Friday, February 24, 2012

Finished (E-Reader): "Under the Dome: A Novel" - Stephen King

As I had re-kindled my interest in Stephen King with "11/22/63" I decided to e-read "Under the Dome".  Like all SK novels, it does read well - you are compelled to find out what the next chapter holds.

The basic premise is that a small town in Maine suddenly finds itself locked under an impenetrable, clear dome. No traffic in or out of town.  Small town political leaders become driven by power...

However, I didn't find the book all that "believable".  The move to evil of the locals seemed much too fast, and the ending wasn't' all that fulfilling, it seemed a little extreme and rushed.  I guess the purpose of the dome was interesting, but I found it too "out to lunch" and might have been better as some more intrinsically interesting plot or mystery.

I have found other SK novels to be much more complete and probably wouldn't recommend this one.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Finished (E-Reader): "That Used To Be Us How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back" - Thomas Friedman

"That Used to be Us" is a sobering look at changes in the U.S. in recent history - the loss of the pre-existing blue-collar work, polarization of politics, inability of the politicians and public to deal with real issues (climate change, deficits, public debt, infrastructure, eduction) all pointing to a loss of status of the U.S. in the world, with the trend downward.

I did find the text easy to read, but difficult to read long-term, as the topic was relatively depressing.

I must say that I felt the authors tried their best to be apolitical, and tried to assign the current political problems evenly between democrats and republicans.  However, with the recent changes in the political environment in the states being the rise of Fox News, and the conservative radio network, it is perhaps disingenuous to try to keep things "even".  It is the coordinated network, and the controlled, consistent messaging that allow for a relatively radical positioning to take hold, which does drive the "other" party to become permanent defenders of the status quo.  I personally don't believe the pre-Fox arena was "liberal media", and I don't think there has ever been as coordinated an effort from the "left" to drive an agenda the way the Fox/Limbaughs/Becks/O'Reilly have done in the past 20 years or so.

All in all, I think the book is a necessary read, particularly for anyone who wants to make a difference, or anyone who has a need to understand the changes that have occurred in the world economy in order to understand that which needs to change, and that which is lost forever.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Finished (Paper Book) - "New York - The Novel" - Edward Rutherfurd

I received "New York - The Novel" by Edward Rutherfurd for Christmas.  I haven't read any "historical fiction" before, but found the book compelling.  I've always had an interest in New York, so getting a feel for the history of the place was great.

The novel reads, well, like a novel.  It is difficult to put down, and there are linkages through the years from a dutch settlement dealing with the fur trade, and gradually moving the Native Americans away, through the takeover of the British, the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and up through prohibition, the Depression and on into 9/11.

Over the course of the book, there is a link through the Master's family from trapper days to the present, but also longitudinal following of immigrants from Italy and a slave/freed-slave family.

The characters intertwine naturally and the story flows nicely between storylines.  The history learning occurs painlessly, and I had little trouble keeping track of characters (I'm pretty bad with names, so this is an issue for me with complex storylines).

I found it a great read, and will probably read more in this genre.  I hadn't though Michener's books ("The Source" and "Space") could be considered historical fiction, but I had read these years ago.  I'm quite ready for another epic.