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Shooting the Sun Paperback – October 26, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Full of insights and laced with subtle humor.... The author shows us every detail of the trip, from the attitudes of the day to how to find water in desert sand and preparations for a Kiowa Sun Dance."
--The Denver Post
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The characters are strongly portrayed in sharp human detail and grow with the book and their experiences, rather than remaining static creations. Relationships form and erode, trust is offered and broken, strengths and weaknesses are transformed.Read more ›
The jacket copy convinced me to move this one to the top of my reading list--it's got Charles Babbage, the pre-computer computer-maker, eccentric extrordinaire, and a wild cast of characters. Babbage's business partner arranges for an expedition to, ostensibly, observe a solar eclipse which will, incidentally, prove the worth of Babbage's machine.
There's a great book in a premise like that one, but Byrd didn't write it. There's a lot about squabbling among the expeditioners; there's a lot about people convinced and unconvinced of Babbage's wisdom and his machine's value. Ultimately, the novel tries to cover so much--1830s Britain; early computing machines; 1830s Washington, D.C.; hostile Natives in the West--that Byrd's 300 pages can't cover it all. Another 100 pages may have been enough to make this a compelling historical novel; as it is, I strongly recommend reading Byrd's "Jackson" instead. It's a longer, more specific novel on roughly the same time period, and it's much more expertly executed.
Overall, that did indeed prove to be the case and overall the book read fairly smoothly, held my interest and provided me with some insights both to the geography and history of the areas concerned. The book itself is a bit more fiction than history in terms of the plot. The primary characters for the most part interact and brush against true historical figures and some insight is gained into some of the early science of photography. The plot itself while plausible, does not reflect much in the way of reality. The build up to the final resolution seemed to go by much more quickly than necessary to have missed an opportunity for more time and effort to bring it to a more satisfactory conclusion.
Nevertheless, Max Byrd is demonstrated to be a capable writer and I am encouraged to read his other Presidential Books in hopes that his reputation will be lived up to within those pages.
In short, this was certainly not the worst Historical Fiction I've ever read, but even so, it was not the best either.
3 Stars and a recommendation for a fast paced and easy to read story from a capable writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not sure I would have picked up Shooting the Sun on my own, but thoroughly enjoyed this selection by our Book Club. Read morePublished on April 3, 2013 by Fran Milano