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review 2018-01-22 00:16
Defining Teddy for the ages
Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon - Michael Patrick Cullinane

Presidents experience one of two fates after their death. While most recede into history and are remembered by most Americans as little more than images tacked up in rows on elementary school walls, a few become icons whose names and faces become part of the culture. Among the latter group is Theodore Roosevelt, a larger-than-life figure whose image remains almost as publicly recognizable today as it was during his heyday. Michael Patrick Cullinane's book is about the ways in which his image has endured, and the efforts of many people to ensure that it did.


The effort to define Roosevelt's posthumous image began with the moment of his death. As news of his passing spread throughout the nation, obituary writers and eulogists strove to define him in a variety of ways, all of which spoke to his multifaceted life and career. Memorial organizations soon emerged that sought to define his legacy with monuments and other programs. At the forefront of this was Roosevelt's family, though the seemingly unassailable control of Roosevelt's wife and children was soon challenged by political ascension of Theodore Roosevelt's distant cousin Franklin, who as president laid claim to Theodore's memory in ways that created a rift within the family. By the 1950s, memorializaton took on a different cast, as the generation that remembered Theodore Roosevelt was replaced by one who knew him only as a historical figure. Picking up on the themes outlined by their predecessors, this new generation continued to define and defend Roosevelt's legacy in ways that reflected efforts to establish his continuing relevance to a changing country and kept him at the forefront of the historical imagination.


Cullinane's book provides readers with a good look at how Roosevelt;s image has remained alive long after his body was laid to rest. His description of the memorialization efforts is a particular strength of the book, as he shows just how much thought and effort went into creating monuments designed to define Roosevelt's complex legacy for future generations. Yet for all of his labors, one person is surprisingly absent from Cullinane's analysis: Theodore Roosevelt himself. As good as his book is, it would have been much stronger had it begun with a chapter that examined his subject's own efforts to shape his public persona while he was alive. Given how media savvy Roosevelt was, his own efforts made him the single most influential definer of his posthumous image, with every other person involved working with the material he left them.

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review 2018-01-21 21:31
Revenger (John Shakespeare #2) by Rory Clements
Revenger: A Novel of Tudor Intrigue - Rory Clements

I fell asleep reading this last night. I woke up this morning determined to finish before the Vikings play. SKOL! 


I have seen so many different books toted as comparable to C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake books. More often than not, I find myself disappointed. Truth be told, I have not yet found anything to be as dark, gritty, or politically charged as the Shardlake novels. Enter John Shakespeare. 


Shakespeare and Shardlake both have similar qualities. They are both slightly naive. They both tend to find themselves being used as pawns in someone's political schemes. The biggest different between the two men, Shakespeare is a more of a rogue. While Shardlake strives to use his brains to get himself out of trouble, Shakespeare is not afraid to fight. 


I will confess to liking Shardlake just a little more than Shakespeare. However, I am only two books in to Shakespeare. Things could change. If the second novel is any indication of how things will progress, that could very well be the case.


Much like the first, this book was dark. It was gritty. It was gruesome. It was thick with political schemes. If you are not familiar with Elizabeth's England post-Walsingham or the children of Lettice Knollys, I would highly recommend doing a little background research first. Otherwise, you may find yourself a little lost. 


Easily the most fascinating part of this book was the story of Roanoke. As a child, I was taught all about the mysterious colony of Roanoke. A colony of English settlers come to the New World to create a new life who suddenly vanish without a trace. What happened to little Virginia Dare and the other colonists? Did a mysterious illness overtake them? Did they run foul of the natives? Did they just leave and start a life somewhere else? This book presents an entirely different theory. It's actually quite fascinating. That's all I'm saying about it. 


I would love to start the third novel but the Vikings play today. I have Super Bowl on my mind. SKOL! 




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text 2018-01-21 14:05
The War that Ended Peace - Reading updates
The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 - Margaret MacMillan

I meant to read this book in 2014, but may have gotten side-tracked with other books about WWI in that year...


I'll keep a running post for reading updates for this book as it will encompass too much information to deal with in one post and I would like to keep notes while reading - and I would like to keep the notes in one place.



Chapter 1 - Europe in 1900:


Good points so far: 


MacMillan tries to set the scene by introducing the reader to Europe and the world of the early 1900 by giving an overview of different aspects of life: politics, economics, art, social issues, interaction between different nations - not just the European nations that would be immediately connected with the First World War, but also relationships with Asia, America, Africa, and between the different colonies. 

I am missing an overview of the relations to the different parts of the Ottoman empire and Russia but as far as providing an introduction is concerned this is a good overview, including some statistics (unusually for me, but I hope there are more of them).


All in all, so far a much more levelled, engaging, and multi-faceted approach to the subject than The Guns of August.


Questions and Issues:


It may be because this was an introductory chapter, but the tone of the chapter was quite general. I hope this develops in depth and complexity as the book goes on.

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review 2018-01-21 08:24
The One-Cent Magenta
The One-Cent Magenta - James Barron

I have always thought postage stamps were neat.  I admit I'm the ass in the post office line asking if I can see all the current stamps when I get to the counter, so I can pick out the coolest ones.  (This, by the way, is unheard of in Australia; I've only found one post office where the lady is nice enough to let me pick my own stamps.)


But I have never collected stamps.  The hobby holds no appeal for me and never has. What I am hooked on, is rarity.  The idea that there are only x number of something in the world sucks me in, no matter what x is.  I understand the collectors that want to own what no one else owns; I don't have the ego for it, but the idea of owning something that is completely unique is a seductive one.


That's why I bought this book on a whim.  That and the cover.  James Barron is a New York Times journalist, who stumbled on the story of the one-cent magenta stamp at a cocktail party; the article he wrote about it led to this book, where he chronicles the path this odd-looking stamp took on it's way to becoming the world's most valuable stamp, selling at auction in 2014 for 9.5 million USD, to Stuart Weitzman, he of the red-soled shoe empire.


This is where journalists who write books shine, especially for someone like me, who knows almost nothing about stamps or philately.  Let's face it, stamps do not lend themselves to page-turning drama, and philately needs all the help it can get if it's to appeal to those outside the bubble.  Barron succeeded beyond my expectations.  I completely enjoyed this book and spent all day reading it.  His journalistic style brought the stamp's history to life, and even though he has a bit of fun with the eccentricities of "Stamp World" as he calls it, I thought he did a brilliant job describing the passion and dedication of the hobby in a sympathetic way.


I'm thoroughly surprised and delighted at how much I enjoyed this book.  

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review 2018-01-19 20:16
Well Researched and Written
The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel

I had marked the movie on Netflix to watch and then I remembered hearing that this was a book. I decided to read the book since I feel that books are often better than movies. I borrowed the audio version so that I could work on other things while listening to the book. Very early in the book, the author was talking about his criteria for someone to interview in his quest for the truth. His academic qualifications and then he said, he still believes that the Cubs will win the World Series. Given that this had just happened, I really laughed at this quote. 

It was interesting to hear about all the people he interviewed where they were and how much he learned from each one, showing that there are others outside of the Gospels that write about what they saw for the time of Jesus and the time after. 

I really did enjoy this book and I know that I will be telling my sister-in-law about it.

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