Profile for John D. Cofield > Reviews

Browse

John D. Cofield's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1000
Top Reviewer Ranking: 313
Helpful Votes: 16044




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

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

Reviews Written by
John D. Cofield RSS Feed
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Third Reich in History and Memory
The Third Reich in History and Memory
by Richard J. Evans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.19
30 used & new from $18.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casting Light Upon Darkness, April 17, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"The Third Reich was not a normal state. It was not even a normal dictatorship, if there is such a thing." This quote from Richard J. Evans' fascinating and informative collection of essays on Germany in the 1930s and 1940s really sums up his overall thesis: that what happened there was horrifying and beyond the norm for human societies. Nevertheless Evans also makes it clear that Adolf Hitler and his Reich were not complete aberrations and were rooted in past history. The 28 chapters in this volume are all book reviews or essays written by Evans over a period of two decades or so. Arranged in rough chronological order, they form a cohesive history of the German descent into madness and then its slow recovery.

Evans begins with examinations of Imperial and Weimar German policies which eventually led to the Holocaust and other Nazi policies. He includes material on the shock to the Germans of their defeat in 1918 and the impact of the social and governmental changes which followed in the 1920s and early 1930s. The second and third sections deal with life inside Nazi Germany and with the Nazi economy. These explode some longheld myths about the extent of Germany's economic revival under Hitler and cast doubt on others, such as the idea that the Germans were all enthusiastic partisans of the Nazis. The fourth, fifth, and sixth sections deal with the buildup to World War II, its conduct by Hitler and the German command, and with the Holocaust; while the final section covers the aftermath of the war, including the post-war mass migrations and expulsions, the reconstruction of destroyed urban centers, and the recovery of looted art and other treasures.

Every essay in this work is well written and intriguing. Evans is scholarly but writes with non-specialists in mind as well. He has a keen eye for a good anecdote. While it may be impossible to fully comprehend the full horror that was the Third Reich, these essays do go a long way towards helping us to begin to comprehend it.


Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth
by Marc Peyser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.56
49 used & new from $15.56

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cousins, Rivals, Friends, April 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The subtitle "the untold story . . ." begs some incredulity, since both Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt have had many biographers, not to mention written their own memoirs, while during their lifetimes both lived in the white heat of publicity for years at a time. Nevertheless it's an apt description, for Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer have shed new light on both women in this joint biography which deserves a place on your shelves alongside Joseph P. Lash's Eleanor and Franklin and Edmund Morris's three volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1884, the year Alice and Eleanor Roosevelt were born, their family already ranked among the grandest of American bloodlines. Although they were wealthy and well connected their lives were tinged with sorrow: Alice's mother died shortly after her birth, while Eleanor's father's emotional problems and addictions led to the failure of his marriage and his early death. Our mental images of the two cousins in their childhood and teenage years depict Alice as the beautiful and self-confident Presidential daughter and Eleanor as a rather mousy do-gooder. The real story is more complex: Alice desperately needed her father's approval and resented Eleanor, who sometimes seemed to be closer to Theodore Roosevelt's idea of the perfect daughter. Both married men who seemed set for brilliant political futures and both were disappointed when their husbands proved unfaithful. Eventually both suffered setbacks: Alice's husband losing political power and Eleanor's losing his physical health. Eleanor, of course, helped revive her husband's career and saw him elected President four times, allowing her to make the position of First Lady more powerful than ever before. Alice's husband's death left her free to become the doyenne of the Republican Party and one of the most powerful (though unofficial) political presences in Washington DC for decades, while Eleanor's career soared to new international heights during her own widowhood.

I've read quite a bit about both Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, but I found much that was new and surprising to me in Hissing Cousins. Eleanor wasn't quite the meek little mouse who offered her husband his freedom after discovering his affair with her secretary, and Alice wasn't always waspish and unforgiving. Despite their political differences, the two cousins remained friends and associates throughout their lives. Both had difficulties with their children and grandchildren, both had sometimes ill-advised friendships, and both gained and maintained great political power despite never running for election.

Hissing Cousins is an enjoyable read. Peyser and Dwyer have keen eyes for good anecdotes and enjoy inserting bits of humor here and there, especially in their footnotes. Their research is impeccable but their writing is often informal and almost chatty. That's as it should be, since Alice Longworth was one of the great conversationalists while Eleanor Roosevelt disliked much of the pomp and circumstance that came with her positions.


