Hunter is at his best writing fast-paced, action thrillers. Regrettably, in the past few years he has gotten off-target (pun intended) with densely-plotted procedurals involving the venerable Bob Lee Swagger. Bob Lee played out years ago and should have been retired following "Time to Hunt." Keeping the character going has induced a form of writer's block displayed in "The 47th Samurai" and "The Third Bullet" among others. With this book, Hunter is back doing what he does best. This action-packed ripper ranks up there with "Point of Impact" for sheer excitement. Perhaps Hunter should drop the entire Swagger family (particularly Nikki, who is simply annoying), forget continuity with past novels, and invent new characters. This one is a definite winner.
While the opening chapters briefly discuss foreign affairs and the space race, the greater part of the book is devoted to changes in architecture, cinema, literature, music, painting, and photography in New York City. The book's perspective on events in 1959 reminds me of "The New Yorker" magazine cover by Saul Steinberg, skewed to give New York prominence over the rest of the country. The book is interesting in a Don Draper-esque kind of way but hardly lives up to its thesis that the course of world history was changed by events in 1959. Kaplan himself was only five years old in 1959. It is obvious that his true love is jazz (he writes jazz reviews for "Stereophile" magazine) and that he fantasizes about hanging out with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Fans of "Mad Men" will probably enjoy some chapters and may find themselves (like I did) rushing out to buy an album by Ornette Coleman just to see what all the fuss is about. In the end, Kaplan (like Sal Paradise) has "nothing to offer anybody except [his] own confusion."
... that Hunter might shed some fictional light on the events in Dealey Plaza, much the way James Ellroy did in "American Tabloid." Unfortunately, Hunter admits in the afterword that his research was limited to the Warren Commission Report itself, "Case Closed" by Gerald Posner, and "Reclaiming History" by Vincent Bugliosi. I wish Hunter had done a little more research and stumbled across a now out-of-print book by Craig Roberts titled "Kill Zone: A Sniper Looks at Dealey Plaza." Now THAT would have given him some ideas to work with. The ballistics analysis of the shot from the grassy knoll is flawed, the portrayal of Oswald is way off the mark, and Hugh Meachum (particularly as voiced by Buck Shirner) is obnoxious. "Bob the Nailer" as gumshoe detective is a terrible waste of a good character. The side-trip to modern-day Moscow and the Lubyanka archives was really a stretch. I consider this a reasonably entertaining book consisting mostly of a police procedural with a couple of gunfights thrown in, and a completely unsatisfying resolution of the assassination conspiracy. Not Hunter's best work. He has recently shown himself still a capable of writing a good action thriller, however. See "Soft Target" if you are looking for something on par with "Point of Impact."
I had high hopes for this book as an up-to-date aggregation of JFK assassination research to replace Jim Marrs' excellent (but dated) "Crossfire." Douglass' book is a huge disappointment, having more to do with the canonization of JFK as a Roman Catholic martyr than with the conspiracy itself.
Like Joe Friday, all I want are the facts. Douglass performs the specious task of imputing religious motivations to JFK's foreign policy, drawing parallels between that policy and the writings of Thomas Merton. Merton had about as much influence on JFK's foreign policy as Donald Duck.
I agree with the author that JFK was killed by the "military-industrial complex." The military-industrial complex is a Very Bad Thing that controls our government to this day ("Don't drone me, bro!"). However, the characterization of JFK as a saint strikes me as naive. To quote James Ellroy: "Jack Kennedy was the mythological front man for a particularly juicy slice of our history. He called a slick line and wore a world-class haircut. He was Bill Clinton minus pervasive media scrutiny and a few rolls of flab. Jack got whacked at the optimum moment to assure his sainthood."
The true story has been covered-up and the nation lied-to for 50 years. The full truth needs to be acknowledged by the government and the plotters exposed. This book, focused on Roman Catholic theology rather than the plot itself, does little to advance the cause. If you are an assassination conspiracy buff, better choices available on Audible include "LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination" and "Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination."
I thought this would be a book about investing strategy. It is so much more. I will have to buy the hard copy and re-read it several times. There is a lot of meat to digest. Five-star work all the way. Taleb's comparison of the current state of academic research at publish-or-perish institutions with counterfeit watches is spot-on. I do not know of any practitioners in my field who bother to read any of the "leading journals" of academic research. Joe Ochman's narration is also outstanding. He does an excellent job coping with Taleb's broad vocabulary of unfamiliar English words smattered with foreign words like "flâneur." This book will expand your vocabulary if nothing else! I write mainly to voice my strong objection to the producer's decision to bleep Taleb's occasional use of expletives. Taleb is nothing if not a wordsmith and when he inserts an expletive it is for effect, either to show contempt for the idea he is debunking or to get the reader's attention. There is no excuse for the producer inserting a loud "bleep" over words like "bullsh*t." I listened to this book in the car and the bleeps are higher in volume that the surrounding speech. On several occasions, I thought someone was honking at me! The bleeps are unnecessary and disconcerting. May I suggest revising the recorded book to omit the bleeps? An excellent book that deserves a listen from every thoughtful person who is disturbed by current trends in academic research.
