Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review of " American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing" by Lou Michel

I think "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing" by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck is an important book for Americans to read. It is very unbiased and straight-forward, and it helps explain just what happened to lead to the greatest domestic terrorism incident in our history. I think it will help the nation heal. As others have stated, it won't leave you with a feeling that McVeigh was a psychopath. That's the most disturbing part of the the entire book. He wasn't.

The book follows McVeigh's life all the way from his birth and innocuous childhood, through his military career, and to the fateful day when he placed a truck bomb outside the Oklahoma City Federal Building and murdered hundreds of people. It's an interesting journey. Following a regular guy who went way off the tracks and did such a horrible thing from beginning to finish is...sobering. I found the information about how he planned the bomb with Nichols the most interesting. It's hard to believe a regular guy could sit in his friend's house and plan it that way, but it makes sense.

I've recommended this book to friends, and they often recoil. "I don't want to read about that freak." I think people should read about that "freak" because there's no other way to begin the healing. Knowing what happened is the first step.

This book was constructed through interviews with McVeigh on death row and interviews with many other people involved who knew McVeigh. It's probably as close as we'll ever get to understanding what caused him to do what he did. It is well written. Although it will make you cringe and recoil at points because of the drastic nature of the events, I think it's an important book.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review of: "Pride: The Charley Pride Story" by Charley Pride with Jim Henderson

I love country music and music in general. Charley Pride's story moved me deeply. This memoir follows him from a sharecropper's son in the Mississippi Delta to the life of a professional baseball player to the Army to the mines of Montana to country-music superstardom. It's a great overview of a life that's been purely American. Through it all, he stayed the same, old Charley Pride. He tells his story with an honesty and humility that is refreshing. He tells it like it is.

This book touches on many elements of Pride's story that I hadn't heard much about. His life in minor-league and negro league baseball was quite interesting to me as a fan of the game. It discusses the racial tensions he faced as the first, black man to break into country music. It covers his struggles with alcohol and depression. It tells of his family and the difficult relationship with his father. I found this book to be deeply touching. It's a story that deserves to be read. Charley Pride sings country music because Charley Pride is country music. If ever there was a person that was meant to sing country music, it was Charley Pride. This memoir will go on my shelf right next to Charlie's old friends, Waylon and George Jones.         
Pride: The Charley Pride Story

Monday, February 13, 2012

Review of "Enemies and Playmates" by Darcia Helle

I've read two or three of Darcia Helle's other novels and also several short stories by her. I've enjoyed every one. "Enemies and Playmates" is no exception. The characters are very well crafted. I was particularly impressed with the way the writer uses such things as clothing and snippets of lyrics to give more depth. I identified with one of the lead characters, Jesse, very much. Nearly every character has depth, and I enjoyed getting to know them. The mental struggles of nearly every major character are quite evident, and there were a several interesting twists.

This is an interesting story with a fast-moving plot. It is a dark story, but I felt resolution with the ending. It's a very well written book, and I recommend it a lot. I'd also recommend reading beyond the end of the story to a short explanation of how song lyrics helped craft of of the characters. I found it to be an interesting glimpse into the writing process. This one is worth reading!Enemies and Playmates