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review 2018-03-21 01:45
The Kennedy Brothers: The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby - Richard D. Mahoney,David Talbot

"THE KENNEDY BROTHERS: The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby" offers the reader various views and perspectives on the evolution of the relationship between John F. Kennedy and his younger brother Robert between 1951 and 1963. At the same time, it also provides, in a large sense, a living history of the Kennedy Administration; the challenges, setbacks and triumphs it experienced; and the roles Robert Kennedy played in that history as Attorney General (e.g. his relentless fight against organized crime and his moral support for the cause of civil rights) and enforcer and protector of his brother, the President. 

Then we also experience the inner struggles and agonies Robert Kennedy endured after his brother was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963. After years of supporting JFK through his various political campaigns and in the White House, he was faced with having to find his own voice and place. In the process, Robert Kennedy's humaneness and compassion for the poor and disenfranchised - coupled with his fearlessness and the spirit of his character - came to define him in the eyes of millions of Americans as he went on to win election to the U.S. Senate from New York in 1964 and embarked on the path that led him to his last crusade, his run for the Presidency in 1968. 

In the words of the author: "... the Kennedys, with all their romance and irony, finally unite in an aesthetic comparable to the Greeks that they read about and quoted: they were daring and they were doomed, and they knew it and accepted it. They would die and make their deaths into creative acts of history. They would be heroes. And they would give their country an imperishable poignancy in its heart."

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review 2018-03-11 12:11
I should have read the Crown Princess's actual memoirs instead.
The Red Queen - Margaret Drabble

Pretentious and self-centered.  Forget the book blurbs -- this actually isn't about the Lady Hyegyōng but about Margaret Drabble and the "connection" she allegedly feels with this 18th century Korean princess.


In fact, only the first half of the book even focuses on the Lady Hyegyōng's story at all -- and even that part is (1) almost all telling instead of showing and (2) clearly NOT told from a Korean (even if only a contemporary Korean) perspective but from the Western contemporary author's own perspective.  Then we get to the second part, where we're being presented with a Western POV stand-in character for Ms. Drabble, who (for reasons never satisfactorily explained) feels compelled to research and "keep alive" the Lady Hyegyōng's story after having mysteriously been sent a recent translation of her memoirs -- until, that is, during the Seoul conference forming the majority of the second part's backdrop, she embarks on a fling with the conference's star speaker / scientist / participant (or rather, throws herself at him with jet propulsion force).  And ultimately, Drabble doesn't even shy away from explicitly inserting herself into the book, as (you guessed it) the autor eventually tasked with telling both the Crown Princess's and the Western POV Drabble-stand-in character's stories.


If I hadn't been planning on using this book for the Kill Your Darlings game, I'd have DNF'd it -- at the very latest when the second part's supremely annoying Western POV character started throwing herself full-forcce at that star scientist (while at the same time being equally supremely rude to a Korean doctor who'd saved her skin on more than one occasion and who had even taken out time from his own busy schedule to show her Seoul's historic sites).


So, one star for the faraway glimpes at the Lady Hyegyōng provided in the book's first part, and half a star for inspiring me to seek out her actual story ... and her own point of view.


But if this is supposed to be one of Margaret Drabble's most celebrated books, I'm afraid I'm now going to need a truly huge incentive to go near her writing again any time soon.

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review 2018-03-05 13:32
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death - James Runcie

Grantchester #1


This collection of short story mysteries featuring Sidney Chambers was enjoyable although not anything special. Each of the mysteries was fairly basic due to its length, and I think that overall I'd prefer the TV series. I did quite like the reversal of roles where Amanda (a friend of Sidney's) keeps paying for things when they go out for lunch once she learns just how little Sidney makes. The fact that he lets her and doesn't get hung up about it is nice too.


Here's an amusing excerpt from one of their conversations:

So the family have money and Eddie’s a decent enough sort but he’s awfully dull. I don’t think I could last more than ten minutes with him before running off with the nearest blacksmith.’
‘Do they have blacksmiths in Bath?’
‘I imagine so.’
‘And did you tell your father this?’
‘I did, as a matter of fact, and do you know, he was quite cross with me? “After all I’ve done for you,” he said, before going on and on for so long that I had to stop listening. The gist was that he didn’t want me to be a disappointment like my brother.’

"Do you know, he was quite cross with me?" Snicker.


I tried to do little commentaries on each story as I went along, but I'm not entirely sure it was a success.


Honourable Men

Someone is murdered on stage during an amateur theatrical production in which Sidney is taking part, so he naturally helps to investigate.


Previous updates:

The Lost Holbein (83 %)

A Matter of Time (70 %)

First, Do No Harm (54 %)

A Question of Trust (36 %)

The Shadow of Death (21 %)

9 %


My copy seems to have acquired an alternate cover:

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text 2018-03-04 22:30
Reading progress update: I've read 83%.
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death - James Runcie

The Lost Holbein


This story of a lost Holbein that was replaced with a fake takes a very weird turn.

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text 2018-03-04 21:42
Reading progress update: I've read 70%.
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death - James Runcie

A Matter of Time


A girl is murdered at a jazz show that Sidney attends and he gets pulled into the investigation. The story was alright.

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