Russ Baker is the only *real* investigative journalist I know who is working today. See WhoWhatWhy dot com for more of his work. This penetrating and insightful book tracks down obscure people and lost papers to pierce the veil of lies and disinformation surrounding the Bush dynasty's ascent to power. The same or similar techniques have their analogs in the current Obama regime. I was astonished at Baker's investigative prowess, firmly establishing Bush the Elder's long association with the CIA, his work in the anti-Castro movement, and use of Zapata off-shore drilling rigs to train anti-Castro rebels. 41's presence in Dallas on November 22 was no historical coincidence, nor was his involvement (at a discreet distance) in Watergate. This book illustrates the exercise of power by the financial elites better than any I have read. The reason I give it four stars rather than five is that the sheer breadth of Baker's discoveries requires many digressions to link disparate persons and incidents. Listening to the audiobook while driving caused me to lose the thread of his reasoning at a few points in the middle of the book. Oliver Wyman is pretty good at voice imitations and does an excellent job of both 41 and 43. I found this book so interesting and well-written that I have purchased the hardcover version so I can re-read sections and cross-reference at my leisure. Great stuff!
Anthony Heald brings this nearly 90-year-old story to life, giving the listener full access to the brilliant and acerbic writing of Sinclair Lewis. The story is a timeless and mesmerizing send-up of hypocritical evangelists then and now. Burt Lancaster's role in the 1960 movie does justice to the character but truncates most of the novel. Well worth the listener's time, this book opened up the world of Sinclair Lewis for me. I cannot say enough good things about Anthony Heald's performance. Five-stars all the way.
Grover Gardner did his usual impeccable job of narration, but had one howler repeated several times. Referring to a group of cattle, he pronounced "Hereford heifers" as "HAIRY-ford HIGH-fers." Down on the LBJ Ranch they would say "HUR-ford HEFF-ers." This is not the strongest book in the series; I hope Robert Caro is not wearing out. He dismisses Johnson's possible involvement in either the JFK assassination or the subsequent cover-up in a couple of paragraphs, although the first section of the book provides Johnson with a surfeit of motive, consiglieri Ed Clark could have provided the means, and what better opportunity than a motorcade on Johnson's home turf to "take care of business"? Caro has done detailed research on Johnson's high crimes and misdemeanors (mainly extortion, influence-peddling, and fraud in this volume), but nonetheless adopts a hagiographic tone when referring to Johnson's legislative efforts on behalf of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For the first time in the series, Caro steps out of his role as impartial historian and acknowledges his own political views, writing with fervent approval of Johnson's Great Society programs and the "institutionalization of compassion" (an oxymoronic phrase if ever there was one). Still packed with fascinating details and a host of minutiae on Johnson and his era, this book suffers from an excessive focus on raw policy rather than the personalities and events that influenced policy. The Vietnam fiasco and Johnson's micro-mismanagement of the war should provide more spice in the next volume than the dry legislative issues in this one. I hope Robert Caro can hold on and hold out. He is 76 this year and looks every bit his age in recent photographs. These books are a monumental work and I hope Caro can complete the series and cement his legacy as the greatest biographer of our time.
I'm not sure whether Sol Stein wrote this book to illustrate the principles he espouses in "Stein on Writing," or whether he simply employed the principles while writing this book. "Stein on Writing" draws on this book for many of its examples. What emerges is an entertaining, fast-paced novel with numerous, multi-layered characters just as Stein prescribes in his text on writing. Good story with excellent narration by Christopher Lane (who also narrates "Stein on Writing"). Inclusion of a character long-dead at the time of the events described (in the form of a disembodied voice) was a stroke of creative genius. A dandy little piece of escapist fiction, an exemplar of Stein's recommended writing techniques, or both. Equally appealing to readers looking for a good story and writers looking for examples from a master.
Excellent material. Content gets five stars. Useful suggestions for improving relationships between spouses with concrete examples. The suggestions can be put into effect immediately. No "pointy-headed intellectualism" or citations to academic studies like John Gottman, just easily-understood, practical advice. One star for the narration. Dr. Chapman has a very strong regional accent which I found distracting. I suffer from a strong regional accent myself and have been advised to seek a voice coach for those occasions when I must speak publicly outside my region. The audiobook would have been stronger if a professional narrator had been used. The introductory talk-show style interview in the opening 20 minutes was a complete waste of time and should have been cut. If you can focus on the content and ignore the narration, this volume is one of the few worthwhile self-help books I have found. Chapman should fire Oasis Audio and find another producer.
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