The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

From the start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hooks the reader, making him not only interested in the main characters but also wanting to learn what is going to happen throughout the book.  Stieg Larsson gives fascinating descriptions of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, making them both not only real but also unique, then sets the two on seemingly different courses until they finally meet up in the middle of the book.  The decision to have Mikael and Lisbeth’s respective stories grow significantly before intertwining with one another was genius so as to make the character’s interactions with one another more real during the last half of the book.  The second best decision was that mystery of Harriet Vanger turned out not to be the central emphasis of the book, but a genius way of getting Mikael and Lisbeth together and seeing their independent perspectives of the outcome while also setting up their trust with one another the leads to the books intriguing finish.

I have heard the critiques that this book is sexist and anti-female, so I am going to address that in this review.  The experiences of Lisbeth in the first half of the book and what Mikael and she uncover in their Vanger investigation do seem to be really anti-female.  However, it should be noted that Lisbeth gets revenge for her situation and that both Mikael and she are repulsed with what they find out during the Vanger investigation.  Larsson throughout the book includes statistics on the sexual mistreatment of women in Sweden at the beginning of each part in his book.  So yes, Larsson does have some blatant mistreatment of women in this book, however he also shows that not every individual in this book likes it and they want to do something about it if possible.  Parts of the world we live in are pitch black and most people doesn’t want look at it, Larsson however shows that some times these things have to be looked at however uncomfortable.

Although, I understand Larsson inclusion of the mistreatment of women that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.  The rape scenes were not a highlight in the book for me and I got through them as best I could.  However, the book as a whole had everything a really good story needed and was a fantastic read.

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A. Lincoln: A Biography

A. Lincoln: A BiographyA. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since his assassination Abraham Lincoln has become the most written about American in history and his life has crossed over to film and cable television ‘documentaries’.  Early written portraits of Lincoln included elements that bordered myth, however the increased gathering of sources and attention to detail the story of Lincoln life has outgrown those earlier “mythic” elements to an even richer story.  A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White, Jr., has emerged as not only the finest biography of the 16th President of the United States, but the most in-depth and fantastically written.

White begins his biography by describing how Abraham Lincoln wrote his longest autobiography during the campaign of 1860, which was scant of detail and length to the frustration of newspaper editors.  White then gives the reader a short, but detailed Lincoln family biography not only giving Lincoln’s place within the whole of American history even greater context but giving the reader a taste of the depth of his research and what they’re about to read.

White describes Lincoln’s early life in the context of frontier life and how it transformed as the frontier in which he lived transformed into a center of population and commerce.  Lincoln’s early Illinois political campaigns and career are examined, with White highlighting elements that showed Lincoln’s progression not only as a politician and lawyer but as a leader as well.  After the earlier successes in his political career up to 1848, Lincoln would not find election day success for himself until 1860 but White shows how the political leader Lincoln emerged not only in Illinois but onto the national stage to would springboard him to the Republican nomination and eventually the White House.

The progression of Lincoln’s executive and military leadership are fascinatingly written by White as Lincoln’s presidency covers the last half of the biography.  However, it is White’s examination of Lincoln’s evolving policy and speeches during this time that truly gives the reader a better understanding of the man himself.

Having read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, I was introduced to many of the things White would highlight and truly give understanding to the reader.  Although Goodwin’s description and analysis of the 1860 and 1864 Presidential elections in Team of Rivals is superior to that found in White’s A. Lincoln, it is minor to the fact that with White one gets a fuller sense of Abraham Lincoln himself while with Goodwin he is seen in connection and comparison with his cabinet.

If you read one Lincoln biography or if you have read a hundred, I can not recommend A. Lincoln enough.  Ronald C. White, Jr., book is the crowning achievement in Lincoln biographies and will be for decades to come.

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Towers of Midnight (WoT #13)

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, #13; A Memory of Light, #2)Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Towers of Midnight, Brandon Sanderson’s second outing in The Wheel of Time series, built upon foundations laid in The Gathering Storm to set up the series’ final volume in outstanding fashion.  The main story arc of the book was that of Perrin, not only seen through his POV but also that of Galad, Faile, Egwene, and Graendal to sum extent.  The two major secondary story arcs were of Egwene in the White Tower and Mat in his own unique preperations for The Last Battle, each told not only by their own POVs but by other POV characters as well.  Other arcs that where touched upon were events in The Black Tower, Rand’s movements in his own preparations for The Last Battle seen mostly by other characters, and the opening fighting of The Last Battle.

This book brought the timeline for Perrin and Mat along with a few others up to where Rand and Egwene’s had ended in The Gathering Storm, knowing this fact helps when both see visions of Rand and when Perrin witness’ Rand’s epiphany on Dragonmount in The Wolf Dream.  Sanderson introduces a few new POV characters to help bring to life event that will supposedly be important in A Memory of Light, the series final volume.  If there are any negatives in this book, it’s the reference to events that supposedly happened in previous books that I don’t remember reading making one think you’ve missed something in the previous 12 books.

As the penultimate volume of The Wheel of Time, Towers of Midnight is a excellent book not only in it’s own right but also as a set up to the finale A Memory of Light.

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