This book is a masterpiece. It is an honest story of a very personal war fought by a young Marine in the WWII Pacific told by a writer who excels at his craft of writing history and who after a lifetime of telling the stories of others now tells his own. He manages to evoke immediacy and endow it with perspective.
I picked out this book on a whim. I had enjoyed her other book, "Cadavers", but I really didn't expect this one to be such a wonderful combination of information and entertainment. It is formidable on both counts. Roach is certainly aware of what she calls the "Ick Factor" in her subject matter but she handles it with such aplomb that you can keep your eye n the topic and not get caught up in "Yewwwww"s.
Roach has done something that is the goal of all science writers, written about an important subject that is usually sidestepped by other writers and done it in such a way as to be useful and to make the reader feel as liberated in exploring the topic as Mary Roach became as she did her extensive research.
In case I wasn't clear, I really liked this book!
Rarely do I read a book that changes my point of view but this ground pounders view of Viet Nam warfare does that by humanizing the "kids", the word the author uses often to emphasize their youth. Many of these guys spend 95 percent of their time as complaining, small minded people, divided by racism, social class, self-interest everything else that exists out in the world and then these same "kids" are capable of tremendous bravery and loyalty to each other. Central to the novel is the development of a single Marine lieutenant from young adult to becoming a man in the best sense of the word. Not a glorified hero, but a thinking, feeling creature who has been tempered by war and, at a brutal cost, has come to understand its meaning. This has to be one of the finest novels of warfare, period.
The Mongols were a bloodthirsty horde that ravaged Europe and Asia under one of the most vicious conquerors of all time, Genghis Khan. WRONG!
This book is an eye-opening account of the significance of the Mongol culture to the development of the modern world. The author places newly discovered documents in context that drastically changes our perception of the Mongols and why it was that Geoffrey Chaucer, who lived closest to the time of Genghis Khan wrote so admiringly of him and his civilizing effects on the nations he conquered while Voltaire and other later writers shaped our nearly universally held view of them as a flood of terror rising in the East and flowing outward to drown in blood India, Korea, Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, China and more. In some important ways, Genghis Khan and his people were more modern, less savage than their European contemporaries. Certainly their sense of social justice was more developed. This is a book with the potential to change your understanding of the development of per-Renaissance Europe and the role of the Mongols in preparing Europe for that great intellectual, artistic and moral flowering.
Te author also makes clear the continuing impact of Genghis Khan and his descendants in modern international relations, European customs, and language including words we use every day. I founf myself often thinking with wonder at a new revelation, "I never would have thought of that".
The story seemed contrived and a bit kitchy for my taste. On the other hand, for a younger audience, this might make a fine read.
This story of four friends on a wilderness camping trip, canoeing a Georgia river made a gripping motion picture. The book has all of the adventure that made the film so memorable but it has something more more because the written characterizations and the motivations of the four friends are complex and very real. Dickey writes with understanding, verve and even compassion about brutality and the nature of masculinity.
It is hard to fathom the amount of research that went into this book. I have a moderate professional's knowledge of the period and was struck over and over by the way Wouk wove real events and real people into a wonderful story that managed to give insight into a period and some fascinating people. The narration was better than I had thought possible. Actually, narration s not the word for this - it was an outstanding theatrical performance. I became so used to the vocal characterizations that I accepted that it was the character speaking. Age, ethnicity, personal style, all were captured in the voices used by the narrator.I had read this book thirty years ago and had liked it but listening to it was a far more engrossing experience.
If I were asked to say what are my favorite three books of the hundred or so I have listened to, I would include this and the sequel, Winds of War. Everything I have said about this book I could say about Winds of War also.
Of the more than 100 books I have listened to at Audible, months later, this one sticks out in my mind. I have read all of Manchester's books. He is a fine historian but this autobiographical telling of one Marine's experience in the Pacific war is exciting, insightful and above all honest. It is not a romanticized view of war. This is an extraordinary piece of writing with a lot to be learned from it about the experience of courage, fear, and friendship.
I only knew Orwell as the author of 1984. "Down and Out" is a wonderful book, full of enthusiastic insights about life at the bottom in two major world capitols. One effect of reading this book is to realize how far we have traveled towards social justice. Was this the result of a World War or of labor unions or of a society deciding to become more compassionate? I now want to know more.
This is a fascinating book. The background of US/Iranian relations becomes a lot clearer when you have read this well written and well presented history that includes how we look to the Iranians. All of a sudden, their behavior no longer seems so inexplicable.
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