I wasn't familiar with Judt before reading this book, and I had only a passing knowledge of many of the featured people.
The essays seem somewhat Judeo-centric, but they are fascinating and they have introduced me to people and philosophies I'll enjoy pursuing.
The essays on the more recent time periods (newer than 2003) seemed hollow, considering the economic and political changes of the past 18 months. I enjoyed all the others.
This is one of my favorite books, although many do not consider it one of Faulkner's best. Faulkner was gifted with the ability to write memorable quotes of dialogue, and there are some gems here. Reading Faulkner always requires concentration, but it's worth the effort. In this story he takes a very simple plot, occurring over a very short time frame, and creates a fascinating work by exploring what the characters think about themselves and their community. One note of caution: the book is full of a few words that have become racial hot buttons. The story is set in the South in the 1950's. These words don't bother me - I'm not afraid of words, and they are true to the setting of the story - but it's something a reader who is unfamiliar with Faulkner should be aware of.
The book is well researched and well presented, with anecdotes of many people and how they fared through this incredible hurricane. The reader handles the material very well. A book like this reads quickly because it's organized in a way that allows the events to tell their own exciting tales. It's also a fascinating reminder of how much day to day life in this country has changed in just a few generations, not all for the better.
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