New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler takes us behind the speeches and press conferences, to the Situation Room debates and picnic-table lunches, where Obama and Clinton honed their two competing worldviews: his, cautious, inward-looking, suffused with a sense of limits; hers, muscular, optimistic, unabashedly old-fashioned.
Hillary's book is slightly better written and read because it benefits from details inaccessible to a journalist, even if he was in the state Dept. beat under Clinton. This book provides a third party perspective on her sometimes spinful boasts, without being critical.
The author's careful dance of not offending either politician sacrifices the point of view for the sake of neutrality.
Author is not a policy wonk, so no deep analysis here or anything you haven't already read in NYTimes plus Hard Choices.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
In 2009, at the peak of the financial crisis, AIG - the American insurance behemoth - was sinking fast. It was the peg upon which the nation hung its ire and resentment during the financial crisis: the pinnacle of Wall Street arrogance and greed. When Bob Benmosche climbed aboard as CEO, it was widely assumed that he would go down with his ship. In mere months, he turned things around, pulling AIG from the brink of financial collapse and restoring its profitability.
For the genre, it's one of the better more livelier and passionate stories. Hagiographic, of course, but in harmony with its proud subject. Good details of boardroom and sub-cabinet DC drama.
In Strategy: A History, Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the world's leading authorities on war and international politics, captures the vast history of strategic thinking, in a consistently engaging and insightful account of how strategy came to pervade every aspect of our lives.
With characteristic mix of curious sobriety and subtle sarcasm, the book deliberately labors through the history of strategy, from the ancients, to military, to politics, to business, in order to reflect the author's skeptical attitude toward the theorizing of the past, especially the wind baggy business strategy industry of recent decades.
The story really catches it's breath in the last quarter, where deeper theoretical reflection is truly interesting and useful. Even the narrator changes from droll to almost song in his reading. (Although I almost took off a star for repeated mispronunciation of "posthumously" - who say's "powst hue mos lee" and not "poschumosly"? Certainly not the British!)
Unless the reader is steeped in the subject literature, the first three quarters of the book are essential to understanding the lessons of the highly interdisciplinary conclusion. They are a worthwhile, sober review of the relevant history of the topic. The discussion of revolutionary and radical strategies is especially refreshing.
Overall, much better than expected and much better than almost all of hot air that comes out of HBR.
Marilyn Johnson's Lives in Ruins is an absorbing and entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, and chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu. Her subjects share stories about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, and mummies.
If you want an audiobook about archaeology from audible, this is pretty much the only game in town. That being said, this is decent writing from an author who appears to cherish the quirky professions.
The narrator does her best to highlight the chick lit angles of the text, which is a bit puzzling, but I guess that's where the market is.
In addition to much anecdote, first person experience accounts and light history, there is a fairly robust philosophical backbone to the presentation of modern archaeology practice.
Basically, I'd love to have had it be longer and go deeper, but I did enjoy what as there.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.... Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
If you could sum up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in three words, what would they be?
I don't always like highly dramatic readings, but this book is enhanced the narrator, Degas. The writing is original, talented, imaginative, sexy. Sometimes uneven, sometimes amateurish, a tiny bit repetitive.
It's probably a guy novel. Male protagonist, plenty of sex, war, amazingly polite Japanese women.
Would you be willing to try another book from Haruki Murakami? Why or why not?
I was led to Murakami by a beautiful song by Made in Heights. The song is so amazing that I will probably read another Murakami. He is pretty hip, lighthearted, mystical and palatable. Can't imagine him becoming my favorite author, but that is not necessary. The books are reasonably fun.
What does Rupert Degas bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Degas fills the performance with a ton of personality. Some may wish to imagine the characters by themselves, but I was not that precious about it. It's a long story with a somewhat plodding sometimes stretched plot that is rendered much more enjoyable and interesting by the narrator.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
There are many movies in this book.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful
Gavin Menzies presents astonishing new evidence that it was Chinese advances in science, art, and technology that set the European Renaissance ablaze.
In 1434, a large Chinese fleet arrived in Tuscany. Official ambassadors of the Chinese Emperor met with Pope Eugenius IV and shared a wealth of Chinese knowledge, including world maps (which were later given to Columbus), astronomy, mathematics, art, printing, architecture, civil engineering, military machines, surveying cartography, and genetics. This gift of knowledge sparked the inventiveness of the Renaissance - Da Vinci's inventions, the Copernican revolution, Galileo's discoveries, and much more.
