His real letters
The reading of the letters between Sherman and Grant make this book very real and personal. I felt like I was there on his staff when he was talking about the events of the day. General Hardy was smart to evacuate Savannah, otherwise the city would have ended up like Atlanta. Sherman was a ruthless commander but because of him and men like him, war is hell, but the actions taken are necessary! And the war has not stopped, just in a different place.
Having experience in cold weather climates, one of the amazing feats of survival in this story is how Truman Everts survived without the proper clothing. Today we are kept warm and healthy with all the technology of a manufactured environment. To be hungry for so long while having to think about making decisions for your own survival is very well described in this book. It is also amazing how he got lost in the first place, his horse wandered off, then he could not find the people he was with. Later on after he's discovered, and he recovers, we find he's somewhat of a disagreeable person. You have to wonder if his getting lost was not by accident from the others that he was with. If you like the outdoors, if you have ever been to Yellowstone and the surrounding country you will like reading this book.
Having lived several decades in Southern California and in and around Arizona, as well as being familiar with Nevada, I loved listening to this book. I can directly relate to many of the locations described. I continue to marvel at the tenacity of engineers like Frank Crowe. Of course in today's world many of the concepts and rules of engagement in the construction business employed at the Hoover dam site would never have been thought of let alone implemented. The construction of Boulder city, was a magnanimous effort within itself, and then have you get all those people to and from the work site everyday that was a huge effort. The cement plants that were built to support the concrete requirements which are long since gone. The railroad was built to bring equipment and pipe to the site, now long since gone. How do you stop the Colorado River so we can build the dam? The engineers of the Six Companies Corporation, made it look easy, simply carve out diversion tunnels in solid rock and let the River flow in a different direction! I recently met a young civil engineering graduate and ask him if he had ever heard of the Hoover dam, to my surprise he told me that he did study that in engineering school briefly it was part of the curriculum. The PBS channel with the American Experience also has a great video of this project.
I was a young man of 24 when the story unfolded. I wish I would have been more tuned in to the politics of the day when this was all happening. Of course I remember Watergate, and of course I remember when Pres. Nixon resigned, and I remember seeing Pres. Ford being sworn in as the new president. It was amazing to me to learn how Gen. Alexander Haig survived Nixon, through Ford, and was there with President Reagan. He was certainly a political survivor. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, as the title suggests "the government we have today", he was in the background during a lot of the shenanigans in the Nixon White House. The term Imperial presidency, is referred to the Nixon years, and has resurfaced, with the George W. Bush administration. If you are a student of politics, young or old, you want to give this book consideration.
What I enjoyed most about this book was Einstein was human. He had problems in his life, he had faults, any did not know everything. I like to tell people that he was a normal person just like you and me. However when I tell people that they look at me funny so you have to read the book in order to possibly come away with that concept. The book might have a few technical areas that deal with his theories, this may tend to bog some readers down just a bit, but I would urge that you would stay with it for the true life human realizations that comprise 90% of the book are well worth reading. I particularly liked the story when he was living in the Trenton New Jersey he called Princeton University to talk to the Dean, he was calling from a pay phone to ask the Dean what his address was because he was lost, he had gone for a walk and this was typical that he would not remember simple items in his life, like where his house was.
I work in the maritime industry as well as touching the outskirts of the U.S. Navy now and again and recently met a couple of guys that had been on the heavy lift ship and indeed talked briefly about it but were not very descriptive. Another good book to read that touches on this is called Red November. The details of how all this came about is very fascinating, Norman Polmar in his style always creates and atmosphere of interest, excitement to keep you interested, and also a style that leaves you without a lot of questions. I think most Americans of my generation, baby boomers, have a fascination of Howard Hughes and as we look back on those decades of the 1950s and 1960s we wonder what else was going on back then that we have yet to hear about.
I saw this book in a used paperback book section at the library, came home and purchased it and began listening to it right away. A good friend of mine had hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail in 1981, I immediately thought of him and how he must have endured many of the hardships that are explained in this sojourn from South to North. David Miller is is a very gifted writer, and talented with witticism and able to explain without too much detail the little things that hampered his comfort on a daily basis while trekking the 2000+ miles, through 13 states. I immediately wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but probably thought that I might be too old to do that, however the trail has been hiked by many geriatrics over the years so age or age gender has nothing to do with it. This is a must read book for anyone who enjoys hiking of any kind and can relate to the worn-out tennis shoes, mosquito bites and insects, wet clothes and the odd assortment of characters that can be met on the trail, as well as off the trail in the towns where the trail passes through.
As a student of the Civil War this was a great read to really get into the mind of Ulysses S. Grant. It is a shame the Grant did not write anymore books in his life, because I felt that he possessed a great writing style. The book follows the chronology of the battles that Grant was directly involved in. I also enjoyed his comments about politics and how he fit in to those politics as the war progressed. This book would make a great miniseries, to take the script with an actor playing Grant, possibly sitting in a tent or farmhouse, a riverboat outside Vicksburg, and then for maps to be shown of the battles he was engaged in and constructed. If you are going to listen to this book, you will certainly need some maps of the battles, or at least maps of the South to understand the relationships of Vicksburg to Jackson Mississippi as opposed to Richmond and Petersburg, VA. etc. As a young boy in the late 1950's I can remember traveling to Florida and passing through Vicksburg Mississippi, I still have visions of the Vicksburg Battlefield Park; this book helped me to put those visions with a face and a personality to understand the greatness of General U.S. Grant.
I think most everybody is mesmerized by the concept of Alaska in the far North. When I came across this book I immediately knew that I wanted to listen to it. That Gilded Age when the cowboy's life was rapidly disappearing because of the financial conglomerates of the East is an exciting time in America's history. The boom towns and other large cities which were beginning to spring up and grow up provided many opportunities for lackadaisical entrepreneurs to assail themselves upon the public. The story of Johnny Suringo and the other real life characters in this story are amazing, so amazing as to the fact this could not happen, it was too dangerous, there were too many factors to bring their lives to and end. They survived and hopefully someday I will be able to visit some of those northern cities like Sitka, Jueanu and Dawson and see for myself the glaciers which cap the mountains valleys and hide the gold that is still there waiting to be found.
To really absorb this story I would recommend seeing the movie first, so you can put faces to the names in this great historical event. Dava's love of the subject is well written and read well. Hearing the prologue from Neil Armstrong about his love of the stars and his on quest to see the real clocks in England is thrilling in its self. I was a young teenager when he walked on the moon, and only know his famous words. If you have any maritime experience or any kind of navigational interest this is a must read for the knowledge it contains!
I wish when I was younger I would have had some mentoring to have guided me towards a career in the US Forest Service, which is largely what this book is about. Ed Pulaski, a U.S. Forest Service ranger a little know hero outside the forest, and Gifford Pinchot are two icons, that to this day have saved what would have been destroyed decades past! Great story!
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