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review 2018-12-12 13:00
BECOMING written and narrated by Michelle Obama
Becoming - Michelle Obama,Michelle Obama,Penguin Books

 

I don't know what to say about this book other than the following:

 

I found Michelle Obama to be an impressive and an interesting person.

 

She's classy, (she could have said a lot more unflattering things about many people. She didn't.)

 

She's a great narrator.

 

She loves her husband and kids with all of heart and shows it with her actions.

 

Political campaigns cost even more than I thought. (And I still can't help but think that money could be put to better uses across this country.)

 

I found it to be such an inspiring read I'm not ashamed to say it brought tears to my eyes more than once. At the same time, this book unintentionally made me nostalgic and sad. It is my opinion that a lot of the good accomplished by the Obama administration has now been undone. (The Paris Climate Change Agreement, among many other things.)

 

I highly recommend this book to those who want to know more about Michelle Obama, (whether or not your admire her), from her own mouth.

 

*Comments and/or questions regarding this BOOK or this somewhat of a REVIEW are more than welcome, positive or negative.*

 

**Comments regarding political views not associated with this book or review will be deleted.**

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review 2018-12-11 09:24
Asgard to Valhalla, Heather O'Donoghue
From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

A really interesting survey of the impact Norse mythology has had on culture from the time it was first written down in Iceland onward to the present day (or at least the date of publication, earlier this century).

 

First off there's a look at what we know about Norse myth from written sources and archaeology, noting the problems and uncertainties associated with each and the vast yawning absences in our knowledge that look to be forever irreperable. The most important stories from the written stories are outlined - necessary information for the next part of the book, which surveys how Norse myth impacted all aspects of culture, social, political, artistic in a progression from the 13th Century to the 21st.

 

O'Donoghue restricts herself only to the "highlights" in order to fill in trends and register the most impactful social and artistic movements. This is no doubt essential for a book aimed at a popular audience, with a length restiction, however, I could have wished for both more detail and a more comprehensive discussion, at the risk of ending up with a longer and more academic book.

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text 2018-12-11 05:04
Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 232 pages.
From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

Numerous contemporary right-wing, racist and white-supremecist groups are still using Old Norse culture as a basis for their beliefs.

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text 2018-12-10 04:17
Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 232 pages.
From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

Himmler, in contrast to Hitler, bought heavily into neo-Norse runic mysticism that reflected the generally intensifying racism and anti-semetism of the period in Germany.

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review 2018-12-10 01:29
Covert action and its overt impact
Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy - Rory Cormac

For decades now James Bond has vied with the queen as the personification of Britain for the rest of the world. This is perhaps more appropriate than many realize, for as Rory Cormac documents in his book covert action — a term denoting activities ranging from propaganda efforts to direct political and economic manipulation —has emerged in the postwar era as a prominent tool of British foreign policy. His book describes the development of this approach, as well as its successes in failures in achieving British goals in an era of imperial decline and global eclipse by the postwar superpowers.

The employment of covert action was not something that the British embraced at first. Though Britain has a long history of intelligence activities, Cormac notes that it was not until the Second World War that the British professionalized their efforts. In the aftermath of the war, the Foreign Office took over the direction of intelligence activities abroad, a move with important ramifications for their subsequent employment. Though the first foreign secretary to exercise this control, Ernest Bevin, was initially reluctant to utilize covert action, deteriorating relations with the Soviet Union soon led to its employment in response to Soviet aggression. Often in close cooperaton with the Americans, British covert activities increasingly became a preferred tool of achieving British aims, albeit not always successfully.

This was true as well in the areas of Britain's former imperial control. Here British leaders were far less reluctant, seeing covert action as a useful means of maintaining influence in areas long viewed as part of their sphere of influence. Over time, however, the use of covert activities proved increasingly controversial politically, and nowhere was this more true than in Northern Ireland. With the ongoing Troubles the region soon became a hive of intelligence activity in the aftermath of the army's failure to restore peace, though many of the activities operated in a grey zone legally. By the end of the Cold War, though, covert action was nonetheless established as a useful tool for achieving Britain's goals abroad, one employed down to the present day.

Cormac's book offers a highly enlightening overview of an often little understood dimension of British foreign policy. While many of the details may be familiar from the reporting of journalists and the headline-grabbing revelations of memoirists, Cormac's archival digging and inter-connective analysis exposes the degree to which covert activities have established themselves as an essential tool of policy execution. Though stronger in its earlier chapters (reflecting perhaps the greater abundance of information available to him), this is nonetheless a book that will be enjoyed by students of both the history of British intelligence and of postwar British foreign policy. By shining a light into these long-shadowed activities, Cormac has helped us to better understand the role they have long played, even if it was unappreciated both and the time and for decades afterward.

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