Kansas City, MO, United States | Member Since 2011
At once an intimately detailed modern history of the military, where military power comes from and the changing politics of WHO sends soldiers into battle; a detailed commentary of the underpinnings of modern political issues we're dealing with (such as terrible deficits and endless deployment); and the wit and spin only Rachel Maddow (author and reader) can provide, this book may change your entire view of modern politics. Let me start at the end, then, if you don't buy this book right now, then put it at the top of your wish list. It's that good.
First, the narration is amazing. Rachel writes the same way she speaks and it's so intelligent, funny and fluid that you almost believe she's talking off the cuff the whole time. In fact it's as meticulously researched as any book I've read and written with such heart and care that you are less angry and more saddened at how we, as a country, have sent our soldiers into pointless conflicts and left them there with less support than they have ever received. If nothing else, this book is an argument that soldiers do not go to war, a COUNTRY does. We all chip in, we all feel the strain and we all are committed to a short conflict which risks lives only as a last option. Today we have the opposite, endless deployment and an American citizenry that is totally detached from those wars. This is wrong for our country, our budget and our soldiers.
The bulk of the book is how we got here. How did the power to make war drift away from the constitution and the Congress (remember, only Congress shall have the power to declare war - so why does the power to deploy troops today seem to lie solely with the executive branch?) From Vietnam through today, Congress gave up their authority and every executive (of both parties) have eagerly scrambled to pick up the discarded power. It has resulted in endless war, and a constantly growing military budget (even during times of peace.)
Please read this book. It's entertaining, it's informative. But more than that, it gives power back where it should be. With you, the VOTER. Informed citizens change the world and this book strives to give that power back to you. This is not a leftist or liberal bent book. It says something I think we can ALL agree on: sometimes America has to go to war. But when we do the debate about going should be loud and public and all of America should go to war and should want it over as soon as possible. Anything else is an insult to the military.
I have no doubt that Gene Wolfe, the author, created a well thought through and populated universe and that his attention to detail was genre defining. But in the end that mattered very little to me, because this book is pretty boring. Here we have the story of a Torturer, raised amongst others of his guild. Then he commits the unthinkable act of having mercy on his victim. He should be killed, but instead is evicted, and this begins his four novel ourney. You can bet that I won't be joining him in the other three.
He's not a very interesting person and his inner thoughts have very little imagination. They are, instead, formulaic and trustful of the world's status quo. His adventure is also not very adventurous. Sure, there's a battle with deadly plants (I kid you not) but the hours and hours that pace without action wore me down. Sorry.
This is such a great concept for a book, and executed with such enjoyment and wonder that you'll be completely willing to overlook a few minor mistakes. Here you have something NEW and FUN, a book unlike anything you've read before. As you can see from the publisher's description, it's the story of Star Wars Episode 4 written in Shakespearean Iambic Pantameter. The soliliques are here, the asides, the great references to Shakespeare lines and Starwsars fandom (such as a reference to Han shooting first.)
Also, the author isn't afraid to rethink the characters. For instance, R2D2 speaks in beeps and squeaks, but then will give a monologue as an aside to the audience about how HE'S really the one controlling the action and how much he hates C3P0. If the gimic wears a bit thin in the middle and the author attempts to write stage directions at the end of the piece in a way Shakespeare never would, that's ok, because this is a fresh author and cast and they just want us to have fun with them. Go along for the ride.
The best books affect you, make you think and sometimes they even make you change your day to day habits. This is one of those books, a short read of ground shifting potential. And like all great books I’ve read, it starts with a simple premise and a simple question: Western culture is, by and large, health obsessed and has been for a while. We count calories, we examine fat content, we examine with finite prevision the nutritional makeup of our foods. So why, in a culture of nutritional obsession are we getting sicker and sicker every year?
What the author poses as an answer is, to use his words, that we have removed culture from our eating habits (culture being a word that means your mother). So he examines the food industry for all its faults and suggests an alternative: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It’s strange that someone would need to spend a whole book defending food but most of what we eat is not, strictly speaking, food. You should read this book, it has made an impact in my life. So go on, get cooking.
The Harry Hole series never fails to deliver. Here's another in the detective sage: a series of surprising murders, a cascade of suspects, a world of depravity and sin, and our hero, Harry, stuck in the middle. This time Harry finds himself sent out to Bangkok to investigate a diplomat’s murder in a seedy motel room. The unfolding layers of insider drug rings, ruthless businessmen, and illegal pornography conspire to give Harry his most dangerous case yet.
As always, Nesbo delivers real human drama, strong characters, and an interesting plot. As I’ve always said, the Harry Hole books use genre clichés to deliver unfaltering character studies. This book is no exception, and the narrator’s pretty amazing too.
Well, this is a terrifying story. A horrible flood, under-prepared staff members caring for sick patients, no plan for emergencies, and a time frame that stretches on adding day to day. This is the story of Memorial Hospital as it was stranded during Katrina. There is dirt and fear and failing electricity and patients who need hand pumped ventilation and air conditioning. Then the really crazy question: did the staff members euthanize the patients? There's ample evidence that they did.
The author takes you through the decisions and the points of view in great detail for the five days of the disaster. It's really epic reading and you'll storm through the first half of this book. But the disaster is only the first half. Then we have the legal story, told with the same care for balance and detail, we watch the investigation into Dr. Amanda Pou, who likely ordered the injections. Was she guilty and would she be convicted? This is inherently not as interesting a subject matter and there is less human drama (though the complexities of legal struggle did keep my attention). If this book was more disaster and less legal struggle it would have been perfect. As it stands, it's just really, really good.
This is my second David McCullough book and they just get better and better. Here we have a story that will surprise you: not the biography of the TR that we know from history, but the shaping of him into that man. His father and mother were truly exceptional people, she a wonderful story teller coming from an eccentric southern family and he a patriot and charity-driven socialite. This book tells the story, as McCullough says in the afterward, of what formed the frail, asthmatic boy into the larger than life President. The books ends when he is finally the man we know.
And the journey there is amazing. He struggled throughout his childhood with sickness, his family lived a lifestyle that has long since vanished, he deals with amazing victories at an unprecedented early age and he survives the most devastating of losses. His character changes and grows and we watch with amazing precision as a new man emerges. This book is wonderful history, fantastic detail, an intimate character study, and ripping good fun. Enjoy 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.
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