Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

October 22, 2010

April 1865 by Jay Winik

Filed under: Favorites,History — Randolph @ 4:11 pm

April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay WinikApril 1865 is about the end of the Civil War. It describes the history that lead to the particular events that occurred, starting with the constitution and continuing through the final surrender. At every step, the lecturer discusses what it means to the nation, as a whole.

Jay Winik, the author and lecturer, is a professor of history and has served in national security. His work has involved him in numerous civil wars around the globe.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this, I picked it up at Barnes and Noble during one of their 75%-off sales. My first impression wasn’t strong, the lecturer was almost monotonic and the content seemed weak. But that impression was quickly replaced when he provided, not just the historical facts, but full background and motivations; then he made it all sound interesting!

Jay Winik builds the story mostly chronologically, discussing each of a large number of major characters. For each, he provides a background, discusses strengths and weaknesses, and his position in the power and political pictures of the period. He made the people come to life, they were no longer names in a book, but real people. He brought the struggles, defined the relationships between the different people, and build their personalities.

There is so much information that we never learned, I strongly recommend this lecture series for anyone interested in history. For any US Civil War buffs, it is a must.

October 20, 2010

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave

Filed under: Uncategorized — Randolph @ 4:12 pm

Little Bee by Chris CleaveLittle Bee is the story of a Nigerian girl who is fleeing for her life. She arrives in England, and after spending two years in a refugee camp, manages an escape and begins an experience in a foreign country, where her life intertwines with another woman she had met years ago.

The author does a great job of presenting Little Bee as an alien and her adventures in England as an alien. He gets into her mind and provides an unusual perspective of the young girl. As the story progresses, the past unfolds and we attain an understanding of what has happened and what will come.

The story is very well told and is powerful. It is also somewhat depressing. The minor characters can get depressing and the major characters have many unresolved issues.

I can’t say I enjoyed the book, but it is probably one of those that is good for me. I did find it interesting and makes for good conversation with others who have read it.

October 7, 2010

He Shall Thunder In The Sky: An Amelia Peabody Mystery by Elizabeth Peters

Filed under: Mystery — Randolph @ 4:10 pm

He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth PetersHe Shall Thunder in the Sky, by Elizabeth Peters

This is the twelfth book in the Amelia Peabody series. In this book, they return to Egypt for another excavation, but little of the book sees any archaeology work. World War I is raging, and events engulf our heros in intrigue and mystery. The Master Criminal is back, and has placed himself in the center of affairs.

As it goes with the series, this book is more about the characters than the events. The main characters continue in their unusual styles to entertain us. Ramses and Nefret are maturing in more ways than one, and insert themselves into the intrigue that surrounds them. As events play out, we learn new and unexpected events and histories of several characters, including the past of The Master Criminal.

This book was better than several of the preceeding ones and is worth the read. This book would stand on its own, except that the reader would lack a good understanding of the characters which provides most of the value of the book.

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