Sunday, May 19, 2019

Review: Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics

Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics by Jeremy Schaap
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I enjoyed the book, it's a bit cursory. I would have liked more detail, more depth. Owens and his story are important and I wanted more: more about the man, more about his relationships, in particular with other runners.

It wasn't always clear what Schaap's goal was: was this a biography of Owens? A story just focused on the Owens at the Olympics? A story about the politics and nationalism that threatened to swallow the Olympics? It feels at times a little of all these, and not enough of any one of them.

I didn't like the way the book handled the footnotes, especially on kindle, it was very hard to see what the sources were for conversations and stories Schaap is relating. It wasn't obvious when Schaap was quoting a direct source for the dialogue or 'recreating' it. (This is part of the problem when a journalist writes history.)

Still, the writing is crisp and the narrative style is clear (part of the benefit of having a journalist write history!). If you know nothing of Jesse Owens and or the 36 Olympics, it's a good place to start. (Though I am not sure how much of this qualifies the eponymous "untold story").


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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Review: How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life

How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pigliucci does a good job summarizing and reviewing key ideas of Stoic thought. He focuses on his own experience applying the ideas to his life as a way of providing advice on applying it to one's own life. He uses a nice frame of talking with Epictetus as the central way of communicating the Stoic ideas. Their 'conversation' provides a way for Epicetus' text to speak to contemporary concerns.

Do not expect detailed philosophical analysis of the Stoic ideas. That's not Pigliucci's goal here; though I would have liked more of that. There is an appendix which discusses more of the historical connections.

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Review: Chasing Darkness

Chasing Darkness Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another good Cole story: lots of twists and turns. Some of them you will see coming, others you may not. Well-paced, good dialogue. Less humor than earlier Cole novels; but still has his characteristic wit.

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