This was a rewarding read. DeMille does a nice job of overlaying a murder mystery with the complex fabric of modern Vietnam. Not his best, but a worthwhile investment.
This is the story of an American kid who gets it in his mind to join the Marines and test his own mettle. From there, he becomes a true hero and achieves honor, recognition and standing among his peers, themselves members of an elite. Issues of the politics of the war aside, this is an incredibly moving account of men at war. We see Corporal Dunham exhibiting a model of personal leadership that is distinct from the brute force command style championed by a rival in his platoon. Dunham leads along side his men, earning their trust and affection to the point that his men *wanted* to do what he instructed them to do. Dunham was such a sacrificial leader that when an enemy grenade threatened the safety of his men, he took the blow himself and saved their lives. This story was not only fascinating, but inspiring and moving. I found myself choking back tears at several points in the story. Powerfully written, deeply detailed, and striking to the core. Maybe the finest personal war story that I've read. Semper Fi and rest in peace, Cpl. Jason Dunham.
It would have been better had they not used sound effects; while some of them are actual Star Wars sound effects, some clearly are not (including a really cheesy motorcycle sound effect for Annakin's speeder). That aside, the narration was quite good.
Not everyone will feel this way, but the narrator ruined this book for me. The subject matter--behind the scenes Silicon Valley tech--was just not made for a very proper-sounding Englishwoman. There are probably not half a dozen techies in the valley who could pronounce "raison d'etre" with a flawless French accent; hearing it in the audiobook just sounded out of place.
Having said that, the material is worth the price of admission for those who are in the industry or just love a good behind-the-scenes business yarn.
This is the only book that I can recall giving five stars to, because it is so timely in its nature and well done in its content. We are largely uneducated about the origins, purpose, and history of the UN, and given that a large contingent of American political thinkers believe that this organization should have an increasing influence in our policymaking, we had better change that. Dore Gold does an admirable job of laying out in detail the seminar events in the UNs history, from its founding and in how it has reacted to numerous crises. Almost universally, the performance of the UN has been an abject failure when measured against the ideals upon which it was founded. One need only look at Syria's place on the Security Council and Libya's place on the Human Rights Commission to see the level of self-parody that this worse-than-useless organization has sunk to, but there is a mountain of evidence presented by Gold that dams the UN in detail. Failure to prevent or even stem genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia; failure to deter, chill or resolve regional conflict after regional conflict; total flaccidity in the realm of human rights; the Oil for Food fiasco; the Keystone Cop weapons inspection regimes... it's all there in black and white. The UN is a failure that causes more problems than it solves. Whatever we decide to do with it, we should never rely on it let alone--God forbid--submit a shred of our sovereignty to it.
Native mysticism, fundamentalist Christianity, chilling violence, natural beauty, human corruption and redemption, flawed heroes, veiled conspiracies, right-wing oppressors and liberal underdogs... all classic James Lee Burke, and present in force. These themes persist through most of his work. I personally could do without the Michael Moore anti-right conspiracy stuff (wicked, shadowy right wing forces are--fill in the blank, depending on the time of day--killing innocent natives, polluting rivers, starting wars on phony premises, etc.), but I love Burke's stuff nonetheless. I just shrug and enjoy the colorful characters, the righteous crusades, and the overarching human themes. Nobody like Burke, and I read everything of his that I can get my hands on.
Here, in a cool, reasoned missive to his fellow Europeans, is a French intellectual's thorough exposure, analysis, and debunking of the phenomenon of anti-Americanism. Here are a few myths that the author explodes:
1. MYTH: Americans are ignorant of the "rest of the world," and Europeans are well informed about goings on in America.
2. MYTH: Americans are crass and uncultured, they worship money above all else, and they are crime-ridden and violent.
3. MYTH: Americans are reflexively unilateral and ignore the reasoned pleas for cooperation from their European allies.
The root cause of all anti-Americanism, in the author's opinion? Nothing less than an ongoing war against free-market liberal democracy, one that has been waged by the far left and far right (which, combined, constitute more than a third of the electorate in France) since the early part of the 20th century. America draws the most heat not only because it represents the summit of achievement of free-market democracy, but because it is its most passionate advocate. Dispense with the notions that brash America is rubbing up against our more seasoned and even-tempered European cousins' sensibilities; the fact is that it is who we are and what we represent far more than what we do that galls the heart of the unrepentant socialist of both the National (right) and International (left) varieties.
In these troubled times, I--not "society", or "culture"--but me *personally*--want to look to heroes for inspiration. I want to hear about their achievements amidst adversity. I want to hear how they overcame in situations much worse than the ones I commonly face.
What I don't want is for some postmodern egghead to deconstruct the heroic into some cultural phenomenon designed to satisfy some impulse to pacify, unite and control.
I was looking to be inspired. Instead, I got a college lecture, and not even a good one.
By way of disclosure, I stopped listening at 15 minutes, the writing seemingly on the wall. If the author did a 180 after that point, my sincere apologies. Otherwise, stay away from this one unless postmodern deconstruction is your thing.
Is it hypocritical for Israel to have its own nuclear weapons and deny the Arab world the same, as they did when they destroyed the Osirak nuclear center in the early 1980's? Only through the lens of moral relativism. This strike was an early blow in the global war on terror, a wildly brave tooth-pulling of a brutal dictator by the region's only liberal democracy, an absolute victory of right over wrong.
Still, it was harshly condemned at the time. All that is here, along with the details of the mission preparation and an inside look at the political to-and-fro that accompanied it within Israel. Great reading.
Paul Dolan and Fetzer Vineyards have set the pace in the wine industry for environmentally-friendly business practices. As their experience shows, and as my own personal experience can attest to, sustainability is much easier to accomplish than those who have not even tried can know. Not only that, but there is a particular power that comes into play when employees begin to see a sense of integrity and mission in what they do.
This is a process, and Paul Dolan describes it colorfully, personally, and engagingly. This was an inspiring listen, and should be a must-read on every business title list.
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