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The Terrible Hours
The Terrible Hours
von Peter Maas
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen A Real-Life Page Turner, 19. September 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Terrible Hours (Taschenbuch)
Peter Maas is an old style reporter. He is from the school that demands creating stories from the facts at hand. This book is a history, but it does not read like one. This story moves along at a 30 knot clip and demands your attention to the details of this incredible and almost unbelievable rescue story.
Maas actually developed this story from an article about Charles "Swede" Momsen he previously published in the "Saturday Evening Post" in 1968. At that time, as he explains it, the story was more or less overshadowed by many of the historical events of '68. Not to mention that a story about World War II hero was not exactly great reading during the tumultuous war-protester years of the 1960's. The last thing that people wanted to read about was a war hero from the previous generation.
The author only recently returned to his old story because he felt that people are much more responsive to the "Saving Private Ryan" and "Greatest Generation" heroism. He is correct, though I hope to God it is not a passing fad. There is so much that this generation and those to come could learn and benefit from reading about Swede Momsen and people like him. It is a great story of perserverence and never giving up on your ideas and dreams. Many of the deep-sea rescue techniques and submarine safety issues can be directly tied to Charles Momsen's efforts nearly 70 years ago.
It seems very strange to be reading about this story and the rescue of the survivors of the "Squalus" during its 1939 disaster and then reflecting on the Russian submarine, "Kursk," that just sunk in the Barents sea last month. With all the bureaucracy that Swede Momsen had to fight through just to get his diving bell built, or create a team of expert rescue-divers that could be used save the lives of sailors trapped in a steel coffin; it's understandable how the Russians and the entire Soviet bureacracy was never able to develop the forsight towards rescuing their own downed subs. Instead they relied on someone else's technology, which no doubt may have cost them valuable time. One may never know.
However this story is a great depiction that during rescue efforts, when time is essential, it is necessary to have a forward thinking individual like Swede Momsen on your side. Someone who is not afraid to try new ideas and with a lot of hard-work and pushing the right people in the right places he can make sure his ideas will become reality. His efforts and his diligence was what saved the thirty-plus survivors of the "Squalus." It was also these same efforts that would make it so future submarine accidents simply did not happen. Who knows how many future lives were saved? This is that type of story. You will be inspired and it is a great story to tell all your friends about. That sometimes one man can make all the difference.


David Brinkley:  A Memoir
David Brinkley: A Memoir
von David Brinkley
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 9,39

4.0 von 5 Sternen Enlightening and Entertaining, 7. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: David Brinkley: A Memoir (Taschenbuch)
Being born in the early 1970's, the only way that I remember and have become endeared to David Brinkley was on ABC's "This Week with David Brinkley." It was Sunday morning must-see viewing for a political junkie like me. Tim Russert's "Meet the Press" has outstanding questioning of his guests, but for some reason Brinkley's show was my favorite.
This book was a treasure for me to read because it was like seeing the history of modern politics from the front-lines. Brnkley was there as tv gained its foothold, and then its firm grip as THE MEDIUM to campaign for president. His insights into the different presidents since FDR are non-partisan and quite funny. He pulls no punches about who he liked and disliked and keeps his political ideology to himself for the most part. Though in the final chapter of this book, he does provide some biting commentary on the money-grubbing and unfair tax practices in this country.
This book can be confusing at times, because Mr. Brinkley seems to have pieced it together as his thoughts were coming to him. It is random and does not follow any cohesive time-line. He will jump from talking about the 1950's then to the 1970's then back to the 1950's and 60's again. Frankly I did not understand the point and thought it might be easier to read had he decided to write in chronological order.
I was also surprised to learn that Brinkley and his co-anchor Chet Huntley were the top rated news broadcasters of hteir day. All this time I had thought Walter Cronkite had ALWAYS been the #1 rated broadcaster and in fact his CBS program only gained on NBC in the early 1970's. Mr. Brinkley continuously expresses his fierce competitiveness towards the other networks and their newscasters. Some habits die hard for this career journalist who was constantly working hard to provide the BEST presentation in his field.
This book is really an enjoyable read and I would recommend it anyone interested in the pre-CNN days of tv journalism. David Brinkley was a national treasure and I miss him every Sunday. He was truly the glue to that program among the huge egos of Sam Donaldson and George Will.
Even if you just come across this book in a book store, I would especially take a good read towards the end, about page 245-246. He writes about a page and a half on the men that died on the beaches of Normandy. It is heart wrenching and tears welled up in my eyes while I was reading it. Then I reread it again and highlighted the section, because I will save that portion one as of the most outstanding tributes to the men of that "greatest generation" who died that day. It's worth it's price for that page alone.


