By Schism Rent Asunder (Safehold, #2)

By Schism Rent Asunder (Safehold, #2)

author: David Weber
name: Elaine
average rating: 3.96
book published: 2008
rating: 4
read at: 2009/03/01
date added: 2009/03/02
shelves: fantasy, fiction, sci-fi
review:
Big crazy scifi/fantasy/history crossover. I read the first book a while ago, and some of the particular relationships evaded my memory as I read this one, but mostly I picked it back up as I went along.

Expansive & adventurous, to be sure, and compelling enough that I spent a huge chunk of the last weekend reading it. And argh! I wish there were a sequel already, which was pretty much exactly what I said with the last one. The plot keeps rolling in fun weird directions.

I think it could have been just as good and about 20% shorter with judicious trimming of adverbs & adjectives, especially modifiers of "he said". Plus all of the characters are superlatively superlative, and my eyes glaze over on the naval battle/history of armament bits.

Still, way fun reading.

The Case for Big Government (The Public Square)

The Case for Big Government (The Public Square)

author: Jeffrey Madrick
name: Elaine
average rating: 3.14
book published: 2008
rating: 3
read at: 2009/02/25
date added: 2009/02/25
shelves: economics, history, non-fiction, politics
review:
I’m just going to quote Obama’s speech of Feb 24 2009:

"History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education."

Because that’s pretty much the detailed (if brief) argument of the book. A quick solid read.

Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade

Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade

author: Nicole Galland
name: Elaine
average rating: 3.21
book published: 2007
rating: 4
read at: 2009/02/10
date added: 2009/02/11
shelves: fiction, history, religion
review:
I seriously stayed up until midnight finishing this book. Unfortunately, I’m way too tired this morning to write much about it, except that it’s got a lively narrative voice, although the narrator has an ahistorical feel (to me anyway), there’s lots of twists & turns, and I almost cried near the end.

Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism

Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism

author: Victoria Clark
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.00
book published: 2007
rating: 4
read at: 2009/02/08
date added: 2009/02/09
shelves: history, non-fiction, politics, religion, sociology
review:
Book is divided into two parts: the history of Christian Zionism from the Reformation in England to 1948, and a survey of modern American Christian Zionism.

For me, the first part was full of new information, weird twists of history, strange characters (a Venn diagram of this book & Eating the Sun shows Joseph Priestly as the one person in the union!) over the history of both Britain & the US. The second half has some new, but much that’s familiar to anyone who’s been following this part of foreign policy over the last 10 years.

It feels like what it is, too: a foreigner’s attempt to understand something deeply weird and totally American. (alas) She tries to have a gentle touch, but the underlying tone is OMGWTFBBQ crazy people! Not that I don’t sympathize, of course, and maybe I’m projecting a bit. Because yes, OMG teh crazy. I really really really hope that we get to an actually rational foreign policy in re: the Middle East sometime soon!

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

author: Langston Hughes
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.24
book published: 1959
rating: 4
read at: 2008/11/10
date added: 2009/02/05
shelves: history, own, poetry
review:
I know it’s probably corny to go back to this right after Obama’s election, but I needed something really different from Rukeyser, and I actually don’t read enough guy poets! So far, enjoying his use of language, the shifting dictions and rhythms. (Also, interesting to find stars & notes from when I read this in college.)

What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception

What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception

author: Scott McClellan
name: Elaine
average rating: 3.06
book published: 2008
rating: 3
read at: 2009/01/15
date added: 2009/02/05
shelves: autobiography, history, non-fiction, politics
review:
I read this book because of The Big Sort: I wanted to open-mindedly read something from a very different viewpoint from my own.

I found McClellan’s writing voice engaging and friendly, but I constantly wondered how much dissembling he was doing throughout. What did he really know? He reads as being furious at Karl Rove, because Rove (according to McClellan) lied to him…is that really so? It wouldn’t surprise me, but neither would the opposite.

For me, the book focused around 3 events or phases: McClellan’s early engagement in politics, as the son of the conservative Democrat mayor of Austin; the Valerie Plame affair, and Hurricane Katrina. Plame he treats as a marker for all the lying and hedging before the Iraq war. (Did he really always think it was a bad idea?) Katrina he treats as a public relations disaster, which echoes Bush’s last press conference.

Some of the details have faded after several weeks, but I can definitely say that it’s worth a read just to get a view from the other side that is relatively thoughtful about the years just past.

(Also, I kept reading the title in my head as What the F*** Happened?)