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« #975 : October 26, 2013, 04:17:04 PM »

John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, by Michael Munn

Film Noir, by Alain Silver & James Ursini. Paul Duncan (Ed.)


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« #976 : October 27, 2013, 08:07:13 AM »

Strom Thurmond's America - Joseph Crespino - This work is only a half-biography of the segregationist Democrat-turned-Republican elder statesman. The other half examines Thurmond's impact on American politics, eg. channeling racism into concerns about welfare and nebulously defined "law and order." Like many politicians, Thurmond's an interesting character for his contradictions: a racist who fathered a black child, an avid New Dealer who became a conservative icon. But Crespino proves superficial in exploring his broader cultural impact. Of all of that era's prominent conservatives, what makes Thurmond more important than, say, George Wallace or Barry Goldwater (or Richard Nixon for that matter)? True he hit the scene first, but during his '48 presidential run Thurmond was a straightforward segregationist. Presumably his 1964 defection to the GOP is the point of entry, after which he at least toned down his rhetoric. Either way, not as interesting as other recent volumes by Perlstein, Kabaservice, etc.



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« #977 : October 30, 2013, 04:51:52 PM »




Why these people write thrillers 450 pages long when 200 would be more than enough? They fatten the plot with descriptions that do not help the plot moving on and tell us little about characters: they are preachy, in this case. Still I read this at a sitting, as Grisham, thank goodness, keeps you avid to know how the plot is gonna proceed. 7\10


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« #978 : October 30, 2013, 04:54:20 PM »



Same criticism as above, but at least this is shorter and the fattening is made up of a travelogue through the italian city of Bologna, making me curious to get there and pay a better visit of the only one I ever made. 8\10


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« #979 : October 31, 2013, 07:58:19 PM »



Apparently a legal thriller (quite elementary as to plot twist: but credible because administration of justice in Italy is clownish) the author is actually more interested in the personal vicissitudes of his protagonist, a lawyer operating in Bari. Can't say is bad, but this lawyer is too leftist and mawkish for my taste. Still worth a look. 6\10


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« #980 : November 01, 2013, 06:48:57 PM »

An American Melodrama - Lewis Chester, Godfrey Hodgson & Bruce Page - Exhaustively detailed account of the 1968 Presidential election, written by three British journalists. They view American politics with a jaundiced, sometimes snobbish outsiders' eye, but in such the year of Nixon, Humphrey and Wallace it seems appropriate. The wealth of detail regarding backstage backstabbing, convention chaos and party infighting makes it a formidable source.



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« #981 : November 02, 2013, 08:55:41 PM »



I don't know what to think about it. Maybe my expectations were higher. But most of the stories in this anthology are lame and quite repetitive as to plot (starving girls seem to be the author's forte). The most famous tales like The Ransom of Red Chief or The Gifts of the Magi do not quite hit the target because of too much sentimentalism or insufficient dose of humor. Even the lexicon is sometime frustrating because some words couldn't be found in dictionaries: that doesn't help reading, though it may enliven the narrative. My favourite story of the lot: Memoirs of a Yellow Dog. 7\10




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« #982 : November 03, 2013, 08:50:03 AM »

England's Pride - Julian Symons - A crisp narrative history, recounting General Wolseley's failed efforts to relieve General Gordon in the Sudan. Symons blames the British government for dispatching Gordon in the first place, hence precipitating the crisis, and dragging their feet once the Mahdi besieged Khartoum. But there's plenty of blame to go around: Wolseley's over-meticulous campaign plan, bickering between British commanders on the ground, lack of coordination between the desert and river columns, insuperable supply difficulties (a ten-day coal shortage may have been the final straw) and the expedition's sheer logistical improbability. And, lest we forget, the Mahdists' stubborn resistance. It's less a wonder that Wolseley failed than that he came within 48 hours of success.



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« #983 : November 04, 2013, 09:53:34 AM »

England's Pride - Julian Symons - A crisp narrative history, recounting General Wolseley's failed efforts to relieve General Gordon in the Sudan. Symons blames the British government for dispatching Gordon in the first place, hence precipitating the crisis, and dragging their feet once the Mahdi besieged Khartoum. But there's plenty of blame to go around: Wolseley's over-meticulous campaign plan, bickering between British commanders on the ground, lack of coordination between the desert and river columns, insuperable supply difficulties (a ten-day coal shortage may have been the final straw) and the expedition's sheer logistical improbability. And, lest we forget, the Mahdists' stubborn resistance. It's less a wonder that Wolseley failed than that he came within 48 hours of success.

Is there anything in this book you didn't know before?

« : November 06, 2013, 07:51:10 PM titoli »

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« #984 : November 04, 2013, 07:28:02 PM »



It fares batter than the first of the series, though the author doesn't come up with an inventive solution for the courtroom  drama. 7\10


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« #985 : November 06, 2013, 07:47:25 PM »


Best of the Guerrieri series so far. It also has a very good courtroom scene. 8\10

« : November 06, 2013, 07:51:34 PM titoli »

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« #986 : November 06, 2013, 07:50:37 PM »



A step back from the previous book of the Guerrieri series. There's no courtroom drama, Guerrieri acts as a PI, the solution is good, but there's too much fattening of the plot. 7\10


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« #987 : November 07, 2013, 07:08:13 PM »

Is there anything in this book you didn't know before?

The details of the different battles, the extremities of the supply problem, the degree of personality clashes among Wolseley's subordinates. So yes.



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« #988 : November 08, 2013, 06:32:37 PM »

Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography - William J. Miller - The mid-20th Century statesman and diplomat, not TR's friend/Woodrow Wilson's nemesis. Glowing to the point of sycophancy, it was written in 1967 and hard not to judge it in hindsight. The author's view, for instance, that victory in Vietnam was just around the corner can't help seeming laughable. More substantially, Miller elides or downplays Lodge's arrogance, ambition and reckless diplomatic behavior. Was Lodge's involvement in the Diem coup a secret even at the time? I haven't gotten that impression. Lodge was nonetheless a fascinating man and the book's worth reading for that.

A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War - Daniel E. Sutherland - Panoramic view of the Civil War's guerrilla fronts. Sutherland covers well-known partisans and bushwhackers like Will Quantrill, Jim Lane and John Hunt Morgan, but also lesser-known groups like and Unionists rampaging through the Carolinas and North Texas. Those seeking detailed accounts of their exploits will be disappointed. Sutherland focuses more on scope, placing the guerrillas in the war's greater context: their often dubious motives, official hostility (even in the South, where partisans often operated in lieu of regular forces), the cruel countermeasures and their impact on the broader war, tying down supplies and manpower. Highly recommended.



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« #989 : November 14, 2013, 03:36:42 PM »



A collection of various articles on many subjects which do not jelly into an organic view of the genre. I mean: shy away from it if you're looking for some kind of guide. If you know already the matter you may be interested on some of A.'s opinions. And if you like A.'s style read it anyway. 7\10


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