Michael Pollan joins Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal and Dick Cavett as an author who can read his own work well. This makes his insightful book well worth the listen. Mr. Pollan shifts well between the philosophy and history of cooking with his own explorations and anecdotes. It is a nice idea well executed.
It is too bad that Mr. Ryan wants to just rehash Celtic and Bruin seasons with mere statements of scores, assists and other statistics without much insight. It might be better to hear about his life, his techniques, his meetings with remarkable people. His chapters on Red Auerbach and the Olympics were the best, but a memoir of his era of the Red Sox without a single mention of Roger Clemens or his impact on the city of Boston is curious. Mr. Ryan reads very well, but one just wishes he had more to say. His acknowledgments alone take up about 10 minutes and mean nothing. One likes the guy, but his memoir is a disappointment.
This is a very good book. The story is thrilling and Mr. Luttrell and Mr. Robinson actually write in kind of a Texas drawl that is well spoken in the audio. While one can wonder about the opinions of Texas and American exceptionalism, the role of the “liberal media” in causing battlefield deaths, the hand of the Christian God saving a rifle time and time again and other strange observations, they are all understandable given the remarkable experiences of Mr. Luttrell. One can even forgive Mr. Luttrell’s peculiar views of the Rules of Engagement, the Geneva Convention, Jimmy Carter who ruined his daddy’s horse farm, and comments like, “Sorry lefties.” He believes that the murder, torture and rape at Abu Ghraib are just fine with him as the Taliban are worse. The Navy Seals could win the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in about two weeks if they were not hamstrung by the Rules of War not to kill civilians. He revers George W. Bush, his fellow Texan, without wondering why his “good friends’ in Pakistan took billions from the United States, opened the borders with Afghanistan to the Taliban and hid Osama Bin Laden for years. He honestly believes that liberals and particularly the liberal media in the United States hate the military. I forgive him all of this. He and his fellow soldiers are heroes, albeit unlucky and under served by their commanders who sent them into battle unprepared (think improper communications and reconnaissance) and without a plan to deal with the inevitable contact with the local sheepherders who caused their deaths. I forgive him all of this, as it is a very well written book about a terrific saga.
OK, I'm a guy. I don't watch 30 Rock or Saturday Night Live. This is a book about a very nice woman with a nice life. It has little imagination or perspective. It is not very funny. I really could care less about her child's fingernails or her decision to have a second child. I am sure the themes resonate with a lot of people, I'm guessing mostly women. However, to me it was pretty empty. Sorry.
Unfortunately, Mr. Silverman does not have much of a story to tell. While sold as a narration of his run for public office, this is a rather mundane biography of a Jewish boy from Philadelphia teaching in Charleston. A nice story to be sure, but not anything worth the effort. His reading style is rather poor.
Richard Ben Cramer will always be known as the great political writer of What It Takes. It is, after all, the best piece of presidential political writing in America. Here he writes a brilliant biography of Joe DiMaggio which is both tender and enthralling. The true heroine here is Marilyn Monroe and makes one pine for Mailer's book/photo essay on her. One will miss the short, erudite oeuvre of Mr. Cramer.
In my opinion, the final chapter on the death of Richard Nixon is the finest piece of political writing in American history. At once hilarious, sarcastic and poignant, it is the prefect topping to this look at the election of William Jefferson Clinton in 1992. Scott Sowers does a fine job of capturing the anger and vision of Thompson's bizarre view of politics in the late 20th Century.
An excellent polemic on many levels of a woman who is to the outside world a humble savior of the poor, but in reality is a woman who shills for the Catholic prohibitions against contraception and takes millions from the worst and richest elements of society and delivers unrelenting pain in the name of Jesus Christ.
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