I agree with the previous reviewer that this book is read perfectly. And the book itself, while concise, is brilliant in its erudition, the poetry of the voice and the sustained mood.
DD loves language. Sometimes his books amaze with the shear volume of beautiful language. This novel is one-breath poem in prose. Inspired.
I constantly had a feeling that this book is somehow just Chinese propaganda. It's not really history, but conjecture. Highly implausible at that. But stitched together by a narrative of glorification of China. Shoddy history, boring fiction.
A history of a "world" will necessarily be closer to highlights than in-depth exploration, and this work certainly is the former. However, one would expect this "summary" to reveal some overarching vision of history, shape common themes and make a point. Executive summary this is not. Its more like a homeschooling textbook (S.W. Bauer is a homeschooling guru of some sort) - it crams the work of others into uninspired narrative.
OK as an introduction to the themes for someone who needs to be familiar with basic sequences of European, Asian and American societies in the middle ages. Not OK for someone looking for any sort of original vision of, or historical theory for, understanding the World as a whole at the time, which would be helpful in dealing with the unified world of today.
Should have been called Summaries of Histories of Societies Functioning on Planet Earth c 400 - c 1300, The Homeschooling Edition.
If there were a court for intellectual bankrupts that resolved their insolvency, Hitch-22 would serve as the author’s restructuring plan.
While this work begins with a fearless confrontation of his impending demise, it deteriorates into an apologetic liquidation of the author’s political principles - the sole convertible currency for a public intellectual. Rather than a complete eradication of his canon, only unfashionable and inconvenient elements are rejected. Thus goes the Trotsky-inspired export-centered revolutionary agitation of international socialism; the struggle for workers' happiness just fades away. The bankrupt emerges intact with love of traveling to international conflicts, preferably in locations where international liberalism is seeking to establish new colonies, or as they are properly called - "democracies". The battery of excuses employed for the completely unnecessary explanation of this personal revolution begins to feel cloying, especially as they are interspersed more and more among boasts, veiled in that peculiar mix of humility and style that is issued by the pound to every British subject and by the ton to every Oxbridge one. At the end only a shadow of an intellectual remains and we discover that all along Hitchens has been riding on the comfortable conceptual rails of empire that he imbibed with mother's milk on a British naval base, as that empire was beginning to witness it's inglorious sunset. Conveniently, another English-speaking empire was rising and Hitchens made the jump across the pond to the fresh American lily pad.
As Hitchens details his failed ambition of being a public intellectual, he firmly establishes himself as a perfectly capable wit with a tremendously entertaining grab-bag of anecdotes and experiences. His observations are feeble, but he had good company and benefited greatly from it. Plus his language is something to be admired, if not adored. Regrettably, the pretty vines crawl upon a rotten tree.
I am quite deep into this version, having read large parts of the Republic in other translations. Translations do matter for Plato, as the translators introduce their own biases into the result.
This is the 1894 translation by Bejamin Jowett, Oxford theologian and classical scholar, and seems particularly sympathetic to harmonizing Plato and Christianity. This of course is an old tradition, but its use of Christian concepts seems a bit heavyhanded nowadays. Nevertheless, the translation itself is considered by some an English language classic.
But that is a minor point. The book is a major foundation stone of Western civilization.
Witty and insightful, with the hand on the pulse of current NYC culture, this novel is attractive for its portraits of NYC middle and upper classes.
After 9/11, America (for a short time) fell in love with its rich, alongside its firefighters and police officers. Sex was another prominent response to the tragedy. This book explores both in a compelling way.
The plot is borrowed from a vacation romance novel - rich boy, poor girl fall in love while on a break from their regular life. The dramatic tension comes from their realization that the state is temporary. Shmear a layer of 9/11 on it and voula - you got The Good Life. Inane.
But the intelligence of cultural observations and penetration of emotional complexity hangs enough meat on the plot to make it a very palatable read. And the ending is to die...
The book is a good essay on the chapel project with in depth coverage of the work itself, Michelangelo's personal life as well as interesting digressions on contemporary events.
I got this book because I really (!) liked "Judgment of Paris" and like this one less. For one it is the earlier of the two and the rivalry plot is not as well fleshed out. The other because the narrator is mismatched with the text. I heard him read a XIX c. sailing memoir and his swagger was appropriate. But it brings an odd note of infantilism to this work. Anyway, the narrator is not that big of a deal in any case.
I got this book on a recommendation of a well-read friend who knows I am into history. Of course, history has a tenuous connection to the book as it is mainly a mystery-detective story-chase that is tainted by historical context.
However, the book is remarkable for good insight into Balkan and Slav history and culture as well as being perfectly on point about the intellectual culture of behind the Iron Curtain.
The narrative captures the thought process of a commercially successful intellectual as he manages to balance his otherworldly intellectual pursuit with an onslaught of real, vulgar life. He manages to do it with flashes of dignity and exceptionally good humor and wit. The voice is honest and (often) politically incorrect: thoroughly and honestly male.
Bellow has an heavy-weight cast of well-developed characters and a facility with many then contemporary topics that is at times breathtaking, humorous, but always witty and moving. His irony is refined.
The narrating performance is excellent, capturing the characters and adding a dimension to dialogue with inflection that captures the imagination.
Report Inappropriate Content