Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Water Sports
Profile for Michael Griswold > Reviews

Browse

Michael Griswold's Profile

Customer Reviews: 696
Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,782
Helpful Votes: 1161


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Michael Griswold "Michael Griswold" RSS Feed (Rockford, USA)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Whiplash
Whiplash
DVD

5.0 out of 5 stars Force of Character, July 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Whiplash (Amazon Video)
Is it permissible to give J.K. Simmons two Academy Awards for his performance in Whiplash? I would argue that he is the star of the movie as Terrence Fletcher-the domineering perfectionist director of an elite music schools studio band. Fletcher demands absolute perfection of his players so much so that basic human niceties are quite often suspended. I guess what stood out most about the character was that I and many other people I am sure have had that one teacher who dared to push them further, to be better than they thought possible. J.K. Simmons as Terrence Fletcher takes it to a level bordering on psychotic however.

The sheer force of the Terrence Fletcher character is what kept me engaged throughout Whiplash. While I got that Andrew (Miles Teller) wanted to be something because he felt lost and/or underappreciated in a large family and Fletcher used that weakness against him. However, I am not sure that the Andrew character as far as actors go couldn’t have been played by another actor. He sort of is enveloped by J.K. Simmons character almost to the point of becoming a barely existing shadow. But then again, everything else is as well.

Recommended for the sheer awesomeness that is J.K. Simmons.


The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle against Authoritarian Rule
The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle against Authoritarian Rule
by Fakhreddin Azimi
Edition: Hardcover
33 used & new from $1.38

4.0 out of 5 stars The Tangled Web of Democracy in Iran, July 17, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought the Quest for Democracy in Iran over six years ago with the intention of using it in a paper on democracy in Iran that I was writing at the time. Turns out that I didn’t use the book and it got thrown in the closet behind three large stacks of other books. I found it earlier this week and decided to liberate it from the closet.

Because this book was published by Harvard University Press, it is highly academic in tone with enough twenty dollar words. I honestly about fell asleep reading the opening section about institutional frameworks of Iran’s often ill-fated constitution and parliament. Unless one is hardcore about democratic institutions, you might be better off skipping this section [unless you need a nap]

Beyond that first section though, I thought the book was a well written analysis of how democracy in Iran has been frustrated for the last century or so (1900-2010 approx.). One reads a story of leaders who are more interested in their personal power than creating a functional democratic society or at least a society less prone to cataclysmic leadership changes. Foreign powers (Britain, Russia, and the United States) have a big supporting role to play because as long as a century of Iranian leaders were pliant, this suited their interest.

The book also talks about the conflict between modernization/secularism and the traditional role played by religion and society and how the various rulers of Iran have played off the various forces and foreign nation’s fears in order to forward their personal agendas of power and privilege. A century of this course has done little for the Iranian people and devalued the concept of democratic governance in Iran.

A book well worth the six year wait.


The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS
The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS
by Bill Harlow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.04
110 used & new from $5.91

4.0 out of 5 stars The Curtain Comes Back a Little Bit, July 17, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Mike Morell in The Great War of our Time Fighting Terrorism from Al-Qaeda to ISIS offers his reflections on his time as a high level intelligence official for the CIA. These types of books are so hard to rate because while readers of one political persuasion will read this book and think Mike Morell Great Guy, while the other side will call him a rationalizer who is out to justify the failings of his own agency on 9-11 and other events. Not everything is so cut and dry. Mike Morrell is making his recollection of events in this book, his credibility and reasons should be read and evaluated by the individual reader. How do I say “Your recollections are wrong”? Last time I checked I was not presidential briefer on 9-11 or later Deputy Director of the CIA.

Where I will couch my criticism is that while the information about meetings and events is interesting, I am not sure that we learn terribly much new or get beyond a surface treatment of the big issues until about the midway point (page 150 or so). I don’t think we are stretching for George Bush is a nice guy or Leon Panetta is boisterous, all that can be gleamed from other sources like interviews. Where the book picks up is the Bin Laden raid, Ben Ghazi, War on Terror tactics, etc. This is where Mike Morell is his most forceful and impassioned. If only the book had started out with that level of force.

A good piece of political/autobiographical work


The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV
by Robert A. Caro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.56
108 used & new from $5.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Lyndon Johnson, July 14, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
While some people believe that the fourth volume The Passage of Power covers the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson, it actually covers roughly 1958-63 with the majority of time spent on the 1960 election and its aftermath, his time as Kennedy’s Vice President, and the transition following his assassination. I would argue that the most pointed part of this book is the viscous feud between LBJ and Bobby Kennedy.

Much to many readers relief, this book is about 400 pages shorter than Master of the Senate and does not lose any of Caro’s detail. Because this is part of a series, if one has read the first three books, they will experience some overlap. Caro probably does this to ensure that one does not necessarily have to read the first three volumes. Although I wasn’t particularly bothered by this, it was a little jarring, but this could be because I read the previous three one after another.

Eagerly awaiting Volume Five.


How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns
How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns
by Audrey Kurth Cronin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.19
66 used & new from $10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars In Presidents We Trust, July 14, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Audrey Kurth Cronin in How Terrorism Ends argues that all terrorism ends through one of six methods. While this conclusion may be heartening for those of us who find terrorism absolutely detestable, there is a major catch. Some terrorism is ended through decapitation, while other is simply repressed, while other terrorism mutates into other areas. This goes on for most of the six means of decreasing and/or ending terrorism and cases exist where nation-states employed the wrong tactic of the six and made the situation arguably more dangerous.

