. I just don't get it.(less)
This book tracks one commodity- sugar- and explores how its discovery in the "colonies" helped transform the culinary culture of Europe while at the s...moreThis book tracks one commodity- sugar- and explores how its discovery in the "colonies" helped transform the culinary culture of Europe while at the same time increasing the prosperity of the colonies from which it came. (less)
This book was interesting. It was long and dry at some parts, but overall the concept was great. Trouillot uses Haiti as an example of how "silences"...moreThis book was interesting. It was long and dry at some parts, but overall the concept was great. Trouillot uses Haiti as an example of how "silences" can change the recording of history. This is a very interesting way to understand the world and it makes me rethink everything I have ever read in a history book.(less)
The history of the sugar industry and slave trade really framed most of the history of the Caribbean. In that sense, this book was really right on the...moreThe history of the sugar industry and slave trade really framed most of the history of the Caribbean. In that sense, this book was really right on the money. It includes everything you ever wanted to know about the two industries and how they influenced the development of the region.
However, this book was a little hard to swallow. It was very heavy on the historical facts and figures, and not so great with the historical narrative. In other words, it was very detailed in telling the reader exactly how many sugar plantations were in Haiti in 1853 and how much sugar each plantation produced, but it took some digging to really extract the story behind what the facts and figured really meant.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the chapter on Castroism. Here in 2009, it is difficult to understand Castro's appeal and why the Cuban people have tolerated him and his policies for so long. It also is not entirely clear why Cuba is so staunchly anti-American. This book presents the case from the Cuban perspective. Everything from the US annexation after the Spanish-American war, to the takeover of the Cuban sugar industry by US businesses, to the poor social and living conditions that existed under the US-supported Batista regime. In plain terms, Castro's revolution made sense and was justified once upon a time. The problem is that he made too many mistakes in his first few years of leading the country, and he refused to acknowledge or rectify any of them. The author did not have the benefit of hindsight that we have today, and he could not have predicted the extent to which Cuba became reliant on the USSR to survive. The background that Williams provides gives us sufficient context to understand where Cuba went wrong, and perhaps how to help them get back on track.
This book was published in 1970. I would like to see an updated copy to better understand the developments in the past 40 years. Many of the predictions he made in the final chapter came true, and many did not. Williams had a very unique perspective on the issues of colonialism, the sugar industry, and slave trade, and I would like to get his thoughts on where the region stands today. Are they better off than they were 40 years ago? Looking at what is currently happening in Haiti and Guadeloupe, it may not seem so. Regardless, this book was worth the read for anyone who is really interested in the history of the Western Hemisphere.(less)
I really enjoyed most of this book. The author gave a brief introduction to the world of espionage, and ran through a basic philosophical framework fo...moreI really enjoyed most of this book. The author gave a brief introduction to the world of espionage, and ran through a basic philosophical framework for understanding morality and ethics. Then he presented 50 fictional scenarios based on actual moral dilemmas that intelligence professionals deal with on a daily basis. Some of them seemed somewhat redundant, and they tended to drag on toward the end. What I liked most was that he solicited comments from a wide variety of sources- academics, students, current/former intelligence professionals, clergy, politicians, journalists, etc. Some comments did not add to the case whatsoever, and some offered a profound insight. Olson offered his own thoughts on each case and most of the time he offered a glimpse into the real world of spies. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I recommend this for anyone interested in espionage.(less)