This book was written in the earliest days of the current financial crisis, and completed sometime around May, 2008. As a result, it is both quite prescient about the causes of the current unraveling of the world financial system, and a bit out-of-date as so much has changed in the months since the book was published. If you are looking for something to explain the way that the current financial system was developed for the past three hundred years, and how the roots of the current crash go back deep into the history of finance, this book is an excellent and entertaining guide. It will introduce you to everything from the causes of the 1980s S&L scandals to the birth of investment banks to the inflationary pressures caused by the Spanish conquest of the New World, and demonstrate how these concepts are related to the current financial system. You will learn that crashes have always happened, and likely always will, so the book succeeds well as current commentary.
It is somewhat less successful as history of money, however, since the sections of the book, each named after a different type of financial instrument from insurance to bonds, are not really detailed histories of each topic, but rather a series of vignettes that illuminate a concept in the development of a particular financial instrument. The book focuses on the Rothschild family to explain the history of banking, the rise of Pinochet to explain the role of free markets, and so on. These stories are interesting and important, but they make the book feel more disjointed than a typical linear history. Similarly, the level of detail of the book fluctuates between fairly popular descriptions and very detailed statistics.
Overall, if you are either motivated to learn about the financial system, or you have a general interest in financial history, this is a wonderful book. Those who are less interested in the details, or who expect a complete account of the ascent of money, may be less impressed.
The first couple of books were a shallower, fun version of the Harry Dresden books. Here, Kevin Hearne decides that it is time to get serious, and his attempts to make his universe logically coherent, and, on occasion, to write poetically, are much less fun. The fact is, his universe doesn't really make a lot of logical sense, so trying to explain the delicate interactions of vampires, or werewolves, or Norse goods, is just annoying and feels tacked-on. Leave it to Neil Gaiman.
The first book - yes. The second - maybe. This one - no.
Kevin Hearne can do fun pop references and monster slaying. He is not great at flowery writing and coherent world building. This book has far too much of the latter, and, as a result that makes all the weird choices made by the main character seem that much more jarring.
Great reading, great voices. The best thing about the book.
Become a 2,000 druid?
I just didn't love this book the way everyone else did, it was merely fine. I realize that, as a male, I am probably not the key demographic for this work, which contains hefty doses of romance, like any novel with vampires these days. However, the comedy-of-manners and romance subplots, played lightly as near-parody, actually ended up the best part of the book. The main plotline, for me, was pretty mediocre, and seemed to often spin out of Ms. Carriger's control.
For example: there are a large number of gaping plotholes, many of which have the characters acting in odd ways; random characters appear and disappear frequently; and every chapter seems to have a deus ex machina. Again, the banter among characters is often charming, and Ms. Tarraboti is a winning creation, but, for me, the book's main action-oriented plot was way too awkward to make this a true winner, though I never felt that the (very well-read) audiobook was wasting my time, I am not eager to buy the next.
This book is a tour of the nine planets that is equal parts mythology, history, and science. Ms. Sobel goes through each planet in order, discussing how it is has been seen throughout history, and what the latest scientific discoveries and theories about its origins and future might be. The stories she tells about the planets range from personal tales to historical or mythological incidents, and they are often highly lyrical. Mars is described from the perspective of a martian meteorite found in the Antarctic, while the tale of the discovery of Uranus is given through the letters of the sister of its discoverer. If you are looking for a hardcore science volume, you may want to look elsewhere, for though scientific facts abound, so does history and fables. If you liked Dava Sobel's other works (Longitude, etc.) or appreciate slightly more quirky non-fiction, you will like this. Wonderfully read and highly reccommended.
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