Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Slave In The White House : Paul Jennings And The Madisons
by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

Paul Jennings was born into slavery on the plantation of James and Dolly Madison. He would become Madison's personal manservant. It's ironic that both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson (great friends) had hundreds of slaves since the two of them were proponents of individual freedom. Much of the information
for the book was taken from Jennings' own memoir about living with the Madisons.
Unfortunately, I didn't get very far because I found the writing dry and plodding and there's an excessive dropping of names. The author is no writer. Her background is a scholar and lecturer and had a career in museums and historical research. One of the most annoying things is her constant use of supposition. She's guessing at what Jennings might have done or said or who was with him for many instances. So much for being a researcher.
The book is not really for the general public because of its academic slant.
Not recommended.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Coco Chanel : An Intimate Life
by Lisa Chaney

It seems like in the past year or so, there has been an onslaught of books written about Coco Chanel. I have read two one of which was reviewed on the book-a-holics blog and the other one was on this blog.
What started out to be promising (I actually raved about the writing) ended at page 186. Lisa Chaney has unearthed a multitude of information that has never before been revealed so Coco's character is much more fleshed out than in previous biographies and so are all of the people who were involved with her. Unfortunately, I believe there is too much stuff that most of us really don't want to plow through. And it's because of all this excess that I became annoyed with the author. She kept on saying that she is the one who had more information than any other biographer and they didn't get their facts straight or they were just plain wrong. Well, she ruined it for me. A significantly better book to read is
The Secret of Chanel No. 5 by Tilar J. Mazzeo (see the review on 1/11/2011 in my book-a-holics blog: www.book-a-holics.blogspot.com).
The Chaney book strives way too hard and is tedious.
Not recommended.