Kansas City, MO, United States | Member Since 2011
I thought it would be good. I thought I'd learn a little about history and maybe know more about a President forgotten by time. This was SO much more than that.
At once a wonderful character study of a man who never wanted to be President, who hated campaigning for office, who conquered every subject matter he encountered and who was on the verge of fighting for noble causes in the White House and the study of the man who shot him twice (but didn't kill him), who had lost all touch with reality and who had every opportunity to turn his life around. It would have been great had it just been the story of these two men and how their lives somehow collided.
But it is also a picture of the people surrounding the White House, those struggling for power, those (like Garfield's Vice President) who wanted LESS power and the story of two men you have heard of, but never knew as more than caricatures of history (Alexander Graham Bell and Dr. Lister, and how they were so much more than our history books tell us).
This is also the story of what happens when a nation generates and ignores certain scientific discoveries. Had the doctors who cared for Garfield understood the medical procedures used for the previous 15 years in Europe, then Garfield would have lived. His doctors killed him, and the deterioration of his condition is so painful you will cringe in your seat. At the same time, we watch Bell invent something you had no idea he was involved with, and how his work AFTER inventing the telephone saved countless lives.
This is a marvelous book, exciting, adventurous and educational. I loved every minute of it. Buy it now. You will not regret it.
There's no getting around it, Brave New World is a bad book. It's the story of a world where humans are engineered to fit a specific purpose and the engineering doesn't end after birth. The characters have come to accept this life, even the scheduling of their free time and the people they have relationships with, as normal. Our main character shifts halfway through the book to a man born on a reservation who is known as the savage. Then he comes into conflict with the New World.
That's the plot, but here's the juice: it's boring. The characters never challenge the world, they rarely come into conflict with its boundaries, and frankly, they're boring. They don't grow or want to grow in any significant way. The conflict only happens when the savage comes to the city, and even then it's too little and way too late. Not only that, but Michael York is an okay narrator - but his American accent is atrocious.
This stock is a definite Don't Buy.
Every list I examine of Best Books of the 20th century, Scariest Books, and Best American Books have Blood Meridian on them. And the book deserves each accolade. The word dystopian barely describes the desolate and baseless landscape these characters inhabit. It will thrill you, terrify you, excite you, and oftentimes depresses you, but you will never be bored.
This is the novel of a hired band of mercenaries who head into the southern states and through Mexico, hunting the native Indians. The land is lawless and without any moral code to speak of. Our main character is a nameless kid who has been on his own since his early teenage years. He strikes up with the band and survives amidst the chaos and depravity.
You haven't read any other book like this and it's time you did. The plot is unreal, the characters strange, and the narration is dead on - if you'll pardon the pun.
It's been all over Audible for some time now: a great war story and narrated by Bryan Cranston! Let's get the obvious over with first: Cranston is incredible and you could buy this book on his involvement alone. That said, let's talk about the book, it's mostly good points and its few downsides.
The Things They Carried is small stories, not very interconnected, from Vietnam. They are not in order and they do not connect at the end to tell some larger story. But they paint a wonderful mosaic of how soldiers come back from war traumatized and we can understand the mental plight of soldiers who were witness to horror. We'll look at stories of men drowning, firefights, trying to dodge the draft, and coming home from war and not being able to integrate into society again. These are nearly perfect moments in time and told with such precision and care that you'll be astounded. My favorite story was of a soldier coming home and driving around a lake, wondering if there is anyone he could tell his story to, the story of how he almost won the Medal of Valor.
But the author doesn't know how to end the book and it slows down and then just stops. I wish there was more there, that there was a more impactful story to end on, but for me the least interesting moments of the book are at the end. Afterward is a short story separate from the book, read by the author. He is not the narrator that Cranston is, but do listen to this story, it is exceptional. If only it had been the end of the book...
Do buy this book, it's not only good, I dare to say it's important.
The start of a new series with ghosts and killers and quirky characters, but it's still missing something. Night of the Living Deed, tells the story of Alison, a single mother who receives a whack on the head and now can see ghosts. And the first ones she meets ask her to solve their murders. All this while she's trying to open up a guest house on the Jersey Shore. Let's do this as a pro and con list.
Pro: the author really loves her characters and wants to explore them, the plot isn't predictable, the book delivers on its promise to be fun without being serious, it's a fast read, there are endless opportunities for stories in the future of the series, the narrator is just great.
Cons: there isn't a lot of plot and when it happens there will inevitably be a scene recapping everything so far, the jokes only work some of the time, the author isn't really exploring the idea of the main character seeing ghosts nearly as much as she could so it feels underwhelming, the mystery isn't a primary focus, there isn't very much suspense even as the narrator's life is threatened and in danger, there isn't much development, and there is very little interpersonal drama.
I might read more of the series, but it didn't grab my attention very well.