Scandalmonger: A Novel
Scandalmonger: A Novel
von William Safire
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Pouring Old Wine..., 28. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Scandalmonger: A Novel (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Usually I am skeptical of "historical novels" or "docu-dramas." The authors usually do NOT intend to separate fact from fiction and, but choose to cloud their story to present something closer to what they "would have liked to have really happened" so that it fits within their ideology. Accuracy be damned! Such is the arrogance of many of today's history story-tellers. A popular example of this is Oliver Stone.
William Safire approaches things differently. He has done his homework and actually knows his subject intimately. He has done meticulous research and reading and knows how to tell a story. His fans can expect a thought provoking and intelligent discussion that will stem from Safire's trademark word-wrangling.
"Scandalmonger" pours old wine into new skins. Much of the back-story and characters are familiar to any student of American history--amateur or professional (read the above discription). The time period is known but perhaps forgetten. Safire attempts and succeeds in "fleshing-out" the history. He insures that much of the dialogue is actual phrases and vocabulary that wold have been used, because he lifts it directly from documents and letters of Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton and others, for example. Safire only introduces their words within the proper context of the scene, though he does take advantage of dramatic license to manipulate the dialogue to suit the context.
"So what?" you say, because you understand that many "docu-drama-ists" do the same thing. True, but here lies the catch: Instead of a mere disclaimer at the beginning of a story which is forgotten by the reader/viewer later (which Safire does write), he details page by page, chapter by chapter what is fact--supported by the documentation--and what is imagination. He does not hide the use of fiction for his own ideologies and admits when he is fabricating the scene or dialogue or character. But, like a good storyteller, he understands that these fictional elements assist the story. They fill in the "historical gaps" so to speak.
Any student of history has read a history book they felt was dry. It cannot be avoided within the intellectual field of study. Historians that survive and are successful--and are re-read--are those that possess the talent for telling a vivid story and bringing the story to life for the reader. They adhere to the root of history, that is "to tell a story." To make history dry and only for the university elite, defeats the purpose of history, which is for it to be remembered and heeded by all.
"Scandalmonger" tells the story as it could be told today. It may not be history, but I believe it could be close. The credibility in this opinion is because of Mr. Safire's devotion to accuracy and his use of extensive documentation. Perhaps a theme within this story is that America has not grown up that much in 200 years. The press will still take to task hypocrite politicians, the public will lap it up and criticize themselves, but continue to forgive their leaders. The politicians feel they are above the moral accountability and continue to be corruptible. And good leaders, fearing the "scandalmongering" will fear running for office and the world will be left with mediocrity in their leadership.


The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam: From Tro to Vietnam
The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam: From Tro to Vietnam
von Barbara W. Tuchman
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,40

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4.0 von 5 Sternen In Noble Pursuit of History, 1. Juni 2000
Barbara Tuchman has a way of viewing history as few can. Instead of falling back on just "telling of a story," Tuchman does what few historians are able to pull off without sounding self-rightious. She gives us a comentary. Kind of like the "color-man" while listening to a sporting event, Tuchman examines the idea of "folly," or the persistent pursuit of a policy by government or those in power that is "contradictory to their own interests." Since a topic like this could take volumes, the author chooses 4 primary historical examples: the Fall of Troy, the breakup of of the Holy See in the 16th century, the British monarchy's vain attempt to keep the American colonies, and America's own arrogant persistence during the Vietnam War.
The fault in this book is that this subject matter can be pretty exhausting even with the only 450 page book. The examples used are valid and make sense. The author finds something different within each one that allows us to see the many levels of government folly. However I found the chapters dealing with the six terrible popes to be mind-numbing. Perhaps it's due to the fact that this history is not examined extensively in current day curricula like the American Revolution and Vietnam, but I think this section was tedious and repetitive. Also, within the Vietnam chapters, Ms. Tuchman tends to reveal her adoration towards Kennedy--like many historians of her era--and her disdain of the Johnson and Nixon administrations. This can distort her objective examination of the topic in some areas, but if it is noticed and ignored, the rest of the study is outstanding. Some may read these excerpts and label them as "liberal" but they are ignorant of history.
In any event the book is an excellent supplement to studying Machiavellian politics. The governments' "wood-headedness" towards policy that is counter to anything rational (as well as contrary to respected voices of reason) is something that all ordinary members and voters of a democratic society ought to take heed of.
The example of Troy is used simply as an example of how Homer and the Greeks had foreseen and probably experienced, the lack of reason when pursuing particular policy. This is usually done because those in power are so consumed by power and what it brings, that their arrogance and ignorance blinds them.
Without carrying this review too far into the book's wonderful and biting commentary, I will just say that this book is recommended, but not for those that have no real experience with intellectual historical study. Some areas will be interesting, such as the Vietnam chapters, but otherwise the book would dull the amateur historian. But if you do wish to challenge yourself and your understanding of how power corrupts and destroys after it corrupts, then "March of Folly" will be admired.
All politicians should be forced to read this book. Kind of like a supplement instructional manual for their job...paid for by taxpayers. Within 100 years, they might actaully learn something.


