Eichenwald presents a stark look at the ego-driven failures that led to the disaster on 9-11 and the disastrous policies and practices that emerged from it. Necessary reading for anyone who wants a clear picture of the sort of thinking that pushed America over the line into a state that participates in torture.
Holter Graham's performance was spot-on and matched the tone of the book.
"Fifty Shades Of Grey" might be the worst book ever written. The writing is pathetic: trite, repetitive, and purely amateur. The author uses the same stock phrases over and over, as though she has never *read* a book before writing this one. A challenge for the listener: How many times does Grey "stare intently" at the protagonist? Are there other words to describe how one person stares at another? If so, why doesn't the author use them? Could it be because she isn't a good enough writer to come up with some new phrases?
There is no plot at all, beyond the narrator either drooling over Grey or agonizing about their relationship. Nothing happens. There is no conflict.
The characters have the depth and emotional maturity you would expect in a book written by a middle-schooler - or a piece of throw-away Twilight fanfic. "Holy crap!" and "Jeez!" and, especially, "Oh, my!" seem to be the deepest thoughts of which the protagonist is capable, and you get to hear these thoughts in her internal monologue every thirty seconds.
The protagonist is supposed to be a college student, but there is no indication whatever that the author has ever met one, or knows what a college student in 2011 is like. Scenes where the characters use computers or interact with technology are so miscast as to be laughable.
The narrator is a perfect match for the material, vapid and vacuous, enunciating each word with a clumsy precision that makes it sound like she's struggling to read the words. I can't blame her, though, I struggled with it myself.
I have read a number of non-fiction books about soldiers' experiences of war. My main interest is the second world war, and I was hoping that House To House would give me an undiluted and realistic look at the experiences of soldiers fighting in a modern conflict. To some degree the authors deliver - there is discussion of the tactics used and the conditions that prevailed in the Second Battle Of Fallujah. These parts are interesting and feel authentic, and give a no-holds-barred vision of the perils, hardships, and boredom endured by people fighting in the middle east.
The problem arises any time the authors make an attempt self-reflection.
The author and the other members of the author's squad are drawn with the depth of cartoon characters, always ready with exactly the right comeback or quip for the situation. When the author describes himself shouting "I am become Death, destroyer of worlds, motherf--ker!" in the middle of a firefight, my eyes almost rolled right out of my head. Each of the soldiers is portrayed as a selfless courageous patriotic hero ready to fight and die for the freedom of apple pie and their postcard families back home. The overall impression is that the author views all of his experiences through a Hollywood action-movie filter, and this taints the parts of the book I did enjoy: if I feel like the author's description of himself and the other soldiers is inflated to the point of silliness, how can I trust the rest of the narrative?
The last large section of the book describes, in comic-book detail, a hand-to-hand battle between the author and an Iraqi soldier in a half-destroyed house. The description of the action is interspersed with the author's "interior dialogue." This is by far the weakest part of the book and the section that put the nail in the coffin of my interest in the story. The author's thoughts read like something from a Michael Bay movie, a painfully-long collection of hyper-macho muscle-flexing cigar-chewing banalities.
This section may have been intended as a summary of the author's experiences in combat, a way of gathering together all of his memories of the uglier parts of fighting in Iraq and boiling them down into a single scene, where he could put all of his thoughts into one place. Like the rest of the book, though, it feels clumsy and shallow.
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