I constantly had a feeling that this book is somehow just Chinese propaganda. It's not really history, but conjecture. Highly implausible at that. But stitched together by a narrative of glorification of China. Shoddy history, boring fiction.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the T'ang Dynasty, from the birth of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled.
A history of a "world" will necessarily be closer to highlights than in-depth exploration, and this work certainly is the former. However, one would expect this "summary" to reveal some overarching vision of history, shape common themes and make a point. Executive summary this is not. Its more like a homeschooling textbook (S.W. Bauer is a homeschooling guru of some sort) - it crams the work of others into uninspired narrative.
OK as an introduction to the themes for someone who needs to be familiar with basic sequences of European, Asian and American societies in the middle ages. Not OK for someone looking for any sort of original vision of, or historical theory for, understanding the World as a whole at the time, which would be helpful in dealing with the unified world of today.
Should have been called Summaries of Histories of Societies Functioning on Planet Earth c 400 - c 1300, The Homeschooling Edition.
2 of 7 people found this review helpful
Over the course of his 60 years, Christopher Hitchens has been a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has been both a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the U.S. war against Islamic extremism in Iraq. He has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a legendary bon vivant with an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and literature.
If there were a court for intellectual bankrupts that resolved their insolvency, Hitch-22 would serve as the author’s restructuring plan.
While this work begins with a fearless confrontation of his impending demise, it deteriorates into an apologetic liquidation of the author’s political principles - the sole convertible currency for a public intellectual. Rather than a complete eradication of his canon, only unfashionable and inconvenient elements are rejected. Thus goes the Trotsky-inspired export-centered revolutionary agitation of international socialism; the struggle for workers' happiness just fades away. The bankrupt emerges intact with love of traveling to international conflicts, preferably in locations where international liberalism is seeking to establish new colonies, or as they are properly called - "democracies". The battery of excuses employed for the completely unnecessary explanation of this personal revolution begins to feel cloying, especially as they are interspersed more and more among boasts, veiled in that peculiar mix of humility and style that is issued by the pound to every British subject and by the ton to every Oxbridge one. At the end only a shadow of an intellectual remains and we discover that all along Hitchens has been riding on the comfortable conceptual rails of empire that he imbibed with mother's milk on a British naval base, as that empire was beginning to witness it's inglorious sunset. Conveniently, another English-speaking empire was rising and Hitchens made the jump across the pond to the fresh American lily pad.
As Hitchens details his failed ambition of being a public intellectual, he firmly establishes himself as a perfectly capable wit with a tremendously entertaining grab-bag of anecdotes and experiences. His observations are feeble, but he had good company and benefited greatly from it. Plus his language is something to be admired, if not adored. Regrettably, the pretty vines crawl upon a rotten tree.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
In this monumental work of moral and political philosophy, Plato sought to answer some of the world's most formidable questions: What does it mean to be good? What enables us to distinguish between right and wrong? How should human virtues be translated into a just society? Perhaps the greatest single treatise written on political philosophy, The Republic has strongly influenced Western thought concerning questions of justice, rule, obedience, and the good life.
I am quite deep into this version, having read large parts of the Republic in other translations. Translations do matter for Plato, as the translators introduce their own biases into the result.
This is the 1894 translation by Bejamin Jowett, Oxford theologian and classical scholar, and seems particularly sympathetic to harmonizing Plato and Christianity. This of course is an old tradition, but its use of Christian concepts seems a bit heavyhanded nowadays. Nevertheless, the translation itself is considered by some an English language classic.
But that is a minor point. The book is a major foundation stone of Western civilization.
29 of 31 people found this review helpful
It is an April day in the year 2000 and an era is about to end, those booming times of market optimism when the culture boiled with money and corporations seemed more vital and influential than governments.
I agree with the previous reviewer that this book is read perfectly. And the book itself, while concise, is brilliant in its erudition, the poetry of the voice and the sustained mood.
DD loves language. Sometimes his books amaze with the shear volume of beautiful language. This novel is one-breath poem in prose. Inspired.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful