Saturday, November 27, 2010

Germania : In Wayward Pursuit Of The Germans And Their History
by Simon Winder

Winder is a Brit who has been obsessed with Germany for quite some time. In Germania he attempts to talk about the origins of the Germans and end with Hitler seizing power.
I never got there. Winder really is a terrible writer. The book is so boring and just a big nothing. His previous book The Man Who Saved Britain was equally horrendous.
He works in the publishing world doing God knows what and should just stick with that. NEVER should he write another book.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cleopatra : A Life
by Stacy Schiff

She was not Egyptian, but Greek; murderers ran in her family; she was fluent in nine languages, took control of a country at the age of eighteen and ruled it for twenty-two years.
Twice, she was married; her spouses were her brothers. (Intermarriage among siblings was very popular with pharoahs.)
Nobody knows what she really looked like. What is considered authentic are her coin portraits.
All of these interesting tidbits about Cleopatra are found in the first chapter. If you can venture beyond it, then you are very brave. (I lasted until page 51.)
This book is dense with detail, very wordy and jumps all over the place. It doesn't belong in a public library. It's very academic and would be perfect for a student who is writing a thesis.
The author is a historian and doesn't know how to present material that is palatable to the layperson. Don't believe any of the reviewers on the back of the book: absorbing, illuminating, a writer of epic skill. Boring, dry, and tedious would be my terminology.
Not recommended.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Travels in Siberia
by Ian Frazier

I didn't get too far with this book. After 20 pages or so, Frazier was asked about the style of his writing and he said that it was factual. He should have also replied that it was dry, cold and not especially funny (several reviewers thought he was hilarious).
Travels in Siberia is quite hefty at 544 pages. Siberia would have been interesting to read about in better hands.
Not recommended.
Bloody Crimes : The Chase For Jefferson Davis And The Death Pageant For Lincoln's Corpse
by James L. Swanson

The subtitle should be reversed because the first half of the book covers the thirteen city funeral procession (by train) for Abraham Lincoln and the latter half is the chase for Jefferson Davis.
I can't believe that I am actually putting this book on this blog. I thought for sure that it would be on my book-a-holics blog. After all, I slogged through 403 pages. But, Bloody Crimes is NOTHING like Swanson's previous book Manhunt (the hunt, chase and capture of John Wilkes Booth).
There were some interesting tidbits about Lincoln and Davis, but most of the book was plodding, repetitious and dry.
Very disappointing.