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Profil für Doug Vaughn > Rezensionen

Persönliches Profil

Beiträge von Doug Vaughn
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Rezensionen verfasst von
Doug Vaughn

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Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War
Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War
von Steven Pressfield
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen If it weren't true it would be hard to believe, 12. Juni 2000
Those who have read Pressfield's previous book, Gates of Fire, will have a hard time recognizing this novel as being the same author's work. Whereas that one was focused on a single battle and thus had a limited time and place imposed on the action, Tides of War deals with the entire Peloponnesian war (all 27 years) and is all over the place in both time and location. One problem, for sure, for many readers will be the 'voice' of the story. It is told by someone who gets it from his grandfather who largly recounts what he remembers being told by a prisoner awaiting trail for murder more than 30 years before. Who is talking - and about what and when - is occasionaly a problem, but not much of one. It is usually clear from context and the story itself is so fascinating that it is hard to imagine not getting caught up in it. This is really the story of Alcibiades, the most complex (and 'modern') figure of the Golden Age of Athens. A man noted for his beauty, eloquence, intelligence, brashness, inventiveness, lawlessness and, above all, ambition, he almost single handedly forced the war between Sparta and Athens to become the grueling feud that ruined both. I will not attempt to recount his deeds and misdeeds. They are so fascinating that it is hard to credit them. He becomes the most loved, hated and feared figure of his day. Most of Tides of War is the story of Palemidas, the man who had been his friend, served him in war and ultimately assasinated him when Alcabiades was an expatriate living in Thrayce. It is a truely great story and Pressfield does it justice. There is no question that it is hard to keep track of changing alliances, reversing fortunes of war and politics and the many characters that cross the stage he sets for the reader, but all of it is interesting and much of it is very moving. This is a powereful and honest book which, by bringing war torn Greece of these days alive, tells us a lot about who we are today and how little we have advanced in understanding and political maturity.
The side story of Socrates, who languishes in the same jail as the story's main narrator, serves as the proverbial 'Greek Chorus' to help highlight important aspects of Alcibiades' story. This is a wonder book and I highly recommend it.


ESAU (Roman)
ESAU (Roman)
von Philip Kerr
  Taschenbuch

3.0 von 5 Sternen Not as good as Kerr's best, 6. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: ESAU (Roman) (Taschenbuch)
Philip Kerr is a writer of undeniable skill, but in Esau, his novel combining an expedition in search of the Abominable Snowman with an espionage/thriller subplot, he stretches credulity to the limit and leaves the reader longing for a more coherent story and more believable characters. The hero, for example, in order to satisfy his curiosity about a change in funding recommended by the National Geographic Society for his proposed expedition, breaks into the headquarters building in downtown Washington, DC so that he can rummage through the office of one of the decision makers. Does Kerr really expect that readers will think that risking a felony B&E charge to satify one's curiosity is normal - or even OK? There's a lot of over the top stuff like this in the book, and it makes it hard to relate to.
There is no question that Kerr is a writer of great talent in some ways. His prose is beautiful to the ear and he pulls off occasional passages as insightful and resonant as anything being written today. But Esau, taken as a whole, seems like a great idea gone awry.


Dead Man's Walk (Lonesome Dove)
Dead Man's Walk (Lonesome Dove)
von Larry McMurtry
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen Gus and Call without the humor, 6. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Dead Man's Walk (Lonesome Dove) (Taschenbuch)
Larry McMurtry's Dead Man's Walk, the original perquel to Lonesome Dove, features that book's main characters when they were just youngsters and had first joined the Texas Rangers. Like Lonesome Dove, it is a big book with a lot of characters and a lot of action, but it differs significantly in that there is very little humor and the character's stories don't mesh into any coherent plot line or ultimate resolution. It is in essence a picaresque novel that kind of wanders around - as do the characters in the story. While Call and Gus are shown to have the beginnings of the personalities that would endear them to Lonesome Dove readers, they are also shown as having little depth and no experience. They really are clueless. And pitted against the merciless indians they face it is a miracle that they survive. Of course they have to for the sake of the story but it isn't any talent or savvy on their own part that makes survival possible.
Despite its limitations, this is still a very interesting book. The action is quite satisfying even if the characters are not.


Havana Bay: A Novel
Havana Bay: A Novel
von Martin Cruz Smith
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Luminous setting - murky plot, 29. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Havana Bay: A Novel (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Havana Bay, like many of Martin Cruz Smith's books, works becasue he recreates the milieu of his story so well - and because it is so interesting a setting. The plot itself is so dense that it recedes behind the scenery. Arkady Renko, Russian and self-conscious to the core, stands out like a sore thumb in Havana. His clothes, his attitude, his singular search for the truth about what happened to his late 'friend', all set him apart from those around him and propel him to the less than exciting conclusion that Cruz serves up for the reader. Far from the best of the Renko series, Havana Bay is still an interesting story and deserves to be read. Cruz can conjure up locale and scene better than any writter I know. If for no other reason than a vicarious trip to contemporary Havana, I would recommend this book.


