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Darwin8u

Mesa, AZ, United States
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  • Lincoln's Last Trial

  • The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency
  • By: Dan Abrams, David Fisher
  • Narrated by: Adam Verner, Dan Abrams
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

At the end of the summer of 1859, 22-year-old Peachy Quinn Harrison went on trial for murder in Springfield, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln, who had been involved in more than 3,000 cases - including more than 25 murder trials - during his two-decades-long career, was hired to defend him.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • For Lawyers and Lincoln Lovers

  • By Darwin8u on 06-20-18

For Lawyers and Lincoln Lovers

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-20-18

"Talk to the jury as though your client's fate depends on every word you utter. Forget that you have any one to fall back upon, and you will do justice to yourself and your client."
- Abraham Lincoln

There are many levels of biography and history. There are academic books, published by small academic presses. There are popular biographies, written by journalists, etc., that tend to follow a more narrative-style. Obviously, Dan Abram's short history of Abraham Lincoln's last murder trial fits the last category. The "author" Dan Abrams is ABC's chief legal affairs anchor for ABC. Normally, this isn't a book I would have gravitated towards, except for two things: 1) I love Lincoln, and typically read a couple Lincoln books a year. 2) This book's ghost writer (yes Virginia, many books "written by celebrities/politicos/athletes are actually penned by a ghostwriter) is a good friend of mine. I've known David Fisher for years. I've stayed with him and his lovely wife on Fire Island, eaten with them a couple times in Manhatten and Riverdale and enjoyed David's perspective on politics, writing, and reading for years. Anyway, a couple months ago we had dinner at an Upper-Westside restaurant and his wife gave me her well-loved ARC of this book. I'm constantly amazed at how fast and how well Dave writes*. Plus, my kids absolutely adore him.

The highlight of this book, and what sets David's work apart from other Lincoln biographies, was his use of Robert Roberts Hitt's transcript of the Peachy Quinn Harrison murder trial. Hitt was a character himself (and one I knew nothing about previously) and was influential in the development of transcription. I also enjoyed how the book explored the development of the American legal system during the pre-Civil War period. A lot of the legal precedents, values, and practices we take for granted now were being hammered out in frontier courts and circuits all across America. Finally, it was fascinating to learn how far each of the lawyers (and the judge) associated with this trial went. It seemed almost like America in the 1850s and 1860s was a place where someone with exceptonal talent could easily rise to the national stage. Just look at Lincoln.

* Dave has written over 20 New York Times bestsellers.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Patrimony

  • A True Story
  • By: Philip Roth
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
  • Length: 5 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

Patrimony, a true story, touches the emotions as strongly as anything Philip Roth has ever written. Roth watches as his 86-year-old father - famous for his vigor, his charm, and his repertoire of Newark recollections - battles with the brain tumor that will kill him. The son, full of love, anxiety, and dread, accompanies his father through each fearful stage of his final ordeal, and, as he does so, discloses the survivalist tenacity that has distinguished his father's long, stubborn engagement with life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You must not forget anything

  • By Darwin8u on 06-19-18

You must not forget anything

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-19-18

"Even the bast@rds die. That's about the only good thing you can say about death--it gets the sons of b!tches, too."
- Herman Roth, quoted Philip Roth, Patrimony

One of two memoirs/autobiographical works Roth completed. It seemed appropriate to start reading this on Father's Day the year Roth himself died. It was touching, beautiful. It is something as I get older I'm dealing with in my own family and at work. I have clients with tumors progressing. I have a grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) who is struggling in her 80s. Life starts to both warp as you age and become suddenly VERY clear. There are these moments of mortality when you suddenly GET your father or your mother. Caring for them, you become aware not only of their life, but even more aware of your own. Staring into the void is both scary and thrilling. Dying is hard. Living is hard. And in the end you feel like you can't forget. "You must not forget anything."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Empty Copper Sea

  • A Travis McGee Novel, Book 17
  • By: John D. MacDonald
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 171
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 150
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 154

Van Harder, once a hard drinker, has found religion. But that doesn't keep folks from saying he murdered his employer, Hub Lawless, whose body hasn't been found. To clear his name, and clear up the mystery, Van asks friend-in-need Travis McGee to find out what really happened. What McGee finds is that Timber Bay is a tough town to get a break in when you're a stranger asking questions. But what he also finds is that, dead or alive, Hub Lawless is worth a lot of money.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Turned Around 17 Times

  • By Darwin8u on 06-18-18

Turned Around 17 Times

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-18

"A man needs only to be turned around once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost."
- Thoreau

This was John D. MacDonald's 17th novel (I'm not sure how many total novels he had published by 1978), but he had been punching them out about 1 per year since 1964, until 1974. So, The Empty Copper Sea came after the biggest McGee break of all. There was a sense of crisis in this novel, and McGee malaise that was diagnosed by Meyer (economist side kick) and fixed by a woman (almost an inverse of McGee's usual sexual healing).

