Absolutely wonderful. Covers history of the US from the first English settlers through the middle of the 1990s when the book was written. Very well read by Nadia May whose clear voice and pronunciation I found suited the book very well. One of the things I found most interesting is that Mr Johnson covers not only the facts but also the background philosophical views at the time as they pertain to the issues being covered. Thus Emerson and others come up not only as poet or writer, but also how their views supported or ran contrary to the then current American thinking.
While I found the entire book fascinating and full of nuggets of information I did not already know I found the treatment of the 20th century most interesting. Johnson's view of the years from Coolidge through Nixon is at odds with the views prevalent 30 years ago, but he makes his case very well indeed with facts, quotes and statistics. I heartily recommend this to anyone with an interest in US history.
I first heard about the Zimmerman Telegram a long time ago when in High School taking a U.S. History class. The telegram was mentioned as the reason the U.S. entered World War I, but we were also told that there was a common view that the telegram was actually a British hoax designed to draw the U.S. into the war. I remember thinking that I wanted to know more about what happened and the validity of the telegram.
Years later, when I started to actually read history for pleasure, I found that World War II consumed most of my interest in twentieth century history and I never actually got around to reading anything about the telegram. Thus, when I saw Barbara Tuchman's book on sale on Audible, I bought it thinking that finally I would find out what it was all about. I was not expecting too much, but was very pleasantly surprised.
Most of this book is concerned with the events leading up to the sending of the Zimmerman Telegram and reveals a part of U.S. history that I knew very little about. The tensions between Mexico and the United States prior to World War I are reasonably well known (for example, General Pershing's assignment to track down Pancho Villa) although the details seem to have been cast into the shadows by the U. S. efforts to first keep out of World War I and then by its actions as a participant. This prelude to U.S. entry is so interesting that I find it surprising that it was not covered in detail in the history classes I took in High School or College.
I have read several of Ms. Tuchman's books (The Proud Tower, A Distant Mirror, The Guns of August, Stillwell and the American Experience in China, The March of Folly) but until I read this book I never sensed any humor or sense of irony in her writing. While the events leading up to the sending of the Zimmerman Telegram were serious and involved Germany's efforts to get the United States involved in enough trouble to keep it from arming the Allies, a description of those events and the Wilson Administration's reactions to them sound more like a script from a Max Sennet comedy than the actions of a deliberative and serious government. Those who think highly of the Woodrow Wilson’s handling of domestic and international affairs might find this book at odds with that view.
Ms. McCaddon’s reading of this book is first class. Her narration fairly bristles with Ms. Tuchman’s sense of the absurd and the events are so interesting as to leave one wondering why much of this was not presented as a basic part of U. S. history. This is doubly so because it is clear that many of the views described prior to the release of the Zimmerman Telegram are representative of the American view of Japan during the first half of the twentieth century and make it easier to understand the U.S. reaction to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor 25 years later.
I recommend this book without hesitation to anyone who has any interest in the events leading up to the start of U.S. participation in World War I or, for that matter, to anyone with an interest in U.S. – Mexican or U.S.-Japanese relations in the twentieth century.
This is a very good biography of Dwight David Eisenhower although I feel constrained to say that the section on his presidency suffers from the writer’s clear political bias. This biography covers Eisenhower’s entire life although it might be best thought of as covering 5 specific time periods – his early childhood, his early military experience, his central position during World War II, his time as President of Columbia University and his Presidency.
I thought I knew a good deal about Eisenhower’s life. I had read extensively about both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. The histories of the European theater, of course, covered him as central to that theater and the histories (and biography of Douglas MacArthur) covered Eisenhower’s period as aide to General MacArthur in the Philippines. In addition I felt I knew a great deal about the period of the 1950s when Eisenhower was President. Given all of that I did not expect to learn much new. I was wrong.
This book covers Eisenhower’s early military career in some detail and there is much I never knew about the locations where he served as well as the jobs and schools he attended and the important people he knew and met while ascending the military ladder. Although I knew about his friendship with other officers like George Patton, I did not know the depth of their friendship or the length of time they knew each other. In some ways this section was the most interesting to me because I knew little of what was covered.
Of course the book covers Eisenhower’s period as Supreme Commander in the European theater comprehensively but it also details some little known incidents during the war. One example is his refusal to believe reports that the Casablanca landings had failed and that the troops were re-embarking because, he said, he knew George Patton and that there was no chance Patton would cancel the landings and re-embark the troops. This section is full of such anecdotes and they add greatly to the readability of the book. One oddity, for me, was the author’s clear opinion that Bernard Montgomery was the great general of the Western European Theater. There is no real mention of Montgomery’s great failures, only his successes, and little mention of the bad blood between Montgomery and Eisenhower. As with other armchair generals the author is firm in his opinions as to the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Eisenhower’s strategic view of how the war should have been fought. His opinions would, perhaps, hold more weight with me if he if he had ever held a combat leadership role.
The coverage of the Eisenhower Presidency is thorough although, as with his coverage of the European theater, his opinions are clear. Many of Eisenhower’s most difficult decisions are lauded as great without any mention of the negative consequences stemming from them. One example is his decision to stop the British-French-Israeli seizure of the Suez Canal. The author speaks of the political good will the US generated in the non-aligned world but makes no mention of the anger of the British, French and Israelis as well as the consequences in US-French relations afterwards. I am not suggesting that the decision was either right or wrong, only that the author’s views influenced the way some events were covered and the wisdom of alternative actions was never considered.
Paul Hecht’s narration is very good and I recommend this book, with some reservations, to anyone interested in learning about Eisenhower and the central role he held in much of the 20th century.
Some things are best understood after time has past and Dave Cullen's book "Columbine" does a great service by bringing perspective to the assault. True crime readers will be impressed by the breadth and depth of coverage he provides to the topic. Professionals from all kinds of disciplines will be pleased. Cullen's description of neuro plasticity and problems of a student recovering are good. His chapter on psychopathy alone is worth the price of the book. Every technical aspect of the Columbine experience is described in easy to understand language.
The opening portions of the book tell the story as reconstructed and it is a page turner. Cullen informs the reader as he describes the influences of the media on public perception, deception of the authorities, and the emotional trials of the families touched most deeply by the crimes. Myths built around a few of the students and their book publishing deals are examined. I cannot image a stone unturned or an aspect of the crimes not discussed in this book.
The book is troubling until explanations for the behavior of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebod are finally understood.
I am looking forward to the next work by Cullen, but I don't know how he will be able to do it. He has done a great service to the public.