Killshot
Killshot
von Elmore Leonard
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Both grim and funny, 29. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Killshot (Taschenbuch)
Killshot remains one of my favorite Elmore Leonard novels despite how much I enjoy his later work. Leonard's writing has gone through a number of stages, and Killshot was written when his tone was darker than his most recent fiction. The set up of a savvy native American assasin who teams up - with misgivings - with a small time (incompetent) crook, creates a situation where failure is almost predictable. This is wonderful writing of a sort that transcends the typical mystery/thriller. Funny and grotesques by turns, this is one great read. I highly recommend it.


Libra (Contemporary American Fiction)
Libra (Contemporary American Fiction)
von Don DeLillo
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,64

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A disturbing portrait, 29. Mai 2000
Don DeLillo's Libra is by far the most interesting of the several fictional portraits of Lee Harvey Oswald that have been produced. While Norman Mailer's book Oswald is more immediately accesable, DeLillo's portrait of the reputed assasin is more interesting. In neither book is any real credible motive offered for the killing of JFK, other than Oswald's strange (perhaps pathological) sense of his own place in the great scheme of things. Not to be viewed as contributing to any conspiracy theory, this story is an effort to get inside the head of a clearly demented soul. I found it rather fascinating. It didn't offer any explanations, but it did manage to make Lee Harvey Oswald a real felsh and blood human being to me. Quite an imaginative achievement. A really remarkable book.


All Tomorrow's Parties
All Tomorrow's Parties
von William Gibson
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen If this is a party, do we really want to come?, 29. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: All Tomorrow's Parties (Gebundene Ausgabe)
OK, so this is not the best of William Gibson's work, so what? He is still unique in his ability to bring to life the near future in its commercial, pop culture, and base aspects. His familiar cast of characters, amended with the addition of an idiot savant watch/clock enthusiast and a collection of good-guy/bad-guy types with attitude (and character) make this an arresting story. The eye for detail that Gibson casts over the 'ordinary' world that allows him to extrabpolate into the future so convincingly also allows him to create a story that is fast paced and believable. Just his vision of the replacement of 7/11 in the future is worth the trip - not to mention the great climax on the Golden Gate Bridge. Come on, folks. If you like what Gibson has served up before, how can you not appreciate this story of (almost) ordinary folks caught up in a conflict they can hardly understand? This is really good writing and great (and intelligent) entertainment.


Los Alamos
Los Alamos
von Joseph Kanon
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen A great period piece, 29. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Los Alamos (Taschenbuch)
Joseph Kanon's novel Los Alamos is a wonderful period piece that uses the almost unbelievable setting of the Manhattan Project as the basis for a mystery and love story that, because of the situation and time, are more significant than would otherwise be the case. The blending of real and fictional characters in what is one of the centuries most fascinating stories makes for a gripping tale that has much to recommend it. This is a fascinating story and led me to unexpected hours of research on the actual history of the Manhbattan Project just to check things out. I think any American with a even a slight interest in our recent history would find this book fascinating. I highly recommend it.


Life Against Death: The Place of Social Science in American Culture: Psychoanalytical Meaning of History
Life Against Death: The Place of Social Science in American Culture: Psychoanalytical Meaning of History
von Norman O. Brown
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 26,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen A primitive Freudian looks at history and culture, 26. Mai 2000
Norman O. Brown was, for a few years during the sixties, a man with a cult following. His book Life Against Death, which can hardly be described in simple terms, had influence on both political processes and the sexual freedom movement. He popularized the term "polymorphosly perverse" to describe natural childhood sexuality before it has been channeled into the predictable forms of genitle sex. He argued that money had its origins in a child's natural interest in its feces. He managed, in this book, to turn everything we take for granted about normal life on its head.
No question this is a very liberating book in a lot of ways. It is very well written and his arguments present a kind of proof by authority - he states his case so well you just darn better believe him. I can't recall another book like this, that works so many themes simultaneoulsy. I can't read it without wanting to stop and quote sections to whoever is around to hear. I can't say that I really believe any of his argument, but like Alan Watts, he manages to make his case seem so plausible and desirable that I really wish I did.


The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud)
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud)
von James Strachey
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,49

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Nothing is accidental?, 26. Mai 2000
Once upon a time I read Freud seriously, in search of some understanding of human behavior. Now I only dip into a few of his books periodically because his thought process is so fascinating. His book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life is more interesting and accessable than many of his writings, though his style does not make for an easy read. It is in this book that Freud takes up the issue of all the little things that go wrong which we have tended to think of as accidents and mistakes. To Freud, most, if not all incidents of things forgotten, lost, dropped etc are examples of hidden dynamics of the psyche playing out in the real world. His arguments can be very strained and he extrapolates very broadly from a few anecdotes and case histories. This isn't scientific thought, but it is very interesting nonetheless. If you took him at face value, you would have to conclude that we all need an analyst - which is exactly what he thought.


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