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Rodge (Ontario, Canada)
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The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler
The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler
by John Lukacs
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.24
31 used & new from CDN$ 2.15

4.0 out of 5 stars A critical showdown between important figures, July 14 2014
This book's one big weakness might be it's over-emphasis on the two persons of Hitler and Churchill over against other factors in the Second World War. But you can tell that from the cover already. As a study of the two men as they faced off in the critical period from the fall of France to the Battle of Britain, this book would be hard to top. Lukacs clearly has a deep understanding of his subject and provides us with profound insight into the importance of the "eighty days" and the critical decisions undertaken by both Churchill and Hitler at this time. Hitler was not yet at war with Russia, and Roosevelt had not yet committed himself to supporting the British war effort, never mind taking the US into the war. So a different tack by Churchill, trying to negotiate a peace, for example - or if Hitler had simply plunged into invading Britain without entertaining hopes that Britain would accept German hegemony - either scenario could have made for a very different war, although it is highly speculative to say what those differences would have entailed.

In short, an excellent study by an excellent historian. Makes for a good supplement to books like Ian Kershaw's "Fateful Choices" which is somewhat superior in my estimation.

The Restoration Of Rome: Barbarian Popes And Imperial Pretenders
The Restoration Of Rome: Barbarian Popes And Imperial Pretenders
by Peter Heather
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.22
21 used & new from CDN$ 27.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A top-notch entertaining interpretive history, July 14 2014
Peter Heather's account of what happened after the fall of the Western Empire is entertaining and, by necessity, is forced to make educated guesses based on scarcity of facts on the ground. Heather essentially posits 4 attempts to re-establish the Roman Empire, the first by the Goth Theoderic, the second by Byzantine emperor Justinian, the third by Charlemagne, and the fourth and by far the most successful - the establishment of the modern papacy.

Undoubtedly Heather's interpretations will generate dispute, trying as he does to unite 800 years or so of chaotic history under a more-or-less constant theme of trying to re-establish a Roman empire. Nonetheless this book is pretty much a must-read, as it gives the modern reader an essential and clarifying vision of what happened in between the fall of Rome and the Middle Ages. In short, it was a lot, and Heather makes as much sense of it as anyone.

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
by Allen C. Guelzo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.71
43 used & new from CDN$ 24.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and clear, a gripping read, July 2 2014
Guelzo easily makes the account of the Battle of Gettysburg a gripping read, and he does so with the credibility of a meticulous historian. We get the feel on the ground of all that is happening, and Guelzo gives us solid analysis, assigning responsibility for decisions and results in a nuanced, satisfying way.

The result of the Battle of Gettysburg is well known, but what's clear here is what a near run thing the whole thing was. Guelzo helps us understand, for instance, why Pickett's charge wasn't a self-evidently suicidal exercise in futility ala World War I but rather a legitimate military tactic that had worked just fine in famous battles in Europe just years before, such as the Alma.

All the carnage is here too, mind-numbingly horrific. This is battle history that does everything you want and more, in spades. I don't know what volume to compare this account to, but I'm pretty sure that this book meets and exceeds it.

STORY OF THE JEWS
STORY OF THE JEWS
Offered by Penguin Group Canada
Price: CDN$ 17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars First rate account with a historian's ability to incorporate data, June 26 2014
This review is from: STORY OF THE JEWS (Kindle Edition)
This is a very personal history, by a historian who knows how to tell a story while remaining responsible to the facts. That's not to say that I agreed with every interpretation I read here. This is very much a Jewish story from a Jewish perspective and I'm not a Jew. But this is the sort of writing that wins you over nonetheless.

Schama focuses in on the less prominent aspects of Jewish history in the first chapters, focusing on the histories as recorded outside the Old Testament. The story moves on into medieval times with a horrific parade of persecution and slaughter and exploitation of the Jews. Toward the end it started to get a little bit much - were the Jews truly just victims all the time?

Nonetheless this is just a fascinating work and it makes me want to see the companion TV piece as well.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
191 used & new from CDN$ 0.76

3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and informative history yarn, June 20 2014
This is novelistic non-fiction with the tone fairly heavily set towards the novel side. If you take that as a bad thing, don't - this is one book that is deserves it's popularity in terms of historical value and the quality of writing. What we have here is a tale of an unlikely ambassador to Hitler's Germany and his family (well, to be frank - his daughter). Charles Dodd and Martha Dodd provide most of the narrative drive here, experiencing different parts of 30s Germany & Europe. Dodd slowly comes to the realization of just what a monster Hitler is and tries to warn his country of what's coming, to little avail. Martha parties and sleeps around, including with Nazis and Communists, and generally exercises bad judgement. Even she, though, loses any enthusiasm for the Nazis as the true character of the regime is exposed.

