Near the top.
The author not only describes specific events in detail, but gave me a far deeper understanding than I ever had before of not just Johnson and the many other characters involved, but also the workings of American politics, and the way power might have been brokered in other countries and other times.
The book is very dry, almost completely lacking in any interesting anecdotes about the characters involved. It would have made an interesting magazine article.
If this is a subject of special interest to you and especially if you are familiar with the names of the people involved, then it may well satisfy you.
This is the story of the French fighting the Viet Minh, battle by battle. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. There are endless descriptions of military maneuvers and engagements, with place names that mean very little to me. After three or four I just lost interest.
It;s my fault for wanting to revisit that extraordinary moment when I've already seen so much about it. What made it worse was being told several times how we were listening to something that had never been told before. It added nothing to my knowledge and was annoying to boot.
I was fascinated to learn about T.E. Lawrence. I had never before understood how he became "of Arabia" and the movie had confused me even more!
Now, thanks to this book, I can make sense of the situation, if not of Lawrence's rather troubled life and personality
The author intertwines his story with that of three other characters in the region at the time. There is certainly interest in their stories, but I found it broke up the narrative just when I was finding it most engrossing.
This is a fascinating and important subject so I do not regret my time listening to it, but I felt the book would have been more effective had it simply been shorter. The author lists many, many incidents when a summary of them might have sufficed and spends way too much time on the Damascus incident, dragging it out through the whole book.
His history of the bomb and the use of nuclear arms was excellent, especially when he focused on characters such as Curtis Le May.
The author has apparently made a philosophical decision to name every single bit player involved, including how many children each one had and how old his wife was. I can understand his desire to honor these people, but it quickly became tedious and verbose. Obviously, with men who were central to the events at Damascus such as Livingstone and Kennedy it made sense, but I found most of it confusing and meaningless.
It was a pleasant half hour in the company of intelligent articulate people..
Unfortunately Mr Russert missed the opportunity to challenge Justice Scalia on his opinions. Scalia put forward his view that the Constitution does not evolve, and that because the death sentence was not at that time considered "cruel and unusual punishment" then there is no reason to think it might be considered as such today.
This, of course, could lead to some interesting questions regarding slavery, but the tone of the evening was that of a social event and perhaps more serious questions might have seemed impolite.
Miss out the 1st ten minutes of boring introductions.
I was fascinated by the comparison of the New Testament to the historical record. I appreciated the author's tone; he was neither cynical, nor desperately trying to cover up obvious inconsistencies.
I was interested in the women as a group, but found the listing of the all by name boring.
I finished the book, and found I had learnt a few things that deepened my understanding of the war and what it was like to be a victim and then a survivor of a Nazi camp. One thing that struck me was how filthy the camps were, and how the woman were given clothing that was already covered in blood and excrement.Another thing I had not considered before was what it was like for camp survivors when they returned to France; and how little sympathy they received for their suffering.So I am very glad I listened to this book.
I normally enjoy books that combine biography and with explanations of science or technology relevant to the story. I was simply not knowledgeable enough to enjoy this book, because I was not given enough explanation to understand. For example, Tesla and Edison had different ideas for the design of light bulbs, but it wasn't explained in sufficient detail for me to find interest in it.
This is probably my fault, although I didn't find this worthy man's life in the least bit interesting. It all seemed rather dry.
Sorry about the silly title. (Sometimes it is hard to come up with something). But I do find those cars fascinating...
I was only able to get half way through the book before I had to give up.
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