The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me: An Aristocratic Family, a High-Society Scandal and an Extraordinary Legacy
The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me: An Aristocratic Family, a High-Society Scandal and an Extraordinary Legacy
by Sofka Zinovieff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.76
40 used & new from $19.53

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legacy Of Light And Darkness, April 7, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, Lord Berners, was the quintessential English eccentric throughout his life, a reputation that has only increased since his death over sixty years ago. The model for Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love, he loved art and music and displayed a considerable talent for both. His home, Faringdon House in Oxfordshire, was renowned for its comfort, fine cuisine, and hospitality that was enjoyed by Gertrude Stein, Igor Stravinsky, the Mitfords, the Lygons, Evelyn Waugh, and a galaxy of other social and literary stars. Lord Berners was known for his sense of humor and elaborate practical jokes, but he also had a sadder side: he was prone to depression and mercurial mood swings that could sometimes bedevil him for long periods.

Lord Berners' emotional life was somewhat mysterious. He never married, but carried on long friendships with younger men, the longest lasting of which was with Robert Heber-Percy, the youngest son of a noble family. Handsome but without direction and extremely reckless, Robert (The Mad Boy of the title) met Lord Berners in 1930. Despite a nearly 30 year age gap, they became close friends and companions. Robert moved into Faringdon House and remained there for the rest of his life acting as Berners' companion, estate manager, and probable lover (since homosexuality was illegal in England, both men were understandably reticent about that aspect of their relationship.) Even when Robert married the beautiful young socialite Jennifer Fry this curious arrangement continued, with Jennifer living and giving birth to a daughter at Faringdon House.

Sofka Zinovieff is the granddaughter of Robert and Jennifer, and this book is partly a biography of Lord Berners and her grandparents, partly a chronicle of the glamorous parade of writers, musicians, artists, and socialites who came to Faringdon House during its heyday, and partly the story of her own life as the literal heiress (Faringdon House is now hers) of these colorful people. It's an amazing story full of incident and dripping with one fascinating anecdote after another. It's also a sad story, because many of these talented, creative people struggled with depression, addictions, and tragedies, moving from one lover to another but rarely if ever finding true soul mates and contentment.

As befits a chronicle of people who lived in beautiful surroundings, this book is physically a work of art, with heavy glossy pages, fine binding and end papers, and even a pink ribbon for a bookmark. There are many illustrations, mostly photographs of Lord Berners, Robert, and their families and friends; along with some modern photos of some of Faringdon's treasures. Lord Berners himself would be pleased with it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2015 8:52 AM PDT


This House is Haunted
This House is Haunted
by John Boyne
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.37
78 used & new from $4.85

4.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian Tale From A Modern Author, April 4, 2015
This review is from: This House is Haunted (Paperback)
John Boyne's ghost story is set in the Victorian era and seems designed to take in as many of the standard elements of such stories as possible: the lonely house with a dark history; the young woman on her own and seemingly defenseless; the sinister caretaker and other servants; and of course the gradually dawning awareness that supernatural elements are at work threatening the living inhabitants. Although I've described This House Is Haunted as formulaic, I do not mean that it is a dull or uninteresting read. John Boyne has done a fine job of creating a believable ghostly tale.

In London in 1867 Eliza Caine is a young woman with few prospects and little ambition in life. When her father dies suddenly after attending a reading by Charles Dickens, she is left on her own. Seeing an advertisement for a governess for two children in a Norfolk mansion, she applies for and is given the job sight unseen. When she arrives to take up her duties she meets mystery after mystery, the meanings of which she must unravel . Gradually she becomes aware that the house is haunted by both human and inhuman spectres, and that she herself is in mortal danger. Eventually forces motivated by obsessive love wreak havoc on the house and its inhabitants. Although Eliza appears to have escaped at the end of the book, there are hints that her reprieve is only temporary.

I enjoyed This House Is Haunted. Its Victorian atmosphere is well portrayed and recalls that of Charles Dickens' own ghostly tales. There are also similarities to Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, though Boyne's tale is more direct and thus lacks some of James' mounting sense of disquiet.The author of whom I am most reminded is Susan Hill, who has also written a number of ghostly stories set in the Victorian era. I doubt that some of the psychological insights and terminology to which Eliza refers were actually in use in 1867, but nevertheless Boynes' effort is worthwhile and enjoyable.


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) (DVD+UltraViolet)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) (DVD+UltraViolet)
DVD ~ Ian McKellen
Price: $14.96
17 used & new from $14.96

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Glimpses Of Middle-earth, March 31, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I always like to start my reviews on a postiive note so I will do so here by saying that the third installment of Peter Jackson's trilogy of The Hobbit movies is a spectacular film in many ways: the grandeur of the spectacle of the battle that takes up much of the film is really overwhelming. I appreciate Jackson's determination to wrap things up with a lead in to the beginning of the Lord of the Rings movies. Above all, I must say that many of the actors are truly excellent, including of course Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey. Peter Jackson loves the world J.R.R. Tolkien created, and it shows.

