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tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
6/24/24 2:45 p.m.

Finished the audiobook last week: Free Fall in Crimson, by John D MacDonald. This was a pretty sad one. Lots of people died. This is the best of the heartache style. He succeeded, or did he? Did he really help the situation? Would it have been better if he had done nothing? This one aches. Highly recommended. Very real. Very helpless.

P3PPY
P3PPY SuperDork
6/24/24 3:04 p.m.

Alaska by James Michener. Did I mention that already? Because it's a 57 hour audiobook and I'm still reading it. Not even like a quarter through after two weeks. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
6/25/24 12:54 p.m.
Duke said:

Currently reading The Hidden Girl And Other Stories by Ken Liu.  I picked it up at random because I thought someone in this thread recommended Liu, but it was a few years ago, so I'm not sure.

So far, it's pretty readable.  The stories have all been under 20 pages, so there hasn't been a ton of time in any given story for nuance or character development.  He kind of writes like Neal Stephenson, if Stephenson had any chance of writing short fiction.  However, he's completely devoid of Stephenson's humor, so the stories are a bit dry.

Finished this book, finally.  Analysis didn't really change.

Liu is American by birth but of Asian descent.  A number of the later stories are very self-consciously Chinese, in a somewhat stereotyped way.  Not to say they are bad stories, or badly written, but they do seem a bit... forced, maybe?  Almost like he felt he had to pay lip service to his own cultural heritage.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
6/26/24 8:45 a.m.

Just finished "Ice Run" by Steve Hamilton on audiobook. I like this guy. The protagonist blunders about, always trying to do the right thing, and often getting himself in lots of trouble. He learns a lot, gets humility, and makes a mess. Checks out.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/1/24 3:56 p.m.

I picked up “Rebel Girl” by Kathleen Hanna this weekend. I plan to read this after I finish the Johnny Cash autobiography. 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
7/8/24 9:02 a.m.

I have a few to put here.

 

Just finished

 Becoming FDR by Jonathan Darman

 

And it was fantastic. It really brought FDR and Eleanor to life for me. I have a much higher empathy for both people, and their effect on the world based on their background, starting very much like JFK, and ending very differently due to infidelity and then Polio. Eleanor, in particular, was aired out in a way I have not heard before. Incidentally, my only surviving grandparent, my maternal grandfather, voted for FDR as his first vote as an adult.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/8/24 11:13 a.m.

Finished “Cash: The Autobiography” by J.R. Cash. 

I enjoyed it and went in not knowing many details of Johnny Cash’s life. The book manages to skillfully jump from era to era without leaving the reader behind. He can weave together the 1950s and the 1990 without issue. Very conversational but not simply written. I paid like $4 for my copy and am happy with that purchase and readership experience. 

I have read several autobiographies lately and would put his up there near Geddy’s. 

Mustang50
Mustang50 Reader
7/9/24 12:23 p.m.

In reply to tuna55 :

Was there anything in this book regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor?  Roosevelt knew about this attack before it happened because Naval Intelligence had cracked the Japanese code a full year before (look at the history of the Battle of Midway just 6 months after).  FDR and the old goat admirals running the Navy had a low opinion of the Japanese military capability and they believed battleships could not be sunk by airplanes. It was just the first of many bad decisions made by FDR during WWII.  I believe he was the worst President in US history followed by LBJ as a close second.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/9/24 1:25 p.m.

Recently finished:

Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke - Funke is an unabashedly young adult author, but her books are very readable for old adults as well.  She wrote The Thief Lord and the Inkspell series, among others.  Dragonrider is aimed a little younger than either of those titles, but still an enjoyable filler.  Themes include overcoming your fears, quietly doing the right thing, and redemption.

Just started:

Zero Day by Mark Russinovich - Not to be confused with the book by the same name by David Baldacci.  Russinovich is a senior fellow at Microsoft and this is a novelized thesis on cybersecurity.  It was written around 2011-2012, so it will be interesting to see how much of his prediction came to pass.  I'm only a chapter or two in, but the writing seems competent so far, in a genre sort of way.  I picked this up at random from a Little Library along one of our evening walks.

Up next:

Probably Virtual Light by William Gibson.  I haven't read any of the Bridge books.

 

RevRico
RevRico MegaDork
7/11/24 4:24 a.m.

30

 

I finally got around to finishing the Dark Space series, 4 books. Good hard science fiction, kind of a weak ending, lots of page padding at the end of each book. Like the last 12-15% of each book was a note from the author and preview of other works. Good way to get page reads up I guess. 

Starting another series from the same author. 

I do have a hard copy of the final Brentford trilogy book, I read a cheaper at chemo one day and just haven't gotten back to it. I've really fallen out of love with physical books it seems. Kindle just makes it so much easier to read when I want to where I want to. 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
7/11/24 2:23 p.m.
Mustang50 said:

In reply to tuna55 :

Was there anything in this book regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor?  Roosevelt knew about this attack before it happened because Naval Intelligence had cracked the Japanese code a full year before (look at the history of the Battle of Midway just 6 months after).  FDR and the old goat admirals running the Navy had a low opinion of the Japanese military capability and they believed battleships could not be sunk by airplanes. It was just the first of many bad decisions made by FDR during WWII.  I believe he was the worst President in US history followed by LBJ as a close second.

Very little. The book focused more on the background of his and Eleanor's lives.

 

For what it's worth, I do not believe what you stated is entirely fair nor accurate.

Crxpilot
Crxpilot HalfDork
7/11/24 5:44 p.m.

https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Church-Francis-Chan/dp/0830776583

Not promoting it, just reporting.  It's challenging me and 45 year of preconceived notions.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/11/24 6:36 p.m.

