The Jeeves stories were, as always, terrific. The Reginald Pepper stores, which form half the collection, are not as good. In a book titled My Man Jeeves, I was expecting, well, Jeeves.
The first 2/3 of this book is very enjoyable. It explores the customs and etiquette of Victorian Britain, detailing how life changed over the 60 years of the Queen's reign. It is obvious that the author is only interested in the lives of the upper classes, but that is understandable in that the literate, wealthy segment of a population often leaves more documentation of their lives. The section on how the bicycle and the underground changed life is very interesting. However, when the book discusses Britain's colonial legacy, it becomes rather hard to take. Patterson states that even though it is currently 'unfashionable' to defend colonialism, he feels that Britain benefited the countries it occupied by bringing them roads and education, culture and Christianity. He admits that the jobs for which education would prepare the native population would probably not be available to them anyway; he does not seem to realize that an alien culture and religion might not have been welcome 'gifts'. Neither does he address the steady stream of archaeological and cultural treasures systemically looted and sent back to England. This defense of imperialism is an odd sort of thesis for a 21st Century author, considering that the legacy of British rule has been ongoing strife in many of the countries it formerly controlled. The Irish Famine is dismissed in a sentence or two - by saying that the story that Queen Victoria only gave five pounds to famine relief is untrue. he does not say what, if anything, she and her government actually did. I would have enjoyed this book more had the author stuck to life in England, and left politics alone.
Mark Meadows does an excellent job narrating this book - his upper class pronunciation and mellow voice suits the material very well.
Yes to both
A Failed Empire was interesting in that most Americans are familiar with the Western perspective on the important events of the Cold War - the Berlin Wall, Cuban missile crisis, etc. This book uses Russian sources to reveal the reasons behind some seemingly contradictory policies pursued by the USSR, and highlighted the unwillingness of some apparently belligerent Soviet leaders to risk actual war. The book is long and detailed, but worth the trouble.
haven't encountered the print edition
Rudolf Diels. Although he only figured in the book in a minor way, this portrait of a paradoxically moral man in the Nazi regime was very intriguing.
His voice is varied in tone without becoming distracting or overly dramatic
Dodd responding so bluntly to Pappen's question at the Little Press Club dinner, but then bravely and compassionately visiting him when he was placed under house arrest and threatened with death.
Mr. Larsen has a gift for illuminating historical events by focusing on the small details of peoples lives. Although the lengthy accounts of Ambassador Dodd's annoying daughter possibly take up too much of the book, her various relationships with the notables of pre-war Germany depict these individuals in a unique way. Also, the narrative shows how her initial admiration of the Nazi 'revolution
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