The book takes place mostly in Timber Bay, FL (fictionalized), inside of Dixie County (real), high up the gulf-side, above Clearwater. The town has been rocked by a business man who faked his death and disappeared leaving everyone (wife, kids, business associates, and the captain of the boat he "fell off" high and dry. McGee and Meyer are trying to salvage the reputation of captain (an old friend) and untangle the ugly knot left behind. Essentially, it seems almost like a man in the midst of a writing crisis (JDMcD) is writing a novel where the hero is sorting through his own mortality crisis (McGee) while trying to solve the mess created by a man who tried to ditch his obligations after having his own crisis (Hub). Oh, and perhaps Florida is also having its own crisis caused by growth, tourism, and environmental issues caused by growth.

It was a solid McGee novel. Some of the same feminist traps as most his other McGee novels, but not so deep. With Philip Roth recently dying it is also interesting to observe what Sir Kingsley Amis once said about John D. MacDonald (and probably gets at the root of why, even when I get frustrated with MacDonald, I keep coming back). According to Amis, MacDonald "is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only MacDonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human-heart chap, so guess who wears the top-grade laurels." Now, I'm a big big fan of Saul Bellow, so I'm not sure I would go THAT far, but I think we do a disservice when we dismiss good genre fiction too quickly.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Lonely Silver Rain

  • A Travis McGee Novel, Book 21
  • By: John D. MacDonald
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 237
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 211

Searching for a wealthy friend's yacht, Travis McGee puts himself square in the center of the international cocaine trade, and finds himself the target of some of the most ruthless villains he's ever met. Contemplating his own mortality for the first time, Travis McGee discovers amid all the danger the astonishing surprise behind the cat-shaped pipe cleaners someone is leaving at his door.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Best For Last

  • By Philip on 05-23-12

"The small things are lasting things."

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-18

"If innocenec could keep us alive, my friend, we'd all be saints."
- John D. MacDonald, The Lonely Silver Rain

This might not be my favorite, but it is the last and I enjoyed it. It made me cry. That isn't a small thing, but perhaps it isn't a big thing either. I typically cry at the end of every one of Charles Dickens' novels. I cry at commercials. I cry at a good story that isn't too sentimental, but that creates tension and unites a narrative release with a novelist's take on our shared humanity. This novel did that. It was a classic McGee novel and was also almost better than most. The sexual healer hero was downplayed.

I'm sad that I'm done. I still have a bunch more John D. MacDonald to read, but will probably only read Condominium this year. I've read a lot of McGee and while not sick of him. I could probably do with a Johhn D MacDonald break.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Lenin's Tomb

  • The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
  • By: David Remnick
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 29 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 146
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 149

In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this best-selling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Society is sick of history. It is too much with us

  • By Darwin8u on 06-18-18

Society is sick of history. It is too much with us

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-18-18

"Society is sick of history. It is too mucy with us."
- Arseny Roginsky, quoted in David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb

While Remnick was writing for the Washington Post in Moscow, my family was living in Izmir, Turkey and then in Bitburg, Germany. We got the opportunity to travel to Moscow shortly after the August, 1991 (the beginning of my Senior year) Coup. It was a strange period. So much changed so fast. I was trading my Levi jeans in St. Petersburg and Moscow for Communist flags, Army medals, busts of Lenin. It was only as I got older that I realized both how crazy the USSR/Russia was during that time and how blessed the Washington Post was to have David Remnick writing "home" about it.

I've read other books by Remnick (The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama and King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero, and parts of Reporting: Writings from The New Yorker). The New Yorker is where I discovered and fell in love with his prose. So, with Remnick, I was reading backwards. It was time I read what is perhaps his greatest work. Lenin's Tomb is a comprehensive look at the last years of the Soviet Union from the election of Gorbachev (with occasional backward glances at Khrushchev, etc. It was nice to get more information about Andrei Sakharov (I knew only broad aspects of his story, and still need to read more) and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (I know more about him, but need to read more of his work).

