Category Archives: Book review

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt…whew…

The Origins of TotalitarianismThe Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written not long after World War II concluded, Ms. Arendt had contemporary access to knowledge of the domination of two major totalitarian regimes. There may be some portion of a confirmation bias in play, but the parallels to modern regimes and in particular, the rise of a 2016 to present (2018 at this writing) movement in what would have seemed to Ms. Arendt the least likely of places – the United States – cannot be overlooked or understated. This is a dense, huge book. I cannot do it justice with a simple review, as I highlighted quite many sections and added quite many notes of my own. I’ll share a few here.

Organized into three parts, Ms. Arendt discusses the history, pseudo-rationale, and consequences of antisemitism; the effects of imperialism on the origins of totalitarianism; and detailed analysis of those two totalitarian systems she had exposure to in the early years after the war. Continue reading


Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father by Stephen Fried

Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding FatherRush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father by Stephen Fried

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that like I suppose many, I knew little of Benjamin Rush. Now, thanks to First to Read and the publisher, I know more through an Uncorrected Proof ebook of this book. Stephen Fried has compiled a lengthy, and informative, story of Rush’s life. It’s an easy read, if, as I noted, lengthy, and it flows well. Fried even offers a couple of cliffhanger teasers (more on that…)

It must have taken an extraordinary amount of time, reading and distillation to go through the seemingly mountainous volume of letters and writings of Rush. Continue reading

The Identity Matrix by Jack L. Chalker

The Identity MatrixThe Identity Matrix by Jack L. Chalker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a considerable stack of Jack Chalker that I never seemed to find the time for before I lost them all five years ago – I always fall back on his Well World and Four Lords of the Diamonds series as comfort books rather than dig into his other series or standalones. So this belongs in Books I Should Have Read Already – not the “literature” that I may or may not ever decide to read, but books/series by authors I’ve wanted to get to, but never have.

Odd beginning, and odd execution, I liked this well enough but Chalker was uneven with his pacing – drawn out too much, and jarringly accelerated, also too much. The story seems cliché now and was back in 1982, but Chalker tells a good story regardless. I liked how he sliding a couple of ferry references, as his other passion was ferries. The twist ending was mildly surprising – I hadn’t engaged enough to think there would be one – but interesting nonetheless.

As Chalker is a preferred author, when I need/want a side read to balance the heavies, I’ll try to hit some of his other series that I’ve read one of long ago…

…I hope.

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Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything by Martin W. Sandler

Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed EverythingApollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything by Martin W. Sandler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful book I got from the publisher through LibraryThing. Accessible to a younger audience, it still has plenty to offer adult readers. I was born in 1961 and like many young (and older) Americans in the 1960s, was enthralled by the “Space Race”, and especially the Apollo Program and the moon landings. Despite that fascination, I knew little – and I suspect most others also know little – about Apollo 8; it just isn’t as sexy as Armstrong and Aldrin’s Apollo 11 triumph.

But it really is. Continue reading