The L. L. is a stretch for the non-British ear, but well worth the struggle. At first I found the exhaustive overview of the Victoran era, well...exhaustive. Then it became intoxicating. I found myself wishing for a time machine so I could see the empire at its zenith first hand. Manchester does an excellent job of connecting the eccentricities of Churchill's political style with his outrageous childhood and over the top parents. For the rest of his life, Winston tried meeting the curious standards and expectations of his absentee father and floozie mother. I plan to do part II some day, but right now I am exhausted.
I am nuts about Rodney Crowell. There is not a better country music writer extent. That being said, I have found from listening to Chinaberry Sidewalks that there is a difference between writing poetry and prose. All those warnings your high school English teacher gave: "less adjectives, more action verbs, etc." are true. Rodney's vast vocabulary and skill with folksy idioms worked against him in this book. He just didn't know when to stop. The average sentence was about a block long, which made it tough to stay focused. I lived on the wild east side of Houston for many years, so I enjoyed hearing his take on familiar landmarks. Living is a trip on Telephone Road.
Many books that center on a specific event such as a battle tend to lack a global perspective. Robert O'Connell with Ghosts not only delivers all the blood and guts a body could hope for, not to mention a heavy dose of strategy and tactics, he neatly integrates this story into the greater story of man. He does what historians are supposed to do. He teaches lessons that shouldn't be learned the hard way. Ever since that hot day in August 216 BC, generals in every generation have been looking for their own holy grail; their own Cannae. Some were close, but no cigar. Rome's solution to the Hannibal problem would turn out to be their undoing. The days of the amateur generals were gone, and the professional armies turned power brokers were here to stay.
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