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text 2015-07-07 03:14
In Many Ways, Maddening
Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

This is rated 3 1/2 stars. The introduction to my edition says that this was Hardy's first masterpiece. That might explain the lengthy and occasionally tedious descriptions that the reader has to wade through.


Bathsheba is presented as a strong-willed, beautiful, hard-working, independent and intelligent woman. In reality, she is beautiful, but that is about it. She is so strong-willed that she can't tell Boldwood she doesn't want to marry him. She is seldom seen in the fields working. She marries the first pretty male face with a muscular body that shows up and becomes subservient to him. This shows she is neither intelligent or independent.


The hero of the story is the the stabilizing and stalwart Gabriel Oak who remains steadfast in his love for Bathsheba, yet keeps his integrity. Despite other readers' opinions, I found Gabriel the kind of man that makes a good husband and father. I'm glad he finally gets his heart's desire at the end of the book. I hope he never regretted that decision.

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text 2015-06-01 01:55
Still Relevant After All These Years
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Each time I read this book, I am amazed at how marvelous it is. Harper Lee portrays the residents of a little town in Alabama with such accuracy that I can see each person clearly in my mind. I can see Atticus, a strong, brave, quiet man who always tries to do right, regardless of the consequences. He values all human life, regardless of skin color. Others in the town might agree with him, but are afraid to voice their opinions, some through fear and others through financial concerns. We see the stratified classes of the whites through the opinions of the narrator's aunt. We see the hypocrisy of the leading church members, who are busy donating money to convert the Africans, while ignoring and denigrating the black population in their own backyards. Harper Lee shows us all sorts of people with love and compassion, ranging from the mentally disturbed to the angry outcast. She reveals the flaws in the justice system of the South in the 1930's, where no black man would be believed if a white man or woman accused him of rape, murder, or any other crime.


Not much has changed in our country. As soon as I finished reading this book, I saw a 48 Hours presentation of a black man who has been imprisoned for more than 25 years, convicted, not based on evidence, but based on the words of a white woman and shenanigans of a corrupt police and justice system in Florida.

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text 2015-04-17 04:02
The Jungle
The Jungle - Kathleen DeGrave,Earl Lee,Upton Sinclair

This book would have been a 5 star read, but, alas, the last 10% of the book turned into a lecture about the utopian world as visualized by a Socialist.


I found the book fascinating in a macabre way as the author explores the world of the immigrant worker in America. The working conditions of our ancestors should not be viewed through the shiny lenses of the "good old days." Farmers had it tough, but the working conditions of the mines and factories was horrific. Although it is hard to believe that one man could suffer all the horrible things our hero suffered, the depictions are probably more accurate than we want to believe. The working conditions of the meat plant were revolting. The food contamination worse. The corruption of politicians...hasn't changed. The tricking of foreigners...hasn't changed. The sexual abuse of women...hasn't changed. However, working conditions have changed, at least for now. This book is MUST reading for all those people who believe that corporations can regulate themselves. Many babble about how deregulation is good for our country. As long as making money is the main goal of a business, there is little or no incentive to care about workers.


The last part of the book I found boring. I see the appeal for socialism during that time period, but to lecture the reader about the philosophy ruined the ending.


The author wrote this book to show the horrible working and living conditions of immigrants and how they were tricked and defrauded by almost everyone around them, including politicians and business owners. He hoped to improve the lot of the working family. There were changes after its publication, but not because there was sympathy for the working class. People were horrified about the filth in the meat packing industry and how their food was contaminated. Changes were made because society is basically selfish. This was the analysis of Sinclair himself who admitted his celebrity arose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef."

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