Elizabethtown, IN, United States | Member Since 2006
This is a fine and unique collection of historical fiction pieces, with a postscript behind each story explaining the origin of the characters and the situation.
The best historical pictures contain activities of daily life. People doing what they did every day. To anyone who thinks they understand a time period of the past, I would say this - try to write down in detail what they did every day - not in broad strokes but in detail. It's the details that make the story.
Reading how communities traded and bartered, how salt was extracted and brought north, how the south allocated certain provisions and collected taxes, the dangers created as local militias interpreted the war - it's all fascinating and very well told.
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" was the first book I owned in hardback. And Peter Wright's "Spycatcher" is in my library - and the story behind the book's publishing is almost as good as the printed book.
So I was a little surprised that there was anything left to tell about these rogues. But Ben Macintyre does a great job of storytelling and adds a lot of facts I didn't know or had forgotten.
So much of post WWII politics can be read through the actions and outing of these men. Maybe McCarthy never gains prominence in the U.S. Senate if they hadn't existed. McCarthyism never would have occurred.
Until I read this book, I think I was of the Angleton frame of mind; that Philby was an active poison right up until he defected from Beirut. This is an excellent telling of how Philby SEEMED to fool everyone, andt Macintyre does a great job of showing the toll it took on Philby, and the incredible luck that seemed to follow him everywhere. The amount of alcohol consumed, as Macintyre tells it, is astonishing.
A very good book on a topic that has already been well documented. Kudos to Macintyre for an amazing accomplishment.
I am a lifelong fan of Faulkner, but this is one work I have never read. While it has many of the style traits I love in Faulkner; the sharp, hard focus on the subject of race and the angst of the main character leaves me dry.
"Light in August" is an admirable work, and I read it to close a gap in my Faulkner reading history. But unlike "Intruder in the Dust" and "The Reivers," each of which I've read several times, I'll never read "Light in August" again.
I purchased this book based on Audible's recommendation to me. It is very clever and well done, but there is nothing in the review concerning the amount of vulgar language. To me, "irreverent" and "vulgar" are not interchangeable.
Not a bad book, but definitely not one that I have any interest in hearing front to back.
I've tried and tried to read Stegner - I've started this book three times, and I also have 'Angle of Repose' and 'Big Rock Candy Mountain,' and I just can't make it work. Stegner is very talented, but I can't make any lasting connection to his characters and their lives.
I have the same problem with Philip Roth's work. Very good stuff, but zero resonance with me.
So I feel a little guilty giving a low review - but it's an honest opinion of my relationship with the book and not meant as an opinion of Stegner's talent.
The editing is so choppy that phrases are repeated in two or three instances. The story feels rushed as the reader flies past punctuation.
The Hunger Games are such a cross culture success that I chose to read Book 2 when the movie was released.
I read Book 1 from print, and although Carolyn does an excellent job of reading Book 2, her formal, almost British enunciation didn't match the voice of Katniss that spoke in my head. Suzanne writes a solid story, but I felt the action and details of "Fire" were a little thin and at times took a back seat to Katniss' internal angst. I could hear the rule of "writing 101" echoing in my head - "SHOW me the story, don't TELL me."
The ending was well done, and I'm sure I'll get around to reading the third book in the future.
The story is well researched, and there is so much to learn here - how "post roads" worked in Europe, the scattered ruins of castles that still littered the countryside like dinosaur bones of the feudal system, the shifting alliances of the powers of the day.
If I were editor on this project I would make one change - just as the journey reaches it's penultimate point, with Louisa across most of the continent and Napoleon returned and growing stronger - just then the book takes a long detour to describe the background of Louisa's state of mind - everything from the details of her marriage to her miscarriage in St. Petersburg. These are interesting facts, too, but their placement in the book detracts from the story of the journey, and if I were editing I would rearrange the chapters for better continuity.
Tony's old school journalism training and talent are displayed well in this collection. I purchased this book for background research on some fiction I'm writing, and the stories were much more varied and entertaining than I expected. The title piece is pure entertainment, but other stories are more sober as Tony writes about the people and the culture of New Mexico. I'm not a personal fan of desert climates, but reading Tony's collection makes me want to visit New Mexico.
When the summary mentions MI5 in the early 70's, I think of the generation that lived in fear of repeating Burgess and the Cambridge spy ring. The generation that came after Peter Wright, after George Smiley.
McEwan makes references to this generation of brinksmanship, but it is just name dropping. This is not the spy novel I expected; this is part sappy love story and part a writer's description of his introversion.
The heroine is talented at describing her sexual needs and experiences, a talent which may in turn represent her generation. These depictions guarantee that readers will stay with the book through the slow sections.
I enjoyed the portrayal of daily life in England at a time of crisis. McEwan is a good writer, but Stevenson is a more talented narrator.
"Sweet Tooth" is a good book, but not the book I expected, so I was disappointed.
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