John W. (Wildhog3) - Reviews

1 to 12 of 12
The Adventures Of The Stainless Steel Rat
The Adventures Of The Stainless Steel Rat
Author: Harry Harrison
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/4/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Harrison's work resembles Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett, but isn't as good. The stainless steel rat is a future-world grifter with con-man capabilities and a few extra powers. The book contains three previously published books. A light but enjoyable read, which I would rate about three stars.


The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates
Review Date: 5/11/2010
Helpful Score: 3


If you want to know what the Founding Fathers really thought, what they really said, and how they threshed out compromise after compromise, knowing that if they did not, there would be no Constitution, this is the book for you. It contains nearly 400 small-print pages, virtually all of which is primary sources, that is, what the historical record says, not what some commentator says it says.


Black Folktales
Black Folktales
Author: Julius Lester
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/19/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Once a week I am reaching into my extensive collection of Black Lit and posting a real prize -- and leaving it up for grabs for exactly 5 days. What a book this would be for any home-schooler! These tales are from the black people of Africa and America. There are four sections: Origins, Love, Heroes, and People. Under Heroes, the two folktales are Stagolee and High John The Conqueror. I would just love to read any of these stories to a class of young people, age 3-33.


Bloodline (Norton Library ; N798)
Bloodline (Norton Library ; N798)
Author: Ernest J. Gaines
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/19/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Ernest Gaines was raised on a sugar cane plantation just west of Baton Rouge. Bloodline is a collection of short stories about life around there 1940-1960. To me, his greatest strength is his compassion. Even when he portrays pretty despicable people, he shows some consideration for their point of view and their basic human dignity. The title story concerns a young black man, very militant, named Copper. The founder of the plantation was, biologically, his uncle. he makes everyone very uneasy when he returns and demands recogition by the son who has inherited the plantation.


The Eye of the Heron
The Eye of the Heron
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 4/21/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Of at least a dozen Ursala Le Guin books I have read, this is the only one I would not unequivocally endorse. In this one, ALL the characters are undeveloped and one-dimensional. A new planet has been populated by a prison colony of total rejects from earth. One group, formerly thieves, killers, rapists, has established control. They live in the small town they call The City. The other, slightly smaller colony lives on the outskirts of town and functions as slave labor for the other group. Their part of the colony is called Shanty-town, and they are pacifists, to a degree that might have alarmed Ghandi. Of course, things don't turn out well for the pacifists, but Le Guin puts a sort of spin on things that is obviously designed to show how they nobly achieved their goals. All in all, it is hard for me to see how Ursala Le Guin, who can be so subtle, could be so ham-handed as she is in this book.


Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism
Review Date: 4/12/2009
Helpful Score: 3


The best audience for this book is white people with open minds. Rush Limburger listeners and readers of The Weekly Standard probably need not apply. Those who watch FOX news need it most, but would probably not get through the first chapter. The theme is that racism is so integral a part of American life that no matter what blacks do to better their lot, they are doomed to fail as long as the majority of whites do not see that their own well-being is threatened by the inferior status of blacks. Professor Bell lays out his case drawing on legal precedence and historical experience. Looking it over, it is hard not to pull it from my list and read it again.


Herzog
Herzog
Author: Saul Bellow
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 4/4/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Herzog is Bellow at his best, and Bellow is the best America has produced since Faulkner.
The hero, Moses Herzog, is described by one reviewer as a great sufferer, joker and moaner, cuckold, charmer, in short, a man of our time. He sees himself as a survivor, not only of his private disasters but also those of the age. Herzog cannot keep from asking what he calls the "piercing" questions. The answers he finds will matter not only to him but to readers of our age or any age. I find it difficult to stop with this review and not reread the whole, magnificent book.

Dr. John T. West


Homecoming: Earth (Homecoming, Bks 4 & 5)
Homecoming: Earth (Homecoming, Bks 4 & 5)
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 4/19/2009
Helpful Score: 2


Orson Card has created a brilliant scenario, a variation, perhaps, on Farmer's Riverworld.
Humans rendered the earth uninhabitable 50 million years before, and one of the colonies that escaped is sending a small delegation back. Earth is inhabited by two intelligent species, one evolved from rats, the other from bats. Even before the two dozen settlers land, they have a sharp internal division that will never be resolved. One group is headed by a weakling who did not want the job. He will be the good guy. The other is headed by a Machiavellian warrior, his brother. He is designated bad guy. Both books unfold according to this sort of reverse misogyny. Masculine men are BAD. Girlie men are GOOD. When the second book begins, even the computer which they call Oversoul, which more or less functions as their god, is referred to as "she."


I, Richard
I, Richard
Author: Elizabeth George
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 5/11/2010


Apparently, Ms. George's publishers wanted her to do some sort of potboiler, so they suggested a group of short (20-30 pp) mysteries, each independent, inside one cover. They are ok, but what gets left out is what sets Elizabeth George apart from all the rest, character development. Similar to some of the Nero Wolfe books that have three or four mysteries in one cover.


Little, Big
Little, Big
Author: John Crowley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/22/2009
Helpful Score: 4


These people have real names and live in known geographical locations and hold real jobs. But are they real? If not, then what kind of book is this? It is not like any fantasy I have ever read. If it is meant to be a parable, then what is the message? Ahah! It must be magic realism. If so, it is not like any magic realism I have ever read (maybe a little like A Visitation Of Spirits). I read the whole book without answering any of the above questions. Very slow reading. Very interesting.


The Monkey's Wrench (Alternate Title: The Wrench)
The Monkey's Wrench (Alternate Title: The Wrench)
Author: Primo Levi, William Weaver, Translator
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/19/2009
Helpful Score: 2


It is hard to describe how good this book is. Studs Terkel called it "a remarkable narrative of a worklife." It is laid out without preface in 14 "chapters." The narrator is a "rigger." This is a person whose job is supervising the setting up of very large cranes, often very very large. In each chapter the narrator is talking to another rigger, an old friend. As the book unfolds, the reader begins to realize that the author/narrator is laying out a work ethic for riggers. or anyone who builds things, or fixes things, or who just works their hands. And finally, a perceptive reader sees that the book is a metaphor for how to live your life. If I could award it eight or ten stars I would. Before someone grabs it, I think I will read it again.

Dr. John T. West, III
aka wildhog3


The Peculiar Institution
The Peculiar Institution
Author: Kenneth M. Stampp
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/10/2009


A complete review of this book is in my description that goes with the book.


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