Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: How Few Remain

How Few Remain How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been a year since I've read this, so any review won't be detailed, but I loved the speculation here. There is work in it. Turtledove clearly thinks as a historian thinks. This training is ably put to use in describing what might have happenend, had the Confederacy won the Civil War and 20 years later, another one were to begin. Great portraits of Frederick Douglass and Theodore Roosevelt in particular. I learned more about these historical characters from their fictional mirrors here, than I can recall ever learning in school texts or other works of history. And the book is not as 'wild' as Guns Of The South, in that there is no time-travel conceit or anything of a sci-fi or fantasy bent. Just straight what-if enjoyment. Also the portrayal of Mark Twain as a San Francisco newspaper editor is quite entertaining.

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Review: Stay Alive, My Son

Stay Alive, My Son Stay Alive, My Son by Pin Yathay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an outstanding memoir of survival. And the author was not trained for it, as we conventionally think of athletes, climbers, et al. having some fitness for it. I was astounded at all the turns of fortune that the author experienced, wrenched by his losses, and just simply amazed that he survived to tell the tale. The writing is good, and those especially interested in Cambodia in the time of the Khmer Rouge will find this all the more riveting. The tale also helps to destroy any illusions that communism is a utopia worth striving for or an idea at all worth holding. History matters. Thank you, Yathay.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Review: The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship by Charles Bukowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sour, funny, with gems of observations about writers and writing. I laughed (yes, out loud) at his accounts of his cats and his excursions to the racetrack. Here is someone who notes that his writing has changed, drawing from "the power of age" and no long from the power of youth. Plus the illustrations by R. Crumb are great.

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