Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: 1920: The Year that Made the Decade Roar

1920: The Year that Made the Decade Roar 1920: The Year that Made the Decade Roar by Eric Burns
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The women's suffrage movement; the beginnings of Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger's struggle to provide birth control information to women; the League of Nations proposed by President Woodrow Wilson, his stroke and how Mrs. Wilson took over some of the president's duties; Carlo Ponzi and how his name came to be associated with fraud; the musicians, writers and entertainers who became prominent during 1920: these are a only few of the stories in this book. An interesting look at the world after the end of World War I and before the financial collapse and depression of the 1930s.

I enjoyed this book because I find history is always more interesting when I know more about the people responsible for the events of that time.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In his new novel, Amor Towles has created a memorable cast of characters and an intriguing plot set in a period of Russian history starting in the 1920s. Add his exquisite writing and it is easy to understand why I couldn't put the book down yet I didn't want it to end. I almost feel like picking it up again and turning to the first page, just to enjoy this wonderful reading experience again.

Instead of summarizing the book, as I sometimes do, I often make a note of some of the thoughts put down by the author. On page 120, Towles writes about first impressions:

“After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met for a minute in the lobby of a hotel? For that matter, what can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration – and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”

Like so many people, I loved Towles's first novel, "Rules of Civility." I cannot wait to see what he publishes next.

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