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Search tags: Early-Civilization
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review 2011-08-12 10:08
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed - Jared Diamond Not quite the absolute must read that GGS was. The one drawback with this book is that he is predicting, rather than looking in to the past, which gives his arguments slightly less weight. That's not to say it isn't valuable, or convincing for that matter, but GGS is, in my opinion, an absolute classic and this just lacked...well, I can't think of the word because I'm hungover. But the point is that it is a different kind of work he has undertaken this time, one that doesn't lend itself to as "perfect" argument, or what have you. Anyway, it's well worth the time.
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review 2011-08-12 09:59
The Battle: A Novel
The Battle - Patrick Rambaud,Will Hobson Toland is trying really hard to make this objective so I guess that's good for him. I try to remember that it was the 50s and "objective" was not really the same as it is now, but there are some big problems with this narrative. It is almost entirely from the American point of view. The sporadic accounts of Germans are either from the perspective of generals (one colonel I believe) or from the experiences of Belgian and Luxembourg citizens or American soldiers. It's something like 75% American, 10% citizen and 5% German (maybe not quite that skewed, but close) in terms of the sources that actually made the book. Then there's the British thing. The British aren't included except for a couple of Montgomery's letters and his press conference. Montgomery is portrayed as a villain by the American sources and though Toland attempts to show that Montgomery's point of view was somewhat justified, he only does this occasionally whereas he lets the American anti-Montomery stuff pop through constantly. In fact, the American generals come off as a little paranoid about him (especially Bradley by the end of the book). Due to his reliance on first person accounts, it is sometimes hard to get a sense of exactly what was happening. Maybe we still don't know but it seems like he could have created a better overall picture. On the positive side are those first person accounts: there are loads of them and they are compelling. He does attempt to follow at least a majority of them through the course of the narrative. The epilogue is another issue. He tries make grand pronouncements about the battle and about what it supposedly did for the US that don't really fit with the personal narratives. I guess the biggest of my many issues with this book is that he perpetuates the myth of the "birth of the American fighting man": the idea that American soldiers were of a certain type up to the Bulge and the Bulge changed everything. Give me a break. That is so weak it doesn't even deserve refuting.
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review 2011-07-27 18:27
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image (Compass)
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image - Leonard Shlain Hmmm
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