Barbara Tuchman is an awesome historian and writer and I've never before read anything like this book. I bought the kindle version in order to re-read it in parts that were simply too quickly read for adequate comprehension. It is extremely dense with information--many, many names, places, and dates. In addition to going too fast (and barely, if at all pausing between paragraphs), I found the narrator's pronunciation of French names a little distracting. Sometimes it was perfect, sometimes half-right, and sometimes completely off, e.g. "Reims." But if you don't speak French you won't notice the mispronunciations. On the other hand, I would imagine that it would be very hard to keep the names straight without any knowledge of the language.
The content describing life in fourteenth century France was absolutely fascinating.
While the tips seem pretty obvious today -- don't criticize, be pleasant, think about what the other guy's interests are, don't humiliate -- they were presented thoughtfully and with a sense of humor. It says a lot that this book, written in the 1930's, could still be relevant today. So many forget (or ignore) the basics of successful human relationships.
Wonderful characters, original story, beautifully written. That's all I have to say. (And you don't have to care about baseball to like this book.)
If you are at all a fan of TR, this is a must read. This is a wild story, literally and figuratively. The book seems extremely well researched so as to convey a very realistic sense of the Amazonian rain forest in 1914. The characters are every bit as interesting and well defined as the environment. It's a great adventure and I highly recommend it.
If you're interested in American history, pick this one. It is full of fascinating and shocking facts about the dustbowl years, which are hard for us to imagine. My only criticism is that the story could have been told in half the time (or less). There seemed to be a lot of repetition. The book was also oddly organized. It wasn't chronological which made it hard to follow.
Ann Patchett's style reminds me of an old master painting. She starts with the grounding, and then gradually adds the lights, the darks, and the mid-values. Ultimately, after many semi-transparent layers, an intricate and beautiful image emerges. You will fall in love with the characters and the story.
When you were born, to whom you were born, where you were born, how hard you work, how your culture molds your values and behavior. It goes on and on. Gladwell has some intriguing theories that he defends well. He breaks the book up into case studies that "prove" various points of his thesis. They are all interesting, but my favorite was the one about his own family history in Jamaica.
I was struck in particular by the studies in which the outliers were indirectly the 'beneficiaries" of societal racism and anti-semitism, which supports the eastern notion that there's good and bad in all things.
Not I. Turns out that he's not just a pretty face after all. He's intelligent, perceptive, and has a very good sense of humor. He is also pretty honest, which makes the book a great read. I was amazed that he could talk about dating Princess Stephanie and having dinner with Sting and Pavarotti without sounding like he's bragging.
That fact that he is reading the story of his own life makes it all the more compelling. He does a wonderful job of impersonating the famous people that cross his path. He does impressions of Tom Cruise, Cary Grant, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, and many others.
And the best part is, despite all of his the fantastic life experiences, in the end, you realize that he's like the rest of us -- I guy who's way not perfect, but loves his family and does the best he can.
Thanks for sharing, Rob. I really enjoyed it.
Not as spell-binding or funny as the Big Short, but nonetheless quite interesting. A fairly quick read and well worth the time.
It was a very different experience for us; we are not regular sci-fi readers. Interesting journey deep into the virtual world and into the world of eighties trivia. Well written and well performed. Bravo!
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