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All Music Guide to the Blues: The Experts' Guide to the Best Blues Recordings (Amg All Music Guide Series)
All Music Guide to the Blues: The Experts' Guide to the Best Blues Recordings (Amg All Music Guide Series)
von Michael Erlewine
  Taschenbuch

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A great place to jump off from, 12. Mai 2000
First thing is, this guide is well worth the price to keep you from buying those "sucker albums" that a label will put out every once in a while just to wrestle away some of your cash. As a general notion, they do a good job (judging from the artists I know) of giving relative ratings and choosing the best recordings from each artist.
Second, the system they have suggests good recordings for someone buying their first album from a band or artist. This is a great idea. It makes me wonder how many artists I might have really enjoyed had I heard their best stuff first instead of getting slapped with their only stinker tracks right up front. Or visa versa.
Third, the previous review (from Hawaii) had it dead on. The ratings ARE a little high for average artists. But as long as you're not trying to compare artists with each other and instead looking for the best stuff from a particular bluesman or woman, you can't go very wrong with this guide.
Last, they are a little lacking in the REAL Delta Blues that's still coming out on the Fat Possum label. Yeah, they've got Burnside and Kimbrough, but there are a lot of other guys worth some ink who aren't mentioned. These guys don't have much time left on the ground, so it seems more urgent they get heard.
Anyway, if you're looking for a Blues Guide, this is the one. Buy it, you'll like it.


Shogun
Shogun
von James Clavell
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 8,30

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Clavell's absolute best, 7. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Shogun (Taschenbuch)
With _Shogun_, I believe, Clavell created his masterpiece. Set in the earliest time period of all his sagas, for me it is the standard by which the rest of his novels are measured. None that I have read live up to Shogun, or could fairly be expected to.
The novel starts with a dramatic shipwreck that violently sucks you in. Before you know it you have read the first fifty pages, and are well on your way to uncovering the tragic, thrilling, funny, suspenseful, scandalous, and brutal clash between Japanese and European culture that surrounds Clavell's hero Blackthorne for the rest of the novel.
The characters are brilliantly complex and surprising. It isn't often that an author can reach such a deep level with so many characters. The cultural details, the landscape, the dress, the everyday objects are so vividly described, you feel like you've entered a high-resolution dream. I've never read another story that so skillfully depicts the intricacies and subtleties of the Japanese culture in a manner so accesible to us Westerners. You become frustrated, enchanted, and enraged right along with Blackthorne as he simultaneously tries to find a way home and simply survive in such a mysterious and often treacherous world.
Perhaps because the characters are so three-dimensional, all aspects of the story seem real. You can feel the heavy Japanese burden to live up to an unbending code of honor. You feel the hatred, friendship, arrogance, respect, romantic tension as if they were your own.
You cover so much ground with Blackthorne in Japan that you are reluctant to reach the novel's last pages as they finally come. When you finally do close the book, however, and wake up from the dream, you leave Clavell's masterpiece with that solid satisfaction of having been completely entertained and with the chill of some surprising realizations that really make you think-- the mark of a great masterpiece.


Into the Wild
Into the Wild
von Jon Krakauer
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,95

5.0 von 5 Sternen DIFFERENT from _Into Thin Air_, but at least as good, 25. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Into the Wild (Taschenbuch)
I read _Into the Wild_ before _Into Thin Air_, as a random pickup in the San Francisco airport. It consumed me through the entire flight and regretfully was over when we landed. It seems that some reviewers have focused on how little sympathy they have for McCandless, the "poor little rich kid" who died in the wilderness alone. It's interesting that the same people enjoyed Into Thin Air, which could be called a story about a whole group of "poor little REALLY rich kids." This isn't the way either book grabbed me.
Into the Wild was a fascinating story about that mysterious quality in some people that drives them to be as alone as possible-- away from people, away from family, away from civilization. We are shown with several examples (not just McCandless) that this quality drives these people to sacrifice their belongings, their comfort, even their personal safety in pursuit of complete solitude. As we see in the beginning of the book (don't worry, I'm not giving anything away!), this compulsion often ends in death, alone and isolated. There is a real tragic element to the way Krakauer asks "Why do they do this? What is missing for them in life? What are they searching for?"
Part of what makes the book so interesting is that Krakauer identifies with these people, and candidly admits to having a streak of the loner-adventurer in him. His story and those of many other interesting, mysterious wanderers are interwoven with the main story about McCandless. Krakauer's personal identification with the story brings you that much closer to the mystery, even if you've never felt the compulsion to walk out on civilized life and leave everyone and everything behind you (how many people haven't felt that way at some point?).
Comparing this book to Into Thin Air seems inevitable considering that book's success. I would say Into the Wild is just as engaging, but much more personal. It is just as tragic but the source of the tragedy is the mysterious human character, not really the battle against the forces of nature. To me, Into the Wild was powerfully interesting on a personal level, where Into Thin Air was engaging as an adventure/disaster story.
I highly recommend this book. Don't shortchange yourself on Krakauer by stopping with Into Thin Air. Into the Wild is some of his best work!


The Professor and the Madman
The Professor and the Madman
von Simon Winchester
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,50

4.0 von 5 Sternen How the heck did they write that HUGE dictionary?, 14. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Professor and the Madman (Taschenbuch)
Simon Winchester answers this question with a story of violence, passion, tragedy, and sympathy. What more could you want in a story about a dictionary? I love books that shine with the author's enthusiasm for the subject. _The Professor and the Madman_ is just that type of book. Winchester obviously loves language and word origin. He gives the reader a look at etymology that is detailed enough to make you feel like a scholar, but selective enough so that you aren't overwhelmed with the rather dry science of language. But this is only the secondary plot. The main story, that of the obsession of the scholarly but homicidally deranged Dr. W.C. Minor, the focused and driven brilliance of Dr. James Murray, and the Oxford English Dictionary that brought them together is thrilling and tragic. Winchester does a great job of sharing with the reader the sadness and regret of Dr. Minor's amazing intellect trapped inside his deranged mind. If you've ever had a relative or friend succumb to Alzheimer's or another mental disease, you can understand the tragedy of such an intruguing person losing a battle with sanity. The story is so unique that it could only be true, and Winchester seems to have researched it thoroughly and accurately. I highly recommend it.


