Posts Tagged ‘US’

Two Brothers: One North, One South – Book Review

April 29, 2008

ER BirdTwo Brothers CoverI gave up on my April ER book “Two Brothers: One North, One South” by David H. Jones. I simply do not understand the audience. It seemed that the author was using big words just for the sake of using them, yet the dialog was almost insulting in its assumption of the reader’s intelligence. Minus the unnecessary vocabulary, which made the dialog in particular stilted and wooden, the writing seemed more appropriate for a book geared towards middle school audience as a way to teach them the basics of the Civil War. I didn’t get as far as I wanted, but I couldn’t stand to continue reading a book that was so silly and yet insulting to my intelligence when I have so many good books in my TBR pile.

Do not read this book. Don’t even think about it. See an example of why below.

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Eleanor Vs. Ike – Book Review

April 28, 2008

Eleanor vs. Ike coverI received this book from my friend The Literate Housewife who reviewed it and interviewed the author. She enjoyed it very much and thought I would as well, so she passed it on.

The basic question explored by “Eleanor Vs. Ike,” by author Robin Gerber, is what would have happened had the immensely popular Eleanor Roosevelt run for President in 1952, instead of Adlai Stevenson. I was quite curious how exactly Gerber was going to remotely realistically end up with the Democratic Party selecting Eleanor as their candidate, but she solved that problem quite well with a plausible crisis at the convention.

I am by no means an expert on what happened in that election, but it was interesting to see how events might have been changed with a different candidate on the Democratic ticket. Nixon’s infamous “Checkers speech,” for instance, doesn’t go over nearly as well with the politically savvy Eleanor in the race.

The beginning of the book seemed a bit fluffy, lots of flashbacks to Eleanor’s time with FDR to set her political and emotional background. However, the book quickly gained strength and by the midway point I hardly wanted to put it down. I could hardly believe when I was finished that I had already read over 300 pages!

Overall, it is a quick and entertaining “what if”.

Buy this book on Amazon –Eleanor vs. Ike: A Novel

U.S. History Early Reviewer Morning: The Civil War, FDR

April 21, 2008

My April ER book arrived this morning (actually, our wonderful mailman Irving left it in our mail slot on Saturday, but I got it today).  The book is called “Two Brothers: One North, One South” and is historical fiction about the Civil War, the story is narrated by Walt Whitman by David H. Jones.  It is not actually an ARC, but is a very pretty hardback book that arrived in wonderful condition, personally autographed by the author, with two lovely book marks inside (both with information about the book).  I will have to decide what sort of historical fiction I’m in the mood for next: this, or a story of Juana la Loca.

Funnily enough, this same morning that I received my April U.S. historical fiction ER book, I saw a story in the New York Times about my March bonus batch U.S. history ER book.  This article discusses Joseph Persico’s new book Franklin and Lucy, the research therein, and the Roosevelt’s parallels to the Clintons.  Read my review of the book here.

Franklin and Lucy – Book Review

April 8, 2008

Franklin and Lucy coverLT ER birdJoseph Perico’s latest book is called Franklin and Lucy: “President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherford, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life.” This is an incredibly readable and engaging history of President Roosevelt as seen through the lens of his relationships with women. Unsurprisingly, the book deals primarily Eleanor and Lucy Rutherford.

Overall I thought this book to be fantastic, it read very easily for the most part and had some interesting new research. It is a book I would absolutely recommend to anyone interested in the history of any of these people. Much of the first half of the book was devoted to Eleanor and it was perhaps her psyche that was most deeply explored of any.

The most difficult thing for me in reading this book was finding its true sense of purpose. I was not sure if it was meant to be simply a history of FDR told through his relationships with the variety of women in his life, or if it was supposed to be more about the women and their relationships with FDR, and how those relationships influenced his presidency. My frustration was that I believed the goal to be the latter and, while it was present, the former dominated. I finally achieved peace with this in the last chapter of the book, entitled “A Judgement” which was really Perico’s summation of his work. In this I learned that the purpose of the book tended more towards a different lens through which to write an FDR biography, which just happened to include the psychological effects on Franklin that these relationships had. That being the case, these peeks into FDR’s development were merely a welcome treat. It would not hurt, however, for future editions to have more of a thesis statement in the introduction than is currently there.

The other thing that bothered me while reading the book was a lack of mention of Japanese internment during the war. However, this omission is easily explained if this was not something Roosevelt particularly discussed with the women in his life so, while it bothers me, I do not think it necessarily a failing of the book.

Viewing history through relationships often makes it much more accessible for the casual studier. No matter your degree of knowledge of and familiarity with FDR and his presidency, this book is worth reading.

Buy this book on Amazon: Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life

Franklin Roosevelt ARC

April 1, 2008

Early Review badgeI don’t think that I shared the joy that I actually was chosen for two LibraryThing Early Reviewer books. Random House offered LibraryThing a bonus batch in March and I was chosen for Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life in addition to The Venetian Mask that I ‘won’ in the regular batch. Well, the Venetian Mask still hasn’t shown up for me (or anyone else, as far as I can tell), but Franklin and Lucy was brought to me today by my buddy, the UPS guy who delivers to our office.

I suppose that this means I will be reading Franklin and Lucy first, unless perhaps my other Early Reviewer book comes with our fantastic mailman Irving at noon (why do we have such great mail delivery men at my office?), in which case I might go ahead and read it first. I only got through the first (very short) chapter in The Handmaid’s Tale, so I guess Margaret Atwood is going to have to get shifted back…

Let me just finish by saying that Brian is VERY EXCITED for our budget that I am getting these free books. In addition to these two LibraryThing Early Reviewer books, I am lucky enough to have two other LibraryThing members sending me books this week that they had previously been given for review, plus I’m entering everywhere I can around the ‘net to win more books. I’m not sure if he is correct in thinking that these books will really impede my buying habit, but time will tell.
Edited to add: Unfortunately my dear friend Irving did not bring The Venetian Mask today, so I suppose it will be Franklin and Lucy at lunch!