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John David

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-25-18

Fine Addition to Large & Growing Wilson Bookshelf

This is a very good, intellectually and morally stimulating, and beautifully written book. It provides a vivid & powerful presentation of the events that rocked America and the world a century ago and the complex, very human man at the center of them. Not a comprehensive or definitive biography, the book moves quickly through Wilson's early life to focus on his presidency in general and World War I in particular. It presents familiar historical and political issues in fresh and provocative ways. The pacing is excellent, the characters and scenes are well-drawn, and the issues are fairly presented. A balanced treatment of Wilson, good & bad. It is a fine addition to the large and growing Wilson bookshelf, although the epilogue is rather thin. I enjoyed The Moralist thoroughly ... except for the whisper-voiced reader. He uses very little inflection. Some may like his flat, quiet style, however, and the writing is good enough to carry the narration regardless.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

Book Like Administration: Well-Meaning But Flawed

This is an attempt at historic rehabilitation of the Carter administration by an insider. Like the administration itself, the book is well-meaning, but flawed. It needed an editor the way the Carter White House needed a Chief of Staff. There is repetition. And there is repetition. There is just enough memoir to be distracting, and occasionally annoying. By using a topical organization scheme rather than a chronological one the book never creates a good picture of what was going on at any one time and makes it difficult for the reader to synthesize the material. All this said, Eizenstat occasionally succeeds in convincing the reader that Carter's for years included more substantive achievement than recognized. And he levels some candid and serious criticisms of his beloved boss. But, again like the administration itself, the book manifests a sometimes shocking degree of naivete and self-righteousness. There are more than a few OMG moments when it is difficult to believe that Carter believed what he believed or did what he did. The book brought back many memories, but very few of them good. America was a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate mess in many ways from 1976-1980, and Jimmy Carter was a President for the times.

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6 of 8 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-30-17

A book much like Cleveland himself

This short biography is much like Cleveland himself: conservative, earnest, and solid, but by no means spectacular.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-19-17

A magnificent biography worthy of its subject

What did you like best about this story?

This biography has excellent pacing and narrative style. It is masterfully read by John Lee, who demonstrates complete command over the material and the multitude of French and other foreign names. Napoleon is humanized, but in a balanced and objective manner. Roberts skillfully apportions chapters among the personal, the political, the military, and the historical. The book never bogs down in battles, but describes them in clear, crisp, and coherent terms. Its description of the ill-fated Russian campaign is especially powerful. The audiobook is an undertaking, but well repays the time invested. I learned immense amounts about Napoleon's rise, reign, and fall, and about the Napoleonic era in European history generally. Highly recommend.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As noted, the Russian campaign and especially the retreat from Moscow are particularly powerful. The treatment of Napoleon's exile on St. Helena is also very evocative.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-07-17

An In-Depth Review of Appeasement 1938

This book provides context & detail of the failed appeasement policy in 1938. It goes in-depth & is a splendid complement to broader, more general histories. The narrative proceeds with perfect pace. The descriptions of people, places & circumstances are well-drawn & compelling. It is a balanced treatment of Chamberlain’s motives and a vivid one of the man. Hitler, too, is portrayed with skill. The reader is excellent. I highly recommend this book for those interested in & fascinated by the period.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-29-17

Very Fine Book but Ill-Suited Narration

What did you love best about The General vs. the President?

The book makes good use of original source materials like letters, orders, speeches, etc. It thus lets the characters tell their own stories to a very great extent. The pacing is also very good. Coverage of events is comprehensive, but moves along at a good clip. I learned a lot about the Korean War and this period.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The General vs. the President?

Truman's firing of MacArthur is, of course, the most memorable moment, but other, less well known events are also key, e.g., the Wake Island conference & Ridgway's revitalization of the Eighth Army.

How could the performance have been better?

I must dissent from the widespread praise other reviewers have heaped on the reader. His slow, breathy style seemed ill-suited to the narrative. His tendency to drop his voice, sometimes almost to a whisper, at the end of sentences was particularly annoying. The style would be a better match for a novel, perhaps even a romance. This story needed a crisper, more businesslike and forceful telling better suited to its protagonists.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Clash of American Titans Over Cold War, Korea & Constitutional Power

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful