History, Reviews.

Napoleon

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts. My early view of Napoleon was as a cartoon figure: A megalomaniac who tried to take over the world. I recall looking down at Napoleon's tomb in Paris in the company of my brother Craig, the two of us mocking his immense sarcophagus and elaborate surroundings, wondering aloud why the French would semi-deify such a bloody tyrant. The typical American republican conceits aside, we were woefully uninformed about much of the life of Napoleon.
Observations, Reviews.

Is the Lost Cause finally getting lost?

-CC BY 2.0, Maureen

Confederate flag with assault rifle superimposed and the message 'Come and take it'. Attrib: Maureen, CC BY 2.0.

In a response to the recent furor over the Confederate flag and its removal from public grounds, Kevin Drum just nails it:

Are we still arguing about whether the Civil War was really fought over slavery? Seriously? What's next? The Holocaust was really about Jews overstaying their tourist visas? The Inquisition was a scientific exploration of the limits of the human body? The Romans were genuinely curious about whether a man could kill a hungry lion? The Bataan death march was a controlled trial of different brands of army boots?
(Kevin Drum, Are We Still Yammering About Whether the Civil War Was About Slavery? Really?, Mother Jones
Literature, Reviews.

A good man cannot be found

Book Book Review, Title A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, Author Flannery O'Connor, Rating 3.0,

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

Flannery O'Connor

Book Review

Within Flannery O'Conner's famed short story collection, a good man is not just difficult to find, but impossibly so. Thank God I am not Flannery O'Connor. I would not trade her ability to tell a story, and she is uncommonly good in some ways, for her brutal and dismissive view of the world. Harshness, of circumstance and character, forms her viewpoint; what is also redeeming finds little place in her stories.
Literature, Reviews.

Heart out of darkness

Book Book Review, Title Heart Of Darkness, Author Joseph Conrad, Rating 5.0,

Heart Of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

Book Review

In Joseph Conrad's classic novella, Heart of Darkness, the sailor Marlow serves as the author's version of Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, compelled to tell his story of conscience to whatever audience he finds. The story he tells is indeed dark, and indeed about the heart, albeit mostly the lack thereof. Conrad takes apart the European colonial enterprise, particularly the carving-up of Africa in the nineteenth century, and strips bare all of the tales of adventure from those times and places, along with the high-flown language of imperialism which was used to mask the utter barbarity of the undertaking.
Films, Humor, Reviews.

Broadway Danny Rose: A movie that never gets old

Pocket Review, Title Broadway Danny Rose, Studio MGM/UA, Rating 4.5,

Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

Director: Woody Allen

Pocket Review

The top of my Woody Allen movie list is reserved for Broadway Danny Rose'. The movie opens with a scene at the Carnegie Deli, with a bunch of (actual) Borscht Belt comedians swapping stories on a lazy afternoon, and one of them begins to tell Danny’s story. Danny is a very small-time theatrical agent in New York City, kind of the Charlie Brown of agents, who never seems to get a break. He works his butt off for small-time acts: Balloon folders, waterglass musicians,one-legged tap-dancers, stuttering ventriloquists, and the like.

History, Reviews.

Trent: Too little, too late

Book Book Review, Title Trent, Author John W. Malley, Rating 3.0,

Trent

John W. Malley

Book Review

Trent: What Happened at the Council, is a well-researched and well-told history of the Council of Trent, the mid-sixteenth-century Counter-Reformation centerpiece which produced the Catholic Church's response to the Protestant Reformation.  This account is carefully grounded in the complex politics of its times, placing the history of the Council in the balance- of-power tug-of-war, not just between reform movements within and without (Protestants) the Church, but among the nascent Ottoman Empire, the English Reformation, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States and the French monarchy.