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review 2018-11-10 00:44
It would be hard to sit in a chair if your legs faced backwards
Only Human - Sylvain Neuvel

Believe it or not, this is my second time writing this particular post. The first one which was ready for publishing was accidentally deleted in its entirety by yours truly. Well, I guess after this many years I was due a massively huge screw up. IT WAS SUCH A LONG POST, GUYS. I'm afraid this is going to be missing some essential points as a consequence but I'll do my best to recreate what I hardly recall writing (even though it was earlier this week).

 

Today I'm going to be reviewing Only Human which is the third and final book in The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel. If you've forgotten (or never knew in the first place) this series began with Dr. Rose Franklin who found a giant robot hand when she was a little girl and from that moment a series of events led to a giant robot (definitely of alien origins) being pieced together. Things spiraled out of control pretty quickly after that especially once other governments outside of the U.S. discovered that this behemoth could be piloted and used as a weapon. Moreover, raising this robot from the depths of the earth alerted the alien race which left it here and prompted their return to reclaim their property with mass genocide being the result. Cut to Only Human which opens years after the conclusion of Waking Gods with 2 pilots inside huge robots killing civilians in a war being waged between the U.S. and Russia while thousands of others are being held in interment camps because of impure bloodlines (sound familiar?). (This is where the dystopian tag on this post comes in by the way.) Meanwhile on a distant planet called Ekt, Rose and her team (Vincent, Eva, & the General) are trying to acclimate/come up with an escape plan back to earth. They are essentially refugees on this world which is wildly different from anything they've ever known. The parts where Neuvel focused on describing the planet, its people, and their customs were by far my favorites of this book, ya'll. So original and engrossing. The most distinguishing factor of the Ekt (besides their backwards facing legs) is that they have a strict policy of governmental non-interference which forbids them from any further action against or for the people of planet earth (even though they were the cause of its current state of awful). This is sci-fi political angst at its finest. 

 

If I had to rank the books in this series it would be 1, 3, and then 2. A lot of the magic from the first book came from the total originality of the plotline and Neuvel's descriptive capabilities. A lot of that was lost in the second book which in my opinion was super dry. He got a lot of that oomph back with this book though. Taken as a whole, it's an excellent series and I wouldn't say no to checking out more of his work in the future. 7/10 for Only Human.

 

[A/N: To catch up with the first two books check out my posts on Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods.] 

 

What's Up Next: Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-10-13 02:41
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War - Michael F. Holt

The antebellum period saw the formation and destruction of the second party system in U.S. politics between Andrew Jackson’s Democrats, which survived to the present, and their rivals the Whigs that did not.  Michael F. Holt’s magnum opus, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, details how the Whigs emerged from all the anti-Jacksonian forces to their disintegration in the mid-1850s due to the factional and sectional divisions.

 

Beginning in the mid-1820s, Holt explains the origins of the anti-Jacksonian groups that formed and later coalesced to form the Whig party in the winter of 1833-4 in Washington, D.C. then how it eventually branched out and formed in states.  Through thorough research from the national down to the state, county, and local levels Holt explored how the Whig party was planted and grew throughout the country and competed against their Democratic foes.  Yet this research also exposed the intraparty feuds within state parties that affected conventions on all levels, platform fights, and Election Day enthusiasm.  Exploring a political relationship between state politics and national politics that is completely different than that seen in the second half of the 20th-century and early 21st, Holt shows how this different political paradigm both rose up the Whigs and eventually destroyed them.

 

With almost 1300 pages of text and notes, Holt thoroughly explored the 20 year history of the American Whig party from the national to the local level within every state of the Union.  Throughout Holt’s assertion that the Democrats always controlled “the narrative” of the Whig’s history and how that played on the Whig intraparty feuds which eventually was one of the main three causes of the party’s disintegration.  The focuses on Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, party traitor John Tyler, party destabilizer Zachary Taylor, attempted party savior Millard Fillmore, and slew of other prominent Whigs gives the stage to historical actors who shaped history.  Throughout the text, the reader sees how events if changed just slightly might have allowed the Whigs to continue as a national party and the effects that might have had going forward but ultimately who personalities and how some decisions out of the party’s control resulted in fatal wounds occurring.