Some of this isn't dated. No. That is the wrong word. It is history, and by definition all history is dated, but the book ends with a lot of potential energy. It is sad to see that a lot of the potential for Russia's democracy has been lost into the authoritarianism of Putin. It is also scary to read quotes from Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and unabaashed neofacists who won 8 million votes in 1991, and hear words that could easily have been spoken by Donald Trump. Nations and regimes are never as solid as we think. Often the corruption that exists for years, like a cavity, eats away at the insitutions until they become empty husks and everything colapses. Perhaps, that is one lesson WE in the United States (and Europe) should learn from the Soviet Union's collapse in the early 90s. Perhaps, it is too late.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Constantine the Emperor

  • By: David Potter
  • Narrated by: Phil Holland
  • Length: 11 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 37
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 34

This year Christians worldwide will celebrate the 1700th anniversary of Constantine's conversion and victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. No Roman emperor had a greater impact on the modern world than did Constantine. The reason is not simply that he converted to Christianity but that he did so in a way that brought his subjects along after him. Indeed, this major new biography argues that Constantine's conversion is but one feature of a unique administrative style that enabled him to take control of an empire beset by internal rebellions and external threats by Persians and Goths.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • In this sign thou shalt conquer!

  • By Darwin8u on 06-11-18

In this sign thou shalt conquer!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-18

"As with every modern version of Constantine, the urge to draw reductive conclusions is a strong one, and the religious question in a world where religious affiliation is a strong one, and the religious question in a world where religious affiliation is still for so many a crucial aspect of their identity makes this both a reasonable and perhaps inevitable choice."
- David Potter, Constantine the Emperor

A nice survey of Constantine's life, utilizing primarily first hand documents to separate the man from the myth. Porter's biography of Constantine essentially paints Constantine as a pragmatic emperor and religious leader. Where he felt he could change things through battle, he would (and did). Where he felt like he could strengthen the empire through compromise and moderation he would (and did). His conversion to Christianity allowed him to weave parts of the empire together, and unify them under a divine "Mens Divina". He used Christianity as much as Christianity "used" him. Both were legitimized and strengthened by the other. That doesn't mean he wasn't a true believer, but mostly that his conversion (as told by Christian historians) might not have been as immediate. Perhaps, it was line upon line as Constantine became more confident in his new God.

It really is hard to imagine what place Christianity would hold globally without Constantine, or what exactly it would look like. Probably after Christ and Paul, Constantine might be considered the most influential Christian. He unified (mostly) the Church, gave it a safe place to grow, and sheltered it under the Aegis of the Roman empire. Potter does a good job of pointing out the complexities of Constantine and the limits of what we actually DO know about this influential ruler, Christian, and man.

That said, the biography sometimes gets lost in the weeds. I could have probably done without as much detailed exposition on details such as the Arch of Constantine. Sometimes, these expansions throw the reader off the narrative thread a bit. For the most part, however, it was a good biography. I walked away with a more complex and complicated idea of not just Constantine, but his father (Constantius), Diocletian, Galerius, and Maximian.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • 12 Rules for Life

  • An Antidote to Chaos
  • By: Jordan B. Peterson, Norman Doidge MD - foreword
  • Narrated by: Jordan B. Peterson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18,349
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,604
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16,458

What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research. Humorous, surprising, and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This is my favorite self-help book I have ever read!

  • By Bobby n. on 02-02-18

Faulty tools produce faulty results.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-18

I'm generally not a fan of self-help books and this one would have probably never hit my to-read shelf if a good friend of mine hadn't invited me to attend a live Jordan Peterson lecture in Phoenix a little over a week ago (June 1, 2018). The only other exposure I had to Peterson was a wave of seriously negative posts about him by some of my most liberal friends on FB. I was intrigued. Here I have some friends who found something of value from him, enough to want to share with me (also, we were using Peterson just as a reason to reconnect) AND other friends who absolutely abhorred the man. All of this fascinated me. I was relatively a tabula rasa on this guy. I hadn't even read some of the more negative pieces on him. I loved people that upended the status quo. I loved early Camille Paglia and Andrew Sullivan. Now I was curious. Was this guy throwing sand into the salad of liberals on purpose? Was he just thinking in a way that was unique and not bounded by usual boundaries?

