Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: The Russian Century: A History of the Last Hundred Years

The Russian Century: A History of the Last Hundred Years The Russian Century: A History of the Last Hundred Years by Brian Moynahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moynahan has written a book for anyone who wants an understanding of Russian history and how it evolved over the past one hundred years, from the Romanovs up until the emergence of Boris Yeltsin.

It is is an example, for me, of the old saying that travel broadens one's experiences. I purchased this book in St. Petersburg on October 10, 2010 while on a trip to that city and to Moscow. My recent renewed interest in Russia began with learning the effect that Vladimir Putin is having on our own electoral process.



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Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a recent National Geographic documentary called "Facing Putin," Russian journalist Masha Geesen was one of the speakers who explained this man's rise, his hold over the Russian people, and his actions that have consequences for the rest of the world.

As a child and young man, Putin prided himself on his role as a thug who grew up to be a KGB operative. It's a fascinating story of a person Geesen describes as "shallow, self-involved, not terribly perceptive, and apparently very poorly informed....who was indeed the person running Russia." Geesen recounts Putin's rise, the number of people who have been killed, the number of business takeovers, the number of people jailed for various reasons, and countless other criminal acts backed by Putin and those he places in power.

One of the reasons I wanted to learn more about Putin, I must confess, is the attraction he holds for one of the candidates running for president of the United States. It is a frightening scenario that Putin and his government (who are currently cited for hacking into American email accounts) would have a great impact on the future of the United States.

This is a very readable book; by that I mean it is told from a personal perspective by an experienced reporter whose familiarity with Russian history and journalistic career provide solid and important historical information.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Reputations

Reputations Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful read especially if you admire a writer's ability to set you down in a distant country, Columbia, and introduce you to the powerful world of a political cartoonist.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust BowlThe Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me awhile to read this book because the depth of research by Timothy Egan is so engrossing it was not easy to take in large doses. How little I knew about the Dust Bowl, only having read John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Egan, however, has written the most complete history of the 1930s in the area affected by mammoth black dust storms.

Egan relates the stories, the trials, and the failures of people trying to overcome the unbelievable dust storms. For many Americans, this history will be new, as most of the attention during these years was on the banks' failures and the emergence of a world war. It is a shame that this history of desperate Americans has just recently become more widely known.


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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Review: Chasing Lincoln's Killer

Chasing Lincoln's Killer Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having learned history back when it was mostly dates of events and battles and hearing only about the most important names of the time, this book was all new information for me. Previously, all I knew about President Abraham Lincoln's assassination was that an actor, John Wilkes Booth, leapt onto the stage of Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. on Good Friday where he aimed and killed him. I never knew how Booth escaped, who his allies were, and how he managed to avoid capture for twelve days.

The edition I read is the Scholastic version, written for young adults, although you wouldn't guess that if you hadn't been told. It is based on Swanson's best seller called "Manhunt: The 12- Day Hunt for Lincoln's Killer."

I'd like to thank my grandson, Ian, for lending me this book.

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