Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

During the French Revolution a anonymous Englishman was helping the French aristocrats escape. Chauvelinis the French envoy to England. He is determined to catch The Scarlet Pimpernel. He threatens Marguerite Blakeney, the beautiful wife of Sir Percy Blakeney. If she doesn't help him catch the Pimpernel, he will arrest her brother for aiding him.

This was a fun book. It is very predictable though. I found it very enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Middle Passage

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

1990 National Book Award

Rutherford Calhoun is a newly freed slave. He has a brother who took to the Christian life of their owner. Rutherford did not. He was a thief, liar, name it. He gets involved with a woman named Isadora. She wants marriage and gets the local crime boss to help her trap him. Instead of marriage, Randolph chooses to jump the first ship leaving harbor.

It turns out the ship is a slaver going to pick up cargo. And the captain has alot in common with Captain Blgh. But before the crew can mutiny, the slaves gain the ship.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Iliad

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad is the original war story. It's set in the 9th year of the Trojan War. It begins with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon over a woman. Agamemnon wins the argument and the woman. So Achilles goes off to pout, leaving the war for the others to fight. The gods and goddesses have all chosen sides and often help their chosen army.

The story was already hundreds of years old when Homer finally wrote it down. It was an epic poem that had been passed down through the century's. I watched a program on History International the other night and the subject of how could so long a poem be accurate centuries later. Well turns out early in the first half of the 20th century some researcher wondered the same thing. So he went out and studied the songs The Serbian story-tellers sang about a war that occurred about 400 years before. And he found the songs were very accurate. I found that extremely interesting. It lends a little credence to the legend of the Trojan War, but I still don't believe Aphrodite spirited Paris off the battlefield.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amir and Hassan are two Afghanistan boys who are growing up together. But Amit is rich and Hassan is the servant's son. They are the best of friends. But another neighborhood boy looks down on Hassan because he is Hazara. One day while Hassan is running down a kite, Assef and his thug friends catch Hassan and rape him. Amir sees this but hides instead of helping. Overwhelmed by guilt, he then frames Hassan for a theft. Hassan and his father leave the house. But the guilt is now doubled and Amir has to live with it.

This was an incredible book. Amir does some terrible things but he's only 12 years old. You're left feelng sorry for him in spite of his actions.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Killer Angels

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

1975 Pulitzer

"The Killer Angels" is a fictionalized account of the Battle of Gettysburg. The story switches back and forth between different people from both sides and helps explain the reasons both had for fighting.

I liked this book much more than I thought I would. The story was well written and turned something I thought I knew into something new. For a well-known historical event, the book brought a little page turning wonder to it.