Pimp
Pimp
von Iceberg Slim
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Disgusting, scary, but such an interesting voice., 12. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Pimp (Taschenbuch)
I've got two completely different opinions about _Pimp_ and Robert Beck himself. One is glowing, the other terrible. Maybe that's what makes Beck and his books so interesting. First, the glowing opinion. Beck's style is like nothing I've ever read before. He claims to have a 175 I.Q. I don't doubt it. No one less brilliant could conjure up the metaphors and images he casually slings as if they were off the top of his head. The book is written in a loose, story-telling style, as if it was never revised, typos and all. Beck makes you feel as if you were standing on a street corner listening to a "fast track pimp" weave his life's yarn. Many times, I would read a sentence several times simply to admire the unique vision Beck gave to an action as simple as getting in or out of a car (a "hog") or thinking about his mother. The terminology is another, brilliantly colorful language (complete with glossary in the back!).Although the story dotes on his early years and then cruises through a couple of decades in a matter of pages, Beck's tale was never slow or anything less than gleaming. That is the glowing opinion. Now the terrible one. I'll try not to seem sanctimonious. To me, Robert Beck is (was) an alarmingly vicious hypocrite and psychopathic criminal. The book begins and ends with his tepid claims that he has seen the error of his ways and regrets his former life. These meager claims are ridiculous when you read the pride, nostalgia, and admiration with which Beck recounts his former life. In one passage in particular, his role model and mentor teaches him an unbelievable method to keep his whores in line. Whip them bloody with a wire coathanger. Beck eagerly tests the method. You can sense the satisfaction with which he regards the successful results. Beck tells us about breaking women's jaws and pummelling them senseless in the same manner he might use to recount old football victories. This is not a repentant ex-pimp. This is a retired pimp who is smart enough to realize that if he pays lipservice to reform and enlightenment, he will sell his books to a much larger audience. He certainly did make a nice pile of "scratch" off the stories he wrote glorifying his former lifestyle ("Long White Con" is the other Beck book I've read-- much more mediocre in style and plot). In the end, I recommend _Pimp_ as a refreshingly unique voice in modern literature. I certainly don't admire Beck's life, nor endorse the lifestyle (as so many other reviewers alarmingly seem to!).


Tai-Pan
Tai-Pan
von James Clavell
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,49

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Tai-Pan or Superman?, 8. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Tai-Pan (Taschenbuch)
I'll admit, throughout _Tai-Pan_, I couldn't resist comparing it to Clavell's shining star, _Sho-Gun_. Although Clavell's appreciation for the vast cultural differences between the Chinese in _Tai-Pan_ and the Japanese in _Sho-Gun_ is admirable, the similarities between the two books are just too obvious. In both, a Western hero struggles for power in the mysterious and often treacherous East, gaining more and more respect for the complex Asian world. Unfortunately, _Tai-Pan_ loses on all fronts to _Sho-Gun_. Where Clavell's protagonist in _Sho-Gun_ is subtle and complex, Dirk Straun, Tai-Pan ("Supreme Leader") of the British Noble House Trading Company, has all the subtely of a comic book superhero. I literally cannot remember any point in the book when Straun was ever wrong, mistaken, fearful, rash, hesitant, or anything less than absolutely perfect. As the story progressed, I began to chuckle and then laugh out loud at every new escape or amazing feat performed by Straun. His superhuman infallibility became ridiculous to the severe detriment of any story Clavell was developing. A few of the other characters are passably well-developed, such as Straun's rival, Brock, who illicits both the reader's sympathy and ire. Overall, however, Straun's perfection kept me from ever doubting the eventual success of any undertaking he was involved in. This made for a less than thrilling read. Additionally, Clavell's observations about the stubborn, dirty, hypocritical, and brutish nature of European civilization was well-taken in _Sho-Gun_ and became tedious in _Tai-Pan_. Towards the end, I was reading for completion and not for pleasure. END


A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age
A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age
von William Manchester
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 14,99

5.0 von 5 Sternen Nevermind the naysayers-- READ THIS BOOK!, 20. Januar 2000
Upon reading the collection of negative and indignant reviews of _A World Lit Only By Fire_ it seems obvious to me that many readers completely misunderstood Manchester's purpose in writing it. If you are looking to pass a pop quiz on medieval history or to find the standard party line on the Middle Ages, don't look to Manchester's daring piece. If you are interested in an observant, insightful, juicy, and imaginative portrait of the Western World in upheaval, this book certainly qualifies. The book is anything but clinical and objective. That fact has obviously ruffled the feathers of dusty, party-line medieval history buffs who want a 300-page series of facts and dates. But the book's honest subjectivity and willingness to judge the important people of the past are what make it worth reading. Anyone who believes historical writing is anything but the author's opinion about the past is fooling themselves, and at least Manchester does not attempt to cloak his conjecture in a stodgy air of authority. _A World Lit Only By Fire_ is a fascinating and colorful take on the transition from Roman Empire to Renaissance and Reformation, written by a superbly intelligent, articulate, and bold historian. It is not a historical reference manual and does not pretend to be. Hopefully, you wouldn't want to read one of those things, anyway.


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