Even though Jackson loves Middle-earth, I do not believe he has captured its spirit as successfully as he did in the three Lord of the Rings movies. Partly due to the decision to stretch what is, after all, a fairly short book into three long movies, there is much too much reliance on battles, fights, and other violence. Although I recognize that a movie with no female characters would have little chance of success in today's world, I do not care for Jackson's invention of the Elf woman Tauriel, though to give him and Evangeline Lily credit she does display an acceptably Elvish persona at times.

In the end I must say that as a lover of J.R.R. Tolkien's books for many years I find this final movie to be lacking much of what appeals to me and countless others about Middle-earth: the heroism of common, ordinary, folk; the love of nature; and the age old theme of the Quest and the Return. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the three Hobbit films, along with their Lord of the Rings predecessors, is that through them countless people have been introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien and have found within the pages of his books a deeper, longer lasting, beauty.


A Plunder of Souls (The Thieftaker Chronicles)
A Plunder of Souls (The Thieftaker Chronicles)
by D. B. Jackson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.74
63 used & new from $2.92

5.0 out of 5 stars An Otherworldly And Fascinating Boston, March 31, 2015
Boston in 1769 was a city on the edge of an explosion. British redcoat soldiers patrolled the streets, angry mobs made up of unemployed young men often jeered and threw stones at them, and the majority of the population kept their heads down and attempted to survive in an increasingly tense environment. D.B. Jackson's new novel, the third in the The Thieftaker Chronicles, does an excellent job of recapturing that combustible atmosphere, with the additional spice of the supernatural to enhance both the creepiness and the enjoyment.

The chief protagonist of the Thieftaker Chronicles is Ethan Kaille, a British born former sailor whose checkered career includes a lengthy prison sentence in the sugar cane fields of Barbados. Kaille is a grim man who goes about his business of thieftaker (tracking down petty criminals and returning valuables to their proper owners) while trying not to get involved in the growing split between those loyal to the Crown and those who wish to loosen, or even break, colonial ties to it. Kaille is also a conjurer, able to use innate magical abilities to cast spells, protect himself (to a degree) from other conjurers, and heal himself when, as often happens, he runs into others who would do him harm.

A Plunder of Souls is the most otherworldly of the Chronicles thus far. Corpses are dug up and mutilated and some of the recently dead appear to have been reawakened to lead a zombie-like existence neither in nor completely out of the world. Kaille's job is to track down what is happening, but his powers, as well as those of other conjurers in the area, seem to be mysteriously waning. The tale is intriguing, with some unexpected twists and turns. Readers will enjoy not just the story line but also the well crafted recreation of 18th century Boston, the result of what is obviously a great deal of research by Jackson, who holds a doctorate in history.

While this is the third installment of The Thieftaker Chronicles, it is an independent story which can be read and enjoyed without reading the others. But I recommend reading all of them, because they are all excellent.


Thieves' Quarry (The Thieftaker Chronicles)
Thieves' Quarry (The Thieftaker Chronicles)
by D. B. Jackson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.04
63 used & new from $0.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Fantasy Set In Vivid History, March 29, 2015
Boston, 1768: a city trembling on the edge of open conflict as those still loyal to the British Crown and others who wish to loosen or even break the bonds between the mother country and her colonies rub elbows in an uneasy calm. In the harbor a Royal Navy fleet has arrived bearing an occupation force, escalating the tension and ensuring that the next few weeks and months will be difficult ones. It's in this atmosphere that Ethan Kaille, thieftaker and secret conjurer, must operate, avoiding the attentions of government and church on the one hand and on the other those of his rival, and highly dangerous, thieftaker Sephira Pryce.

That's the fascinating setting for Thieves' Quarry, D.B. Jackson's newest installment in his Thieftaker series. The tension continues as Kaille attempts to solve not only the normal gamut of Boston crimes but also the deaths of over one hundred British soldiers and sailors on board one of the Navy ships. Jackson does an excellent job of depicting the sights and sounds of 18th century Boston and of blending his fictional characters with historical figures like Samuel Adams and Thomas Hutchinson. Similarly, he merges history with magic so successfully that aficionados of both areas will find much to enjoy and little to carp at.

Thieves' Quarry by D.B. Jackson is the sequel to Thieftaker, but it is an independent story which can be read and enjoyed even if you haven't read
its predecessor.


Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles)
Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles)
by D. B. Jackson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.00
6 used & new from $4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Historical Fantasy, WIth A Dash Of Magic, March 27, 2015
Boston in 1765 was a hotbed of violence and intrigue. Parliament had recently imposed a series of taxes known as the Grenville Acts on the British North American colonists, the most heavily resented of which was the Stamp Tax. Although the tax on paper and printed goods was relatively small, it was hated by the Americans because it was a symbol of the authority of a distant government in which they had no voice. In August of 1765 rioting broke out in Boston as a protest against the Stamp Tax. Those riots, along with similar ones throughout the colonies, are now seen as a direct precursor to the American Revolution.

Thus far everything I've told you about D.B. Jackson's superb Thieftaker is straight history. Jackson, who has a Ph.D in history, did meticulous research for Thieftaker, and it shows in the accuracy and clarity with which he describes the events of August, 1765. But there is much more to this superb novel: Jackson has created an alternate universe with an intriguing dash of magic, and the result is fascinating and almost unputdownable.

Ethan Kaille is a thieftaker, a private citizen whose job it is to hunt down criminals and retrieve stolen property. Kaille is also a conjurer or speller, a man with magical abilities who makes use of them to do his job and protect himself and others. It is risky to be a conjurer in Boston, because the government and the church leadership take a dim view of magic. Kaille is used to danger, however, and he is not afraid to use his powers when called upon. In the aftermath of the Stamp Tax rioting Kaille is asked to solve a crime and retrieve some stolen property. In doing so he finds himself caught up in the growing tension between the British authorities and the emerging colonial opposition, and while he endeavors to steer a middle path between them, this becomes increasingly difficult.

Thieftaker is a well written historical fantasy/action adventure story which does a superb job of recreating the sights and sounds of 18th cnetury Boston. Jackson's fictional characters are well rounded and believable, and they interact with actual historical figures like Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Thomas Hutchinson credibly and logically. I enjoyed Thieftaker very much, and am eager to begin reading the next installment in Jackson's series: Thieves' Quarry.


The Lay of Lirazel
The Lay of Lirazel
by Stephen R. Babb
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.30
12 used & new from $11.18

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From The Grandest Of Traditions, March 23, 2015
This review is from: The Lay of Lirazel (Paperback)
The Lay of Lirazel is an epic narrative poem in the grand tradition of Tennyson, Dunsany, Morris, and Tolkien. Lirazel is a king's daughter, beloved and cherished, protected by her father from darkness which lies all too close. But Lirazel is not content to remain embowered, she wishes to know and understand her world, to seek out and find love on her own, and to make her own choices. As all parents must, her father accepts his daughter's wish and lets her seek answers to her questions. Her self-discovery is not without pain and danger, and she must ultimately face difficult choices. Fortunately for Lirazel, she chooses well. Fortunately for the rest of us, we have her beautiful tale to inspire and encourage us in making our own choices.

Stephen Babb is the bassist and lyricist for the progressive rock band Glass Hammer. He orginally wrote The Lay of Lirazel as a story line for one of the band's albums, but the origins of the poem come from a much older and deeper tradition. He was inspired by Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot, John Waterhouse's painting of The Lady, and Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter. Deeper still, there is an element of what J.R.R. Tolkien referred to as Faerie within this poem: the act of sub-creation that allows readers "a glimpse of the transcendant."


The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.82
199 used & new from $10.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Overtones of Hitchcock and Christie, March 22, 2015
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
Passengers on a train inadvertently get glimpses of countless segments of private lives while on their journeys. In Girl On A Train Paula Hawkins has achieved a fine psychological/suspense mystery that draws on some aspects of Alfred Hitchcock and others of Agatha Christie. The result is an intriguing novel with a number of different voices which eventually combine to produce a surprising ending.

The train in question here is a north London suburban commuter line, trundling through small towns and neighborhoods on its way into the metropolis. One of its regular passengers is Rachel, who has noticed a handsome young couple who often breakfast or relax in their back garden bordering the railway line. Rachel amuses herself inventing a life for this couple and comes to regard them as her friends. Then one morning she sees something odd. Concerned, she begins to watch and investigate. The story shifts, and we learn more about Rachel and fill in some gaps about the couple themselves. Eventually, the tangled threads of several different lives knit together, and the result is life altering.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of Girl on a Train very much: the growing tension and unnerving plot twists set against the backdrop of rather prosaic reality. Who among us has not observed strangers from a train or car window and wondered what their lives are like? And how many of us have seen something puzzling that, upon further reflection, could have truly ominous implications? I imagine we all have, and that's why Girl on a Train has such enormous appeal.


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