Sandman, The: Preludes & Nocturnes - Book I (Sandman Collected Library)
Sandman, The: Preludes & Nocturnes - Book I (Sandman Collected Library)
von Neil Gaiman
  Taschenbuch

4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The Standard for the Rest, 27. Mai 2000
Only giving it 4 stars, because I will save 5 for future issues which get better...
I am not going to waste words trying to explain why Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" is the epitomy of modern stoytelling. Enough has been written already and if you are just being introduced to this series as I have been, then you have already heard all about the stories themselves. I will just say that "Preludes and Nocturnes" is a MUST to read first. It's important to know some of the things that will be explained and referred back to in later stories. Gaiman goes to Hell and back (literally) and covers a whole spectrum of things, from the whimsical to the horrifying.
Gaiman's storytelling is masterful and believe me as someone who has taught English before, his books will someday (if they are not already) be used within some college course to learn the great literature that was produced in the latter days of the 20th Century. The self-absorbed literary intelligensia in this country will probably dismiss it as "mere comic strips," not to be elevated up to the level of true literature...they are pompous windbags. Some might even dismiss these stories as pagan or even (gasp) satanic. That would be nothing new in the comic world. Those folks are limited in scope and little of brain.
Am I saying too much? Wait and see. Better yet. Pick up these books and find out for yourself. I doubt you will be disappointed. If you are intelligent and want to be able to put a book down and continue to think about it for another week because it was THAT GOOD, then these need to be in your collection of must reads.
You will read them again, so forget about about trying to borrow them from a friend.
Describing these as comics is a great understatement and mischaracterization. To say it's a graphic novel probably is too weak, but it will do until some future generation develops their own classification of this literature ("graphic-literature?" --has promise.) Enjoy.


Vietnam: A History
Vietnam: A History
von Stanley Karnow
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 16,70

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4.0 von 5 Sternen An Exhaustive but Important Work, 26. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Vietnam: A History (Taschenbuch)
In the future (and probably in the present as well) Stanley Karnow's book, "Vietnam: A History," will be supplemental literature in some college course about Vietnam. I doubt if in many institutions that it would be the main text. Karnow's strength is in his knowledge and research of the history of Vietnam and vividly portrays how the past has influence the present in the struggle for independence among the Indochinese and specifically Vietnamese peoples. Be warned that this book is written by a life-long journalist, not a historian. For some that won't matter. Karnow saw first-hand many of the events he talks about. He also was able to aqcuire interviews from every statesman and dignitary available: Vietnamese and American. He has BEEN to Vietnam and paints a beautiful and horrifying literary portrait of this area of the world. Journalists inherit the responsibility of being the first words in any era's history. Trying to be an historian Karnow does attempt in some objective hindsight and analysis of his topic, but sometimes these commentaries fall flat and boring. It is in Karnow's strict adherence to his journalistic roots where he achieves success. It may not have an academic historical viewpoint, but that is not necessarily the point when dealing with a subject as divisive as Vietnam. "Vietnam: A History" is an important work nonetheless and deserves its place in the canon of works related to the Vietnam War. It can be an exhastive read, but worth it in the end. A good foll-up book to read after this one would be "Dispatches" by Michael Herr. Also read the final section on the Vietnam War in Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly" to get an excellent historical/political analysis.


Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
von Terry Brooks
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Brooks Adaptation is Perfect Companion to Film, 3. Mai 2000
Pay no attention to the nit-picky naysayers who seek to criticize G. Lucas at every turn. Terry Brooks was the perfect choice to adapt this FANTASY story to literary form. That's right! "Star Wars" always has and ever will be a fantasy story more thant sci-fi. The spaceships and blasters and lightsabers are incidental props. Fantasy is based on "faith." Faith in magic, monsters and myth--sci-fi is exactly that: SCIENCE. There is NO SCIENCE to Star Wars. More than any previous episode, "Menace" demands your faith--or at least your half-hearted belief that Anakin could be the "chosen one" to bring unity to the Force and ultimately the galaxy. Terry Brooks, being primarily a fantasy writer, has accomplished this and actually exceeded where perhaps Lucas failed in the capturing that "faith" in the film. Brooks' other strength is character development--for which I might add he may have come up short in this story, in comparison to his 'Shanarra' stories. However, that may not be his fault, but rather what he had to work from. Nevertheless I must subtract a star, where it may not have been necessary. Arthur C. Clark or Alan Dean Foster are legendary SF writers, but they would have missed entirely the premise that Lucas wants us to believe for his epic (and future episodes to come)--to be honest, I doubt if they would have "gotten it." This story is very quick and to the point and Brooks is as good as he has ever been--I read it in an afternoon. Brooks has left his fingerprint on the Star Wars universe for further generations and the universe and the Force or better for it.


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