There's a problem with The World is Flat and it's not Thomas Friedman's fault. His research is impeccable, his questions probing, his prose light and readable. No, the problem is that this book is now antiquated. It's sad to say that only a few years after the most recent publication, but I believe it's true.
The World is Flat discusses about how telecommunications in the digital age substantively changed the economics of the whole world. It describes how America has fallen behind parts of the world like India and Russia in taking greatest advantage of these changes and he predicts a shifting of economic supremacy in the future. Like I said, his research and reasoning is sound. But this was published before the 2008 economic collapse. That changed not only the United States but much of the Western and the developed world as well.
Because of the timing, his predictions are no longer exacting. If he wrote a new book, one discussing who will rise from the economic ashes best and fastest, using the technology he discussed in this book, I would read it. Friedman is good author, I just feel this book has been eclipsed by history.
I'm almost at a loss for what to say about The Emperor of all Maladies. There isn't a moment, not a section, not a thread of this incredible book that feels out of place and isn't riveting. At the same time, emotionally gripping, scientifically enthralling, educational, and just darn good storytelling, Mukherjee takes us through the history of cancer. When did it first appear, who catalogued it, what did they think it was? When cancer was identified how was it treated and who was involved? What is the history of each major cancer and each major treatment? These questions are the heart and soul of this book.
The sections on history, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, prevention, and detection are then punctuated by moments from the author's time treating patients. You get to know people like Carla who has leukemia and you struggle with her as she battles a particularly awful illness. At the heart of this book is the people who have made up the war on cancer and they are drawn with love and precision.
I have rarely been as excited about a book as I have been reading this one.
There's a reason this book was considered a living classic when it was published in the 60's and has remained a classic continuously to this day. It is impeccable and quite possibly one of the more perfect books I've ever read. Here we have an unbiased examination of all the people and events that planned for and lead to the start of WWI, the Great War. The first section of the book discusses each influence and who participated and how it affected the overall readiness. It's a wonderfully precise description of an intricate fuse.
Then, a third of the way through the book, Franz Ferdinand dies, and the world is thrust into war. Now we have as precise, as finely tuned a description of the fuse burning and the ultimate explosion. She looked at every aspect of who declared war, what the debate was like, and how they did it. Then she turns her attention again, this time to the fighting, and writes a perfectly paced and description war history, examining all the movements of the first 30 days of combat. At the end, she looks at the world is devastating and analyzes the outcomes in perfectly cogent and arresting prose. It's an amazing accomplishment. If I had a criticism, it is that she spends no time looking at the lighting of the fuse, the assassination of Ferdinand. But she did this because the world was going to go to war, it was just looking for a reason.
This is a great book. Buy it.
I've always felt the best compliment I can give a book is to say I wished it was longer. Revolution 1989 deserves my greatest compliments. This story is nearly 20 hours long I wished the whole while that it was at least 25. There is so much here and it is so interesting. You'll watch it unfold with wonder and excitement, I promise.
It examines the Soviet Union, specifically the satellite states, from the appointment of Pope John Paul II in 1978, to Nicolae Ceausescu's execution in December of 1989. The scope of this book is immense, we watch three Russian dictator's come and go and see the progression that will lead to the collapse of Eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the Ukraine, and Poland. At the end, Russia stands as a completely different country. How did all these events happen within months of each other in relatively bloodless uprisings?
That's a lot of ground to cover and I wanted to get to know all the amazing people who made it happen. As it is, we get to see them on a cursory level but have to move quickly through time, as there is so much to cover (my favorite two chapters were in Chernobyl and the revolution in Romania during Ceausescu's last speech.) It's incredible that a 20 hour book can feel rushed, but this does.
That said, it's an amazing book. Even though these events happened in my lifetime, I did not see them for all their colors and intrigue. So here it is, a book that isn't perfect, but one that's on my Highly Recommended List.
I wish I had more to say about Rogue Island, but I just found it unremarkable. I love a good mystery and one about a serial arsonist sounded like a lot of fun. But the plot lingers and there are really no serious twists. There are too many sections that don't advance the investigation and most of the book is spent looking at the main character's personal life. I just didn't care. When the whodunnit moment comes, it's underwhelming and dragged out. I found very little satisfaction in the end.
This is a series and there's already a second book. I didn't hate the first, but I won't be buying the second either.
Here's the takeaway: this is a shocking and fascinating book. The authors are therapists who specialize in hoarding behavior and helping individuals overcome their compulsions. And what compulsions they are!The subjects in this book have collected so much stuff they don't know the size of their rooms, they forget whole rooms exist, they have to crawl to certain destinations, they put their health and marriages at risk, and they cannot stop.
You'll watch as the authors employ a series of creative treatments to try and mitigate the compulsions. Some succeed and some fail. What is most incredible is the chapter about childhood hoarding, proving the behavior can be inherited or learned. This is a short but amazing read, highly recommended.
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