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Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman
Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman
by Harlow Giles Unger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25
42 used & new from $7.91

4.0 out of 5 stars A superb guide to pre-Civil War history and Clay's place in it, September 28, 2015
As a biography, Harlow Unger’s “Henry Clay: America’s Greatest Statesman” doesn’t break much, if any, new ground on Clay. However, where it proves unexpectedly superb is as a powerfully deep primer on pre-Civil War history and politics, with one of the clearest explanations of regional, partisan, and personal conflicts that ended up bringing the country to the brink. 3.5 stars for Clay and 5 for the history leave this at 4 stars.

Unger’s writing on Clay is not particularly controversial; there is little revisionist grist. Clay ended up being on the right side of history with most of his positions, and Unger doesn’t spend much time on the two most obvious areas in which he wasn’t, the War of 1812 and the strengthening of the Fugitive Slave Act. Nor does Unger spend much time either praising or criticizing Clay; that is left to frequent quotes from Abraham Lincoln, who as a Clay supporter in his formative years waxes effusive. Instead, Unger’s main focus is on integrating Clay and his positions into the political currents of the era, and in that he does a superb job.

Unger presents Clay as a brilliant mediator, policy visionary, and proto-Beltway insider who often had the popular political instincts of a blind elephant charging into a china shop. With this, Clay’s oft-quoted “I would rather be right than be President” takes on a different tone here, as many of his worst missteps were self-inflected. From 1824, when his naive lack of comprehension of what becoming Secretary of State would do to both his reputation and to his relationship with Andrew Jackson, to 1839, when his failure to do any political groundwork prior to the Whig convention led to the eventual ascension of the utterly disastrous Tyler presidency, Clay’s political strategy often failed miserably. While Unger doesn’t argue this and generally lauds his subject, there's enough here that a different writer might indeed make a case that Clay’s ineptitude outside legislative chambers at times almost offset his contributions within them.

As such, it’s hard to view this as a groundbreaking biography of Clay, since much of the material is neither new nor supports the title’s thesis. Even with extensive coverage of the horrible tragedies to befall his children, Clay the man tends to fade into the page save for a few moments - the willingness to take on Aaron Burr as a pro bono client against Jefferson's crusade is one - and Clay's repeated absences from Congress usually end with a sentence or two about his interregnum ending without any detail on what prompted him to accept a return. However, this is more than offset by Unger’s integration of the entire political context of the pre-Civil War era by using Clay as the prism of it. Clay’s fingers were on nearly every policy debate from the War of 1812 to the Compromise of 1850, and Unger’s simple and clear explanations of how history developed around this are very much worth reading even for those familiar with the time. Anyone looking to understand how the United States evolved from the Revolutionary Era to the Civil War will benefit from this book.

4 stars, and very much worth a read for anyone interested in the development of American democracy.

Disclosure: This impartial review was made possible by the publisher providing a copy of the ARC of this book.

Bushnell Rubicon Rechargable 200 lm Micro Lantern
Bushnell Rubicon Rechargable 200 lm Micro Lantern
Price: $29.54
29 used & new from $29.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful little light, especially for charts at night, September 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Bushnell's Rubicon Micro Lantern is a nifty niche product largely designed for camping. However, its best use is likely reading maps or charts at night. A few omissions leave this at 4 stars.

There's been a lot already said about this, but to reiterate, this has about 2 hours of battery life at the highest intensity setting (close to a flashlight) and up to 18 hours at the lowest (roughly candlelight). A USB rechargeable battery that's relatively low drain means a solar pack and this would get along pretty well.

However, the most interesting aspect of this is the red mode, lasting 9 hours and using a separate set of 6 LEDs. It's a very bright but authentic (not filtered) red, and should work fairly well for reading charts at night on a boat without losing night vision.

A star off as the USB cable really should have a place to be stored under the unit, along with no ability to lock the unit out from being turned on.

