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Mediterranean Winter

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Sometimes insightful but mostly a scatter of memory. Hard to tell when he was traveling alone and when he was with someone. Kaplan jumps between anywhere between '70's and the 21st century. At times his learning is heavy handed.
The Art of Love

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Completely light. I think this book is considered "classic" because of Ovid's Metamorphosis, not because it has any independent value. Don't waste your time.
The Creation of the American Soul: Roger Williams, Church and State, and the Birth of Liberty

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Well written. What I thought was a biorgraphy of Roger Williams was, in reality, an exploration of the Puritan concept of America and how Williams broke from that concept to create something unique for America.
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

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Challangingly dense, thought provoking and satisfying.My tags are a good guide to the contents: American History, Biography and Philosophy. Most of the book spans the years from the Civil War to the outbreak of WW1, The development of American philosphical thought told through the biographies and interactions of O.W. Holmes, Dewey, Charles Pierce, Benjamin Pierce and a number of others.Suprising readable and well constucted. Not sure I understood it all, but I learned much and enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I wish it was longer.
The Highest Tide: A Novel

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The marine science and resultant wonder are the best parts of this over hyped first novel.This is supposed to be told in the voice of an awkward 13 year old boy. The author crowds to the front on nearly every page. For example, in one set piece the narrator and friends call a 900 number to ask some basic sex questions, then 25 pages later the same narrator describes a retreating tide as a slow striptease. (?). End paper maps of the area described in the novel would have been helpful. A disappointment.
Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West

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Well written and well researched biography of Kit Carson, juxtaposed against the Navaho story with the coming of Manifest Destiny Americans in the wake of the Mexican War. Reads fast.One problem. Sides, like all late 20th century authors and beyond, suffers from historical guilt and seems to place all evil squarely on the white side of the conflict and gloss over or justify any actions by the Navaho nation to big to be ignored. I think a more balanced approach would have served better. In a war that was cruel on both sides and where neither would compromise if it could be avoided. The Americans were more numerous, technologically advanced and better organized, so they won.
The Metamorphoses: Selected Stories in Verse

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Enertaining, enlightening, but ultimately light.All the known myths and stories from the Greek/Roman world, with the exception of a few from Homer and Virgil are contained in this lengthy poem to unending transformation.Ovid's boast in the epilogue, "Thoughout all ages, if poets have vision to prophesy the truth, I shall live in my fame." is certainly true.A note on this translation: I have only a smattering of Latin, but found this text to be far superior to the clunky Charles Martin translation, despite Bernard Knox's enthusiasm. The notes were especially helpful. The unnumbered notes are contained in the back of the book so a reader needs two bookmarks. Notes are for the convience of the reader, why put them at the back instead of the foot of the page? and unnumbered too?
Everything Flows

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A strange book. In parts a novel, a memior and a polemic. The book doesn't really succeed on any single level but the sheer amount of passion and raw information contained in this slim volume is to its credit.
Silk Parachute

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This latest collection of essays by New Yorker staff writer John McPhee is also his most autobiographical. I can't say I liked the subjects of all the essays. The one on lacrosse started to get a bit tiresome and McPhee writes more about geology than I like to read, but I always still with him because the man can write! If even a quarter of those blogging out there would stop long enough to read a good dose of McPhee's prose the world would be a better place.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel

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Marvelous read. This novel captures the small invisible nets of social convention that not only bind us to place and family but even when recognized, can still hold us motionless.Most of the characters are well drawn and the author has a fine sense of motivation. One quibble: In order to create a muted dramatic finish Simonson stretches the story until it tears. I think it would have been more satisfying to end on the quiet note the novel begins with. Outstanding first novel.
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