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Search tags: New-Years-Eve
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review 2017-12-13 22:53
Mixed bag.
Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White H... Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years - David Litt

Despite everything going on and not really sure if I wanted to read a memoir so recent, the title made me smile. This is the story of Litt's work in the White House from the joys and pains, the highs and the lows, what it's like to work in the White House and to work with the president himself (as you probably can tell, he served in the Obama administration). Litt reviewed another book and had written elsewhere and seemed genuinely funny and endearing. The book would certainly seem the same.

 

Litt was with Obama starting with the 2008 campaign and wouldn't leave the White House until 2016. In between we watch him on the campaign trail, managing speeches, trying to figure out the President's voice, being a front row witness to history as well as managing the daily grind of both the campaign trail and then in the administration. Some of it is genuinely hysterical as to what could go wrong and what it was like to try to get the most powerful man in the world to deliver this speech as written or seeing first-hand some of the highest or lowest or most emotional times (good and bad) in the White House. 

 

And sometimes it's not great. The book feels like a mixed bag. There are times when Litt had me riveted by the campaign anecdotes and what it's like trying to work for President Barack Obama, etc. Sometimes it's extremely tedious. Sometimes it all comes out in a jumble, like Litt is telling us anecdotes after fun story but it isn't a coherent narrative. It's almost like Litt has a really great second or third draft or something where there is a structure that could emerge if maybe an editor took another go at it to hammer it out.

 

I enjoyed some of it and am grateful for the work he and the other staffers and the administration (and President Obama of course!) have done. It'll be interesting to see when more of his staffers come out with their memoirs and see how they, the Obamas themselves (really, these books really only want their stories so much more), etc. will view his administration. 

 

It's not for everyone but if you're curious as to what it's like to be Sam Seaborn (except in real life) this could whet your appetite. Might make a good reference for presidential scholars or people specifically interested in the Obama administration but I'm glad that this was available at my library.

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review 2017-12-10 00:50
Couldn't match the original.
Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years ... Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years - Mandla Langa,Graca Machel,Nelson Mandela

Like others I had hoped we'd have more of Mandela's thoughts after reading his 'Long Walk to Freedom' and this book is the second part of his memoirs. Compiled from his notes and texts, this is based off the writing he had started but unfortunately had been unable to finish. 

 

Apparently he ended up writing about ten chapters about his time in office but abandoned the work. So the rest was compiled together from Mandela's notes during his term, the original draft of the work, plus additional information to give the reader context to Mandela's rise and the political and historical context of the time. Unfortunately this shows. I'm reminded of another attempt by another author to create an autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. using similar methods (compiling a text based off of the subjects words, interviews, texts, etc.). 

 

I understand the impulse but like the MLK book this one just can't capture Mandela either. 'Long' required a slow reading which I was fine with because Mandela made it interesting and I was interested in his story. It just doesn't quite work here, although as a reference I'm sure others will find it very valuable. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a book like this or it's just not the right time for me.

 

Borrow from the library unless you are very interested in Mandela but I'd suggest you'd flip through at the bookstore/library first before deciding to buy.

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text 2017-11-24 23:32
Reading progress update: I've read 144 out of 320 pages.
Seven Years in Tibet - Heinrich Harrer

Ooooh, we finally meet the Dalai Lama and his family.

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text 2017-11-20 13:29
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #6: December 5th-6th and 8th - Bodhi Day
Seven Years in Tibet - Heinrich Harrer

Book themes for Bodhi Day:  Read a book set in Nepal, India or Tibet, –OR– which involves animal rescue.  (Buddhism calls for a vegetarian lifestyle.)

 

I briefly considered reading Seven Years in Tibet for Square # 10 - World Peace Day because it does feature Harrer's encounter with the Dalai Lama (who is a Nobel laureate). While the book (my lovely1955 hardback edition anyway) has several lovely photographs of the Dalai Lama and his family, much of the story in Harrer's book is, however, about Harrer's escape from the internment camp in India and his travels across India and Tibet. He also comes very close to the Nepalese border (as far as I have read). 

 

So, the book is a much better fit for the book task for Bodhi Day.

 

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review 2017-10-20 03:19
Years of Change (Upstairs Downstairs) - Mollie Hardwick

Before 'Downton Abbey', there was 'Upstairs, Downstairs.' This book, 'THE YEARS OF CHANGE', is based on an episode of Upstairs, Downstairs that takes the Bellamy Family and their servants at 165 Eaton Place from the spring of 1912 to August 1914. 

Once I began reading 'THE YEARS OF CHANGE' on the subway to work earlier this week, I didn't want to put it down. For all of its 239 pages, it was packed with some of the most lively, intense, and at turns joyous and tragic family drama that I've encountered in a novel for quite a while. The reader also gets full views of what the lives of both servants and their so-called 'betters' (i.e. the ones upstairs as represented by the Bellamy Family) were like in considerable detail. For instance, the Bellamy son, James, a rather restless, impatient and frustrated man who had left the Army (he had been an officer in India) to take up a job in London -with his father's help - with a trading company, had married a typist in haste after professing undying love to her. After the first few weeks of shows of passionate devotion and affection, the marriage settles into one of stultifying indolence. One couldn't help but feel sorry for Hazel, James' wife, who clearly deserved better. There is a scene at a hunting party in the countryside (to which James had been invited by one of his moneyed, propertied friends) in which all the invited couples had retired for the night after a day of hard riding and shooting. James was peeved at Hazel for having defied his edict that she not ride. But she had been urged on by Lady Diana Russell (who had fancied James for some time - but having been spurned by James when he was feverishly in love with Hazel, she settled for a marriage offer from another man of her class she didn't love) and several of her friends to join in the hunt. Besides, they assured Hazel they would have a placid-tempered horse for her to ride. Well, Hazel was given at the last minute a more spirited horse to ride, which gave her a fright and made her a spectacle before James and his conferes. Hazel suspected that James, having regretted married her, was awaiting his chance to steal away in the night to Lady Diana's room for some "horizontal refreshment." After all, under such circumstances, it was not at all unusual for the rich and privileged set in Britain to quietly swap partners overnight. So long as discretion was observed and maintained, there was no reason for complaint from an aggrieved husband, or cause for public scandal. 

"THE YEARS OF CHANGE" is packed with so much. I enjoyed becoming acquainted with the Bellamys, the young Lady Georgina Worsley (a distant relation of the elder Bellamy's newly arrived from a Swiss boarding school), the society in which they lived with all its complex social standards and rules, as well as the servants 'downstairs - Mr. Hudson, the head butler and manager of staff; Mrs. Bridges the cook; Edward, the footman; Daisy, the sweet assistant parlour maid he came to love; Rose, the head parlour maid; and Ruby, the loveable, well-meaning, and unassuming kitchen servant. This is a novel that, once you begin to read it, you'll probably find yourself staying up all night to reach the finish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
 

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