After engaging in a Masterpiece Theatre television series spree, I was still thirsting for more British entertainment. This novel sated my desire.
It takes place in post WWII England when the landed gentry were trying to practice their traditions despite the tumultuous social upheaval of the 60's breaking out around them. It's the story of a group of mostly upper class British students walking through the same white tie social events their parents enjoyed a generation earlier. One of the crowd, now elderly and dying of cancer, asks the help of the narrator, an estranged friend, in searching for a heir to his vast fortune. Like the plot of Citizen Kane, this narrator revisits the members of the group to fill in the blanks of their varied lives.
The dying man's controversial role in the group in their youth colors most of the interviews. We hear references to an awful humiliation committed by the wealthy dying man against our narrator. Appropriately, it is not until the end of the book that we find out the truth about the unknown existence of the heir and the truth about the awful night reference throughout the novel.
Without giving it away, I was amused by the actual event that had caused such rifts and controversies amidst this group. Compared to what we witness on reality tv, it was minor. Regardless, I felt quite sympathetic toward the narrator, as he went through the transition from middle to old age maneuvering through modern living by way of his anachronistic upbringing.
It was very enjoyable if tame. The recording itself was varied in its quality to the point where I wasn't always sure it was the same narrator, but those inconsistencies weren't too distracting.
Gee. How many times can an author describe an individual facial feature as "sexy". Apparently, about 30 in the first two (short ) chapters. Didn't get the Harlequin connection until the intro to the book. Was prepared to stick it out, but couldn't take it anymore. A 29 year old male virgin? By choice? Come on!
I'm living in Poland, so it's extra amusing to me and my ex-pat friends. That's it!
I never read mysteries, but enjoy listening to them. This one, however, I might have enjoyed reading as well. The prose is much better than most mysteries (especially those written by men - sorry guys) and there were actual literary qualities to the writing beyond plot description. I'd like to obtain more audio books from this series, but am a bit reluctant to based on the negative review of one of the narrators. Anyway, I didin't have trouble jumping into the series without prior knowledge of what came before for this likable character. The historical aspect of the book was very interesting; it describes the years in England between the great wars with which I was not familiar at all.
I was intrigued by Breitbart when I heard that he had died and that he had been considered a huge influence on contemporary conservative thought. I'd never heard of him.
Breitbart spends about half of the book ranting about his somewhat easy, but not overly privileged lifestyle growing up in California and what little appreciation he had for what his parents had done for him. He described college not as the transformative intellectual experience his parents might have thought it would be, but rather as a place where he built poor habits and wallowed in self destruction. He was aimless. He also was seduced by the nihilist propaganda spewed by popular culture. The "Kurt Cobain mindset", he calls it.
I am a bit older than he, but experienced a very similar sense of disorientation with my own political identity. Having also grown up in a conservative household, I had a feeling most of my life that my parents were living in some sort of time warp, or alternate universe since my liberal college education villainized most of their proudly held opinions and none of my friends spoke up if their politics were not of the mainstream 80's neo-liberal know-it-all variety. The dichotomy eventually lead him to choose his politics, and (having finally grown up a bit) his intellect and emotions led him toward the right.
Listening to the second part of the book is much more rewarding. Breitbart outlines the intellectual heritage of the liberal media in Hollywood. He also does a decent job of pointing out inconsistencies in liberal thinkers and pokes holes in their false veneer of compassion for their fellow man. He sites many examples of the liberals publicly behaving badly in total collusion with the media.
Finally we find out that Breitbart worked with a young conservative activist who brought down the government sponsored community action group ACORN. His co-worker was the guy who actually made the videos of himself, dressed as a pimp, and his friend, dressed as a prostitute, getting organizational and tax help for setting up a fictional brothel employing underage illegals. It was a brilliant coup against the Obama-loving media.
The experience seemed to have galvanized Breitbart's resolve in the fight between conservative media and the overwhelming liberal media. He ends by expressing his opinion that the tea party movement holds the most hope for the preservation of individual rights and liberties. He also dismisses the far right wing of the GOP that is so hell bent on legislating away personal behaviors they find repugnant, a la Santorum.
I personally agree with Breitbart's sentiments and most of his politics, and enjoyed hearing his take on the origins of liberal media in the US. Just knowing that he was not obsessed with conservative social dictums makes me sorry he will not be around during this election to point the republican party toward a centrist position that concentrates on individuals' constitutional liberties.
In this book, Mark Levins reiterates the goals of our founding fathers when they gathered to write the constitution and form our unique brand of American democracy. By tracing patterns of thought by the greatest thinkers of the western world, Levin clearly explains the flaws of logic and lack of appreciation for man's true human nature that have led to the 'group think' socialistic aspects unduly praised today by popular culture.
This book gives a logical explanation of where conservative ideals originate and how their simple goal for all men to pursue happiness in liberty has become corrupted since World War I. Levin's book describes how a socialist strain of 'do-good'ing that has turned our government into a "Nanny State." The goals of which run counter to individual freedoms, daily liberty and pursuits of prosperity.
The negative spin put on the desire of conservatives to keep government out of our daily lives is a disingenuous, but rampant criticism in today's culture. This book lists point by point historical evidence that the socialist characteristics of government, praised by liberals as humanitarian, have the effect of strangling individual self determination and is therefore detrimental to the American way of life.
Levin's book ignited a new interest in the Constitution in me as he explained the origins of political and economic conservatives' desire to keep Americans free of tyranny. I'm not certain how a liberal-leaning American would accept the premises raised by Levin. But I found his arguments compelling, if not sad. By this account, we have strayed a long way from what our founding fathers envisioned.
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