I have read all three Morris biographies. I am a fan of Roosevelt and enjoy the historical detail and context that Morris conveys in all three biograpI have read all three Morris biographies. I am a fan of Roosevelt and enjoy the historical detail and context that Morris conveys in all three biographies.
One negative about this volume is Morris' obsession for demonstrating a high level command of English, French and German vocabulary. He desires to impress the reader of this fact, over and over again. It was the most distracting aspect of the book.
In another review, a reader commented, in this third Morris volume, the author tired of the subject. I agree, at many points, the research and information was conveyed dryly, almost out of obligation. At times the book felt like a text book with only superficial analysis and connection of the information.
The book started slowly. The first third of the book on his African safari, travel through Europe and lead up to his failed 1912 campaign was needlessly too detailed. The book became far more interesting and relevant once his 1912 campaign began. The pace improved to the end.
I have given this book 4 stars because I enjoy reading and learning about Roosevelt. This book enabled me to learn more about this favorite topic. While I learned more about Roosevelt I am partially excusing the fact that the connection of the information and the style of writing is lacking for me.
Roosevelt was an amazing human. Very complex, imperfect, flawed, self absorbed,stubborn,in need of power and attention, paradoxical, brilliant and also a great American . He had incredible leadership skills, vision and foresight. This book gave more insight into the man and the times he lived. He was the first great American of the 20th century. He reflected the growing values and problems and positives of 20th Century America, like no one else. He was a harbinger of the what was to follow in that century....more
Unbroken is a story that holds your attention, even when you know the story and the conclusion. The subtitle is: "A World
A Great but Flawed Book
Unbroken is a story that holds your attention, even when you know the story and the conclusion. The subtitle is: "A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption".... The book is true to it's title.
Hillenbrand continues her writing style of suspense and drama in the telling of this incredible story of Louis Zamperini. His endurance and incredible survival of torture, battle, plane crash and lost at sea can only be described as miraculous. You can't help but believe he went through his journey and survived for a greater purpose.
He overcame a youth filled with rebellion to achieve world-wide acclaim in fierce Olympic level competition. His biggest survival may have occurred after he returned home from war and had to face his own demons and recurring nightmares. The net result was a person committed to help and be an inspiration for many people he touched. The are so many lessons. Maybe the most important is that a positive view of life and a strong faith can sustain a person through the worst possible situation. The other is that a weak faith and negative view of life can destroy a person in a similar situation. Zamperini survived the war because of optimism and faith. He almost destroyed himself for initially having neither after he returned home.
The book is riveting and well researched. It will be a story you will not forget, even if you want to.
Where the book is lacking is that: (1) There is too much detail on every incident and situation that connects the story. While detail adds color, at some point it takes away from the story and the message. At first I felt every blow and type of torture Louie felt. After a while, the details just kept coming and I became numb to it, it lost its impact and the emotion. There needed to be more balance in the story-telling. I became overwhelmed with detail, emotion and information, the story-telling lost it's impact by the last 1/4 of the book. By the book's end I was ready for it to conclude.
(2) The book centered most of its attention on "survival" and "resilience". The "redemption" was relegated to only a small portion of the book. I would have preferred less detail on survival and resilience in order to get more detail on redemption, forgiveness and his struggles after he came home.
The author of the NY Times Sunday Review of Unbroken, David Margolick, stated: "On a number of small but dubious points she (the author) gives him (Louie) a pass". This seems to be true, as time and memory will embellish. Is it possible to be hit in the head, at full strength, hundreds of times without suffering lasting neurological effects? Can two people in a 6 foot raft (on the planes final pass it was three people)be shot at over 500 times with over 500 bullet holes created in the raft without one person being shot? There are many stories in the book that elicit these type of questions. But this does not take away from the story or the message. Thousands of POWs endured the unthinkable, those that survived endured psychological torture upon returning home. This book is about Survival, Resilience and Endurance. It is about digging deep inside oneself to find strength to go on. It is about faith and optimism. What Louie endured, embellished or not, is incredible. What he did to survive is astonishing....more
A humorous and fast read book on the author's child-rearing experiences and how it relates to American child rearing in the 2000's.
Disappointing thatA humorous and fast read book on the author's child-rearing experiences and how it relates to American child rearing in the 2000's.
Disappointing that Amy Chua could not articulate at the end of the book any concrete conclusions from her experiences. I think there are many. She is having trouble because I don't believe she has really come to terms with her own insecurities, ego and self-absorptions. One day I suspect she will have a conclusion but it will be a long time from now. I would love to read her future book on this subject once she fully understands her demons, what drives her and how her motives effected her family.
There is a lot to be learned from this book, but the reader must draw their own understandings and conclusions. The author has not been able to honestly self-examine herself.
