June 1st, 2011

El Corazon

66. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets; 67. Shadow Puppets

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
by David Simon

Started: May 25, 2011
Finished: June 1, 2011

One of the best true crime books ever written. I've read it two or three times before over the last five years and it is still enthralling. I kind of wish Simon would go back and write another book about his personal experiences during the year he spent following the Baltimore police homicide department writing this book. I bet he has some great stories to tell. 599 pages. Grade: A+
Shadow Puppets
by Orson Scott Card

Started: May 25, 2011
Finished: June 3, 2011

This was not a very good book. It was by far the weakest of the Ender/Bean books that I've read so far. My main complaint was that from the very first page, Bean and Petra seemed like totally different characters than they'd ever been before. Their dialogue with each other was putrid. Achilles was no longer the great villain that he was in previous books, just a shadow of himself really. I could care less about reading the next book except that my OCD when it comes to finishing book series is going to make me go forward. 345 pages. Grade: C
Total # of books read in 2011: 67
Total # of pages read in 2011: 17,642


Tony Horwitz discovers a collection of photographs, reads a little history, meets some reenactors, and goes on a tour of the states in rebellion to catalog Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War.  He goes on his tour about the same time the popular culture discovers identity politics, and the resulting work makes for an intriguing Book Review No. 12.  There's a little bit of everything in the book: stops at obscure and not-so-obscure battlefields, conversations with local historians, visits to schools, an audience with Shelby Foote.  That unfinished civil war is, ultimately, about race relations (still strained in the late 1990s, and school curricula contaminated by different kinds of identity politics in different school districts, Brown v. Board of Education notwithstanding.)  And while the centennial of the Civil War might have given civil rights advocates new material to work with, the activity of the civil rights advocates might have given the Confederacy a new birth of nostalgia (the battle flag becoming variously a symbol of resistance, and a taunt to outsiders.)  There's a great deal of material that calls into question the received view of the great battles and campaigns.  Consider taking the book along on any battlefield tour in the south.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)