Denon AHGC20 Globe Cruiser Over-Ear Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
Denon AHGC20 Globe Cruiser Over-Ear Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
Offered by Audiogurus
Price: $399.00
12 used & new from $299.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack of all trades does none poorly but none well, September 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Denon's AHGC20 Globe Cruiser headphones are essentially a jack of all trades piece of equipment; they are competent at most things you'd look for in a set of headphones, but nothing about them is spectacular. With some curious decisions in sound balance, accessories, and a high end price tag, this warrants 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 as overall, they're competent - just probably not worth what you're spending on them.

Denon's entry into the high end active noise reduction category seems to have been designed by engineers with a checklist. Good ANC without hiss? Check. Bluetooth functionality and fairly decent battery life (around 18 hours)? Check. Relatively lightweight and compact (10 oz for the headphones, 7 ounces for the case)? Check.

The result is a set of headphones that feels more like it's supposed to do a lot things fairly well than become best in class; in other words, it's kind of like most American cars in the 1990s, where they proved perfectly fine to drive - just not terribly exciting. To begin, those with larger ears may find the ear coverings uncomfortable, as they're 4 cm by 6 cm. While you can fit your ears between them and the speakers, after a few hours it tends to get a bit cramped.

Frequency response is simply awful without ANC, with bass being so prevalent to outright distort any media to the point where it's not listenable. With ANC, it's somewhat more balanced, but still very bass heavy. This isn't uncommon on many noise reduced closed air units, but the AHGC20 takes this to new levels. Compared to something like the Shure SRH1440, the difference is night and day. It's not entirely a fair comparison given the open air/closed air headset, but it's extreme.

As far as the ANC goes, it's very good. Engine plane noise is down significantly, and you could theoretically wear these in any situation involving screaming children and come out somewhat sane at the end. Unlike the first and second generation ANC sets, there is no hiss whatsoever. However, that being said, in direct comparison to the Bose QC 25, the noise reduction on the latter is notably more significant. For far superior sound quality with good passive noise reduction, the Etymotic Research ER4P-T's would be a better choice.

Bluetooth functionality here is certainly useful, and a step ahead of the Beats Studio Wireless with several more functions and a much more robust integration with phone controls, including taking and speaking on calls. However, in one of the more strange decisions made in this design, the included manual does not describe all Bluetooth functionality; you have to get to a website to learn such basic features as how to actually turn off both Bluetooth and the headphones.

Finally, Denon makes a very strange decision to include only a 1 1/2' USB cable (most are 3') and a 4 1/2' wired cable (most are 7').

All in all, these are decent enough headphones to haul around for everyday use, but if you're looking for a concert on a plane, try the Etymotics. If you want true noise reduction, try the Boses. 4 stars.

Half a War (Shattered Sea)
Half a War (Shattered Sea)
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.77
74 used & new from $11.35

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes, definitely too many ministers, August 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
About halfway through Joe Abercrombie's conclusion to the Shattered Sea trilogy, "Half a War," a chapter titled "Too Many Ministers" pops up. It's neither a long nor an important one, but it inadvertently describes many of the problems Abercrombie has written himself into here. Too many new main and supporting characters get introduced, previous ones who have been clearly defined and been the major focus are reduced to near cameos, and in general the narrative isn't compelling. Some readers may be satisfied given Abercrombie's typical grit, but perhaps the most appropriate comparison is the controversial conclusion to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, A Memory of Light. 3 stars.

Abercrombie's first book of the series, Half a King, was one of the very best young hero journeys of recent years, with flawed characters making bad decisions and paying for them in a very brutal world. The second, Half the World, took significant creative risks in bringing in an entirely new set of main characters but also ran into some problems, in part by following typical YA tropes and some questionable plot decisions.

Half a War continues the same creative risks of Half the World as it introduces yet another set of new characters, but with only 400 pages left along with layering in characters from not one but two previous books, this turns out to be less risk and more mess. Even if Abercrombie had done this perfectly, structural problems inherent in trying to introduce and grow a number of new characters while severely rationing stage time for others who have received hundreds of pages of development would make most writers and editors wary of this route.

