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review 2018-04-19 21:14
Ghost of the Innocent Man by Benjamin Rachlin
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption - Benjamin Rachlin

Willie "Woot" Grimes was wrongly convicted in 1988 for the rape of an elderly white woman in North Carolina. Ghost of the Innocent Man by Benjamin Rachlin is the true story of his conviction, trial, and incarceration. Woot Grimes spent 25 years waiting to be exonerated. He was found guilty of first-degree rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. Woot had several people to give him an alibi for the time of the crime, but this did not matter. Instead the prosecutor took the ever changing word of a witness and was able to get a conviction. 

 

Christine Mumma, a cofounder of North Carolina's Innocence Inquiry Commission, took on Willie's case and fought tirelessly to free him. 

 

Benjamin Rachlin has done an amazing job of telling Willie's story as well as how the Innocence Project begins and how they fought to free an innocent man. 

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2018-03-29 01:19
Power for the sake of power
Disraeli - G.I.T. Machin

Of the great political figures of Victorian Britain, none have captured the popular imagination like Benjamin Disraeli. A converted Jew from a family of merchants and the son of a noted literary scholar, he rose in an aristocratic age to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. While numerous biographies have been written about him, most concentrate on his ostentatious personality, the style that characterized the man. Ian Machin's brief study, a volume in the "Profiles in Power" series, focuses instead on the political side of Disraeli's life, examining the positions and tactics he adopted over the course of his long career in public life.

 

Machin's book offers a good introduction to Disraeli and his politics, examining both his rise through the Tory ranks and his attitudes towards the prevailing issues in mid‑Victorian politics.. His contention is that the quest for power is the dominant theme running through Disraeli's career. To achieve it, Disraeli adopted an opportunistic approach in advocating policies or principles, trimming his sails to catch the prevailing political wind. This is most readily apparent in his economic policy, where Disraeli's advocacy of protectionism (which led to the destruction of Sir Robert Peel's government in 1846) was abandoned six years later in an attempt to improve his party's odds of winning seats in Parliament. Even after the Conservatives finally took office with a majority government in 1874, Machin notes, Disraeli possessed no legislative agenda beyond pursuing reform measures that would appeal to the public in an increasingly democratic age.

 

Though some might object to Machin's interpretation of Disraeli's career, this should not overshadow the overall qualities of the book. Balanced and insightful, it does a remarkable job of surveying Disraeli's life and career in such a short number of pages. For readers seeking to learn about this larger‑than‑life political figure, this is a good place to start.

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review 2018-03-20 17:10
DNF at 30% mark.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I think I should have just read a biography of either or both of these women, because they led extremely interesting lives which the book managed to make fairly dull. I wanted way more about actually making movies, and less angsting about boys, and a lot of the writing felt overwrought and melodramatic. It kept skipping over actually making the movies and what that was like into other issues.

 

The author backed herself into this weird smarm corner of saying the main character was completely fine with gay people, and then immediately insisting that she didn't get lesbians at all because who doesn't like cock, amirite? By the way, the character really likes cock, and isn't gay at all. Look, I don't mind stories about two women having a friendship rather than a romance, but the notgaynotgaynotgay(but not homophobic!) dance got old a long time ago. I felt like I'd fallen into Xena gen fic from the '90s. At the same time, the author had the same characters not blinking at the racism in the industry in general and Birth of a Nation in particular. So I'm not sure why period-typical racism was okay, but period-typical homophobia was not?

 

I did like some of the discussion about being a woman in a male-dominated field, which mostly managed to stick to period language and not sounding like it was cut from modern day. But so much of it was telling not showing, as we very rarely see the dynamics on set, or the sets at all, just hear about them after the fact. I looked at some reviews to see if it picked up, but apparently the middle is even more draggy and about boys, so I bailed.

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text 2018-03-19 23:52
Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 448 pages.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

Long section about how much both characters love and admire D.W. Griffith's Klansmen, or Birth of a Nation, which is mostly about its technical breakthroughs, and it's true, but I just got a lot about how awesome frigging Birth of a Nation is without mentioning you know, the whole thing. Which I guess is fair, because I'm pretty sure my main characters wouldn't have cared that it was really, really immensely racist due to being white women in 1915. And yet, I'm still not over it being Birth of a Nation!

 

Also way too much worrying about guys. I want to hear about making movies!

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text 2018-03-17 23:07
But totally not one of those lesbians!
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I have this on audiobook, so not bothering with the exact quote, but MC is at a party in 1914, and there's some dudes making out in the shadows, and she goes out of her way to say she's 100% A-OK with that, and with ladies making out, don't mind those lesbians, not at all, but she personally really misses her ex husband in her bed.

 

In a book about close bonds between women in the film industry, in a period notorious for its permissiveness, this feels like it's laying on the no homo a little thick.

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