One additional note: Amy Chua is a very entertaining author. I like her writing style. I would read future books from her on other subjects....more
"The more things change the more they stay the same":
Stacy Schiff faced a difficult task in authoring this biography on Cleopatra. The subject li
"The more things change the more they stay the same":
Stacy Schiff faced a difficult task in authoring this biography on Cleopatra. The subject lived over 2,000 years ago, no personal writing of Cleopatra remains or never existed. There is no known first-person renderings of her likeness. The insights of those close to her have been lost through the dozens of generations that come and gone. Those that wrote about her in the times she lived did so with political or personal aims. The writings of top historians of the following generation wrote with opinion, prejudice, limited and faulty research and had lenses of nationality, gender bias, politics, rumor and innuendo. According to Schiff, once their historical foundation was set, other historical and literary writings of Cleopatra used this foundation. What is left is a scrambled picture of fact, myth, lore and the iconic literary, artistic and mental images of this woman. The modern day picture of Cleopatra, shaped by Shakespeare and Elizabeth Taylor, includes poisonous snakes, illicit romance, sexual scheming, beauty and perception shaped by our view of women in positions of authority.
In this book, Schiff attempts the near impossible by sorting it out. She performs this huge task while attempting to place bias aside and focus on events in the light of day. This is a daunting if not impossible task. We will never know if she got it right. She has done a fabulous job in sorting through myth, fact, speculation and probability. She gives a new and refreshing look at a well-worn romanticized icon. Schiff does not make assumptions or guesses; she states fact; What is probable; What is unknown. The facts corroborates with data and her research. The probabilities are equally data driven and well referenced. She freely gives her opinions and interpretations, states it and tells us why and how she reached those thoughts.
The book, itself, tells a story about a remarkable woman; The times she lived and shaped. The same times that also shaped her. It is the story of the differences between how men and women lead; Past and present. It is insight to a rare early moment in world history where a woman independently held power, wealth and shaped the world and events around her.
For a story so difficult, the author performed a fabulous job of creating a book of accessibility and moderate ease of reading.
At its heart, this book is about human fragility, ego and imperfection. It is about the corruption of power and wealth. It is about the human desires to attain power and wealth. The message is clear. Times, technology, culture, society and societal maturity change and grow. Human motivation, strengths and faults remain unchanged or the same over a stretch of thousands of years.
Take the story; Remove the names, the events and the details; Fast-forward it to today. Then replace the names, the events and the details with today’s leaders, challenges and events. What you will find are the same outcomes and behaviors, only with more subtlety, sophistication and maturity. The outcomes and actions are the same. The story is the same. Mark Twain said the definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting a different result. This book demonstrates the innate insanity and resilience of humankind. If only we could learn from our past and then apply that learning to current events. How refreshing and less wasteful life would be.
I found this book to be hilarious. A real joy to read and I know it will bring many people back in time to their own families.
Although this book is nI found this book to be hilarious. A real joy to read and I know it will bring many people back in time to their own families.
Although this book is not for everyone. Anyone who has not experienced this type of family dynamic and does not understand what is going on between the words will be put off by this book.
For those people who grew up in families with cultures (typically the dad) that expresses their emotions and feelings through a tough self-serving veneer, they will fully understand and relate to this book and the real person who is Justin Halpern's Dad.
I know some said this is the persona of an ex military person. I don't think this is his military side. The tone is different then military gruffness. Some people said his dad is uncaring.. I don't think so either. I believe his dad is emotionally and socially immature. A common affliction for some males of the dad's generation from cultural backgrounds that discourage expressions of emotion. His intelligence, over time, taught him how to hide his lack of social grace to the outside world. But to those he is closest to he lets his guards down and his lack of social and emotional IQ shines.
For his Dad the persona he conveys to his family is a veneer of toughness that hides emotion, anxiety and concern. Yes, his dad, I am sure, is self serving and self centered but he is also caring. His caring is shown, but not in the way that people are taught to expect in average American homes.
I have known many friends that had Dad's like Justin's. The Dad comes off as crude and many people may wonder how a researcher in nuclear medicine could be so crude. Knowing many people like Justin's Dad, I suspect he only shows this side to his family and closest friends. His professional contacts would be totally surprised to hear him speak and act this way. They typically convey a split image of themselves. One to family and close people and one for the rest of the world. Justin Helpern, did not highlight this aspect of his dad, I suspect, because most likely he rarely got to see the professional side of his dad.
While I suspect these stories were embellished for reader reaction, the basic dynamic in the family is real and does occur, it is not mean spirited but cultural. While I suspect at times it unnerved Justin, like it did my friends, while growing up most children learned over time to accept and understand their father... warts and all. And to understand there is caring beneath the surface.
It is a enjoyable read, as long as the reader does not take the Dad's "words of wisdom" literally or for what they seem to convey on the surface. For those readers who "understand" what is really happening in the family they can appreciate the book, accept the father and enjoy the crudeness for what it is really conveying... something very different....more