Abercrombie compounds this with his G.R.R. Martin-eqsue love of routinely killing off significant characters. While this is usually a strong positive for his gritty and dark writing, here it backfires. There's nothing at all wrong with killing off characters that readers have invested in, especially in a conclusion to a series, and Abercrombie does try to give some of the more significant ones a decent sendoff. However, when their actions and deaths appear largely expedient to either swiftly wrap up inconvenient threads or create new, rushed ones for recently introduced characters, not just their deaths but their plot lines feel shortchanged. There's an uncomfortable similarity to the conclusion of the Wheel of Time here; while the combination of frenetic mop ups and new characters don't quite reach the same bipolar pace that they do in A Memory of Light, it does have much the same feel.

The final blow is that the main protagonist, Skara, sadly shares a lot more with Thorn than Yarvi. She's incredibly talented for a teenager, she almost never makes a mistake, she's got few flaws, she's never in any real danger, and despite all her youth she's capable of outwitting almost everyone from the beginning of the novel. She brings in allies, turns them to her cause, and in general runs over her problems rather than growing from her mistakes. With Half a War largely consisting of battles, strategy, and their aftermath, her role is played largely from the sidelines - problematic for a main character. Add in that the largest movement in the plot comes from deus ex superweapons, and between the two, it's a bit frustrating.

How does all of this add up to even a three star novel, then? Two reasons. First, the world and elf culture get revealed a bit more. Second, Abercrombie is still good at moving the plot along with showing just a nasty world these folks live in, and that counts for something. Still, it's a real shame that what was one of the most promising series in a while ends up with a whimper rather than a bang. Three stars, and it's good that it's over.

Gold Fame Citrus: A Novel
Gold Fame Citrus: A Novel
by Claire Vaye Watkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.39
49 used & new from $12.75

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The literary equivalent of True Detective's second season, July 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Unlike most recent entries into the dystopian sweepstakes, Claire Vaye Watkins' debut novel, "Gold Fame Citrus", contains some of the more impressive prose of any genre in recent memory. Unfortunately, Watkins appears far more intent on demonstrating her technical prowess than composing a readable novel, with characters, background, and plot lines seemingly far less important than attempting to overwhelm the reader with just how powerfully she can write a scene. The result is a hot mess not dissimilar to that of the second season of True Detective. 5 stars for the prose and 1 star for the plot average this out at 3 stars.

Watkins can write. The author has has won all sorts of awards and plaudits for her short stories, and most relevantly for this novel, has a far better understanding of some of the underlying social factors of the West than most of today's authors. Thus, a prolonged, cataclysmic drought that has destroyed California, good parts of the Southwest, and upended society should be a good starting point for her first novel. On some levels it is: salt overwhelms the Central Valley, states refuse to help other states and refugees, government is impotent, a preacher appears in the desert, there's a dowser, and so forth.

Watkins' inability to tie any of this together, though, proves a fatal flaw and starts from nearly the first page with the main character, Luz. It's not just that her protagonist is not particularly sympathetic; it's that Watkins spends significant effort in establishing her as the incarnation of governmental impotence and futility (quite literally, the poster child of conservation gone wrong) and then never does anything with it for the rest of the book. The poster child theme is just the first of a plethora of different ones which get duly started and then proceed to absolutely nowhere. Watkins delights in creating background that never develops, and the effect is much like looking at a technically gorgeous tapestry, that, when viewed from a bit close up, has sloppy strands and loops sticking out all over the place.

Luz and her boyfriend adopt a child, flee from LA, and don't really do very much while Watkins briefly brings various characters and scenarios in and out. None of this matters much for where the book meanders, let alone concludes, and Watkins compounds her problems by throwing in all sorts of useless material - a government application for work, a fauna description, third person narratives - that just don't seem relevant while they're introduced. This isn't uncommon for the current vein of literature that disdains plot, but it's disappointing for a writer of her caliber and it's curious that the editorial process didn't clean up much of the frippery.

The result of all this for many readers will be an effect that is oddly similar to watching True Detective's second season: recognition that it is technically inspiring, appreciation for a deep understanding of California's background and underside, and guffaws at a plot and characters that only the writer and a few fans can take seriously. Watkins will undoubtedly get some literary plaudits for this, but on the whole this is best reserved for those looking to learn a little bit about technical writing. Otherwise, it should be avoided by those interested in reading a coherent novel. 3 stars.