Who is the best author for a good overview of the Vietnam war?  I'd like a little more detailed understanding of that history.

 

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/11/24 7:08 p.m.

In reply to tuna55 :

They had more interesting lives than I had realized. I've gone to a couple presentations at his library and learned a lot about them. I have much more respect for him and most of the things he did than I used to. 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
7/11/24 9:06 p.m.
Wally (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to tuna55 :

They had more interesting lives than I had realized. I've gone to a couple presentations at his library and learned a lot about them. I have much more respect for him and most of the things he did than I used to. 

Exactly the same sentiment I had. 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
7/12/24 8:27 a.m.

I went out of order!

 

For those just joining us at home, I have been filling my drive time going through the Travis McGee series in order. There is more continuity there than I knew at first. We had a vacation break, and I had thought I finished Cinnamon Skin and so started on the penultimate book, The Lonely Silver Rain. This note is about that book. Heavy spoiler alert.

 

The Lonely Silver Rain was not intended to be the last in the series. John D MacDonald died before publishing another. His estate has resisted all manner of attempts to have ghost writers finish a finale to the series. Those offers ranged from heavy-handed arguments to Steven King offering to try his best to do the author justice. In the end, his estate, lead by John D MacDonald's son, I believe, rightfully resisted all of these. Travis begins the series very young, very strong, and pummels and outsmarts his way through many trials. Some, like Nightmare in Pink, are downright scary. None are easy. None are predictable. Travis ages as the series continues. He gets in and out of shape. He gets wiser, and he begins to wonder why he's doing this, and what the point of everything is. The Lonely Silver Rain begins to show a melancholy Travis. There are a slew of errant knight references spaced throughout the books, and I personally identify closely with this. The spavined steed, rusty armor and bent lance are all part of my daily life. Thus, I identify with Travis not because of my fighting skills, detective intuition, or even a longing to live on a houseboat. I identify with Travis because I always try as hard as I can to fix everything, to rescue every fair maiden, and to right all wrongs according to my own flawed sense of justice. I always come up short, sometimes the situation is worse than when I started. I always feel conflicted between thinking I should have done more, thinking I should have done less, and wondering if everyone would be better off without me.

 

Back to the book. In the Lonely Silver Rain, Travis finds himself the target of a drug cartel hit due to confusion and blaming. The salvage was tough, but straightforward. Unwinding the thread which had a target on his back was much harder. All the while someone kept leaving little pipe cleaner cats on his boat and car. We get to the showdown at the end, there is a clever and entertaining climax, but then it isn't. There's still those pipe cleaner cats coming. He hides out and eventually finds the cat-maker. Her name is Jean Killian. Puss Killian's daughter, born to a mother who was dying, and the two never got to meet. This is Travis' daughter. She's livid with hate, vastly misunderstanding their relationship. In the preceding book, Cinnamon Skin, we learn that there are a few things Travis finds valuable enough to keep off the boat in a safety deposit box. A picture of his father, a picture of his mother, a picture of his brother, and the letter from Puss from Pale Gray for Guilt, book #9, written 17 years prior. She eventually meets him at the bank, and reads her Mothers letter to Travis out loud. Suddenly everything makes sense. It makes sense for Jean and for Travis. The sun shines brighter. Everything looks better. The world has meaning. The kid is going to college, calls Meyer: Uncle, and everything is working.

 

So, dear reader, maybe John D MacDonald stopped at the right time. Maybe this -is- the ending to the series. Right when I pull off the road to cry a little as Jean is reading the letter. Maybe there could never have been a better way to end the series.

Gary
Gary PowerDork
7/12/24 7:44 p.m.

Sam is one of my favorite automotive journalist/writers. This new compilation of some of his work was published recently. I'm sure I've read some of the stuff in this book of 457 pages, but that's OK. I'll still enjoy it as much in reprise as the stuff I haven't read yet.

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/12/24 8:32 p.m.

In reply to tuna55 :

It's easy to look back now, second guess things, and forget how comparatively little we had as far as government assets. I've been on a WW2 streak lately, and we were very much isolated.  There wasn't really any foreign intelligence agency to speak of, and while Roosevelt was working to put one together there was a lot kf pushback so most of what we learned before the war was from friends of his traveling, often on their own dime, asking questions at parties. 

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
7/12/24 9:16 p.m.

In reply to Wally (Forum Supporter) :

Couldn't have said it better myself. 

 

I think it's really important to view historical figures in their contexts. In that light, FDR was a pretty decent president. I think he would have been a lousy president had he not contracted polio. That's essentially what the book was about, how polio shaped him, but it really went much deeper than that. I have found, in my 40s, a much greater appreciation to empathize with people. Sometimes that's really difficult with historical figures. I really appreciate an author that can bring that out and really make me appreciate the humanity behind all of these people. It's very easy to lionize or to dehumanize historical figures. In fact that seems to be the trend of the day. Seeing people as human beings, all of them, is much more real and is much more helpful. I find the depth fascinating, and I think it's required to really understand anything that happened.

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/12/24 9:59 p.m.

Polio had a tremendous impact on him. His determination to keep pressing on with it was impressive.  He had plenty of money, he could have just decided to coast and enjoy himself but felt a duty to serve, and to continue pushing himself.  If you get to tour his house they show a dumbwaiter he had installed so he could pull himself upstairs in his wheelchair, and the various braces he used to stand and occasionally walk short distances in public. 

FJ40Jim
FJ40Jim Reader
7/13/24 4:52 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

Not specific to Vietnam, but a good look at US policy in the Asia Pacific region through the 20th century:

The China Mirage by James Bradley.

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