So, I went and heard him speak. I found his lecture == like I found his book -- fascinating. It was a mixture of science, myth, story-telling, Disney, and confidence man bullsh!t. The box I was in had 6 men and 4 women (not a bad ratio since a large proportion of Jordan's rabid fan base is white men). And when I say rabid, I mean foaming-at-the-mouth rabid. When he was introduced several men in the crowd grunted like they were prepping for a football game or battle. It was a little intense.

After the show, and while reading this book, I've also come across several of his interviews and YouTube videos. I think an obvious example of the way Peterson gets misread is the Cathy Newman interview or the recent New York Times piece. These don't do a good job of actually getting to the root of what Jordan Peterson is saying. Personally, I think 80% of what Peterson is saying is actually NOT bad. How can you really argue with ideas like clean your room, treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping (rule 2), pursue what is meaningful not what is expedient (rule 7), or tell the truth -- or at least don't like (rule 8)? A lot of what he says makes sense. But it is the last 20% of what he says that kind of drives me nuts (and I'm a white man, I can imagine that women/minorities/university intellectuals would feel a bit stronger than me). His critiques of feminism, white privilege, post-modernism, modern universities, etc., aren't narrow and tend to violate his own rule 10 (be precise in your speech). He rambles, rages, and makes pretty big assumptions on areas that are far from well-established (and often a bit beyond his areas of expertise).

My other issue with Peterson, that was clarified more in the lecture than the book, is he is actually seeking the role of secular prophet/revivalist/guru. Hell, in his introduction is basically admitted that the book's subjects were basically market-tested on the internet. People like lists. They really like certainty. Many of the population Peterson was aiming at aren't familiar with myths/Jungian archetypes/philosophy, so it becomes easier to use Disney movies. Why not tell your audience what to do in a nice list of 12 things? Like Steven R. Covey on confrontational steroids. Dr. Peterson walked around the Comerica stage and riffed on one of his rules (mostly Rule 10 in Phoenix and a dash of Rule 11). Like the text of his book, he circled around, repeating stories and points, declare something true (or false), making a joke, and then absolved his mainly white male audience from some of their social guilt and anxiety. They loved him for it. He was Jimmy Swaggart in Canadian professor garb. Because it is hard to define white privilege, it doesn't exist, so ignore it. Rinse and repeat for feminism, and other issues plaguing our modern culture and often aimed at privilege, money, or power. It was wild seeing white, single men showing up to this even wearing t-shirts with his picture on it. It must be hard to not let that kind of cultish adoration go to your head - even if your background is the human head.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • How to Change Your Mind

  • By: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Michael Pollan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,392
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,273
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,260

When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction, and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent non-hippie journey through Psychedelics

  • By JB on 05-27-18

To fall in hell or soar Angelic...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-18

"To fall in hell or soar Angelic
You'll need a pinch of psychedelic"
- Humphry Osmond

"There is so much authority that comes out of the primary mystical experience that it can be threatening to existing hierarchical structures."
- Roland Griffiths, quoted in Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind

I have family that struggle with addiction, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. The idead that one type of compound (psychedelics) could transform how we view and treat these various challenges to the human condition is VERY excititng. Pollan's book does a great job of juggling the memoirist experience with psychedelics (think of this partially as a 21st century version of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater) with a narrative nonfiction exploration of the history and current science surrounding primarily LSD, Psilocybin, and 5-MeO-DMT (the Toad). Michael Pollan write well (he's not quite, for me, upto the level of John McPhee -- but he's close. He both annoys and seduces at the same time. He reminds me of a well-produced TED Talk. He is both interesting and compelling, but also a bit like a worn and comfortable shoe (say a Birkenstock) that represents a group I already feel comfortable both simultaneously walking with and yes kicking.

Most of Pollan's book focuses on LSD and Psilocybin (which makes sense because that is where most of the history and science are). I was familiar with Leary, Ginsburg, Huxley, and even James' takes on mind-altering drugs and states, but it was nice to see it framed by Pollan. I was also thrilled to be introduced to a bunch of characters I had never heard before. I feel a movie could/should be made about JUST Al Hubbard.