Orbit Sugarfree Gum, Mint Variety Box (12 Count)
Orbit Sugarfree Gum, Mint Variety Box (12 Count)
Price: $11.99
2 used & new from $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars More expensive than at retail stores, July 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is gum, so there's not too much profound wisdom to be shared about it.

Spearmint and peppermint have three packs; sweet mint and wintermint two. Sweet mint is perhaps the best of the bunch but its flavor will expire within a few minutes. Peppermint is quite strong and can last in the range of ten. This does contain xylitol, which kills bacteria in the mouth and means the various flavors are not a bad choice for after snacking, as many dentists recommend xylitol gum for periodontal purposes. (Keep it away from dogs and cats, however, as small doses can kill them.) The sticks are somewhat larger than those found in Trident boxes, although they do go bad fairly quickly.

Why 3 stars? Simple reason. This is a variety pack available in big box stores, and it generally has been sold for about 30% less than current pricing reflects here. You're better off buying it elsewhere for now.

Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice
Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice
by Adam Makos
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.40

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile subject, but lacks compelling background, June 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Adam Makos' "Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice" tells two tales: a heroic effort by a couple of pilots, and a longer tale of how the pilots got there. While the main incident is well told, Makos has some difficulty with the background and B-stories required to stretch it to book length. The result is a book that is still very much worth reading but not at the level of his previous work. 4 stars.

Makos gained well deserved notoriety with his previous book A Higher Call, one of the better untold tales of World War II that came to light in the twilight years of the men who fought it. That book worked on many levels; while the escort of the damaged bomber by a Luftwaffe pilot was itself remarkable, the biography of that pilot, Franz Stigler, was even better.

Devotion follows the model of the previous book, where hundreds of pages of background take place before the incident involving Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner - where one pilot gets shot down and the other makes a heroic choice. The incident and the followup to it take up about 75 pages and 4 chapters, and is well done. The problem becomes the other 325 pages, where Makos' back story doesn't work as well.

There are a few reasons for this; among the first is that Makos makes a number of curious editorial decisions, not the least of which is hiding the results of the incident until late in the book. This is also Makos' first exposure to the Korean War, and while the bibliography and interviews show a good deal of research, it's also pretty clear that he's not on the same firm ground as he was in Higher Call with years of study.

In turn, that shows up in how he sets up the background here. While the childhood history of the pilots makes sense, especially for Brown, the first African American to serve as a Naval aviator, the two years before in between their naval service and the advent of the Korean War aren't particularly compelling. Brown's encounters with racism are quite interesting (the casual hatred he received from other African Americans in the Navy, along with a notable scene where he's refused service in a bar not in the South but in San Diego), but otherwise the backstory is more or less a Med cruise with the highlight being a bunch of sailors and Marines from the Leyte hanging out with a young Liz Taylor. That Makos chooses to focus on this rather than things like the move by the Navy to jets and the resulting politics along with the events that led up to the Korean War is a problem.

In turn, this means that when Makos does get to Korea the story doesn't have the heft it deserves. The battle at the Chosin Reservoir was described by S.L.A. Marshall as "the most violent small unit fighting in the history of American warfare", yet Makos recounts only a few incidents with Marines that were attached to it, and of those he doesn't weave them compellingly. A incident he describes that was heroic enough so that a Medal of Honor was later rewarded receives little coverage, Army units receive short shrift, and foreign units receive no attention at all.

While this certainly focuses attention on Brown and Hudner, there are a lot of incredible stories from Chosin, and the workmanlike telling of the battle (and backstories prior to their involvement) means the book feels like it's missing a couple of cylinders. It's not a bad book by any means, and the story of Brown and Hudner is worth retelling. However, other books have told the individual stories better - a number of books have been published on Chosin, and there's been one by the Naval Institute on Brown and Hudner - and Makos could have weaved a better tale here.

In sum, worth a read and it's great to see this story getting wider coverage after 60 years, but Makos doesn't cover much new ground here. 4 stars.

