Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Generals


When I was younger, I was obsessed with the military. Wars, both fantastical and real, captured my imagination and, like many boys my age, I played endlessly with those iconic plastic army men. With their little hardened pools of green at their feet, I stood them up against each other and played at war in my head. Why did I do this? I think it was for the same reason that our society, and humans in general, have always been so attracted to war and stories of it. When everyday life can be a struggle against amorphous and everchanging frustrations, war seems to offer a clear enemy that can be defeated. War lets you play out the simple concept of good versus evil. War lets you be the hero. Continue reading

Categories: Current Events, History, Military, United States of America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillbilly Elegy


Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir by J.D. Vance, a relatively insignificant man by his own admission. He notes in the beginning of the book that he is still quite young and hasn’t done much worthy of note. Nonetheless, he feels that sharing his life story is important, particularly now in this time period of American history where the gulf between rich and poor, city and countryside, Democrat and Republican, has never seemed starker. Vance’s purpose here is to talk about his upbringing in Middletown, Ohio, and, by doing so, help people better understand that forgotten part of America that rarely features in the news. In this, I think he succeeds admirably. Continue reading

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Supremely Partisan


Books that deal predominantly with current events are always very tricky to review. More so than with history books, I become laser sensitive to bias and end up looking for it everywhere. It is to the credit of Supremely Partisan: How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court that it was rather hard to determine the bias here. Sure, I could look up James D. Zirin and his chosen political party down the years, but it is to the credit of his writing that he comes off as intensely critical of both sides instead of favoring one over the other. I mention this first thing because, in these more partisan times, it is very easy to dismiss any book on current events if a hint of favoritism exists. Supremely Partisan manages to avoid this for me, and thus gets credit for something few books of this genre manage to pull off. Continue reading

Categories: Current Events, History, United States of America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter the Great



Since my college days, I’ve always been fascinated with the “great people” of history. Though they promise entertaining stories in their own right, I’ve always wondered in my reading if there are common trends between them all. Is there some specific quirk or two of personality that drives one to do incredible things in their life? Is it simply being born in the right place at the right time? Or is it a combination of factors that I will never be able to fully uncover or categorize cleanly? Continue reading

Categories: History, Russia, Sweden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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