Perhaps the most useful aspect of this book is that it provides us the atmosphere of 1930s Germany - often we wonder why the world didn't understand what was going on in Hitler's Germany until it was too late. This book helps us to understand why outsiders were so oblivious - the truth was masked in many ways and it usually took time to uncover and understand it.

Israel: A History
Israel: A History
by Martin Gilbert
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from CDN$ 42.03

3.0 out of 5 stars Occasionally dry, but a mostly fair account, June 12 2014
This review is from: Israel: A History (Paperback)
Writing a history of Israel pretty much guarantees stepping on toes and getting into controversial issues. Gilbert mainly dodges this by writing a somewhat dry account of the origins and national history of Israel. The first few chapters, especially, are a little bit of a slog. Once we get into the post-mandate history of things, though, the interest increases. Gilbert is mostly sympathetic to Israel especially in its early history. He saves most of his criticism for actions in its most recent history.

Clearly, Gilbert believes that Rabin & Peres had the right idea as far as developing a sustainable future for Israel. And the actions of the former hardliner Sharon probably bear out that establishing a nation for the Palestinians is probably the only option that has a hope of creating a sustainable, peaceful situation.

Some will find this biased, and occasionally Gilbert is a little overly sympathetic to the Israeli view, but this is a mostly fair and realistic portrait of the nation Israel as it got itself established and how it got to where it is today.

Crimes Against My Brother
Crimes Against My Brother
by David Adams Richards
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
4 used & new from CDN$ 20.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Another depressing masterpiece, June 3 2014
Once again, Richards is back with his masterful characterizations and deep understanding of the darker side of human nature. This time it may almost be too much. This book was hard to read. The characters are believable, but unsympathetic nonetheless and the string of betrayals and general selfish brutality gets hard to bear. Not to mention the tragedies that seem to pop up fairly regularly.

In Richards' universe, the only thing more foolish than trusting in God is relying on the word of men. So in a backhandedly dark sort of way, this book is a defense of those who trust in an incomprehensible God. It also places the source of the ills that befall its characters squarely back on them and their human weakness - outside forces may threaten but it's always the enemy within that does the fatal damage.

The actual plot of this book is fairly labyrinthine, although it it does follow a simple beginning to end process. There are three boys, Ian, Harold & Evan, who are trapped on a mountain during a brutal ice-storm who make a blood pact to be brothers for life. The rest of the book, essentially, shows how quickly that commitment is set aside - and yet their lives are firmly intertwined. Of course, this book is set once again in the Miramichi, which means that most of the characters are scrambling in desperate poverty, and many dream of starting anew in another place.

Not an easy book to read, but it may be worth picking up for some. If you've not read David Adams Richards before, I would recommend picking up his previous novel, "Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul" which is dark but not as dark as this book. It's also shorter.

Blue 4GB USB LCD MP3 Player w/ FM Radio Voice Recorder
Blue 4GB USB LCD MP3 Player w/ FM Radio Voice Recorder
Offered by Fair Fly--Ships From Hong Kong
Price: CDN$ 12.58
5 used & new from CDN$ 12.58

4.0 out of 5 stars For the price, quite alright, May 27 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This product isn't that versatile - it's an inexpensive MP3 player. But it works, and works just fine. It fits in your pocket and it doesn't cost anything like an ipod.

Mystery of God, The: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable
Mystery of God, The: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable
by Christopher Hall
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.61
25 used & new from CDN$ 12.92

4.0 out of 5 stars A well-guided tour of what divine mystery is, and isn't, May 20 2014
This looks like a dry, difficult book at the outset. And those expectations aren't entirely unjustified. Nonetheless this is an ably guided tour of the issue of God's mystery from an evangelical perspective.

The first part lays the foundation for what we mean, or should mean, when we talk about divine mystery. We are not talking about mystery in an investigative sense, but rather in a revelational, dimensional sense.

The second part explores the issues of theology that pertain to mystery - the Trinity, the Incarnation, salvation and more. These chapters are all exceptionally well-written and explained, although a little dry as I said before.

In short, this is a good book that delivers on its promise, although, as you might expect judging by the subject matter, you'll have to do some abstract thinking and develop your brain muscles a little bit. In my opinion, its well worth it.

The Confabulist
The Confabulist
by Steven Galloway
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
5 used & new from CDN$ 18.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A page-turner with literary credibility, and heart, May 20 2014
This review is from: The Confabulist (Hardcover)
This book is nothing like Galloway's most well-known novel so far, The Cellist of Sarajevo. And, in my opinion, it's not quite at the level of that masterpiece. No matter. What we have here is a masterful suspenseful weaving together of an alternative history of Houdini along with a narrator who's losing his memory (yes, that makes him an unreliable narrator). As you might expect, what the story seems to be about initially is not what it's about in the end. Galloway lifts the twists and turns above the expected by simply making you care. In the end, the story is not what others have done, but how we've treated the ones we love. And how there's always hope for making things right, or better, despite how we've wronged others in the past.

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