Delta Faucet 2564-MPU-DST Ashlyn Two Handle Centerset Lavatory Faucet, Chrome
Delta Faucet 2564-MPU-DST Ashlyn Two Handle Centerset Lavatory Faucet, Chrome
Price: $91.88
11 used & new from $71.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Good faucet, May 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Been a bunch written on this already, so not a ton to add. Highlights include:

- Relatively easy to install. Having done plumbing work before, this ranks about a 2 or 3 on the difficulty scale. Yes, you need silicon to secure the base, and yes, it has plastic water feeds which you'll need to cut. Other than that, it's generally beginner level, and Delta has extensive documentation.

- Easy to clean. Used Windex. Worked perfectly, which doesn't happen on some metals.

- Relatively cheap. At current prices, about $20-30 less than you'll find something comparable at a box store.

4 stars. Nothing extraordinary here, but a good faucet.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2015 10:59 AM PDT

Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
by Nisid Hajari
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.97
73 used & new from $14.50

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood for blood, May 8, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Nisid Hajari's "Midnight Furies" is a frightening look at the ethnic cleansings and boneheaded politics that helped create modern day India and Pakistan. While most modern writers on both sides concentrate solely on the Kashmir, Hajari goes further into the conflict by including the bloodbaths that occurred in the Punjab and bringing the political background that made this possible. A star off for bringing in minor players that overtly complicate the book and for not providing a bit more background on historic Muslim-Hindu-Sikh relationships before World War I, but overall a disturbing but important book. 4 stars.

As Hajari notes, save for the uplifting story of Gandhi most Westerners know little about India's evolution from vassal to independent state. Unfortunately, there is good reason for this: the story of the birth of Pakistan and India is not one that most of its participants would like told, as it involved ethnic cleansing and mass murder that can only be compared to Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, or any number of countries following World War I.

How did this happen? The political leadership on both sides initially presented fairly firm positions but by all accounts were capable and interested in compromise, but after several incidents, those positions hardened from political posturing to outright hatred. That gave cover for tolerance and, at times, direct encouragement for lower class proxies in the battle to encourage those who weren't coreligionists to flee, by fire, brutal violence, or simply outright murder.

What started in the Punjab (Delhi was once an strongly integrated city, for instance) spread throughout the border regions, and the result was horrific. Muslims attacked Hindus, Hindus attacked Muslims, Muslims attacked Sikhs, Sikhs attacked Muslims, and essentially, no governmental or religious organization made an effort to stop them, and it's questionable that once the genie got out the bottle if any had the power to do so. Gandhi, for instance, was assassinated by a radical Hindu organization that felt he betrayed all Hindus by going on a hunger strike to force India to live up to its agreement to release part of its reserves to a starving post-partition Pakistan. The sad irony is that following Gandhi's murder, Pakistan promptly used those newly released reserves for arms purchases instead of food.

Besides the failure of Nehru and Jinnah, the political leadership of Britain bears particular blame as well. While some of Britain's mistakes came from severe budgetary pressures - it's worth remembering that Britain's simultaneous withdrawal from Palestine was as much financial as much as it was the realization it couldn't govern the region any more - others were not. Churchill's hatred for Indian independence leaders knew no bounds; while out of power, he met with Jinnah and offered his promise of unwavering support for the new Pakistan as long as they would offer their army to support the Commonwealth and continue to swear allegiance to King and Crown. In turn, Attlee's government wasn't any better in their full voiced support for Nehru.

There was more than just support, however. Most notable was the incredibly stupid decision by Mountbatten to massively accelerate the removal of British control without any corresponding governmental plans - quite literally, borders were being drawn up by a Brit in the last week before independence - meaning governmental organization on independence was non-existent. Moving from unbelievable to outright stupid is that in the case of Kashmir, the British-run Pakistan army had its British commander in chief planning to go to war against India's army, run by, of course, another British general. Both armies were intended as bulwarks against the Soviet Union; instead, they promptly began killing each other instead.

