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review 2018-04-05 17:22
Civil liberties as a casualty of war
World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States - Paul L. Murphy

In spite of entering the First World War pledging to make the world "safe for democracy," the administration of President Woodrow Wilson pursued the war at home with measures that dramatically restricted the rights of American citizens. Speech was curtailed, people were arrested without due process, and homes and businesses were searched without warrants, all in the name of the wartime emergency. Paul Murphy makes this campaign and the response it engendered the subject of this book, an excellent short study of the war's impact on civil liberties.

With America's entry into the war in April 1917, the Wilson administration secured the passage of emergency wartime measures designed to control domestic opposition to the war effort. These laws were onerous, but were presented as temporary measures necessary to achieve victory. In many ways this embodied what Murphy sees as the traditional view of civil liberties that predominated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which argued that only those who had "proved" that they could use their civil liberties in the right way deserved to have them protected - a view that excluded minorities, aliens, and people advocating radical ideas. That the federal government was now being employed to restrain civil liberties, Murphy argues, reflected the Progressivism of the era, as paternalistic attitudes which before the war had sought to use the federal government to address social problems now viewed it as a means of ensuring support for the war.

Murphy goes on to depict the enforcement of the laws, an enforcement that was often characterized by zealousness. Though many officials used discretion in implementing the measures, others treated it as a tool for harassing groups seen as unpatriotic or unrepresentative of American values. Often private groups such as American Protective League joined in, taking it upon themselves to conduct investigations and intimidate citizens. Nor was the judiciary immune from such passions, as judges often favored prosecutors in wartime cases and instructed juries to demonstrate their patriotism by handing down guilty verdicts. Though some people were dismayed by such oppressive action and the American Union Against Militarism created a Civil Liberties Bureau (the forerunner to today's American Civil Liberties Union) in an attempt to stem these abuses, their efforts ran counter to the public climate of the time, which did not turn against the measures until after the war.

With this book, Murphy has provided an excellent short overview of his topic. Written with clarity and a sure command of the legal aspects of his subject, he sheds considerable light on an often-overlooked aspect of America's past. Though some of Murphy's broader historical interpretations seem open to question and the text is peppered with mistakes (such as his continual labeling of William Gibbs McAdoo as Wilson's Secretary of State instead of Treasury), the book itself is a fine introduction to the history of civil liberties during the First World War one that informs issues our country continues to face today.

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review 2018-02-19 00:01
A little slow and disappointing, but still a good read for the most part.
Origin - Dan Brown

Origin, Dan Brown, author; Paul Michael, narrator Edmond Kirsch is an atheist. However, when the book opens, he is preparing to meet with three important leaders, each representing a major religion: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. As he ascends to a magnificent, mountaintop monastery in Spain, he knows that what he is prepared to tell them may very well shock them visibly. He has accumulated certain knowledge that will threaten the core of their religious belief. Although the three leaders quietly panic, they vow to remain silent and think about how to handle the devastating new information, Edward, though, is determined not to remain quiet. He plans to present his thesis to the world, even though it threatens to shake the very foundation of religion and create a worldwide panic. Robert Langdon has received an invitation to his moment of glory, his actual televised presentation at the Guggenheim Museum, in Bilbao, Spain. The event is headed by the Director of the Museum, Ambra Vidal, the fiancé of the future king of Spain, Prince Julian. When Kirsch is murdered during the presentation, chaos reigns. There are too many diversions and tangents which will lead the reader’s eyes to glaze over. Some of the descriptions go on too long and are too technical. The final fifth of the book is tedious and the conclusion is unsatisfactory. Still, for most of the book, the reader is kept guessing, as the action moves forward. The most interesting aspects of the novel were the descriptions of various landmarks and attractions like the Fog Sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya, at the Guggenheim, and Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, a Basilica which was begun in 1886 and is not due to be completed until 2026.

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review 2018-01-19 00:00
The Origin of Species
The Origin of Species - Charles Darwin So glad i finally got this one read. Right from the start it put new thoughts and ideas into my mind. The opening on domestication, like why cow ears flop--no muscles since no prey--mindblowing! Thinking about our trachea and how food can fall into lungs, except for a glottis. Why wouldn't nature jump from structure to structure instead of these 'graduated steps.' As erosion happens to mountains, so does natural selection.

Yes, bunch of random thoughts, but I wanted to get them down on paper. Going further, the classic argument is why can't we find more artifacts, which Darwin answers they are on the ocean floor or elsewhere due to continental shift. How fish moved from one place to another? Ducks taking their eggs with their feet. And then of course, the big one--why rudimentary organs like mammae on males are still around.
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review 2018-01-13 16:44
Origin - Dan Brown

I'm not down on Dan Brown like a lot of other folks. He's fun and you can go to Eco or Chesterton if you want a more intellectual detective/conspiracy pursuit. He's just a breezy beach read, and all the more fun for it. Why not?

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review 2017-12-17 08:58
Origin by Dan Brown
Origin - Dan Brown

Professor Robert Langdon is invited to the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao to a presentation by one of his former students, futurist Edmond Kirsch. Kirsch's presentation is supposed to be revolutionary, presenting the answer to humankind's two oldest and most intriguing questions;Where do we come from? and Where are we going?

But before Kirsch can launch the gist of it, he's killed by a bullet to the brain. Someone doesn't want his findings to be made public, but Langdon is prepared to do anything to thwart their plans. Even go on a run with the future queen of Spain, be accused of kidnapping, and dodge an assassin from a Catholic sect...

Whenever I pick up a book categorized as a thriller I expect to be thrilled. Dan Brown has been failing at that in the last three installments in this series, with this last one being the absolute worst of the bunch.

Instead of mysterious, suspenseful and thrilling, I got boring, dull and plodding. It started off slow, slightly hurried up along the plot, yet never really picking up pace to even get to the level of "interesting" with its nonlinear narrative jumping backward, forward and sometimes even sideways in time resulting in severe loss of momentum at most inopportune times.
It was unnecessarily overcomplicated and filled with redundancy and unnecessary side-plots (that ended up not leading anywhere and/or didn't provide the "oomph" the author probably wanted), until the main story arc got lost in the twists, turns and spirals (pun utterly intended) provided by the fillers and ballast of the rest of it.

In the end, the final revelations of Kirsch's discovery and who was really behind his televised murder and why, came at a point where I wasn't excited about what happens next, but eager for it all to end.
The real "murderer" was no surprise, since I expected something along those lines; everything was set up too nicely for it not to happen the way it did. And the revelation about our origin and destiny certainly didn't inspire the awe and internal debate that was supposed to, I guess. It wasn't anything new—not the past and certainly not the future.

So what was this book really about? Why was it really written? It didn't bring anything new to the table, it wasn't intriguing, it wasn't thrilling. It also didn't adhere to the canon established in Inferno if the conversation about babies between the future kind and queen of Spain was any indication.
Was it really just for the money?

If it was, that's even more disappointing.

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