If you have more than a seventh grade reading level, find something else to do.
I've got to stop buying books just because they are on sale and must start paying attention to the gender of the rave reviewers. Some of my favorite authors are women--Wharton, Eliot, Austen--and more recently Ruth Downie and Margaret George, but I'm always a bit leery of contemporary women writers--especially mystery writers--because all too often I find them, like this one, filling space with too much adolescent romance with 'dreamy' guys with tight buns. This one adds another 'bonus'--a bad-ass, karate chopping hell cat who is more than a match for any guy around. I'd had enough about half way through. I think I was probably generous in giving it 2 stars.
The full panoply of human folly is on display as only Wolfe can do--greed, envy, lust, petty self-interest, tribalism, hubris. Phillips' narration is superb.
A good editor could have greatly improved this book by removing the various subplots inserted simply to throw the reader off the trail. Also, some of the characters' actions do not comport with normal human nature and motivation.
The book may well be worth reading but I just could not tolerate the narrator another minute. His inflections and emphases have no relationship to the text. It's like listening to a particularly dissonant piece of modern music--'Trash Cans With Screaming Cats', say. Do yourself a favor and listen to the sample before you buy this. I really don't know how good the text is so I gave the author the benefit of the doubt in rating it a 3.
The author is a former union organizer and member of the Socialist Workers Party. So, based on the couple of hours I was able to manage before getting physically ill from the horrific writing, the plot is heavily slanted toward left-wing politics with the main characters being UMWA members who have finally realized their dream of taking over the small world they are left with and wreaking vengence on all left-wing boogie men--aristocrats, corporate bosses, out-sourcers, politicians who don't share their enlightened world view. The writing is juvenile, the plot inane and the characters one dimensional. Unless you are an OWS supporter, I strongly recommend you not waste your time or money on this. I wish I had been warned.
I consider this one of the two or three most important and enlightening books I've read in the last 15 years. It presents a very balanced view of post-war Europe, its problems, achievements and challenges. Having read a great deal of traditional European history, I thought I was reasonably well informed in that area, but I was wrong--at least in regard to contemporary Europe. I've had a typical Ameri-centric perspective, with no real knowledge or appreciation of what differentiates Europeans, not only from Americans, but from each other. The problems they have faced and continue to face make our red state/blue state battles seem petty. The author is equally critical of Socialism and Thatcherism, Communism and Fascism, and in my view presents a balanced approach to both America's achievements and contributions and its short-comings from a European perspective.
I bought this with a bit of trepidation. I've read quite a bit in this area and almost all books seem to fall into one of two categories--either a shameless apologia of all things Islam, ala Edward Said, or a dry recitation of facts without interesting intepretation or comment, apparently in fear that any sort of serious criticism may lead to a fatwah--ala Karen Armstrong. I was pleasantly surprised to find in this book a knowledgable author who presents as balanced an approach as one is likely to find on this subject, presented in a most appealing style with relevant commentary and even serious criticism at a number of points. My only disappointment was in the author's approach to current issues. His clear bias toward almost a total Islamic view of curent events was a bit off-putting. For example, he makes no mention of the fact that Arab nations shamelessly and intentionally refused to allow Palestinian Arabs to assimilate into their countries after Israel was established for the express purpose of keeping alive the Israeli/Palestinian discord. He makes no reference to America's efforts to aid Muslims in the Balkans, Kuwait or ,yes, even Iraq and Afghanistan. He fails to say anything about the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the death sentence fatwahs placed on Salmon Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali or the shameless surrender of fundamental rights of free speech and free press (and the underlying reasons therefore) surrounding the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Even after the Munich Olympics (which he never refers to), the Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy, the Lockerbie bombing and 9/11, he seems to imply that virtually everything the U.S. and the West in general has done for the last 50 or so years is totally indefensible and solely responsible for the current antagonisms between the two sides and that Muslims are just defenseless victims. (I probably overstated that last point.) Nonetheless, if you have an interest in this subject, it is not likely you will find a more informed, better written or more balanced and nuanced work on the subject than is here presented, given the current state of world affairs.
An overview of the development of American law which usefully puts legal history into perspective as set against social and political history. However, Professor Friedman at times lets his liberal political ideology show through, especially in the chapter on the welfare state and federal regulation. But given his long tenure in closed-minded academia, this bias is not as severe as one might anticipate.If he could have managed to be a bit more balanced in his presentation, I would probably have rated the course a 4.
Not this novel, but the fact that a truly gifted author has wasted most of his life and talent on trivial supernatural dreck. I almost weep when I think what King might have done.
The narrator is (what?) fantastic, incredible, fill in your favorite superlative.
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