Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV

This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV by Bob Schieffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For a behind-the-scenes look at a newsman's life, this fascinating memoir will please all news junkies. It begins with Schieffer's days in Fort Worth, Texas working for a newspaper, and follows him through his career in television.

The first chapter focuses on the day that President Kennedy was assassinated when Schieffer in Fort Worth meets a woman who wants to be driven to Dallas. After he agrees, he learns that she is Lee Harvey Oswald's mother. The book is filled with so many interesting facts many of us have either forgotten or never knew about.

As a political correspondent who's covered the Pentagon, Congress and presidential races, Schieffer provides a depth to all the news of the time: President Nixon's term in office, the Carter vs. Reagan race, the Gore vs. Bush election debacle, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and the impact of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

Schieffer writes a great deal of inside information on how television news broadcasts work: the producers, the writers, the assignment desks, the last-minute maneuvers necessary to broadcast the news fast and accurately.

Schieffer is currently retired the retired moderator of "Face the Nation" on CBS but is brought back now and then to comment on the current political scene.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: The Nightingale

The Nightingale The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Having been named the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction and its place on several bestseller lists, I expected a finely written account of the women who served in the Resistance in World War II. I was consistently disappointed. Not so much with the plot because I imagined the book being an introduction to some high school students who upon reading it would become familiar with and enlightened about what happened to civilians in France when it was at war with Germany.

It seemed obvious to me that this book was written for a female audience. Even though its theme is war, I could not envision a male audience for this particular novel.

Basically, the story is fine: two sisters who, each in her own way, try to do what they can to cope with and interfere with the Nazi invasion of their village. Granted, food and other items were scarce and one sister in particular, Vianne, had to struggle to put food in front of her family. But it was the author's writing style that got in the way of my being fully immersed in the book. Too often the author emphasized what items of clothing the characters wore, how they were cut up from old quilts, how their shoes fell apart, and what pieces of clothing they put on when they got up in the morning and when they went to bed. Too many such clothing descriptions actually took me away from the story.

I would not go so far as to call the book "trite" because the stories of what women did at that time need to be told. If I were a young person reading this book, I would be shocked at the treatment so many suffered. But to those of us who have known this history for many years, "The Nightingale" is just another story of wartime and how it affects ordinary citizens and some of those citizens who join together in an underground movement to save their country.

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