A Review of A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You have been blessed if you have ever had one of those meals that stays with you. The food excelled, friendships strengthened, strangers intrigued, and you learned valuable insights. The warmth and comfort of the experience sustained you when times were difficult.

Reading A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel By Amor Towles is just such a feast. The language is wonderful, rich and expressive. The story is deeply satisfying. The characters are deep and attractive. The observations are subtle and yet powerful. And when you finish the book, you will be sad that there is not more to be read.

The good news is that the story is good enough that in a year or so, you can come back and take the journey all over again.

Highly recommended.

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A Review of The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in HistoryThe Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nothing happens in isolation. A strain of influenza appears suddenly and lethally. This is bad. But it happens during a time of war. Even worse. Those prosecuting the war make things worse by severely restricting the flow of information, even lying to the public about what was actually happening. Monsters in the dark are to be feared the most.

The book covers a lot of territory, ponderously in places. But it teaches lessons that apply to today. How we treat scientific evidence. How we make complex decisions.

The only criticism that I would offer about the book, aside from the ponderousness, is that it makes villains of those who did not react early enough. This is a disease of brilliant minds that see further than the rest of us but do not have the time or inclination to explain in terms that the masses needed to understand.

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A Review of Gates of Fire

Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of ThermopylaeGates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not an easy book.

It is at its heart a deep dive into an ancient culture that is radically different from the one in which we live. By their very nature, the names of people, places and practices are jarring to the eye and to the ear. Focused concentration is required. But there are rewards.

This is not an easy book.

Warriors fight and kill. Warriors fight and die. The descriptions of the battles are intense and graphic. As much as any book that I have ever read, the reader lives rather than merely observes the battles and the impact of those battles upon the bodies, minds, and spirits of the warriors. Pressfield makes you care about the players, and then makes you watch as they die.

This is not an easy book.

At its heart this is a book about ideas. The Spartan approach to life is demanding. To read about it, to understand it, and to live it, through Pressfield’s skill as a writer, is demanding.

Highly recommended.

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