The author starts with the French valiant but doomed attempt to build a canal across Panama and as always he tells very deep and personal stories - not just a collection of dry facts. You will learn so much more about this complex enterprise and come to admire the men and women who tried and failed and then succeeded.
I most enjoyed the section in the book that covered the 89 days of survival at sea. The biggest surprise bonus in the book was the great history of Nantucket during the hay day of whaling. I like the way the book starts when the survivors were found and then goes back and tells how they got into the predicament. The author gives so much great detail about life in those days and life aboard those ships for 2 and 3 years as well as how whaling started even before we had those large ships. And as another bonus he covers many years after the Essex's disaster going into the details of how and why Nantucket declined.
And the author adds to the book by referencing other similar sea disasters that have occurred since and how they were similar and different. And he also adds insights from modern knowledge of whales.
When the did battle with the giant sperm whale that rammed them twice. And then the tough decisions they had to make to survive. I was particularly moved by the Australian Captain who went out of his way to find the 2 survivors on the island when he had been told the wrong island but decided to search other islands after the first one had no survivors.
So very hard to choose but the scenes when they were struggling against the extreme weather elements were exciting.
When most of the main city on Nantucket burned down - fueled by the whale oil - as the author called it "The Revenge of the Leviathan".
I loved the way the book started with a summary of what was to come. And then I very much enjoyed the great detail about his youth, his early political years, his time as Governor - good, bad and ugly - the details about his various philosophical ideas about life and religion, his time in France, is time as Secretary of State, VP and the Prez. And then the 18 years period after he was president.
TJ himself - the book is about him. But I also enjoyed the insights into Washington and Adams.
When Jefferson was running to hide from the British during the War.
I found it silly and tiresome. Just didn't find anything funny or enjoyable about his ramblings.
Having been unjustly stripped of his Navy commission, Jack was now doomed to be ship-less until his good friend Dr. Matchurin buys Jack's beloved schooner Surprise at a Naval auction and makes Jack the skipper. They have some most extraordinary and profitable adventures ridding Jack of his huge debts and making him a public hero because of the enemy chips he captures in a very daring night raid. For me, this is one of the best books of the series and I particularly enjoyed seeing the navy now from the privateer perspective.
While the middle section of the book seemed to drag I throughly enjoyed most of the book. I was left feeling very sympathetic for some of the people who were naively sucked into commiting felonies that at the time they thought were harmless pranks. It was stricking and un-nereving to see how easy these people can disrupt internet commerce or hack into private information.
I love well written stories that keep me guessing. I enjoyed each character and came to know them well and found this book hard to put down. As long as it is, it never felt long. Instead of just one reader there were 15 readers so it was more like a radio performance. I highly recommend this book.
Early in this book he cleverly refers to America as the "Land of Failure". But he means this in a VERY positive way. He says it is the only place he knows where you can fail over and over again until you finally get it right and succeed. He sure did. Due to severe alcohol and drug problems he actually plotted his own suicide and almost pulled it off. But friends helped him find treatment and recovery. As of the book's writing he has been sober for 17 years.
I loved the stories of his family, his Uncle who is so dear to him, and his comedy and acting friends. As for his marriage failures he blames no one but himself and he sure seems to have it all together now. After reading this I enjoy his late night TV show even more.
If you really wish to know how hard life was for these guys, I highly recommend this book. They would fly for 6 to 12 hours in 20 degree below air with little heat and only hard steel seats to sit on. On many days "at the office" 30% of their co-workers would not return home. The stories are deeply moving mixed with some good humor. I could not put it down.
Michael Lewis travels much of Europe, especially the PIIGS countries - Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain - researching the problems leading up to the financial crash and the aftermath. He is both serious and witty. I highly recommend this book. He also travels up into Scandinavia and then into Germany. Lastly he travels into the "next Greek-like economy" - California. Do you know there are a number of cities in CA that spend 50 or 60 percent of the annual budgets on retirement expenses? This cannot be sustained. And as sympathetic as I want to be for the Greeks, Lewis points out serious problems such as massive cheating on taxes and entitlement to retirement at 55 by so many. Your eyes will be opened!
He starts with his 13 rules and tells motivating stories of leadership that have served him well. They are inspirational and funny stories. Too bad this man did not become president. Do you know what year he graduated for West Point? He did not! He is not only the first African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he is the first ROTC man to reach that lofty status. He attended CCNY - City College of New York. He is an amazing story of hard work and attitude leading to great success.
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