 

The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party is not for the general history reader, this tome is for someone dedicated to an in-depth researched book that shifts from the halls of Congress to the “smoke-filled backrooms” of state conventions in states across the nation to election analysis in various congressional districts across the young republic.  The work of an academic lifetime, Michael F. Holt gives insight into political party that ultimately lost in history but that still had a lasting impact to this day in modern American politics.

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review 2018-09-24 22:55
Nomenclator: Initium by Bill O'Malley
Nomenclator: Initium - A Novel Of Ancient Rome - Bill O'Malley

This is the story of Lucius, a roman boy who wishes to know the true history of Julius Caesar, not the stuff that is written for the masses. So he seeks out a slave named Polybius (who is now very old and free), who lived during the time of Caesar and knew him personally as his nomenclator. As it says in the synopsis, a nomenclator was the close personal attendant who announced the names and information on people to his master.

 

                                             See the source image

 

This is the first of a series of 4 books that follows the life of Julius Caesar from his beginning, as told by his personal slave Polybius and I loved it. The author did a great job putting you in that time period and getting an intimate, close up look at the rise of the first emperor of Rome. I am really surprised at how well it is written considering the author seems to have put out only 1 book before this. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series.

 

5 stars and recommended for all historical fiction fans.

 

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review 2018-09-15 01:59
What a gal!
Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me - Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me covers her childhood in segregated Birmingham, her close-knit family life, education, and rise through professional, educational, and political worlds. I went into this knowing almost nothing about Condoleezza beyond her serving in the White House under President Bush but by the end of this book I felt that I knew her as one knows a friend. I think what I found most surprising is that she still teaches classes (Managing Global Political Risk if you're curious) at Stanford University. This book runs chronologically as most autobiographies do but two of the biggest focuses are her relationship to her parents (she is an only child) and her professional life as an academic and political scientist. She is an accomplished, intelligent, and ultimately fearlessly ambitious woman. She has never married but seems genuinely happy with her single life (sounds familiar). She makes no bones about her many achievements which include but are not limited to being a proficient pianist and fluent Russian speaker. I also appreciated that she included photographs, a chronology of her career, and a glossary of historic events and people during her lifetime. I'd say that this book would be good for anyone looking to learn more about women in politics and/or what it was like for this particular woman who was raised during segregation in the tumultuous city of Birmingham...and still make it to the upper echelons of government. Good for history buffs and political junkies.  

 

What's Up Next: Recovery: Freedom From our Addictions by Russell Brand

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Star Trek Destiny #2: Mere Mortals by David Mack

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-09-07 23:11
Who runs the world?
Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World - Palmieri, Jennifer

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World by Jennifer Palmieri is an empowering voice for women. It's written as a letter to the future female President of the United States (if you couldn't figure that out from the title). To give some background, Palmieri served as the White House Director of Communications under President Obama and then afterwards as the Director of Communications for the Clinton presidential campaign in 2016. Therefore, the reader will not be surprised that a large chunk of this book is devoted to behind the scenes of that campaign and its aftermath on herself and the country (from her point-of-view). From this standpoint alone, the book is interesting as we are seeing an event through the eyes of someone who actually experienced it from the inside. The overarching purpose of this book is to give advice and encouragement to women in any and every type of environment. Palmieri seeks to embolden women to allow for vulnerability and use the strengths that have historically been seen as weaknesses to launch yourself to the top. She emphasizes the importance of sticking up for yourself so that your voice is heard especially when yours is the only female voice in the room. (Did I mention this is quite a pro-female book? It is and I love that.) Remember: We cannot play by the same rules as men and we shouldn't have to. Personally, despite its shortness I think this is a necessary book for all peoples to read regardless of gender (but ladies ya'll should really try to seek this one out). I especially liked the book recommendations scattered throughout. :-D A solid 8/10 for me.

 

What's Up Next: Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me by Condoleezza Rice

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Star Trek Destiny #2: Mere Mortals by David Mack

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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