Sunday, September 01, 2013

September Book Review # 1

One Day started out as an amusing read centered around two characters, from different sides of the tracks, who met and made a connection during their university years in the late 1980s.
Despite a mutual attraction their lives take different courses and while the occasional meeting fires up the repressed emotions, destiny and other relationships kept them apart.

This was all very intriguing for the first two thirds of the book.
Then I got the feeling 'what is up with these two twits...they don't seem to own a brain between them.'
I never did find out what happened to either Emma or Dexter.
Got sick of them both and didn't finish the book.
In 2010, the novel was named Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the UK's annual Galaxy National Book Awards ceremony, and was later granted the accolade of Galaxy Book of the Year.
They have subsequently made a film of the book so many others must have thought it was OK.
If you like Nicholas Spark type books, I am sure you will love One Day.
Tried by War was written by James M McPherson, the author of my Civil War 'bible', Battle Cry of Freedom. This is the story of how Lincoln, with almost no previous military experience before entering the White House, assumed the powers associated with the role of commander in chief and through his strategic insight and will to fight changed the course of the war and saved the Union.

The Confederate States of America had already been formed by the time Lincoln was inaugurated.
and he was faced with dealing with  'war powers" that were quite vague under the Constitution.
This was indeed a steep learning curve to develop a strategy to preserve the United States, all the time hindered by the fact that he could not find, initially, a military commander who could win victories on the battlefield.
When it became clear that the South with slavery in tact would not be brought back into the fold and the war was dragging on, Lincoln emancipated the slaves as a military measure, adding black freedom to the Union cause.
Under constant criticism for his failures Lincoln finally found Ulysses S. Grant, William T Sherman and Philip A. Sheridan to bring him success on the battlefield and consequent re election with a large majority.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I found the story of Lincoln's troubled relationship with his generals particularly enlightening.
Probably a book for the Civil War affectionado but it is definitely not a dry read for those who are interested in delving deeper into the life of a man who shaped the future of an entire nation....and probably the world.
Many people think Australia was 'discovered' by the British in 1770.
In fact Europeans became aware of the great south land much earlier with the Dutch navigator Willem Janzsoon's landing on Cape York in 1606.
The Dutch, a little later, became well aware of the west coast of the continent and used it as a 'navigation aid' for their newly found faster trade route from Holland via the southern Indian Ocean to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), better known then as the Spice Islands.
In 1629, the pride of the Dutch East India Company, 'Batavia', set out on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland.
The ship is already seething with a mutinous plot that is just about to break when, just off the coast of what is now Western Australia, it strikes an already chartered but unseen reef in the middle of the night.
Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the long-boat across 2000 miles of open sea for help, and his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over.
Cornelisz quickly decides that 250 people on a small island is unwieldy for the small number of supplies they have.

He puts forward a plan to the 40 odd mutineers how they could save themselves by killing most of the rest and sparing only a half-dozen or so women to service their 'needs'.
A reign of terror begins, countered only by an anonymous soldier Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those who are prepared to do what it takes to survive.
Will their Commandeur come back for them with the rescue ship before it is all too late?
Peter FitzSimons has long maintained that this is "far and away the greatest story in Australia's history, if not the world's."
His unique writing style has made him one of Australia's best-selling non-fiction writer over the last ten years and he makes this bloody, chilling and stunning tale come alive.
Batavia is a great read and a  'can't put it down' book.
We usually buy DK Eyewitness Guides to research our travel. They are full of information on where to go, what to do and where to stay and eat as well as a full history of the destination.
And beautiful pictures too.
The Vienna Guide was no exception.

And as an addition, we downloaded a Kindle version of another guide, Maximilian Just's Vienna Under the Surface.
Although not as comprehensive as the DK it was chocked full of useful information, historical facts and detailed information on the historical Viennese buildings and their contents.

Not that we traipse around places, guide book in hand, but it's always nice to have a reference just in case.
Hopefully both these books will make our upcoming trip to Austria more enjoyable.

1 comment:

debz in knots said...

Couldn't agree more with your appraisal of "One Day". The film was even more disengaging, if that's possible. I look forward to reading "Batavia" - a story that has fascinated me since my school days. Your posts are always good reading. Thanks for sharing.