There are two major drawbacks to the book. First, Hajari brings up such detailed political analysis that readers will often simply get lost in names that show up once or twice and then disappear into the woodwork without much understanding of how they related to the greater story. Second, what would have helped significantly is a chapter or two on the historic fights over the Indian subcontinent, as while the author hints at some of the conflicts over princely states, it would have been very useful to go back a few centuries into the historical conflict between Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

Still, an important if disturbing book. 4 stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 24, 2015 7:02 PM PDT

Goebbels: A Biography
Goebbels: A Biography
by Peter Longerich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $28.04
76 used & new from $16.04

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous academic psychobiography reveals the man behind the minister, May 5, 2015
This review is from: Goebbels: A Biography (Hardcover)
Peter Longerich's "Goebbels: A Biography" breaks new ground. Using the recently published complete set of the Goebbels diaries, Longerich reveals a narcissistic and fawning academic who vastly overestimated his own talents and contributions, had no deepset political beliefs, and was often completely out of his depth. While this will be a reference for years to come, 1.5 stars off as it is also a distinctly ponderous German academic work that often unnecessarily veers into psychobiography. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 to represent the importance of this work.

With the 1992 discovery of the microfilmed Goebbels diaries in an archive in Russia and the resultant publishing of a massive, 29 volume German language edition finally concluding in 2009, Goebbels is the one Nazi figure well overdue for reevaluation thanks to the introduction of this significant new material. Longerich, a German history professor at the University of London known for his work on the Holocaust and a superb biography of Heinrich Himmler, is the first academic to fully utilize Goebbels' writings to analyze the man in a way not available to past historians.

This has both benefits and drawbacks. While the diaries are often a conscious attempt by Goebbels to inflate his role for the future historians of the thousand year Reich (at least until he became convinced defeat was inevitable by late 1944), when combined with Longerich's thorough review of the scattered alternative sources, they also inadvertently reveal the conflict between Goebbels' opinion of himself against that of his peers, superiors, and the historical record.

That, more than anything else, is the focus of the book. Goebbels and many of his prior biographers cultivated an image of an icy political and public relations genius who was intricately involved in Reich policy. Longerich destroys this myth. While Goebbels was free to experiment with public opinion, he was was largely ineffective as a politician, often marginalized by Hitler with opinions that were ignored by the leadership, and in general his greatest value to the party was that he was the best of the Nazi public speakers and could routinely draw and captivate a crowd.

While the early years present some problems as the diaries do not commence in full until 1926, enough nuggets survive to reveal an interesting sketch. Goebbels was a essentially a failed PhD with a club foot that held him back socially, got a marginal job at a newspaper, editorialized for the party, and then through luck and circumstance was introduced to party figures early on and slavishly promoted his master's ideology as his own. Goebbels came from the left side of the NSDAP and advocated a far closer relationship with Russia until realizing Hitler was not in agreement, and without much in the way of second thoughts did a complete 180 to align himself with whatever Hitler wanted, something he continued for the rest of his life.

Longerich uses these discrepancies and anecdotes to argue that the main driving force behind Goebbels' career was a desperate narcissistic craving for recognition. While he is probably right, compared to other outright psychobiographies like The Immortal Ataturk: A Psychobiography, the analysis here often feels a bit armchair as it's not Longerich's specialty. On the other hand, it does reveal many of the negative traits that crippled the man; it's hard to argue that Goebbels' own insecurities didn't help lead him into philandering (which Goebbels did aplenty, although perhaps the most interesting tidbit is the speculation about Hitler's interest in Magda Goebbels corresponding with the timing of his half-niece's suicide) and seeking security and patronage wherever he could find it. Overall, though, Longerich is often better off when he narrates events than psychoanalyzing his subject.

The other weakness of the book is that despite what is likely a masterful and thorough translation and editing job (apparently 3 separate translators worked on this over 5 years - the book was published in a German edition all the way back in 2010), this is very much a ponderous academic tomb in the German tradition. This isn't unexpected given the writer and source material, but readers used to more accessible English language, non-academic biographies will find this ponderous at best.

While this is not nearly as accessible as other biographies on inner circle Nazi leaders and may turn off lay readers with its depth, it is a groundbreaking academic work that should be on the shelf of anyone concerned with Nazi leadership. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

Disclosure: This impartial review was made possible by the publisher providing a copy of the ARC of this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2015 1:46 PM PDT

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