This was a surprisingly good read. On one level, this is just a recounting of what may have been the greatest Davis Cup tennis match ever played. And since the match between Don Budge and Baron Gottfried von Cramm was full of drama, the book may have been great if it only stuck to the facts of the match. However, Fisher does much more. He includes a very readable history of the rise of the Nazi party in pre-war Germany and the impact their ever increasing persecution of the gay community. At first glance, it may not be apparent that these stories can be told together. However, Fisher deftly pulls it off and I found the book hard to put down.
Sebastian Faulks' novel is about a dinner party. Or, it's about the week leading up to the dinner party and how all the characters are going through their week. The plot moves along the timeline with each chapter being devoted to one day. I found that device useful for keeping the story moving. There seem to be two main plot lines. The first, which Faulks really seems most interested in, is a financial trade that, if successful, would net billions. Reading the details abut that, I kind of felt that I was reading the script of a Planet Money podcast. Lots about credit default swaps and chaos in the global banking system. It went on a little much. The second plot line is about a group of extremists plotting a terrorist attack. That plot line ends in a more realistic way, at least for me. Though I can see that others might find that ended a little too neatly. Technically, I found the novel to be well-written. Though, with the multiplicity of characters, it's hard to feel that the story is fully formed and focused. Also, some of the characters are largely interchangeable. But the characters that Faulks tells in some detail - the barrister, the disgruntled literary critic - are memorable ones and ones that I wanted to see what happened too. I think the average rating of 3.5 stars is right on target. The book is better than average, but does have some weaknesses that kept it from getting a top mark in my estimation.
The thing that most impressed me about this work is the amount of research that Stiles obviously put into this book. Stiles takes the position that Vanderbilt has been judged a little harshly by previous economic historians of the Gilded Age. I'll admit that I don't enough to judge the efficacy of his argument, but I appreciate the effort that obviously went into the work. On a more practical level, it's well-written and quite approachable to all audiences interested in American history.
I really, really, wanted to give this book a higher rating. I found it unique and interesting, but ultimately, somewhat frustrating. It started out very promisingly, but like a good bottle of red wine left out on the kitchen counter for 48 hours, really disappointed me in the end. Probably because I simply found the whole "mystery" a bit of a chore to read.
Very interesting book about the ever-increasing role of statistics in a wide variety of fields. Ayres demonstrates how corporations are moving towards statistical analysis for all things from pricing of their products, to how much money a movie might make by evaluating the script alone. I found it very compelling and actually learned a few things about statistics.
Ostensibly about the early development of football (the North American kind) and the under-appreciated contribution of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School to that sport, this book is about much more. Jenkins provides an overview of the history of the Carlisle School from its inception through its closing to provide context to the contributions made by the athletes that played on the Carlisle football team. I found the passages about the School and its founder, Richard Pratt more interesting than the accounts of the games. The idea that you could "Kill the Indian and save the man" is certainly anathema to modern ears, but was the founding principle of the School and was actually progressive for its times. This book was a fascinating read and was most enjoyable, working both as a history of the Carlisle School and of the roots of football.
Overall, it's a good book. As others have said, it is better when the story is about the investigation into the bombing at the LA Times. Then it's gripping and a edge-of-your-seat mystery. The DW Griffith/Hollywood sections seem to belong to another book and really seem to be out of place in this story.
This book centers on the world's oldest profession and its heyday in Chicago from about the 1890s through the 1910s. Using a variety of archival sources, Abbott traces the rise and eventual closing of the Everleigh Club (which as Johnathan Yardley says "probably the most famous whorehouse in America's history") run by two sisters from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The cast of characters in this book is certainly colorful, from the madams to the local neighborhood mobsters, to the politicians engaged in graft, and to the zealous moral crusaders of the day. While the recounting of events is most certainly accurate, the story fades towards the end, much like the colorful characters described so vividly in the first half. That's probably the biggest weakness with the book.