There is a huge part of me that finds the idea of psychedelic experience very compelling (I've got friends who are well-respected doctors, writers, and attorneys who feel the same way). However, my issue with most drugs (especially pot), is most people take them to GET close to where I feel I am already. I have a lot of awe, wonder, don’t get depressed, feel no guilt, exist with very low anxiety, etc (although I’m absolute sh!t at meditation). I think I do a pretty good job of hanging in the present (while being able to look both forward and back when needed). So, I'm not sure I would be seeking LSD or Psilocybin (or smoking the Toad) for any reason except curiosity and [gasp] recreation. That's the draw. The reason I am skeptical still, is I'm not sure I trust most of the product (clarification, after reading this I trust the product more than say the manufacturer, deliverer, source). I'm a bit suspect of taking candy OR street tacos from complete strangers, so smoking a Toad that I didn't catch and milk myself doesn't exactly seem like something I'm going to run off and do anytime soon. But, if the practice comes above ground, standardizes, or I'm dying -- all bets are off. Bring me the TOAD.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Players

  • By: Don DeLillo
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 2

Pammy and Lyle Wynant are an attractive, modern couple who seem to have it all. Yet behind their "ideal" life is a lingering boredom and quiet desperation: Their talk is mostly chatter, their sex life more a matter of obligatory "satisfaction" than pleasure. Then Lyle sees a man killed on the floor of the Stock Exchange and becomes involved with the terrorists responsible; Pammy leaves for Maine with a homosexual couple...and still they remain untouched, "players" indifferent to the violence that surrounds them and that they have helped to create.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Occasional flashes of DeLillo's Brilliance

  • By Darwin8u on 06-02-18

Occasional flashes of DeLillo's Brilliance

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-02-18

My least favorite DeLillo so far. But it is STILL a DeLillo and seems to capture and color a specific zone of the pre-9/11 America well. It produced occasional flashes of earlier and later DeLillo Brilliance. I saw elements that would grow into Mao II, White Noise, etc. This was a homonculous for those later, far better novels, in my opinion. If you are a DeLillo fanatic, I'd read this. But if this is your first exposure to DeLillo, check out: White Noise, Underworld, Mao II, Libra first.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Pimp

  • The Story of My Life
  • By: Iceberg Slim
  • Narrated by: Cary Hite
  • Length: 11 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,683
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,486
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,480

A blueprint. A bible. What Sun Tzu’s Art of War was to ancient China, Pimp is to the streets. As real as you can get without jumping in, this is the story of Iceberg Slim’s life as he saw, felt, tasted, and smelled it. It is a trip through hell by the one man who lived to tell the tale—the dangers of jail, addiction, and death that are still all too familiar for today’s black community. By telling the story of one man’s struggles and triumphs in an underground world, Pimp shows us the game doesn’t change; it just has a different swagger.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Urban Literature

  • By Darrell on 11-01-12

Any good pimp is his own best company

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-02-18

"Any good pimp is his own best company. His inner-life is so rich with cunning and scheming to out-think his whores."
- Iceberg Slim, Pimp: The Story of My Life

Iceberg Slim dances on that thread between unapologetic and remorseful. He loves and hates his mama. He loves and hates the game. This isn't a book you read because you want eroticism. This isn't Les Miserables. There isn't much at the end that redeems the story or the storyteller. HOWEVER, Iceberg Slim can write. His narrative is sharp. His stories are fascinating. His impact is large. Published in 1969, this book presented one hard, dark edge of black literature. It wasn't James Baldwin for sure. It shared more with William Burroughs. It somehow carved a bit of poetry out of depravity, misery and yearning. It inspired writers, rappers, and comedians for generations. Think of names like Ice-T. Ice-Cube. Think of acts like Richard Pryor and David Chappelle.

I had been aware of Iceberg Slim, but had never read him. It was while watching Dave Chappelle's "The Bird Revelation," however, when I decided I NEEDED to read Iceberg Slim sooner rather than later. It was Chappelle who opened my eyes a bit to how understanding Slim's perspective on pimps and whores gave one a larger understanding of capitalism, power, and race in America.* So, I didn't need to enjoy this book to get something from it.

* According to Robin D. G. Kelly, in her New Yorker profile of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim “Pimp,” Beck’s most popular work, is also his least political.
20 likes

2 of 2 people found this review helpful