Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book Reviews

Seeing how we don't have cable or basic TV, Lauren and I have been reduced to reading books! While this isn't a bad thing, it is definitely something to get used to. Fortunately, it has been pretty easy to adjust. We figured we would provide some reviews of the books we've recently finished reading and a review on the "bookworm system" in Drew's honor. Each rating is out of a possible 5 worms.

1 worm = Don't bother. We feel for the trees killed to print this sorry thing.
2 worms = Ehh... don't bother unless you're locked up with nothing to do, and they took away your finger paints.
3 worms = Put this on your list, but not at the top.
4 worms = Definitely worth your while.
5 worms = Get up right now and go purchase (or borrow) this book! A must read!

24 Days, by Rebecca Smith & John R. Emshwiller
(4 Worms)
The Enron story has been thoroughly documented in numerous books and articles in the past few years. While I had a general idea of what brought down Enron from the numerous articles I had previously read, I was looking for an Enron book which would provide a detailed insider account of the unfolding events which eventually took down one of the largest corporations in America. This book caught my attention because it was written by two Wall Street Journal-ists who were assigned to cover the story. It was said by some (including the authors) that they were the first major news outlet to uncover the scandals taking place at Enron. This book is the account of both reporters detailing the days that they spent investigating Enron's financial position, most notably the Fastow partnerships. 24 Days gave great detail of the reporters' difficulty in uncovering the partnerships and the very complex manner in which they were produced. The book also goes into account of Arthur Anderson turning a blind eye towards Enron's entire operation, even though they were aware of the huge conflicts of interest between Andy Fastow (being General Partner of the partnerships) and Enron. Overall, the book provided a great view on how the reporters gathered and collected evidence to report the biggest corporate scandal in American history. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the details of how Enron was brought down, chiefly the Fastow partnerships, however the book gave very few details on many of the failed business ventures which also led to the eventual downfall of Enron. To further learn about this part of the story, I will be adding the book Enron: The Smartest Men in the Room to my wish list. (I must say, the movie was pretty good.)

1776, by David McCullough
(4-1/2 worms)
This book was referred to me by my beloved siblings, Brad & Amity (everyone knows Felicity doesn't read). Actually, I even borrowed Amity's copy of the book from her extensive collection. This book details the American Revolution during... 1776 (who would have guessed?). I'm a big fan of history, particularly the accounts of wars, so this book definitely fit my interests. Having known only very general details of the American Revolution provided by my exquisite public education, this book was my first real education of what took place during the period of the American Revolution. The year 1776 was important in many respects because this was the turning point for the war. Everyone knows that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but who knew that the war waged on many years after that? (Sorry, Mom, for some reason I did not know that... but it helped that my wife didn't either... even though she also expressed how little she cared.) This book provided insight into the character of George Washington and his very young and very inexperienced commanders. While the book got off to a slow start, it soon picked up after recounting the events of the battle for Boston, and from that point forward was a very fast read. McCullough did a great job in researching all the different accounts from the participants of the war to the media and newspapers. It was interesting reading the communication between British and American commanders, as well as gaining the insight of how during 1776, the "rebel fighters" were many times on the brink of losing. This book while at times praises Washington's resolve, also makes him out at other times to look like a fool. Let's just say that if Washington had his way, we would all be accustomed to having High Tea. It is my opinion that McCullough should write another book detailing the events leading up to the Treaty of Paris in 1783 so that we can further learn about the important events of the war after this important year he has detailed.

Neoconomy: George Bush's Revolutionary Gamble with America's Future, by Daniel Altman
(1/2 worm) -- Did not finish
This book, just by the title, in my mind would be a great read because there are a multitude of topics that could be covered under the changing of the economy and the position of Neo-conservatives. This book, however, did a poor job of outlining key topics and explaining conclusions. The book is dry, and in my opinion poorly written. As noted above, I was unable to finish the book because of how ineffective the author was in explaining his view and keeping the reader entertained. Hopefully someone else will pick this topic up and write a more intriguing account.

The next book on my list is Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller, and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. Please feel free to respond with recommendations on other books to add to my list.


Amity said...

Great reviews! I just finished reading (last night)What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution which was so fascinating I could barely put it down. It really ties into the French side of things during the 1770's and 1780's and was a good counterpoint to all the American Revolution stuff I've read and the origins of the very bloody French Revolution.

Amity said...

p.s. I had no idea either that the American Revolution wasn't already finished at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Texas sure does give us some good edumacations!

Amity said...

p.p.s. Sorry! I can't help commenting more... if you liked David McCullough's 1776 you HAVE GOT to read his bio on Harry Truman. And RUN to the book store (or borrow mine) and pick up Robert Caro's series of 3 books on LBJ... I got the whole set at Half Price Books and they are the best political biographies I have EVER read and really inspired me to get into reading history texts.

Brad, Stacy, and Logan said...

We knew that the war went on after 1776...

Diddy said...

Hello I'm reading this blog aren’t I?
No a really good book is Founding Brothers. There is an even BETTER one...I just can't remember the name. I'll ask a guy that was in my class. Anyways, I believe it was written based on Madison's diary of the convention. But it was really good, in-depth book.

Diddy said...

Oh yeah HA HA HA HA I knew that the fighting wasn't over yet!!! Of course it's not like History was ever my major..But I still knew that!!!

Mom said...

two governments after the revolution - the articles of confederation and then the constitution.

i was always taught that we were lucky (and smarter) because we had accomplished our "freedoms" through a "bloodless" revolution; in college I was taught that "bloodless" revolutions seldom "hold"; a scary thought nowadays.

plain speaking is a very good book as is bury my heart; I still sometimes think about the atrocities described in detail in bury my heart; "judeo - christian" my ass.

i have not read, but expect to some day, John Dean's newest book, "conservatives without conscience" and also, Olberman's "worst person in the world and 202 contenders" blumenthal's "how bush rules" and sher's "wait! don't move to canada" and a couple of cookbooks

Lauren & Phil said...

Ya, Ya...sure brad and mom...all it took was a quick google for ya'll!