While Cronin’s analysis is helpful, it kind of relies on governments making sound and rational considerations, which in this polarized environment is not a given. Furthermore, one may argue that the book is somewhat outdated or at least needs a good update if one wants to consider ISIS. Also updates on the Russia-Chechen conflict or the LTTE in Sri Lanka would be appreciated. Thus, while I find the analysis heartening, it is not so heartening to think that defeating terrorism relies on a leader making the proper situational read during an emotional time.


Master Of The Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
Master Of The Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
by Robert A. Caro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.41
194 used & new from $3.74

5.0 out of 5 stars An Institution and The Man Who Changed It, July 6, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In Master of the Senate book three of Robert Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson, one is first struck by something that we rarely see in historical biography in that the institution of the United States Senate that Lyndon Johnson entered in 1949 is a character in itself. Caro spends roughly 100 pages of the 1034 talking about the procedures, customs and history that had transformed the Senate from the great hall of debate the Founding Fathers wanted into a progress inhibiting body where legislation goes to die because of its unique institutions.

Master of the Senate can intimidate on sheer size alone, but it really doesn’t feel like over a thousand pages as one gets lost in these intricately woven tales and personalities such as Richard Russell, the Leland Olds affair, Lyndon Johnson as institution wrangler, and the intrigue over the 1956 Presidential Nomination among others. Caro once again excels at going in depth in creating these larger than life characters and situations. One feels the rage of Estes Kefauver as he’s passed over for Foreign Relations or Richard Russell’s loneliness, for example.

Lyndon Johnson is of course still Lyndon Johnson. Readers who revel in Johnson’s backroom deal making and questionably immoral behavior will find plenty to sink their teeth into as anything that could help him gain more power is seized on and we see his political genius in the 1957-58 fight over getting a civil rights bill through the Senate. This volume presents a more complex portrait of Johnson as caught between ambition and perhaps genuine feelings for minorities that often leaves the reader unsure of the truth.

I don’t know that anyone’s opinion of Lyndon Johnson will change through Master of the Senate, but it does present more nuance than the utter contempt the first two volumes of the series inspired.


All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror
All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror
by Stephen Kinzer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.90
160 used & new from $2.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars American Hands In Iran, June 27, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Anyone who has read any of Stephen Kinzer’s other works Bitter Fruit and Blood of Brothers on Latin America could probably guess his thoughts on the American led coup in Iran in 1953 without picking up All the Shah’s Men. Put simply: It is not kind. All the Shah’s Men in itself is a misnomer as he appears only during brief moments as an indecisive puppet that foreign powers allowed to rule Iran because they knew that he could be counted on to do their bidding.

The real lead characters are the American and British forces that brought the coup from plan to fruition and Mohammed Masadeq, a flawed democrat who attempted to bring Iran into a world they had never been a part of before. There are no real heroes for Kinzer just figures to be admired and hated. If anyone wants to understand the roots of the frosty relations between the US and Iran or read a cautionary tale of overzealous military intervention, read All the Shahs Men.


Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
by H.G. Bissinger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.51
130 used & new from $3.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Friday Night Under Lights, June 27, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After reading Friday Night Lights, I certainly understand why the author may have felt trepidation in going back to Odessa Texas because he doesn’t pull any punches. One will just have to gather all the evidence on whether he misquoted people or potentially did worse and make up their own mind. I think what is clear is that this football team was a glorified institution for this town that often did not have much to cheer about sometimes.

At think at the end of the day, it is a very human story of a longing for something greater than the previous generation had or wanting something greater for yourself. Yeah the town comes across as prejudiced (in a most charitable reading) and the football team more like an athletic cult of sorts that shapes and molds people to the institution and leaves them wandering after it tosses them out after senior year. But wrapped in all this, are the very human elements that are striving for something better and see it in this jewel in the rough of a football team.

In sum, Friday Night Lights is a quick read that goes way beyond football to say something about the human condition.


The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
by David Kilcullen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.75
55 used & new from $4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars What is a Small Country to Do?, June 27, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
David Killcullen in Accidental Guerilla lays out a highly plausible theory on how nations involve themselves in these hybrid war types of combat. The bulk of this work is taken up by case studies on Iraq and Afghanistan, which well understandable given that’s where much of his experience is grounded. But it makes one wonder whether his experience can truly be translated to other conflicts. All of the cases sans one take place in Asia or have a complex powder keg of factors that render it perhaps a unique anomaly.

I would have liked to see a little deeper work of the Europe case as well as South and Latin America among other regions to help strengthen the theory a little more. By not doing this enough, Killcullen makes it sound like you have to have powerful military resources to carry out such maneuvers and in all honesty that is a select group of countries indeed, given the current economic and political climate. What is less militarily endowed country to do?


WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 1
WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 1
DVD ~ Gary Sandy
Price: $13.41
28 used & new from $13.37

5.0 out of 5 stars WKRP Has Me Hitting the Floor, June 27, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 1 (DVD)
There is a very noticeable disclaimer on the back of the box about WKRP in Cincinnati’s music right issues (an entire essay could be written on the topic). I guess the question boils down to are you willing to accept some musical changes to get this slapstick funny comedy series out on DVD or not? This is probably the best that WKRP fans are going to get barring major change of heart in the future.

I got these DVD’s on Thursday and have been laughing most of the weekend. They certainly don’t make shows like this anymore as I don’t think you could get material like Turkey’s Away or Mr. Carlson’s “foot powder” through the network today because someone would be offended. It is a little jarring to the modern television viewer the links that WKRP took things, but in its own way it’s almost like a time capsule that illustrates what comedy was, relative to today.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20